Post on “Fear of Nibbāna (Enlightenment)”

  • This topic has 3 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 4 years ago by Lal.
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    • #27585

      This is an amazing post!

      I have heard often of Nibbāna translated as “extinction” and “blowing out” — phrases that certainly can give the impression of non existence.

      Another imagery often used to illustrate the death of an arahant I came accross: an oil lamp that is extinguished when the oil is exhausted. Again, another image that can easily suggest non existence to some people.

      Stating that “Nibbāna exists”, or that an arahant “merges with Nibbāna” may put some people’s minds at ease.

      In regard to the comments of Person 2, it’s again very common to hear people, including Buddhists, equate meditation to keeping the mind free of thoughts since thoughts are considered a burden. The people I know who do this attempt it with breath meditation (thinking that they are doing anapana), so at least their mind still has the breath to focus on; if they get very good at it, they will probably get to anariya jhana instead of feeling that they “were not there”. However, some reported that their bodies disappeared at times.

      Again, from a former breath meditator, many thanks for an amazing post!


    • #27587

      Thank you, Lang.

      ” However, some reported that their bodies disappeared at times.”
      – Yes. There are billions of types of samadhi. Some good and some bad. Whatever one may focus one’s attention on, one may get a corresponding result. Some can see lights, some feel that the body has disappeared, etc.
      – But there are only 4 (or 5 depending on whether the first jhana is split into two) rupavacara jhana and 4 arupavacara jhana. See, “Jhānic Experience in Detail – Sāmañ­ña­phala Sutta (DN 2)
      – Many people get confused between samadhi and jhana.

    • #27595

      Thank you, Lal.

      I read the post about the jhanā, and just one curiosity: what is the Pali breakdown of the word jhana?

      I tend to be curious about the breakdown of words, and I apologize if this has been discussed elsewhere on the site.

      Reflecting on my time as a breath meditator, I am almost thankful that I did not get into jhanā. For a time, I was following a venerable bhikkhu (well-known and beloved around the world) who taught that the jhanā are necessary for nibbāna.

      The rationale was that the noble eightfold path culminates in sammā samādhi, and sammā samādhi is defined in numerous suttā as the four jhanā. He did not differentiate between ariya and anariya jhanā. I do not dout that, but there is at least once exception: the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta that you have been discussing in the new section “Worldview of the Buddha”. Here, sammā samādhi is presented as something that is supported by the first 7 factors. We don’t see sammā samādhi defined as the four jhanā here.

      Another equally well-known and beloved bhikkhu taught the same thing, but he does have a specific formulaic procedure for getting into jhanā. The message is still the same: the jhanā are necessary for nibbāna.

      Now that I have learned about gati, I think I know what was going on: these bhikkhus taught from experience. They attained jhanā according to their gati from past lives, and when they attained nibbāna, they made the connection between the two.

      Knowing about gati also tells me why I was not able to get into jhanā: kāma rāga is still strong. So, I feel more confident to set that aside to get “back to the basics”: abstaining from the BIG EIGHT, removing the ten types to micchā ditthi; and I am happy to say that this has paid off already.


    • #27596

      cubibobi wrote: “what is the Pali breakdown of the word jhana?”

      Good question.
      “jhā” is to burn. That could be related to the word jhāna.
      I will investigate this a bit more.

      “Knowing about gati also tells me why I was not able to get into jhanā: kāma rāga is still strong…”

      Yes. It is not possible to get to jhāna if kāma rāga is strong.

      In any sutta describing the jhānic experience, there is this phrase: “So vivicceva kāmehi, vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati..“.

      Translated: “Withdrawn from sensuality (kāma rāga), withdrawn from akusala thoughts, and engaged in thoughts of renunciation and compassion, he enters and remains in the first jhāna..”.

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