Proof For Mere Cessation

I noticed this is still on my mind.

I believe, there is just no person in this entire world that is really, from direct experience or knowledge, able to validate that there are only arising and ceasing formations and temporary constructed states that will also desintegrate. How would one ever be able to do so? How can one ever be certain about this? Really certain!

One cannot validate this from becoming unconscious. Blacking out. No experience at all. That will never valide it.

How would one ever validate there are only formations arising and ceasing and only temporary constructed states that will also desintegrate? Can anyone make me see this? I believe, there is really nothing that can proof this. I say, impossible. To me it seems something that one must always assume.

But based upon experience and direct knowledge one can validate that some things are seen arising and ceasing , such as thoughts, greed, hate, plans etc. But one cannot valide that all arises and ceases.

I do not see how.

I will defend: one cannot be sure about mere cessation. Also not based upon any experience or absence of expereince.

‘Cessation’ reads as though it means the cessation of ignorance rather than the cessation of consciousness. In Dependent Origination, my reading of the texts finds the consciousness that ceases is the consciousness with ignorance. I found SN 12.44 particularly insightful on this subject, which refers to cessation during when consciousness has arisen.

Ear consciousness arises dependent on the ear and sounds. … Nose consciousness arises dependent on the nose and smells. … Tongue consciousness arises dependent on the tongue and tastes. … Body consciousness arises dependent on the body and touches. … Mind consciousness arises dependent on the mind and ideas. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. Feeling is a condition for craving. When that craving fades away and ceases with nothing left over, grasping ceases. When grasping ceases, continued existence ceases. … That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases. This is the ending of the world.

SN 12.44

I think SN 56.11 is the key sutta spoken for beginners. SN 56.11 simply says the cessation of craving is the goal. SN 22.59 also describes the cessation of craving as the goal. :slightly_smiling_face:

SN 56.11 reads as though it says all that co-arises (samudaya) in the second noble truth is subject to cessation (nirodha).

As for phenomena appearing (uppādopi) & disappearing (vayopi; in MN 148), this sutta lists six types of consciousness arising dependent upon six types of sense organs. If we start with the eye sense organ, simply opening & closing our eyes shows eye consciousness arising & disappearing with the opening & the closing of the eyes and the appearing & disappearing of the relevant sense object, such as our computer screen appearing & disappearing each time our eyes blink. :grin: :face_with_spiral_eyes:

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Can you comment on this: What makes that all mere cessationalist are without doubts there are only formations arising and ceasing, and there can be nothing that has not that characteristic?

Read the chapter on the difference between dhammakāya, Nibbāna, samsāra and parinibbāna, by Burgs.

Seeing Nibbāna with the pure mind/dhammakāya/lokuttara citta, serves the function of cutting off the fetters.

Nibbāna being the cessation of all conditioned phenomena.

See arising ceasing (ideally with absorption Jhāna-powered mind), then switch attention to only ceasing, then stay until no arising is discerned, only cessation of all conditioned phenomena.

When all conditionality ceases as well as their causes, no more arising is there. Thus by inference, arahants after death having ceased ignorance and all causes of arising in dependent origination, at death has the final dependent cessation. Afterwards there’s no more arising.

Thus the right view of what’s parinibbāna, what’s nibbāna is important to be able to get there.

If one sticks with wrong view of parinibbāna, nibbāna, then one wouldn’t be able to get it.

This only says to me: you do not accept asankhata in this very life…that what has not the characteristic to arise, cease and change. And i believe, there all goes wrong.

I do not know why people do this. I think that any person with an introspective nature sees that there are formations arising and ceasing, but one does not see all arising and ceasing. One does not see peace, dispassion, stillness arising and ceasing. It is just not true that one sees only movement. Right?
There is also non-movement. No one here even seems to dare to admit. I do not know why.

Only Nibbāna is ultimate stilling, peace, the non arising and ceasing. Seeing the unconditioned is seeing Nibbāna. If you claim to see Nibbāna, you are claiming stream winning.

The other way is one is so deluded and untrained in samādhi that one still see some things as not arising and ceasing. In this case, there’s nothing worth claiming and taking a standpoint based on ignorant perception from the point of view of being ignorant.

Any peace we might experience is directly known as impermanent or else we would never lose the peace once we got it. Hence peace is not unsubjected to arising and falling. Same with dispassion etc.

Stilling of formations is never absent, because it refers to the present asankhata element. An element or aspect in our lifes of stillness, of emptiness, undirected, non-movement.
Movement and non-movement, stilling of formations and arising formations, those do not exclude eachother.

If one is able to see everything arsing it is very sure there is something not seen arising.

You can compare this with a hurricane. In the eye there is no movement but the outside is extremely forceful and spinning around. It is possible that one becomes so un-centered, so confused that one looses the contact with the stilling of all formations that is like ones center, and becomes totally absorbed in the formation. Spinning around.

That moment all touch with emptiness, the undirected, signless fades away.
But most of the time people, maybe unaware but still, are in touch with stilling, peace, non-movement. Their center.

In the sutta’s this is called our own territory. A Buddha is always centered, in his own territory.

I sincerly hope Cessationists start posting all their evidence/proof from the suttas.

Those suttas that do not conform to their ”mere cessation” view are said to be ”poetical” ”myth”, corrupt or something ”mystical”/paradoxical.

Essays are written to somehow disprove these suttas but it always fails and the ”proof” becomes illogical since the essays are filled with grave mistakes.

Cessationists also take the extreme position of ”no self” and make it seem like they actually view all beings as nothing but processes or ”selfless khandhas”.

They are quick to call everything dukkha, and imagine they’ve figured out impermanence fully.

When they clearly have not…

Sāti the fisherman is a great example of someone who has actual experiences of recollecting his previous lives, with all the features and things that happened in these lives.

Anyone would come to the same conclusion as Sāti did, if it weren’t for The Buddha’s teaching on Dependent Origination.

And Dependent Origination is not by any stretch so easy to see or understand (!).

Maybe easy when reading the suttas and having a faint idea of it, but to actually practice it?

It’s incredible, sir, it’s amazing, in that this dependent origination is deep and appears deep, yet to me it seems as plain as can be.”

Don’t say that, Ānanda, don’t say that!

This dependent origination is deep and appears deep.

It is because of not understanding and not penetrating this teaching that this population has become tangled like string, knotted like a ball of thread, and matted like rushes and reeds, and it doesn’t escape the places of loss, the bad places, the underworld, transmigration.


  • That’s why this is the cause, source, origin, and reason of craving, namely feeling.

  • So it is, Ānanda, that feeling is a cause of craving.

“Reverends, extinguishment is bliss!
Extinguishment is bliss!”
When he said this, Venerable Udāyī said to him,

“But Reverend Sāriputta, what’s blissful about it, since nothing is felt?”

The fact that nothing is felt is precisely what’s blissful about it.
But cessationists still think ”nothing is felt” implies
”mere cessation”; but it actually means: the cause, source, origin, and reason of craving, is FEELING.

Feeling is a cause of craving.

Hence the bliss, when nothing is felt.

Stillness, peace and also let us not forget, light:

“In the place where the water, earth, fire, and wind find no footing,
There the stars do not shine, nor does the sun give light,
There the moon does not glow, there darkness is not found.

But then again we have conflicting views over there even being light in the jhanas, so nevermind nibbāna. :sweat_smile:

Cessationists say the 5 senses cease in the first jhana and there is no light in the jhanas…. :thinking:

While others have a totally different view and disagree, saying the exact opposite - namely the suttas.

I don’t think we can ever agree… :wink:


There has been a lot written in Western Philosophy about the difficulty of proving a universal negative. If it is a logical necessity - e.g., something can’t be both A and not A - it becomes a starting principle. (At least withing a given logical system.) But if you are trying to empirically discover facts, you are using inductive reasoning. So the most you can say is “I’ve looked at these cases and have not found an example of X.” You are demonstrating a probability that something does not exist, not a proof that something doesn’t exist, as you could using Deductive reasoning.

So if you are looking for a proof, such as one would find proofs in Euclidean geometry in high school, you’ll never find it. What you will find is evidence from which you can develop a probability that a statement is true.

I like Bertrand Russell’s writings on this. Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, ch VI is a good place to start. Or you can search on Bertrand Russell’s teapot and find his thought experiment on proving negatives.

In Buddhism, of course, you run into the additional complication that some of that evidence will depend on how much weight you give the experience of those farther along the path - do you believe you that the Buddha and some Arahants develop supramundane powers that give them access to directly see things most of us can’t?

Would any pali scholars comment on the word bhava in the context of cessation?

My understanding is that this is

  1. the “becoming” that we unskillfully (most of the time) participate in to make a false “self.”

  2. the becoming of an emotional state (feeling?)

Dhabba reminds me that in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s succinct coverage of DO in the Ten Lectures, he calls out feeling as the link most vulnerable to breaking the chain.

True enlightenment.

On more serious note,

Textual arguments proven endless. People are gonna read what they want to read in the text- which clearly says we ignorantly crave for both becoming and annihilation anyway.

But notice the emotional commitment folks can have towards this view or its antithesis. I concluded that some kind of “memory leak” about recent experience in a hell/heaven realm likely colors the meditators preference for framework.

For mundane instance;
when I’m in a bad emotional state after perceiving his here and now a non-pleasent abiding, I’m happy to sign up with the cessationists. “Get me out now! Anywhere but here. And NO! Not there either!” I find the cessationist an easy karunna target.

I recently read DN1 (Net of Views) and considering this parade of true believers - each so sure of one of 61 wrong views because it was what they directly experienced in another lifetime - confirmed that such a “memory leak” is a real thing.

It is very good that Bhikkhu Bodhi among others have also brought to attention that there are two different types of DO.

There is also ”reverse dependent origination”.

Which can be called the positive version of dependent origination. :slightly_smiling_face:

The Upanisā Sutta SN 12.23 (and its Chinese parallel at MĀ 55) is the only text in which both types of dependent origination appear side by side and therefore it has become the main source used to teach reverse dependent origination.

Numerous other Pali suttas which contain various lists of dependently originated phenomena that lead to liberation, each one being a “precondition” (upanisā) for the next one in the sequence are the following:

DN 2 (repeated at DN 9, DN 10, DN 11, DN 12,) DN 34, MN 7 (repeat at MN 40), MN 51, SN 12.23, SN 35.97, SN 42.13, SN 55.40, AN 5.26, AN 6.10, AN 8.81, AN 10.1 (AN 11.1), AN 10.2 (AN 11.2), AN 10.3 (AN 11.3), AN 10.4 (AN 11.4), AN 10.5 (11.5), and AN 11.12

to me it seems as plain as can be.”

Don’t say that, Ānanda, don’t say that!

This dependent origination is deep and appears deep.

I think we should all agree that DO is not as easy and evident as one might have it to be. :wink:

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Yes, i do.

I am not really interested in the philosophy, but thanks for your references.

For me most important is to understand why people accept that formations are indeed seen arising and ceasing but one does not accept stillness, emptiness, peace, non-movement as not seen arising but still an element or aspect of everybodies life. How can one denie that stilling is an element or aspect of ones life. Oke, one can be more or less unaware of it, but how can a buddhist be still unaware of this aspect or element of ones life?

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Such thoughts have also entered my mind. See further.

But in general i agree with this reading that the nature of mind is not an experience, but can give to experiences. And when we crave whatever experience, we will fail to see the nature of mind as no experience.

The issue for me is: a mere cessationalist sees no escape. Escape means…here it is bad, not safe, no protection, but if i go there, i am protected, safe. A mere cessationalist does not have such a view. There is no safety, no protection, no escape route.

One can only cease to exist, is their idea. One cannot go from samsara to another shore, because there is no other shore. There is only this side of the shore, and one must cease on this shore. (With ‘one must cease’ i refer to the lifestream, the stream of vinnana’s).

The thought arose my mind many times that people with a mentallity of perfection maybe have a memory leak to some world without decay, pain and sickness, for example. For those people this suffering is all unbearable and a sign there is something very wrong with this creation or world.

Somehow it is a bit strange that when we come from nature, like evolution shows, and have in many lifes on Earth only experienced pain, decay, loss, death, sickness, we are still not fully attuned to that. Why can we still be shocked while we have never experienced anything else? Is that not strange? Maybe this is because we have memory leak of a much different world?

I also feel it is only good to look in all honesty why things are loaded for myself. There is surely a lesson to be learned there. That is also how i deal with this myself. But those mere cessationalists :blush:

Because it is likely that we have experienced (very long) periods in the higher realms as did most of the people referenced in DN1. Aging, illness, and death apply there, as well, but don’t feature as predominately… thus i have heard.

Yes, that was also on my mind.

I think you’re using concepts instead of resting in the present moment.

As for the hurricane analogy you have described, concepts is labeling the centre or outside of the hurricane as peace and since concepts is not reality, it can be mistaken as eternal, unchanging. Just like 1+1=2 is. It’s concepts. That’s not the unconditioned. Or else we can say all maths is unconditioned and the best way to nibbāna is to become a pure mathematician. No kidding, one friend I know thinks maths is the most reliable thing ever.

Reality, being in the present moment is to notice that sometimes experiences is peace, sometimes not. That’s the arising and falling.

Nibbāna in the analogy is where even the air is gone, so no hurricane is possible. Total peace.

There it is. The “I” which is not let go of. The “I” that you want to have to cross from impermanent things to some sort of eternal heaven where the “I” never suffers.

All delusions. There’s no self. Any notion, any sense of “I”, “I am” cannot lead one to enlightenment. One has to drop the self delusion to be able to be freed from all these conditioned phenomena which traps one. But don’t put the “I” back into the “one”. It’s just conventional speech to refer to the 5 aggregates. 5 aggregates ceases. That’s it. Freedom. No one to experience freedom after death of arahant. No one to be freed, but freedom there is. Freedom from 5 aggregates, from the sense of self.

Without even willing to intellectually entertain the idea of no self and take it seriously, one cannot understand Nibbāna properly.

Are you contending that freedom from sense of self is not experienced before death? That freedom from reckoning as the five aggregates is not experienced before death? Is freedom not experienced? Not known? Did the Teacher not directly experience freedom? Did the Teacher not directly know freedom? :pray:

See how carefully I said after the death of an arahant. While living, there is no sense of self which experiences that freedom. Just freedom from greed, hatred and delusion, including delusion of self, the sense of self etc.

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Hello Venerable,

I did see it! That’s in part what inspired the questions as the phrasing seemed ambiguous and I wondered if it was deliberately so. Generally reluctant to participate as the tendency for polemic seems strong in these threads and I am doubtful of benefit, but your phrasing seemed unusual so it piqued curiosity. I can’t say that you’ve entirely cleared up the ambiguity that appears to me, but I’m happy to let it be if you don’t wish to.

You say no sense of self experiences that freedom while living, but are you talking about freedom from a sense of self or freedom from reckoning as the aggregates or both? And are you saying that since a sense of self does not experiences these freedoms, that no experience of these freedoms is possible while living OR are you saying that the experience IS possible, but it isn’t a sense of self which is experiencing it?

And how about reckoning as the aggregates? Is that what you meant by “freedom from the five aggregates? Is there any experience of this freedom by anything, anywhere while alive or after death or is this freedom just not experienced or known period?

:slight_smile: :pray: