Annihilation of ”mere cessation” ;)

If that is not evidence enough:
”When Dhamma is taught to them for the cessation of being” which means that cessation of being does NOT equal: ”when the body perishes at death, is annihilated and destroyed and does not exist after death—this is peaceful, this is excellent, this is reality!’ Thus, bhikkhus, do some overreach.
I don’t know what is (!) :wink:

So according to The Buddha himself: full cessation is NOT: this is peaceful, this is excellent, this is reality!”

and does not exist after death <~~~~ ! (This!) ^^^^^^^^^^
”this is peaceful, this is excellent, this is reality!’
Thus, bhikkhus, do some overreach.*

The final blow to ”mere cessation” (!) :man_playing_handball: :grin:



The “cessationist” explanation for this passage is those mendicants posit a self which is annihilated, which doesn’t really exist. So there’s no contradiction between cessation and Annihilation. I’m not sure if that’s correct or not. It seems pretty convenient.


AN3.90, last verse:

For one freed by craving’s destruction,
with the cessation of consciousness
the emancipation of the mind
is like the extinguishing of a lamp

In note 530 Bodhi refers to the commentary which says: 'this is the arahants emancipation of mind, occuring with the cessation of final consciousness. It is like the full extinguishing of a lamp. No place where it is gone is discerned; there is only arrival at the indiscernable state ( apannattikabhavupagamanoyeva hoti).

It does not seem like the commentators have here a view of mere cessationalism

Yeah it’s interesting even since the early schools there has been debate on the nature of Nibbana. I believe I read somewhere(Wikipedia?) that some Pudgalavadans believed Nibbana to be a reality.

the SN.36.7 is also quite revelatory:

“Just as an oil lamp burns in dependence on oil & wick; and from the termination of the oil & wick — and from not being provided any other sustenance — it goes out unnourished; in the same way, when sensing a feeling limited to the body, he discerns that ‘I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.’ When sensing a feeling limited to life, he discerns that ‘I am sensing a feeling limited to life.’ He discerns that ‘With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.’”


he discern that after the termination of life there is something to grow and being cooled.

Sources shows that when somebody experience nibbana there is not doubt about no difference between nibbana and parinibbana. That doubt is part of the 3 first fetters eradicated at stream-entry.

I do not believe it literally says that there is something to grow, but all just becomes/grows cool . Cool is a way to talk about Nibbana as reality, i believe. Coolness.

At least it also does not say that everything ceases. Maybe there is some sutta that speaks of parinibbana as mere cessation or everything just ceases, but i have not yet seen one. I see sutta’s who do not want us to understand parinibbana as a mere cessation.

You may be right. Do you have a reference?

Probably mere cessationalist will spread the idea wordwide that at sotapanna stage one knows for sure that parinibbana is a mere cessation and that is part of the doubt that vanishes.

They believe only rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana exist. A fleeting , constant changing, composition of phyiscal and mental processes. At death of an arahant only this process ends. Seeing that there are only arising, ceasing, changing, physical and mental processes, and nothing stable, nothing constant(no asankhata), is, according them the highest insight. Even sa-upadisesa Nibbana is mere a word for a conditioned state that also will cease at a last death.

So, no person will never really know the end of suffering. Because that lies after death when all has ceased. It is seen as non-existence, or just of the end of existence but ofcourse this is not known.
What a Buddha and arahant knows, according them, is the prospect that all death all will cease. Apparantly that is the bliss of Nibbana.

There is no room for asankhata in this interpretation. All has the characteristic to arise, cease and change. While in fact Buddha teaches the Path to asankhata (SN43)

I believe this is normal, but it is not normal that things one does not know for sure are spread worldwide as being known as for sure. I believe, there is no person who knows for sure that parinibbana is a mere cessation, but it is quit normal for people to present it that way. That is worrying.
At least then say things like…i believe…i think…i feel…it is my idea that…my interpretation.

That things that are not really known are presented as true knowledge that is my greatest concern.

For me, mere cessation does not seem likely but i will not present this as true knowledge.

The cessation vs not cessation debate is one of those ping pong type debates. I see your point about the end of suffering not really being known, I believe I read on this forum an explanation that you have an inferential understanding that dukkha will end at death. I know it’s not a great argument to say “why didn’t the the Buddha say exactly this?” But the Buddha did say a lot that nibbana is cessation and cessation with nothing left over. Yes, there are those suttas that speak of Nibbana in a positivist light. There are no suttas, afaik, that say “Nibbana is (a) reality”. The fact that the inspired sayings Sutta on the unconditioned can be argued either way makes things tricky.

There seems to be more evidence pointing towards cessation. I admit I don’t truly know and I’ll admit I would really love it if nibbana is an unconditioned reality far beyond expression. Perhaps, if I can ask you personally, is that what you would want even if you could be proven Nibbana=just cessation. Proven textually let’s just remove attainments for right now. This is something I had to ask myself because if I want an eternal reality I could go study Hinduism!

I could easily believe what i would want my ideal spiritual reality to be, but there is something inspiring about being challenged. If I really have faith in Dhamma sometimes I need to say I don’t know but evidence points one way. I’m not sure yet but I can’t allow myself to force a conclusion if I don’t like the answer.

1 Like

Key is the word ‘self’. The annihilationist position that holds that a self (i.e. entity) gets destroyed. The position of cessation is that origination of suffering stops (i.e. ceases). To destroy something or to stop something from re-arising is a fundamentally different concept.


So nirodha as dukkha not re-arising, rather than dukkha being “destroyed”?

Which sutta is this from? I don’t recall Nibbana being described as “reality”, and I’m curious about which Pali term was used here.

1 Like

Where does he say so? I do not know these sutta’s. Does he say somewhere that the end of rebirth is a mere cessation? Does he somewhere say that after a last death everything ceases? Where?

I do not understand such reasoning. What is reality? Is jhana reality? One can experience it, be in that state. Well, likewise Nibbana. It is described in the sutta’s (really it is) as a sublime state of supreme peace. It is arrived at when clinging tendencies are gone. This is called (really it is) an imperishable state and also everlasting in the sutta’s. Nibbana can also be directly seen or known, is said in the sutta’s. Is Nibbana then still not a reality? What is then a reality?

Buddha is also very clear that only because there is an unborn, unmade, unproduced, unconditioned dimension, sphere (or call it whatever) there is an escape of suffering. It is madness to think this is about a state where all has ceases after a final death. A mere cessation can never ever be describes as a state, dimension, sphere, or as unmade, or free of suffering etc. It can only be seen as non-existence.


Thanks for asking!

It do not think that way. I believe Buddha has discovered what has always been, always is and will always be beyond this world, beyond all worlds and beyond birth, decay, death, suffering. Only engagement via defilements makes us believe we are in the world, off the world and part of the world. Only engagement keep the wheel rolling. Only engagments lead to distorted knowing and perceptions. For example: “I am this body, i am vinnana, i am a stream of vinnana’s”…such ideas are all distortions based upon engagement with khandha’s.

Especially (the karmically loaded) vinnana is the great magician. It arises because of engagement with what is seen, heard, felt, known. That kind of defiled and distorted knowing constantly feeds the idea that we are humans born into this world, man or woman, buddhist or jews etc. All distorted knowing that always relies on some form of engagement with body, feelings, will, ideas, views, beliefs etc.
The awakened ones see these are only the views, the perceptions, the feelings, the belief, the way of experiencing of the distorted knowing or impure mind.

But what if there is no engagement at all with what is seen, felt, known? Then we starts to talk about pure Dhamma, right? You cannot talk about pure Dhamma from the distorted knowing of vinnana. If we see ourselves as a stream of vinnana’s than we are allready fully trapped in distortion. Also if we see ourselves a humans. How can one arrive at truth if one relies on distorted knowing?

So, indeed, i believe, for a Buddha and awakend one, a noble, a pure one, there is no idea of cessation but there is especially the kind of knowledge of engaging mind and its distortions, and there is the knowledge of non-engaging mind and its seeing things as they really are. It never looks upon mind as a stream of vinnana’s. Only the avijja and tanha ruled mind does.

I believe that if one sees into this, the not-engaging mind is anidassanam. It is untraceable. Not that it has ceasded but you are unable to see and trace it. And this is what i believe is also said about an arahant in this very life and after death too.

Some may believe that untraceable in this very life more or less denies the existence of an arhant, someone who personally attained Nibbana, i do not. It only means, i believe, that the mind that is really without any engagement (tanha), it cannot be seen, traced, found. It is like grasping air. One grasps nothing. If one seeks the mind without engagment, one will never ever find it as a stream.

Mere cessationalist believe the Buddha did not discover anything that is beyond this world or another world but sutta’s clearly speak of that. For me, Dhamma starts also here. It is not worldly. What is worldly relates to this world and the other world, but Dhamma is also un-wordly. Buddha-Dhamma is literally said to be a Path to the stable, constant, the not-desintegrating, the Amazing etc.

I believe, in the end this all refers to what is never engaged. Tanha refers to all what leads to engagement. But i think i have some feeling for what is not engaged. Mere cessationlist do not see this as anything special. I have seen this here. They think that what is not engaged is still just some stream of vinnana. I do not believe so. What is not engaged is extremly subtle, the Amazing, Grace, asankhata, the Trtuh. All words EBT used to describe this.

An sich, i do not believe resistance is bad. I feel it is not that bad that the hearts feel resistance to lying, cheating, egocentric life, seperation, alienation, or feels resistance to see life as a problem that must be solved because there is suffering. I also do not feel the Buddha saw life as a problem that must be solved. He never gave up on life. That is why he became a Buddha. There is no person in the entire world who has more faith in life then a Buddha.

Mere cessationalist believe there are only conditionally arising formations and temporary constructed states (sankhata) and that is for them reality, apparantly. But Buddha also teaches the reality of asankhata. That was has opposite characteristics. I do not know why one wants to see sankhata as only real and asankhata not. That choice is nowhere supported in the texts. That is a complete subjective personal choice one makes. I feel those that also acknowledge asankhata to be real, are more in line with the sutta’s. But i also do not want to start a discussion on what can be called real. I only want to say that the teachings really describe the constructed and unconstructed. What is seen arising, ceasing and changing and what is not. To think about mere cessation at a final death as that what is not seen arising , ceasing en changing and does not desintegrate is, for me, completely irrational and absurd.
And if the personally attained Nibbana of the arahant (mind without clinging) also just ceases at a final death, that cannot be asankahata.

So, i believe there cannot be a place for asankhata in a mere cessationalist view but it only accept the constructed and this will all cease.

You’re correct. In the phrase being cited, there is no Pāli word for “reality” nor the combination of words, “this is reality.”

Oke, but we really do not have to doubt that the EBT treat Nibbana as something that can be perceived and directly known. MN1 and other sutta’s state that.

I have seen some here claim that the only things that can be directly known are: visual for the eye, sound for the ear, smells for the nose, taste for the tongue, tactile sensation via the body, and dhamma (ideas, thoughts, emotions etc) for the mind.

I believe this is not true. One can also directly know states like arupa jhana’s, or elements, like MN1 says. One can also have a direct taste, as it were, of the mind with or without certain conditions. One can directly know how it feels to have a restricted mind or open mind, burdened mind or burdenfree mind, stressed mind or relaxed. Or a mind with greed, mind with hate etc. Those have different flavours and those different flavours can be directly known too.

In the same way Nibbana can be directly known as the flavour of mind without any unvoluntairy engagement with sense-objects, i.e. a mind without clinging. It has the flavour of peace, freedom and non-burden. It can be directly known.

I second this, and I’d like to add just a little bit for people to contemplate from the Kaccānagotta Sutta (SN 12.15).

But if—when it comes to this attraction, grasping, mental fixation, insistence, and underlying tendency—you don’t get attracted, grasp, and commit to the notion ‘my self’, you’ll have no doubt or uncertainty that what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing. Your knowledge about this is independent of others.

The two views denied in the sutta are the views of existence (atthikā) and non-existence (natthikā). But this is explained away as seeing the arising and ceasing of the world (i.e. a being’s existence or experience with the senses or aggregates). And as letting go of notions of a ‘self.’ It says if you don’t hold on to the idea of a self, you see that it’s just dukkha that arises and ceases, not a self that continues on or a self that is annihilated.

Identifying with the aggregates would tend to be the annihilationist view. So the idea is that the self is the aggregates, and so when the aggregates cease (at death), the self ceases and is annihilated. The eternalist view would tend to identify the self as (1) owning, (2) being outside of, or (3) being inside but separate from, the khandhas. So when the khandhas change or cease, they see the self as existing and continuing on.

The Buddha is saying that when you see dependent arising, you’ll see that everything that arises is just dukkha, not a self, and all of that will cease, so there is no self seen to cease or persists. Just dukkha. And trying to go ‘outside’ or ‘beyond’ or ‘inside’ of that is just the notion of some ongoing existence. Trying to identify as it is just the notion of you ceasing to exist.

If you find all of this too much, my advice would be to just stick to developing the mind, reading the Buddha’s other teachings in the suttas that are about other topicsc and trying to build a more solid basis in inner joy, calm, and understanding with the rest. Then you’ll have a bigger picture of what the Buddha is talking about, and more personal experience with his teachings to contemplate it better. Mettā.


Exactly. As per the verses in SN 5.10.

"Why do you believe there’s such a thing as a 'sentient being’?
Māra, is this your theory?
This is just a pile of conditions,
you won’t find a sentient being here.

When the parts are assembled
we use the word ‘chariot’.
So too, when the aggregates are present 'sentient being’ is the convention we use.

But it’s only suffering that comes to be, lasts a while, then disappears.
Naught but suffering comes to be,
naught but suffering ceases.”

Yes, that’s effectively what it comes down to.

But isolated words are just isolated words; it’s the context that matters. Very occasionally the Buddhists in the suttas use similar words as the annihilationists, such as vibhava and uccheda respectively in SN22.55 and AN8.11, both of which could feasibly be translated as “destruction”. (Although that is perhaps too strong in a Buddhist context, the words are exactly the same as those used by the annihilationists in the sutta quoted at the start of this discussion (Iti49).)

However, what is quote-unquote “destroyed” according to Buddhists is not an essence like a self but a process. That is exactly where the fundamental difference lies.

It’s like closing a water tap stops the water from flowing: nothing is truly destroyed when you do so. Annihilationists on the other hand, in this metaphor would believe the water or tap was totally destroyed.


Hello Ven. @Sunyo! :pray:

So the annihilationist position that holds that a self gets destroyed:

becoming horrified, repelled, and disgusted with existence, delight in ending existence: ‘When this self is annihilated and destroyed when the body breaks up, and doesn’t exist after death: that is peaceful, that is sublime, that is how it is.’ That is how some overreach.

Only differs from cessationists who reject a self, with the following:

when the body breaks up, and doesn’t exist after death: that is peaceful, that is sublime, that is how it is.’

Are you sure cessationists do not overreach with that assertion?

‘The Tathagata does not exist after death’

and doesn’t exist after death: that is peaceful, that is sublime, that is how it is’ That is how some overreach.

Instead of replying with a counter question like this “Friend, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The Tathagata exists after death.’” I am more interested in if ‘The Tathagata does not exist after death’ is to overreach?

And if no, why is that so?

Maybe because ”mere cessation” is not: ”peaceful, sublime & how it is” since that is to overreach?

Regardless of a self or not.

Because it is difficult to quantify the Tathagata during life?

So without a self this it not to overreach?