If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

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zanyboy
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If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by zanyboy » Tue May 12, 2015 7:54 am

According to Buddhist cosmology there are higher and lower 'planes' of existence. Beings live there and forms or formless 'things' exist there. Can you please explain what and where these planes exist - what are they composed of, does space and time exist there, are they real worlds with geographies? I don't understand how spiritual planes can exist that also have physical qualities like size, location and space.

And where is nibbana in this cosmology? Is it a realm, a place - perhaps a zero point that is timeless and spaceless - before the big bang..? Or another dimension that is not explained - only a state called deathless or the unconditioned? How does this state of the deathless correspond to the meditation levels that align with each plane - there seems to be no plane or meditative level that corresponds to nibbana in the cosmology map?

Mawkish1983
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by Mawkish1983 » Tue May 12, 2015 10:59 am

Nibbana is unbinding from Samsara.

daverupa
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by daverupa » Tue May 12, 2015 11:02 am

Indeed; nibbana is not a location; attaining unbinding from samsara is a result.
  • "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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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue May 12, 2015 11:47 am

What is Nibbāna?

Some important quotes from the Milindapañha.
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Goofaholix
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by Goofaholix » Tue May 12, 2015 8:05 pm

Think of Nibbana as an adjective, not a noun.

It's a quality of mind that experiences life in a certain way, not a place, time, plane of existence, or thing.
“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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Aloka
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by Aloka » Tue May 12, 2015 8:41 pm

Goofaholix wrote:

It's a quality of mind that experiences life in a certain way, not a place, time, plane of existence, or thing.
:goodpost:

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rowboat
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by rowboat » Tue May 12, 2015 8:53 pm

:buddha1:

Hi, Zanyboy. Welcome to Dhammawheel.

:buddha1:

Excerpts from Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay in Wisdom Quarterly titled Nirvana Explained


What is nirvana?

The state of final deliverance from all suffering is called nirvana (Pali, nibbana). Nirvana literally means the extinguishing of a flame in Sanskrit. The word as used by the Buddha means the extinguishing of the flame of craving. Another way to understand it is as the extinguishing of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion -- the roots of karma that lead to suffering now and in the future.

Nirvana is an Existing Reality

Regarding the nature of nirvana, the question is often asked, Does nirvana merely signify the end of suffering? That is, is it only the extinction of mental defilements and liberation from Samsara, or does it signify some reality existing in itself?

Nirvana is more than just the destruction of defilements and the end of Samsara. It is a reality transcending the entire world of mundane experience, a reality that transcends all realms of phenomenal existence.

How can we know this? The Buddha refers to nirvana as a dharma [Pali, dhamma, an independently existing reality, not capitalized to distinguish it from the Buddha's Dharma, doctrine, or teaching]. For example, he says "of all dharmas, conditioned or unconditioned, the most excellent dharma, the supreme dharma is, nirvana."

Nirvana is a dharma

As a Buddhist technical term, dharma signifies actual realities, the existing realities as opposed to conceptual things. There are two types of dharmas, conditioned and unconditioned.

A "conditioned" dharma is an actuality that has come into being through causes and supporting conditions. It is a "thing" that arises through the workings of various conditions, supports, components. The conditioned dharmas are the Five Aggregates:

1. material form
2. sensation
3. perception
4. mental formations (or volitions)
5. consciousness

Conditioned dharmas do not remain static. They go through a ceaseless process of becoming. They arise, undergo transformation, and fall away due to this conditionality.

However, the unconditioned dharma is not produced by causes and conditions. It has the opposite characteristics from the conditioned: It has no arising, no falling away, and undergoes no transformation. Nevertheless, it is an actuality. The Buddha refers to nirvana as an unconditioned dharma.

Nirvana is a Sphere


The Buddha also refers to nirvana as an ayatana. This means base, realm, plane, or sphere. But it is a sphere where there is not anything at all that corresponds to our mundane experience. It therefore is often described by way of negations. (See the story of the turtle and the fish). That does not make it "nothingness." But this is exactly how many well meaning and sincere people interpret what cannot be conceived of in familiar and tangible terms.

The negating of all limited, determinate qualities makes it easy to assume that the Buddha meant the unconditioned was nothing. It is unfortunate that many succumb to this assumption. For the Buddha went to great pains to set nirvana apart from "nothingness." (The Sphere of Nothingness is an ayatana that can be seen by attaining the seventh jhana; it is not nirvana at all).

Nirvana is an Element

The Buddha also refers to nirvana as a dhatu or element. It is the "deathless element" (amata-dhatu). He compares the element of nirvana to an ocean: Just as the great ocean remains at the same level no matter how much water pours into it, without increasing or decreasing, so the nirvana element remains the same, no matter how many or how few people attain nirvana.

The Buddha also speaks of nirvana as something that can be experienced by the body, an experience so vivid and powerful that it can be described as "touching the deathless element with one's own body."

Nirvana is a State

The Buddha also refers to nirvana as a "state" (pada). He calls it amata-pada, the "deathless state" and accuta-pada, the imperishable state.

Another word used by the Buddha to refer to nirvana is sacca, which means "truth," an existing reality. Nirvana as truth means it is a reality that the Noble Ones (who have entered upon the stages of enlightenment beginning with stream entry) have directly experienced.

All of these terms taken together clearly establish that nirvana is an actual reality. It is not merely the destruction of mental defilements, the end of suffering, or the cessation of illusory existence in Samsara. Nirvana is unconditioned, without origination, unaffected by time.

See the essay in full here.
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5

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cooran
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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by cooran » Tue May 12, 2015 10:14 pm

Hello all,


Nibbana by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/102.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: If there are 31 planes of existence - where is nibbana?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue May 12, 2015 10:23 pm

Greetings,

I find that this sutta extract helps to illustrate why nibbana is not a plane of existence.
SN 23.2 wrote:I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Radha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'
Nibbana, involves not being caught up, tied up, or "being" anywhere...

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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