Can we attain Nibbana in this day and age?

From another post in Dhamma Wheel:

“Although I theoretically believe in Nibbana, I believe in this day and age it is not very possible because of lack of good teachers. The most one can hope for is to have a well-rounded idea of Dhamma, lead a Dhammic life, be a decent and good person.”

What is your opinion on above post?

Own experience + word of Lord Buddha; “Be a lampe om to oneself”, is enough for me to let go of doubt. Not misunderstand where the responsebility lies.

I think more and more people experience a personal “wake up” outside orginized spiritual life, and thats just great in these times of paranoid control systems all over the place

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I agree that there arent many teachers…at least in the citied of the East Coast US. Youd need a car to travel in the foothills and mountains to find a monastary because a lot of the teachers at the dharma centers are busy, not ordained teachers (in a lay since of the term), academic, or part of a tradition thats highly political so no one trusts the authority of actual teachers we come in contact with. Its not more so western minded thought. Many westerners have been ordained just as the person beside him in Russia or China. Maybe some cant see enlightenment in this day because its a theological idea that christianity has set “in the future.” Something if you obtain it today, you arent considered real. When you die, thats when people worship you, type of thing. Its duable. When The Buddha teached Nibanna, that day was that present day moment. Not future but in that same time period before he died. Likewise, if we become enlightened, it will always be present day. Time isnt really the issue in my opinion. Teachers are helpful especially with the mystics. Buddhism is pretty self explanatory. Its life-rebirth, karma, all of that is just well, common sense. Once that “oh duh!” Moment seeps in then a teacher for practice would help a lot. Not to lead one to nibanna but help know you cant just take Any path and expect to get there when its off the map.

In the suttas all of the people who attain nibbana - or at least almost all of them - are wandering, renunciant monks at the time of their attainment. They aren’t householders and workaday businesspeople, and they aren’t people who live in big, fixed location monasteries conducting worldly chores, and with other people buzzing around all day.

If fewer people attain nibbana these days, it might be because few people have the courage and diligence to give up everything. Blaming teachers is passing the buck.


I think it’s from the commentaries that the age of true Dhamma is now passed and we cannot attain the Arahantship now:

Relationship between noble persons (ariyā) and the period subsisting of the Buddha sāsana, is described in the Aṅguttaranikāya Aṭṭhakathā that the Buddha’s dispensation will endure for five thousand years as follows:

(1) the age of paṭisaṃbhidāpatta arahants for one thousand year,

(2) the age of sukkavipassaka arahants for one thousand year,

(3) the age of anāgāmi for one thousand year,

(4) the age of sakadāgāmi for one thousand year and

(5) the age of sotāpanna for one thousand year

As stated by this, paṭisambhidāpatta arahants are the greatest nobility and available within one thousand year after the Buddha’s demise. And some presumed that no arahant is valid to see nowadays in line with the above statement as the Buddha dispensation has been existed for over two thousand and five hundred and fifty years. It might be a general description of enduring the Buddha sāsana.

However, the Buddha sermonized to the ascetic named Subhadda in Mahāparinibbāna sutta of the Dīghanikāya thus:

“If the eightfold noble path was practised ardently, arahants would never be absent in the world”

There should be no doubt that, accordingly, wide learning in the abundant dhamma and practising the eightfold noble path ensure attaining arahatship and accomplishing paṭisambhidā ñāṇa ahead.


This view that one cannot make any noble attainments in this current degenerative age, or whatever, is speculative at least, and defeatist at most.

Neither perspectives are helpful.


Good point.

Here is a text that I like about this topic

At the present day, only the following Neyya and Padaparama classes of individuals remain.

Four Classes of Individuals
It is stated in the Puggala Pannatti[1] (the book of Classification of Individuals) and the Anguttara-Nikaya[2] that, of the beings who encounter the Sasanas (teachings) of the Buddhas, four classes can be distinguished:

  • Ugghatitannu
  • Vipancitannu
  • Neyya and
  • Padaparama.

Of these four classes of beings, an ugghatitannu is an individual who encounters a Buddha in person, and who is capable of attaining the holy Path and the holy Fruits through the mere hearing of a short concise discourse.

A vipancitannu is an individual who has not the capability of attaining the Paths and the Fruits through the mere hearing of a short discourse, but who yet is capable of attaining the Paths and the Fruits when the short discoure is expounded to him at some length.

A neyya is an individual who has not the capability of attaining the Paths and the Fruits through the hearing of a short discourse, or when it is expounded to him at some length, but is one for whom it is necessary to study and take careful note of the sermon and the exposition, and then to practise the provisions contained therein for days, months, and years, in order that he may attain the Paths and the Fruits.

This neyya class of individuals can again be sub-divided into many other classes according to the period of practice which each individual finds necessary before he can attain the Paths and the Fruits, and which further is dependent on the parami (perfections) which each of them has previously acquired, and the kilesa (defilements) which each has surmounted. These classes of individuals include, on the one hand, those for whom the necessary period of practice is seven days, and on the other, those for whom the necessary period of practice may extend to thirty or sixty years.

Further classes also arise, as for example, in the case of individuals whose necessary peroid of practice is seven days, the stage of an arahat may be attained if effort is made in the first or second period of life,[3] which no more than the lower stages of the Paths and the Fruits can be attained if effort be made only in the third period of life.

Then, again, putting forth effort for seven days means exerting as much as is in one’s power to do so. If the effort is not of the highest order, the peroid of necessary effort becomes lengthened according to the laxity of the effort, and seven days may become seven years or longer. If the effort during this life is not sufficiently intense as to enable one to attain the Paths and the Fruits, then release from worldly ills cannot be obtained during the present Buddha Sasana, while release during future Buddha Sasanas can be obtained only if the individual encounters them. No release can be obtained if no Buddha Sasana is encountered.

It is only in the case of individuals who have secured niyata vyakarana (sure prediction made by a Buddha), is an encounter with a Buddha Sasana and release from worldly ills certain. An individual who has not attained niyata vyakarana cannot be certain either of encountering a Buddha Sasana or achieving release from worldly ills, even though he has accumulated sufficient parami to make both these achievements possible.

These are considerations in respect of those individuals who possess the capabilities of attaining the Paths and the Fruits by putting forth effort for seven days, but who have not obtained niyata vyakarana.

Similar considerations apply to the cases of those individuals who have the potentiality of attaining the Paths and the Fruits by putting forth effort for fifteen days, or for longer periods.

A padaparama is an individual who, though he encounters a Buddha Sasana, and though he puts forth the utmost possible effort in both the study and practice of the Dhamma, cannot attain the Paths and the Fruits within this lifetime. All that he can do is to accumulate habits and potentials.[4]

Such a person cannot obtain release from worldly ills during this life-time. If he dies while practising samatha (calm) or vipassana (insight) and attains rebirth either as a human being or a deva in his next existence, he can attain release from worldly ills in that existence within the present Buddha Sasana.

Thus did the Buddha say with respect to four classes of individuals.

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To Light a Fire
A Dhamma Discourse
The Venerable Webu Sayadaw

To Light a Fire: A Dhamma Discourse


I’m not going to speculate on which living teachers are and aren’t at various stages of enlightenment but would point out that in both Myanmar and Thailand there have been great masters who have passed away in the last few decades who are widely accepted as arahants and their conditions aren’t so different to what is available in monasteries today.

I believe there are people of the various stages of enlightenment around and teaching today.

appamadena sampadetta

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I don’t know about other than in this time we are all “carpet bombed” with distractions that didn’t exist 2600 years ago, so there becomes to much “stuff” to consider giving up. Teachers are not more important than we make them, – Ok, so there are a speaker and a listener, but I think that the teaching itself arise in the free space between them …

If we’re already buddhas in our true nature, why worry about whether we can attain Nirvana in this age or any other age?

It is important to note that people who have actual attainments do not go around advertising this fact. Therefore if someone isn’t close to meditative circles, reports of such people are hard to come by. It is only when people are dedicated enough and want nibbana badly that they truly commit to meditation (go on retreats), that they more frequently come across instances where attainments are a genuine possibility. The person writing the above is expressing an opinion commonly found in some Asian countries where most people follow modern public Buddhist practices but think they are practicing the Buddha’s path to nibbana.

Even a brief but well understood experience of samadhi would be useful in directing them in the correct direction…

with metta

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Link to the discussion in DW: