The Eye is Impermanent.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:16 pm

Hi everyone,

2. sabbe sankhara dukkha - All formations are suffering.

a) All external constructive activities are suffering - makes no sense.
b) All external constructed things are suffering - makes no sense either.

A bird building its nest, or a potter making a pot, cannot be said to be
suffering. Nor can the nest or the pot be said to be suffering.

c) All mental constructive activities are suffering, this is true.
d) All mental constructed things are suffering, this is also true.

Should we not understand sankhara in the same way for both lines? If so, then
we should reject the "external" option for line 1.

So sankhara has to be understood as mental.

Now, any object made by a mental constructive activity persists only as long
as the activity, and ceases when the activity ceases.

Therefore, it does not matter which meaning of sankhara we use in line 1.

1. sabbe sankhara anicca - All mental formations are impermanent.

This means: All mental constructive activities, and constructed objects, are
impermanent. [We still have to decide what impermanent means.]

2. sabbe sankhara dukkha - All mental formations are suffering.

This means: All mental constructive activities, and constructed objects, are
suffering.

Now, since those who are being instructed can become enlightened at any time,
and since enlightenment is the cessation of mental suffering...

And, since the formations are the same in lines 1 and 2, we now know what
impermanent means.

1. All mental constructive activities, and constructed objects, can cease at
any time - including now.

2. All mental constructive activities, and constructed objects, are mental
suffering.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Nyana » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:44 pm

vinasp wrote: But, the Buddha never says that seeing is impermanent, or suffering. Why?
Because seeing is not fabricated, it is not a sankhata. It does not cease while
one is alive.

Seeing ceases every time one closes one's eyes or goes to sleep.

vinasp wrote: Take, for example, "eye-consciousness", this is fabricated, it is something
which has been made, constructed. When it was first made, that is called its
arising. While it persists, that is called its staying. When it vanishes, that
is called its passing away.

"Seeing" (passati, disvā, etc.) a form via the eye (e.g MN 38: cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā) is an occurrence of eye-consciousness.

vinasp wrote: It only arises once, for most of us this was many years in the past. It will
only pass away once, when we become enlightened. Between these events it
persists or stays.

This is quite untenable. Eye-consciousness arises and ceases many times during the course of one day.

I would suggest that it's far more beneficial (and less problematic) in the long run to simply learn the basics of Theravāda dhamma than engage in these kinds of unnecessary speculative interpretive cartwheels. I've yet to see any alternative modern interpretation that is as comprehensive and dynamic enough to account for the complete Suttapiṭaka as that which is developed in the Abhidhammapiṭaka.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:38 am

Hi Nana,

If you can demonstrate that I am wrong on any points, I will be most grateful.
All I am attempting to do is to discover the truth about the Nikaya teachings.

Nana said: "Seeing ceases every time one closes one's eyes or goes to sleep."

Well, then it does not really cease, does it? Not if by ceasing we mean a
permanent and complete cessation.

Nana said: ""Seeing" (passati, disvā, etc.) a form via the eye (e.g MN 38: cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā) is an occurrence of eye-consciousness."

And can you cite a passage from the Nikaya's which shows that seeing and
eye-consciousness are the same thing?

Nana said: "This is quite untenable. Eye-consciousness arises and ceases many times during the course of one day."

Does it? Can you cite a passage which shows that?

And even if you can, this would not be the complete and permanent cessation
which would follow from the cessation of the six-spheres.

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Nyana » Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:11 am

vinasp wrote: All I am attempting to do is to discover the truth about the Nikaya teachings.

Then I would suggest studying a bit of the Abhidhammapiṭaka, primarily the Dhammasaṅgaṇī and the Vibhaṅga.

vinasp wrote: And can you cite a passage from the Nikaya's which shows that seeing and
eye-consciousness are the same thing?

I'd suggest that what should concern us here is how processes function moreso than what things are. The purpose is entirely soteriological, using provisional, conventional language throughout. In the context of the aggregates, what primarily needs to be understood is how seeing forms, hearing sounds, cognizing ideas, etc., gives rise to feeling, which in turn gives rise to craving, aversion, or numbing out. And then, after seeing this, how we can begin to let go of craving, aversion, etc.

vinasp wrote: Does it? Can you cite a passage which shows that?

And even if you can, this would not be the complete and permanent cessation
which would follow from the cessation of the six-spheres.

An arahant still experiences the six spheres. MN 121:

    'And there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.' And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, pure — superior & unsurpassed.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:36 am

Hi Nana,

Nana said: "An arahant still experiences the six spheres. MN 121: ..."

MN 9 said:

"There would. When a disciple of the noble ones discerns the six sense media, the origination of the six sense media, the cessation of the six sense media, and the way of practice leading to the cessation of the six sense media, then he is a person of right view... who has arrived at this true Dhamma. ..."

Would you care to explain this apparent contradiction?

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Sylvester » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:51 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Vincent,

vinasp wrote:What does "eye" mean here?


"Eye" here is a wrong traditional English translation.

Pali term "cakkhu" here means "sight".

Recently published Margaret Cone's Pali-English dictionary gives in the "cakkhu" article following meanings:

cakkhu, 1. the eye; the organ of sight; the faculty of seeing, sight;...

Here the last meaning applies.

As for "cakkhu" (eye)", etc., Sue Hamilton discusses this issue at length in Identity and Experience: The Constitution of the Human Being According to Early Buddhism (pp. 7-35). She concludes that these six do not refer to the physical organs.



This is really one of the most sensible posts I've read in this thread. The internal ayatanas/spheres and indriyas/faculties of vision, hearing, olfaction, tasting, touch and "mentation" are really meant by the standard list of the so-called six sense "organs". MN 43 gives an almost abstract/conceptual picture of the 5 faculties - the objects cognisable by each faculty are described as its visaya and gocara, both words which tie in with the concept of ayatana (sphere).

The concept of the 5 internal ayatanas/faculties being physical organs is not a sutta concept, but can be traced to the Vibhanga. See Dmytro's post here -

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12799
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Nyana » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:24 am

vinasp wrote: Nana said: "An arahant still experiences the six spheres. MN 121: ..."

MN 9 said:

"There would. When a disciple of the noble ones discerns the six sense media, the origination of the six sense media, the cessation of the six sense media, and the way of practice leading to the cessation of the six sense media, then he is a person of right view... who has arrived at this true Dhamma. ..."

Would you care to explain this apparent contradiction?

In this instance the distinction is between the nibbānadhātu with fuel remaining (saupādisesa nibbānadhātu) and the nibbānadhātu with no more fuel remaining (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu). Cf. Itivuttaka 44. The full development of the noble eightfold path leads to the realization of the former, which then culminates in the latter.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:36 am

Hi Nana,

Your explanation makes no sense to me. Does what you call "the full development
of the noble eightfold path", result in the cessation of ignorance - or not?

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:37 am

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote: Would you care to explain this apparent contradiction?

This has been discussed in numerous threads on this this Forum. Like Geoff, I would encourage you to learn a bit more about Theravada Buddhism in it's own terms, as a way of describing practical experience. That consciousness arises and ceases, that contact leads to feeling, and so on, is rather obvious to anyone with a little experience of meditation practice.

If you want to read a modern interpretation that differs in a few areas from the Classical Theravada understanding I would recommend Bhikkhu Nananada's lectures on Nibbana:
Nibbana - The Mind Stilled (Vols. I-VI): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katukurund ... ished_work

Here are some places I've referred to his analysis:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 60#p101215
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 300#p94936
I can't find a specific discussion of the extract you quote, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere...

:anjali:
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:48 am

OK, here is a specific discussion.

From Nibbana Sermon 09:
Nanananda wrote:The medley of wrong views, current among those of other
sects, is the product of the six sense-bases dependent on con-
tact. The Buddha's vision, on the other hand, seems to be an
all-encompassing lustre of wisdom, born of the cessation of the
six sense-bases, which in effect, is the vision of Nibbāna. This
fact is further clarified in the sutta by the statement of the Bud-
dha that those who cling to those wrong views, based on name-
and-form, keep on whirling within the saṃsāric round because
of those very views.

    D I 45, Brahmajālasutta.
    "They all continue to
    experience feeling coming into contact again and again with the
    six sense-bases, and to them dependent on contact there is feel-
    ing, dependent on feeling there is craving, dependent on craving
    there is grasping, dependent on grasping there is becoming, de-
    pendent on becoming there is birth, and dependent on birth, de-
    cay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair come to
    be. But when, monks, a monk knows, as they truly are, the aris-
    ing, the going down, the satisfaction, the peril and the stepping
    out concerning the six sense-bases, that monk has a knowledge
    which is far superior to that of all those dogmatists."
This paragraph clearly brings out the distinction between
those who held on to such speculative views and the one who
wins to the vision made known by the Buddha. The former were
dependent on contact, that is, sensory contact, even if they pos-
sessed worldly higher knowledges. Because of contact orig-
inating from the six sense-bases there is feeling. Because of
feeling they are lured into craving and grasping which make
them go round and round in saṃsāra.

The emancipated monk who keeps to the right path, on the
other hand, wins to that synoptic vision of the six sense-bases,
replete in its five aspects. That is what is known as the light of
wisdom. To him, all five aspects of the six sense-bases become
clear, namely the arising, the going down, the satisfaction, the
peril and the stepping out. That light of wisdom is considered
the highest knowledge, precisely

The reference to the formula of dependent arising in the
above passage is highly significant. It is clear proof of the fact
that the law of dependent arising is not something to be ex-
plained with reference to a past existence. It is a law relevant
to the present moment.
...
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Nyana » Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:57 am

vinasp wrote: Your explanation makes no sense to me. Does what you call "the full development
of the noble eightfold path", result in the cessation of ignorance - or not?

Yes it does. Nevertheless a living arahant still has eyes and sees forms, and so on. SN 35.232:

    There exists in the Blessed One the eye, the Blessed One sees a form with the eye, yet there is no desire and lust in the Blessed One; the Blessed One is well liberated in mind. There exists in the Blessed One the ear, the Blessed One hears a sound with the ear ... There exists in the Blessed One the nose, the Blessed One smells an odour with the nose ... There exists in the Blessed One the tongue, the Blessed One savours a taste with the tongue ... There exists in the Blessed One the body, the Blessed One feels a tactile object with the body ... There exists in the Blessed One the mind, the Blessed One cognizes a mental phenomenon with the mind, yet there is no desire and lust in the Blessed One; the Blessed One is well liberated in mind.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:14 am

Hi Nana,

If ignorance has ceased for this arahant, then according to the DO formula
the six-spheres have also ceased.

I agree that the arahant still has the five actual senses and a mind.

Which is correct, the DO formula, which says that the six-spheres cease, or
MN 121 which says that they are still present?

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:38 am

Hi everyone,

"Bhikkhus, there are these four noble truths. Which four? The noble truth of
suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the
cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation
of suffering.
"And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering? It should be said:
the six internal sense bases. What six? The eye base ... the mind base.
This is called the noble truth of suffering. ...

[ The rest is the same as in the "standard" version. BB, CD, SN 56.14]

So, the noble eightfold path leads to the cessation of ... the six internal
sense bases.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Nyana » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:18 pm

vinasp wrote: Which is correct, the DO formula, which says that the six-spheres cease, or
MN 121 which says that they are still present?

There's no contradiction. Both are correct.

vinasp wrote: So, the noble eightfold path leads to the cessation of ... the six internal
sense bases.

Again, there's no point in conflating the nibbānadhātu with fuel remaining and the nibbānadhātu with no more fuel remaining. The Nettippakaraṇa:

    [O]nly the nibbānadhātu with no fuel remaining (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu) liberates from the unsatisfactoriness of fabrications (saṅkhāradukkhatā).

And the Paṭisambhidāmagga Suññatākathā:

    [T]hrough the nibbānadhātu without any fuel remaining for one who is fully aware this occurrence of eye ends and no further occurrence of eye arises; this occurrence of ear ends and no further occurrence of ear arises; this occurrence of nose ends and no further occurrence of nose arises; this occurrence of tongue ends and no further occurrence of tongue arises; this occurrence of body ends and no further occurrence of body arises; this occurrence of mind ends and no further occurrence of mind arises.

Also, Visuddhimagga, Chapter 16:

    [Q] Is the absence of present [aggregates] as well nibbāna?

    [A] That is not so. Because their absence is an impossibility, since if they are absent their non-presence follows. [Besides, if nibbāna were absence of present aggregates too,] that would entail the fault of excluding the arising of the nibbāna element with result of past clinging left, at the path moment, which has present aggregates as its support.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Sylvester » Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:44 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi Nana,

If ignorance has ceased for this arahant, then according to the DO formula
the six-spheres have also ceased.


I agree that the arahant still has the five actual senses and a mind.

Which is correct, the DO formula, which says that the six-spheres cease, or
MN 121 which says that they are still present?

Kind regards, Vincent.


Hi vinasp

You may wish to reconsider your statement above in light of how Dependant Cessation is crafted in the Pali. The Pali grammatical structure of the Dependant Cessation schema allows a downstream cessation effect to be either concurrent with the cessation of avijja or far, far in the future (see idappaccayata and SN 12.49 - 50 on idappacayata, but the possibility of temporal disjunction only shows in the Pali, not in the English translations).

Those states that cease concurrently with the cessation of avijja are (i) the sankharas (SN 12.51, but see SN 12.38 on what sankharas mean in DO and DC) and (ii) the establishment of consciousness (SN 12.38 - 40). SN 12.51 makes clear that an Arahant continues to feel, which is only possible if the 6 indriyas/faculties continue after awakening.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:39 pm

Hi Nana,

vinasp wrote:"Which is correct, the DO formula, which says that the six-spheres cease, or MN 121 which says that they are still present?"

Nana replied: "There's no contradiction. Both are correct."

It is no good just making assertions. Where are your arguments?

There clearly is an apparent contradiction.

vinasp wrote: "So, the noble eightfold path leads to the cessation of ... the six internal sense bases."

Nana replied:"Again, there's no point in conflating the nibbānadhātu with fuel ..."

I am not "conflating" anything, that statement follows logically and directly
from the sutta which I cited [SN 56.14].

Here is another passage which says the same thing:

"If, through revulsion towards the eye, through its fading away and cessation,
one is liberated by nonclinging, one can be called a bhikkhu who has attained
Nibbana in this very life." [Part of SN 35.155]

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:59 pm

Hi Sylvester,

Sylvester said: "SN 12.51 makes clear that an Arahant continues to feel, which is only possible if the 6 indriyas/faculties continue after awakening."

Then how do you interpret this passage:

"If, through revulsion towards the eye, through its fading away and cessation,
one is liberated by nonclinging, one can be called a bhikkhu who has attained
Nibbana in this very life." [Part of SN 35.155]

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby Nyana » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:23 pm

vinasp wrote: There clearly is an apparent contradiction.

I already replied to this concern of yours a few months ago here.

Also, please consider Nettippakaraṇa 4.42:

    Above, below, everywhere released,
    He does not see that “I am this.”
    Thus liberated, he crosses the flood
    Not crossed before, for no further renewal of existence.



    [Non-learner’s liberation: Asekhāvimutti]

    Above is the form element and the formless element. Below is the sensual desire element. Everywhere released is the non-learner’s liberation (asekhāvimutti) from the triple element [of existence]. That itself is the non-learner’s five faculties (pañcindriyāni: i.e. faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment). This is the way of entry by faculties.

    These same non-learner’s five faculties are knowledge (vijjā). With the arising of knowledge [there is] the cessation of ignorance; with the cessation of ignorance, the cessation of volitional fabrications; with the cessation of volitional fabrications, the cessation of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness, the cessation of name-and-form; with the cessation of name-and-form; the cessation of the six sense spheres; with cessation of the six sense spheres, the cessation of contact; with the cessation of contact, the cessation of feeling; with the cessation of feeling, the cessation of craving; with the cessation of craving, the cessation of grasping; with the cessation of grasping, the cessation of becoming; with the cessation of becoming, the cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, aging and death cease, and [also] sorrow, grieving, pain, unhappiness, and despair; that is how there is the cessation to this whole aggregate of unsatisfactoriness. This is the way of entry by the aspects of dependent arising.

    Those same non-learner’s five faculties are comprised within the three aggregates, namely the aggregate of ethical conduct (sīlakkhandha), the aggregate of concentration (samādhikkhandha), and the aggregate of discernment (paññākkhandha). This is the way of entry by aggregates.

    Those same non-learner’s five faculties are included in fabrications. These fabrications, [which in this case are] free from mental outflows (āsavā) and are not factors of existence, are comprised within the dhamma element (dhammadhātu). This is the way of entry by elements.

    That dhamma element is included in the dhamma sphere (dhammāyatana), which [in this case] is free from mental outflows and not a factor of existence. This is the way of entry by spheres.


    [Learner’s liberation: Sekhāvimutti]

    He does not see that “I am this.” This is the eradication of identity-view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi). That is the learner’s liberation (sekhāvimutti). That itself is the learner's five faculties. This is the way of entry by faculties.

    Those same learner's five faculties are knowledge (vijjā). With the arising of knowledge [there is] the cessation of ignorance; with the cessation of ignorance, the cessation of volitional fabrications; thus the whole of dependent arising. This is the way of entry by the aspects of dependent arising.

    That same knowledge is the discernment aggregate (paññākkhandha). This is the way of entry by aggregates.

    That same knowledge is included in fabrications. These fabrications, [which in this case are] free from mental outflows and are not factors of existence, are comprised within the dhamma element (dhammadhātu). This is the way of entry by elements.

    That dhamma element is included in the dhamma sphere (dhammāyatana), which [in this case] is free from mental outflows and not a factor of existence. This is the way of entry by spheres.

    It is one liberated by means of the learner’s liberation and the non-learner’s liberation (sekkhāya ca vimuttiyā asekkhāya ca vimuttiyā) who crosses the flood not crossed before, for no further renewal of existence.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby vinasp » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:09 pm

Hi Nana,

The contradiction is not just between DO and MN 121.

Let us not argue over different interpretations of DO.

This passage is also in apparent contradiction with MN 121:

"If, through revulsion towards the eye, through its fading away and cessation,
one is liberated by nonclinging, one can be called a bhikkhu who has attained
Nibbana in this very life." [Part of SN 35.155]

How do you explain this apparent contradiction?

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: The Eye is Impermanent.

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:41 pm

Hi Vincent,

It seems to me you're not paying enough attention to the detailed explanations that Nana and Sylvester have given. In particular Sylvester's note here:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=13044&start=80#p196994
You may wish to reconsider your statement above in light of how Dependant Cessation is crafted in the Pali. The Pali grammatical structure of the Dependant Cessation schema allows a downstream cessation effect to be either concurrent with the cessation of avijja or far, far in the future (see idappaccayata and SN 12.49 - 50 on idappacayata, but the possibility of temporal disjunction only shows in the Pali, not in the English translations).

And it seems to be a common misunderstanding that "in this very life" does not necessarily mean "at this instant". Knowing that one is liberated doesn't mean that everything has ceased at this point.

See the quote from Ven Nananada here http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 60#p101215 which I referred to a few posts ago:
    "As a huge blazing fire, with no more fire wood added,
    Goes down to reach a state of calm,
    When saïkhàras calm down,
    One is called `extinguished'."
...
From the particular context in which the verse occurs, it seems that this imagery of the fire is a restatement of the image of the lotus unsmeared by water. Though the embers are still smouldering, to the extent that they are no longer hungering for more fuel and are not emitting flames, they may as well be reckoned as `extinguished'.
...
This cooling off happens just before death, without igniting an­other spark of life. When Màra comes to grab and seize, the ara­hant lets go. The pain of death with which Màra teases his hapless victim and lures him into another existence, becomes ineffective in the case of the arahant. As he has already gone through the supra­mundane experience of deathlessness, in the arahat­taphala­samà­dhi, death loses its sting when at last it comes. The influx-free deliver­ance of the mind and the influx-free deliverance through wisdom en­able him to cool down all feelings in a way that baffles Màra.

So the arahant lets go of his body, experiencing ambrosial death­lessness. As in the case of Venerable Dabba Mallaputta, he would sometimes cremate his own body without leaving any ashes.[37] Out­wardly it might appear as an act of self-immolation, which in­deed is painful. But this is not so. Using his jhànic powers, he simply em­ploys the internal fire element to cremate the body he has already discarded.

This, then, is the Buddha's extraordinary solution to the problem of overcoming death, a solution that completely outwits Màra.

[37] Ud 92, Pañhamadabbasutta.

:anjali:
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