Parinibbāyati achieved during life and not at the end of life and break up of the body

MN 140 describes parinibbāyati (the verb form of complete and final extinguishment) as occurring upon awakening during life:

They neither make a choice nor form an intention to continue existence or to end existence.
So neva taṁ abhisaṅkharoti, na abhisañcetayati bhavāya vā vibhavāya vā.
Because of this, they don’t grasp at anything in the world.
So anabhisaṅkharonto anabhisañcetayanto bhavāya vā vibhavāya vā na kiñci loke upādiyati,
Not grasping, they’re not anxious. Not being anxious, they personally become extinguished.
anupādiyaṁ na paritassati, aparitassaṁ paccattaṁyeva parinibbāyati.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’
‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ, kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ, nāparaṁ itthattāyā’ti pajānāti.

The sutta goes on to describe the subsequent experiences of such an awakened one during life. One such subsequent experience is contemplating the end of life and the breakup of the body thereby confirming the temporal order and that the actual final act of extinguishment - parinibbāyati - previously described was not coincident with the end of life and the break up of the body, but rather occurred previously to the end of life.

This same formulation is confirmed in AN7.61 as well with the same language. SN12.51 also has something very similar, but the words are slightly different: “paccattaññeva parinibbāyati.” But again, this is describing the final extinguishment as previous to a later contemplation about the body and end of life.

Does anyone know of other examples in either the Pali canon or in the Chinese agamas where final extinguishment without remainder is similarly described as occurring strictly previous to the end of life and the break up of the body? Thank you. :pray:


I’ve heard this verb referred to as ‘nibbanize’ !

While the arahant is still alive, this would be considered nibbana ‘with remainder’.

Only after death, the break up of the five aggregates, would there be full final extinguishment.

The collection of quotes and analyses collected in the link below may be of interest:
Pali Term: Parinibbāna

Short summary is that parinibbāna is not just applied to the breakup of the body of an arahant.

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It is my understanding that ‘pari’ refers to the full or complete extinguishment. I understand that the orthodox position of Theravada believes full and complete extinguishment only occurs with the end of life and the break up of the body, but the EBT’s can be read in another way. To me the most straightforward reading is quite clear: full and complete extinguishment can happen during life and is known during life not subsequent to it and the subsequent end of life can be quite temporally offset from full and complete extinguishment.

SN35.118 is another clear example:

A mendicant free of grasping becomes extinguished.
Anupādāno, devānaminda, bhikkhu parinibbāyati.
That’s the cause, that’s the reason why some sentient beings are fully extinguished in the present life.
Ayaṁ kho, devānaminda, hetu, ayaṁ paccayo yena m’idhekacce sattā diṭṭheva dhamme parinibbāyantī”ti.


Thank you!

This one is quite the particular example:

  1. One person becomes fully extinguished in the present life by making extra effort.Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo diṭṭheva dhamme sasaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti.
  2. One person becomes fully extinguished when the body breaks up by making extra effort.Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo kāyassa bhedā sasaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti.
  3. One person becomes fully extinguished in the present life without making extra effort.Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo diṭṭheva dhamme asaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti.
  4. One person becomes fully extinguished when the body breaks up without making extra effort.Idha pana, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo kāyassa bhedā asaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti.



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As you know, after his enlightenment the Buddha still had a rough time of it, as described in the Mahaparinibbana sutta.
So, as the 5A were still active, there was still dukkha.

So, ‘full or complete extinguishment’ needs to be qualified, for sure.

Yes, I’m aware but the Buddha was not a sentient being subsequent to his enlightenment. I read the EBT’s as straightforwardly saying Gotama reached full and complete extinguishment the night of his awakening and subsequent to this it was no longer appropriate to refer to him as a sentient being. :pray:


Note here from the PED, two distinct entries in the definition:


  1. to be completed, perfected, in any work or art, e. g. of a trained horse

— 2. to die without being reborn, to reach complete extinction of existence

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Yes, rest assured I’m not saying the Teacher died on the night of his awakening and full and complete extinguishment :joy: :pray:

So, in the sutta you’ve cited, it seems first definition one, then eventually the second.

No, I don’t consider death to be any special state nor connected with Nibbana. I don’t think it is correct to equate Nibbana with death. So in that sense, I think that definition needs work; not the suttas. :pray:

Venerable. I also read this in MN 37.

Sir. There are very unambiguous suttas at your link, such as SN 1.1 and SN 36.1. How do you explain this sutta at the link you posted?

And how does a person become fully extinguished when the body breaks up without making extra effort?
It’s when a mendicant … enters and remains in the first absorption … second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption …
They rely on these five powers of a trainee:
faith, conscience, prudence, energy, and wisdom.
But these five faculties manifest in them weakly: faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom.
Because of the weakness of the five faculties, they become fully extinguished when the body breaks up without making extra effort.
That’s how a person becomes fully extinguished when the body breaks up without making extra effort. AN 4.169

How can a person with weakness of the five faculties become fully extinguished?

I think the way Ven. Bodhi renders this verb and passage avoids confusion:

“When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. “

(This attainment is not the immediate extinguishment of the aggregates)

I don’t think the extinguishment of the aggregates has anything to do with the subject; an individual is not the aggregates. Understanding this one puts down the burden of the aggregates. The aggregates are no longer appropriated. They are no longer grasped as “I” or “me” and seen for what they are: void, hollow, and completely insubstantial things that are unworthy of being called a self. The fate of the aggregates is no longer a concern for one on the verge of full and complete extinguishment.

To say that full and complete extinguishment of the individual can only happen after the extinguishment of the aggregates is to equate the individual and the aggregates. It is to identify the aggregates as the individual and shackle the individual to those burdensome aggregates. This is not appropriate. The complete and full extinguishment of an individual just isn’t the same as the extinguishment of the aggregates. That’s how I understand at least :stuck_out_tongue:



In the sense there ultimately is no person, this person is not to be found, I agree !

One thinks of Vajirā’s famous verse:

Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

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How could the Buddha have been subject to parinibbana in DN 16 if it is the sense of self that is extinguished?

“It would not be appropriate for me to become fully extinguished before informing my supporters and taking leave of the mendicant Saṅgha.Here upaṭṭhāka refers to the lay devotees. | Apaloketi (“take leave”) also has a literal sense of “glance back”; both senses are found in the sutta (see DN 16:4.1.2).“na kho metaṁ patirūpaṁ, yvāhaṁ anāmantetvā upaṭṭhāke anapaloketvā bhikkhusaṅghaṁ parinibbāyeyyaṁ.Why don’t I forcefully suppress this illness, stabilize the life force, and live on?”

DN 15

I’m not sure I understand your question.

Are you asking about what happened after the Buddha died, as related in the Mahaparinibbana sutta?

I have never read a sutta that says the Buddha “dies”. How can a Buddha attained to The Deathless “die”?

Perhaps he is still alive?
(I haven’t heard any reports though)

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I read in many places the fully enlightened do not “die”. It is also in the Dhammapada, which says the heedful do not die. It sounds like the word “death” means the false view a self dies. A Buddha does not die because the thought “die” does not occur in their mind.