Is Nibbana a different reality, or just a different state of mind?

Is Nibbana some sort of transcendent reality to which an Arahant gains access, or just a mind liberated from the taints? Or both? Or neither?

I find sutta passages like this rather ambiguous:

"There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned. If, bhikkhus, there were no not-born, not-brought-to-being, not-made, not-conditioned, no escape would be discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. But since there is a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned."

What do you think?

Hi friend!

through own experience and when thinking, I do tend to imagine Nirvana to be somewhere else than now, but when the thinking stops and presence is stronger, it seems to me that there are no nirvana and no samsara, just this isness … and that feels just fine, not spectacular but everything belongs now … :slight_smile:

be well!

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Going out on a limb here :smiley:

I know that I have experienced “hell on earth” as well as “paradise on earth”, all through my mind and submitting to conditioning or by reducing suffering through the N8FP. Irrespective of what happens in the future. And similarly to @awarewolf

At the moment this “is-ness” is just fine :slight_smile:
In combination with re-birth, it takes the pressure off. Whatever my path, wherever it leads, no matter how long it takes, I know that I can reduce my own suffering and have pleasant abiding, even if it is over and over. Though Nibbana is the destination, I only understand it on an intellectual level.

I’ve also spent some time in my own made hell in this life, no need to go anywhere special for that experience!

with Metta

This thread from a few months ago got into very similar territory. It may be of interest to you.

I’ve also seen some speculation by scholars that this passage Ud8.03 is infact an EBT.

with mettā

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24 posts were split to a new topic: Does Jhana Equal Samma Samadhi?


(5) "Just as, although the rivers of the world flow into the great ocean and showers of rain fall from the sky, no lessening or filling up of the great ocean is evident, so also, although many bhikkhus attain final Nibbana in the Nibbana-element with no residue left, no lessening or filling up of the Nibbana-element is evident. This is the fifth wonderful and marvellous quality in this Dhamma and Discipline… Ud5.5

Sounds like it is something more than just nothingness, I would say.

With metta

Hi, here is a quote I find clarifiying whenever one starts doubting now …

Whatever you think you are, that’s not what you are.
Ajahn Sumedho

my precious … :bodhileaf:



I find the transcendent reality interpretation of Nibbana appealing, though I am not clear how this is substantially different from moksha in Advaita.

Moksha in Adwaita is gaining union with Brahman, who is posited as the intelligent creator of the world. This is incompatible with the Buddha’s Teaching, which advises one to put aside the question of creation of the cosmos. No motive is assigned to Brahman, though - apparently it’s all just sport and play.

From the Brahma Sutras :

Adwaita rejected the Buddha’s Dhamma as a bunch of unintelligible nonsense and considered the Buddha as a malevolent person.

From the Vedanta Sutras :

It is not something any worldling can know without reaching the culmination point of the noble eightfold path ie.- it is not something worldlings who are wandering in samsara and fully bound to it can ever experience.

It is not part of the samsaric experience, which includes all the planes of existence:

“There is that dimension 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; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress.”
— Ud 8.1

However, it is not annihilation either and it is something that exists. That is Nibbana exists:

“There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.”
— Ud 8.3

Its very existence or to put it in another way, because we can experience something other than phenomena that arise and pass away and is hence suffering, in the Dhamma eye, Fruition (phalasamawata), Cessation (nirodhasamapatti) there is an escape from suffering apparent, while still alive. Without this (non)experience there would not be an escape from phenomena that arise and pass away, that is, conditioned phenomena.
This might seem like annihilation to 1) the worldling that believes there is a self +/- a soul 2) doesn’t accept in rebirth 3) thinks life is sort of ok. In answering this 1) there is only phenomenal experiences arising and passing away- all the ‘truths’ we believe about ourselves is based on this and not something which we don’t experience, which might be ‘out there’. So sticking to what know and base our reality on, -many assumption of what we can know (Self, permanence, the 3D world, substantiality, self-existence) and seen to be false, in vipassana. Nothing is seen to be self, everything is fleeting, more like pixels on a screen rather than a 3D world, insubstantial- phenomena than solid objects, causally arisen. So many aspects of beliefs we hold about the world fall away. Therefore there is no self to be destroyed upon Nibbana- it is merely a process which causes suffering which needs to stop. Also more subtlely, as it doesn’t stop on its own at ‘death’, Nibbana needs to achieved. It isn’t stopping of a ‘wonderful life’ but the end of a ‘wonderful lie’ which keeps giving resulting in suffering. Without seeing the suffering caused by the process, Nibbana won’t be seen to be a good solution as only a small problem is perceived when the real problem is inherent to the system and all encompassing.

Advaita Moksha includes Self (atman) which merges with God (Brahman). These are only philosophical beliefs ie. not really seen by anyone. At best (like all theistic religions) they may be mislabelling of phenomena. The Buddha’s Dhamma doesn’t label anything, but merely describes the container (aggregates, elements, sense doors). That accurate description cuts out many labels that are incorrect, if not impossible. For example, to say God is permanent is impossible because the container that God is in, last only a second. Then something else arises. Therefor the idea of permanence of anything cannot exist- except in delusion (avijja) and projection of that delusion to things which are said to exist ‘out there’.

So the Buddha’s approach to Nibbana is to not project anything on to Nibbana, because whatever we project it doesn’t display the features of… Therefore, views that conceive various thing about Nibbana is considered Wrong:

"He perceives Unbinding as Unbinding. Perceiving Unbinding as Unbinding, he conceives things about Unbinding, he conceives things in Unbinding, he conceives things coming out of Unbinding, he conceives Unbinding as ‘mine,’ he delights in Unbinding. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you. MN1

With metta


Probably not a single whisper and a vast plain. As for his voice, you should look into opera; you’d be surprised what the human voice is capable of. :wink:

A totally transcendental state. Specifically, the total transcendence of all forms of “conditioned existence”, whether bodily, mental, or otherwise. Hence not merely the transcendence of suffering but also the root cause of suffering, birth.

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Agree, that is how I recall it too.


Sure, I realise that Buddhism doesn’t “have” Atman and Brahman, I was thinking about it from an experiential view, assuming that Nibbana is a transcendent reality of some kind ( see the OP ). The similarity would be in the experience of accessing a transcendent reality, though using different terminology and with different assumptions.

As I see it there are just different explanations for “spiritual” experiences. The explanation provided by Buddhism certainly looks more sophisticated than some of the others, but it is an explanation none-the-less.
Buddhism doesn’t just describe the container, it also describes the goal ( Nibbana ), though in a rather ambiguous way ( hence the OP ).

It’s not just about words and terminology, the fundamental tenets and views are vastly different and they would affect and influence whatever one experiences…

But, regarding the OP, maybe this sutta is relevant.

One more question. :slight_smile:

What about paticca-samuppada ? Would knowledge of that also be attained in an instant ?

Nibbana is a cessation of dukkha (Third Noble Truth), like the Buddha said in his first disourse Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta.

Hi all :slight_smile:

At @samseva’s request, I’ve moved the discussion about whether Jhana = Samma Samadhi to this new thread.

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Yes but mostly in the absence of things such as the absence of those containers! Without understanding why the aggregates etc are suffering it is impossible to see why Nibbana is desirable, that is why God and heaven itself isn’t desirable (and even more, cannot exist) once the aggregates are clearly seen. People generally like things existing and the idea of something that doesn’t correspond to any known thing in the universe is rather mind-boggling, but that was the only solution that could be directly experienced and verifiable. The dhamma is directly visible and it can be known without waiting for the next life, for realization. When this realization was experienced, no imagination was projected on to that realization saying it is this and that (except when they did that when the monks wrote the Mahayana). I suspect Advaita was a similar ‘invention’.

with metta