Conditioned and unconditioned - personal and impersonal?

The suttas distinguish between ( the ) conditioned and ( the ) unconditioned, between samsara and Nibbana. Could this be interpreted as the distinction between the personal and the impersonal?

Personal and impersonal is the duality of internal and external.


Interesting comment. I didn’t mean it in that sense, I will give some more thought about what I really do mean. :wink:

Conditioned means dependently originated.
Unconditioned a state that is not dependently originated.
For instance everthing we experience with six senses are conditioned.


All that begins, ceases; all that is fabricated or made, is conditioned; all that has no beginning or end is unconditioned.

The dispensation of the Buddha for example has a beginning; it will end. But the Dhamma is not fabricated, has no beginning, and no end.

Just my current understanding, which i hope/ask for correction if i am confused.


I am not sure whether uncondition can be explain in words or understand with six senses. The way I understand the Arahant experience unconditioned (Nibbana) only when he emerge from Nirodhasamapatti (cessation of perception and feeling)

+cravings + phenomena = conditioned phenomena
-cravings (following insight) and no phenomena = unconditioned ie Nibbana.
+craving at ‘seed’ level + no phenomena = sleep, coma, anaesthesia, etc -conditioned
-cravings + phenomena = arahanth -conditioned

Dhamma is grasped and expressed via mental fabrications (sankhara). Only the idea that it is applicable (or can be understood) at all times, remain, ie there is no ‘object’ called the Dhamma, except for the vehicle of mental fabrication.

1 Like

So presumably a state with no beginning or end? But what does that mean, practically speaking? And when you say “state”, do you mean a state of mind, or something else?

There are several models in the suttas, eg aggregates and sense bases, they all appear to describe our personal experience. Hence my suggestion that ( the ) unconditioned is in some sense impersonal.

Could you clarify what you mean by “no phenomena” here - do you mean no sights, sounds, sensations, etc?

When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sariputta, “But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?” AN9.34

There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception Ud8.1

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 Ud8.3

“This, monks, is the disappearance of form. This, the disappearance of feeling… perception… fabrications. This, the disappearance of consciousness.” SN22.5

Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Lord, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth, nor of water with regard to water, nor of fire… wind… the dimension of the infinitude of space… the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness… the dimension of nothingness… the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception… this world… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?”

“Yes, Ananda, he could…”

“But how, lord, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?”

"There is the case, Ananda, where the monk would be percipient in this way: ‘This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.’ AN10.6

with metta


It’s hard to see the unaffected,
for the truth is not easily seen.
Craving is pierced
in one who knows;
For one who sees,
there is nothing.

1 Like

Here we are trying to understand the mind state of an Arahant.
It is possible only if one is an Arahant.
Perhaps we are trying to getting to an area where Buddha refuse to give answers.
Good starting point is to understand the mind state of a Sotapanna.

1 Like

This thread does not belong to Q&A category.
I moved it to the Discussion category instead.

The basis for that is the description of the categories. The question found at the OP is subjective / open-ended and is not likely to result in a ‘right’ answer.

As per the thread evolution, the question has lead to a general chat, and sharing of ideas and opinions about the teachings . This is what the ‘Discussion’ category is all about. :slightly_smiling_face:


There is indeed no object called the Dhamma. What do we contemplate? what do we discuss?

:slight_smile: Of course, there is no one to answer, or ask. Just a bunch of aggregates operating under conceits of “selves”.

Yet still it seems to me that what the Buddha taught, was not fabricated, and can be discussed without causing utter confusion.

So. @Mat is there a non object Dhamma which can be discussed, or not?

I’ve never understood this - do you have any idea what it means, practically speaking? Is it a reference to emptiness?

What is emptiness? :open_mouth:

I think this refers to narrowly not-self; more broadly the gossamer nature of phenomena-aggregates. Or it could mean total cessation, which is also emptiness of Nibbana. A stream entrant ‘knows and sees’ nana dassana (see Okkanta samyutta- yes all the suttas) and has seen the liberating version of the Paticcasamuppadana, which is total cessation.

Yet it is experienced, meanings can be explored, and recited out loud (or written down). So the Dhamma is content of the place-holder which is the thought.

cant understand can you elaborate ?

Content (pannapti) : Thought (impermanent)
‘my consciousness goes on forever’ – the thought that says it lasts a few seconds
‘I think therefore I am’ ---- the thought that thinks it just ended, so there couldnt be a lasting ‘self’

Buddhist version: “I think, therefore I think I am.” :yum: