SuttaCentral

How does one re-emerge from cessation?

Hello,

According to dependent origination consciousness is sustained by namarupa and vice versa.
If I understand correctly, during cessation, once namarupa ceases, consciousness doesn’t have any ground to stand on so it also ceases.

How is it then possible for it to re-arise and for the meditator to re-emerge from Nibbana?
I understand an arahant still has a body, so there is a physical condition for consciousness, but what is the specific impulse that makes it possible for consciousness to re-emerge once it has ceased?
How does one not remain in a vegetative state until the body dies?

Thank you

3 Likes

The condition for future arising has been removed. The current mind and body of the Arahant is the result of past kamma. At the end of life that ceases without remainder. Whilst the Arahant is alive consciousness, namarupa and contact are all held in check. Vedanā is experienced detached and does not generate craving or clinging.

3 Likes

But they all just ceased during cessation.
What is the impulse/process that brings them back when the arahant emerges from meditation?
I don’t quite see how the mere fact that the body exists can be a cause for the un-doing of the cessation of consciousness.

Nirodha means cessation, which can mean stilling or the stopping of re-arising. The Arahant has ceased the re-arising of the aggregates. When it says consciousness has ceased it means both stilled and ceased future re-arising, post the end of life. There is nothing in the suttas that suggests that cessation, as in the end of something, is immediate for all the links. It is for craving, clinging but as consciousness/namarupa are the result of past kamma at the moment of conception, from the prior life, they have to run their course.

I think it helps to bare in mind that dependent origination is more about conditionality than direct causality.

1 Like

Mmh I’m a little confused. In order to attain cessation all the links that sustain consciousness have to cease, don’t they? If the links don’t cease there cannot be cessation of consciousness AFAIU?
So the way I understand it, during the “experience” of Nibbana all the links cease, which brings about the cessation of all consciousness and perception.

What I don’t understand is what happens next. How can one wake up from such a state? What is the process that suddenly un-does the cessation of consciousness?
I don’t really see how merely having a body can bring about this process of re-emergence.

The fact that kamma has to run its course to me doesn’t explain how it can “compel” consciousness to re-emerge from cessation. What is the process behind this “compelling”?

I guess another way to put my question could be: “what is it that makes cessation during life temporary as opposed to permanent?”

Oh well, maybe I’m missing something…

Mmh I’m a little confused. In order to attain cessation all the links that sustain consciousness have to cease, don’t they? If the links don’t cease there cannot be cessation of consciousness AFAIU?
So the way I understand it, during the “experience” of enlightenment all the links cease, which brings about the cessation of all consciousness and perception.

All the links do not immediately cease upon Nibbana. Knowledge arises and ignorance is dispelled. Ignorance being dispelled, sankhara do not come to be. Sankhara’s not coming to be there is no basis for the arising of craving or clinging. Sankharas, craving and clinging not coming to be there is no basis for the arising of the aggregates post death. As for the mind and body, as I say, they are the result of past kamma and have to run their course. Consciousness will arise so long as there is a sense base, an external sense object and the meeting of 3 via contact. The Arahant still has sense bases, so consciousness will still arise and cease for him whilst alive. The difference is that it is a stilled consciousness. It is no longer tainted and is destined to cease without remainder. Dependent origination is less about direct causality and more about conditions for phenomenon. Birth is a condition for death. Birth does not directly cause death via a strict causality model. Thinking that all the links cease immediately is to think of dependent origination in terms of strict causality.

1 Like

I would not automatically equate vinnana and our English ‘consciousness’. So it might be that vinnana ceases but citta for example remains in a liberated fashion. Just a thought…

2 Likes

The monk’s kamma is not yet exhausted, vitality continues:

“Friend, are vitality-fabrications[3] the same thing as feeling-states? Or are vitality-fabrications one thing, and feeling-states another?”

“Vitality-fabrications are not the same thing as feeling-states, friend. If vitality-fabrications were the same thing as feeling-states, the emergence of a monk from the attainment of the cessation of feeling & perception would not be discerned. It’s because vitality-fabrications are one thing and feeling-states another that the emergence of a monk from the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling is discerned.”—MN 43

To understand the path it is not necessary to know anything about dependent origination. A belief in and understanding of the action of kamma is however required, and constitutes mundane right view.

4 Likes

Thanks for the quote from MN 43, it helps!

I guess my question remains partly unanswered however, because even if the life force is still active in the body there is no mention of the role the life force plays in bringing the 5 khandas back from cessation.

Why doesn’t one remain in a vegetative state after Nibbana?
As the sutta says: “This body must lose three things before it lies forsaken, tossed aside like an insentient log: vitality, warmth, and consciousness.”
So during cessation, vitality (life force/vitality-fabrications) is still there, warmth is still there, but consciousness has ceased.
At this point what is it that brings consciousness back along with the other aggregates and does not leave the arahant in a vegetative state?
Kamma might have a role in the continuation of vitality, but I don’t see how it can bring consciousness and the other aggregates back from cessation.

This question came to me while watching the excellent talks of Ajahn @brahmali on Dependent Origination on Dhammanet. Maybe he can help shed some light? :grimacing:

1 Like

Not all Arahants come to Nibbana via the cessation of Perception and Feeling. Only those liberated “both ways” do. Other arahants come to nibbana via the 4 Jhanas only or, more rarely, just the 1st Jhana.

1 Like

Ok yeah then maybe my using of “enlightenment” to describe cessation or Nibbana was a reason for misunderstanding. I went back and changed it.
So just to make it clear, I am talking about the “experience” of cessation or Nibbana during meditation.

Just a reminder to ground all assertions in EBT’s please, otherwise it is just opinions and views and not the Words of the Buddha :thaibuddha: :dharmawheel:

6 Likes

Also, that on this forum we don’t discuss our personal practice. :smiley:

3 Likes

This is exactly what I’m enquiring about :smile:
Am I wrong in stipulating that during the deepest state of mediation called cessation or Nibbana, contact as well as feeling, perception, namarupa and consciousness have ceased?

If this is so then, in order for the meditator to emerge from that state, “something” has to happen that re-establishes namarupa, feeling, perception, conctact and therefore consciousness. What is that “something”?

Some of you seem to imply that since the meditator still has a functioning body, somehow contact still occurs, which is therefore the reason the meditator can emerge from that state. However, contact has ceased at this point, along with feeling, perception and consciousness. In order for contact to be re-established “something” has to happen that re-establishes it along with feeling, perception etc…

It’s as if I’m asking: “How do the lights in my house come back on after a power outage?” and the answers I get are “because the light bulbs are still there”.
Well, ok I get that, but what happens at the power station that makes the power come back?

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. I will read the essay and see if I can find anything useful there :grimacing:

1 Like

I think it is the language that is the issue - cessation only occurs at PariNIbbana not Nibanna. What you might be thinking of as cessation is just very deep stillness. At this level the nuances are very subtle, and there are lots of different opinions about it…

Some advice direct from Ajahn Brahm when I raised a simmilar question “Bottom line - in practice - don’t worry about it :slight_smile: Enjoy all the stillness you can, you will always come back!!” :rofl: :smiley:

6 Likes

And if you don’t, there will be where else to go or to be found :smile:

2 Likes

Some people can, before going to sleep make a determination to wake up at a certain time and get up very close to that time. How is that?

Cause does not necessarily have to give immediate effect.

During sleep many mental processes are still active, there is no cessation. The fact that these processes happen below the threshold of awareness (unconsciously) doesn’t mean that they don’t happen.

The same is for the jhanas according to Ajahn Brahm. You can make a resolution to emerge from a jhana at a certain time, because not all mental processes have ceased. Not so during cessation it seems to me. Something has to happen outside of the ceased processes that brings consciousness and the other aggregates back.

1 Like

The closest answer I got from the suttas is from MN 44:

“But ma’am, how does someone emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling?”

“A mendicant who is emerging from such an attainment does not think: ‘I will emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling’ or ‘I am emerging from the cessation of perception and feeling’ or ‘I have emerged from the cessation of perception and feeling.’ Rather, their mind has been previously developed so as to lead to such a state.”

“But ma’am, which arise first for a mendicant who is emerging from the cessation of perception and feeling: physical, verbal, or mental processes?”

“Mental processes arise first, then physical, then verbal.”

So it seems from this description as if there is some unconscious process that makes the aggregates reappear. However this seems to throw into question the very notion of Saññāvedayitanirodhasamāpattiyā IMO.

2 Likes