In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?

In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

not applicable, there is no rebirth, it is annihilation for all
2
1%
no more becoming, non-existence as we know it but not annihilation since there is no self
52
38%
existence in a buddha-field / realm
5
4%
pantheism
8
6%
citta continues in paranibbana
12
9%
a subtle existence that is ineffable, inexpressible
26
19%
don't know or agnostic about it, set-aside for now
31
23%
 
Total votes: 136

Pragmatic
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by Pragmatic » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:05 am

daverupa wrote:
Pragmatic wrote:That is to say, the annihilation the materialist assumes to achieve without effort the Buddha tells us must be laboriously earned.
Well, you're assuming that the post-death situation is the goal, but the ultimate aim is the reduction & elimination of dukkha, which doesn't have to make reference to post-death scenarios.

In the case of parinibbana, it's simply a result of attaining nibbana - it is not in and of itself the goal (which centers on the four Truths) but simply a component of the result.
Again, how is this the middle way?
It altogether bypasses the question of a person somehow existing forever or else being annihilated.
And why would a materialist, or anyone who doesn't remember former lives be interested in the Buddhist path?
Dukkha here and now is reduced & even eliminated, to various degrees; as the simple Sutta above shows, these three altogether encompass 'the suck', and do not make metaphysical references.

However! :focus:
Hi daverupa. I do appreciate how you patiently field my queries even while our perspectives are bound to be so much at odds. Life on the fringe!

But again I feel your responses miss my point, although I'm sure my defective way of putting things are partly at fault. Neither the materialist nor the Buddhist of the type in question have a goal of annihilation, I agree. The one merely assumes it will happen, the other pursues a course that, in my view, effectively leads in that direction.

Dukkha as you know better than I is much more than literal pain or suffering; it's sometimes translated as unsatisfactoryness and together with anicca and anatta is expressive of the way things are, as matter of empirical fact: impermanent, in flux, lacking effective inner control and thus if not always literally painful never altogether satisfactory or the way one would wish.

It seems to me that anicca has the logical priority; everything follows from the fact of impermanence. But as we can gather from the four noble truths dukkha in the end comes to stand for the rest, and finally to stand in a sense for the later formulations of dependent origination. The overcoming of dukkha is simultaneously it would seem the overcoming, the dissolution of pratityasamutpada or conditionality.

But here's the point I've already made in another post in slightly different words: conditionality is precisely how we exist; we know of no other existence outside of conditionality. So if we are to dissolve conditionality without having in view any other mode of existence, but simply the end of rebirth, how is this not a practice that aims, if indirectly, at annihilation?

Finally I would add that this is not a question in my view of the shell game self/non-self, empirical self, attributed self, relative self - no one in our age who in any way seriously thinks about the matter really believes in an inherently existing, non-relational soul that can be located in some particular place. Rather it's about our paradoxical ongoing participation in the play of existence, and whether our spiritual practices seek to enhance that play or seek to end it.

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cappuccino
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by cappuccino » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:00 pm

Buddha never said there is no soul.
He merely said, there is a jungle of views, a fetter of views.

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cappuccino
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by cappuccino » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:18 pm

"So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared. And what is undeclared by me? ... 'The soul & the body are the same'... 'The soul is one thing and the body another'... is undeclared by me."
Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta

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samseva
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by samseva » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:09 pm

Pragmatic wrote:...
Hi Pragmatic,

Maybe you missed my post (maybe not though), but it talks about some things you mentioned as well as some other things you posted in 'the great Nibbana = annihilation, eternal, or something else thread'.
samseva wrote:Once one has attained Nibbāna, there is no more dukkha. The roots that cause it are uprooted. Like daverupa mentioned, the fact that an Arahant is not reborn is only an indirect consequence of the cessation of dukkha; it shouldn't be the end goal. If annihilationism is the end goal, then that desire is rooted in aversion.

The goal of the teachings is to end dukkha. If rebirth wouldn't take place, we would simply need to wait for our death. However, this is not the case. Until we continue to have the defilements, they will cause us to suffer and we will be reborn and suffer and be reborn and suffer. If we uproot the defilements, there will be no more dukkha, but there will be no more rebirth as well.

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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by SarathW » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:41 pm

cappuccino wrote:"So, Malunkyaputta, remember what is undeclared by me as undeclared, and what is declared by me as declared. And what is undeclared by me? ... 'The soul & the body are the same'... 'The soul is one thing and the body another'... is undeclared by me."
Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
But Buddha very clearly said that there is no permanent unchanging entity names soul.
He taught the dependent origination.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

daverupa
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by daverupa » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:50 pm

So, it's worth starting new threads to ask about & address these issues; this is not the thread for it.

:coffee:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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samseva
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by samseva » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:03 pm

daverupa wrote:So, it's worth starting new threads to ask about & address these issues; this is not the thread for it.

:coffee:
That would be a good idea. The discussion started with this post. Maybe the great Nibbāna = annihilation thread would be the correct thread?

Pragmatic
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by Pragmatic » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:34 pm

cappuccino wrote:Buddha never said there is no soul.
He merely said, there is a jungle of views, a fetter of views.
Hi cappuccino. Good point to bring up. In my admittedly amateur reading of the early suttas I see the Buddha making basically four points about "self", three explicit and one implicit:

1. There is no substantial, inherently existing, non-relational metaphysical self.
2. The grasping self is the principle source of pain.
3. To have views or theories of self is to fall into a jungle, a thicket.
4. There is (implicitly) a conventional, relational or phenomenal self, which is a necessary instrument of practice, of liberation as well as suffering, a refuge.

But of course that doesn't fit so easily on a license plate and unfortunately there is a tendency to over-simplify the case.

Pragmatic
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by Pragmatic » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:38 pm

samseva wrote:
Pragmatic wrote:...
Hi Pragmatic,

Maybe you missed my post (maybe not though), but it talks about some things you mentioned as well as some other things you posted in 'the great Nibbana = annihilation, eternal, or something else thread'.
samseva wrote:Once one has attained Nibbāna, there is no more dukkha. The roots that cause it are uprooted. Like daverupa mentioned, the fact that an Arahant is not reborn is only an indirect consequence of the cessation of dukkha; it shouldn't be the end goal. If annihilationism is the end goal, then that desire is rooted in aversion.

The goal of the teachings is to end dukkha. If rebirth wouldn't take place, we would simply need to wait for our death. However, this is not the case. Until we continue to have the defilements, they will cause us to suffer and we will be reborn and suffer and be reborn and suffer. If we uproot the defilements, there will be no more dukkha, but there will be no more rebirth as well.
Hey samseva. Yes I have seen your post and intended to respond but couldn't get to it until now. I do have a life you know! Not much of one it's true, but still...

So lets return to what's at issue, option #2 above: "no more becoming, non-existence as we know it but not annihilation since there is no self".

I've said elsewhere that in my view this is sophistry. Here I'll expand. First of all, what kind of "self" are we talking about? Metaphysical, phenomenal, relational, empirical, conventional, mere verbal designation? The self we can't find or the self that is our refuge? One of the most interesting moves of the Buddha was precisely to point out how slippery a notion the self is, and yet so many Buddhists talk about the self as if, well, they know what they're talking about!

Anyway here the statement is categorical: no self of any kind. So the principle I guess is that if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it...

Lets agree that the metaphysical, inherently existing self was never there, but was there really no self of any kind? I suggest this is plainly false. No matter how relational, ever changing, dependent, even deceptive if you like, "self" or "selfing" was part of the fabric of conditioned existence, part of what it does, as real or unreal as any other mutually conditioning element. To unravel the fundamental basis of conditioned existence, offering no other basis, and then hold that some part of it was never there in the first place is the shell game of self/no-self, and in a way a red herring or diversion. Again, in my view the "self" however we conceive it is part of the fabric of dukkha, of conditioned existence, no less and no more real than any other dhamma that makes up the aggregates.

But finally these are just my views - and no doubt a forest and a jungle! And the exchange of views I think is only interesting and wholesome up to a point, which I've think we've reached since we have already expressed our differing assumptions and starting points.

Besides, my real intent here was to get some sense of how the Theravadin way worked as a spiritual path and now I feel I do have that sense, not gained through argument or quotes from the suttas but between the lines as it were, by the tenor of the responses.

The thing is that the standard definitions and defenses of tradition are only convincing for those who are within it, not to the outsider. A good analogy are the arguments for the existence of God by Aquinas, say, which only carry weight with those who already have a base of Christian belief.

What does carry weight with the outsider I think is as I've said the tenor, the feel of the responses, the between the lines. I'm sorry if this sounds vague but through reading your responses and what I knew already about Buddhist practice I was able to imagine how this works and see it as a path of renunciation not unlike paths in other traditions.

So while at the abstract, intellectual level one may debate notions of annihilation, etc. on the level of practice I can see that it doesn't apply.

Thanks for lending me insight into your world, and all the best in your practice. Pragmatic.

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samseva
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by samseva » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:47 pm

Pragmatic wrote:But here's the point I've already made in another post in slightly different words: conditionality is precisely how we exist; we know of no other existence outside of conditionality. So if we are to dissolve conditionality without having in view any other mode of existence, but simply the end of rebirth, how is this not a practice that aims, if indirectly, at annihilation?
Nibbāna is not annihilation. Some of the reasons why are as follows.

The goal of the Buddha's teachings is to put an end to dukkha (suffering, unsatisfactoriness and all it derivatives). There are different causes of dukkha, with taṇhā (craving) being the most prominent—which is then subdivided into kāma-taṇhā (sensual-craving), bhava-taṇhā (craving for existence), vibhava-taṇhā (craving for non-existence). Out of those three, vibhava-taṇhā can been seen as desiring annihilation.

As paṭiccasamuppāda (Dependent Origination) functions, craving will always be present if its former conditions are present, which are all the conditions having to do with mentality and corporeality, but ultimately ignorance (avijiā). Once ignorance has been uprooted, then there is no more craving that can arise and the only thing that is left is the remaining conditions which are the current mentality and corporeality.

Notice that in all this process, there is no mention at all of annihilation (except the annihilation of the causes of dukkha, if one is to be meticulous). However, it is the case that with the uprooting of ignorance and craving, the goal being to put an end to suffering, the conditions for rebirth are no more and therefore rebirth does not take place.

Even more important is the fact that for there to be a rebirth, certain conditions must be actively created and maintained. The causes of suffering and rebirth happen to be defilements of mind which are greed (lobha), hate (dosa) and delusion (moha). These are fuels of the mind that give rise to the exact conditions needed for rebirth to take place. To stop providing the fuel is not at all annihilation, but a choice to not continue, i.e., not maintaining the causes of dukkha. Although very intricate, being reborn is in a way a choice and to choose to not continue is very different than to kill or annihilate yourself.

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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by samseva » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:48 pm

Something else that can help you with understanding the nuanced difference with annihilation and why Nibbāna is not annihilation is the etymology of the word Nibbāna. Read the following:
samseva wrote:
kirk5a wrote:So we're supposed to keep the image of a flame blown out in mind, identify with the flame, imagine it being blown out, and this is a somehow great boon to realizing the actuality?
About the annihilation equals Nibbāna debate, I think the true meaning of the word 'Nibbāna' is useful to put an end to it.

The thing with the metaphor of the flame for the word 'Nibbāna' is that, in modern times and even before, it is and was imagined as blowing out the flame (of life or existence). However, in the Buddha's time and in Indian culture—as well as the way the Buddha meant it—is that the fire becomes extinguised, not by blowing it—i.e., annihilation—but by removing it's source of fuel, which is greed, hate and delusion.

So, to blow out the flame of existence would be self-annihilation. It brings up a kind of feeling that it is somewhat similar (or you could even say closer) to suicide. When you understand the correct meaning of the word 'Nibbāna', you see that what is meant is that the fire of continued existence goes out by ceasing to add fuel to it, and invariably, the flame becomes extinguised.

I had very credible sources for all of this (although Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's is credible as well), but you can read up on this here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... bbana.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ire/1.html
Last edited by samseva on Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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samseva
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by samseva » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:52 pm

Pragmatic wrote:So lets return to what's at issue, option #2 above: "no more becoming, non-existence as we know it but not annihilation since there is no self".

I've said elsewhere that in my view this is sophistry. Here I'll expand.
Although I don't think it is sophistry, I do think that the usual argument that Nibbāna is not annihilation because there is no self isn't a highly satisfying answer. However, like I explained in the posts above, the reason why Nibbāna isn't annihilation is because it is a choice of non-continuation. It is also because non-rebirth is an inadvertent result of putting an end to dukkha.
Last edited by samseva on Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cappuccino
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by cappuccino » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:53 pm

SarathW wrote:But Buddha very clearly said that there is no permanent unchanging entity names soul.


No constant self...
No soul is a step too far.

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cappuccino
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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by cappuccino » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:01 am

'The Tathagata exists after death' or 'The Tathagata does not exist after death'
etc.

"This, too ... has not been declared by the Blessed One."
Sariputta-Kotthita Sutta

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Re: In your view, understanding, Parinibbana is:

Post by Pragmatic » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:23 am

samseva wrote:
Pragmatic wrote:But here's the point I've already made in another post in slightly different words: conditionality is precisely how we exist; we know of no other existence outside of conditionality. So if we are to dissolve conditionality without having in view any other mode of existence, but simply the end of rebirth, how is this not a practice that aims, if indirectly, at annihilation?
Nibbāna is not annihilation. Some of the reasons why are as follows.

The goal of the Buddha's teachings is to put an end to dukkha (suffering, unsatisfactoriness and all it derivatives). There are different causes of dukkha, with taṇhā (craving) being the most prominent—which is then subdivided into kāma-taṇhā (sensual-craving), bhava-taṇhā (craving for existence), vibhava-taṇhā (craving for non-existence). Out of those three, vibhava-taṇhā can been seen as desiring annihilation.

As paṭiccasamuppāda (Dependent Origination) functions, craving will always be present if its former conditions are present, which are all the conditions having to do with mentality and corporeality, but ultimately ignorance (avijiā). Once ignorance has been uprooted, then there is no more craving that can arise and the only thing that is left is the remaining conditions which are the current mentality and corporeality.

Notice that in all this process, there is no mention at all of annihilation (except the annihilation of the causes of dukkha, if one is to be meticulous). However, it is the case that with the uprooting of ignorance and craving, the goal being to put an end to suffering, the conditions for rebirth are no more and therefore rebirth does not take place.

Even more important is the fact that for there to be a rebirth, certain conditions must be actively created and maintained. The causes of suffering and rebirth happen to be defilements of mind which are greed (lobha), hate (dosa) and delusion (moha). These are fuels of the mind that give rise to the exact conditions needed for rebirth to take place. To stop providing the fuel is not at all annihilation, but a choice to not continue, i.e., not maintaining the causes of dukkha. Although very intricate, being reborn is in a way a choice and to choose to not continue is very different than to kill or annihilate yourself.
Hi samseva once again. Thanks for the further explanation, and the fine distinction you're advancing here. I don't dismiss your arguments, which make a certain sense in your tradition, but which again I don't feel are cogent for me, from my perspective.

But let me again make my own distinction between the intellectual level and the level of practice. I hope I'm not indulging in my own kind of sophistry but I think these two levels don't always coincide. That I don't buy your arguments doesn't mean that I don't recognize your practice and the inappropriateness of suggesting, as I have done, that its aim is annihilation. So for that I apologize.

But maybe your idea of choice is a sort of happy meeting place for our discussion, because it's true that any path of renunciation, however negative its terms may appear to outsiders, is at the same time a positive choice, a dedication to a higher aim in life.

So again thanks for your patient engagement with the question. Pragmatic

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