Bhikkhu Bodhi on Nibbāna

If you want to use that designation i don’t mind as long as you get the meaning correctly but i wouldn’t use those terms other than in a reference to there being two elements wherein one is described as dhuva.
So if you take the constructed and the unconstructed together as a whole then one part of that is dhuva stable and appavatta non-evolving/continuing.

However the unconstructed is not part of the constructed.

Now if the asankhata was part of the sankhata then one would say that the asankhata is then leftover, a residue purified of the stain of sankhata, but i do not say that asankhata is part of the sankhata nor that sankhata becomes asankhata.

Not calling it leftover is just semantics.

From the chart above, it seems that there’s some reification of the non-self below.

If the unmade is always there and is not a nothing, then it’s permanent and happy, and thus could be clung to as a self. Especially for after parinibbāna. This subtle escape clause for the self to hide is dangerous.

It’s far from a trifle. To say leftover is very strange and i wouldn’t do it. Are there supposed to be many leftovers?

Cessation is something but cessation is not always in the background as a base of your pecipience or a foundation of the world that you see.

I don’t think that i can explain it better without going out on a limb and overextending but i can try

In a nutshell and my own words.

You know how there is a wave-particle duality and cognition plays a part of ‘collapsing the wave function’.

Now the way i used to think about the cessation attainment was as being brought about as a conscious determination not to collapse the wave function in general due to disinterestedness & not giving of attention. Because if there is no collapse then there is no here or there and no perception, but we are still talking about something not a nothing albeit there are no things perceived here and it is a singleness. One is not warranted in saying ‘everything is then in a superposition’ because there is no reference of one thing in relation to another and the concepts describing physics pertaining to the perceived world do not apply. Also it follows that consciousness would also cease with the cessation of collapsing of wave-function because the two are like the two reeds supporting one another, you need consciousness to conceive & perceive the world and you need the world to conceive & perceive the coming into play of consciousness. So these are rather one & same and what perceives & conceives the world in the world is hence called ‘a world’.

Your post doesn’t follow with the way you now think of cessation.

Anyway, following ajahn Brahm’s pattern in saying that impermanence is not the tv channel changes, but the tv is gone. I would say to apply to the wavefunction analogy is that after parinibbāna there’s no more wavefunction, not just that it’s there but not collapsed. Not even the possibility of arising again ever.

As from this video, the ninth level of nothing is basically parinibbāna.

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This is an unsubstantiated statement. It seems like it to you because you do not understand what i am saying but i assure you that the understanding i had turned out as expected and i just explain things differently now.

I mean this seems like it’s missing a part 2, of what you now think of cessation attainment. And my second paragraph is my own take on this.

Yes i understand it looks like this because i just spoke of that which ceases and how it’d be if all ceased but as if leaving out what is that which is when the constructed ceased (part 2?)

But like i said, having delineated a difference i do not divorce cessation from that in dependence on what it is discerned.

I mean,

Cessation is semantically a reference to something happening, an event, but this event is thus described in reference to the world for it is in the world that events are spoken about in as far as the aggregates are present.

Now this event is spoken about in as far as the aggregates are present and their cessation is discerned as something transcending the constructed feeling-states and said to occur in dependence on the asankhata.

But from the point of reference of the asankhata abd in as far as it is described in isolation, there are no events and it is not an event but in dependence on it an event is described in certain frames of reference pertaining to the world.

Basically you’re just trying to say: AN4.173 SuttaCentral

Nothing can be said about it. As long as we agree on no 6 sense bases after parinibbāna, there’s not much to talk about indeed. I see this sutta as saying to even say nothing is left after parinibbāna is an insult to Parinibbāna as it a nothing so beyond anything that it’s cannot be conceptualized as even nothing.

Let’s go back to the thought experiment of a dream. I find it easier to talk about this based on an experiment for reference.

To sum up, one is having a persistent dream wherein beings are seeiking an awakening by developing dispassion towards the dream.

One’s first awakening occurs in the dream as a samadhi attainment. You wake up from the dream discerning the waking state where there is no dream-world and as it’s cessation but when you go back sleep you have the recurrent & persistent dream wherein you just emerged from samadhi based on the awakening principle.

Suppose you also see someone in a dream attain such samadhi. Your dream could be like this, this describes your dream.

Now suppose i speak of someone from your dream seeing you attain such samadhi. Could your dream be like this?

Now in this thought experience the discernment of the waking-state is the cessation of the dream.

But it is only in the context of there being a dream that one describes the waking state as a cessation, otherwise it just is what it is.

So if there are in this context two elements

  1. The dream
  2. Not dream

And everything else is a description of either.

Now in a sense the waking up from the dream is a continuation of your general percipience. And in another sense it is a different reality.

It is only meanwhile we are dreaming that we see & describe a dream-world where beings become extinguished but if we talk about the extinguishment of our dream then we can’t keep talking about something happening therein after our awakening from the dream.

So in as far as one talks about something happening after awakening, they are talking about a dream but not of the same dream that ceased for one who attained awakening.

And so in describing one who attained such final awakening we would say that there is nothing further to the dream but one shouldn’t separate the not-dream from the cessation which occured in dependence on it.

You cannot even agree to that? Even when explicitly stated in the sutta cited?

Reverend, when the six fields of contact have faded away and ceased with nothing left over, does something else still exist?

From your dream analogy, there still seems to be a mind sense which knows the not dream after fully waking up from the dream (parinibbāna). If it is so, then it contradicts the 6 sense fields totally faded with nothing left over.

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I did not disagree with this

But i did give an analytical answer rather than categorically agreeing so that you can see exactly what i mean when i do agree.

In particular, i wanted to say that if in that dream experiment you were to ask your teacher is there anything leftover from this dream after fibal awakening then he should say no there is nothing further to the dream.

So yes i do agree that there is no more of what has ceased.

Of course because i am talking about something constructed [dream] ceasing in dependence on something else constructed [waking state/6 senses].

It was not meant to describe the cessation of the constructed in dependence on the unconstructed. Therefore this beyond what the analogy was meant to convey.

What i hope you can see from the analogy is that the notion of the cessation of any reality can not be divorced from that in dependence on what cessation is discerned.

As to that dream experiment,
After one attains final-awakening, is there something further to the dream? Nothing further to the dream, not further to that world, but there is then a next world and so this is not a release from the constructed in a definitive sense, only in a qualified sense there describing a change in the constructed as a cessation of a constructed element in dependence on another constructed element, akin to describing rebirth.

Cessation of the constructed in a definitive sense is discerned as the ayatana where there is no this world or next one. It’s different.

I’ll think about it more maybe i’ll be able explain it better later.

Another way to know how one shouldn’t separate the basis for/of cessation from cessation is like

Buddha teaches two elements
The constructed
The uncontructed

But there is another way to convey this

Buddha teaches two elements
The dukhkha
The dukkhanirodha

The referents remain the same as the expression changes.

Therefore if one says ‘is there something else there other than dukkha and it’s cessation’?

No there is no such thing being taught.

But what about the ayatana where no world?

The buddha doesn’t teach like this

  • both formerly & now i declare only dukkha, the cessation of dukkha and that ayatana where there is no world

I hope you see the difference as what i mean by divorcing the asankhata from sankhatanirodha after having delineated a difference between the two.

Gling back to the thought experiment. A dhamma teacher therein is teaching for the cessation of dream-perception based on the awakening to the 6 sense faculties of being awake. He could say

I declare only the dream and it’s cessation

He doesn’t have to proclaim that in dependence on which the cessation is discerned, as the waking state, explicitly, because the discernment of cessation of a dream is apprehended as perception of the waking state.

So in this particular sense the question ‘is there anything else after final awakening from the dream?’

Should be answered in a way that maintains that there is only dream & it’s cessation, and in this thought experiment cessation implies next world and so there is no need to state this explicitly.


The buddha doesn’t teach like this

  • both formerly & now i declare only dukkha, the cessation of dukkha and that ayatana where there is no world

However many people of various persuation do understand it like this and ask if the ayatana is not what there is after cessation.

Going back to the thought expetiment. One dreaming, having heard that awakening is apprehended based on sensory discernment could misapprehend that teaching as being a declaration of a continuation of the dream world asking things like whether he will meet his friends from the dream after awakening.

On the other hand is it not inconceivable that someone might misapprehend the teaching in the dream for proclaiming that final awakening is like the atheist’s idea of death?

It’d be difficult to maintain this conviction after having heard descrptions of the waking state as being much like the dream state but if nobody explained then i think it is possible.

One like this also divorces cessation from that in dependence on what it occurs and asserts that one should talk about the end of the dream as one talks about seeing a fire be extinguished.

These are very subtle points making a huge difference and it’s entirely relevant to how one talks about one thing ceasing in dependence on another being discerned & apprehended.

What is the difference between your conception of what parinibbāna is vs the atheist idea of death other than the trivial we believe that rebirth needs effort to be ended?

You also mentioned that to posit a 7th sense consciousness to perceive what’s after the ending of 6 sense bases is not the way to go.

So without such sense to perceive the difference between the atheists idea of death vs your conception of parinibbāna which is different, how can you say that they are different?

Venerable, is your conception of parinibbāna that it is equivalent to the atheist idea of death with two distinctions:

  • The “trivial we believe that rebirth needs effort to be ended”?
  • That it isn’t the self that dies, but rather the aggregates?

Are there other distinctions between your conception of parinibbāna and the atheist idea of death? :pray:

There are numerous differences Bhante.

The atheist’s idea of death has nothing to do with the ayatana wherein there is no world.

As to particular differences i have already said much and i don’t think that i can explain it any clearer.

In general what Bhikkhu Bodhi teaches can be interpreted to be as i teach and i’ll extend both him & Ven. Thanissaro the benefit of doubt for the time being.

What i don’t like in his expression is that he asserts that unconstructed is always present & remains purified after parinibbana

I think they are drawing from excerpts like

luminous is this mind but it is soiled by defilement

In general it is very confusing when people become unhinged like this in talking loosely drawing from texts.

This is a matter of definition.

If we say 7th sense as the constructed then it is heresy.

However if one says that one describes as a ‘sense’ or pleasure not only the constructed bases but however & in whatever terms a sense & pleasure are discerned that one describes as a sense & a pleasure, and here the unconstructed is thus described.

This one qualifier, of a 7th sense/pleasure not being constructed, nulifies the discrepancy.

This is basically my view.

Nihilism is more simple and there is only one type of Nihilist. If you believe that when you die you die, finish, kaput, no cause and effect, no more birth no matter what you have done in this life, good or bad, then this is Nihilism. Lights out. It is that simple.

Buddhism asserts that there is no “person” to be reborn. It is only a moment to moment mind and matter that is continuously arising and passing away. There is no inherent self to be reborn, yet there is a force of continuation from one moment to the next. That is why we prefer the term rebirth-linking over the conventional term, reincarnation. Reincarnation implies a “soul” that gets a new bodily form. In Buddhism we believe that a momentary mind and matter will be a result of the actions done in this and previous lives, and rebirth linking is inevitable for as long as this force is present to cause relinking. It is only until one attains full enlightenment that this force for rebirth linking is removed… permanently. When there is no longer a force that can create a new rebirth linking consciousness after death, the mind of the mind and matter duo is dead and stops and no longer exists. Dead, kaput, lights out, finished. No More. Only a hunk of wood remains. Only when you think in this way, is one on the track to have right view in Buddhist Philosophy.

and see this comment:

Venerable bhikkhu Sujato,

Isn’t nibanna actually exactly like the modern scientific view on death? My conclusion from reading the suttas is nibanna= the same state (can’t really speak of a state) as (scientific/modern atheist) death. The only difference is that in the scientific view it is instant while in buddhism it occurs when an arahant dies.

What is your opinion on this?

sujato says:
December 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm
The Buddha would have said that a materialist imagines that they are real existing thing that is destroyed at death, whereas in fact they will, despite their ideas, be reborn, as they are continuing to create new conditions (i.e. kamma). The Dhammic perspective is that, even here and now, there are merely conditions arising and passing, and the conditions no longer arise. It is a subtle distinction, but a crucial one. Try shifting focus from what ends at death, and think about what arises, what is the cause of continued existence. It is the ending of this cause which is the third Noble Truth.

I noticed that there’s many ways to oppose the side of nothing after parinibbāna, of which people can disagree, including many mahayana usage of dhammakāya, Buddha nature etc. And basically only one way to say nothing after parinibbāna.


Ah, I thought this moment to moment arising and ceasing was denied? I guess I was mistaken and you endorse this description? :pray:

Well, I don’t see so much difference in classical Theravada vs EBT in regard to this position. When ajahn brahm said not just moment to moment, but total cessation or disappearance, the moment to moment thing is not denied, just that it’s not the most impactful insight perhaps.

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