What did the Buddha mean when saying Anurādha "didn't actually find a realized one (tathāgate) in the present life"?

You also know that any vinnana arises and ceases. You also know that volition arises and ceases. You also know that avijja arises and ceases.

Do you believe that all this arising and ceasing happens in the air, in the body, in space, in vaccuum, or in mind?

I also do not understand why you do not see Nibbana as ultimate reality why Theravada Abhidhamma does, i believe. Are not ulitmate realities: citta, cetasika, rupa and Nibbana?

Do you really believe that sankhara’s can arise without mind…and then create a Mind??

Mind is impermanent, arising and ceasing. When broken down they are the 4 mental aggregates, ignorance is within the volitional formations aggregates.

It is delusion which causes wrong view to think that there’s a mind which is permanent, pure, happy which is the container of the 4 mental aggregates, and once the 4 mental aggregates are gone, only that pure mind remains and it is nibbāna. That’s a very nice refuge for the self delusion to get settled in there and happily claim attainment, but actually fallen into mara’s trap. Especially dangerous is if the person doesn’t even admit the no self doctrine of the Buddha, which removes one check and balance to prevent wrong view.

I have been living in Na Uyana, who’s all into commentaries, Abhidhamma etc. and the teachers really affirms with the side of nothing after parinibbāna.

Nothing doesn’t mean false. Real and false here I think refers to more of possible to attain to nibbāna or not. And since it’s possible to have remainderless cessation, therefore Nibbāna is said to be real. Don’t reify nothing into something.

I do not try to rely on status, might, power but rely on what make sense to me.
Ofcourse i do not find it sympathic to read that those who are mere cessationalist defend dhamma and i do not. But what can i do about this? For me it feels like a stroke on my nose.

When i share about something not seen arising and ceasing, for me that is no claim of sotapanna stage. I feel it must be for all of us very normal to notice that not all we see is formations arising and ceasing. Don’t we all notice stillness, some form of peace and does one see that arising?
I do not claim anything but common sense or at best some introspection but no attainment.

I never say such things.

In the end this comes down to:

  • A Buddha comes in the world to make an end to all living beings, deva’s, animals, hell beings, preta’s, asura;s, humans and reduce them to nothing.

  • A Buddha comes into the world to show all beings a path to become non-existent after a final death.

  • A Buddha’s main message is: "Dear beings…it is better not to exist then to exist. Strive diligently to become non-existent after a final death. That is peace.

This is all darkness to my mind. And i will never accept that this is the goal of the Holy Life. What is holy about all this?

I probably loose all sympathy of you this way, but i cannot accept all this.

The wanderers called Anurādha a fool because he had made exactly the same mistake of reasoning by considering that there was another way to answer the question besides these four - there is no such way, and Anurādha was wrong:

“In that case, Anurādha, since you don’t actually find a realized one in the present life, is it appropriate to declare: ‘Reverends, when a realized one is describing a realized one—a supreme person, highest of people, who has reached the highest point—they describe them other than these four ways: After death, a realized one still exists, or no longer exists, or both still exists and no longer exists, or neither still exists nor no longer exists’?”

No, sir.”

Anurādha was wrong not only in his argument about existence, but also in his understanding of the framework of the teaching: the teaching is not about existence, the teaching is only about dukkha and the cessation of dukkha:

“Good, good, Anurādha! In the past, as today, what I describe is suffering and the cessation of suffering.”

Anurādha’s whole attempt to use the teaching to make an argument about the purely metaphysical speculative subject of existence was wrong. By asking him questions about clinging aggregates, the Buddha was not explaining to Anurādha a new way of describing existence or non existence, but the 1NB - he was explaining to him why clinging aggregates are dukkha, he was explaining to Anurādha the teaching, the right view.

Yes, and that’s the trouble. According to Pa Auk method the meditation is to be trained until the mind is sharp enough to see these as arising and passing.

According to Sutta method, can also reflect that in the long run, all these ceases as well. the universe will end, mind changes all the time. There is Nothing which last forever.

This is because of strong self attachment to the world. Once they all are seen as not self, it doesn’t matter if someone burns the leaves in the forest as they are all not self.

The happiness that comes from dropping the self delusion is much better than not dropping it. The happiness which is not experienced is superior to any experience.

If we keep asking what exists and what doesn’t exist, we might also fall into a simple trap of wrong views.

For example, as you know, constantly asking one, whether the self exists or not can lead to wrong view. There are things which we must simply accept on Dhammic principle and Buddha’s Teaching. His Teaching comes from a Higher Source. So when we say there is no self, we must accept it, not as if there could have been one, or that one was taken away, or that Sunyata and Anatta aren’t inherant principles. No, there is no self, and the rest is clutter. We all understand this on some level.

No self may even be a permanent Dhamma. I do not see a Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dhamma to suddenly change reality, as the Dhamma is reality, and to create a self in phenomena. All phenomena from the very first have borne the marks of tranquil extinction. So this may be the case to the very last phenomena in our lives. But it isn’t perception of the fact, it’s practice of Right View in learning from the Buddha that generally leads to this realization.

With regards to the mind and Nibbana, I think Nibbana cannot be fully described by the mind when it still is in the mode of Samsara’s guile. If there is something holding one back from immersion in full Buddhist Practice, then the fickle mind may easily drift away and we may not value the Three Jewels as much, and with that, the understanding of Buddhadhamma, the Teaching on Aggregates, Nibbana, and Cessation, as well as Sila and Karuna, Metta, will not be focused on as much. Because before we can stop our desires and restrain our senses, it is important to activate a level of Spiritual sense engagement in practicing Buddhism, until we finish the Path of Attainment, when we can actually abandon the Raft of the Dhamma when it’s use is finished, after it has reached and taken us to the Other Shore of Tranquility and Peace. Then we can finally be freed from all desires. Then the Real Holy Life will begin. So, what’s next?!

Then we fall into the wrong view:

And if, when I was asked by him, ‘Is there no self?’ I had answered, ‘There is no self,’ this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are annihilationists.

SN 44: 10


and based on such acceptance try to discover what is the meaning and purpose of the doctrine of anatta, and why actually both affirmation and negation of self are opposite sides of the same mistake.

What does this mind see arising and passing? Itself?

It also makes no sense, i feel, that there are first sankhara’s and then mind arises?

I do not believe so. I just have seen for my self that all judgements create problems. Judging suffering as bad, not wished for, not welcome, a problem, does not help at all. Judging life as a problem does not help at all. Judging some formations as welcome, some as unwelcome, it does not help at all.
There is no escape from suffering when these judgements do not stop.

What is judgement? Anusaya. The habitual patterns to dislike this, like that, resist to this, welcome that, judge this as me, that as not me etc. This as mine, that as not mine. All such inner stirrings, fermentations, do not help at all. Only thing that helps is love all and see all with wisdom.

Yes, that i believe too.

I do not believe a Buddha would ever speak of a happiness that cannot be known.
That is metaphysics. When Sariputta said that when nothing is felt and percived that is happiness, he did not refer to the happiness of blacking out, being unconscious.

That is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s Translation of SN 44.10. I respect his views and I respect yours as well.

You can also look at the parallel in Bhikkhus Sujato’s Translation of the same Sutta:

“Sir, why didn’t you answer Vacchagotta’s question?”

“Ānanda, when Vacchagotta asked me whether the self survives, if I had answered that ‘the self survives’ I would have been siding with the ascetics and brahmins who are eternalists. When Vacchagotta asked me whether the self does not survive, if I had answered that ‘the self does not survive’ I would have been siding with the ascetics and brahmins who are annihilationists.

You may find some parallels to the topic of this thread as well there. As this is a question on perceiving the Buddha as well.

The answer to the question is stated by both you and me simultaneously, in different ways. Saying there is no self is a step before completely throwing out the question and accepting the Buddha mind, which is free from all the clutter of such questions.

Another example is in Nibbana, the blowing out, we are freed from all concepts. There is the True Reality.

I do not see the world as some heaven, but my heart says that Life is holy. Life is not meant to be seen as problem that must be solved. Maybe that is your idea of Dhamma but not mine. The heart does not long for anything else then coming fully alive. That is…becoming a Buddha. Fully awakened. Fully alive.
Fearless, freed from defilements. Heartwish fulfilled. Freed.

The Heart does not want to cease, it wants to awaken. The heartwish is: be a light for oneself, other beings, the world. Ceasing is not an issue of the heart. I am sure of that. It might be an issue of the head, conceiving, desires, thinking, but, seek in your own heart, is there really a wish to cease? Really?

Maybe then i am heartless. I cannot find this wish in my heart. And i also do not believe at all this was Buddha’s Heartwish. Buddha sought a home for himself but never ever, i believe, thought about home as mere cessation.

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I think this is one of those questions you really have to sit on for quite some time to understand. It plainly defies logic, and reveals the faultiness of our mind’s sense of reason. One sutta that comes to mind right now is the kaccāna gotta sutta; this world takes up as a polarity existence and non-existence… black or white, this or that, is or is not

The question simply doesn’t have a logical answer

But about what question are you taking about? Question about the Tathagata state after death? This question belongs to the category of questions which have to be set aside, it has no answer, since it contains a wrong assumption and any answer would mean an acceptance of such assumption.

But question why Tathagata is not to be found, even here and now is quite valid and should be answered

The reason why the Tathāgata is not to be found (even here and now) is that he is rūpa-, vedanā-, saññā-, sankhāra- , and viññāna-sankhāya vimutto (ibid. 1 <S.iv,378-9>), i.e. free from reckoning as matter, feeling, perception, determinations, or consciousness. This is precisely not the case with the puthujjana , who, in this sense , actually and in truth is to be found.

Hello @knigarian,

Your reply to my question left me quite confused. You seemed to imply that I missed your answer in the original reply. Thinking that I had indeed erred I went back and looked. Unfortunately, I still could not find it. I apologize if I’ve made an error and missed again.

However, after digesting your further reply I see two possibilities that you have indeed now answered my question. First, you said that my question was nonsensical, which leads me to believe that you think my question either has a faulty premise or that an answer is not beneficial to the soteriological aims of the dhamma. Second, you actually seem to have bitten the bullet and answered it anyway. This leaves me further confused. Let’s examine both in turn and then maybe you can help clarify to clear up my confusion.

If my question is nonsensical when the puggala is the object of consideration and not the Tathagata, then I’d like you to explain why. These questions were asked by the Buddha himself with the Tathagata as the object of consideration so the structure of the questions I think must be correct, right? In my estimation, these questions can be asked about any phenomena and doing so is not only beneficial, but crucial to achieving the soteriological aims of the dhamma. I wonder if you disagree?

Regardless, whether the question is nonsensical as you say, you evidently have chosen to answer it anyway when you said this:

I take this as your answer to my question. That the puggala (an individual) is to be known as the combination of body+mind unlike the Tathagata. Your answer seems to be that the Tathagata is not an individual?

Before we go further I’d like you to clarify that I’m reading your latest reply correctly. That you believe my question is nonsensical, but that you actually answered it anyway; the solution being that a puggala is the combination of body+mind, but the Tathagata is not because the Tathagata - unlike an arahant or ariya being or puthujjana - cannot be thought of as an individual. Do I at least have that right? If so, then I can explain my further confusion.


Hmm, do you disagree with @faujidoc1’s answer? Because I see no daylight between what he has said and what I was trying to say, but I admit his answer was much more eloquent and mine quite clumsy.

To risk even more ineloquent and clumsy speech I’ll try and clarify again what I was trying to say.

The point of the Anurādha sutta is not to undermine little e existence, but rather to refute big E existence for the Tathāgata by way of the middle. You disagree?

All phenomena that exist have little e existence. That includes the Tathāgata as well as persons and phenomena. Form, chariots, mind, human beings, ice cream cones, dogs, all of these exist with little e existence. However, in our ignorance we believe that they in fact have big E existence and the sutta in question here seeks to undermine this ignorance, but not by refuting or denying little e existence.

All phenomena above exist in the exact same way; a thoroughly dependent and conditional existence based on causes and conditions. Not one of those persons/phenomena exist with any more ontological status than any other. Persons and an ice cream cone both have little e existence in the exact same manner and to the exact same extent. It is an illusory, ephemeral, gossamer existence without any substance or essence or core that can be found in any way.

The way I read this sutta the Teacher was trying to help poor Anurādha who was asking questions and making categorical statements about what happens to the big E existence of the Tathāgata after the death and break up of the body. The fact that the Teacher explained that the results of the answers to his questions means poor Anurādha, “hasn’t found a Tathāgata in the present life” indicates how truly illusory, ephemeral, gossamer and fragile little e existence really is. In fact, it is so fragile that this little e existence is utterly dependent upon mere designation; a labeling by mind based upon a valid basis of designation.


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Yes, I disagree. The sutta shows that any questions about the existence of the Tathagata after death are wrong questions out of a wrong view, and that such questions are beyond the scope of what the Buddha taught. Anurādha made two mistakes: the mistake in reasoning, and the mistake of accepting the questions about existence as valid out of his wrong views.

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Fair enough.

And yet I agree with you! I don’t see how what I said is in tension with what you said. :joy: :pray:

Nonexistence and existence are incorrect claims to proprietorship. They posit a self. There isn’t one. What is transcendental to existence and nonexistence is what you are seeking. It can be said that the Buddha neither exists nor not exists, but the definition of Buddhahood is not found in trying to identify the Tathagata as a being.

I don’t find any tension here with what I was trying to convey. If it was apparent that there was tension I accept that it was my own inartful and ineloquent language that caused it.

“It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “You should know that there are two kinds of views. What are the two? They are the views of existence and views of inexistence.”

“Therefore, monks, you shouldn’t cultivate these two kinds of views, nor should you recite them. You should abandoned all of them. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

EA 15.01


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The term Tathagata while usually is used by the Buddha who refers by it to himself, also denotes one perfectly liberated, so any arahat .

If so, let’s repeated, there is a certain thing, specific component of impermanent parts, the body, feeling, perception, intentions, and consciousness puggala. You can replace puggala with let’s say car.
In Dhamma there is really no any kind of problem here. The car exist, in the sense, there is such thing as car.

Than you -from my point of view ask me very strange questions: do I consider the weel as a car? Do I consider the steering wheel as a car?

Than I think: what is wrong with this nice man, why he ask me such questions? I am not sure but my answer is: No, while the steering wheel is not a car, it is a part of car, and together with other components, nicely arranged by mr Ford, these parts constitute the car, certain thing which can be used if you like to go from Savathi to Kosala. There is such thing, and it absolutely has nothing in common with avijja, at least as far as Suttas go.

Then my question is: do you agree with that, do you see that the question: “Do you take a weel as car?” is little bit strange, and in normal situation such question would never come to your mind?

I hope, you agree with this.

But Buddha Teaching isn’t concerned with the fact that things are. Buddha Teaching deals with the problem of suffering and cessation of suffering.

So what can be described as suffering? In fact the state of puthujjana = suffering. Notion of self and conceit “I am” are suffering.

And the point is while puthujjana indeed has no any problems with recognition that car is a thing made from various components, puggala essentialy of being of the same nature isn’t seen by the puthujjana in this way. It is seen as “self”

But subjectivity -self including - is inseparable with notions of permanence.

So while arahat is an individual - puggala- without personality

sotāpanna due to abandoning personality view, understands that there can be an individual which functions totally automatically without any self which is the master over experience,

puthujjana isn’t able to distinguished between individuality and personality since for him individual is always “self”

And this is a distinction which has to be recognised, while both arahat and puthujjana are individuals
arahat is an individual without personality, while puthujjana is an individual, one who carries the burden of personality.

The Burden

At Sāvatthī…. There the Blessed One said this:“Bhikkhus, I will teach you the burden, the carrier of the burden, 35 the taking up of the burden, and the laying down of the burden. Listen to that….“And what, bhikkhus, is the burden? It should be said: the five aggregates subject to clinging. What five? The form aggregate subject to clinging, the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the determinations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. This is called the burden.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the carrier of the burden? It should be said: the individual (puggala), this venerable one of such a name and clan. This is called the carrier of the burden.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the taking up of the burden? It is this craving that leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination. This is called the taking up of the burden.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the laying down of the burden? It is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it. This is called the laying down of the burden.”39This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:

“The five aggregates are truly burdens,

The burden-carrier is the person.

Taking up the burden is suffering in the world,

Laying the burden down is blissful.
Having laid the heavy burden down

Without taking up another burden,

Having drawn out craving with its root,

One is free from hunger, fully quenched.”

SN 22 : 22

And it is the task of certain individual puggala - who by self-identification is taking oneself as a person, to transform his experience to individual without personality.( sakkaya)

And here what was pointless in the case of car, starts to be valid. Since puthujjana doesn’t see himself as a component of impermanent things, but as a extra-temporal changeless ‘self’ which by definition cannot be a component of impermanent parts, question: do you see yourself as a body is directing puthujjana towards conclusion, that since the body is impermanent and so cannot be seen as a self, he is a victim of wrong self-identification.

Also it should be understood that since he himself sees himself as a person (sakkaya) while puthujjana may acknowledge that Tathagata is a perfect one, for the puthujjana Tathagata is still a person, some special one, enlightened, nevertheless person. So it is only too natural for him to wonder, what happens to the Tathagata after death?

But ariya, sekha, unlike puthujjana sees, that the question is wrongly stated, because it is asked about person, and here again arahat is an individual without any personality, just impermanent set of aggregates.

But without understanding that subjectivity is inseparable with notions of permanence and so existence of the person, since derived from self-identification with things which are impermanent, depends on ignorance, it is indeed difficult to grasp.