On Nibbana/Nirvana

Small Steps, modified 6 Years ago.

On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 247 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
I listened to this talk recently, by Guy Armstrong, titled "Bodhisattva Path: Plus Rigpa & Nirvana"
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/2440/

I found it quite fascinating. The interesting bit starts around the 16:00 minute mark or so, wherein Guy expounds on his understandings of the concept of nibbana/nirvana from the perspective of a couple of different traditions.

What makes it so interesting is that these descriptions are the (common) models most Buddhist practitioners use for their own conceptions of enlightenment/nibbana/nirvana. How much of our experiences then get colored by this?

For a Theravadan practitioner in the style of the Mahasi Sayadaw, nibbana is the cessation, wherein all four of the mental aggregates cease. There's the 'winking out' followed by a 'reboot.' Mahasi's Progress of Insight was in turn informed by Abhidhamma/Visuddhimaga studies and descriptions.

For a Thai forest practitioner like Ajahn Maha Boowa, however, 'awareness' (what I understand to be our meta-cognitive sense of 'that which is aware') never disappears. There's no evidence of cessation in the form that the Progress of Insight might suggest.

The question that it brings up for me is: how extensively do we incline and move our minds based on what we've read, heard, studied, etc? If it affects something as substantive as the experience of awakening/enlightenment/the unconditioned/the deathless, who's to say it's not affecting every move we make along any path or any point on a path.
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Richard Zen, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Whether you "wink out" or not, you have to come back to normal experience with an understanding that helps you in daily life.  It's the understanding of dependent arising that all the traditions agree on.
Small Steps, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 247 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:
Whether you "wink out" or not, you have to come back to normal experience with an understanding that helps you in daily life.  It's the understanding of dependent arising that all the traditions agree on.


Sure, all the experiences of cessations, unconditioneds and deathlesses aren't worth a pile of beans if one gains no understanding and isn't consequently changed by them. Interestingly though, the descriptions of dependent arising vary according to which sutta one reads (with 6, 9, 10 or 12 nidanas). I haven't read much mahayana or vajrayana literature yet, so I can't guess at how they describe it.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Small Steps:
Sure, all the experiences of cessations, unconditioneds and deathlesses aren't worth a pile of beans if one gains no understanding and isn't consequently changed by them.

Please go into detail on this "understanding" if you would.
Thanks,
~D
EDIT -
Small Steps:
The question that it brings up for me is: how extensively do we incline and move our minds based on what we've read, heard, studied, etc? If it affects something as substantive as the experience of awakening/enlightenment/the unconditioned/the deathless, who's to say it's not affecting every move we make along any path or any point on a path.

Were I christian mystic and had a SE experience what would my understanding be? If I were doing yoga? If I were practicing Hindu stuff? Would any of these "understandings" be the same ones?....interesting questions. I have not the answers but it seems it might have pretty extensive differences.
~D
Small Steps, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 247 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:

Please go into detail on this "understanding" if you would.
Thanks,
~D


I'm just referring to any learning that occurs along the way, at and after a so-called cessation event. Some of it is intellectual, but some of it felt somewhat "psycho-somatic." If you're asking what I think I've learned, I won't deign to bore you. The question I have though, is the same one presented in my original post: how much of what I think I've learned, either purely intellectually or through this "psycho-somatic" process was influenced. One might say all of it, since I don't exist in a vacuum, but let's work somewhere a little bit removed from that edge emoticon

Dream Walker:

EDIT -
Were I christian mystic and had a SE experience what would my understanding be? If I were doing yoga? If I were practicing Hindu stuff? Would any of these "understandings" be the same ones?....interesting questions. I have not the answers but it seems it might have pretty extensive differences.
~D


That's my hypothesis too. I wonder if there's any research into this?
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:
Whether you "wink out" or not, you have to come back to normal experience with an understanding that helps you in daily life.  It's the understanding of dependent arising that all the traditions agree on.


I found SE to be more confusing that illuminating. I did not find MCTB until after the event and having cessations several times a week. What was the understanding I was supposed to have that helps daily life?

thoughts at the time -"I stroke out each time I meditate but it feels good after....guess I'll keep at it, and I feel calmer but very altered...I wonder why that is?"

If one hand claps and there isn't a Buddhist there to not experience it, was understanding achieved? emoticon
How much of our experience gets colored by preconceived understandings
~D
Eva M Nie, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Yes, I think it's an interesting consideration, how many people if they spent years and years fervently looking for something while at the same time believing that something is an exalted something, may eventually find that something, whatEVER it is!  I think that is why many people tend to find/experience that which they were taught they will find/experience.   If you look into hypnosis, this would be like a form of self hypnosis where you concentrate over and over on specific things and drill them into your head.  Hypnosis can be a powerful tool.  You pick your scripts to tell yourself and then repeat them over and over with every effort.  What effect would that have? 

On the flip side, there does seem to be commonalities and tendencies even amongst those who were not taught anything in particular.  Maybe the commonalities across groups are more likely to be things more people experience.  Looking around, I haven't even seen much sounding super similar across practitioners for the definition of nonduality.  I often wonder, if one nondualist reads the description from another, does he/she recognize those traits/experiences in the other but just says it in a different way or with different emphasis?  Or are the different nondualist really that different in experience?  If the experiences are very different, how can one even say if a person is there or not?  
Small Steps, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: On Nibbana/Nirvana

Posts: 247 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Eva M Nie:
Yes, I think it's an interesting consideration, how many people if they spent years and years fervently looking for something while at the same time believing that something is an exalted something, may eventually find that something, whatEVER it is!  I think that is why many people tend to find/experience that which they were taught they will find/experience.


This is why people who've had near death experiences may report of an afterlife colored by current experiences/cultural context/location/etc. A Christian goes to heaven, a devotional Buddhist may report of entering the Pure Land, etc.

Eva M Nie:

On the flip side, there does seem to be commonalities and tendencies even amongst those who were not taught anything in particular.  Maybe the commonalities across groups are more likely to be things more people experience.  Looking around, I haven't even seen much sounding super similar across practitioners for the definition of nonduality.  I often wonder, if one nondualist reads the description from another, does he/she recognize those traits/experiences in the other but just says it in a different way or with different emphasis?  Or are the different nondualist really that different in experience?  If the experiences are very different, how can one even say if a person is there or not?  


I don't know much about nondual practitioners, so I won't conjecture about what they report. However, since no one lives in a vacuum, it would be hard to imagine not being subtly influenced by present conditions (however slightly). I often find reports on DhO that mirror my own experience, despite the practitioner having a different path than my own. Given the context of our practice though, it shouldn't come as a surprise. Never mind the fact that we're already here on DhO, and how that might already incline things emoticon