Bhikkhu Bodhi on Nibbāna

Hello Venerable!

The six sense contacts are explicitly described by the Teacher as void, hollow and completely insubstantial. They cannot be found when searched for with analysis in just the same way as the self cannot be found. The manner in which they exist is the same way in which the self exists; they exist in a completely void, hollow and insubstantial way that cannot be found when searched for.

The self cannot be found when looked for just like the chariot cannot be found when looked for when searched for among its parts. However, that doesn’t mean that chariots utterly don’t exist. They exist by being named as a ‘chariot’ via common agreement when a valid basis exists. That is the same manner in which we can say a self exists; by common agreement when a valid basis exists. However, neither a chariot nor a person can be found when looked for with analysis.

Yes, I mean the same thing. A chariot, a person, the aggregates, the six sense contacts; none of these things can be found when we look for them with analysis. Still, they exist by being correctly named through common agreement depending upon a valid basis. They exist, but in a completely insubstantial, void, and hollow fashion.

Yes, eye contact, form, the aggregates, the self, the Tathagata, the person, a chariot; all of these exist. How? In a completely void, hollow and insubstantial fashion. None of them can be found when looked for with analysis. That does not mean they are utterly and totally non-existent.

I have not been denying this. I agree that nibbana is cessation, but where we seem to disagree is the cessation of what? You seem to believe the self is utterly non-existent (thus can’t be said to cease), but somehow is made of real substantial parts that do exist; and hence it is these real substantial parts that cease. I think this is illogical and contradictory. At least, I cannot make sense of it. The self, the aggregates, the person, a chariot, the six sense contacts; yes, all of these are dependently existent and arise and cease as conditions do. I do not deny this.

You seem to believe that the aggregates exist in a substantial way in which the self does not. And you seem to believe the path is all about some trick that unwinds these real aggregates by denying any existence of a self whatsoever to achieve a real and final death.

It is as if you believe one can make the very real parts of a chariot utterly disappear from existence once and for all by somehow denying that any chariot at all exists. So I remain baffled at how this is supposed to work.

As long as you believe that the aggregates are real and exist in a way that the self does not I don’t see how you’re going to come off this view that focuses so much on death.




Rather than debating over definitions of abstract terms like real and unreal. void, insubstantial and substantial, etc., I think we agree that everything experienced by, and including, the six sense fields is anicca, hence dukkha.

"What’s impermanent is suffering. Yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ;
What’s suffering has ceased and ended. yaṁ dukkhaṁ taṁ niruddhaṁ tadatthaṅgataṁ.

Selfless processes and impermanent conditions are essentially synonyms for dukkha.

As in SN12.15:
"what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing.‘Dukkhameva uppajjamānaṁ uppajjati, dukkhaṁ nirujjhamānaṁ nirujjhatī.

"“Mendicants, the arising, continuation, rebirth, and manifestation of form [and the other aggregates] is the arising of suffering, the continuation of diseases, and the manifestation of old age and death.

“The cessation, settling, and ending of form [and the other aggregates] is the cessation of suffering, the settling of diseases, and the ending of old age and death.”
Yo ca kho, bhikkhave, rūpassa nirodho vūpasamo atthaṅgamo, dukkhasseso nirodho rogānaṁ vūpasamo jarāmaraṇassa atthaṅgamo.

Conditional experience is dukkha.
Nibbāna is the ending of it.


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This is just obscuring the disagreement, not illuminating it to my mind. From past conversation it seems you are using dukkha as a euphemism to mean the real parts of a non-existent self ending at death. :pray:

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Rather, just getting to the core of the 4NTs and DO. Which are about dukkha and its cessation. Yes?

What’s obscuring imo, very often, are abstract debates about abstract terms and definitions.

The sutta citations offered above (and many others) simplify things in this sense.
Experiences in all manifestations – whatever labels are given to them – are dukkha.
That’s what the suttas above literally say.

End that and dukkha ends. Is this not what the core of the teachings are about?

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Yes, but I think you understand I have no contention with the statement that dukkha ends nor those suttas you cite. The terms I use are the ones the Teacher used according to the translations. Still, we disagree that the 4NTs are about the demise of truly existing parts of a non-existent self ending at death. :pray:

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Hi Pyjter, :slight_smile: Thanks for your reply.

There’s no need to apologize, as I was also coming from good faith. I just wanted to point it out in general because others may misunderstand it.

Anyway. Instead of replying to every single point you made, I’ll back up a bit to illuminate some central problems I perceive in Ven. Anālayo’s work.

You say I may have a good point when I asked for passages where nibbāna is said to be beyond language. I tend to agree :wink: , because I think the only one Venerable Anālayo refers to is the Upasīva Sutta. But that is meager evidence for such a central thesis. First of all, because the sutta actually talks about the sage being unable to be defined, not nibbāna itself. As I said, this is a reference to anatta, not to the ineffability of nibbāna. Also, because of how the Buddha himself explains the limits of language in this text: “When everything is eradicated, all ways of describing are eradicated as well.” As I also said, when nothing is left, there is nothing to be named or defined. So to Ven Anālayo, nibbāna is beyond language because it is some ineffable transcendent condition. To the Buddha it is simply because “everything is eradicated”.

But I’ve already said all that. :slight_smile: To get to the point, this is eradication isn’t annihilationism, which is about a self getting destroyed. Even in the Upasīva Sutta, in the line just before this one, the Buddha explains there is no self. This is indicated by SN1.20 which has an identical line: “For that does not exist for him, by which one could describe him.” (Bodhi tl.) This is said in the context of conceiving there to be one who is the teacher/communicator and the conceit “I am better/equal/worse”. So the topic here is anatta. It’s not that a teacher/communicator is in some condition that is beyond language, as Anālayo interprets the sage to be, in the identical line in the Upasīva Sutta. SN1.20 talks about a teacher who is alive versus the extinguished sage after death, but the point is the same: we should not take either to be a self. So, Ven. Anālayo is mistaken when he thinks the Buddha doesn’t teach anatta in his reply to Upasīva—on the contrary, this is exactly what he does. He explains that, when “everything is eradicated” and when “the sage disappears”, it isn’t an annihilation of a self.

This is something Venerable Anālayo does multiple times: not considering the concept of anatta when discussing the doctrine of annihilationism. He explains that the presence of a self doesn’t distinguish annihilationism from the remainderless cessation of self-less processes. But in doing so, it is he who is setting up a straw man (let’s assume unintentionally), because what the annihilationists in the discourses continually say or indicate gets destroyed is exactly a self/being. (This can be a philosophical proposed self or a psychological one, which, having wrong view, all materialists also have.) Ven Anālayo says that the remainderless cessation of the mere aggregates, without the involvement of a self, is also annihilationism. I don’t mind him calling it such himself, but in the discourses the doctrine of annihilationism is always something different.

This is clear for example in SN22.85, where Venerable Yamaka lets go of the view of annihilationism when he realizes that the death of an enlightened being is just the cessation of the five aggregates, not the destruction of a being/self. He doesn’t let go of that view by realizing extinguishment after death is some kind of transcendental experience.

So Venerable Anālayo equates mere cessation to annihilationism on the basis of their perceived outcome, but in doing so neglects the actual difference made in the suttas. The perceived outcome may indeed not be different, but that doesn’t make them identical views. The assumption of a self is what makes all the difference here.

Actually, the Buddhists used the same terms as the annihilationists. The difference is, they don’t reference a self. The annihilationists say a self gets cut off/annihilated (uccheda) and destroyed/eradicated/annihilated (vibhava, eg. DN1). The Buddhist say existence get cut off/annihilated (uccheda, eg. Thig5.5) and that the aggregates get destroyed/eradicated/annihilated (vibhava, e.g. SN22.55). As to this latter discourse, Ven Anālayo also notes it “speaks of the annihilation of each aggregate” (at Samyukta translations vol 3.). So perhaps what Anālayo calls annihilation, namely the remainderless cessation of the self-less aggregates, isn’t such a wrong view after all. :slight_smile: The early Buddhists themselves called it as much (in Pāli).

Ven. Anālayo also misrepresents the Upāsiva Sutta when he paraphrases it as: “Upasīva’s next inquiry is whether such going out [of the sage] should be understood to entail that there is nothing or else that there is eternal absence of affliction.” But “there is nothing” is never said by Upāsiva. He explicitly asks whether he would no longer exist, hence he’s assuming self:

He who disappeared, does he no longer exist?
Or is he eternally well [lit. ‘without affliction’]?

Anālayo earlier realizes that “since Upasīva’s query concerned either annihilation or an eternal condition, it seems that he should be envisaged as operating under the assumption that there is a self.” But then why paraphrase Upasīva’s actual words on annihilationism as “there is nothing” and not quote them as they actually are? Note that he leaves this verse out, even though he includes the surrounding verses (with a questionable translation of “one gone to the end” instead of “one who disappeared/came to an end”).

As to Venerable Anālayo’s own view: he mentions “the after-death condition of the sage”, and this condition is not “mere nothingness”. So I can only conclude that to him the sage still exists in some form. To get back to the Buddha’s accusation of annihilationism in MN22, where you think “it’s also significant what he doesn’t say”. With this in mind, then it is at least just as significant that he doesn’t reply by simply saying he teaches more than nothingness, that he teaches some transcendent state. Nobody would ever accuse him of annihilation ever again, just like nobody is ever going to accuse venerable Anālayo as such. (Yet those who teach remainderless cessation continually are compared to annihilationists, just like the Buddha was… Ven. Anālayo is making a 2500-year-old mistake.)

Although I think we can derive everything we need to know from what the Buddha actually does say, I can, to some extent, agree there may be some significance in what he doesn’t say. But only when we consider the entire canon, not just two or three discourses where we expect a certain specific response. Throughout the entire canon it is never said that nibbāna after death is some sort of experience or perception. That seems much more significant to me than a specific reply to Upasīva or to the accusations of annihilationism—both of which can very well be interpreted to actually say what Ven Anālayo thinks they do not say.

Venerable Anālayo’s view actually fits Upasīva’s second assumption: the sage is forever without affliction. Despite this condition being supposed to be beyond language (which I disagree with), what Venerable Anālayo presents is an eternalist doctrine. The discourses talk about wrong views of percipient selves that last forever, and although he doesn’t explicitly calls it such, this something that is “to be experienced” and perceived, is a kind of self or aspect of a self. Same for Venerable Bodhi’s transcendental experience. Whatever we do or do not call it, doesn’t make a difference for what it is. The difference is merely nominal.

Finally, I do not read Chinese, but will point out a significant difference between Venerable Anālayo’s translation of MA200 (parallel to MN22) and that of Charles Patton:

(Anālayo:) Recluses and brahmins misrepresent me by falsely saying what is untrue: “The recluse Gotama proclaims what leads to annihilation; he proclaims the cutting off and destruction of truly existent sentient beings.” Yet, I make no statements about what herein does not exist. I do state that here and now the Tathāgata is free of sorrow.

(Patton:) Ascetics and priests misrepresent me. They speak falsely and not truly: “The ascetic Gautama guides without any supposition. He claims that a really existent sentient being is ended, ceased, and destroyed.” If this were so, the absence of self wouldn’t be explained. The Tathāgata explains the absence of sorrow in the present life.

I thought 無我 was a standard expression for anatta, but Ven Anālayo seems to split it up into “I” and “not exist”. But that seems to my untrained eye unwarranted, for one because in the rest of the response (not all of which I quoted) the Buddha refers to himself as ‘the Tathāgata’, not as ‘I’. Maybe @cdpatton himself can clarify 若此中無我不說.

Contextually Patton’s translation makes more sense. The Buddha is again pointing out that he doesn’t teach annihilation because there is no self, no “really existent being”. Though the Pāli parallel is different, there he does the same by saying there is only suffering (no self) and a cessation of suffering (not of a self). This, again, points out the difference between his view and annihilationism, which is not in the perceived outcome.

I’ll let you have the final word if you so wish. :slight_smile: Thanks for the exchange, it helped me think more clearly about all this. I’ll probably write something more official at some point in the future—and something less polemic. I apologize if the above comes across as too much of an affront attack; being direct is just the easiest way to word things when a bit short on time.

You don’t need to explicitly mention death to clarify what you are talking about. If I say “my grandfather is not in this world anymore” it simply means he died. The sutta talks about not being in any of the realms nor in between (death and rebirth), which refers to not being reborn anywhere. This is clarified elsewhere:

If there is no departing and arriving, there is no passing on and being reborn. If there is no passing on and being reborn, you will not be here, not in the beyond, nor in between the two. Just that is the end of suffering. (E.g. Ud8.4)

In Ud8.1 “just the end of suffering” is said to be the absence of the form and formless among many other things. The Buddha still experienced these things, which means “just the end of suffering” wasn’t reached yet.

(@Sood sorry I followed your earlier post by saying the exact same in different words. I didn’t notice or perhaps we posted at the same time.)


This assertion about “truly existing parts” is not what I’ve been expressing – but that may be due to a lack of clarity on my part.

At the same time, there is dukkha. And that is what I’ve been expressing here along with the sutta citations.

"what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing.‘Dukkhameva uppajjamānaṁ uppajjati, dukkhaṁ nirujjhamānaṁ nirujjhatī.

No need to add abstract terms like “truly existing” and “parts.”
Dukkha arises and dukkha ceases. And dukkha, since it arises from conditions and is impermanent is also empty of self and “void” as you might say.
Meanwhile: dukkha is experienced and its cessation is the purpose of the Path.

You can have the final word if you wish. Thanks for the convo.


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The problem is that if 無我 isn’t translating anatta, then we are reading a sentence with a double negative. “I don’t say nothing” or “There’s nothing I don’t say.” Then, it refers back to the claim by the ascetics and priests with a conditional clause: “If in this there’s nothing, I don’t say it.” Or maybe “If this is so, there’s nothing I don’t say.” Anyway, it doesn’t make sense because of the double negative.

So, I read it as a sentence with an implied subject and 無我 as the object of the verb 不說. Which is Indic grammar forced onto Chinese, as often happened in Buddhist translations.

Personally, I think anatta denies the existence of a soul underlying a being, not the being itself. Indian philosophy equated substance with existence, so Buddhists were always being accused of nihilism (and Buddhists were always accusing each other of substantialism). To say an arhat doesn’t cease because he doesn’t exist is double talk. If he didn’t “not-cease,” he’d be reborn again, yes? Meaning he does exist prior to being an arhat. Or perhaps all of this is a big illusion? There’s no rebirth or Nirvana, as Nagarajuna claimed? Ah, but now we see how his logic arose. Indians didn’t mean what we mean when they said “exist.” I.e., Nagarjuna wasn’t saying nothing exists, but that nothing exists independently as an a priori entity because there aren’t any underlying substances to define them.


Just so you know, I hope your interpretation of mahayana type emptiness is wrong, or else you are really poisoning the concept for me.

Let’s use arahant experience as an example to illustrate why your claim is not the case.

Arahants, having eradicated ignorance, self view, conceit, has totally no sense of self. They don’t even need to look for it to not be there. However, they clearly still have 6 sense contacts functioning, appearing to them. Thus in this sense, their “existence” is not the same thing.

In Bahiya sutta, the seen, heard, sensed, known are just seen, heard, sensed, known, without a self in it. By this too it can be seen that the notion of self being empty of existence is not the same as the 6 sense contacts not existing.

They understand: ‘Here there is no stress due to the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, or ignorance. There is only this modicum of stress, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.’ They understand: ‘This field of perception is empty of the perception of the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. There is only this that is not emptiness, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.’ And so they regard it as empty of what is not there, but as to what remains they understand that it is present. That’s how emptiness is born in them—genuine, undistorted, and pure.

The sutta quote says basically the same thing.

and just in case someone thinks Mahayana type emptiness is higher level as opposed to being deluded, here’s the Buddha saying this is the supreme emptiness.

Whatever ascetics and brahmins enter and remain in the pure, ultimate, supreme emptiness—whether in the past, future, or present—all of them enter and remain in this same pure, ultimate, supreme emptiness. So, Ānanda, you should train like this: ‘We will enter and remain in the pure, ultimate, supreme emptiness.’ That’s how you should train.”

6 sense contacts are not amongst them.

The aggregates, 6 sense contacts are dependently arisen. The self, person, chariot are concepts we put onto reality, of the 6 sense contacts. Thus those concepts are empty of actual existence, but are just thoughts, being concepts, the notion of impermanence, etc is not really able to be applied to it. That is why meditation on Jhāna uses concepts to have stability. The concepts however are made of thoughts which are impermanent, thus in this way, they too are not permanently available to us.

By the formula of dependent origination, it is those delusion of self, taking what is mere thoughts as real that drives the process of rebirth, after birth, the mutual conditioning of consciousness and name and form makes it so that the body and mind continues to exist until death. Only way to stop totally is not having further literal rebirth. Not just rebirth as a concept in the mind. To stop further rebirth, only way is to end ignorance.

Since you go too far with denying 6 sense contacts, and then thus not going far enough with no self, to see that with the cessation of everything, that’s a deeper and the most ultimate insight into no self. A self inherently wants to continue to exist in some form. It can happily accept the notion of 6 sense contacts continue after parinibbāna or the 5 unclung to aggregates don’t need to cease completely at death, etc. Anything at all is not yet final no self insight, except for seeing total cessation. For then there’s nothing, not even the concept of nothing, not even the perception of nothing to cling onto as self.

Also, do watch the tone, as far as I can see, the monastics here are pretty consistent with what we are presenting as the nature of parinibbāna. Just because some people with wrong view are more energetic in replying in a lot of topics, doesn’t make their wrong view turns true. It just makes the forum a less pleasant place to hang out in. That’s the main reason I don’t frequent dhammawheel forum, too many energetic wrong view poster who has no realistic chance of changing their minds.

What really makes a living being, a car, a person very different from the parts is that the parts all work together as a functioning whole, a unity. This unity is completely different from the parts. This unity has also unique qualities. All those bodily and mental processes are finetuned. That finetuning that more or less defines a living being, a person, a car.

This is also what analyses shows. Analyses shows that a car, a living being, a person is not merely a concept and surely cannot be reduced to mere parts or processes.

If one really believes that a living being does not exist or is a concept, and there are only physical and mental processes, what does killing even mean?

I think you can put it like this…any aggregation means suffering, a burden, a weight on the mind.
Aggregation is like a coarsening process, like aggregation of atoms that form larger structures.
Also mental aggregation comes with coarsening and forming mental structures one starts to feel that weight.

Something is constructed and that is felt. And when things are felt that weighs on the mind.

Only when aggregation happens and vinnana’s arise things are felt. Supreme Emptiness (= Nibbana according Patisambhidamagga) cannot be felt because it is without aggregation.

Why would one even eat or drink when hunger and thirst are not at all anymore seen nor felt as me and mine. Why would one even care for the body? Why would one even care for wellbeing without any sense of self?

To me it seems more likely that a Buddha and arahant have no instinctive grasping anymore and so also not an instinctive sense of me and mine making but have still a me and mine making that makes daily life possible.

Thanks for the clarification of the Chinese, Charles. :+1: From my limited knowledge, your translation makes more sense. To be honest, I don’t know what Ven. Anālayo’s even means.

Just to clarify the anatta thing. Indeed, anatta doesn’t deny that beings exist. But how the word ‘being’ is understood differs from person to person. When the annihilationists speak about a truly existent being, it doesn’t refer to a collection of empty aggregates but to something more substantial, to some non-existent entity that is thought to be the being. Someone who owns the aggregates, for example—that is: for all purposes, a soul.

In SN5.10 it is said to Māra: “Why do you believe there’s such a thing as a ‘sentient being’?” This seems a silly reply if we define ‘the being’ as just the collection of aggregates/six senses (which is sometimes done in the discourses). But it’s so not silly if we realize that Māra was assuming some entity behind the aggregates. Here ‘being’ effectively stands for a imagined ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘self’ on account of Māra.

It’s about psychology as much as it is about ontology, about how certain terms get misunderstood on a subtle level. If people hear “the sage, he no longer exists”, then, like Upasīva, they take this to be the eradication of some entity. That’s just the natural, initial reaction of the unenlightened mind. It’s a conceit, although in terms of he rather than I.

Likewise, it’s not that the arahant doesn’t exist at all. The point is, people take ‘arahant’ (or ‘sage’) to be more than a label for empty processes. See also Siderits explanation of the fire metaphor in this topic.

You can disagree with this of course, but just making sure you didn’t misunderstand my post. :slight_smile:

PS. Nāgārjuna doesn’t represent all Indians, certainly not of the time of the Buddha. His work was a response to a specific philosophy (Abhidhammic) in a specific point in time. This kind of language (or concerns) about existence and nonexistence isn’t found in the Pali canon.


So, if we listen to a Buddha we listen to empty processes? If a Buddha is wounded an empty process is wounded? Empty processes were worried that they would be burdened starting teachings?
Empty processes claim enlightment? Empty processes have preference for silent Sangha’s?
Empty processes travel to other realms?

Hello Venerable!

It has nothing to do with Mahayana. This thread is devoted to understanding Nibbana from the Theravada via the Pali canon and I’m attempting to stay on topic.


You’ve misunderstood what I’ve said for the claim that the six sense contacts don’t exist. That is not what I’ve said nor is it what I would state.

This has nothing to do with Mahayana. This thread is devoted to understanding Nibbana from the Theravada via the Pali canon.

You seem to think the 6 sense contacts are unique and that the Teacher did not describe them as empty.

I do not go too far. I go as far as the Teacher went:

‘Empty village’ is a term for the six interior sense fields.
Suñño gāmoti kho, bhikkhave, channetaṁ ajjhattikānaṁ āyatanānaṁ adhivacanaṁ.
If an astute, competent, clever person investigates this in relation to the eye, it appears vacant, hollow, and empty.
Cakkhuto cepi naṁ, bhikkhave, paṇḍito byatto medhāvī upaparikkhati rittakaññeva khāyati, tucchakaññeva khāyati, suññakaññeva khāyati …pe…
If an astute, competent, clever person investigates this in relation to the ear … nose … tongue … body …
jivhāto cepi naṁ, bhikkhave …pe…
mind, it appears vacant, hollow, and empty.
manato cepi naṁ, bhikkhave, paṇḍito byatto medhāvī upaparikkhati rittakaññeva khāyati, tucchakaññeva khāyati, suññakaññeva khāyati.
SN 35.23

The six sense contacts are described by the Teacher in exactly the same way as all of the other aggregates; void, hollow, and completely insubstantial. They cannot be found when looked for with analysis. This is the same manner in which the Teacher said the self cannot be found. The self, persons, chariots, the aggregates, the six sense contacts exist. However, when we subject any of these to analysis they cannot be found. Thus they all appear void, hollow, and completely insubstantial when subject to analysis. Everything I’ve described here was taught by the Teacher according to the Pali canon to my mind.

This thread was started as a critique of a very well known and respected Theravada monk. I’m simply trying to engage with that critique to discover what can be discovered. I apologize if you’ve taken some offense with my words. It was not my intention to inject any kind of unpleasant tone into the conversation. It seems we have a disagreement, but I’ve endeavored to be kind in my words. If I’ve failed, then I apologize. I will redouble my watch to make sure no unkind speech leaks into my comments. Thank you for the correction Venerable.


It could very well be an error on my part ascribing to you the views of others in this thread. When I say ‘truly existing parts’ I mean the claim that the aggregates are somehow more substantial than the self. That the aggregates/six sense contacts somehow exist in a more substantial and definitive sense than the self which is completely non-existent. In this thread it seems Venerable @NgXinZhao is the biggest proponent of this view. I apologize if I was mistakenly ascribing to you views that you do not share.


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I think at least this is the classical theravada view.

conventional truth, we can speak of person, ultimate truth, only mentality and materiality exist. No person.

It’s the abhidhammic view.

Mentality and materiality are also impermanent suffering and not self. Empty of self. But we can describe arising and passing away of mentality and materiality based on conditionality. Therefore total cessation of mentality and materiality can be attained if we know how to end all conditionality, which is given in dependent cessation.

Whereas for the self concept, there isn’t actually any self to even apply the concept of emptiness to. All are empty of self. Therefore when asked about does the Buddha exist or not or both or neither after parinibbāna it cannot be answered because of wrong concept of self in the question.

When asked if mentality and materiality exist or not after parinibbāna, it can be said that materiality is left only corpse, mentality is no more. If asked about 6 sense bases before and after parinibbāna is there is before, no more after.

Thus don’t confuse between non-existent self concept vs ultimate reality which is also impermanent, suffering, and empty of self.


Unless I’m much mistaken, I don’t believe that Venerable @sujato believes this abhidhammic view. Of course, I usually am much mistaken. :joy: :pray:

I think there is a belief, at least in some parts of Mahayana buddhism, that the Buddha still exists in some substantial way.

You can find this view in all extant traditions to my knowledge. Does not make it correct. :pray:


Having previously trained for a number of years in a Mahayana tradition, this is generally true, although the word “substantial” could be debated or deleted in some Mahayana views.
There is an old saying in Zen that “The Buddha is still sitting”, indicating that since dukkha still exists and beings remain deluded the “work” of liberating beings is unfinished.
Hence, bodhisattvas take a vow to be reborn, perhaps ad infinitum, until all beings are liberated.

Clearly, this is a very different perspective than what is taught in the Nikāyas.

" When the Buddha became fully extinguished, Parinibbute bhagavati saha parinibbānā, along with the full extinguishment there was a great earthquake, awe-inspiring and hair-raising, and thunder cracked the sky.
When the Buddha became fully extinguished, Brahmā Sahampati recited this verse:

“All creatures in this world must lay down this bag of bones. For even a Teacher such as this, unrivaled in the world, the Realized One, attained to power, the Buddha became fully extinguished.”


I believe it is normal, in line with the EBT, not to think about the Tathagata as being born, decaying, and dying (AN10.81)

The Tathagata cannot be considered anymore in terms of the 5 khandha’s, he is immeasurable, deep as the ocean (MN72)

You cannot measure the Tathagata or Realised Ones. (AN3.80)

DN27 says that the Tathagata is the dhammakaya. The body of the Dhamma.

There are also sutta’s that make clear that the Tathagata is not a human. He can live as long as an eon.
A human body cannot. The radiance of a Tathagata can penetrate deep into the universe.

All these sutta’s do not suggest a Tathagata is mere impersonal processes. These can be measured.
To think about the Tathagata as mere a concept also seems irrational.