What IS Nibbana, exactly?


The destination is pretty clear, the end of suffering.

With regards to the metaphysical dimension of what that means, the Buddha had a pretty clear answer to that in the parable of the poisoned arrow…


I think you’re right, and jhana experience can give a sense of what the possibilities are. I’ve experienced jhana on retreats while doing quite a lot of meditation, but generally when meditating at home I don’t “get there”. So I’ve tended to focus more on satipatthana, or “dry insight”.


I wonder if this related to an increased awareness of anicca?


Is Nibbana clearly described as the end of suffering in the EBTs? I find it odd that Nibbana is mostly described as cessation of the taints, rather than as cessation of dukkha.


I’ve found that becoming more aware can be very uncomfortable at times.


It’s because of the non-arising of defilements.

Sounds great. Coming back home can be bit of a downer! I think it’s right to meditate regardless as it will hold you up for next time you are on retreat. Insight practice should be intermixed with calm and they go hand in hand (different time, same day or alternate every other day).


I find when we work on a certain negative emotion we become sensitised to its arising so we can change it more readily.

Developing a tranquil mind also ‘shows up’ ripples of defilements in the tranquility -

Why did satipatthana inspire confidence?


I guess because it’s something I can actually do, both on and off the cushion. I find it a revealing and interesting practice, a way to explore and discover.

I keep hearing stuff about “three marks” - I really must have a look at those sometimes.:yum:


I find that insight practice has a calming effect, I assume because it involves a degree of concentration and focus. Two sides of the same coin?


Yes, that’s more like what I’m talking about. The more that coarser and more variable forms of suffering and mental turbulence are overcome, the more one becomes aware of more subtle and persistent varieties of suffering.

I think it is the nature of human beings and all animals to seek to preserve themselves. We have a sort of scanning system that is always on, and that is registering with twinges of anxiety even relatively innocuous changes in our surroundings. A change in the quality of light from bright to dark, a sudden noise, an unfamiliar smell, an internal bodily pressure change, a minor loss of balance etc. (Noticing the latter is a product of walking meditation.) We are also socialized into a time managed life pattern, which means the mere passing of time during the day and across longer spans is triggering an ongoing flow of thoughts of “did I forget something?” or “running out of time.”

I find a particular challenge in working with persistent experiences of unpleasant tension around the heart, and in the neck and head. I have come to think that one of the body’s most pressing ongoing functions is to protect the heart from potential damage, and so all of these subtle sources of anxiety produce a kind of clutching around the heart. Also, the very act of breathing involved a constant physical “struggle” with nature. The inbreath requires pushing against gravity and atmospheric pressure, but produces an exhilarating rush of oxygen. The out breath is initially relaxing but gives way within a second or so to a very slight deoxygenated despondency plus the anxious feeling, “must breath again.”

Finding out how to come to the end of this subtle ongoing anxious fear and suffering is not the same as dealing with more mentally “loud” and intense kinds of suffering. That’s in part because this kind of subtle suffering is not irrational. It is built into the most normal and elemental human functioning.


I think of vipassana as those meditations showing the tilakkhana and others as Samatha (including Mindfulness meditations).

Is it focusing on stimuli?

Sati leads to samadhi. Sati doesn’t always give rise to wisdom.


Having just counted my breath for over a decade decades ago, imagine my recent joy at discovering the remainder of satipatthana. Body, feeling, mind, principles! :tada:
So many presents to open!

With the cessation of taints, we do not give rise to dukkha. Dukkha might give us a break and cease temporarily for this or that reason, but the “factory” might still be there.


Greetings @Whippet
Just a little house keeping issue :slight_smile:
I’ve noticed that when you reply to multiple people you do a separate post to each one. The threads are much tidier if you can combine them all into one, as Karl and Mat have done in the above 2 posts :slight_smile:


This is a great point, Mat.


Saddha–>Viriya–>Sati–> Samadhi–>Panna. :wink:

Sati + clear comprehension --> vipassana
Sati (ignorance) --> samatha

Sati-patthana : samatha+vipassana --> jhana -->… (9th, 10th steps following N8FP)


It is the cessation of the mind states that are described in the Patichcha Samuppadaya, starting from ignorance … and ending in birth,death , decay and suffering - the ending of all these / any of these states is the realization of Nibbana. There are many definitions of Nibbana . Most of them define Nibbana as the cessation of one or more of these mind states.
( Eg. Cessation of Ignorance , Cessation of Saṅkhāra , Cessation of Viññāṇa or the cessation any of the other mind states including the cessation of suffering )
As all these states are coupled in a sense , the cessation of one leads to the cessation of the other , thus the compete chain.
These definitions are meant for meditators to understand the characteristics of Nibbana so as to lead them towards its realization. Nibbana defined as the “Cessation of Suffering” to Nibbana defined as a the “Cessation of Ignorance” or the “Cessation of Saṅkhāra” , or “Cessation of Viññāṇa” is quite hard to understand logically without a certain amount of meditative training/experience.

Also, Nibbana is unconditioned, thus in an ultimate sense cannot be objectified and defined with conventional language. The mechanics of language losses it utility when duality ceases - “Cessation of Viññāṇa” .


If there is a cessation of discriminative consciousness ( vinnana ), then what replaces it?


See for example SuttaCentral

Paraphrasing the last part of the sutta …
““What is the counterpart of extinguishment (Nibbana)?” “Your question goes too far, Visakha. You couldn’t figure out the limit of questions. For extinguishment is the culmination, destination, and end of the spiritual life. If you wish, go to the Buddha and ask him this question. You should remember it in line with his answer.””


A citta (consciousness) goes through nine stages to become viññāṇakkhanda. It becomes a viññāṇa on the eighth stage. An arahant will not have his citta passes mānasaṃ stage.

As you can see from the citta (consciousness) article that there is no need to replace that viññāṇa if there is a cessation of it as it is not required any more.


Don’t think this has been posted in this thread yet…

Venerable Nyanaponika wrote a relatively short yet comprehensive work called Anatta and Nibbana that gives a good overview of what Nibbana is.

To give a taste of what the essay is about, here is an excerpt. The essay goes into detail on what he calls the “nihilistic-negative extreme” and the “positive-metaphysical extreme” and ends with “transcending the extremes.”

If we examine the utterances on Nibbāna in the Pali Canon, we find that it is described (or
better: paraphrased) in both positive and negative terms. Statements of a positive nature
include designations like “the profound, the true, the pure, the permanent, the marvellous,”
etc. (SN 43); and such texts as those quoted above (see Section 2), “There is that sphere …”;
“There is an unborn …,” etc. Statements in the form of negative terms include such
definitions of Nibbāna as “the destruction of greed, hate and delusion” and as “cessation of
existence” (bhava-nirodha). If the Buddhist conception of Nibbāna is to be understood
correctly, one will have to give full weight to the significance of both types of utterance. If
one were to quote only one type as a vindication of one’s own one-sided opinion, the result
would be a lop-sided view.