Each human being, In his nature is always struggling and discovering the truth of life, that is, to obtain genuine peace and real happiness and release from pains. He is sure to experience some times as good and other times as bad. Normally men cannot be exempt from the continuing sufferings of life, such as old age, disease, death, sorrow, grief, lamentation, despair, and so on. When man comes to discern these sufferings In their real nature, he by no means can stand aside without searching for the true light of happiness.
The Bodhisatta, in his birth as the ascetic, Sumedha contemplated thus:
So considering the actual nature of suffering, one should know about Nibbana, the ultimate cessation of nil sufferings. As such, I am here enjoining in a compassionate delight to impart my knowledge of the noble Dhamma on the subject of Nibbana far the welfare of those who wish to know about Nibbana.
May you be able to attain Nibbana In this present life!
U Panna Dipa
Let us turn to our friends of the Mahayana School to see what they think about this Asankhatadhatu. Nagarjuna who was supposed to be a saint and the founder of the Madhyamika School explained Nibbana as "Sunyata" Voidness, condemning all the degrees of "Realism of the Sarvasti-vadins and asserting the mayavic nature of existence. He denied the existence of the self and the world, and proclaimed the essential oneness of Samsara and Nibbana. According to his view Nibbana is to be attained by the grace of Amitabha, and cannot be attained by self effort, for there is no "Self" to effort. In the Visuddhimagga, Buddhaghosa Thera says: The Third truth, the Cessation of Suffering, i.e. Nibbana is void of Atta, Self or Soul, but is full of the essence of durability, goodness, and blissfulness, and its essential characteristic is "Santi " peace. This shows how he has opposed the idea of Sunyata of Nagarjuna.
The Sarvasti-vadins discriminating between Samsaric manifestation and the essence of pure Dhammas or elements, assent that Asankhatadhatu, Nibbana is an entity but without consciousness or rebirth.
In the Theravada Canon there are references to assert that Nibbana is the consciousness liberated from all worldly objects and thoughts, as is stated in the Dighanikaya. "Nibbanam-Vinnanam anidassanam anantam sabbato pabbam" - Nibbana is the consciousness that has no sign perceptible to the senses and it is immeasurable, purest and a state wherein all the connection with elements cease, leaving no trace (assesam uparujjhati). (D.i. 223).
Regarding one's existence in Samsara and the deliverance from it, the Buddha said the following salient facts:—
If someone puts the question. "Who, made the Five Khandhas, or five groups of existence," he seldom gets a right answer. Now let it be said that the five groups of bodily and mental phenomena, correctly speaking, have been put together by the Buddha in order to show the "Anatta doctrine" the central and unique teaching of Buddhism.
All those bodily forms, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and states of consciousness which the Buddha has classified and grouped into the five groups are only of momentary duration, existing no longer than a flash of lightning.
One never gets a right understanding of the five groups of existence, if one thinks of them as something compact, whereas in reality they are only fleeting phenomena changing as quickly as lightning.
The five groups are merely a classification made by the Buddha hut have, as such, i.e. as groups, no real existence. If there arises, e.g. a joyful feeling, there cannot arise at the very same moment a sorrowful feeling; thus at any given moment only a single representative of those groups may be present, never any group as a whole. Hence it is impossible that a group of feelings, or perceptions, or states of consciousness may arise at one and the same time.
The four mental groups are never existing separately. "And it is Impossible that anyone can explain the passing out of one existence and then entering into a new existence or the growth, increase and development of consciousness, independently of bodily form, feeling, perception and mental formations. Each state of consciousness is always connected with some of the fifty mental formations as explained in the "Abhidhamma Pitaka."
In every state of consciousness are at least five formations present., i.e. impression (phassa) , will (cetana) , attention (manasikara) , concentration (cittass' ekaggata) and vitality (jivitindriya).
To the learned and noble disciples, who are penetrating these five Khandhas of Existence as transitory, subject to suffering and without any Ego, there will in his mind arise that ultra-mundane faculty which says: "I shall come to know what is still unknown to me" — (anannatan-nassamit ' indriya) , namely, the knowledge that appears at the entrance into Sotapanna state.
Through not understanding the nature of the five groups of existence, one gets possessed of manifold wrong views, and it becomes one's conviction and firm belief, "I have an Ego," or "I have no Ego;" or "With the Ego I perceive the Ego," or "With that which is no Ego I perceive the Ego," or "with the Ego I perceive that which is no Ego." Or one falls into the following view: "This my Ego, which can think and feel, and which, now here, now there,. experiences the fruit of good and evil deeds - this my Ego is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change and will thus eternally remain the same.
But, the noble disciple who understands the five Khandhas as impermanent, subject to change and suffering, as not remaining in two successive moments the same, he will penetrate that liberating truth of "Anatta," the very root of all unselfishness, leading to Nibbana.
But the process by which the Buddha arrived at this "Holy Wisdom" is of the greatest importance, for therein is found the key to the solution of the problem of Nibbana— therein is contained the very way by which any man whose wishes and wills, can realize this same state of "purifying wisdom."
If there would exist in this individual process of existence an unchangeable, immutable Self or Ego, it could not be influenced by conduct and become better, and thus there would be no use in leading a holy life.
In as much as in the-whole universe nothing permanent is to be found, how can we speak of any immutable, unchanging Self?
Not by prayers, nor asceticism, nor by outward ceremonies, rites and rituals, nor by dialetical skill, was that "Holy Wisdom" secured: but only in renouncing all worldly and heavenly desires, all hopes and beliefs in an eternal Being, all inclinations to the vain glory of "I" and "Mine." Thus only can true understanding and intuitive wisdom be acquired.
It is certain that Nibbana is the "Summum bonum," the greatest bliss and supreme happiness that man can experience in this life itself. The Inscrutable majesty of Nibbana is profound, is in the stillness, is always the same.
In the Abhidhanapadipika, Nibbana is described in various terms:
These are the names given to Nibbana by the Buddha in various discourses. By this it becomes evident that Nibbana cannot be compared to anything which comes within the reach of our senses.
Thus let it be the aim of every one to reach this stage where there reigns eternal Peace, Bliss and Happiness.
Nibbana is visible to the mind of those who enter the Path of the Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami and Arahat, at the moment of deep insight into the Egolessness, Emptiness and Misery of all Existence.
Just as a blind man does not understand what light is, or as the sun cannot be seen when there are clouds, just so the mind clouded by greed, anger and delusion will not be able to perceive the reality of Nibbana.
To say that there is no Nibbana simply because those filled with greed, anger and delusion, do not perceive it, is just as illogical as to say that there is no light because the blind man does not see it or because we cannot see the sun when clouds are hindering our sight.
Obviously, for an untrained worldling it is very difficult to get a right understanding of Nibbana. Just as a fire in a house may be hidden to our eyes, hut as soon as we go there it becomes visible, in the same way Nibbana, which to the common man is hidden, becomes visible as soon as we reach it.
Also just as the Dhamma, the Cosmic Law, exists independent of our knowledge, so exists Nibbana independent of our realization of it.
Not by reasoning and abstract thinking can Nibbana ever be attained, but only by right understanding, by inward purification, inward conquest and by fulfilling the "Noble Eight-fold Path" founded on Anattasanna, i.e. the perception that all things are without an Ego, or Self and that also behind all these phenomena of existence there is no "I," no eternal, immutable, unchanging entity, a "thing in itself."
There is only a five-khandha process of existence which comes to a stand still at the death of the Arahat or Holy One.
One never knows a thing as it really is without seeing it, and this, more than anywhere else, is true with regard to Nibbana.
Although Nibbana is hidden to the eyes of the worldling, the Path, however, leading there is attained by the noble disciple and is explained by the Buddha with all necessary details and every one can follow it.
Every individual therefore should lay the foundation for the attainment of Nibbana here in this present existence. The Blessed One could not have entered the Path to Nibbana whilst living in the Tusita Heaven, the heaven of bliss, he had to be reborn amongst men in order to enter the Path to Nibbana.
It is my conviction and firm belief that our striving for Nibbana should begin here in this very life, and that all others who believe that a later existence would give more and better opportunities for reaching Nibbana, are mistaken, are in error.
Not in heaven, but here on earth, where there is abundant resistance and opposition, seems to me to be the only possibility for a quick progress. It is our earth that provides best opportunities for it.
As a Buddhist, birth as a human being, seems to me the more suitable of all births in the sensuous realm. Only as man can one succeed In the struggle against greed, anger and delusion, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair.
Hence as men we have it in our power to train the mind, so that, through thinking and reflecting, we may advance from mere theory to true intuition or insight. This is a natural development of mind, its ultimate phase.
Besides, it is through intuition that thinkers have made their greatest discoveries. Thus after a prolonged mental strain in one direction, the mind suddenly sees the universe face to face.
It is thus that the Buddha describes the attainment of His own Enlightenment, and it is thus that we also, with unshackled intent, shall attain the same goal.
Thus the other shore, Nibbana, will have been realized, the raft whereon we crossed the ocean of Samsara will have been thrown aside, and we will have attained the end of all existence and suffering.
We have seen that in reality there does not exist any Ego-entity or Soul, and that therefore also no transmigration of the same into a new mother's womb is in no way a continuation of the former bodily process but merely a result or effect caused by the selfish craving and clinging to life, of the so-called individual who has died. In Nid. Samy. No. 59, it is said: "Once all Ignorance and clinging are extinguished neither karmically meritorious nor demeritorious, nor imperturbable karma-formations are produced, and thus no consciousness will spring up again in a new mother's womb."
"Therefore, he who says that the non-production of this new life-process is identical with annihilation of a Self, also should say that abstention from sexual intercourse is identical with the annihilation of the child - which of course is absurd."
"Here I feel the necessity of once more expressly emphasizing the fact that without a clear perception of the phenomenality, or Egolessness of all existence, a real understanding of the Buddha's teaching, especially that of rebirth and Nibbana, is impossible."
"This doctrine of Anatta is in fact the only specific teaching of Buddhism with which the entire teaching stands or falls."
One cannot say that the Arahat is reborn, because all craving and clinging to existence are completely abandoned, rooted out, like a palm tree torn out of the soil, destroyed and not liable to spring up again in the future.
"Neither can one say that the Arahat is annihilated at death as there is nothing to be annihilated. What we call "Arahat" is, as we have seen, only a convenient term of speech and has no real existence. There is only a process of bodily and mental phenomena which have come to a standstill and is not continued after death."
The Buddha says: "Develop your concentration, for he who has concentration understands things according to their reality. And what are these things the arising and passing away of bodily form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. Thus the five groups of Existence must be wisely penetrated, delusion and craving wisely abandoned, tranquility and insight wisely developed."
But whatever there is of bodily form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness — all these phenomena he regards as "impermanent," subject to pain, "as infirm, as an ulcer, a thorn, a misery, a burden, an enemy, a disturbance, as empty and "void of an Ego," and turning away from these things, he directs his mind towards the Abiding, thus: "This verily, is the peace, this is the Highest, namely, the end of all formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving, detachment, extinction, this is Nibbana. And in this state he reaches the "cessation of passions." And his heart becomes free from sensual passion, free from the passion for existence, free from the passion of ignorance.
Whether Perfect Ones (Buddhas) appear In the world or whether Perfect Ones do not appear in the world, it still remains a firm condition, an Immutable fact and fixed law that all formations are "impermanent," that all formations are "subject to suffering," that everything is "without an Ego."
Thus, the problem of Nibbana is an ethical rather than a philosophical one, and its solution is dependent not upon dialectical skill but upon right understanding and upon inward purification, Inward conquest and fulfilling the "Noble Eightfold Path' founded on Anatta-sanna, the perception that, all things created as well as uncreated are without an Ego, and that also behind all these phenomena of existence there is no "I", "no eternal, immutable unchangeable entity, or a thing in itself."
In the face of such a path, all language is weak and besides the great example of the Master, no feeble words of mine can describe it.
The way is ever open for us who will walk on it, and when we have become as gentle, as pure, as wise, as compassionate, and as perfectly self-controlled as was the Holy One, the Perfect One, then shall we know, then shall we understand:
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