Author Topic: Nibbana v. Nirvana  (Read 2971 times)

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2018, 01:15:08 am »
The Mahayana view is a misunderstanding constructed from a common (Theravadin) misunderstanding. The common misunderstanding is "samsara" is the external world. Therefore, the Mahayana say "form is empty" is Nirvana; therefore samsara is Nirvana.
 
But, in reality, "samsara" is only the mental state of clinging, as described below:

Two wrongs (misunderstandings) don't make a right. Nirvana is not samsara and samsara is not Nirvana. Wrong Theravadin views about samsara cannot be used by Mahayana as the basis to create a right view.

Form, feeling, perception, mere thought and consciousness are not samsara. Only clinging to these five aggregates is samsara.

An excellent point VisuddhiRaptor, but what about those of us who are neither Therevadan nor Mahahayna? For us the two points of view are useful to our attempts to understand this aspect of Buddhism. The view that one could be wrong and another right is a starting point to thrashing out the ideas, and to understanding them. We don't have to buy into them.

One can never assume words from different languages have the same meaning. Start learning another language and you quickly have to accept that some words simply don't have a translation and can only be understood within the context of that particular language.

Samsara to some simply means 'the world as we understand it', so this same world understood in a different way is nirvana. It has to be, as nothing has changed but our view of it. But of course the world as we understand it extends to our place in it after we die too. In this case nirvana is a different way of looking at the long picture, the whole universe in space and time that we are a part of. The universe, or even universes, are understood as nirvana.

If one is free to let go of clinging to Theravada or Mahayana Buddhism then one can ponder whether the seeming contradictions are nothing of the sort, merely differences in emphasis, and maybe both of equal value to the traveller on the path.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2018, 10:38:02 pm »
Good posts! This fundamental teaching of Buddhism, that what we perceive through our senses is illusory, and that it is foolish to cling on to illusory desires, aversions and concepts, is what makes sense to me personally, and is why I find the 'religion' of Buddhism, or more correctly, the 'philosophy behind Buddhism', appealing.

As a result of my basic understanding of science, its methodology and its history, the idea that everything perceived through any of our senses, has to be interpreted by the mind, and that such interpretations can differ wildly, depending on the individual and his background experiences, seems irrefutable.

For example, all scientific data has to be interpreted, and we know from history that not all interpretations have been correct, although at the time, such interpretations might have been accepted as correct and were taught as being correct. This is an ongoing process, and is particularly relevant in modern times with regard to complex issues involving human health, both mental and physical, dietary and life-style choices, pharmaceutical drugs versus natural supplements and herbs, climate change and the degree to which our activities might be contributing towards a negative change in climate, and so on.

In a sense, many of us now face a similar predicament to the situation of the Kalamas during the times of the Buddha (refer Kalama Sutta).
The Kalamas were mainly concerned about the accuracy of religious advice. However, if one substitutes their religious concerns with all the other types of concerns that we face in our modern society, such as diet, lifestyle, climate change, and our general well-being, then the advice of the Buddha is still relevant, from a practical aspect.

However, I still see a degree of imprecision in the statement that all sensory perception is illusory, because it doesn't address the degree to which different sensory perceptions can be illusory. It categorizes all as illusory, which is like saying that life itself is an illusion.

(1) Let's consider the example of a coil of rope on the ground that could have a similar appearance to a snake. A person passing by who has a great fear or phobia about snakes, might get a big shock when seeing the coiled rope. Misinterpreting his sensory perceptions, he might quickly and spontaneously jump out of the way, stumble on a rocky patch at the side of the track, and break his ankle.

(2) Let's consider the example of a coiled up snake on the ground that could have a similar appearance to a coil of rope. A passer-by, with no phobia about snakes, might misinterpret the coiled snake as a coiled rope, and ignore it. However, at his closest point to the snake, as he passes by, the snake strikes, injects poison, and the guy dies.

(3) Let's consider yet another example of a Buddhist passer-by who believes that all sensory perceptions are illusions. He notices the coil, but doesn't care whether its a coil of rope or a snake, because he believes it's all an illusion, and he continues to walk with great mindfulness, concentrating on each step. As he passes close to the snake, the snake strikes, and the Buddhist, despite his great compassion, dies.

Another issue is the self-referencing paradox. If everything we perceive is an illusion because it's subject to interpretation, then surely that statement itself must be illusory, and the Buddhist Dhamma itself must be an illusion, or at least our interpretation of it must be illusory, to some extent, and/or to variable extents.

As I understand, Buddhism gets around this paradox by declaring that everything is impermanent and illusory except the Dhamma:wink1:



Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2018, 03:30:46 am »
An excellent point VisuddhiRaptor, but what about those of us who are neither Therevadan nor Mahahayna?

Thank you Sir.

When I use the term "Theravada", I am not referring to the Pali suttas. I am referring to the later additions to the Pali suttas, Commentaries, Sri Lankan Maha Vihara Sect and the common interpretations of Buddhism.

 :namaste:

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2018, 03:04:54 am »
An excellent point VisuddhiRaptor, but what about those of us who are neither Therevadan nor Mahahayna?

Thank you Sir.

When I use the term "Theravada", I am not referring to the Pali suttas. I am referring to the later additions to the Pali suttas, Commentaries, Sri Lankan Maha Vihara Sect and the common interpretations of Buddhism.

 :namaste:
Neither was I. I was referring to two seemingly irreconcilable different viewpoints of different Buddhist traditions.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2018, 05:35:49 am »
I was referring to two seemingly irreconcilable different viewpoints of different Buddhist traditions.

Good Sir. It does not matter what the traditions say. In reality, samsara is hell & Nirvana is peace. 

:namaste:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2018, 06:50:44 am »
I was referring to two seemingly irreconcilable different viewpoints of different Buddhist traditions.

what "irreconcilable viewpoints" on nirvana are we talking about.  So far all we have is someone saying there is a difference, but no one has yet offered a definitive statement as to what that is, apart from spelling.  If there are irreconcilable differences regarding the word, it's with people around here being unwilling to accomodating a small difference in spelling.  It's like trying to discuss the difference between sutta and sutra (spelling again), or the difference between an egg.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2018, 01:25:19 pm »
The Mahayana view is a misunderstanding constructed from a common (Theravadin) misunderstanding. The common misunderstanding is "samsara" is the external world. Therefore, the Mahayana say "form is empty" is Nirvana; therefore samsara is Nirvana.

I wouldn't presume to speak for Mahayana in general, much less Theravada, but my understanding of zen, and my own insights through meditation, indicate that subject and object are one solitary enlightened mind, beyond intellectual views such as external and internal, or samsara and nirvana. When that mind is realized "clinging" to transitory arisings and conditioning can be more easily overcome.

I can't see that anyone here has really elucidated the Theravada nibbana yet.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2018, 02:34:22 am »
I was referring to two seemingly irreconcilable different viewpoints of different Buddhist traditions.

Good Sir. It does not matter what the traditions say. In reality, samsara is hell & Nirvana is peace. 

:namaste:
Reality? Maybe. I would say that samsara is mental suffering and nirvana is escape from such suffering, whether the tradition encourages you think in terms of this life or to take a longer view.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2018, 01:22:29 pm »
I would say that samsara is mental suffering and nirvana is escape from such suffering, whether the tradition encourages you think in terms of this life or to take a longer view.

Good Sir, hell is mental suffering and mental suffering is hell.  :namaste:

Quote
I have seen, bhikkhus, the hell named ‘Contact’s Sixfold Base.’ There whatever form one sees with the eye is undesirable, never desirable; unlovely, never lovely; disagreeable, never agreeable. Whatever sound one hears with the ear … Whatever odour one smells with the nose … Whatever taste one savours with the tongue … Whatever tactile object one feels with the body … Whatever mental phenomenon one cognizes with the mind is undesirable, never desirable; unlovely, never lovely; disagreeable, never agreeable.

SN 35.135

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2018, 03:15:20 pm »

As a thing is viewed, so it becomes.   

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts."               
                                      Dhammapada       

                                                                                                                           
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2018, 05:44:48 am »

As a thing is viewed, so it becomes.   

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts."               
                                      Dhammapada       

                                                                                                                         

The above is wrong. Wrong translation. Wrong interpretation.   :twocents:

Offline Chaz

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2018, 07:25:50 am »

As a thing is viewed, so it becomes.   

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts."               
                                      Dhammapada       

                                                                                                                         


The above is wrong. Wrong translation. Wrong interpretation.   :twocents:

how is it wrong?

What makes you an authority on translation?  Credentials please?

how is the interpretation wrong?  In fact, if the translation is wrong the interpretation that follows would be flawed as well, making the statement redundant.



Offline Lone Cypress

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2018, 08:40:38 am »
.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2018, 04:35:37 pm by Lone Cypress »

Offline Chaz

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2018, 10:10:07 am »
I have three translations of the Dhammapada handy. One edition translates the first twin verse exactly as quoted above. In the other two, the wording is a bit different, but the implied meaning is always the same.

Do you have any training that would qualify you to say which translation is right and the other wrong?  Probably not, right?  That's ok, though.  It's practice that will bring enlightenment, not your translation skills.

Just the same, to say some bit of Buddhist scripture is a bad translation kinda means you know the difference.  That takes education and training.  It's something I wish our friend VR would confirm for his own case.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 09:09:43 am by IdleChater »

Offline Zen44

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2019, 01:05:45 pm »
Maybe Nirvana is where you go after death.
Dzogchen Teachings

 


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