Parinibbana different from unconsciousness

I have heard Venerable Ajahn Brahm say in a Dhamma Talk that in Parinibbana there is no happiness or suffering or inbetween and not even one bit of anything. So what is the difference then between cessation of feeling and perception and unconsciousness, when you are knocked out for example? Is Cessation of feeling and perception the same as Nibbana?

And also: What about the suttas that say that Nibbana is the highest happiness and cessation of feeling and perception the highest bliss and that Nibbana is happiness because nothing is felt and so on?

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Ven Sariputta to Ven Maha Kotthita:

“In the case of the one who is dead, who has completed his time, his bodily fabrications have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications … his mental fabrications have ceased & subsided, his vitality is exhausted, his heat subsided, & his faculties are scattered. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabrications have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications … his mental fabrications have ceased & subsided, his vitality is not exhausted, his heat has not subsided, & his faculties are exceptionally clear. This is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time, and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling.”—MN 43

“And what, Ananda, is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that? 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. This is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that. Now it’s possible, Ananda, that some wanderers of other persuasions might say, ‘Gotama the contemplative speaks of the cessation of perception & feeling and yet describes it as pleasure. What is this? How can this be?’ When they say that, they are to be told, ‘It’s not the case, friends, that the Blessed One describes only pleasant feeling as included under pleasure. Wherever pleasure is found, in whatever terms, the Blessed One describes it as pleasure.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Ananda delighted in the Blessed One’s words."—MN 59

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Cessation of feeling and perception is the last of the meditative attainments. When someone enters it, the disciple is already free of defilements and the attainment can be thought of as experiencing the Nibbana bliss while still alive. Unconsciousness is a temporary cessation caused by external factors with defilements still latent.

Feeling nothing is the highest happiness. Nibbana too is described as such because in Nibbana there is nothing to be felt. That is why Nibbana is compared to a fire going out.
With Metta

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Maybe it’s simply just permanent unconsciousness, as opposed to Impermanent unconsciousness (rebirth/anicca). Perhaps unconsciousness is only seen as bad or unpleasant when you’re conscious, but many people enjoy sleep, or they don’t actually enjoy sleep, they just enjoy the moment before sleep when they feel drowsy. So in a way, how you feel about unconsciousness is determined by the emotional state prior to entering unconsciousness. Perhaps when you’ve mastered fourth jhana, unconsciousness is seen as extremely pleasant and agreeable.

We can use some deductive reasoning about what parnibanna is like, the main point there is no body, so there are no senses. If there is an “experience” then maybe it’s just the colour white (light, bright mind) instead of black (dark, unconsciousness). Aside from that, there are no thoughts or other sensory input, so you should be ok with a state of white light 24/7

Whether there is any form of raw awareness is up to interpretation, but if there is awareness then it’s not unconsciousness. As in my opinion, awareness is what constitutes a sense of continuity, and the Buddha said that those who enjoy sleeping are like those who are already living like they’re dead.

To me the deathless means awareness, and death/sleep/unconsciousness means non-awareness.

“In the case of a monk who has died & passed away, his bodily fabrication has ceased & subsided, verbal fabrication has ceased & subsided, mental fabrication has ceased & subsided, his life force is totally ended, his heat is dissipated, and his faculties are shut down. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabrication has ceased & subsided, verbal fabrication has ceased & subsided, mental fabrication has ceased & subsided, his life force is not ended, his heat is not dissipated, and his faculties are bright & clear. This is the difference between a monk who has died & passed away and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling.”[2]

The key point is bright and clear faculties. If there is an eternal citta, then it would have the experience of bright and clear faculties.

So I would conclude that the difference between unconsciousness and parinibbana, if there is one, is probably awareness. Hence Sariputta says in cessation he is aware of one perception ceasing and another one arising.

One perception arose in me and another perception ceased: ‘The cessation of continued existence is extinguishment. The cessation of continued existence is extinguishment.’ Suppose there was a burning pile of twigs. One flame would arise and another would cease. In the same way, one perception arose in me and another perception ceased: ‘The cessation of continued existence is extinguishment. The cessation of continued existence is extinguishment.’ At that time I perceived that the cessation of continued existence is extinguishment.”

So perhaps all you’re aware of permanently 24/7 forever is:

"At that time I perceived that the cessation of continued existence is extinguishment.”

That one experience for life. (not for death).

Eitherway, parinibbana is either permanent awareness or permanent non-awareness (unconsciousness), take your pick :wink:

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One thing is to suspend consciousness another is to fully extinguish it… :anjal:

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impo -
There is no time, it literally renders any imaginable processes from our mind un-applicable.

Abhidhamma/commentary answer:

Bhavanga is the unconscious mind state. It takes the object of the last thought moment of past life. One of the many pitfalls in meditation is to fall into the bhavanga state and don’t realize it, thinking that this is samadhi. It’s a good rest if one is sleep deprived, but doesn’t lead to nibbana.

In cessation of perception and feeling, there’s no mind states to speak of. All processes had stopped.

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Ajahn Thate is equaling Jhana as Bhavanga.
It is at page 9 from Ajahn Thate ‘Meditation in words’.
The book was posted on this forum a day ago on thread ‘Lets talk about Jhana!’(?).
Venerable Ajahn Thate repeated this point multiple times in later of the same book.

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Can you quote passages from the book to support your claim? I can’t access the file.

Anyway, from reading his “Steps along the path”, I don’t think he explicitly said that.

[8]

While you are training the mind, one thing – strange and striking – may occur without your intending it. That is, the mind will withdraw from its external objects and gather into a single whole, letting go of all labels and attachments dealing with past or future. There will be just bare awareness paired with its preoccupation in the present. This is something with no sense of “inside” or “outside” – a condition whose features are peculiar to the mind itself. It is as if everything has undergone a revolution.

This is the mind coming to its own level: the bhavanga. In this moment, everything has reference only to the mind. Even though life may still be going on, the mind when it reaches this level lets go of all attachments to the body, and goes inward to experience nothing but its own object, all by itself. This is termed bhava-citta, the mind on its own level. The mind on its own level still has a refined version of the five khandhas complete within it, and so can still experience birth and states of becoming, and give rise to continued births in the future.

Reaching this state is somewhat like dozing off and dreaming. The difference depends on how much alertness there is. Those who are collected and perceptive will – when the event first occurs – be aware of what is happening and what they are experiencing, and so won’t get excited or upset. Those who are gullible and not very mindful, though, will be just like a person who dozes off and dreams. When they come to, they will tend to be startled or get misled by the visions they may happen to see. But when they have trained themselves until they are skilled at giving rise to this state often, their sense of mindfulness will improve and their various visions will go away. Gradually they will gain insight until they see into natural conditions as they actually are.

[9]

The phenomenon discussed in point 8 – even though it doesn’t give rise to discernment capable of exploring into the patterns of cause and effect in a wide-ranging way – is still a preliminary stage in training the mind. It can suppress the five Hindrances and at the same time give rise to a sense of peace and well-being in the present. If it is properly developed so that it doesn’t deteriorate, it will lead to a good rebirth in the future, in line with one’s karmic background.

So, Bhavanga is still falls short of Jhanas, as it’s not capable of leading to insight.

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I am flipping through Venerable Ajahn’s book ‘Dhamma in Practice’ -
I came across this snippet
" Various Kinds of Bhavanga The various stages of Jhana comprise various components but all are characterised by the Bhavahga, which is of three kinds viz. Bhavahgupada, Bhavahgacarana and Bhanahgupaccheda. The first i.e. the Bhavahgupada. when it is reached, will be known by a feeling of sudden drop as previously mentioned. But this lasts only a flash of time, almost undetectable if the aspirant is firmly established in his theme of Kammatthana. It makes him mo¬ mentarily distracted from his theme, with his contemplation simultaneously stopped. Then, in a flash, the process disrupted

by a ripple is resumed. (Literally translated, it is the Bhavahga that just appears). "

Venerable Ajahn says that Jhana has Bhavanga as base, varying in degrees.

Book link - Dhamma In Practice : Ajahn Thate : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

According to Vedana Samyutta of SN/SA suttas, Nibbana is the “cessation (calming or tranquility) of desire-hatred-delusion”, and is “a pleasure more excellent and exquisite than” (sukkham abhikkantatarañca paṇītatarañca) the previous nine states. The nine states are: the four dhyanas/jhanas, the four (non-physical) realms “ayatana”, and the cessation of perception-and-feeling. See the following:
Page 122 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (73.2 KB)

So, Nibbana in the suttas is located after the nine stages of concentrative meditation, and is regarded as the highest state of all, by virtue of its peacefulness and purity (cessation of the influxes “khīṇāsavassa”).

Parinibbana is Nibbana-after-death. Parinirvana - Wikipedia

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Before one attains nibbana, consciousness depends on namarupa for feeling and perception. When one attains the fruit of an Arahant, all ignorance and all defilements have been eradicated, all of the fetters which bind one to samsara and rebirth have been broken and the 12 links of dependent origination have been broken. Therefore consciousness is not conditioned by or depend on namarupa.