What is the best translation for nibbida

Is revulsion a good translation? For me it does not go well with equanimity.

I like disenchantment as the etymology of the word says “I was enchanted (deluded) and now I see the light, the reality”. And with this I can go to the next step which is to let go.


These days I’m using “disillusionment”. I’d like to use something more colloquial, like “getting fed up”, but it’s hard to make it work.


fatigue could work as it’s a non-emotional feeling in which personality isn’t actively involved, it just sets in as a result of certain processes not in direct control or even awareness of a person

Ven Sona talked a bit about his personal experience in nibbida, if it’s indeed what it was


I remember Ven. Bodhi’s talk where he descried why he reversed to revulsion. There he said he encountered a sutta saying that nibbida is like finding out you have a dead animal around your neck (not sure which animal it was, maybe a dead dog or snake). Then he said it seems to be quite an understatement if we translate it with ‘disillusionment’ or ‘disenchantment’.

1 Like

How about “disengrossed”?

One problem we continually run into with these translations is that most of the words we use to name and describe things also have an evaluative tone. They are - sometimes subtly, and sometimes grossly - either pejorative or approbative. Our language generally incorporates the samsaric value system in which most of it was forged, and so it is hard to find words that name or describe the phenomena we are interested in that don’t also incorporate inappropriate evaluative reactions to those phenomena.

1 Like

If we are taking about really colloquial language, what about ‘grossed out’?


[quote=“Vstakan, post:4, topic:5029”]
There he said he encountered a sutta saying that nimida is like finding out you have a dead animal around your neck (not sure which animal it was, maybe a dead dog or snake)
[/quote]Clearly it must have been an albatross.


Too much aversion.

In the big scheme of things - or in the context of transcendental dependent origination found in AN10.2, AN11.2 and SN12.23 - nibbida is an experience that is said to lie beyond the samadhi-born knowledge and vision of how things have come to be, but precedes dispassion (viraga).

It may be that internally the experience of nibbida ranges from disenchantment to revulsion.

Once one gets to stillness (samadhi) the “right way” one finds a sort of pleasure infinitely superior to the one of the senses. Hence, a disenchantment with those is the only possible outcome (as called out in MN139 and many other places).

With a heart and mind empowered by stillness and the preceding qualities of happiness, tranquility, rapture and contentment, more and more he/she knows and sees how experience is shaped by our choices and habits. Hence, a revulsion or even aversion towards any tendency to insist negative habits and behaviors is the only possible outcome.

Last but not least, nibbida cannot be understood to be the end of the story. In EBTs it is there to sustain the more transformative experience of viraga: little by little the fetters are weakened until eventually broke. If at least the five lower ones have been given up one is doomed to a very pleasant fading away beyond this world.

That’s how I make sense of the term nibbida in EBTs and its role in the path towards cessation. :anjal:

1 Like

“There is a way one could rightly say about me that I detest.
For I detest misconduct by body, speech, and mind;
I detest being possessed of various sorts of bad, unwholesome qualities."

Source: Vinaya’s Bhikkhu Vibhanga, the Chapter on the origin of the Monastic Law



why, is there any background story?

another rendering is disinterest, seems neutral enough

[quote=“LXNDR, post:11, topic:5029”]
why, is there any background story?
[/quote][quote]Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the albatross
About my neck was hung.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner[/quote]Just a geeky reference.


This is true, and as an interesting note it was Ajahn Brahm who pointed this out and recommended this usage. However, in the Numerical Discourses Ven Bodhi has reverted to “disenchantment”. The problem is that the word is used in a number of contexts, some of which justify a stronger reading, some a lesser. Sometimes it just means “bored, fed up”. A good example is found in a verse near the end of the Maratajjaniya Sutta (MN 50):

Māra nibbinda buddhamhā
Forget about the Buddha, Māra!
āsaṃ mākāsi bhikkhusu
And give up your hopes for the mendicants!


It seems the Sanskrit equivalent is nirvedaḥ निर्वेदः

निर्वेदः 1 Disgust, loathing. -2 Satiety, cloy. -3 Depression of spirits, despair, despondency; निर्वेदो नात्र कर्तव्यः Mb.3.32.5; परिभवान्निर्वेदमापद्यते Mk.1.14. -4 Humiliation. -5 Grief. -6 Complete indifference to wordly objects; तदा गन्तासि निर्वेदं श्रोतव्यस्य श्रुतस्य च Bg. 2.52 (regarded as the feeling which gives rise to the sentiment called शान्त (quietude);



Intrigued by the subject, I found this to add two pesos to the discussion: https://www.lionsroar.com/dharma-dictionary-nibbida/

The word is derived from the prefix nis– (“without”) and the verbal root vindati (“to find”), and so most literally means something like “without finding.” So how do we get from “without finding” to “disgust”?

In some contexts, even “he should dwell disconnected from the aggregates…” might work.

(sorry, my post linked/replied to Bhante Sujato, but was meant only as a general add on to the discussion…)

1 Like

As a negative prefix, nir can have a stronger force than mere absence (a-). If vind is “to find, turn towards, accept”, then nibbidā is “rejecting, turning away from”. In fact, rejecting may be a good choice …


Hence revulsion!

Source: Google

It sounds like it is context dependant. I just want to cast my vote to not discard revulsion. We might assume the path of of practice is homogeneous and that at every step it is blissful. This is a reasonable assumption. However all that is good (including spiritual goodness) isn’t necessarily pleasant and all that is pleasing isn’t necessarily good. Craving can be pleasurable and to dislodge attachment the drawbacks of what is clung to must be deeply seen. The roots of attachment lie deeply in the mind as ignorance (avijja) Right at the beginning of the Dependant Origination (paticcasamuppada). Impermanence, suffering and not-self (anatta) are so deeply seen in the five aggregates that revulsion towards the five aggregates arises. This allows a deep excavation-or at least a good attempt- of removing (or suppressing, as in the case of stream entry) ignorance. Further observation of the same (as it is also impermanent) leads to reduction of the emotional tone leading to dispassion. Further practice sees the complete non-arising of ignorance and that rest of the steps of Dependant Origination stumbling down like dominoes resulting in cessation (nirodha). SN22.59

I don’t want to leave out these teachings because they are the path to the deeper aspects of the Buddha’s dhamma.

With metta


@Mat - I agree with you 100% on this.

1 Like