“There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned”. Ud8.3
"Atti bhikkave, tadāyatanaṃ, yattha neva paṭhavi, na āpo, na tejo, na vāyo, na ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ, na viññānañcāyatanaṃ, na ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ, na nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ, nāyaṃ loko, na paraloko, na ubho candimasuriyā. Tatrāpāhaṃ bhikkhave, neva āgatiṃ vadāmi, na gatiṃ, na ṭhitiṃ, na cutiṃ, na upapattiṃ. Appatiṭṭhaṃ appavattaṃ anārammaṇamevetaṃ. Esevanto dukkhassā"ti.
“The born, become, produced,
made, fabricated, impermanent,
composed of aging & death,
a nest of illnesses, perishing,
come from nourishment
and the guide [that is craving] —
is unfit for delight”.
“The escape from that
the sorrowless, stainless state,
the cessation of stressful qualities,
the stilling of fabrications,
This has come up before
“Bhikkhus, there are these three characteristics that define the unconditioned. What three? No arising is seen, no vanishing is seen, and no alteration while it persists is seen. These are the three characteristics that define the unconditioned.” [AN 3.47]
“no alteration while it persists is seen”. certainly seems to be saying something more than just the end of things.
[quote=“Vstakan, post:6, topic:5058”]
a perception of not suffering is a self-contradictory thing
[/quote]Doesn’t the Buddha instruct his disciples to observe cessation and “abide” in it?
This is an actual question as relating to the “abiding” thing, I know there are passages instructing practitioners to observe cessation, its the “abiding” claim I am less sure of, I distantly remembered reading something like it somewhere.
Bhikkhus… …As to those ascetics and brahmins who understand birth … volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation: it is possible that they will abide having transcended volitional formations. sn12.30
Then Ven. Ananda went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, “Friend Sariputta, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth, nor of water with regard to water, nor of fire… wind… the dimension of the infinitude of space… the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness… the dimension of nothingness… the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception… this world… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?”
“Yes, friend Ananda, he could…”
“But how, friend Sariputta, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?”
“Once, friend Ananda, when I was staying right here in Savatthi in the Blind Man’s Grove, I reached concentration in such a way that I was neither percipient of earth with regard to earth… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet I was still percipient.”
“But what, friend Sariputta, were you percipient of at that time?”
“‘The cessation of becoming — Unbinding — the cessation of becoming — Unbinding’: One perception arose in me, friend Ananda, as another perception ceased. Just as in a blazing woodchip fire, one flame arises as another flame ceases, even so, ‘The cessation of becoming — Unbinding — the cessation of becoming — Unbinding’: One perception arose in me as another one ceased. I was percipient at that time of ‘The cessation of becoming — Unbinding.’”
we enter upon and abide in the first jhāna…
we enter upon and abide in the second jhāna…
we enter upon and abide in the third jhāna…
we enter upon and abide in the fourth jhāna…
we enter upon and abide in the base of infinite space…
we enter upon and abide in the base of infinite consciousness…
we enter upon and abide in the base of nothingness…
we enter upon and abide in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception… we enter upon and abide in the cessation of perception and feeling…and our taints are destroyed by our seeing with wisdom.
“Good, good Anuruddha. There is no other comfortable abiding higher or more sublime than that one.” mn31
Then Ven. Maha Kotthita went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, “With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?”
[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”
[Maha Kotthita:] “With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, is it the case that there is not anything else?”
[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”
[Maha Kotthita:] “…is it the case that there both is & is not anything else?”
[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”
[Maha Kotthita:] “…is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?”
[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”
[Maha Kotthita:] “Being asked if, with the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, there is anything else, you say, ‘Don’t say that, my friend.’ Being asked if … there is not anything else … there both is & is not anything else … there neither is nor is not anything else, you say, ‘Don’t say that, my friend.’ Now, how is the meaning of your words to be understood?”
[Sariputta:] “The statement, ‘With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?’ objectifies non-objectification. The statement, ‘… is it the case that there is not anything else … is it the case that there both is & is not anything else … is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?’ objectifies non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes. However far objectification goes, that is how far the six contact media go. With the remainderless fading & stopping of the six contact-media, there comes to be the stopping, the allaying of objectification.
Ven. Sariputta was not that sure it is really obvious:
I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Sariputta was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Feeding Sanctuary. There he said to the monks, “This Unbinding is pleasant, friends. This Unbinding is pleasant.”
When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sariputta, “But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?”
“Just that is the pleasure here, my friend: where there is nothing felt.
There is nothing felt, and this is good. Not that there a feeling of the absence of feeling, there is nothing left. It stopped forever. And this is bliss. Any feeling, any consciousness, any perception is suffering, this was repeated countless times in countless suttas. So what is true happiness? When no-one feels anything.
Being perceived is not a necessary feature of the absence of perception. It is a necessary feature of pain or happiness, because if there is no perception of pain there is no pain. But this absence of pain may or may not be perceived by another person as such, it will still remain the absence of pain. I am sitting right with my back to my room door, but if I don’t experience my room door as not on fire, it doesn’t mean it is not not on fire. Basically, if we say that the absence of pain, arsing, ceasing or fire is perceived we imply it is an entity of sorts, so we ‘objectify’ it, as Ven. Sariputta aptly puts it in the Sutta quoted by @Mkoll. We cannot perceive the absence of something, if something is absent we just don’t perceive it. If we try to say or imagine that we do perceive absence, we start objectifying a non-entity, we build sand castles: there can be not only one single perception of the absence of arising, essation and change, there can be millions of them and they will all be different from each other. If there is one experience of absence that we have never had and that we cannot even remotely describe or imagine because it is so radically different from everything we have ever encountered, there can be millions, billions of them. It is like the concept of the monotheistic God: if we admit that this non-entity so radically different from our experience exists, if we objectify this non-object, we may come up with hundreds or thousands of different Gods: God can be a mysterious Holy Trinity or mysterious Holy Quartet (Quartity?) or mysterious Holy Billion (Billionity?), or He can be radically One, He can emanate other lesser forms of beings or be radically separate from the world and not emanate anything, He may be personal, impersonal, transpersonal, He may be Being in Non-Being or Being of Non-Being or Non-Being of Being, etc., etc., etc. If we start operating with such non-entities as if they were objects, endless mental proliferation starts and goes and goes on forever.
Now, after this long disjointed passage (hopefully I was not Heidegger-ish), I should say that I don’t have an opinion whether there is or there is not something beyond the moment of Mahaparinibbana. Even if there is, it is something so radically strange and unknown that I have no language or concepts to talk about it, it literally makes no sense to me, I can’t possibly even start trying to attempt to wrap my head around it ever. In other words, from the practical standpoint, it is totally irrelevant, more important is that the suffering ends. My point is just that 1) it is not necessary there is something, 2) it is not necessary there is nothing, 3) talking about something so weird, about a non-entity, is like building sand castles (in Russian we say ‘air castles’, which I think is even more suitable), it is bound to be wrong and it leads to further mental proliferation.
Well, yes. There is this sage meditating and he doesn’t feel anything or perceives anything. He abides in this state, because his body and sankharas are still present. They don’t experience it because there is no experience. And their taints are destroyed because when they come back out of it they see: ‘Wow, that was so good, the taints are totally not worth it, never doing this taints stuff again.’
Yeah, they observe the cessation of feeing and then there is not feeling, that is they abide in cessation. That’s pretty much it. Besides, if they observe cessation, it automatically means they have not yet reached the unconditioned because this is a feature of the conditioned.
Ven. Sariputta never said he attained Nibbana or unconditioned in this Sutta (by the way, check out the SC translation of AN10.7, it is way better). He merely had a perception that ‘nibbana is the end of existence’. If we read the text closely and compare it to the citation from AN 3.47 that @DaoYaoTao provided above, it becomes clear that if one perception ceased in him and another arose and he observed it, it was not the Unconditioned.
All the Buddha teachings would have been invalid if Nibbana does not exist. There are several Suttas that talk about Nibbana. Here are some examples:
"“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.” iti43
"“There is that sphere, monks, where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no air, no sphere of infinite space, no sphere of infinite consciousness, no sphere of nothingness, no sphere of neither perception nor non-perception, no this world, no world beyond, neither Moon nor Sun. There, monks, I say there is surely no coming, no going, no persisting, no passing away, no rebirth It is quite without support, unmoving, without an object,—just this is the end of suffering.” UD8.1
"“I tell you, friend, that it is not possible by traveling to know or see or reach a far end of the cosmos where one does not take birth, age, die, pass away, or reappear. But at the same time, I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.” AN4.45
"‘Where do earth, water, fire and air no footing find? Where are long and short, small and great, fair and foul - Where are “name-and-form” brought to an end?’
“And the answer is:
_Consciousness that is signless, limitless, all-illuminating, _ Then water, earth, fire, & wind find no footing, Then long & short, small & large, pleasant & unpleasant - Then “name-&-form” are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of viññāṇa [divided-knowing] all this is brought to an end.’” DN11
5) "“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.” ud8.3
with the destruction of the taints, he might realize for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwell in it. an10.11
Yes, aggregates stopping arising can happen in the 8th jhana, or (according to some) no jhana. I think all these (non)experiences of nibbana are valid as long as the path has been practiced appropriately.
If you compare this with other suttas describing nibbana it is clear Ven Sariputta is describing nibbana. It may not be apparent if you use a Etymological approach. From practice circles it is said that if one is not deeply ‘absorbed’ into this state there can be an effect of coming out of it again and again like a stone skipping across the water- and each time it hits the surface of the water there is emergence out of this state.
It is not only etymologically suspicious, it directly contradicts the three characteristics of the Unconditioned mentioned by the Buddha in DaoYaoTao’s quotes. How can one perception arise and cease in him if the Buddha says it doesn’t happen in the Unconditioned? It like first sazing that when the fire is absent, no flames are observed and then mention: ‘Oh, and do you know how I knew there was no fire? There were little flames here and there that indicated that the fire is extinguished.’
We can say that Ven. Sariputta was in the Nibbana, but the perception ‘bhavanirodho nibbana’ arose in him only when he ‘bounced off’ the Nibbana state, and then immersed in it again. Ven. Brahmali incidentally expressed a very similar opinion in his essay What the Nikayas Say and Do Not Say About Nibbana, where he wrote that this was not a perception of Nibbana, but perception about Nibbana. I don’t really know whether this article is available online (I think there was a link somewhere on the forum, but I am not sure).
That is exactly my point =-) We should not interpret Suatas as detailed and 100 % accurate descriptions of what really happens or happened, and this is why we cannot take an isolated Sutta passage and interpret it without the context of other Sutta passages we know of. So, we know for sure that there is no discernment or observation in the Unconditioned. Ven. Sariputta says he had a perception / he discerned / observed ‘bhavanirodho nibbana’. Let us look at another statement by Ven, Sariputta in AN 9.34:
“Furthermore, there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And, having seen [that] with discernment, his mental fermentations are completely ended. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how Unbinding is pleasant.”
So, on the one hand Ven. Sariputta must have entered the cessation of perception and feeling. On the other hand, he also must have discerned it with wisdom somehow, and I would venture a guess that the ‘bhavanirodho nibbana’ perception is another description of this discerning process.
Summing it all up, there is no discernment of cessation, arising or change in Nibbana, Ven. Sariputta must have entered the cessation of perception and sensation and he must have discerned it somehow by way of perception. I think that when he says ‘no perception’ in one case, and ‘perception’ in another case, these are two different stories, they are two different states: Nibbana, and the state in which Venerable Sariputta had a perception of an idea about Nibbana, understanding of its true nature, facilitated by his previous state of no perception or feeling. This is highly conjectural and not necessarily true, but it shows there can be a coherent anti-ontological interpretation of this sutta, which was the gist of your initial question