Does the cessation of dukkha include the cessation of birth, aging and death?

I became involved in Buddhism as a young man ( not sure about being in my prime though :yum: ).

1 Like

It would involve only the first two. There aren’t any ‘life events’ at a sankhara ultimate level.

I could be wrong but I interpret these as the birth aging and death in this loka, or worlds/realms of suffering. To support this Buddha talks about the pure or untainted pleasure of enlightenment freed from birth aging and death. If this weren’t so then there would be no enlightened pleasure to talk of. To take this even further if we interpret nirodha as cessation then the cessation of speech in the first Jhana would leave one mute, but clearly this is not the case either, so I follow Horner and prefer to translate nirodha as restraint or similar, which inturn leads to the calm and self control of a Muni or Sage. I don’t know if this answers this question, but hope it is some help.

Could you elaborate on this? What does “ultimate” mean here?
A heart attack arises in dependence upon conditions, for example.

Note that sankharas includes both conditions and what is conditioned, since what is conditioned becomes the conditions for future dependent arisings. To put it crudely, causes produce effects, but those effects then become causes.

It depends on the interpretation of “freedom”. Is it meant straightforwardly and literally, ie these biological processes will not occur again? Or is it meant metaphorically, ie freedom from the mental anguish associated with these biological processes?
Here is one example from AN10.108:
“Now, what is the noble purgative that always succeeds and never fails, a purgative whereby beings subject to birth are freed from birth; beings subject to aging are freed from aging; beings subject to death are freed from death…"

I’m not convinced that the suttas on DO support this interpretation, where nirodha does seem to mean straightforward cessation, or at least no further arising. Note the two modes of conditionality described in DO, ie “When this arises, that arises, when this ceases, that ceases” and “When this is, that is, when this isn’t that isn’t”. These appear to describe straightforward arising and ceasing, not calming or modification, or whatever. This also seems to be the case for the third Noble Truth, which describes the cessation of dukkha, rather than the calming or restraining of dukkha, or whatever.

This is not to be confused with the temporary cessations involved in certain meditative states.

I see your point and until very recently I was translating nirodha as stopping, niruddha pp. stopped etc. until I took a closer look at SN36.11 Rahogatasutta and found there was a progression of stages of nirodha starting with niruddha, then going back over the same stages replacing niruddha with vūpasanta and then finally over the same stages replacing vūpasanta with Paṭippassaddha.

With this in mind it didn’t make sense to me to start with niruddha if it means ceased, if you see my point? So I researched the Sanskrit and found nirodha could be translated into a number of words which are listed below.

निरोध nirodha found in Monier-Williams:

nirodha [noun]:

p. 554 → [ m ] m. confinement, locking up, imprisonment (-tas Mn. viii, 375) investment, siege Cat. enclosing, covering up Var. Ka1v. etc. restraint, check, control, suppression, destruction Mn. MBh. etc. (in dram.) disappointment, frustration of hope Das3ar. (with Buddh.) suppression or annihilation of pain (one of the 4 principles) Lalit. MWB. 43, 56, 137 etc. a partic. process to which minerals (esp. quicksilver) are subjected Cat. hurting, injuring ( = ni-graha) L. aversion, disfavour, dislike W. N. of a man Lalit.

However maybe restraint is not quite correct either so I will keep an open mind on this. Thanks for your input.

Thanks, interesting stuff. Nirodha seems to have a range of meanings, the tricky bit is working out which one applies where. :slightly_smiling_face:

I notice in SN36.11 that “ceased” and “tranquillized” are used interchangeably.
"For a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed, lust has ceased, hatred has ceased, delusion has ceased.
…For a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed, lust has been tranquillized, hatred has been tranquillized, delusion has been tranquillized.”

Results from the Pali Text Society for “Nirodha”:

PS I discovered that a-nirodha means “indestructible”, which would give nirodha the meaning of “destructible” ( since the a- prefix negates in Pali, similar to in English ).


Interesting as usually I also look into the opposite of a word but hadn’t for nirodha. In Sanskrit I found aniruddha:

अनिरुद्ध aniruddha found in Monier-Williams:

aniruddha [noun]:

p. 30 → [ mf[aniruddhā]n ] mfn. unobstructed, ungovernable, self-willed [ m ] m. a spy, a secret emissary (?) the son of pradyumna (a form of kāma, and husband of uṣā) śiva N. of an arhat (contemporary of śākyamuni) of a descendant of vṛṣṇi p. 1311 → (also) N. of various writers (esp. of the author of a Comm. on the sāṁkhya-sūtras, about 1500 A.D.).p. 30 → [ n ] n. the rope for fastening cattle L.

Thanks :slight_smile:

I still find it difficult to see how “restraint” ( or similar ) could apply to DO in reverse mode, instead of “cessation”. How, for example, could ignorance be “restrained”? How could craving be “restrained”? And how could birth, old and death be “restrained”?

On the other hand, I was thinking about the first arrow in the Arrow Sutta ( dukkha-dukkha ), from which we are told the noble disciple is “disjoined”.

I would suggest SN12.23, which to me describes how dependent origination in the suffering perpetuating mode is actually reversed:

“ignorance is a vital condition for choices.
Choices are a vital condition for consciousness.
Consciousness is a vital condition for name and form.
Name and form are vital conditions for the six sense fields.
The six sense fields are vital conditions for contact.
Contact is a vital condition for feeling.
Feeling is a vital condition for craving.
Craving is a vital condition for grasping.
Grasping is a vital condition for continued existence.
Continued existence is a vital condition for rebirth.
Rebirth is a vital condition for suffering.
Suffering is a vital condition for faith.
Faith is a vital condition for joy.
Joy is a vital condition for rapture.
Rapture is a vital condition for tranquility.
Tranquility is a vital condition for bliss.
Bliss is a vital condition for immersion.
Immersion is a vital condition for truly knowing and seeing.
Truly knowing and seeing is a vital condition for disillusionment.
Disillusionment is a vital condition for dispassion.
Dispassion is a vital condition for freedom.
Freedom is a vital condition for the knowledge of ending.”

In the extract above the first twelve links are traditionally taken to describe the mundane or suffering perpetuating mode of dependent origination. The final twelve links are in turn understood as the transcendental or suffering cessating mode of dependent origination.

SN12 23 is a very special sutta. It has many parallels what means that in early times almost all branches considered it an important teaching.

There is a beautiful essay about it written by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Ajahn Brahmali often refers to if in his talks and sutta retreats beside writting himself a booklet on it!

It is all about an impersonal and natural process. Only with exposure to the four Noble truths the link between suffering and faith can take place in the way that leads to the strengthening of the transcendal mode required for cessation or freedom from suffering to be brought about. 28

1 Like

रोध rodha found in Monier-Williams:

rodha [noun]:

p. 884 → [ mf[rodhā]n ] mfn. (ifc.) sprouting, growing etc. (cf. 2. ava-rodha and nyag-r°) [ m ] m. growing, ascending, moving upwards (cf. next).
rodha [noun]:

p. 884 → [ m ]2 m. (for 1. see above, col.1) the act of stopping, checking, obstructing, impeding 2 suppressing, preventing, confining, surrounding, investing, besieging, blockading MBh. Ka1v. etc. 2 obstruction of the bowels, costiveness Car. 2 attacking, making war upon (gen.) R. 2 a dam, bank, shore Ra1jat. Sus3r. (cf. rodhas) 2 an arrow L. 2 a partic. hell VP. 2 N. of a man g. śivā*di.

Could ‘stem’ be a better choice for rodha. As in stemming the flow of suffering and rebirth etc. It seems to be a close match to the definition and carrys both meanings of restraint and stopping?

Further thinking on this ‘prevention’ could be another choice for nirodha purhaps?

Yes, I think “stemming”, “stopping” or “preventing” could work in “reverse” DO, the challenge then is working out how to express these in terms of the two modes of conditionality between successive nidanas, ie “When this ceases, that ceases” and “When this isn’t that isn’t” ( see for example SN12.62: SuttaCentral ).

For example, when ignorance is stemmed then fabrications are stemmed, or when craving is prevented, then clinging is prevented.

1 Like

Yes, I’ve heard this described as “transcendental dependent origination”, a way of describing the path to liberation. I was referring specifically to DO in cessation mode, with the usual 12 nidanas, eg “with the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of fabrications”, through to “with the cessation of birth there is the cessation of old age and death, and the mass of suffering”. We were discussing whether “cessation” is actually the correct meaning here.

1 Like

Ok, I’ll look into that across all the suttas I’m working on and might have a crack at SN12.62 which could take a while.

Thanks :slight_smile:

Although it is not 100% related to the OP or the recent questions, I think that on the topic of cessation and what is gone with it, I think AN4.174 is an interesting read:

“If you say that ‘when the six fields of contact have faded away and ceased with nothing left over, something else exists’, you’re proliferating the unproliferated.
If you say that ‘nothing else exists’, you’re proliferating the unproliferated.
If you say that ‘both something else and nothing else exist’, you’re proliferating the unproliferated.
If you say that ‘neither something else nor nothing else exist’, you’re proliferating the unproliferated.
The scope of the six fields of contact extends as far as the scope of proliferation.
The scope of proliferation extends as far as the scope of the six fields of contact.
When the six fields of contact fade away and cease with nothing left over, proliferation stops and is stilled.”