Consciousness in Nibbana?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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DCM
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Consciousness in Nibbana?

Post by DCM » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:51 pm

Hi, I'm studying the Digha Nikaya and I have a question about Sutta number 11, the Kevaddha Sutta ( What Brahma Didn't Know). A monk asks the Buddha;
"Lord, where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder?"

To which the Buddha replies that that should not be the question, but;
"Your question should not be phrased in this way: Where do these four great elements — the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property — cease without remainder? Instead, it should be phrased like this:

Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing?
Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?
"'And the answer to that is:

"Consciousness without feature,[1]
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"

Is the Buddha talking about Nibbana here? And is he in this Sutta saying that there is a type of consciousness in Nibbana that is luminous, etc?


paul
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Re: Consciousness in Nibbana?

Post by paul » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:02 pm

Thanissaro writes there is a particular type of consciousness which directly experiences nibbana (see also MN 49):

“The consciousness attained through this release is the only type of awareness that the Canon recognises as truly unconditioned, for— unlike every other form of consciousness— it can be known without recourse to sensory contact, even contact at the intellect.”—-“Right Mindfulness”, Thanissaro.

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DCM
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Re: Consciousness in Nibbana?

Post by DCM » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:35 pm

Thanks Robert, so generally the Thai Forest tradition takes it that there is a separate consciousness that experiences Nibbana, whereas others do not. Seems it comes down to how Pali words are translated, I'm no Pail expert so I'll leave it at that for now. Thanks.

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DooDoot
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Re: Consciousness in Nibbana?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:01 pm

DCM wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:51 pm
Is the Buddha talking about Nibbana here?
My opinion is the sutta is not talking about Nibbana but, instead, attempting to establish the Brahman (Hindu) in concentration. At best, the sutta is referring to an arupa-jhana. This being said, consciousness appears to exist in here-&-now Nibbana. Refer to Iti 44; SN 22.53; MN 37; MN 38, etc.
What, bhikkhus, is the Nibbāna-element with residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. However, his five sense faculties remain unimpaired, by which he still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and pain. It is the extinction of attachment, hate, and delusion in him that is called the Nibbāna-element with residue left. Iti 44
:alien:
paul wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:02 pm
Thanissaro writes there is a particular type of consciousness which directly experiences nibbana...
Its very difficult for me to even try to work out what Thanissaro is attempting to say. For example, the ending of MN 38 describes the experience of Nibbana occurring with the operation of each of the six sense contacts. DN 11 & MN 49 are suttas spoken to non-Buddhist Brahmins & Brahma Gods yet Thanissaro appears to hold they are the heartwood of the Buddha-Dhamma. At the end of these suttas, is it reported anyone gets enlightened? No.

DCM wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:35 pm
so generally the Thai Forest tradition takes it that there is a separate consciousness that experiences Nibbana, whereas others do not. Seems it comes down to how Pali words are translated, I'm no Pail expert so I'll leave it at that for now.
These ideas are those of certain monks in the Thai Forest tradition but not ideas of all monks in the Thai Forest tradition. A distinction I have noted is how DN 11 & MN 49 refer to a consciousness existing after nama-rupa have ended; yet in suttas for Buddhists (such as MN 9; SN 12.67; SN 12.2) consciousness & nama-rupa interdependently mutually arise & mutually cease (together). This contradiction raises a red-flag about DN 11 & MN 49.

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cappuccino
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Re: Consciousness in Nibbana?

Post by cappuccino » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:28 pm

a sage once said, anything impermanent is not worth striving for

or said another way, only the eternal is a worthy goal

Saengnapha
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Re: Consciousness in Nibbana?

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Dec 23, 2017 5:51 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:01 pm
DCM wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:51 pm
Is the Buddha talking about Nibbana here?
My opinion is the sutta is not talking about Nibbana but, instead, attempting to establish the Brahman (Hindu) in concentration. At best, the sutta is referring to an arupa-jhana. This being said, consciousness appears to exist in here-&-now Nibbana. Refer to Iti 44; SN 22.53; MN 37; MN 38, etc.
What, bhikkhus, is the Nibbāna-element with residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. However, his five sense faculties remain unimpaired, by which he still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and pain. It is the extinction of attachment, hate, and delusion in him that is called the Nibbāna-element with residue left. Iti 44
:alien:
paul wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:02 pm
Thanissaro writes there is a particular type of consciousness which directly experiences nibbana...
Its very difficult for me to even try to work out what Thanissaro is attempting to say. For example, the ending of MN 38 describes the experience of Nibbana occurring with the operation of each of the six sense contacts. DN 11 & MN 49 are suttas spoken to non-Buddhist Brahmins & Brahma Gods yet Thanissaro appears to hold they are the heartwood of the Buddha-Dhamma. At the end of these suttas, is it reported anyone gets enlightened? No.

DCM wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:35 pm
so generally the Thai Forest tradition takes it that there is a separate consciousness that experiences Nibbana, whereas others do not. Seems it comes down to how Pali words are translated, I'm no Pail expert so I'll leave it at that for now.
These ideas are those of certain monks in the Thai Forest tradition but not ideas of all monks in the Thai Forest tradition. A distinction I have noted is how DN 11 & MN 49 refer to a consciousness existing after nama-rupa have ended; yet in suttas for Buddhists (such as MN 9; SN 12.67; SN 12.2) consciousness & nama-rupa interdependently mutually arise & mutually cease (together). This contradiction raises a red-flag about DN 11 & MN 49.
It would seem that all the commentaries that we have come across would influence how we think of nibbana. Because all our concepts and fabrications are based on what we ingest from various sources, we pick and choose what seems to 'feel' or 'sound' right when it comes to defining the unconditioned. But none of these views which are conditioned can describe or experince nibbana.

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