Can we call nibbana as true/real/higher self?

Please pardon me if I am rude but I just want to know the truth, only 7% of human population believe in no self so we really need evidence that the rest or the 93% are completely wrong

Buddha said that whatever is impermanent is suffering and whatever is suffering should not be called as self

But in other sutta buddha said that not even nibbana should be called as self if nibbana is permanent why did buddha refuse to call it as self ?

Why did buddha make contradictory statements like these ?

What’s the problem with clinging or grasping to nibbana ?

Due to the nature and difficulty of the topic I will invite bhante @sujato and bhante @Brahmali even in quora you invite the experts I too hope our Venerables can solve this

I am sorry for my bad English I am still learning the language

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Because self involves clinging and in nibbana nothing is clung to. This can be seen in the upper meditation subjects where clinging is progressively removed.

What’s the problem with clinging or grasping to nibbana ?

Nibbana is not clung to, but the path leading to it is, and during that time the concept of nibbana is clung to.

Ananda speaking to a nun:

“The thought occurs to him, ‘I hope that I, too, will — through the ending of the fermentations — enter & remain in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for myself in the here & now.’ Then he eventually abandons craving, having relied on craving. ‘This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.’ Thus was it said.”—AN 4.159

Because the end of the path is unconditioned and the path is conditioned it is recommended to avoid suttas addressed to the arahant level and focus on those delivered to or by Ananda, nuns, Rahula, laypersons, or concerning the Buddha-to-be’s pre-enlightenment experiences.

Those on the path should focus on achieving the “clear knowing and release” which is experienced when progress is made in overcoming the defilements:

"These two qualities have a share in clear knowing. Which two? Tranquillity (samatha) & insight (vipassana).

"When tranquillity is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And when the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Passion is abandoned.

"When insight is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned.

“Defiled by passion, the mind is not released. Defiled by ignorance, discernment does not develop. Thus from the fading of passion is there awareness-release. From the fading of ignorance is there discernment-release.”—AN 2.30


I’m only commenting to ask, out of curiosity, what’s the Sutta where the Buddha states this?

As for the answer, I don’t have much to offer, except that my understanding is that in the Canon, sometimes what seems contradictory really isn’t. And, from what I gather, what truly is contradictory is often due to a corruption of the Dhamma during the years of oral transmission.

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Greetings Ratana,

As you would appreciate, these types of questions are being asked all the time on a forum like this :slight_smile: The Ajahns may or may not answer directly here depending on their availability, but you should know that they have already answered similar questions and you can find their previous replies :slight_smile:

As such it is a good idea to check if they have already been answered. This is easy to do by using the search function on the top menu :slight_smile:

a search for not self produces the following results

You can narrow these down by adding the search terms of Sujato or Brahmali to the search terms.

A search for Nibbana yields the following results

Furthermore, there are extensive teachings in the audio visual category, and you can browse through that. Also it is very worthwhile to look through the resources in the essays category - there are many wonderful resources in here :slight_smile:

If having read the material you have questions that haven’t been addressed, then you ask something more targeted.

I suggest this course of action, not from laziness in ‘providing the answer’, but because one needs to go through a gradual process of realisation before these deep insights can be realised.

Without this, ‘short answers’ like that of Paul, while they are correct, will not really ‘convince’ you. It is a process. It is an unrealistic expectation that you will penetrate some of the most profound questions of Buddhism without engaging in the process of the Noble 8 fold Path.

With much metta and best wishes for your journey of discovery :slight_smile:


Nibbana is permanent in the same sense as impermanence is permanent.
With Metta



All dhammas are not self.

As opposed to

all conditioned phenomenon are impermanent.

all Conditioned phenomenon+nibbana=all dhammas

@paul1 provided the right answer to OP.


Take an uneducated ordinary person who has not seen the noble ones, and is neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the noble ones. They’ve not seen good persons, and are neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the good persons.

They perceive extinguishment as extinguishment. But then they identify with extinguishment, they identify regarding extinguishment, they identify as extinguishment, they identify that ‘extinguishment is mine’, they take pleasure in extinguishment. Why is that? Because they haven’t completely understood it, I say.

A mendicant who is perfected—with defilements ended, who has completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own true goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and is rightly freed through enlightenment—directly knows extinguishment as extinguishment.

But they don’t identify with extinguishment, they don’t identify regarding extinguishment, they don’t identify as extinguishment, they don’t identify that ‘extinguishment is mine’, they don’t take pleasure in extinguishment.

Why is that? Because they’re free of delusion due to the ending of delusion.


Ven Brahmali’s relevant paper has been on my to-read list for a while; it sounds directly related to your question.

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There are lots of good answers here already, but I’ll add a bit more.

You know, the fact that the majority believes something does not make it true. Quite the contrary. If the majority were right, the world would be an extraordinarily happy place. But it ain’t so.

I don’t think the Buddha ever says that Nibbāna is permanent. The ideas of impermanence/permanence are only really applicable to conditioned phenomena, that is, saṅkhāras. It might be better to say that Nibbāna is irreversible. In other words, when the process of the five khandhas come to an end, there is no fuel to restart it. In that sense cessation is permanent. But it makes no sense to call the ending of a process a self. A self needs some sort of content.

You can’t cling to an absence. You can perhaps cling to the idea of an absence, but not to the absence itself.


But, in which sense are you using the word Nibbana?

Are you referring to the unconditioned-element?

There are these two elements: the conditioned element and the unconditioned element. When a mendicant knows and sees these two elements, they’re qualified to be called ‘skilled in the elements’


May be in the following sense?

O brahmin, from greediness free
for every sort of name-and-form,
the inflows are not found by which
one’d go beneath death’s sway.


Perhaps in this sense?

They understand: ‘When my body breaks up and my life has come to an end, everything that’s felt, since I no longer take pleasure in it, will become cool right here. Only bodily remains will be left.



That is incorrect:

“Monks, I will also teach you permanence and the path leading to permanence …" SN 43, Thanissaro.

It’s necessary to investigate and know both conditioned reality and unconditioned, and conceptual differentiation between them is profitable for the learner, which is different from the arahant’s view:

The Buddha speaking to Ananda:

“There are these two elements: the conditioned element and the unconditioned element. When a mendicant knows and sees these two elements, they’re qualified to be called ‘skilled in the elements”—MN 115

Conditioned reality is the “All,” everything which has a name and is subject to a life cycle. The unconditioned element is the opposite of that in every way, just as the elements of light and shadow are opposite. The unconditioned element is discerned by the learner through contrast with conditioned reality:

“There is, monks, an unborn[1] — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.[2]”—Ud 8.3

This skill of discernment through contrast of opposite elements is basic to progress on the Buddhist path, and shows how the learner cannot know the unconditioned without first categorising conditioned reality, like a blind person slowly regaining sight they acquire a new perspective:

The Buddha to an unidentified monk:

“Monk, the property of light is discerned in dependence on darkness. The property of beauty is discerned in dependence on the unattractive. The property of the dimension of the infinitude of space is discerned in dependence on form.”—SN 14.11


Thanissaro Bhikkhu may be alone in translating it as “permanence”. Every other English translation that I can find renders it as “the unconditioned” instead. It would be interesting to hear a comment on this from anyone knowledgeable in Pali…


I think this should be revised to this “as some people tend to take ven thanissaro’s old translations too seriously”

Because the fact that he never deletes his old translations so others can know what mistakes he created and learn from them, only an arahant does that, non arahant usually tries to hide their mistakes

Hold on now :smiley:

I would suggest caution with ascribing certain behaviours to ariyas only. I’ve seen plenty of regular folks be unbothered by their mistakes being made public. :slightly_smiling_face:
Making guesses like this is a bit of a dangerous game for most of us. Paraphrasing Ajahn Brahmali, we can only trust that the Buddha was fully enlightened. With everyone else, we can never be 110% certain. And maybe that’s enough. :slightly_smiling_face:


I found that the visuddhimagga supports the concept that nibbana is eternal

Vism chapter 7
Nibbána, whose individual essence is eternal, deathless, the refuge, the shelter,
etc., is well proclaimed too in being proclaimed to have an individual essence that
is eternal, and so on.

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One can always find evidence to support whatever ideas one wants to have. This is the normal way we all live - we find and like the things that resonate with our preferences and desires.

In my opinion, the trick to seeing something new or challenging, like what the Buddha is pointing at, is to relinquish and give up any ideas and preferences and desires one has, and to see it with fresh, non-intellectual eyes, and ‘unattached’ mind, by using Samadhi as the vehicle to do this. Just something to consider :slight_smile:


I think it’s important to consider context. In the above, the word Nibbana is used in the first sense that I shared in my earlier post. This is much harder to conceptualise and thus inform ones practice.But it is useful to at least theoretically understand the mechanics of realisation. It gets at the very heart of how the mind works. If we imagine an alien species capable of full colour vision yet everything in their world is shades of blue, they would not know colour blue. At least not in the sense that we know blue.

From what I have seen in this forum, most people use the word Nibbana in the second sense that I mentioned.

One or both can be used to inform ones practice. As long as one is doing the right things, right results will follow.


That is incorrect:

“Monks, I will also teach you permanence and the path leading to permanence …"


That is not the passage, this is the passage


1.1Dhuvañca vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi dhuvagāmiñca maggaṁ. 1.2Taṁ suṇātha. Katamañca, bhikkhave, dhuvaṁ …pe….
1.1the constant … 1.2

sn43.14(most Venerable Thanissaro)
“Monks, I will also teach you permanence and the path leading to permanence …

The important keyword here is Dhuvañca which means constant/permanent/changeless

Even if you use suttacentral dictionary it can mean permanent and there’s no difference between constant and permanent it’s just synonym

As we see that the terms “stability” is virtually the opposite of impermanence furthermore we can say that the opposite of “constant” is impermanence or inconstant this shows how genius Ven sujato is

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I think this is the strongest proof that consciousness is nibbana

where consciousness is signless, boundless, all-luminous, that’s where earth, water, fire, and air find no footing,
there both long and short, small and great, fair and foul-
there “name-and-form” (mental and physical phenomena] are wholly destroyed.
with the cessation of consciousness, this is all destroyed.