• Gregory
    3.9k
    As I understand Buddhism, the ego is what causes suffering for the reason that suffering means something is claiming identity in the face of sensations. So if the ego dies a consciousness would feel everything there is and there will be a cancelling of good and bad which results in a state of bliss. If the body dies, consciousness can live on because it is nothing without an ego. But how can a state beyond the world be?
  • baker
    3.3k


    “There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones notices:

    “When this is, that is.

    “From the arising of this comes the arising of that.

    “When this isn’t, that isn’t.

    “From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.

    “In other words:

    “From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.

    “From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.

    “From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.

    “From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.

    “From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.

    “From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.

    “From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.

    “From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.

    “From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.

    “From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.

    “From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

    “Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications.

    From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness.

    From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form.

    From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media.

    From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact.

    From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling.

    From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving.

    From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance.

    From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming.

    From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth.

    From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease.

    Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

    “This is the noble method that he has rightly seen & rightly ferreted out through discernment.


    https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN10_92.html
  • Varde
    140
    The pronoun 'it' seems to be associated with this and that. I'm currently studying the subject.
  • TheMadFool
    13.7k
    Nirvana is, at its simplest, liberation from moral causation. After one has freed oneself from karma (good & bad) there is, in a sense, no debt to repay nor any reward to receive, things that lead to rebirth in samsara. Where does a Buddha go? The question is left unanswered. Better silence than give a wrong answer. Like my 88 year old father told me once, on an unrelated issue, "go and find out."
  • Gregory
    3.9k


    Death is the ultimate mystery for humans. I think it's possible that when we die our consciousness enters another body and we can call this reincarnation or the ressurection of the body (if we get the same body back). The thing for me is that it seems we are bodies and brains so we seem to die on our death beds for good but Buddhism offers the possibility that consciousness is substance less such that it can go somewhere else when the body dies. You're right though that this is all completely speculative and it's something we can't figure out. It's nice however to have a belief in an afterlife
  • GraveItty
    387
    Nirvana is the exact opposite from a divine being, blessed with an absolute omnipotence, omnisapiency, and omnimorality. It's an absolute state of omni-absency, total absolute nothingness.

    Nirvana is an endless dreamless sleep.
  • Gregory
    3.9k
    Nirvana is the exact opposite from a divine being, blessed with an absolute omnipotence, omnisapiency, and omnimorality. It's an absolute state of omni-absency, total absolute nothingness.

    Nirvana is an endless dreamless sleep
    GraveItty

    The opposite of our contingent state might seem like absolute nothingness from our perspective in this life, but once there it might be the fullness of reality
  • TheMadFool
    13.7k
    Death is the ultimate mystery for humans. I think it's possible that when we die our consciousness enters another body and we can call this reincarnation or the ressurection of the body (if we get the same body back). The thing for me is that it seems we are bodies and brains so we seem to die on our death beds for good but Buddhism offers the possibility that consciousness is substance less such that it can go somewhere else when the body dies. You're right though that this is all completely speculative and it's something we can't figure out. It's nice however to have a belief in an afterlifeGregory

    Possible, yes but do keep in mind, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The English were wise folks.
  • I like sushi
    3k
    I had bliss. That is all I can say on the matter. It's quite clear to me that persons/myths such as Buddha are existent because their there are people who experience this thing and some actually manage to interpret it in part to others. In other situations (due to their 'bliss') they are 'influencers' and those looking and listening will inevitably mischaracterise what is said/shown and trip over themselves.

    Such persons in history most likely knew damn well what problems they would reveal ... but someone had to really because there has to be a pinhole for others in the knowledge that some others will 'see' rather than 'follow'.
  • unenlightened
    6.1k
    'see' rather than 'follow'.I like sushi
    Indeed.

    Try it, and find out. No point in asking a bunch of amateur, mainly Western philosophers to speculate in ignorance, no point in trying to understand Nirvana from the outside, as a theory. That's like sitting in the cafe in the valley wondering about the view from the top of the mountain. Save your breath and get your boots on.
  • Michael Zwingli
    417
    I think it's possible that when we die our consciousness enters another body and we can call this reincarnation or the ressurection of the body (if we get the same body back).Gregory
    Why so? Particularly in light of the fact that,
    ...it seems we are bodies and brains so we seem to die on our death beds for good...Gregory
  • Michael Zwingli
    417
    Nirvana is...an absolute state of omni-absency, total absolute nothingness.

    Nirvana is an endless dreamless sleep.
    GraveItty
    Please expand upon this. Is this describing a diminishment of consciousness (I do not think so), or, perhaps, a full or expanded consciousness accompanied by some type of "absolute emptiness"? I cannot fathom what is meant by this.
  • Michael Zwingli
    417
    I had bliss...I like sushi
    I assume that you mean "...as a result of having experienced Nirvana", which leads me to believe that you are a Buddhist. Using that assumption as a context, I would like to have your opinion on something, particularly under the assumption that there is no "soul", "spirit" or independent "consciousness" by means of which Samsara might be effected (that is, under the assumption that there is no "cycle of reincarnation" to be interrupted): is this "bliss" that you mention worth what is sacrificed in the pursuit of "Nirvana"? It appears to me, indeed, as Gregory has noted above, that what is sacrificed in this pursuit is the "ego"...one's very self, including the will and every other aspect of one's personality. Is this true, and if it is, is the loss of self worth achieving the bliss of Nirvana? I assume that if there is no Samsara, that "bliss" is the only thing to be achieved by striving for Nirvana. I might just as well achieve "bliss" through the regular use of heroin, no? In that case, I would not have to lose that essential aspect of my "self" which proceeds from my consciousness, namely my will, in order to achieve bliss (though indeed, other things are sacrificed thereby). I ask these questions, because they lie at the very heart of the misgivings that I have long had regarding Buddhism.
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.2k
    What is Nirvana?

    In his new book, ‘Helgoland…’, about Quantum Theory, Carlo Rovelli notes that All is Relational, that no entity exists independently of anything else, so that there are no intrinsic properties at all, but only features in relation to something else, which is essentially what Nagarjuna means by ‘emptiness’ in his Buddhism. Further note that the universe and all that comes and goes in it is temporary.


    Relationism and Buddhism
    (Outline from reading Rovelli)

    Quantum fields form and exhaust reality,
    As partless, continuous—there’s no Space!
    Reality maintains itself in place
    As the net of objects interacting.

    Copernicus’ revolution’s complete;
    External entities aren’t required
    To hold the universe; God’s not needed,
    Nor any background; there is no Outside.

    Nor is there the ‘now’ all over the place.
    GR’s relational nature extends
    To Time as well—the ‘flow’ of time is not
    An ultimate aspect of reality.

    All is Relational: no entity
    Exists independently of anything;
    There are no intrinsic properties,
    Just features in relation to what’s else.

    Interactions and events (not things) are
    Quantum entangled with such others else;
    Impermanence pertains all the way through—
    What Nagarjuna means by Emptiness.

    There are no fundamental substances,
    No permanences, no bird’s-eye view
    Of All, no Foundation to Everything,
    Plus no infinite regress ne’er completed.

    The fields are not from anything—causeless!
    Or ‘not from anything’ is of lawless
    ‘Nothing’, which can’t ever form to remain.
    There is no reason, then, to existence.

    Hope’s Necessary ‘God’ vanishes!
    This realization of Impermanence,
    No Absolutes, and Emptiness,
    As all temporary, is Nirvana.
  • PoeticUniverse
    1.2k
    How it is that Rovelli has quantum fields as exhausting reality as being relational?

    I suppose it is enough the Permanent can only form temporaries.
  • Gregory
    3.9k
    I might just as well achieve "bliss" through the regular use of heroin, no? In that case, I would not have to lose that essential aspect of my "self" which proceeds from my consciousness, namely my will, in order to achieve bliss (though indeed, other things are sacrificed thereby).Michael Zwingli

    Non-dualist philosophy does say we lose ego, but we don't know what the absence of ego really means until it happens. Discussing how we do this is useful though. Whether we go to another body or our own body may or may not be relevant to that pursuit. Eastern thinkers seem to think the body is not important, but a Western version of Eastern philosophy might resurrect, so to speak, the ancient doctrine of Nirvana but insist that a consciousness, without ego, must be inside a body even though consciousness is without substance and a type of nothingness without ego
  • Wayfarer
    14.1k
    From what I've gleaned so far, Rovelli is only considering Buddhist principles insofar as they provide a metaphorical framework for interpreting quantum mechanics. He's not concerned with the aesthetic, ethical or soteriological aspects of Buddhist theory.

    I might just as well achieve "bliss" through the regular use of heroin, no?Michael Zwingli

    In Buddhist lore, one of the fates of beings after death is that of the 'hungry ghost'. The hungry ghost is typically depicted as having a huge mouth and a penci-thin neck and is in a state of perpetual craving. It can be understood as a metaphorical description of the addict.
  • Wayfarer
    14.1k
    It appears to me, indeed, as Gregory has noted above, that what is sacrificed in this pursuit is the "ego"...one's very self, including the will and every other aspect of one's personality. Is this true, and if it is, is the loss of self worth achieving the bliss of Nirvana? I assume that if there is no Samsara, that "bliss" is the only thing to be achieved by striving for Nirvana. I might just as well achieve "bliss" through the regular use of heroin, no? In that case, I would not have to lose that essential aspect of my "self" which proceeds from my consciousness, namely my will, in order to achieve bliss (though indeed, other things are sacrificed thereby). I ask these questions, because they lie at the very heart of the misgivings that I have long had regarding Buddhism.Michael Zwingli

    Ego is not the self, but the self's idea of the self. In sacrificing the ego, nothing is actually lost, because it has no substance in the first place. Ego clings to its imagined sources of satisfaction but all of them are transient and incapable of providing lasting happiness.

    The materialistic philosophy of annihilationism (ucchedavada) is emphatically rejected by the Buddha as a false doctrine. The doctrine of kamma is sufficient to prove that Buddhism does not teach annihilation after death. It accepts survival, not of an eternal soul, but of a mental process subject to renewed becoming; thus it teaches rebirth without transmigration. Again, the Buddha's teaching is not a nihilism that gives suffering humanity no better hope than a final cold nothingness. On the contrary, it is a teaching of salvation (niyyanika-dhamma) or deliverance (vimutti) which attributes to man the faculty to realize by his own efforts the highest goal, Nibbana, the ultimate cessation of suffering and the final eradication of greed, hatred and delusion. Nibbana is far from being the blank zero of annihilation; yet it also cannot be identified with any form of God-idea, as it is neither the origin nor the immanent ground or essence of the world.Nyanoponika Thera, Buddhism and the God Idea
  • Michael Zwingli
    417
    I've been curious about Buddhism for some time now. I have a friend, an acquaintance really, who practices Nichiren Buddhism. I have long wanted to query him about it, but with our schedules, we have never seemed to find the opportunity.
    Ego is not the self, but the self's idea of the self.Wayfarer
    Yes, an important distinction for sure. I find myself under the impression, though, that in order to achieve Nirvana, the will must be relinquished. Is this a correct understanding?
    Ego clings to its imagined sources of satisfaction but all of them are transient and incapable of providing lasting happiness.Wayfarer
    Certainly. Tell me, though, how do you define "lasting" in this context?

    Also, and this seems quite important, what is the design and meaning of Nirvana if one has not been able to accept the claim of Samsara?
  • Gregory
    3.9k
    yet it also cannot be identified with any form of God-idea, as it is neither the origin nor the immanent ground or essence of the world.Nyanoponika Thera, Buddhism and the God Idea

    The world is appearance just as the ego is, however. Phenomenology has much to say about our being in the world
  • Wayfarer
    14.1k
    I find myself under the impression, though, that in order to achieve Nirvana, the will must be relinquished. Is this a correct understanding?Michael Zwingli

    I think so, although not a particularly nuanced way of putting it!

    Ego clings to its imagined sources of satisfaction but all of them are transient and incapable of providing lasting happiness.
    — Wayfarer
    Certainly. Tell me, though, how do you define "lasting" in this context?
    Michael Zwingli

    Not subject to decay, imperishable, secure. Generally speaking, in terms of ordinary life, whatever can be gained can also be lost, what is young will become old, everything we hold dear is subject to decay, but Nirvāṇa is not, according to Buddhism.

    I think it can be said that the early forms of Buddhism were strictly renunciate, with a radical difference between the Buddhist order and ordinary life. However in Mahāyāna Buddhism (of which Nichiren Shōshū is a form) there is not the same sense of the radical separation of renunciate and worldly life.

    Also, and this seems quite important, what is the design and meaning of Nirvāṇa if one has not been able to accept the claim of Samsara?Michael Zwingli

    I personally don't think the former is really meaningful without the latter. In Western culture, there is a movement that identifies as 'secular Buddhism' that generally doesn't accept the idea of continued re-birth in saṃsāra. There's quite a good essay on the distinction between classical and secular Buddhism here, by Bhikkhu Bodhi, who is a well-regarded scholar-monk and translator. But, personally, I am of the view that Buddhism is a religion, not simply a form of therapy or means of adjusting to life, with the caveat that it has religious conception which is fundamentally different to the Biblical.
  • I like sushi
    3k
    I’m not a buddhist.

    Buddhism as far as I’m concerned is related to nihilism. The nihilist grows from the assumption that life needs to give them something, that they deserve more. They stare down into the abyss instead of recognising what is around them. The buddhist is in the abyss, they look up but see nothing much. Both disregard life. One expected more from life and the other nothing whatsoever.

    Both abstain from living. Some who tread that pass hit the depths of despair so hard they suffer just the right amount and release something within that shine a light on life in full technicolour.

    Heroin isn’t ‘bliss’ btw. I know someone who took it and they sounded more like a nihilist/buddhist. They wanted to stop feeling, it numbed them. The thing is such practices (like buddhism or nihilism) cause stress and strain. From stress and strain humans can trigger something in themselves.

    It is no coincidence that the stories of Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha stem from each individual being under enormous stress and strain prior to their revelations. For buddhism the story is a little more unique as buddha appears on the cusp of nihilism coming from a life of extraordinary wealth and riches. His exposure to ‘suffering’ gave him life not his unknown avoidance of it.

    The same ritual is plain enough in shamanic practices too all around the globe.
  • Michael Zwingli
    417
    I think it can be said that the early forms of Buddhism were strictly renunciate, with a radical difference between the Buddhist order and ordinary life.Wayfarer
    Without looking up the term, this is called something like Theraveda (?), would that be right? Practiced mostly in India and Myanmar? Within this type of framework, is Buddhism considered to be something "only for the monks", with the 'laity' not pursuing a Buddhist lifestyle at all?
    However in Mahāyāna Buddhism (of which Nichiren Shōshū is a form) there is not the same sense of the radical separation of renunciate and worldly life.Wayfarer
    Ah, my pal didn't explain that to me. I was under the impression that "Nichiren" formed it's own "branch" of the Buddhist "family ttree", if you will, rather than being a form of Mahayana.

    Thanks for the link to the Boddhi essay, I will read it.
    Certainly. Tell me, though, how do you define "lasting" in this context?
    — Michael Zwingli
    Not subject to decay, imperishable, secure. Generally speaking, in terms of ordinary life, whatever can be gained can also be lost, what is young will become old, everything we hold dear is subject to decay, but Nirvāṇa is not, according to Buddhism.
    Wayfarer
    You have, I think, missed the admittedly 'implied but unexpressed' essence of my question here. I guess the way I would pose it to a Buddhist scholar (not quite sure if that adequately decribes yourself) is, "if individual consciousness does not survive the body, meaning that the doctrine of Samsara is false, does the 'hardcore' (if you'll forgive the term) Buddhist expect the individual experience of Nirvana, even though being 'not subject to decay', to expire with the end of natural life?" I have an opinion about this, but yet wonder what the Buddhist thought would be. What I seek is to assess the applicability of Buddhism to my own personal life, as well as the desirability of pursuing that.
  • Wayfarer
    14.1k
    Without looking up the term, this is called something like Theraveda (?), would that be right? Practiced mostly in India and Myanmar? Within this type of framework, is Buddhism considered to be something "only for the monks", with the 'laity' not pursuing a Buddhist lifestyle at all?Michael Zwingli

    Theravada = 'doctrine of the elders' - the tradition practiced mainly in SE Asia and Sri Lanka, and based on the Pali Buddhist texts. There is certainly accomodation for lay practitioners and in Thailand, for example, it is frequent for individuals to spend some time in one of the Buddhist orders during their life.

    It's more that, with Mahāyāna Buddhism, the example of the 'householder-practitioner' became established. Also the ideal of enlightenment shifts from the 'arahant' who attains release for themselves alone, to the Bodhisattva, who continues to be born voluntarily for the benefit of all beings. There's a Mahāyāna Sutra about the life of a silk merchant, Vimalakirti, whose understanding of Buddhism is so profound that the Buddha's disciples are afraid to debate him! But understanding the differences between Theravada and Mahāyāna Buddhism is quite a deep subject in its own right. (There's a good quality academic text available here.)

    "if individual consciousness does not survive the body, meaning that the doctrine of Samsara is false, does the 'hardcore' (if you'll forgive the term) Buddhist expect the individual experience of Nirvana, even though being 'not subject to decay', to expire with the end of natural life?" I have an opinion about this, but yet wonder what the Buddhist thought would be.Michael Zwingli

    Buddhism is often equated, falsely, with nihilism. But the point is a very subtle one and difficult to condense. The Buddha was well-known for refusing to respond to what he thought of as metaphysical conundrums - these are the so-called unanswered questions of the Buddha (which have elsewhere been compared to the Kantian antinomies of reason). One of these questions is whether the Buddha continues to exist after death. Of course it is implicit that beings other than the Buddha are reborn into various realms, on account of their not having attained freedom from re-birth. When pressed on whether the Buddha continues to live on in some sense after having reached the pari-Nirvāṇa, the answer given was:

    any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata* would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.
    *'Tathagatha' = honorific title of the, or a, Buddha.


    This is of course a difficult idea to fathom. Nirvāṇa, meaning literally the 'blowing out', has often been misconstrued as nothingness, annihilation or non-being (including by the European scholars who initially encountered the tradition.) Also the Hindu opponents of the Buddha often depicted his teaching as nihilism. But I don't think it's true. It's more the case that Nirvāṇa is beyond conceptual understanding; we can't imagine or envisage it.

    (As to whether I'm a scholar, I did complete an MA in the subject around 10 years ago, purely for my own edification and interest. I have given some informal talks at a Buddhist library since then. That is about it.)
  • baker
    3.3k


    I ask these questions, because they lie at the very heart of the misgivings that I have long had regarding Buddhism.Michael Zwingli

    What is the source for your understanding of Buddhist doctrine?
  • baker
    3.3k
    Try it, and find out.unenlightened

    Try what, find out what?

    What the term "nirvana" means?
  • unenlightened
    6.1k
    Yes. Try the practice that leads to Nirvana and experience what it is. That or ague a lot and waste your time for nothing.
  • baker
    3.3k
    Really? "Do something", and then, once you attain nirvana, you'll know it.

    Sounds as much like a plan as deciding to go to Katowice, and then just "going until you get there", without consulting any maps.
  • Wayfarer
    14.1k
    I agree with Un. It's not to say that anyone will 'attain Nirvāṇa' just like so, but there's a practical side to Buddhism. Speculating about whether Nirvāṇa is simply non-existence is an exercise in tail-chasing.
  • Tom Storm
    2.5k
    is an exercise in tail-chasing.Wayfarer

    Sounds like at least one definition of philosophy. :joke:
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