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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
spring 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 39 Though nibbana is onefold according to is intrinsic nature, by reference to a basis (for distinction), it is twofold, namely, the element of nibbana with the residue remaining, and the element of nibbana without the residue remaining. —Abhidhammattha Sangaha, 6.31 The unique characteristic of nibbana is the peaceful- ness associated with the cessation [of conditioned phenomena]. Or, in other words, this unique char- acteristic must necessarily belong to any type of nibbana. In this sense there is only one type of nib- bana, even though it may be divided into two types, one with and one without residue remaining. Even though it is clearly stated that nibbana is twofold, if nibbana either with or without residue remaining and nibbana that is experienced through path and fruition were divided, it would also con- tradict the Abhidhammattha Sangaha. If nibbana were divided in such a way, then we would have to say that the nibbana that is experienced through path and fruition is real, being an ultimate reality, while the nibbana that is with or without residue remaining is imaginary, being simply a concept. But if this were the case, then nibbana would have to be classified into three types, rather than two: one real nibbana, having its unique characteristic of peace, and two [other conceptual types of nibbana], one with and one without residue remaining. Some even claim that nibbana is conceptual non- existence (abhavapaññatti), and that in an ultimate sense it does not exist. Then one would also have to say that cessation of the defilements and aggregates is just a concept like the concept of a self [based on wrong view]. This would mean that there is no cessation of potential defilements and aggregates. In that case the defilements would continue to arise in an arahant’s mind continuum, and after having entered parinibbana, the aggregates would also continue to arise. There would be no possibility of escape from the round of suffering. We must conclude, therefore, that the nibbana that is experienced by means of path and fruition is general nibbana (samaññanibbana). The two types of nibbana—with and without residue remain- ing—that are specific nibbana (visesanibbana) are included within general nibbana. This is why the nibbana that is experienced by means of path and fruition is not identified as being with or without residue remaining, or as the cessation of desire, aversion, delusion, material phenomena, or feeling, or as present, past, or future, or as the cessation of defilements or phenomena. In reality nibbana is simply experienced and known as the cessation of conditioned phenomena that perceive or are per- ceived. Because all mental and physical phenomena are extinguished in nibbana, it also includes nib- bana with residue remaining and nibbana without residue remaining. Experiencing Nibbana Because you do not yet rightly understand the ces- sation of the defilements and aggregates, you may think that it is just the concept of nonexistence, that it is not profound, or that it is so profound that you will be unable to rightly understand it. So if you are not yet satisfied, you should resolve to practice in order to forever extinguish not only the defilements but also the arising of the aggregates in a new life. Only then will you be able to comprehend that the cessation of the defilements and aggregates is not a concept of nonexistence but an ultimately and obviously existing unconditioned phenomenon, The mental and physical processes of an arahant do not arise anymore after they have entered parinibbana. They have completely ceased.