The Realization of Nirvana - Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature


Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and The Noble Eightfold Path.

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Realization of Nirvana

The Realization of Nirvana

King Milinda said: 'In the world one can see things produced of kamma. Things produced from a cause, things produced by nature. Tell me, what in the world is not born of kamma, or a cause, or of nature?'
'There are two such things, space and Nirvana.'
'Do not, Nāgasena, corrupt the Jina's words, do not answer the question ignorantly!' 'What did I say, your majesty, that you speak thus to me?'
'What you said about space not being born of kamma, or from a cause, or from nature, that was correct. But with many hundreds of arguments has the Lord proclaimed to his disciples the way to the realization of Nirvana-and then you say that Nirvana is not born of a cause!'
'It is true that the lord has with many hundreds of arguments proclaimed to his disciples the way to the realization of Nirvana; but that does not mean that he has spoken of a cause for the production of Nirvana.'
'Here, Nāgasena, we do indeed enter from darkness into greater darkness, from a jungle into a deeper jungle, from a thicket into a denser thicket, inasmuch as we are given a cause for the realization of Nirvana, but no cause for the production of that same dharma (i.e.. Nirvana). If there is a cause for the realization of Nirvana, we would also expect one for its production. If there is a son's father, one would for that reason also expect the father to have had a father; if there is a pupil's teacher, one would for that reason also expect the teacher to have had a teacher; if there is a seed for a sprout, one would for that reason also expect the seed to have had a seed. Just so, if there is cause for the realization of Nirvana, one would for that reason also expect a cause for its production. If a tree or creeper has a top, then for that reason it must also have a middle and a root. Just so, if there is a cause for the realization of Nirvana, one would for that reason also expect a cause for its production.'
          'Nirvana, O king, is not something that should be produced. That is why no cause for its production has been proclaimed.'
          'Please, Nāgasena, give me a reason, convince me by an argument, so that I can understand this point!'
          'Well then, O king, attend carefully, listen closely, and I will tell you the reason for this. Could a man with his natural strength go up from here to the Himalaya mountains?' 'Yes, he could.'
But could that man with his natural Strength bring the Himalaya Mountains here?' 'No, he could not.'
'Just so it is possible to point out the way to the realization of Nirvana, but impossible to show a cause for its production. Could a man, who with his natural strength has crossed in a boat over the great ocean, get to the farther shore?'
          'Yes, he could.'
          'But could that man with his natural strength bring the farther shore of the great ocean he-e` 'No, he could not.'
          Just so one can point out the way to the realization of Nirvana, but one cannot show a cause for its production. And what is the reason for that? Because that dharma, Nirvana, is unconditioned.' 'Is then, Nāgasena, Nirvana, unconditioned?'
'So it is. O king, unconditioned is Nirvana, not made by anything. Of Nirvana one cannot say that it is produced, or unproduced, or that it should be produced: that it is past, or future, or present: or that one can become aware of it by the eye, or the ear, or the nose, or the tongue, or the body.'
          'In that case, Nāgasena, you indicate Nirvana as a dharma which is not, and Nirvana does not exist.
          'Nirvana is something which is. It is cognizable by the mind. A holy disciple, who has followed the right road, sees Nirvana with a mind which is pure, sublime, straight, unimpeded and disinterested.'

'But what then is that Nirvana like? Give me a simile, and convince me by arguments. For a dharma which exists can surely be illustrated by a simile!'
'Is there, great king, something called "wind?" '
"Yes, there is such a thing.'
    ‘Please, will your majesty show me the wind, its colour and shape, and whether it is thin or thick, long or short.'
   'One cannot point to the wind like that. For the wind does not lend itself to being grasped with the hands, or to being touched. But nevertheless there is such a thing as wind.'
   'If one cannot point to the wind, one might conclude that there is no wind at all.'
  'But I know, Nāgasena, that there is wind, I am quite convinced of it, in spite of the fact that I cannot point it out.'
'Just so, your majesty, there is Nirvana, but one cannot point to Nirvana, either by its colour or its shape.'
Very good, Nāgasena. Clear is the simile, convincing is the argument. So it is, and so I accept it: there is a Nirvana.

At one time, at the behest of Buddha, Ānanda recited Ratana Sutta as he went round the city of Vesāḷi. During the recital the flame of an oil-lamp that was burning went out because the oil had been totally consumed and the wick completely burnt. "Just as this flame is extinguished", observed Ānanda.”All conditioned things have been extinguished (in an Arahat)".The flame is dependent on the wick and the oil. If the oil-lamp is refilled with a fresh supply of oil and refitted with a wick. the flame will continue to give light. When a flame is observed closely, it will be seen that the combustion is being continuously supported by the burning oil that is sucked up by the wick. Casual observers notice the whole phenomenon as one continuous process. In the same way, the khandas, generated by kamma (action), citta (mind), utu (season) and ahara (nutriment) are continually renewed, now arising and now passing away. If you want to know this nature, keep note of whatever appears at your six sense-doors as you see, hear, feel or know a sense-object. You will notice that a phenomenon occurs and at once ceases just as it has occured. When mindfulness gains strength, you will realize the instant passing away of all phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc. To ordinary flocks all these phenomena are continuous. So the Khandhas are likened to a flame.
As the cessation of the khandhas is likened to a flame being extinguished, people who are obsessed with the idea of self usually think and say that an Arahat as an individual has disappeared. In point of fact an individual has no basis of reality. What we describe, in conventional language, as an individual is, after all, a compound of materiality (rūpa), and mentality (nāma). That manifest themselves. With Arahats, these compound things become extinct. Cessation does not mean the disappearance of the individual.
If one is rooted in the belief that the individual disappears, then he will be guilty of uccheda diṭṭhi or the heretical belief that existence terminates with death. There is, as I have said, no individual. We have only a succession of rūpa. and nāma  now arising, now dissolving. An Arahat is an epitome of that successive phenomena of arising and dissolution. Beyond the khandas, there is no individual. With Arahat, therefore, cessation means the extinction of successive rise and fail of the Khandas. It is with the extinction in mind that Ānanda  made a reference to a flame that was extinguished.

The world nibbanti, meaning extinction, occurs in the Ratana Sutta. Etymologically, it is derived from ni. a negative prefix, and va, meaning craving. It denotes the annihilation of the flames of lust, hatred and ignorance which are the root causes of suffering. The Text says: nibbati vattadukkhan ettati nibbānaṃ. It means: where the round of suffering ceases, there is Nibbāna.

[From: NIBBĀNAPATISAMYUTTA KATHA (or) OF THE NATURE OF NIBBĀNA by the Venerable Mahasi Savadaw.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad