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A Manual Of Buddhism Part 8

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Chapter 14.

Nibbana:

[Nibbana is the summum bonum summum bonum of Buddhism] of Buddhism]

Definition: The Pali word Nibbana (Sanskrit Nirvana) is composed of "Ni" and "Vana." Ni is a particle implying negation. Vana means weaving or craving. It is this craving which acts as a cord to connect one life with another.

"It is called Nibbana in that it is a 'departure' (ni) from that craving which is called Vana, l.u.s.ting."



As long as one is bound up by craving, one acc.u.mulates fresh Kammic forces, which must materialize in one form or other in the eternal cycle of birth and death. When all forms of craving are extirpated, Kammic forces cease to operate, and one attains Nibbana escaping the cycle of birth and death. The Buddhist conception of Deliverance in this escape from the ever recurring cycle of life and death which is not merely an escape from sin and h.e.l.l.

Nibbana is also explained as the extinction of the fire of l.u.s.t - Lobha, hatred - Dosa, and delusion - Moha.

Is Nibbana Nothingness?

To say that Nibbana is nothingness simply because one cannot perceive it with the five senses, is as illogical as to say that light does not exist simply because the blind do not see it. In the well-known fable the fish who was acquainted only with water arguing with the turtle, triumphantly concluded that there existed no land, because he received 'no' to all his queries. The turtle, though acquainted with both sea and land, could not explain to the fish the real nature of land.' The fish too could not grasp what land was as it was acquainted the water. In the same way the Arahants, who are acquainted with mundane and the supra-mundane cannot define exactly what supra-mundane is by mundane terms, nor can a worldling understand the supra-mundane merely by mundane knowledge. It is a supra-mundane state, which is to be realized by one's own intuitive knowledge.

What Nibbana is not, one can definitely say. What it precisely is, one cannot adequately express in conventional terms. It is for self-realization.

Sopadisesa and Anupadisesa Nibbana Dhatu These are not two kinds of Nibbana, but one single Nibbana receiving its name according to the way it is experienced before and after death, Nibbana is attainable in this present life. Buddhism does not state that its ultimate goal could be reached only in a life beyond. When Nibbana is realized in this life with the body remaining, it is called Sopadisesa Nibbana Dharu. When an Arahant attains Parinibbana, after the dissolution of the body, without any remainder of physical existence, it is called Anupadisesa Nibbana Dhatu.

Three Distinct Characteristics of Nibbana Contrasting Nibbana with Samsara, the Buddha says that the former is eternal - Dhuva, desirable - Subha and happy - Sukha.

According to Buddhism everything cosmic, and hypercosmic is cla.s.sed under two divisions - namely, things conditioned by causes - Sankhata and things not conditioned by any cause-Asankhata.

Nibbana is not conditioned by any cause, Hence there is neither an arising nor a pa.s.sing away. It is birth less, decay less, and deathless. It is neither a cause nor an effect. All conditioned things - and to this category belongs everything in this universe - are, on the contrary, constantly changing without remaining for two consecutive moments the same.

Everything that has sprung from a cause must inevitably pa.s.s away, and as such is undesirable-Asubha.

That which is transient and undesirable certainly cannot be happy - Sukha. Nibbana, being non-conditioned, that which has not arisen from a cause, is, in contradistinction to phenomenal existence, eternal, desirable, and happy.

The happiness of Nibbana should be differentiated from ordinary happiness. Nibbanic bliss arises as the result of calming down pa.s.sions - Vupasama, unlike the worldly happiness, which results from the gratification of some desire - Vedayita.

In conventional terms the Buddha says-Nibbanam paramam sukham - Nibbana is the highest bliss.

It is bliss supreme because it is not a kind of happiness that is experienced by the senses. It is a positive blissful state of relief.

The very fact of the cessation of suffering is ordinarily termed happiness, which too is not an appropriate word to depict its real nature.

Where is Nibbana?

"Just as fire is not stored up in any particular place but arises when the necessary conditions exist, so Nibbana is not said co be existing in a particular place, but is attained when the necessary conditions are fulfilled."

In the Rohita.s.sa Sutta the Buddha says;-"In this very one fathom-long body, along with its perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world."

Here world means suffering. The cessation of the World, therefore, means the cessation of suffering, which is Nibbana, One's Nibbana is dependent upon this one-fathom body, It is not something that created itself, nor is it something to be created.

Nibbana is not a sort of heaven where a transcendental ego resides, but an attainment (Dhamma), which is within the reach of all.

What attains Nibbana?

This question must necessarily be set aside as irrelevant, for Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent ent.i.ty or an immortal soul. As right now and here there is neither a permanent ego nor an identical being, it is needless to say that there is no 'I' in Nibbana.

The Visuddhi Magga states- "Misery only doth exist, none miserable; nor doer is there, nought save the deed is found; Nibbana is, but the man who seeks it The path exists, but not the traveler on it."

The chief difference between the Buddhist and the Hindu conception of Nibbana lies in the fact that Buddhists view their goal without an eternal soul and creator, whilst Hindus do.

This is the reason why Buddhism can neither be called Eternalism nor Nihilism. In Nibbana nothing is eternalized, nor is anything annihilated.

As Sir Edwin Arnold says:- "If any teach Nirvana is to cease, Say unto such they lie If any teach Nirvana is to live, Say unto such they err,"

The Light of Asia

Chapter 15.

The n.o.ble Eighfold Path The n.o.ble Eightfold Path (Ariya Atthangika Magga), discovered by the Buddha Himself, is the only way to Nibbana. It avoids the extreme of self-mortification that weakens one's intellect, and the extreme of self-indulgence that r.e.t.a.r.ds one's spiritual progress.

It consists of the following eight factors: - Right Understanding - Samma Ditthi Right Thoughts - Samma Sankappa Right Speech - Samma Vaca Right Action - Samma Kammanta Right Livelihood - Samma A jiva Right Effort - Samma Vayama Right Mindfulness - Samma Sati Right Concentration - Samma Samadhi 1. Right Understanding is the knowledge of the Four n.o.ble Truths. In other words it is the understanding of oneself as one really is. The keynote of Buddhism is this Right Understanding. Buddhism as such is based on knowledge and not on unreasonable belief.

2. Right thoughts are threefold. They are the Thoughts of Renunciation - Nekkhamma Sankappa, which are opposed to l.u.s.tful desires. Benevolent Thoughts - Avyapada Sankappa, which are opposed to ill-will, and Thoughts of Harmlessness (Avihimsa Sankappa) which are opposed to cruelty. These tend to purify the mind.

3. Right speech deals with refraining from falsehood, slandering, harsh words; and frivolous talks.

4. Right Action deals with refraining from killing, stealing, and un-chast.i.ty.

5. Right livelihood deals with the five kinds of trades, which should be avoided by a lay disciple. They are trading in arms, human beings, flesh (that is, breeding animals for slaughter), intoxicating drinks, and poison. Hypocritical conduct is cited as wrong livelihood for monks.

6. Right Effort is fourfold - namely, i. the endeavor to discard evil that has already arisen, ii the endeavor to prevent the arising of un-risen evil, iii the endeavor to develop un-risen good, and iv the endeavor to promote that good which has already arisen.

7. Right Mindfulness is also fourfold. It is the mindfulness with regard to body, sensations, mind, and Dhamma (Phenomena).

8. Right Concentration is the one-pointed ness of the mind.

The first two are grouped in Wisdom - Panna, the second three in Morality - Sila, and the last three in Concentration - Samadhi.

{Right Speech Sila {Right Action {Right Livelihood {Right Effort Samadhi {Right Mindfulness {Right Concentration {Right Understanding Panna {Right Thoughts Strictly speaking these factors that comprise the n.o.ble Eightfold Path signify eight mental properties (Cetasikas) collectively found in the four cla.s.ses of Supra-mundane Consciousness whose object is Nibbana.

According to the order of development Sila, Samadhi, and Panna are the three stages of the Path. All these stages are embodied in the following beautiful verse:- Sabba Papa.s.sa Akaranam Kusala.s.sa Upasampada Sacitta Pariyodapanam Etam Buddhana Sasanam To cease from all evil, To do what is good, To cleanse one's mind:, This is the advice of all the Buddhas.

Sila or Morality is the first stage.

Without killing or causing injury to any living being, the aspirant should be kind and compa.s.sionate towards all. Refraining from stealing, he should be upright and honest in all his dealings. Abstaining from s.e.xual misconduct, he should be pure and chaste. Shunning false speech, he should be truthful. Avoiding pernicious drinks that pro-mote heedlessness, he should be sober and diligent.

Every follower of the Buddha is expected to observe these five principles of regulated behavior daily. As circ.u.mstances permit he may advance a step further and observe the eight or even the ten precepts.

Whilst he progresses slowly and steadily with regulated word and deed and sense-restraint, the Kammic force of this striving aspirant compels him to renounce worldly pleasures and adopt the ascetic life. Realizing the vanity of worldly pleasures, he voluntarily forsakes his earthly possessions, and donning the ascetic garb, tries to lead the Holy Life in all its purity. It should be understood that it is not absolutely necessary to retire apart and lead the life of an ascetic to be a Saint.

The life of a Bhikkhu expedites and facilitates spiritual progress, but even as a layman one could attain Sainthood. There are several instances of laymen who realized Nibbana without renouncing the world. Anathapindika and Visakha were Sotapannas, the Sakya Mahanama was a Sakadagami, the potter Ghatikara was an Anagami and King Suddhodana died as an Arahant. In the role of a Bhikkhu the aspirant leads a life of voluntary poverty and practices the four kinds of Higher Sila - Discipline as prescribed by the Patimokkha, Sense-Restraint, Purity of Conduct connected with livelihood and Conduct in connection with the necessaries of life.

Securing a firm footing on the ground of Sila, he then embarks upon the higher practice of Samadhi, the control and culture of the mind, the second stage of this path. Samadhi is the one-pointed ness of the mind.

When he gains this perfect one-pointed ness of the mind, it is possible to develop the five Supernormal Powers - Abhinna, namely, Divine Eye - Dibbacakkhu, Divine Ear - Dibbasota, Reminiscence of past births - Pubbenivasa.n.u.ssati Nana. Thought Reading - Paracittavijanana and different psychic powers - Iddhividha. It must not be understood that these supernormal powers are essential for Sainthood.

Though the mind is purified, there still lies dormant in him the tendency to give vent to his pa.s.sions, for by concentration pa.s.sions are only lulled to sleep. They may rise to the surface at unexpected moments.

Both Discipline and Concentration are essential, but it is Insight - Vipa.s.sana Panna that enables one to see things as they truly are. This is the final stage on the path to Nibbana.

With his one-pointed mind he looks at the world to get a correct, view of life. He now meditates on the Three Characteristics - Tilakkhana, Transiency - Anicca, Sorrow - Dukkha and Soulnessness -Anatta. He comprehends that all conditioned things are transient - Sabbe Sankhara Anicca, all conditioned things are sorrowful - Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha, and all things conditioned and non-conditioned are soulless - Sabbe Dhamma Anatta. Of these three characteristics he takes the one that appeals to him most and intently keeps on developing insight in that particular direction until that glorious day comes to him when he would realize Nibbana for the first time in his life, having destroyed the first three Fetters - Samyojana - Self-illusion - Sakkaya Ditthi, Doubts - Vicikiccha, and Indulgence to wrongful rites and ceremonies - Silabbata-paramasa.

At this stage he is called a Sotapanna - one who has entered the Stream that leads to Nibbana. As he has not eradicated all Fetters he is reborn seven times at the most.

Summoning up fresh courage as a result of this distant glimpse of Nibbana, he cultivates deeper Insight and becomes a Sakadagami - Once-Returner - by weakening two more Fetters - namely, Sense-desires - Kamaraga and Ill will - Patigha. He is called a Sakadagami because he is reborn on earth only once in case he does not attain Arahants.h.i.+p.

It is in the third stage of Sainthood - Anagami - Never-Returner that he completely discards the above two Fetters. Thereafter he neither returns to this world nor does he seek birth in the celestial realms, since he has no more desire for sensual pleasures. After death he is reborn in the "Pure Abodes" (Suddhavasa), a congenial place meant exclusively for Anagamins and Arahants.

Now the earnest pilgrim, encouraged by the unprecedented success of his endeavors, makes his final advance and destroying the remaining five Fetters:- Attachment to Realms of Forms - Ruparaga, Attachment to Formless Realms - Aruparaga, Conceit - Mana, Restlessness - Uddhacca, and Ignorance - Avijja - becomes a Perfect Saint by attaining Arahants.h.i.+p.

Thereafter he lives as long as his Reproductive Kammic force lasts. On the dissolution of the body he attains Parinibbana.

Chapter 15.

The n.o.ble Eightfold Path The n.o.ble Eightfold Path (Ariya Atthangika Magga), discovered by the Buddha Himself, is the only way to Nibbana. It avoids the extreme of self-mortification that weakens one's intellect, and the extreme of self-indulgence that r.e.t.a.r.ds one's spiritual progress.

It consists of the following eight factors: - Right Understanding - Samma Ditthi Right Thoughts - Samma Sankappa Right Speech - Samma Vaca Right Action - Samma Kammanta Right Livelihood - Samma A jiva Right Effort - Samma Vayama Right Mindfulness - Samma Sati Right Concentration - Samma Samadhi 1. Right Understanding is the knowledge of the Four n.o.ble Truths. In other words it is the understanding of oneself as one really is. The keynote of Buddhism is this Right Understanding. Buddhism as such is based on knowledge and not on unreasonable belief.

2. Right thoughts are threefold. They are the Thoughts of Renunciation - Nekkhamma Sankappa, which are opposed to l.u.s.tful desires. Benevolent Thoughts - Avyapada Sankappa, which are opposed to ill will, and Thoughts of Harmlessness (Avihimsa Sankappa) which are opposed to cruelty. These tend to purify the mind.

3. Right speech deals with refraining from falsehood, slandering, harsh words; and frivolous talks.

4. Right Action deals with refraining from killing, stealing, and un-chast.i.ty.

5. Right livelihood deals with the five kinds of trades, which should be avoided by a lay disciple. They are trading in arms, human beings, flesh (that is, breeding animals for slaughter), intoxicating drinks, and poison. Hypocritical conduct is cited as wrong livelihood for monks.

6. Right Effort is fourfold - namely, i. The endeavor to discard evilthat has already arisen, ii the endeavor to prevent the arising of un-risen evil, iii the endeavor to develop un-risen good, and iv the endeavor to promote that good which has already arisen.

7. Right Mindfulness is also fourfold. It is the mindfulness with regard to body, sensations, mind, and Dhamma (Phenomena).

8. Right Concentration is the one-pointed ness of the mind.

The first two are grouped in Wisdom - Panna, the second three in Morality - Sila, and the last three in Concentration - Samadhi.

{Right Speech Sila{Right Action {Right Livelihood {Right Effort Samadhi {Right Mindfulness {Right Concentration {Right Understanding Panna {Right Thoughts Strictly speaking these factors that comprise the n.o.ble Eightfold Path signify eight mental properties (Cetasikas) collectively found in the four cla.s.ses of Supra-mundane Consciousness whose object is Nibbana.

According to the order of development Sila, Samadhi, and Panna are the three stages of the Path. All these stages are embodied in the following beautiful verse: Sabba Papa.s.sa Akaranam Kusala.s.sa Upasampada Sacitta Pariyodapanam Etam Buddhana Sasanam To cease from all evil, To do what is good, To cleanse one's mind:, This is the advice of all the Buddhas.

Sila or Morality is the first stage.

Without killing or causing injury to any living being, the aspirant should be kind and compa.s.sionate towards all. Refraining from stealing, he should be upright and honest in all his dealings. Abstaining from s.e.xual misconduct, he should be pure and chaste. Shunning false speech, he should be truthful. Avoiding pernicious drinks that pro-mote heedlessness, he should be sober and diligent.

Every follower of the Buddha is expected to observe these five principles of regulated behavior daily. As circ.u.mstances permit he may advance a step further and observe the eight or even the ten precepts.

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