The above discussion may be unsettling for some because it may give the impression that “one would be annihilated” at Parinibbana.
The deeper point is that the perception of a “self” is an illusion. However, until one attains Arahanthood, it is not correct to say that there is “no-self.”
– That is why it is not a good idea to spend too much time contemplating this issue at the beginning.
One MUST follow the path in a step-by-step manner. See, “Is It Necessary for a Buddhist to Eliminate Sensual Desires?”
The Buddha never promised a “happiness” in the sense of a “kama assada” or “sensual pleasures.”
– In fact, he showed it is our tendency for upadana for sensual pleasures that keep us bound to the rebirth process (samsara.)
For an average human “happiness” is the ability to enjoy sensual pleasures.
– In Buddha Dhamma, “permanent happiness” means just stopping ALL future suffering.
– There is no “vedana” cetasika in Nibbana to “feel” happiness in the mundane sense.
It is not easy to comprehend this deeper truth. That is the message embedded in Tilakkhana. That it is unfruitful, and dangerous to stay in the rebirth process HOPING for sensual pleasures.
– Those sensual pleasures come at a big prize. One would be subjected to MUCH MORE suffering than any pleasures enjoyed on a temporary basis.
The following video gives the idea of that predicament. The monkey WOULD NOT let go of the grains in the hand even though it is quite clear that it will be captured if it would not. The hunter could have killed the monkey if it wanted.
“How to Catch a monkey”
We also WILL become helpless if we do not gradually lose our upadana for sensual pleasures. But that loss of cravings comes ONLY with the comprehension of the “real nature” or the yathabhuta nana.
– See, “Yamaka Sutta (SN 22.85) – Arahanthood Is Not Annihilation but End of Suffering”
P.S. When one becomes a Sotapanna Anugami, one will “SEE” the truth of what I described above. That it is unfruitful and DANGEROUS to consider “there is a “self” or “me” in the ultimate sense.
– However, the DESIRE for sensual pleasures goes away only at the Anagami stage.
– Therefore, it is critical to see the difference between “seeing the true nature” and actually abandoning the fruitless process of “pursuing sensual pleasures.”
– The PERCEPTION of a “self” or “me” goes away only at the Arahant stage. One needs to get there step-by-step.