Why is Nirvana permanent?

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steve19800
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Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by steve19800 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:19 pm

Hello,

I'd like to ask this question to dhammawheel members including lay people and monks.
If Nirvana is not permanent then what is the point of attaining it? Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception? Is there anything in the Sutta Buddha stated Nirvana as permanent and the reason it is free from impermanence? If the existence (no other word to describe) of Nirvana is permanent, what kind of existence, i.e. cessation of suffering and permanent happiness is that? Thank you :)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:20 pm

steve19800 wrote:Hello,

I'd like to ask this question to dhammawheel members including lay people and monks.
If Nirvana is not permanent then what is the point of attaining it? Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception? Is there anything in the Sutta Buddha stated Nirvana as permanent and the reason it is free from impermanence? If the existence (no other word to describe) of Nirvana is permanent, what kind of existence, i.e. cessation of suffering and permanent happiness is that? Thank you :)
Nibbana is not a thing.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Goofaholix
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Nibbana is not a thing.
An emotion is not a thing either, but emotions are impermanent.

I'm not sure about this myself but here goes.

Everything that is impermanent arises and passes away according to conditions, so this is said to be "the conditioned".

Nibanna is said to be "the uncondioned', so by defintion it does not arise and pass away according to conditions, in other words it's permanent.

So permanent because permanence is it's definition.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Alobha
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by Alobha » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:30 am

steve19800 wrote:Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception? Is there anything in the Sutta Buddha stated Nirvana as permanent and the reason it is free from impermanence? If the existence (no other word to describe) of Nirvana is permanent, what kind of existence, i.e. cessation of suffering and permanent happiness is that? Thank you :)
Goofaholix way of explaining is imho a simple and working explanation. Nibbana is an unconditioned thing, which is something different from "conditioned things" / formations.

To be specific:
1. Every thing (dhamma) is anatta / non-self.
2. Every formation (sankhata = conditioned things) is annicca / impermanent.
3. Every formation (sankhata = conditioned things) is dukkha / subject to suffering.

So: Nibbana is nonself but permanent and not subject to suffering.

thing / dhamma is a broader term and includes formations / sankhata = conditioned "things" as well as Asankhata = the unconditioned = Another word for Nibbana.
The formations only include all conditioned things. The "things" / dhamma include both conditioned and unconditioned things. Nibbana is an unconditioned thing, if you want to say so.
Goofaholix wrote: An emotion is not a thing either, but emotions are impermanent.
Emotions are part of the sankhara-kkhanda / group of mind and bodily formations . And sankharas-khhanda is impermanent.
So. If you refer to "emotion is not a thing" as in "Emotion is not sankhata / a conditioned thing" then this would be incorrect. Emotion is a conditioned "thing". The term "thing" (dhamma) can be used for both unconditioned and conditioned things and is not specific enough here.

To boil it down in two sentences:
steve19800 wrote:Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception?
Every conditioned thing is impermanent.
Nirvana is unconditioned, so nirvana is permanent.

Why is Nirvana unconditioned?

This can be answered when looking at Paticcasamuppada: Dependent Origination
Dependent Origination starts with ignorance and Nibbana does not have its origination in ignorance so jeah.. don't make me start on dependent origination, my head hurts already ;)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:55 am

Goofaholix wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Nibbana is not a thing.
An emotion is not a thing either, but emotions are impermanent.

I'm not sure about this myself but here goes.

Everything that is impermanent arises and passes away according to conditions, so this is said to be "the conditioned".

Nibanna is said to be "the uncondioned', so by defintion it does not arise and pass away according to conditions, in other words it's permanent.

So permanent because permanence is it's definition.
Nibbana is "unconditioned" because we are no longer conditioned by greed, hatred and delusion.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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ground
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by ground » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:11 am

steve19800 wrote:If Nirvana is not permanent then what is the point of attaining it? ... If the existence (no other word to describe) of Nirvana is permanent, what kind of existence, i.e. cessation of suffering and permanent happiness is that?
If you are setting fire to a piece of paper then after some moments the piece of paper is gone. Would you like to say that the absence of the former piece of paper is permanent and existing?
It is only a linguistic issue.
steve19800 wrote: Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception?
Do you know whether the notion "everything is impermanent" would arise in Nirvana?

Kind regards
Last edited by ground on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:11 am

Greetings,
steve19800 wrote:If Nirvana is not permanent then what is the point of attaining it? Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception?
Who says it is or isn't permanent? ;)

Your question, "Is there anything in the Sutta Buddha stated Nirvana as permanent and the reason it is free from impermanence?" is a good one and I look forward to seeing if anyone brings forward any examples.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by Reductor » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:49 am

Nibbana is the absence of suffering.

Suffering is conditioned by craving, which is conditioned by ignorance. When knowledge arises craving ceases and so does suffering. That is, when the supports for suffering cease, suffering goes 'out', or Nibbanas, like a fire.

Why does this mean that nibbana is permenant? Because even in the end of an arahants life there is no suffering, let alone during life. There are no supports for a resurgance of suffering. Even at the end they have no cravimg for their own personhood, no craving for identity. Even such a deep rooted thirst (tanha) like conceit has been quenched by knowledge (vijja) so how could suffering arise even on that account?

Also, I most like those posts by Goof and TMingyur. They are worth thinking on for a long while, it seems to me.

santa100
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by santa100 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:22 pm

Say the scope of Nibbana's permanence was narrowed down to just "the permanent end of all suffering", then this alone would be something totally worth pursuing..

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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by Prasadachitta » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:16 am

My take....

Nibanna (as Tilt says) is the absence of what is called greed, hatred, and delusion. It is the result of a process of development where these negative qualities are attenuated until there is enough clarity to see the very principle which fuels there continued occurrence. With awareness of this principle all things can be fed and all things can be starved. A mind which is perfectly lucid to this principle is not in any way separate from it. The principle is the Dhamma and it is permanently true.

Metta

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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kirk5a
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by kirk5a » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:30 am

retrofuturist wrote: Your question, "Is there anything in the Sutta Buddha stated Nirvana as permanent and the reason it is free from impermanence?" is a good one and I look forward to seeing if anyone brings forward any examples.
There is "unshakable" (akuppa) - as in "Unshakable liberation of mind."
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Jason
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by Jason » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:35 am

I suppose it all depends on what one means by permanent.

For example, awaking in the Buddhist context isn't simply a meditative state that one only experiences while in meditation and goes away during normal everyday life (such as was the case with the Buddha's first two teachers, who mistook the third and fourth arupa jhanas as awakening); it's a state of mind that's said to be unshakable, total, and permanent in the sense that an arahant achieves irreversible release — i.e., complete eradication of the mental defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion (SN 38.1) — and can never fall back to a lower stage.

It's also said (at least in the commentarial tradition of Theravada, at any rate) that they experience uninterrupted happiness/bliss (sukha) as a result of awakening. In "Nibbana as Living Experience," for example, Lily de Silva writes that, "On the attainment of Nibbana more refined non-sensuous pleasure is permanently established. The Ca"nkii Sutta specifically states that when a monk realizes the ultimate truth, he experiences that truth 'with the body.'"

In essence, awakening is a profound psychological event that radically changes the way the mind relates to experience; it's a self-realization that's permanent. Psychological speaking, in normal, everyday unawakened experience, clinging (upadana) arises due to the presence of craving (tahna) in this chain of mental causation/interaction, which in turn is what conditions the arising of mental stress and suffering (dukkha). In awakened experience, however, clinging and craving are mental components that are no longer present in this chain, and will never again arise because the requisite conditions for their arising have been removed/eradicated—hence awakening being permanent in the sense of being "continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change" (Merriam Webster).

It's hard to compare this with normal states of mind since we're not talking about a normal state with conditioned mental objects, but one dealing with the deathless (amata) and unestablished consciousness (vinnanam anidassanam) devoid of defilements and non-attached to any phenomena whatsoever, or as Dogen says in the Genjokoan, "No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly." I think Bhikkhu Nanananda sums it up well, though, in "Nibbana Sermon 07":
Now viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls 'I' and 'mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of 'I' and 'mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness.

We have already mentioned in previous sermons about the established consciousness and the unestablished consciousness.[ix] A non-arahant's consciousness is established on name-and-form. The unestablished consciousness is that which is free from name-and-form and is unestablished on name-and-form. The established consciousness, upon reflection, reflects name-and-form, on which it is established, whereas the unestablished consciousness does not find a name-and-form as a reality. The arahant has no attachments or entanglements in regard to name-and-form. In short, it is a sort of penetration of name-and-form, without getting entangled in it. This is how we have to unravel the meaning of the expression anidassana viññāṇa.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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reflection
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by reflection » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:50 pm

Because after nirvana there is no craving and thus no rebirth.

:anjali:
Reflection

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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:08 pm

steve19800 wrote:Hello,

I'd like to ask this question to dhammawheel members including lay people and monks.
If Nirvana is not permanent then what is the point of attaining it? Since everything is impermanent, why Nirvana is the exception? Is there anything in the Sutta Buddha stated Nirvana as permanent and the reason it is free from impermanence? If the existence (no other word to describe) of Nirvana is permanent, what kind of existence, i.e. cessation of suffering and permanent happiness is that? Thank you :)
The Dhamma is Timeless.

So Nibbana would also be timeless, although it is not a thing either
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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steve19800
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Re: Why is Nirvana permanent?

Post by steve19800 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:20 am

My worldly understanding of Nirvana is like this, AFAIK Buddha has three forms i.e. Nirmanakaya (body of transformation), Sambhogakaya (body of bliss) and Dharmakaya (body of essence also called truth body, unmanifested mode).
I believe after Sakyamuni Buddha attained Nirvana, he uses his Nirmanakaya body for us to perceive through our physical eye. Because everything conditioned is impermanent, Buddha's human body also has to cease but this change does not mean change to suffering since it's free of greed, hatred and ignorance.
Sakyamuni Buddha may manifest in his unmanifested form at the moment (in this kalpa) and by using the nature of impermanence he may manifest to different form as he wish.

This is just my understanding :)

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