What is bhava nirodha?

What is bhava nirodha, practically speaking, and when does it occur?


Cessation of existence, i.e. the destruction of rebirth, happens when one attains Arahantship…


To my understanding, ‘becoming’ is a more useful translation of bhava than existence. The mind that is freed of ignorance and craving is no longer fettered by the conceit ‘I am’ (asmimāna). There is no longer any conception that an ‘I’ existed in the past, the present or future. The mind has reached the peaceful state - no stream of craving that wants anything beyond the present moment. The mind is rooted in the here and now. Spinning around with the vicissitudes of the world has been cut forever. This is the blessing of nibbāna in this life.


The way I understand Bhava nirodha means the cessation of birth.
This may happen in stages such as four stages of sainthood. Sotapanna etc.
There are three type of Bhava namely Kamma, Rupa and Aupa Bhava
You can eliminate Bhava in these stages.
Anagami has elliminated th Kamma Bhava.


Thanks for the responses. It seems that there are two main interpretations here.

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Please say more? They all meant the same to me until I read your post. Help!

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Here-and-now cessation ( Nibbana ) v. cessation of rebirth when the Arahant dies. It much depends on how one interprets dependent origination, there are traditional and contemporary views on this.

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Abiding in Nibbana, how could the Arahant be reborn? For the rest of us glimpsing Nibbana, enduring karma. I trust that contemporary and traditional views may become indistinguishable?

The problem I have is that these two views look fundamentally different. The lack of consensus and clarity troubles me.
On balance I feel the suttas support the traditional view more than the contemporary one.

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I need help understanding the differences. If my views are contemporary, please guide me to the traditional or v.v . I do not know Pali and am relying on contemporary translations. To me the following all seem consistent:

Arahant traditional view: A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations. I believe this just means that the arahant abides effortlessly in Nibbana (i.e., the complete cooling, extinction of mental fermentations, bhava niroda)?

Arahant on death traditional view:does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding,. I believe this can be understood as cessation of rebirth? Just dying no need for more?

I don’t remember a with or without residue type distinction being made for bhava nirodha. I guess the idea is that once the process of dependent origination (DO) has been unhooked or unravelled, then at that point there is going to be no more rebirth (jati). I guess if the later DO jati step has ceased to be a possibility then necessarily the earlier step has also ceased (or maybe one draws the line at the full working out of the subsequent consequence, at death). Or do such fine distinctions really matter? Or perhaps distinctions depend on differing conceptions of bhava and nibbana (those who don’t like existence being associated with nibbana or alternatively those who don’t like non-existence being associated with nibbana)? Of course, for DO in general, there does seem to be a lot of disagreement on the practical mechanics (presence or not of an intermediate “bardo” type state, ideas of a pudagala, storehouse consciousness etc.). I suppose the mechanics do not really matter, but a lot of these perspectives seem more to stem from attempts to reconcile ideas and construct a workable conceptual framework from texts than actual consistent insights into an underlying process.

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Reading this, one now understands that:

By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, ‘non-existence’ with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, ‘existence’ with reference to the world does not occur to one


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Yes, though I must admit I don’t understand what this neither existence nor non-existence (or what’s left after all possibilities of the four-fold negation are excluded for that matter) actually means! :slight_smile: However, this and nearby SN 12.20 does indicate that insight into DO clears all this up:

When a noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are, it’s impossible for them to turn back to the past, thinking: ‘Did I exist in the past? Did I not exist in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? After being what, what did I become in the past?’ Or to turn forward to the future, thinking: ‘Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future? After being what, what will I become in the future?’ Or to be undecided about the present, thinking: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? This sentient being—where did it come from? And where will it go?’ Why is that? Because that noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are.”

So I’ll live in hope that I may understand one day! :wink:


Without ignorance or wisdom there is just typing. :smiley:

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Probably we need to be more precise about what “bhava” actually is, before trying to work out what cessation of bhava entails. I don’t think we can assume from the texts that bhava nirodha = Nibbana, though it might be a consequence.

Here is the nidana “definition” for bhava in dependent origination, from SN12.2. To me it seems to support the traditional view of liberation from the round of rebirth in the various realms - but perhaps there are different ways to interpret it?
“And what, bhikkhus, is existence? There are these three kinds of existence: sense-sphere existence, form-sphere existence, formless-sphere existence. This is called existence."

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Though this sutta then takes us back to dependent origination/arising, and ultimately to the question of dependent cessation ( DO in reverse order ), of which bhava nirodha is one example:

“‘Everything exists’: That is one extreme. ‘Everything doesn’t exist’: That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness…”

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Misunderstanding this phrase might have led to the conflation of bhava niroda with Nibbana. The sutta itself doesn’t explain formless-sphere existence. What is it?

I assume a realm in which there is no form, like a spirit realm. Though I’m not sure how that helps in understanding the meaning of bhava nirodha.

I found the Cūḷasuññata Sutta (Cūḷasuññata Sutta). Unlike many other suttas, this one slips in and out of comprehension in very unfamiliar ways. This sutta is direct and elusive. The Pali source uses bhavati 11 times. Bhavati is to become, to be, exist, behave so here we have a connection with bhava nirodha via bhava as “becoming”, (form of) rebirth, (state of) existence, a “life.” There are 3 states of existence conventionally enumerated as kāma˚ rūpa˚, arūpa˚; or sensual existence, deva-corporeal, formless existence.

Bhava nirodha might therefore suggest transcendence of the unity of formless existence. Without deeper practice, that is merely a hypothesis and I defer to others for clarity.