SuttaCentral

Enlightment after passing away

Greetings all ! I 'am new here and have a question about the Dhamma.

This question arised after the lecture of the book “Mindfulness, Bliss and beyond” by venerable Ajahn Brahm. I am looking for answers, or at least for clues that can come from early buddhist texts.

Here is my question: After passing away, how can we say enlightement is happiness if there is no remaining experience of mind or consciousness to experience that happiness ?

Is happiness our Buddha-nature and so we are happiness despite not having consciousness anymore ?

Thanks for your inputs !

Michel

1 Like

Not having feelings is better than having any kind of feelings.

The terminology happiness has to be modified in light of higher levels of attainments.

The highest happiness connected to pleasant feelings is in the 3rd Jhana. 4th Jhana onwards the feeling is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. And yet it’s considered even better than 3rd Jhana.

Even the happiness of 4th Jhana onwards is not good enough because as long as there are feelings, there’s change, thus suffering. When there are no feelings, no other aggregates to produce feelings, to make feelings arise again ever, then there’s no change, no possibility of suffering. That’s the ultimate bliss.

2 Likes

No need to wait for death of the body. Awakening can be experienced here and now. Even in human realm one surely has experience happiness. Becuas human realm is a relatively happy realm.

For example, when someone tell you a joke, will you laugh? Isn’t that a happiness/pleasure? Although it is a coarse happiness due to senses pleasure.

The concept “we are” is already suffering. As soon as you’ve got to “we are” (or “I am”), you’ve got:

1.3‘I am liable to grow old, I am not exempt from old age.’ A woman or a man, a layperson or a renunciate should often review this.

1.4‘I am liable to get sick, I am not exempt from sickness.’ …

1.5‘I am liable to die, I am not exempt from death.’ …

1.6‘I must be parted and separated from all I hold dear and beloved.’ …

1.7‘I am the owner of my deeds and heir to my deeds. Deeds are my womb, my relative, and my refuge.

1.8I shall be the heir of whatever deeds I do, whether good or bad.’

2 Likes

Thanks for your answers. Enough for me to contemplate on.

I have to start reading Suttas :slight_smile:

Thanks

4 Likes

Would that mean that every experience is only suffering and there is no happiness? If the highest happiness is not experiencing?

1 Like

In SN12.15 we get

2.6you’ll have no doubt or uncertainty that what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing. Your knowledge about this is independent of others.

2 Likes

Basically yeah lol

This is usually a bit extreme for most people, so we dilute the medicine a bit to help it go down. But many times the Buddha said things to this effect. For example in the simile of the leper, who thinks that a branding iron is pleasant simply because it relieves the agony of their leprosy somewhat. So too, our sensual indulgences are actually painful. They are only relatively pleasant compared to the disgusting, inflamed, puss-filled, gaping wounds which are our ordinary, defiled mind-states :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing:

But there is a sutta where a follower of the Buddha tells the follower of another religion that the Buddha teaches that all experiences are painful and the Buddha later reprimanded him, saying that this was (basically) too advanced a teaching for them, and that instead he should have taught them that there are three kinds of feelings (painful, pleasant and neither) and about the law of kamma.

Generally you only see how painful the senses are in their totality after you get a break from them via jhāna and/or become disgusted (virāga) by them via immersion in vipassanā practice. Once you’re disenchanted with experience, then you can let go of having to experience, having to be. And once you let go of existence, you’re released from it. :balloon: :boom:

But yeah: that’s a very advanced teaching, easy to misunderstand.

2 Likes

I disagree. Without feelings we can’t experience compassion and remorse. Why would you expect a human being not to feel anymore? Can we only think then? A world in which no one feels kindness and grief, is an extremely cold world! Being human is not something to be overcome - it is not equal to harming ourselves and others. There is much more in life than death otherwise you’d never wish to do good.

Now if happiness would not be okay,
we would never wish for all beings to be happy!

We are talking on different levels. The discussion here is very high levels of attainments, which is the death of an arahant, then there’s no more rebirth, therefore no more arising of the 5 aggregates, which includes no feelings.

The “no feelings” used by common usage of psychology which I suspect you’re using in this way, is actually not no feelings within Buddhism. It’s numbing of feelings, usually, feelings of unpleasant nature, of which the person numbs, suppresses it, as a wrong method to be “good”, “calm” etc.

It’s one of the common pitfalls along the path of training, of misunderstanding how to deal with feelings, how to practise equanimity. Equanimity is feeling feelings, but not being affected by them, not reacting with likes or dislikes, greed or hate. One should be mindful of feelings.

As long as one is in samsara, unless for the absorption meditation of cessation of perception and feelings, there are feelings. Pleasant, unpleasant or neither pleasant not unpleasant. These feelings are before emotions and do not include emotions. Emotion is classified under volitional formations.

For one who numbs feelings, it’s not that they don’t have feelings anymore, it’s that they ignore, or using aversion to suppress the feelings.

The only way to have truly no feelings is cessation.

Yes, there’s happiness in samsara, or else beings would not be attached to samsara. The problem is as always, it’s impermanent. What’s impermanent is unsatisfactory. Including the happiness of samsara. Only the happiness of (pari)nibbana is permanent, for having no more feelings to change.

For the arahants who are still alive, they too have feelings, and their emotions are basically the brahma viharas, loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity, without any defilements of greed, hated or delusion.

Part of the training is indeed to go beyond being, being/becoming/existance (bhava) is one of the chains of dependent origination, which upon dependent cessation ceases too. Including being human. So being human is something to be overcome upon enlightenment. This is high-level teaching, for those who are not yet even humans (animal-like morality behaviour), they first should be taught to be human first (5 precepts morality).

2 Likes

Compassion and remorse are complex emotions or states of mind. These are not the feelings that are usually talked about in the suttas. Unfortunately, in normal English usage we use “feeling” for everything. The three feelings in the suttas are like what we immediately feel when we get a pinprick or a paper cut and not the subsequent processing of it, however it might be (irritation, anger, embarrassment, self-compassion, etc.).

So Bhante. Basically what Buddha is saying that there is always the duality of feelings. So we can’t see when something is truly suffering. For example hoping to get a child, getting one. Surely because duality in this samsara, suffering will come after happiness. So that’s why he said that even the good Dhamma we have to let go. But thinking we have to transcend feeling because all are suffering is not the correct mindset right? If we don’t see becoming disgusted as just as much filled with suffering also, we won’t truly let go. Because we are attached to the mindset that we are eliminating suffering by being disgusted. But we should see it for what is. Something that bring a higher happiness and remembering it won’t have the absent of suffering. Because the absent of suffering is an illusion because you will realize that there is nothing.

Yeah! Because if that’s your mindset, 99.999% of the time, that “desire to transcend” is actually just “aversion” and should be simply noted as a hindrance arising.

1 Like