Snp 5.7: the questions of Upasīva

Well, that may be true scientifically, but the point of the fire analogy is not this. The point is not that the fire (and whatever it metaphorically represents) somehow still exist. When a fire goes out the idea is that it totally ceases. Otherwise the Buddha would not use this famous metaphor for the cessation of craving. Craving totally stops existing at nibbana, I think you’ll agree.

Likewise, in the Upasiva verses the going out of the flame also means cessation, although here it refers to parinibbana, the cessation of the aggregates at death.

There are quite a few, though, most notably AN9.34.

Venerable Sariputta addressed the mendicants: “Reverends, this extinguishment (nibbana) is ease!”

Then Reverend Udayi asked him: “But, reverend Sariputta, what ease is there when nothing is experienced?”

“Then exactly that, reverend, is the ease: that nothing is experienced.”

I know you will probably argue that “feeling” and “experiencing” mean something different, but the dictionaries suggest “experience” for the verb forms, including vedayita which we have here.

Vedayita and veditabba are two forms of the same verb, vedeti, which means to feel, experience, know, or understand.

So when you don’t feel anything, you don’t experience anything. You can translate the verb either way. Some translate even the noun vedana as ‘experience’, including Warder (of the famous Pali grammar book) in his Indian Buddhism.

Anyway, our discussion is getting a bit beyond the scope of the essay, so I’ll probably leave it at this.


Hello Bhante,

May I ask: what about the consciousness agggregate? Doesn’t viññāna-sota continue, and at some point “descend” into the womb combining with nāma-rūpa , (so to speak).

If so, since viññāna, sañña, and vedanā are interdependent (MN43), in some way even these aggregates must not entirely cease after death, (as they do in parinibbāna).

But, could you please offer corrections if this is not so? :slightly_smiling_face: :pray:

By “parinibbana … at death” I meant the death of an enlightened being, not of anyone.

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Oh, ok, thank you, Bhante.
I hadn’t picked up that you were referring to parinibbana. :pray:

Yes, I agree that the fire ceases and that its ceasing points to the cessation of craving. But it cannot be said that the cessation of the fire also represents the cessation of experience.

This seems to be different from this rendering (Assuming that you’ve swapped out feeling for experience due to taking them as equivalent, this angle is addressed later):

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.

Yes, I see feeling and experience as different. However, supposing we say that experience and feeling are the same, we still don’t arrive at the complete absence of feeling.

Feeling, in the canon, is classed as one of the following:

  • Pleasant
  • Neutral
  • Unpleasant

Feeling regarding the presence or absence of suffering is separate to this (put another way, the experience of the presence or absence of suffering is separate to this). If it were not separate to the above, there could not be a feeling of blissful, because the absence of all feeling would lead to the absence of blissful feeling as a consequence.

Regarding Nibbana as the absence of all feeling results in a contradiction of terms where a feeling, blissful, is used to describe the absence of all feeling. However, such a contradiction does not occur when:

  • The scope of feeling that ceases is limited to that which by the feeling aggregate may be known, namely, pleasant, neutral or unpleasant feeling; and
  • Feeling regarding the absence of suffering is allowed to persist.

I.e. The absence of pleasant, neutral or unpleasant feeling results in a blissful feeling.

Thank you for the discussion on this :slight_smile:

There are a few interesting twists pertaining to these quotes in the Chinese parallel translated by Bapat.

The ending of the Chinese does not have the question about higher attainments in it. There is no mention of a time when there is nothing.

In the Chinese it is not form that must cease, but “good form”, literally beautiful or attractive form that must cease.

I saw below @cdpatton translation, but Bapat has the phrase “nor with the consciousness of the formless” implying that the state reached to cease good/beautful/attractive form was not formless.