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After Parinibbana, then what?

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After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 11:38 AM
I saw this on reddit and thought is was a good question:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/471coa/question_about_the_self/

... after death [if you have attained nibbana] and escape from Samsara you literally just cease to exist in any form. ... I can see how not existing is an end to suffering but how is that a preferable option?...


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parinirvana

Contemporary scholar Rupert Gethin explains:[1]
Eventually ‘the remainder of life’ will be exhausted and, like all beings, such a person must die. But unlike other beings, who have not experienced ‘nirvāṇa’, he or she will not be reborn into some new life, the physical and mental constituents of being will not come together in some new existence, there will be no new being or person. Instead of being reborn, the person ‘parinirvāṇa-s’, meaning in this context that the five aggregates of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being cease to occur. This is the condition of ‘nirvāṇa without remainder [of life]’ (nir-upadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa/an-up ādisesa-nibbāna): nirvāṇa that comes from ending the occurrence of the aggregates (skandha/khandha) of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being; or, for short, khandha-parinibbāna. Modern Buddhist usage tends to restrict ‘nirvāṇa’ to the awakening experience and reserve ‘parinirvāṇa’ for the death experience.


How is that a preferable option?

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 3:30 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I don't know that it is the "preferable" option, or at least, I'm not sure that's the most helpful way to think about it.  Rather, as I conceptualize it, it's the culmination of a natural process.  The mind has seen clearly that the clinging and grasping motion, which creates the weight of becoming, is what lies at the root of suffering.  So, it stops moving in that direction in response to causes and conditions, and when those causes and conditions have finally all burned up, it ceases completely.  It's like a fire that has burned up all of its fuel; it just stops once you stop adding fuel to it (further clinging and grasping, which provide the conditions for further becoming).  Whether that sounds preferable or not is just a further movement of the mind, another form of clinging or grasping to some concept of unbecoming or annihilation.  That's how I see it, at least, in this moment.      

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 1:53 PM as a reply to Chad Atlas.
Following the eightfold path is optional. Why do people choose do it if it means the seeming continuity of their consciousness will end sooner rather than later?  The answer for the average person is probably that they don't believe it. But what I would like to know is how the high level teachers would answer it.

Walpola Rahula quotes the Buddha: "When the Aggregates arise, decay and die, O bhikkhu, every moment you are born, decay and die." So sometimes things sound pretty bad in theory, but in practice they are not really the problem they sound like. Maybe parinibbana is like that.

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 2:20 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim:

Following the eightfold path is optional. Why do people choose do it if it means the seeming continuity of their consciousness will end sooner rather than later? 


What I've been considering lately, is that when one gains a real sense of the supramundane eight folds (however you choose to define that), one actually sees that it could be no other way, since there is basically one reality or set of circumstances.  Thinking about the continuity or elimination of consciousness after death is, by the way, part of the mundane.  

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 2:49 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I think the problem here is a scholarly interpretation of an experiential state.  As has been said many times, the enlightened state is beyond conceptual apprehension.  We can say that upon enlightenment we will still exist, or we won't still exist, or both or neither, but ultimtely we will still be wrong.  What this is pointing to is a expreince itself that is beyond conceptual description or apprehension.  In essence, enlightenment is the final freedom from conceptual fabrication, freedom from an ignorance that habitually maintains the imposed solidity of the material world.  Beyond these imposed boundaries, we live our lives simply in an experience of open and complete freedom. 

Another way to look at this is from the teachings regarding views to be avoided, specifically eternalism and nihlism.  This teachings counsels us not to fear that we will exist forever, or forever cease to exist, but instead to go beyond our conceptual prison of mind and find out for ourselves.  When the Buddha taught a freedom from suffering, I do not think he saught to trick us.  Only if we genuine realize the final state he espoused will we understand the truth of it.

-- and also I think Noah was spot on with the idea of one inevitable reality set!

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 3:59 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Following the eightfold path is optional. Why do people choose do it if it means the seeming continuity of their consciousness will end sooner rather than later?  The answer for the average person is probably that they don't believe it. But what I would like to know is how the high level teachers would answer it.

I am not a high-level teacher (or any teacher for that matter).  But I am an average person following the path to the best of my ability as I understand it, so maybe I can provide you with at least one data point.  I started on the path/practice because the advertised end goal, freedom from suffering, sounded pretty nice.  I've found that worrying about or anticipating any experience, rather than simply relaxing into whatever is happening, tends to add needless stress to that experience.  Consequently, without having any definite belief about what might happen when the process culminates, I try and just relax and enjoy myself.  If it's eternal non-experience, that's fine.  If it's eternal experience, fine.  Something beyond my conceptualization of the possibilities (which seems most likely), also fine.  I hope that helps. 

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/22/16 7:15 PM as a reply to T DC.
Yes, this has been my take on it, that certain experiences can't accurately be described and lay beyond our typical ability to conceptualize. 

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/23/16 3:16 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
When they talk about Bodhisattva's delaying their own nirvana to help everyone else first, they never mention parinirvana. Why is that?

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/enlightnirvana.html
 


Bodhisattva
Enlightenment Being. This is a being whose Buddhahood is assured but who postpones his/her own entry into Nirvana to help all other sentient beings attain to it first. The Buddha himself was described as a Bodhisattva in stories of his previous lives.


Could it be conspiracy to get rid of everyone else so they can have the 31 realms of existence to themselves?

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/23/16 3:49 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/nibbana.html

Nibbana by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
According to the ancient Brahmans, when a fire was extinguished it went into a state of latency. Rather than ceasing to exist, it became dormant and in that state — unbound from any particular fuel — it became diffused throughout the cosmos. When the Buddha used the image to explain nibbana to the Indian Brahmans of his day, he bypassed the question of whether an extinguished fire continues to exist or not, and focused instead on the impossibility of defining a fire that doesn't burn: thus his statement that the person who has gone totally "out" can't be described.
...
The second level of unbinding, symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life. All input from the senses cools away and he/she is totally freed from even the subtlest stresses and limitations of existence in space and time.

The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things that have limits. All he really says about it — apart from images and metaphors — is that one can have foretastes of the experience in this lifetime, and that it's the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing.


RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/23/16 4:25 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

Could it be conspiracy to get rid of everyone else so they can have the 31 realms of existence to themselves?
Fuck, this guy is getting on to our tracks. Will somebody already censor this, please?

(An alternative explanation is that the different traditions all contradict each other; In trying to please everybody, they fucked up big time, and it all makes not much sense any more, if it ever did at all.)

Seriously, the older I get the more those discussions look like meaningless word-plays by bored adults with a new-found thesaurus.

RE: After Parinibbana, then what?
Answer
2/23/16 5:51 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
the alternative to nibbana is samsara which includes some very terrible states of existence.  so its not just stubbed toes or too little to eat in this realm that we are trying to put an end to but many seriously negative places / states.

but even here and now people who train enough see that even the things that are generally considered to be desireable are themselves unsatisfying  getting to that place is a serious achievement which gives these people a perspective on the relative nature of pleasure and the hooks embedded within it.

theorhetically after even first path, some of the more hideous realms are closed to the yogi and so the motivation can change at this point to a more refined notion of why one practices. 

the buddha pointed out continually that nibbana is not extinction nor eternalism.  as noah pointed out, it is the reality as it is, without a self reference nor a craving for anything else.  i would propose that it is also outside of constructed time altogether which would make a millisecond equivalent to eternity and visa versa.  such a state bursts the boundaries of the question , "what is preferable" as there is no individual to prefer any thing or state.

the bodhisaatva concept is a mahayana teaching / device / practice which takes compassion to its furthest extreme.  it is, as noted above, a vow taken to postpone ones own full enlightenment with the aim of helping all sentient beings to become enlightened before oneself.

the teachings and cultural repercussions (tulkus, or reborn masters) have influenced tibetan buddhism enormously and for my money  the political implications alone make it less pure but the practices springing from it are undoubtedly powerful for those with a more faith-based makeup than myself.