Abhidhamma in Daily Life (by Ashin Janakabhivamsa)

by Ashin Janakabhivamsa | 66,666 words

English translation of "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" by Professor Ko Lay. Revised by Sayadaw U Silananda, International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, 1999...

Part 6 - What Is Nibbána?

It needs an entire treatise to explain Nibbána in full. In this book I shall give only a few hints, since there is no room here for exposition of this important subject. Considering that it would be wiser to leave out this subject entirely than to treat it in a superficial matter. I had not touch upon it in the earlier editions. But in order to provide some knowledge of Nibbána to the readers starting from this 20th edition, I shall give extracts from Thingyo Tika dealing with upasama nussati, contemplating on the peaceful bliss of Nibbána.

Upasama Nussati

Upasama Nussati is meditation on Santisukha, blissful Tranquility of Nibbána. People usually talk at random about Nibbána. Some wrongly assert that Nibbána is a special case of rupa and Nama (rupa visesa and nama visesa). Some are mistaken that Nibbána is an eternal essence like a perpetual core, which remains at the cessation of Nama and rupa. Another wrong view is that Nibbána means no bliss because there is nor rupa or Nama to feel any sensation at all. Just as a sense can only be understood by those who have actually experienced it, the true of Nibbána can only be comprehended by Ariya persons who have actually realized the supreme bliss. The puthujjana persons cannot grasp in full the essence of Nibbána with mere speculations. Nevertheless, I will try to the best of my ability to explain Nibbána in the light of texts and in the lights of logical reason.

Nibbána is one of the Supreme Ultimates - it is independent of the other three paramattha sacca, namely ultimate realities of citta, cetasika and rupa. Since it has nothing to do with rupa Nama sankhárá, it is not a special form of rupa and nama. Nibbána is listed as Bhahida Dhamma, external Dhamma in the texts; so it is not eternal core within the body. Nor something that can feel vedana. It is not an object (arammana) like sight or sound because it cannot be felt. There is no vedayita sukha bliss in Nibbána - there is only Santisukha. Let us elaborate. Vedayita sukha is enjoyment, which exhausts itself and had to be renewed. The oil of renewing far surpasses the enjoyment one gets out of it. If one is not yet satiated with such pleasure, there would be more toil and trouble, one might even end in the four Apaya worlds while in pursuit of such sensualities.

Santisukha is the peace enjoyed in Nibbána. It has nothing to do with earthly pleasured. It is the peace attained by the cessation of rupa Nama sankhárá, the process of mind and matter. Let us suppose a very rich man sleep soundly. His servants prepare sensual pleasures for him and wake him up. He will surely scold his servants for having interrupted his peaceful sleep. He prefers carefree sleep to sensual pleasure. Some people exclaim, “How nice it is to sleep!” If we find sleep, which is void of any feeling peaceful, we can imagine the bliss of Santisukha, which is the end of rupa, and Nama.

Let us further consider the Anagamin Arahats. They deeply know the burdens of Nama rupa; in order to distance themselves from these burdensome Nama rupa as far as possible, they enter into the absorption of Nirodha Samapatti. During this Samapatti, Nama elements of citta and cetasika and some rupa elements cease to function with no new arising. No new elements are formed. This temporary cessation of Nama rupa process is sublime enjoyment of a great degree. Asannata Brahmas live in great peace for five hundred world cycles without feeling any sensation being devoid of Nama. Form this example you can appreciate the cessation of turmoil and excitements and visualize the bliss of Santisukha.

All Arupa Brahmas experience the divine joy with a pure consciousness without accompaniment of any rupa (matter). In the mind-continuum of the highest Arupa Brahma there is only a very small category of Nama that arises there. If they reach Arahat stage, they have only a limited number of cittas and cetasikas; one mana dvaravajjana citta, eight kriya cittas, one nevasannanasannayatana vipaka citta, one kriya citta, one Arahat Phala citta, a total of 12 cittas with associated mental factors. As these cittas appear one after another if those cittas cease, then all factors of life cease and Santisukha, the Nibbána element manifest itself.

Santisukha, the bliss of Nibbána, is not a single unique dhatu, which belongs to all beings. Each and every being can have his own Nibbána.

Each Ariya person rejoices in Phala Samapatti, while concentrating on Nibbána. They find supreme enjoyment in this Samapatti. All Ariyas, each one of the Theras and Theris, proclaim the highest happiness for having good riddance of rupa and Nama when they are about to enter parinibbána. It is indeed a shame that we puthujjanas should be so attached to our mind and bodies.

"Sadevakassa lokassa, ete vo sukha sammatam
Yattha ce nirujjhanti, tan tesam dukkha sammatam."

The whole world of putthajjhanas with men and Devas consider these objects of sensual pleasure as pleasant, blissful, happiness. Whereas Nibbána, where all these sense objects such as forms, sounds, etc. cease, and which the Ariyas with Dhamma Insight esteem greatly, these worldly puthajjhanas regard as pure suffering because of lack of sensual objects.

"Sukham ditthamari yebhi, sakkayassa nirodhanam
Pacca nikamidam hoti, sabba lokena passatam."

The Ariya, noble persons have perceived precisely with wisdom eyes Nibbána, the Element of Bliss, where the five khandhas of Nama and rupa cease to exist. These noble persons who have personally witnessed, perceived the Nibbána element which is beyond the ken of common worldlings, seem to be always running back to back in opposite direction to the whole world of putthajjhanas, a mass of craving beings who are covered by avijjha (Devadaha Vagga, Salayatana Samyutta Nikáya).

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