Does nibbidā mean "revulsion" or "disillusionment"?

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What is the practical difference between nibbida and the craving for non-existence in the Second Noble Truth? Both seem to involve disillusionment with ( conditioned ) existence.


To me it is equivalent to the difference between cutting one’s hand motivated by wanting to quit smoking and effectively giving up the habit/addiction once the pointlessness of smoking is realized by someone who actually quits smoking.

On a deeper level, it is all about craving for non-existence being an constructed and inherently painful outcome of wrong view, while disillusionment being a natural outcome of right view (and the other path factors), which instead dooms suffering to cease.



Nibbida arises with fabrications as ‘object’ (‘sabbe sankhara dukkha … ata nibbindati dukkhe…’) or in the context of aggregates seen as tilakkhana (see Anattalakkhana sutta) where it arises upon seeing 5 aggregates, three characteristics and in the ‘progress of insight’ of repulsion, dispassion and cessation (nibbida, viraga, nirodha) -ie it is technically an insight, and not just a mundane emotional state owing to being repelled by samsara- the latter would be craving for non-becoming (vibhava tanha).


So is vibhava tanha actually a type of dosa ( aversion )? Aversion to continued existence/becoming?


Yes, and it seems that equanimity results from disillusionment.


Desire for non-becoming, can be the underlying reason for aversion to continued existence or becoming, one being the cause, the other it’s effect.

Yes, and it seems that equanimity results from disillusionment.

Yes. Repulsion (disillusionment) fades in intensity to a great degree and this leads to dispassion (viraga). It’s this stage that gives rise to sankhara upekkha nana.

There is a mundane upekkha also, which is not reacting to the 8 worldly winds, which I was reminded of, in poem above.

The upekkha of the divine abodes, for example would be another example of the more mundane samatha type, leading to calm (or the upekkha of the third and fourth jhanas).


It’s interesting that in all these examples someone is leaving something or someone. There is a movement away from…

I was hunting around and found this definition of revulse which I found rather interesting because the word “revulsion” always had this sense, for me, of something being forcefully pulled back; a hand quickly pulling away from a fire or from something filthy.

It might be a stretch to connect the sense of the movement in “leaving” to the movement that can be inferred in “revulse”…

Sorry if this has be said already…it’s rather late and I’m feeling a bit befuddled now… :sleeping:


Seeing the dukkha characteristic of phenomena I was repulsed or experienced revulsion. I prefer repulsion.


Having repeatedly seen rich people show revulsion, repulsion, disdain and contempt towards poor people in many countries all over the world, I find that advocating revulsion and repulsion as something desirable to cultivate as perhaps somewhat dangerous and lacking in metta. In contrast, the word “disillusionment” feels equanimous and practical. In this article about nibbida all the various interpretations are discussed at length. Particularly, the analysis from the root words that one will perpetually “not find” the nutrients we seek is a very helpful understanding. In fact, this viewpoint encapsulates how I feel about saccharine. I confess to being somewhat repelled and repulsed by saccharine simply because of the embedded lie that powder represents, but I regard that aversion in myself as an unequanimous defilement to be relinquished. If hungry I would eat the wrapper and throw away the saccharine.


There Venerable Ānanda addressed the mendicants … “An unethical person, who lacks ethics, has destroyed a vital condition for not having regrets. When there are regrets, one who has regrets has destroyed a vital condition for joy. When there is no joy, one who lacks joy has destroyed a vital condition for rapture. When there is no rapture, one who lacks rapture has destroyed a vital condition for tranquility. When there is no tranquility, one who lacks tranquility has destroyed a vital condition for bliss. When there is no bliss, one who lacks bliss has destroyed a vital condition for right immersion. When there is no right immersion, one who lacks right immersion has destroyed a vital condition for true knowledge and vision. When there is no true knowledge and vision, one who lacks true knowledge and vision has destroyed a vital condition for disillusionment. When there is no disillusionment, one who lacks disillusionment has destroyed a vital condition for dispassion. When there is no dispassion, one who lacks dispassion has destroyed a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom. SuttaCentral

It’s important to note that disillusionment takes place in a tranquil and ethically wholesome mind (samadhi). Note that I mean takes place as in it isn’t something intentionally developed, but rather an emotional reaction to insight being generated, at that particular phase of insight development. It’s not possible to purposefully generate nibbida (or even jhana for that matter). These are results and landmarks of practice. The revulsion developed isn’t towards people but rather towards the process that generates reality (that is, the five aggregates…), and the desire for it to stop.


Yes, I assume that nibbida relates to the five aggregates, because the aggregates are impermanent and therefore unsatisfactory. But what does stopping looking like, practically speaking? It seems that the aggregates continue for an Arahant, so presumably what stops is craving for the aggregates, craving for experience, craving for existence?


Stopping is initially emotional (dispassion, sankhara upekkha nana). Later with the accumulation of insight knowledge, ignorance is suppressed and the DO collapses, leading to Nibbana and senses/aggregates/dhathu all ceases (‘suffering ceases’). Ultimate emptiness is what is presented. This is metaphorically, ‘ultimate bliss’. As long as the body is functioning and the senses are working they start up again. This is followed by very blissful and easefull feelings and the stream entrant to arahanth experiences the world again. These feelings are temporary. But the degree of remaining suffering is like amount of water in a cupped hand as compared to the water in the great oceans. Craving is fully gone at the non-returner stage.


I have experienced that attenuation is possible by relaxing and relinquishing emotions, but the emotions still arise. In listening to DN15, my understanding is that full stopping may have to happen at name/form/consciousness. THAT seems quite difficult. It also feels possible.

If consciousness were not to become established in name and form, would the coming to be of the origin of suffering—of rebirth, old age, and death in the future—be found? DN15


Yes. This is called Samatha or tranquility practice- also when initially overcoming the five hindrances you see this where unwholesome emotions (defilements) are suppressesed but return when the intention of mindfulness, is abandoned. A good deal of practice is required to eradicate negative emotions the root of which contains delusions (ignorance or avijja) - we perceptions packaged with permanence, satisfactoriness and self or mine. This allows clinging to take place, whereas perceptions with impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self do not allow for clinging, and such perceptions work at the root of the problem. It is said that Insight or vipassana practice works at the ‘root’ (anusaya) level, due to generation of the above insight.

‘Establishment of consciousness’ seems to be that thing where one’s mind keeps going to the same thing over and over again- it’s a sort of attachment. At a gross level drawbacks can be utilised to let go of macro objects of desire. At a microscopic ultimate level of aggregates and sense bases insight practice (as in Anattalakkhana sutta SuttaCentral would be utilised to see impermanence,… etc.


For what my opinion is worth, “sobered” captures the feeling of nibbidā for me, which I gloss from the roots to mean “leading away feeling”. “Sobering” feels like the natural precursor to “dispassion”, and to finally turning to face the gates, and the unknown beyond. :pray:


This graph shows the progress of insight knowledge- while I find the EBT version of this more accurate, this depiction can be used to demonstrate some landmarks of the path of insight. Nibbida is shown in its position…


Hmm, interesting.


Is this related to the expression “Dark night of the soul”?


What’s the relationship of this diagram with the EightFold Path?


As with the technology adoption curve (which has a similar dip after initial gain), I think the graph says that we can expect the Eightfold Path to cause us some disillusionment and suffering (good suffering!) before we can expect significant sustained positive outcome?