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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
34 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 6 There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not-brought-to- being, a not-made, a not-conditioned. If, bhikkhus, there were no not-born, not-brought-to-being, not- made, not-conditioned, no escape would be dis- cerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. But since there is a not-born, a not- brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-conditioned, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned. —Itivuttaka Because there is no arising in the nibbana ele- ment [which is the cessation of conditioned phe- nomena through their non-arising], it is called not-born (ajata) and not-brought-to-being (abh- huta). Because it is not made by a cause, it is called not-made (akata). Because it is not made dependent on causes and conditions, it is called not-condi- tioned. If the nibbana element does not exist, then the cessation of the mental and physical processes or the aggregates could not happen. Thus it is not true that the nibbana element is nothing, like the concept of nonexistence. Being the object of path and fruition, it is obvious in an ultimate sense. And because it is so obvious, the constantly arising men- tal and physical processes or aggregates in a person who practices correctly do not arise anymore after that person’s parinibbana. Then, they are able to cease forever. It means that the cessation is some- thing that can be obvious. May you believe this! There is, bhikkhus, that base where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no air; no base consist- ing of the infinity of space, no base consisting of the infinity of consciousness, no base consisting of nothingness, no base consisting of neither- perception-nor-nonperception; neither this world nor another world nor both; neither sun nor moon. Here, bhikkhus, I say there is no coming, no going, no staying, no deceasing, no uprising. Not fixed, not movable, it has no support. Just this is the end of suffering. —Udana Nibbana is simply the cessation of mental and physical phenomena that becomes manifest as the signless (animittapaccupatthanam) to a noble one. So although one has experienced it, one cannot describe it in terms of color or form or say what it is like. It can only be experienced or described as the cessation or end of all conditioned mental and physical phenomena. In the Milindapañha of the Khuddaka Nikaya, it is shown in this way: O Great King [Milinda], nibbana is incomparable. It cannot be described in its color, shape, size, dimension, likeness, remote cause, immediate cause, or any other logical way of thinking. Nibbana is said to be the cessation, liberation, non-arising, or nonexistence of conditioned phe- nomena. It is also said that nibbana has no color, form, or size. It cannot be described by using a sim- ile. Because of these points one might believe that nibbana is nothing, and think that it is the same as the concept of nonexistence (abhavapaññatti). But it is absolutely not like the concept of nonexistence. It is obvious that it has the nature of cessation, libera- tion, non-arising, or nonexistence of conditioned phenomena. And because this nature is obvious, the phenomena of path and fruition can arise while directly experiencing the cessation of conditioned phenomena. The mental and physical processes of an arahant do not arise anymore after they have entered parinibbana; they have completely ceased. The following texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya show how the nature of nibbana is obvious when directly experienced. mahaSi SayadaW (1904–1982) was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and meditation master. his style of practice had a significant influence on the teachings of Vipassana (insight meditation) in the West and throughout asia. This teaching is from his most famous work, Manual of Insight, coming out in may in a new translation from Wisdom Publications. Nibbana has no color, form, or size. Because of this, one might think nibbana is nothing. But it is absolutely not like the concept of nonexistence.