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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
40 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 6 profound, difficult to see, and beyond the reach of logical thought. Before you have realized nibbana by means of the four paths, you must develop diligence and mindfulness in order to protect your mind from yielding to temptation. Therefore, bhikkhus, that base should be under- stood where the eye ceases and perception of forms fades away. That base should be understood where the ear ceases and perception of sounds fades away. That base should be understood where the nose ceases and perception of smells fades away. That base should be understood where the tongue ceases and perception of tastes fades away. That base should be understood where the body ceases and perception of touch fades away. That base should be understood where the mind ceases and percep- tion of mental phenomena fades away. That base should be understood. —Samyutta Nikaya, 35.117 A meditator may arrive at the realization of nib- bana by primarily observing the eye and perception of forms, or any of the other pairs of phenomena mentioned above. If cessation of the eye and percep- tion of forms is obvious, then cessation and aware- ness of their physical and mental constituents will also be obvious. The same applies to the other pairs of phenomena. In fact, the cessation of all condi- tioned phenomena is obvious when one experiences nibbana. This is why the perception of conditioned phenomena completely ceases the moment one experiences nibbana. Thus nibbana is described as the cessation of any of these pairs of phenomena. Taken as a whole, nibbana is the cessation of all twelve of these sense bases. venerable Ananda once explained this, say- ing, “This was stated by the Blessed One, friends, with reference to the cessation of the six [internal and external] sense bases.” (SN 35.117) The commentary to the Udana of the Khuddaka Nikaya also describes nibbana as the cessation of all twelve sense bases and refers to an explanation that the Buddha gave to Bahiya. According to schol- ars, the passage “Then, Bahiya, you will neither be here nor beyond nor in between the two” can be explained as follows: [If one is no longer involved with defilements in what is seen, heard, experienced, or perceived, then, Bahiya,] one will no longer exist here in the inter- nal [sense bases of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind], nor there in the external [sense bases of visible form, sound, odor, flavor, touch and mental objects], nor anywhere else in the sense conscious- nesses [of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch- ing, and perceiving. This is the end of suffering]. —Udana-atthakatha A meditator proceeds by observing the most obvi- ous object from among these twelve sense bases, consciousnesses, and mental factors. But at the moment of path and fruition, the meditator stops perceiving the object and instead experiences the total cessation of all of these objects. This experi- ence of cessation is nibbana. It is very important to understand this. The sense bases actually represent all conditioned phenomena. So the cessation of the sense bases refers to the cessation of all conditioned phenom- ena. In the following discourse, nibbana is said to be that state that is the opposite of conditioned phe- nomena. According to the texts: One cannot come to nibbana, and from nibbana one cannot go somewhere else. Unlike the human and celestial realms, there are no persons or beings in nibbana. courtesytheartistandrossi&rossi (Opposite) Untitled (Spire) Palden Weinreb, 2015 Wood, wax, plexiglass, and LED lights ➤ continued page 83