What IS Nibbana, exactly?


This is certainly possible, and you could argue there are some similarities between EBT descriptions of the unconditioned ( eg in the Udana ) and descriptions of Atman/Brahman. Also the distinction between conditioned and unconditioned in the EBTs looks reminiscent of the distinction between “lower self” and “higher Self” in Hindu texts.
But I don’t see there is any way to “prove” this theory, it’s a matter of interpretation and opinion - and occasionally a matter of bias or preference.

In the EBTs the aggregates are clearly described as impermanent and conditional. The unconditioned is presented as being “outside” the aggregates, and outside the “All”.


I think the EBTs would support that view. The Arahant transforms his state of mind, and so gains “access” to a different dimension.

That sounds like oblivion - complete cessation of all experience, since the aggregates would also cease.


Ignorance is included in all these things. But when ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, there is no body and no voice and no mind, conditioned by which that pleasure and pain arise in oneself. There is no field, no ground, no scope, no basis, conditioned by which that pleasure and pain arise in oneself.”


Yes but if there really is something outside the so-called All, then the All isn’t really all there is.


Nibbana is just a name and it is not anything that exists anywhere in any form. When ignorance ceases formations sankhara cease and it is called Nibbana.
With Metta


In the EBTs the All ( experience via the sense bases ) is to be abandoned. If Nibbana is included in the All, then we’d be abandoning Nibbana too, which doesn’t sound right.


That’s possibly because nibbana is not a “thing” that exists anywhere. It’s an event or state of mind, not some place or realm.


“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.”SuttaCentral

“The born, become, produced,
made, fabricated, impermanent,
composed of aging & death,
a nest of illnesses, perishing,
come from nourishment
and the guide [that is craving] —
is unfit for delight”.

“The escape from that
calm, permanent,
beyond inference,
unborn, unproduced,
the sorrowless, stainless state,
the cessation of stressful qualities,
the stilling of fabrications,
bliss”. SuttaCentral

I think it should be said that Nibbana isn’t annihilation- yet it is difficult to define it.


I don’t think the EBTs support that assertion, given that there are positive as well as negative descriptions for Nibbana ( eg see Mat’s quotes above ).

My point was simply that Nibbana appears to be “outside” the All, which could have various implications.


Well, as I argued before, a positive description does not entail nibbana is an additional part of reality that is independent of and outside the rest of reality. For example, if you say nibbana is supreme bliss or peace, that still sounds like a mental state of the person who achieves nibbana. Consider a forest fire that has gone out. The forest was on fire, and now it is cooled. But the forest on fire and the forest cooled are both conditioned things, and the cooled and peaceful state of the forest will last only as long as the forest does.

But yes, there are a few passages that link nibbana with an unconditioned or deathless element or part of reality. If that is what nibbana, is, the somehow when the practitioner puts out the fire raging in his conditioned aggregates, he comes into contact somehow with this part of reality.


These are all metaphors. The second section starting with “the Born …etc” refers to the current state of all living beings. The third section starting with “The escape from …etc” refers metaphorically to the ending of the current state. The words such as “stilling of fabrications” are very important here because they show that the current state of living beings referred to in the second section is nothing but fabrications - sankhara.

For example, if the current state is a fire, it can be described variously as "hot, burning etc etc. When the current fire is extinguished, it can still be described in such terms as “not hot, not burning and cool etc”. Whatever the terms used in describing the fire that is extinguished, it does not recreate the fire that is extinguished. The problem is that everyone tries to see a state or said another way, to recreate some state in order to understand those terms such as “not hot, not burning and cool” etc. In the process, they end up making their own imaginations and assumptions as to what has extinguished or what Nibbana is.

The fire which is burning now is nothing but fabrications - sankhara - . It burns because living beings do not know that it is sankhara which is ignorance and therefore they continue to supply more and more fuel for the fire which are the defilements of greed, hated and delusion. When living beings realize this fact and stop supplying the fuel they experience wisdom which is Nibbana in this very life and beyond. In other words, a fire which burned due to ignorance has extinguished with the dawn of wisdom.
With Metta


Not focusing on the metaphors, this sentence is important. The Buddha says that there is Nibbāna other than just the ending of everything that you’ve known. Nibbānadhatu suggests the same thing.


Where do you get that idea from?. IMO, the Buddha refers to Nibbana using the metaphors which depict the exact opposite of the current state of living beings. This means that the current state which is the current life, is born, become, made and conditioned.
Mere addition of the word “dhatu” - element - does not make Nibbana a “thing”.

With Metta


Ding ding ding!

by Bhikkhu Bodhi

There is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, this Unoriginated, this Uncreated, this Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible.
But since there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, therefore is escape possible from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed.
[Words of Buddha]


They can be taken as metaphors, but that doesn’t mean they were originally intended as such. IMO these passage are actually quite ambiguous.


On what basis are you making that statement?.
With Metta


Nibbana is simply a common word that describes the extinguishment of a flame. Buddha Gotama used this most common word because it was easily understood and approachable to all audiences in order to describe something outside of conditioned reality and technically outside the realm of language. And it is brilliant.

Now what I am going to say is a supposition, because it has to be.

There is the known wrong view often held and propagated in the Thai Forest Tradition of the “undefiled-citta” or the “radiant-mind” and the awful implied “original mind.” This is woefully wrong. Since Buddha Gotama literally said “all citta are anicca.” Citta exist within conditioned reality as a bridge between “bare-potential-awareness” and an object.

“Bare-potential-awareness” without an object lacks both substance and a self. It exists outside of definition in conditioned reality and language. So this wording is inadequate, but I don’t know another better way of articulating it.

“Bare-potential-awareness” cannot be called a citta or mind because “that” is simply a bi-product of union with an object, not its root nature.

When an object comes before “bare-potential-awareness” it craves, attaches and identifies with the object. Whatever the object, except for the “extinguishment element.” The nature of this “bare-potential-awareness” is to always have an object. It bounces from object to object virtually endlessly and without a discernible beginning.

Greed arises for some objects. Hatred arises for other objects. And delusion arises in all objects (except the extinguishment element) due to the FALSE self identification derived from the object.

The “extinguishment element” is the only object that perfectly reflects/mirrors the “bare-potential-awareness” back at it and since “bare-potential-awareness” inherently lacks both substance and a defined self there is an ending of passion for the object and aversion towards the object. The delusion of a self that is inherent in all other objects is absent in the “extinguishment element,” because it is a pure reflection of the “bare-potential-awareness” which naturally lacks a defined self. A permanent and positive feedback loop is then created. Craving for becoming and birth ceases. Dukkha nirodha. A citta ISN’T formed. This “state”(which isn’t a proper description at all) can be called both nicca, and sukha. While attā is technically absent in this it is actually worthy of attā, but such a distinction is unnecessary.

I am painfully aware of the inadequacy of these words…


Nibbana lacks any substance.


Nibbana(extinguishment) does lack substance and self because “bare-potential-awareness” lacks both substance and self. Extinguishment is the mirroring of “bare-potential-awarenesss.” It is the only object without illusionary substance and illusionary self. It exists outside of conditioned phenomena.


What is “bare-potential-awarenesss" in Pali?