We cannot escape what is produced and conditioned?

There is, monks, an unborn–unbecome–unmade–unfabricated. If there were not that unborn–unbecome–unmade–unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born–become–made–fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn–unbecome–unmade–unfabricated, escape from the born–become–made–fabricated is discerned.
Trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Now, we know the problem that “if nibbana is unproduced, how does the eightfold path lead to nibbana?”. One answer would be to say that the eightfold path does not produce nibbana, but does produce the realization of nibbana.
That’s what Bodhi seems to be saying :

Is Nibbana conditioned by its path?
Now the question is often asked: If Nibbana is attained by the practice of the path, doesn’t this make it something conditioned something produced by the path? Doesn’t Nibbana become an effect of the cause, which is the path? Here we have to distinguish between Nibbana itself and the attainment of Nibbana. By practising the path one doesn’t bring Nibbana into existence but rather discovers something already existing, something always
Ven. Bodhi

This means that the realization of nibbana is produced, while nibbana is unproduced.

Now, this poses a problem, because if the realization of nibbana is produced, it means that the arahant has not escaped all that is produced. And so there would be a contradiction. How can we solve this problem? Thanks in advance.

May all beings be happy

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This is what Acharya Nagarjuna has to say about Nirvana and this question in his 25th chapter (Examination of Nirvana) of The Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way: The Text Called Wisdom

25.18 So, when the Transcendent Lord was alive, he
Was neither perceived to be existent
Nor perceived to be nonexistent.
He was neither perceived to be both nor to be neither.

25.19 Cyclic existence is not the slightest bit
Different from nirvana.
Nirvana is not the slightest bit
Different from cyclic existence.

25.20 Whatever is the limit of nirvana,
That is the limit of cyclic existence.
There is not even the slightest difference between them,
Or even the subtlest thing.

25.21 Views regarding his status after his passing; extremes, etc.,
And views regarding the permanent, etc.,
Are grounded upon nirvana, the final limit,
And the prior limit.

25.22 Since all existents are empty,
What is finite or infinite?
What is finite and infinite?
What is neither finite nor infinite?

25.23 What is identical and what is different?
What is permanent and what is impermanent?
What is both permanent and impermanent?
What is neither?

25.24 The pacification of all objectification
And the pacification of all fabrication is peace.
No Dharma was taught by the Buddha
At any time, in any place, to any person.

This is my personal favorite text on Nirvana and one of profound and deep wisdom to my limited mind. :pray:

In this particular case I have a problem with understanding your objection. But perhaps this line of thoughts will help …

The future arahat starts as puthujana. In suttas terms he is an individual (puggala) who carries the burden. And this burden is precisely personality. But personality is entirely built from what is subject to arising and conditioned.

And this idea of taking oneself to be person, is a wrong view. With abandoning of the wrong view, still remains conceit “I am”. But with the realisation of nibbana cessation of being, there is actually and in truth nobody there, no person or someone whom you could accuse of not being successful in escape.

You see the body of the Buddha, but even with supernatural powers you cannot see upon which Buddha’s consciousness is established, MN 22 since with the realisation of asankhata dhatu there is cessation of consciousness, or more precisely puthujana cosciousnes which is always established in one of the three states of being. (bhava)

The Path removes defilements and by this it gives insight into the peaceful, unburdened, empty, open nature of mind. All defilements are always adventitious, incoming in the mind, like one would poor oil in water. (AN1.51).

So, I believe, we must not think about mind as intrinsically passionate, intrinsicallywih ego, intrinscially defiled, intrinsically with wrong views, intrinsically burdened etc. All such things always arise and cease.

To personally attain Nibbana this defiling proces must come to end. That takes personal effort. For this we need to develop insight, calm, powers etc. But at the same time, while one really has purified mind, one has not created that mind. But now mind just shows to be at ease, peaceful, unburdened. Now, the nature of a pure mind shows.


  1. the cessation of defilements is really produced, it is made happen, it takes effort, it is a result of developing the Path
  2. the mind that is now free of defilements, at ease, not on fire, is not your creation, you have not made this mind. Nobody makes the mind. You have not made this peace of mind. Your effort is that you have removed defilement.
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The objection is this:
The Buddha affirms that the existence of nibbana makes it possible to escape from what is produced; however, if we say that the arahant produces the realization of nibbana, this implies that the arahant has not escaped from all that is produced (if he had escaped from all that was produced, he would also have escaped from the realization of nibbana). Is that clearer?

Nirodha (cessation of suffering) should not be confused with Nibbana. Nirodha, though essential for Nibbana, is Sammuti. It occurs just once, for one moment, and then passes away. At that path moment, all attachment to the Khandha, all ignorance ceases! After that, the Citta is free from the influence of the Kilesa. It is void, a singularity that is called Nibbana.

So, you could say that Nirodha is produced, but it is the very last act (production) of an impure Citta. After that, the Citta is pure Asankhata Dhatu, Nibbana Dhatu or Dhamma Dhatu - depending on which terminology you prefer - free of the invasive Kilesa.

There is no contradiction, but perhaps there is a misinterpretation of what the text means.

[I should also repeat that this state is Anatta. It is nothing to do with some “self”. A “self” implies an “other than self” which means duality but, as I have said, Nibbana is a singularity and therefore beyond any notion of self. So, please no responses saying this is like the Upanishads, because it is not. ]

The Dhamma can be summorized as: do only good, abandon all evil and purify the mind.

I believe it is beneficial to think about the relation between mind and defilements:

Purifying mind is like all purification. Such as water. One applies methods, path, skills, to remove defilements that are always adventitious to what one purifies, otherwise they cannot be removed.
While purifying water , ofcourse one does never create water. One only removes defilements. One cannot say…i have made this water…right? That is foolishness. One can say…i have removed the defilements. That is what i have done. Now it makes sense.

In the same way, the result of purification of mind is not that one creates the mind that is now dispassionate, still, the mind without defilements. There is no creation of that mind.

Can’t you see this way how produced removal of defilements and not produced Nibbana do not conflict?

The sutta’s also compare this with gold. Gold is not created, produced, made, become when cleansed. Likewise mind.

Another great example/simile of how mind and defilement relate is:

A clear crystal on a coloured surface takes on the colour of that surface, right, but still it never really has that colour, right? It does not possess colour. Point. Mind also never really has any colour. But avijja makes us believe this. Suppose jalousy arises and is clung to, then we experience this as if mind becomes intrinsically jalous and green, but this does never really happen. One now believes that the clear crystal of the mind really has a green colour. In other words, one cannot seperate two truths…how things really are, and how things are perceived. The clear crystal really never has colour but can be perceived like that. Same with mind.

All dharmas except one arise in dependence on conditions: they are conditioned (saṃskṛta). The usual formula says that when the condition is present, the effect arises. Hence all dharmas except one are born, conditioned, made, etc.

The one dharma that this does not apply to is nirvāṇa. But why? In my view, this is linked to the cessation of sensory experience: to be precise, I think that nirvāṇa (extinction) is the absence (śūnyatā) of sensory experience for a period, typically following cessation (nirodha) in deep meditation.

When there is attention to the sensorium, then a major condition for having sensory experiences is present and they (must) arise.

Certain approaches to meditation (common to some Pāli texts and early Prajñāpāramitā texts) involve systematically withdrawing attention from sensory experience. The key technique is called amanasikāra in Pāli and anupalambhayoga in Sanskrit. As one withdraws attention from sensory experience, the condition for it to arise is increasingly absent (sūnya). Until one reaches the point where all conditions are absent and sensory experiences completely stop (for a period).

NB: the analogy between cessation and death is an obvious one, but I haven’t yet had time to explore it more formally.

When all the conditions for conditioned dharmas are absent and no conditioned dharmas arise, then we settle into the one dharma that does not have a condition: the absence of sensory experience (i.e extinction nirvāṇa or absence śūnyatā). This dharma, since it relies on the presence of no condition is said to be “without a condition” asaṃkṛta.

Not here that asaṃkṛta might be “unconditioned” but conditionless is better (treat the compound as a bahuvrīhi rather than a karmadhāraya). There is a conditionless state, which is the state we are in when we have banished all the conditions for sensory experience.

NB. Where Nāgārjuna goes wrong, IMO, is in treating the absence of sensory experience as “reality”. It is this that leads to contradictions, paradoxes, and ridiculous statements like “motion is not possible”. There is a strong correspondence between Madhyamaka and Saṅkhya-dharma, albeit with a slightly different metaphysical spin. Both treat the absence of sensory experience as reality and the presence of sensory experience as unreal. Not an argument the Buddha would have gotten into, I think.

Further reading (with many references to Pāḷi):

  • Attwood, Jayarava. (2022) “The Cessation of Sensory Experience and Prajñāpāramitā Philosophy” International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 32(1):111-148. Online here:
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You refer to this here:

At around the same time as these myths were emerging and taking Buddhism in innovative directions, some Buddhists, notably one known as Nāgārjuna, began to assert that the absence of sensory experience is reality .

Jayarava's Raves: Some Notes on Cessation and Prajñāpāramitā

Where do you see Nāgārjuna doing this? What is the definition of ‘reality’ according to Nāgārjuna or what is the definition of the word ‘real’?


Answering this would be off topic in this thread.

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Sorry to say, but it seems to complicated, to be clear. Perhaps your wording is not proper, perhaps I don’t understand what you mean, because for me such problem would never come to mind. But let’s say that there is sun. Sun is always there, but it isn’t visible. “Production” of realisation it doesn’t mean that sun is produced, but that by certain efforts clouds were removed.

Asankhata dhatu is always present, and ignorance can be defined as not knowing asankhata dhatu and taking oneself to be a person. Cessation of person is conditioned since something has to be done to remove ignorance, but after successful removal of ignorance, what left it that what was always present.

Where is your problem?

If this is so, than I am seriously confused. But before I start to worry about my confusion, could you give us some reference for this rather highly unorthodox statement? I mean of course quotes from Suttas which support your idea.

Does the eightfold path produce the realization of nibbana?

If you want silence…do you create silence? No, you just remove all sources that make sounds because you know that the natural result of that is silence. But can you say that you created that silence?

If you want an empty room do you create that emptiness or do you just remove all object from the room?

I believe, likewise, the peace of heart called Nibbana is arrived at when all causes and conditions for unease are removed, abandoned. That peace is not created.


My answer to both your questions is “yes”. In both cases, there is a causal relationship. In your examples, the deletion of X causes the absence of Y.

You’re right to say “result”, because the result of something else is its effect: that’s the cause-effect relationship.

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I think what @Green was attempting to describe - and please forgive me if I’m wrong - is what is known as a non-affirming negation.

Another way of thinking about what is meant by a non-affirming negation is to consider the statement: “The current King of France’s name is John.”

One can negate this statement in one of two ways:

  1. The current King of France’s name is not John.
  2. It is not the case that the current king of France’s name is John.

The first is an example of an affirming negation. While it is a negation, it does affirm that there is in fact a King of France; the only problem is that this current King’s name is not John. The second is a non-affirming negation; it does not imply acceptance of the statement that there is in fact a current King of France.

Ask yourself, what is the cause or condition upon which #2 arises as a result?


For me to respond, could you please clarify one point by answering one question, “Does Nirodha require/rely on the practices of Sila, Samadhi and Panna?” Please don’t feel need to provide a voluminous response. A simple yes or no will suffice. Thanks.

Yes, or no could leave some ambiguity for you to discuss, so I hope you will not find two sentences too voluminous. Of course one needs to practice in order to realise unconditioned nibbana:

Asankhata Samyutta (i,1 & ii,23 <S.iv,359&371>) we read Yo bhikkhave rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo, idam vuccati bhikkhave asankhatam/nibbānam; (‘The destruction, monks, of lust, of hate, of delusion—this, monks, is called (the) non-determined/extinction.’)

My question is: what you actually mean by nirodha if not the cessation of conceit “I am”?↓

Nibbāna is called bhavanirodha, the cessation of being.

Ok, this is a slightly different question but it does relate to the previous post and so I will answer it.

Nirodha IS the destruction of conceit. It is the destruction of Avijja and all the Kilesa. However, it is Sammuti. It is conditioned by the practice of Magga. It only occurs when Magga is perfected. Because it is Sammuti, it is not, and cannot be, unconditioned, signless, deathless and void. In other words, it cannot be Nibbana. Nirodha occurs only once, in a single moment, and then never occurs again. (Avijja does not grow back and have to be destroyed again and again. If it did, Nibbana would not be Asankhata.)

To use your own analogy, Nirodha is a clearing of the clouds to expose the sun, but the sun and the clearing of the clouds are not the same thing. However, the sun is only visible when the clouds are banished, so there is a very close relationship but not that of being identical.

If Nirodha and Nibbana were the same, then @DeadBuddha 's dilemma would real. Because Nirodha and Nibbana are related but not identical, there is no contradiction.

In abhidhammic terms then this is the lokuttara citta of arahant magga.