SuttaCentral

The arahat does not continually experience nibbāna


#1

Could someone points me to suttas that indicates that an arahat does not experience nibbāna all the time.


#2

MN 76

“But Master Ānanda, when a mendicant is perfected, would the knowledge and vision that their defilements are ended be constantly and continually present to them, while walking, standing, sleeping, and waking?” “Well then, Sandaka, I shall give you a simile. For by means of a simile some sensible people understand the meaning of what is said. Suppose there was a person whose hands and feet had been amputated. Would they be aware that their hands and feet had been amputated constantly and continually, while walking, standing, sleeping, and waking? Or would they be aware of it only when they checked it?” “They wouldn’t be aware of it constantly, only when they checked it.” “In the same way, when a mendicant is perfected, the knowledge and vision that their defilements are ended is not constantly and continually present to them, while walking, standing, sleeping, and waking. Rather, they are aware of it only when they checked it.”


#3

Sorry. I can’t be of much help. I don’t recall the sutta name or reference. But I’m positive that the Buddha once stated (paraphrasing) “there is a state that I remain in almost all the time”.

It would indicate that even the Buddha did not maintain Nibbana all the time. I would be as equally thankful to anyone who can reference this sutta. I’ve been searching for it for a while. I recall it being spoken to Vacchagotta or one of the Brahmin youths - however, still can’t track it down. sigh


#4

Rains retreat:
“Then the Blessed One, having emerged from seclusion after the passing of three months, addressed the monks: “Monks, if wanderers of other sects ask you, ‘By means of what dwelling, friends, did Gotama the contemplative mostly dwell during the rains residence?’: You, thus asked, should answer them in this way: ‘It was by means of the concentration of mindfulness of breathing that the Blessed One mostly dwelled.”—SN 54.11

Appropriate attention still needs to be maintained processing the raw material for insight:
“An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness.”--SN 22.122


#5

MN76 seems to say that Nibbana is continually present, but not continuously noticed?


#6

The extinguishment (nibbana) of the defilements is permanent, and no new defilements can arise. So in that way, you could say the extinguishment is continually present — or the defilements are continually absent.
But you would only be aware of it if you review that “my defilements are extinguished”.


#7

Thank you everyone for your contribution to this topic.

I asked this question following my reading Peter Harvey’s The Selfless Mind where in the chapters (11 to 13) on nibbana and the tatthagata he claims that nibbana is experienced at the point at which a person becomes an arahat, last only a few seconds but can be periodically re-entered, so an arahat does not continually experience nibbana/arahatness.

I was really confused reading such statements and his sutta references are not convincing.


#8

Seven days is mentioned frequently:

‘What do you think, reverends? Is King Bimbisāra capable of experiencing perfect happiness for six days … five days … four days … three days … two days … one day?’ ‘No he is not, reverend.’

‘But I am capable of experiencing perfect happiness for one day and night without moving my body or speaking. I am capable of experiencing perfect happiness for two days … three days … four days … five days … six days … seven days. What do you think, reverends? This being so, who lives in greater pleasure, King Bimbisāra or I?’ ‘This being so, Venerable Gotama lives in greater pleasure than King Bimbisāra.’” (MN 14)

Seven days seems to be mentioned many times for others as well but I’m not sure if it’s ever mentioned as a maximum.

But it is also mentioned that non-arahants can experience perfect happiness for a very long time:

"Let alone two days, take one of my disciples who lives diligent, keen, and resolute for one day, practicing in line with my instructions. They can experience perfect happiness for a hundred years, ten thousand years, or a hundred thousand years. And they could become a once-returner or a non-returner, or guaranteed a stream-enterer. " (AN 10.46)

Seems to be the same Pali word translated as “perfect happiness” ekantasukhaṃ in both suttas.

It is also mentioned that certain things remain the same for arahants like arahants have no fear.

So I guess this means that certain things remain the same for arahants who have all mental fermentations ended and they can experience perfect happiness for a long time if they want but probably not unless they want to.


#9

The knowledge of reviewing that the āsavas have ended is a special knowledge that occurs on it’s own. It aises following the mountain of enlightenment factors come to cease, and the remaining samadhi ‘shows up’ the remaining defilements, guiding a person on what to work with next… in a manner of describing this. In an arahanth the knowing that all āsavas have come to an end, would take place. It sort of followes on from this idea that after stream entry a guide is no longer required!