Where there is Experience, there is Contact, Conciousness and a Sense sphere. As a result, there is Feeling, Craving, Clinging…there is Birth and Death ergo…there is Existence.
Where there is no Sense Sphere there is no Contact and hence no Experience. But does that mean that Conciousness has ended? Or is it merely dormant? If it is dormant, what sustains it?
That dormant Conciousness at that point is sustained by Craving. It is like a spark, blown by the wind, dormant yet capable of reigniting.
Being sustained by Craving, that dormant Conciousness grasps at Form, it acquires Sense Bases, Contact is re established and Experience ergo Existence restarts.
In this in between phase, when the dormant Conciousness is sustained by Craving, the questions of realm or time are wrong questions, because there is no Experience… no Sense base, no Contact, no Feeling, no perception, no overt Existence per se, but these things are not ended at that time, merely dormant.
In Nibbana, Craving is ended. As a result, Conciousness is ended. So with the laying down of this Existence, nothing remains to grasp at a new existence. It is like a fire going out, with no fuel remaining.
Sentient Beings are defined by the aggregates, as the concept of ‘Car’ is defined by its constituent parts. Where the aggregates themselves no longer exist, there is no frame of reference to be able to define the existence/ non existence of the Being they represented. So the question of realm etc for the Arahant after parinibbana simply doesn’t arise. They will not come into existence again.
This is how I understand the EBT. All IMO, of course!
If this is too technical, I can put it in a modern yet imperfect way as follows…
If you switch off your phone permanently with a view to changing handsets, what sustains your personalized Virtual assistant (eg Siri)? Which handset does Siri exist on till you switch on a new phone? How much time passes for Siri, while Siri lies dormant?
Siri knows the time just before being switched off, Siri knows the time as soon as being switched on again, Siri can deduce that time has passed, once it is in existence again. But Siri cannot know anything while Siri lies dormant, because it is not on any handset and so has no input at that time.
If all user data is deleted, the handset is reverted to factory settings and switched off permanently… what happened to Siri?
Did Siri even really exist all the time we were chatting with it?
Or was there only Dhamma?