The Aspect of No-Change

I would say that nobody can know if there is.

Physics hold that the quarks are the final, smallest component of matter. They have however said this about every other smallest particle before. And it seems that there are some problems with proving quarks empirically.

The question of whether there is a smallest component of matter at all is held by Kant (the philosopher) as one of four questions that mankind will never be able to solve.

In Hinduism they believe that Vishnu is considered the “smallest” as well (as well as containing many other unlimited factors). :grin:

Drawing a parallel, maybe a Buddha?

I didn’t talk about the wetness of H2O, I talked about the wetness of water. You know, like when you have a shower.

My definition of essence doesn’t preclude this.

But Hurrah! Well done! You thought that you would search and come up empty, and you said this

but yay! You managed to find wetness in water and liquid mercury too. I was beginning to think that maybe you might be one of those people who can’t perceive wetness and also maybe one of those people who can’t perceive suffering in people :laughing::laughing::laughing:

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@stu @green I leave you both to your views about essence whatever they may be. Feel free to ignore when I speak about it. Just because it seems helpful for me to think this way doesn’t mean it will be for you :pray:

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I think a lot of the problem comes down to the definition of the term in this case. I’m a bit of an ignostic, so I like to agree on a definition of terms where I can. But we are probably talking about different things by the sound of it. I still can’t work out what you were trying to get at. Maybe if you offered your definition of the word ‘essence’ and also maybe a definition of ‘search’ and ‘find’ and ‘empty’ that might help?

As far as I know the Vedanta traditions (and I happen to know one or two things about them), they define the Brahman as satchitanand, i.e. Truth/Being, Mind and Bliss. If we do reify anupadisesa nibbanadhātu a bit (whether one should do it is beside the point here) as a separate ‘thing’, ‘sphere’, etc., we may say that it is Truth since it does not feature ignorance and thus does not contain and distortions of the yathabhuta perspective. What we definitely cannot say is that it is Mind: to explain why the viññanam anidassanam camp is wrong would take up too much space, time, and effort, so I would rather refer you to this paper by Ven. Anālayo as well as his recent book on Nibbana that provide text critical arguments that preclude the viññanam anidassanam from the inclusion into the anupadisesa nibbanadhātu. Doctrinal arguments are aplenty too, but again, it would not be very difficult for you to find them on this very forum. As for the Bliss characteristic, one may mention Ven. Sariputta in AN9.34 pointing out that the absence of perception and feeling as the highest happiness (sukha). Using a similar figure of speech, I may say that an absence of headache is a bliss, and I think you would agree that it would be at the very least odd to reify this absence as describe it as something, i.e. the bliss of the absence is not positive. Interestingly, when I come to think of it, this sutta also provides additional evidence for the anupadisesa nibbanadhātu not being chit in that it mentions that the happiness of Nibbana consists in the absence of feeling and perceptions. Rupa can be absent even in the arupadhātu, sankharā are absent from the asankhatam per definitionem (it does not matter, which sankharā we are actually talking about), so in the anupadisesa nibbanadhātu there is no perception, feeling, rupa, and sankharā, ergo no namarupa, ergo no consciousness/viññanam if we follow the paticcasammuppada exegesis. Therefore, the anupadisesa nibbanadhātu can be described as Truth, cannot be described as Mind and can only be described as Bliss negatively (as in ‘absence of headache is a bliss’). In other words, based on the Buddhist material that is presently available to us, we can safely say that the anupadisesa nibbanam is not identical to the concept of the Brahman in the Vedanta traditions.

It also cannot be described as stable and constant. Why? Well, because these concepts are relative to time, or, better said, change. Time emerges out of change (let us accept it as a very rough description of the situation as discussing it in further detail would be unnecessary). In the anupadisesa nibbanadhātu there is no change, there even is nothing that potentially could change, there is even no nothing, which means there is no time there, which means that the concept of stableness and constancy cannot be applied to it.

Isn’t it much more rational to re-consider the idea of mere cessation as the goal?

Well, the Buddha did refer to the annihilationism as the position closer to the Dhamma than the eternalism. Besides, from the point of view of consciousness, of the mind, entering the anupadisesa nibbana is cessation. Even if we do accept the anupadisesa nibbbanadhātu as a ‘thing’, it will never enter ‘our’ experience as it would not feature anything we could experience it with. From the point of view of the aggregates, it remains as much a metaphorical black hole as if it were merely nothing. So, trying to describe it as something as opposed to nothing serves no real purpose from the practical standpoint

I myself do not subscribe to the mere cessation position but rather consider Ven. Ñanadipa’s position in his essay No cassa (can be found in Bhante Joe Atulo’s biography of the Venerable titled To the End of Body & Mind) as well as Ven Analāyo’s (minus the somewhat emotional argumentation he uses to oppose the annihilationism interpretation; can be found in his Nibbana book) very sound. Summed up, it says that both the Brahmin/viññana-like and cessation interpretation do not do justice to the anupadisesa nibbanadhātu and indeed no interpretation can as it is lying beyond the concepts and language, and we cannot but use them in Samsara. This is why Nibbana as the Third Noble Truth has to be realized to be ‘understood’.

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Thanks for this summary!