Author Topic: What is Nirvana?  (Read 26076 times)

Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2011, 08:30:22 pm »
One also needs to know the difference and different contexts in which the word "mind" and "consciousness" are used in various Suttas and Sutras - that are not the same and there is a BIG difference.

As Master Hsuan Hua said in his commentary to the Shurangama Sutra that I quoted earlier:
- “Consciousness” here does NOT refer to the eight consciousnesses, nor to the eye-consciousness, the ear-consciousness, the nose-consciousness, the tongue-consciousness, the body-consciousness, the mind-consciousness, nor the manas or the alaya consciousnesses. It is not any of the eight consciousnesses.
- It refers to the essence of consciousness, which is but another name for Bodhi Nirvana. The phrase is used here to avoid repetition for the sake of literary style. It refers to the most essential and wonderful aspect of consciousness, the inherent Buddha-nature, the bright substance of the permanently dwelling true mind that can bring forth all conditions.


And when you read nama (as in nama-rupa) referred to in Dependent Origination, it means mind and body - as in the 5 Skhandas/5 Khandas.  Namely:
- Mind:  Feelings, thinking, formations and consciousness (i.e., vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana)
- Form:  The body (i.e., rupa)
The consciousness referred to here means the sense consciousnesses/vinnanas.  These things all arise and cease - and so, are within the realm of birth and death.

The "Essence of consciousness" refers to the citta/the Bodhi Citta, i.e., the True Mind (also called the Buddha Nature) which Master Hsuan Hua says is just another name for Bodhi Nirvana.  This still remains when ignorance and suffering ceases, because it is beyond the realm of birth and death.

Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2011, 04:47:45 am »
How else do we know that Nirvana is permanent?  The Buddha said so:

It is the Unformed, the Unconditioned, the End,
the Truth, the Other Shore, the Subtle,
the Everlasting, the Invisible, the Undiversified,
Peace, the Deathless, the Blest, Safety,
the Wonderful, the Marvellous,
Nibbana, Purity, Freedom,
the Island,
the Refuge, the Beyond.
~ S 43.1-44

Cited on Page V of The Island, An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana.  By Ajahn Passano and Ajahn Amaro.
http://abhayagiri.ehclients.com/pdf/books/The_Island_Web_Final.pdf

That and the fact that it is also called the Deathless.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 05:03:01 am by Optimus Prime »

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2011, 06:43:24 am »
And if "nama" and "mind are emptied by the 8fold path. What remains?
Form/rupa remains and that is called "nibbana with remainder".

Rupa without nama?  Materiality without mentality?  Body without mind?  How could that possibly be? 

And from the section quoted above on Dependent Origination ( extract below ) it's clear that the cessation of this "entire mass of suffering" depends on the cessation of name and form.

"From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact.....From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

CP

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #33 on: November 20, 2011, 06:45:20 am »
One also needs to know the difference and different contexts in which the word "mind" and "consciousness" are used in various Suttas and Sutras - that are not the same and there is a BIG difference.

Yes, that's one of the challenges in a discussion like this. :wink1:

CP

Offline ground

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #34 on: November 20, 2011, 07:11:26 am »
And if "nama" and "mind are emptied by the 8fold path. What remains?
Form/rupa remains and that is called "nibbana with remainder".

Rupa without nama?  Materiality without mentality?  Body without mind?  How could that possibly be? 
nibbana with remainder will show.

And from the section quoted above on Dependent Origination ( extract below ) it's clear that the cessation of this "entire mass of suffering" depends on the cessation of name and form.
Yes, that is the cessation of rebirths. However before the death of the body there may be (i.e. there is not necessarily) nibbana with remainder.

kind regards
« Last Edit: November 20, 2011, 07:13:23 am by TMingyur. »

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2011, 07:19:07 am »
However before the death of the body there may be (i.e. there is not necessarily) nibbana with remainder.

We need to look more carefully at what the "remainder" is though.  I don't see how it can just be rupa with no nama.  In some suttas "remainder" refers to a remainder of clinging.

CP

Offline ground

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #36 on: November 20, 2011, 07:23:58 am »
I don't see how it can just be rupa with no nama. 
As long as one is not liberated one will not be able to "see how".

To assess the liberated from the perspective of the ordinary, that is impossible.
"Mentality", "feeling", "perception", "consciousness", "volitional formations" all these are expressions applied to the ordinary, necessarily involved with dukkha and ignorance.

Kind regards

Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #37 on: November 21, 2011, 02:06:50 am »
In Digha Nikaya 11, the Kevaddha Sutta, a monk wanted to find out the answer to the question, "Where is it that the 4 elements (earth, fire, wind, water) cease without remainder?"  The monk was a skilled meditator, so he stilled his mind to such a state where he ascended to the Heaven of the 4 Great Kings, where he met the Devas there to ask that question.  To which they replied that they did not know - he should ask the Rulers of that Heaven, who should know - the 4 Great Kings, but they didn't know and referred them to a higher heaven - the Trayastrimsa Heaven of the 33.  The Devas in the Trayastrimsa Heaven didn't know either but their leader, Shakra, King of Gods should know - but he didn't know either. 

The monk kept on getting referred up to a higher heaven each time until finally, he met the Great Brahma, the Creator, the Father of all that has been and shall be.  The monk asked that question to the Great Brahma 3 times, and all Brahma could say was, "I am the Great Brahma, Creator, Father of all that has been and shall be" each time.  The monk said, "Hey, stop saying that!  I didn't ask you that!  I asked you where the 4 elements cease without remainder!"

Eventually, Brahma took that monk aside away from his retinue, saying, "These other Devas think that there is nothing that the Great Brahma does not know or hasn't realized.  You were wrong to have bypassed the Buddha to seek the answer to this question, and trying to find the answer elsewhere.  Go right back to the Blessed One and however he answers you, take that answer to heart."

When he returned to the Buddha, he asked the question.  The Buddha replied, "You have asked the question in the wrong way - you should have asked the question in this way":

‘Where do earth and water, fire and wind, long and short, fine and coarse, pleasant and unpleasant, no footing find?
Where is it that name and form are held in check with no trace left?’

‘Consciousness which is non-manifestative, endless, lustrous on all sides.  Here it is that earth and water, fire and wind, no footing find.
Here again are long and short, subtle and gross, pleasant and unpleasant name and form, all cut off without exceptions.  When consciousness comes to cease, these are held in check herein.’
~ ibid, (Bhikkhu Ñanananda trans.)


So, as you can see, the "Consciousness which is non-manifestive" is different to the "consciousness" which "comes to cease".  The unmanifest consciousness is the Unconditioned mind that is not-born/not-manifest, the Deathless, Nirvana.  Whereas the "consciousness" which "ceases" is the sense consciousnesses, which do cease.

Offline ground

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #38 on: November 21, 2011, 02:34:28 am »
So, as you can see, the "Consciousness which is non-manifestive" is different to the "consciousness" which "comes to cease".  The unmanifest consciousness is the Unconditioned mind that is not-born/not-manifest, the Deathless, Nirvana.  Whereas the "consciousness" which "ceases" is the sense consciousnesses, which do cease.

All there is to see is what kind of thoughts are produced by clinging to the idea of permanence.


"The Deathless" or "The Unconditioned" is the Theravadin's "Buddha nature" :lmfao:


Kind regards
« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 02:55:44 am by TMingyur. »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #39 on: November 21, 2011, 04:43:59 am »
Quote
Optimus Prime:  So, as you can see, the "Consciousness which is non-manifestive" is different to the "consciousness" which "comes to cease".  The unmanifest consciousness is the Unconditioned mind that is not-born/not-manifest, the Deathless, Nirvana.  Whereas the "consciousness" which "ceases" is the sense consciousnesses, which do cease.

I don't see them as different.  When one ceases all cease.  This is nibbana without remainder.  Not cognizable, not able to be expressed without direct experience.  Not even sure if any human mental or physical processing term can be applied.  Probably not.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #40 on: November 21, 2011, 04:46:56 am »
So, as you can see, the "Consciousness which is non-manifestive" is different to the "consciousness" which "comes to cease".  The unmanifest consciousness is the Unconditioned mind that is not-born/not-manifest, the Deathless, Nirvana.  Whereas the "consciousness" which "ceases" is the sense consciousnesses, which do cease.

All there is to see is what kind of thoughts are produced by clinging to the idea of permanence.


"The Deathless" or "The Unconditioned" is the Theravadin's "Buddha nature" :lmfao:


Kind regards

I am not certain if there is a concept of "Buddha Nature" in Theravadin Teachings.    The Arahant is a fully attained one.  What would be the point of "Buddha Nature" in any respect, even for a Maha?
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #41 on: November 21, 2011, 04:48:02 am »
"Mentality", "feeling", "perception", "consciousness", "volitional formations" all these are expressions applied to the ordinary, necessarily involved with dukkha and ignorance.

But these 4 aggregates, combined with form, are the totality of human experience, the All.  If you remove these 4 aggregates you are just left with form, the physical body, with no mind - which would be like somebody in a coma rather than an enlightened being.  Your theory simply doesn't make sense.

CP

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #42 on: November 21, 2011, 04:49:51 am »
When one ceases all cease.  This is nibbana without remainder. 

This sounds like annihilation though.

CP

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #43 on: November 21, 2011, 05:02:11 am »
When one ceases all cease.  This is nibbana without remainder. 

This sounds like annihilation though.

CP

Could your response to this concept of "all ceasing" be fear of losing consciousness?  Is this attachment?

Based upon my experience of losing consciousness during a heart attack several years back ( January of 1999), there was nothing to fear.  Quite peaceful, actually.  Very pleasant to see an end to all worldly concerns and experiences.

If the word "annihilation" lingers motivating grasping at consciousness, perhaps considering that it might just be annihilation of all attachments, leaving only compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity, and great joy for the accomplishments of all beings.  Even if this is not so, in truth, it would be a step away from fear, and from the dukkha brought on by all forms of clinging, grasping, and desire.

It is a difficult thing to do, for certain.  So, long as we are alive we will be clinging, grasping, and desirous of our next sustaining breath.  And, if we williingly release all attachment to consciousness, how will we know if we are still breathing?
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #44 on: November 21, 2011, 05:08:02 am »
When one ceases all cease.  This is nibbana without remainder. 

This sounds like annihilation though.

CP

Could your response to this concept of "all ceasing" be fear of losing consciousness?  Is this attachment?


My point was that one of the Buddha's unanswered questions was "what happens to a Tathagata after death".  It suggests that Pari-Nibbana isn't annihilation, isn't total cessation.

CP

 


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