Also see:

The Meaning of Nirvana
Great Resource of Buddha's Teachings
What is Nirvana?


From a post I wrote years ago:
 
Hi Justin Struble we have to be very careful in interpreting that Nibbana sutta. First of all we have to understand what 'Nirvana/Nibbana' means in context. As Ven Hui-feng puts it, "keep in mind the basic metaphorical meaning of the term nirvana, the extinguishing of a flame". The main analogy given by Buddha for nirvana is the extinguishing of a flame. As Ven Nanananda also pointed out,

"Regarding this concept of Nibbàna too, the worldling is generally tempted to entertain some kind of ma¤¤anà, or me-thinking. Even some philosophers are prone to that habit. They indulge in some sort of prolific conceptualisation and me-thinking on the basis of such conventional usages as `in Nib­bàna', `from Nibbàna', `on reaching Nibbàna' and `my Nib­bàna'. By hypostasizing Nibbàna they de­velop a substance view, even of this concept, just as in the case of pañhavi, or earth. Let us now try to determine whether this is justifi­able.

The primary sense of the word Nibbàna is `extinction', or `extin­guishment'. We have already discussed this point with reference to such contexts as Aggivacchagottasutta.[8] In that dis­course the Bud­dha explained the term Nibbàna to the wan­dering ascetic Vaccha­got­ta with the help of a simile of the ex­tinction of a fire. Simply be­cause a fire is said to go out, one should not try to trace it, wondering where it has gone. The term Nibbàna is essentially a verbal noun. We also came across the phrase nibbuto tveva saïkhaü gacchati, "it is reck­oned as `extinguished'".[9]"

Extinction of what? Extinction of passion, aggression and delusion driving the whole mass of samsara. Extinction of the the whole mass of suffering/samsara in the twelve links from ignorance up to old age, sickness and death.

Next is the terms 'unconditioned/death-free/etc' it is very easy to reify this in terms of a metaphysical entity. This is not the case.

Here are some quotations which should hopefully clarify:

Nana/Geoff: "“Firstly, while the translation of asaṃskṛta as “the unconditioned” is fairly common, it’s a rather poor translation that all too easily leads to reification. The term asaṃskṛta refers to a negation of conditioned factors, and the meaning is better conveyed by “not-conditioned.” Secondly, for Sautrāntika commentators, and many mahāyānika commentators as well, an analytical cessation (pratisaṃkhyānirodha) is a non-implicative negation (prasajyapratiṣedha), i.e. a negation that doesn’t imply the presence of some other entity, and therefore nirvāṇa simply refers to a cessation that terminates the defilements and fetters that are abandoned by the correct practice of the noble path. It doesn’t refer to an entity or state that is substantially existent (dravyasat).” "

Nana/Geoff: "One has to be careful with such descriptions which may seem to be pointing to some sort of truly existent "unconditioned ground." Nibbāna is the extinguishment of the mental outflows (āsavā). The liberated mind is measureless (appamāṇa). This is not a "state of oneness with all of existence." It's an absence of identification (anattatā). It's non-indicative (anidassana), unestablished (appatiṭṭha), and not-dependent (anissita). None of these adjectives entail any sort of metaphysical "ground of being" or "unconditioned absolute." They are all negations. An arahant has simply "gone out."

tiltbillings: "There is no "deathless." That is a bad translation leading to an objectification/reification of the idea of awakening. With awakening, there is no more rebirth, one is free from death. (31 words.)""

Loppon Namdrol/Malcolm: “When you have eradicated all afflictions which cause rebirth, this is all the deathlessness you need. No more birth, BAM! no more death.”

Buddha: "And what, monks, is the not-fabricated (asaṅkhata)? The elimination of passion, the elimination of aggression, the elimination of delusion: this is called the not-fabricated. " .... "And what, monks, is the death-free (amata)? The elimination of passion, the elimination of aggression, the elimination of delusion: this is called the death-free." - SN 43 Asaṅkhata Saṃyutta - more in http://measurelessmind.ca/pariyosana.html

I can provide many more quotations but this will suffice for now, I think. Nirvana is extinction, like the blowing out of a flame, it is simply and merely the end of suffering and afflictions and does not imply a metaphysical substantial existent as some may postulate. There is no "The Unconditioned" or "The Unborn" or "The Deathless" as some sort of metaphysical essence. There is an unconditioned dharma - analytical cessation (nirvana) - that is the end of birth and death (death-free), is not conditioned (by afflictive causes and manifestations) etc.

All these are classic Nirvana stuff found in the earliest teachings in Pali suttas. In Mahayana emptiness, there is another understanding of "unconditioned" and that is as what Kyle said which I find to be very well said:

"The unconditioned is the emptiness of the skandhas.

Recognition of the emptiness of the skandhas means that the skandhas are non-arisen, what has not arisen cannot be conditioned."

In any case, whether the classical nirvana understanding of the earliest text, or the emptiness understanding of unconditioned/non-arisen, there is no postulating of a truly existing metaphysical essence.




For a more experiential description on what Nibbana is and the relation to the recognition of anatta (selflessness) do refer to the articles I pasted in Great Resource of Buddha's Teachings


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The Buddha said in Dhātuvibhanga Sutta: The Exposition of the Elements

https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middle-length-discourses-buddha/selections/middle-length-discourses-140-dhatuvibhanga-sutta

    28. “Formerly, when he was ignorant, he experienced covetousness, desire, and lust; now he has abandoned them, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, done away with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. Formerly, when he was ignorant, he experienced anger, ill will, and hate; now he has abandoned them, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, done away with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. Formerly, when he was ignorant, he experienced ignorance and delusion; now he has abandoned them, cut them off [246] at the root, made them like a palm stump, done away with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing [this peace] possesses the supreme foundation of peace. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble peace, namely, the pacification of lust, hate, and delusion.
    29. “So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve truth, should cultivate relinquishment, and should train for peace.’
    30. “‘The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these [foundations], and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him he is called a sage at peace.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said?
    31. “Bhikkhu, ‘I am’ is a conceiving; ‘I am this’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall not be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be possessed of form’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be formless’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be non-percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient’ is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumour, conceiving is a dart. By overcoming all conceivings, bhikkhu, one is called a sage at peace. And the sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die; he is not shaken and is not agitated. For there is nothing present in him by which he might be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not ageing, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be shaken? Not being shaken, why should he be agitated?
    32. “So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these [foundations], and when the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him he is called a sage at peace.’ Bhikkhu, bear in mind this brief exposition of the six elements.”



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Soh:
The understanding of Nirvana in the different schools of Buddhism

Just saw Geoff (nana/jnana) wrote a great informative post explaining the different understanding of Nirvana in the various Hinayana or Mahayana traditions of Buddhism:

"For the Theravāda, nibbāna is an ultimately real dhamma (paramatthadhamma) and the only dhamma that is not conditioned (asaṅkhata). It is an object of supramundane cognition (lokuttaracitta) and is included in the mental phenomena sensory sphere (dhammāyatana) and the mental phenomena component (dhammadhātu). The four paths, four fruits, and nibbāna are classified as the unincluded level (apariyāpanna bhūmi), that is, not included in the sensual realm, the form realm, or the formless realm. According to the Visuddhimagga, nibbāna "has peace as its characteristic. Its function is not to die; or its function is to comfort. It is manifested as the signless; or it is manifested as non-diversification (nippapañca)."

According to the Sarvāstivāda, nirvāṇa is an analytical cessation (pratisaṃkhyānirodha) that is a disjunction from impure dharmas that occurs through analysis (pratisaṃkhyāna), which is a specific type of discernment (prajñā). This analytical cessation is substantially existent (dravyasat) and ultimately exists (paramārthasat).

For Sautrāntika commentators nirvāṇa as an analytical cessation (pratisaṃkhyānirodha) is a merely a conceptual designation (prajñapti) and doesn't refer to an entity or state that is substantially existent (dravyasat). It is a non-implicative negation (prasajyapratiṣedha), that is, a negation that doesn't imply the presence of some other entity. Therefore nirvāṇa simply refers to a cessation that is the termination of defilements that are abandoned by the correct practice of the noble path.

According to the Yogācāra, for those on the bodhisattva path, nirvāṇa is non-abiding (apratiṣṭha nirvāṇa). The dependent nature (paratantrasvabhāva) is the basis (āśraya) of both defilement and purification. The all-basis consciousness (ālayavijñāna) is the defiled portion (saṃkleśabhāga) of the dependent nature. Purified suchness (viśuddhā tathatā) is the purified portion (vyavadānabhāga) of the dependent nature. Synonyms for purified suchness are the perfected nature (pariniṣpanna) and non-abiding nirvāṇa. Non-abiding nirvāṇa is the revolved basis (āśrayaparāvṛtti) that has eliminated defilements without abandoning saṃsāra.

Madhyamaka authors accept the notion of non-abiding nirvāṇa, but they don't use the three natures model used by the Yogācāra. Rather, they simply consider all things to be conceptual designations (prajñapti) that are empty of nature (svabhāva). For them, conceptual designations are relative truth (saṃvṛtisatya) and only emptiness is ultimate truth (paramārthasatya).

Zen, Pure Land, Vajrayāna, etc., are practice traditions more so than doctrinal schools, and authors writing from any of these perspectives would generally rely on Yogācāra or Madhyamaka śāstras or a specific Mahāyāna sūtra."

Dmytro asked: "Hi Ñāṇa,

And how you would put the Buddha's description of Nibbana in relation to said above?"

Geoff replied: "Given the definition given in SN 38.1, SN 43.1-44, and Abhidhamma Vibhaṅga 184, I would say that it's a designation (paññatti, prajñapti) referring to the elimination of passion, aggression, and delusion. Or with regard to the four paths (stream-entry, etc.), a designation referring to the elimination of fetters terminated by each path. This is similar to the Sautrāntika interpretation."

I concur. Sautrantika has the closest understanding of Nirvana to the original teachings of Buddha, which I shall elaborate in the comments section.
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Soh: Some weeks ago I also wrote something elsewhere:

"Nagarjuna wrote in his seventy verses that rejected Nirvana as a true existence or as the annihilation of a real being or entity: #24.
Opponent: If there is no origination and cessation, then to the cessation of what is nirvana due? Reply: Is not liberation this: that by nature nothing arises and ceases?
.
#25.
If nirvana [resulted] from cessation, [then there would be] destruction. If the contrary, [there would be] permanence. Therefore it is not logical that nirvana is being or non-being."

Not only does the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñapāramitā Sutra talk about Nirvana as illusory, the Samadhiraja Sutra also says 'The ultimate truth is like a dream; And nirvana is similarly like a dream. The wise take them that way And this is the supreme discipline of mind" and "When the bodhisattva addresses these things: The truth of cessation is like a dream, Nirvana also is essentially a dream; That is called the discipline of speech."

Some Theravadins have a slightly eternalistic interpretation of Nibbana. In the past, the Sautrantika (which was even much more popular than Theravada until it died out in India along with the whole of Buddhism in general, leaving Theravada in other countries like Sri Lanka etc) which follows the Buddha's teachings or suttas more to the letter would strictly define nirvana in terms of cessation or elimination of fetters. Which is what the Buddha taught that Nirvana is. An eternalistic interpretation of Nirvana as some ultimately existing reality has no basis at all in the Pali canon/Buddha's words which clearly defined in so many instances that Nirvana, not-conditioned, not-born, death-free and so on are simply synonyms for the "elimination of passion, aggression and delusion". (reference: http://sgforums.com/forums/1728/topics/447451)

The analogy given by the Buddha on Nirvana is a fire going out - and Nirvana simply means cessation, termination, gone out, etc. And with cessation there is no remainder of any kind of being or existence, nor could it be understood in terms of non-being, both or neither.

"Even in the Vedic period there was the dilemma between `be­ing' and `non-being'. They won­dered whether being came out of non-being, or non-being came out of being. Katham asataþ sat jàyeta, "How could being come out of non-being?"[23] In the face of this di­lemma regarding the first be­ginnings, they were some­times forced to conclude that there was neither non-being nor being at the start, nàsadàsãt no sadàsãt tadànãm.[24] Or else in the confusion they would sometimes leave the matter unsolved, say­ing that perhaps only the creator knew about it.

All this shows what a lot of confusion these two words sat and asat, being and non-being, had created for the philosophers. It was only the Buddha who presented a perfect solution, after a complete reappraisal of the whole problem of existence. He pointed out that existence is a fire kept up by the fuel of grasp­ing, so much so that, when grasping ceases, existence ceases as well.

In fact the fire simile holds the answer to the tetralemma in­cluded among the ten unexplained points very often found men­tioned in the suttas. It concerns the state of the Tathàgata after death, whether he exists, does not exist, both or neither. The presumption of the ques­tioner is that one or the other of these four must be and could be an­swered in the affirmative.

The Buddha solves or dissolves this presumptuous tetra­lemma by bringing in the fire simile. He points out that when a fire goes out with the exhaustion of the fuel, it is absurd to ask in which direction the fire has gone. All that one can say about it, is that the fire has gone out: Nibbuto tveva saïkhaü gacchati, "it comes to be reckoned as `gone out'."[25]

It is just a reckoning, an idiom, a worldly usage, which is not to be taken too literally. So this illustration through the fire sim­ile drives home to the worldling the absurdity of his presumptu­ous tetra­lemma of the Tathàgata.

In the Upasãvasutta of the Pàràyaõavagga of the Sutta Nipàta we find the lines:

Accã yathà vàtavegena khitto,

atthaü paleti na upeti saïkhaü,

"Like the flame thrown out by the force of the wind

Reaches its end, it cannot be reckoned."[26]

Here the reckoning is to be understood in terms of the four proposi­tions of the tetralemma. Such reckonings are based on a total mis­con­ception of the phe­nomenon of fire.

It seems that the deeper connotations of the word Nibbàna in the context of pañicca samuppàda were not fully appreciated by the com­mentators. And that is why they went in search of a new etymol­ogy. They were too shy of the implications of the word `extinction'. Proba­bly to avoid the charge of nihilism they felt compelled to rein­terpret certain key passages on Nibbàna. They con­ceived Nibbàna as something existing out there in its own right. They would not say where, but sometimes they would even say that it is everywhere. With an undue grammatical em­phasis they would say that it is on coming to that Nibbàna that lust and other defilements are aban­doned: Nibbànaü àgamma ràgàdayo khãõàti ekameva nibbànaü ràgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo ti vuccati.[27]

But what do we find in the joyous utterances of the theras and therãs who had realized Nibbàna? As recorded in such texts as Thera- and Therã-gàthà they would say: Sãtibhåto'smi nibbuto, "I am grown cool, extinguished as I am."[28] The words sãtibhåta and nibbuta had a cooling effect even to the listener, though later scholars found them inadequate.

Extinction is something that occurs within an individual and it brings with it a unique bliss of appeasement. As the Ratana­sutta says: Laddhà mudhà nibbutiü bhu¤jamànà, "they experi­ence the bliss of appeasement won free of charge."[29] Nor­mally, appeasement is won at a cost, but here we have an ap­peasement that comes gratis." ~ Venerable Nanananda, http://www.beyondthenet.net/calm/nibbana01.htm"

The Meaning of Nirvana - SgForums.com
sgforums.com
This type of blackout cessation is experienced by all sorts of yogis including those practicing non-Buddhist systems. Thus, it has nothing to do with the correct engagement of vipassanā. The cessation of unsatisfactoriness (dukkhanirodha) is the cessation of craving (taṇhā), not the cessation of phe...[Preview cut off]
March 6 at 2:41am · Like · Remove Preview


Soh: That being said, I do not see contradiction between Buddha's understanding of Nirvana and Yogacara's understanding of 'perfected suchness' (especially when we take into consideration the Buddha's teaching on suchness such as Kalaka Sutta). The notion of eliminating defilements yet not abandoning samsara is however a Mahayana development (which does not however contradict the Buddha's early teachings insofar as it does not present a substantialist understanding of Nirvana, especially for Madhyamika).
March 6 at 2:49am · Edited · Like


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Great Resource of Buddha's Teachings

Update: The site has been taken down. But a copy of it is available on Scribd here: https://www.scribd.com/document/274168728/Measureless-Mind


When I discovered the site Measureless Mind, I thought, wow, what a great resource of Buddha's teachings! It is a very valuable resource for all practitioners. Very well formatted, well presented, all-rounded, well commented resource of Buddha's original teachings in the Pali canon by Geoff (online nick: jnana in dharmawheel, or nana in dhammawheel). Like Loppon Namdrol/Malcolm who I often quoted from, Geoff (whose practice background is more of Mahamudra and Theravada) is also a very knowledgeable Buddhist scholar-practitioner and I often read his posts with much interest.

I sent Thusness two of the many articles (I spent time to read the entire website from beginning to end and highly recommend others to do so) and Thusness also commented, "Both the articles are very well written. Put in the blog." and "that site is a great resource."

http://measurelessmind.ca/anattasanna.html
The Recognition of Selflessness (Anattasaññā)
Look at the world and see its emptiness Mogharāja, always mindful,
Eliminating the view of self, one goes beyond death.
One who views the world this way is not seen by the king of death.

— Sutta Nipāta 5.15, Mogharājamāṇavapucchā
The contemplation of selflessness is given in AN 10.60 Girimānanda Sutta:
Now what, Ānanda, is the recognition of selflessness? Here, Ānanda, a monk, gone to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, discriminates thus: ‘The eye is not-self, forms are not-self; the ear is not-self, sounds are not-self; the nose is not-self, odors are not-self; the tongue is not-self, flavors are not-self; the body is not-self, tactual objects are not-self; the mind is not-self, phenomena are not-self.’ Thus he abides contemplating selflessness with regard to the six internal and external sensory spheres. This, Ānanda, is called the recognition of selflessness.
In practice, we need to be able to recognize this absence of self in our immediate experience: When seeing, there is the coming together of visible form, the eye, and visual consciousness. When hearing, there is the coming together of sound, the ear, and auditory consciousness. When touching, there is the coming together of tactual sensation, the body, and tactile consciousness. When thinking, there is the thought, the mind, and mental consciousness. These processes arise simply through ‘contact.’ When a sense faculty and a sensory object make contact, the corresponding sensory consciousness arises. This entire process occurs through specific conditionality (idappaccayatā). There is no independent, fully autonomous agent or self controlling any of this.
An independent, autonomous self would, by definition, be:
  1. permanent
  2. satisfactory
  3. not prone to dis-ease
  4. fully self-determining (be in complete autonomous control of itself)
Thus, what is being negated is a permanent, satisfactory self which is not prone to old age, sickness, and death. As SN 22.59 Pañcavaggiya Sutta (abridged) states:
Monks, form, feeling, recognition, fabrications, and consciousness are not-self. Were form, feeling, recognition, fabrications, or consciousness self, then this form, feeling, recognition, fabrications, and consciousness would not lead to dis-ease.
This criterion of dis-ease is the context for the following statement that:
None can have it of form, feeling, recognition, fabrications, or consciousness: ‘Let my form, feeling, recognition, fabrications, or consciousness be thus, let my form, feeling, recognition, fabrications, or consciousness be not thus.’
By engaging in sustained, dedicated contemplation we find only impermanent processes, conditionally arisen, and not fully self-determining. First we clearly see that all conditioned phenomena of body and mind are impermanent. Next we come to see that whatever is impermanent is unsatisfactory in that it can provide no lasting happiness. Then we realize that all impermanent, unsatisfactory phenomena of body and mind are not-self — they can’t be the basis for a self, which by definition would be permanent and (one would hope) satisfactory. This relationship between the recognition of impermanence, the recognition of unsatisfactoriness, and the recognition of selflessness is illustrated in the following diagram.
With the recognition of selflessness there is an emptying out of both the “subject” and “object” aspects of experience. We come to understand that “I-making” and “mine-making” with regard to the mind and body as well as all external representations is deluded. When the recognition of selflessness is fully developed there is no longer any reification of substantial referents to be experienced in relation to subjective grasping. Whatever is seen is merely the seen (diṭṭhamatta). Whatever is heard or sensed is merely the heard (sutamatta) and merely the sensed (mutamatta). Whatever is known is merely the known (viññātamatta). This is explained in Ud 1.10 Bāhiya Sutta:
‘The seen will be merely the seen, the heard will be merely the heard, the sensed will be merely the sensed, the known will be merely the known.’ This is how you should train, Bāhiya.

When, Bāhiya, for you the seen will be merely the seen, the heard will be merely the heard, the sensed will be merely the sensed, the known will be merely the known, then Bāhiya, you will not be that. When, Bāhiya, you are not that, then Bāhiya, you will not be there. When, Bāhiya, you are not there, then Bāhiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor between-the-two. Just this is the end of unsatisfactoriness.
When there is no self to be found one’s experience becomes very simple, direct, and uncluttered. When seeing, there is the coming together of visible form, the eye, and visual consciousness, that’s all. There is no separate “seer.” The seer is entirely dependent upon the seen. There can be no seer independent of the seen. There is no separate, independent subject or self.
This is also the case for the sensory object. The “seen” is entirely dependent upon the eye faculty and visual consciousness. There can be no object seen independent of the eye faculty and cognition. This is the case for all possible sensory objects. There is no separate, independent sensory object.
The same holds true for sensory consciousness as well. “Seeing” is entirely dependent upon the eye and visible form. There can be no seeing independent of the eye and cognition. This is the case for all possible sensory cognitions. There is no separate, independent sensory consciousness.
It’s important to understand this experientially. Let’s take the straightforward empirical experience of you looking at this screen right now as an example. Conventionally speaking, you could describe the experience as “I see the computer screen.” Another way of describing this is that there’s a “seer” who “sees” the “seen.” But look at the screen: are there really three independent and separate parts to your experience? Or are “seer,” “sees,” and “seen,” just three conceptual labels applied to this experience in which the three parts are entirely interdependent?
The “seer,” “seen,” and “seeing” are all empty and insubstantial. The eye faculty, visible form, and visual consciousness are all interdependent aspects of the same experience. You can’t peel one away and still have a sensory experience — there is no separation. AN 4.24 Kāḷakārāma Sutta:
Thus, monks, the Tathāgata does not conceive an [object] seen when seeing what is to be seen. He does not conceive an unseen. He does not conceive a to-be-seen. He does not conceive a seer.

He does not conceive an [object] heard when hearing what is to be heard. He does not conceive an unheard. He does not conceive a to-be-heard. He does not conceive a hearer.

He does not conceive an [object] sensed when sensing what is to be sensed. He does not conceive an unsensed. He does not conceive a to-be-sensed. He does not conceive a senser.

He does not conceive an [object] known when knowing what is to be known. He does not conceive an unknown. He does not conceive a to-be-known. He does not conceive a knower.
Sensory consciousness can’t be isolated as separate and independent. Nor can any of these other interdependent phenomena. Even the designations that we apply to these various phenomena are entirely conventional, dependent designations. But this doesn’t mean that we should now interpret our experience as being some sort of cosmic oneness or unity consciousness or whatever one may want to call it. That's just another empty, dependent label isn’t it? The whole point of this analysis is to see the emptiness of all referents, and thereby stop constructing and defining a “self.”
The purpose of correctly engaging in the contemplation of selflessness is stated in AN 7.49 Dutiyasaññā Sutta:
‘The recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, monks, when developed and cultivated, is of great fruit and benefit; it merges with the death-free, has the death-free as its end.’ Thus it was said. In reference to what was it said?

Monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, his mind is rid of “I-making” and “mine-making” with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all representations, and has transcended conceit, is at peace, and is well liberated.

If, monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, his mind is not rid of “I-making” and “mine-making” with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all representations, and has not transcended conceit, is not at peace, and is not well liberated, then he should know, ‘I have not developed the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, there is no stepwise distinction in me, I have not obtained the strength of development.’ In that way he is fully aware there. But if, monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, his mind is rid of “I-making” and “mine-making” with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all representations, and has transcended conceit, is at peace, and is well liberated, then he should know, ‘I have developed the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, there is stepwise distinction in me, I have obtained the strength of development.’ In that way he is fully aware there.

‘The recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, monks, when developed and cultivated, is of great fruit and benefit; it merges with the death-free, has the death-free as its end.’ Thus it was said. And in reference to this it was said.
Here we get to the heart of the matter, which is one of the most subtle aspects of the Buddhadhamma. Simply stated: when ignorance ceases, belief in self simultaneously ceases. And when there is no self to be found, then there is no self to die or take birth. This right here is “death-free.” And it is precisely this that the Buddha is declaring when he says to Mogharāja:
Look at the world and see its emptiness Mogharāja, always mindful,
Eliminating the view of self, one goes beyond death.
One who views the world this way is not seen by the king of death.
When one completely abandons the underlying tendencies which give rise to mistaken apprehensions of a self — any and all notions of “I am” — then there is no self to die. This stilling of the “currents of conceiving” over one’s imagined self, and the resulting peace that is empty of birth, aging, and death, is straightforwardly presented in MN 140 Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta:
‘He has been stilled where the currents of conceiving do not flow. And when the currents of conceiving do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.’ Thus was it said. With reference to what was it said?

Monk, “I am” is a conceiving. “I am this” is a conceiving. “I shall be” is a conceiving. “I shall not be” ... “I shall be possessed of form” ... “I shall be formless” ... “I shall be percipient” ... “I shall be non-percipient” ... “I shall be neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient” is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a cancer, conceiving is an arrow. By going beyond all conceiving, monk, he is said to be a sage at peace.

Furthermore, a sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die. He is unagitated, and is free from longing. He has nothing whereby he would be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not aging, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be agitated? Not being agitated, for what will he long?

So it was in reference to this that it was said, ‘He has been stilled where the currents of conceiving do not flow. And when the currents of conceiving do not flow, he is said to be a sage at peace.’
Truly, “a sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die.” In this way, when ignorance ceases, the entire complex of conditioned arising bound up with dissatisfaction also ceases. When all traces of “I-making” and “mine-making” are abandoned through the fully integrated threefold training of ethical conduct, meditation, and discernment, just this is dispassion (virāga). Just this is cessation (nirodha). Just this is extinguishment (nibbāna). Just this is without outflows (anāsava). Just this is not-born (ajāta), not-become (abhūta), not-made (akata), not-fabricated (asaṅkhata), endless (ananta), indestructible (apalokita), and yes, death-free (amata). It is freedom (mutti).

The Recognition of Selflessness and the Seven Factors of Awakening (Satta Bojjhaṅgā)
Sustained, dedicated practice of the recognition of selflessness will gradually create the optimal conditions for the arising of all seven factors of awakening. SN 46.73 Anatta Sutta (abridged):
Here monks, a monk develops the awakening factor of mindfulness accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of dhamma-investigation accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of energy accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of joy accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of tranquility accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of meditative composure accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of equanimity accompanied by the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go.

It is in this way that the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory is developed and cultivated so that it is of great fruit and benefit. It is in this way that the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory is developed and cultivated so that one of two fruits is to be expected: either final gnosis in this very life or, if there is a residue of clinging, the state of nonreturning. It is in this way that the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory is developed and cultivated so that it leads to great good. It is in this way that the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory is developed and cultivated so that it leads to great security from bondage. It is in this way that the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory is developed and cultivated so that it leads to a great sense of urgency. It is in this way that the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory is developed and cultivated so that it leads to dwelling in great comfort.

http://measurelessmind.ca/nirodhasanna.html

The Recognition of Cessation (Nirodhasaññā)
For whom there is neither a far shore,
Nor a near shore, nor both,
Who is free from distress, without ties,
Him I call a brāhmaṇa.

— Dhammapada 385
When the recognition of dispassion is fully developed and realized, and with no self to be found, nothing to be identified with, one realizes the gnosis and vision of liberation (vimuttiñāṇadassana). This is non-referential inner peace (ajjhattasanti). This is the full recognition of cessation. AN 10.60 Girimānanda Sutta:
Now what, Ānanda, is the recognition of cessation? Here, Ānanda, a monk, gone to the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, discriminates thus: ‘This is peace, this is excellent, that is: the calming of all fabrications, the release of all acquisitions, the elimination of craving, cessation, nibbāna.’ This, Ānanda, is called the recognition of cessation.
This is the complete absence of agitation (calita natthi). Ud 8.4 Nibbāna Sutta:
There being no agitation, there is tranquility. There being tranquility, there is no inclination. There being no inclination, there is no coming or going. There being no coming or going, there is no passing away or arising. There being no passing away or arising, there is neither a here nor a beyond nor a between-the-two. Just this is the end of unsatisfactoriness.
This is the calming of all specific fabrication and volitional intention. MN 140 Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta:
One does not form any specific fabrication or volitional intention towards either existence or non-existence. Not forming any specific fabrication or volitional intention towards either existence or non-existence, he does not cling to anything in this world. Not clinging, he is not excited. Unexcited, he personally attains complete nibbāna. He discerns that, ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, done is what had to be done, there is nothing further here.’
This is the freedom of absence which is revealed through the complete recognition of selflessness. Ud 1.10 Bāhiya Sutta:
‘The seen will be merely the seen, the heard will be merely the heard, the sensed will be merely the sensed, the known will be merely the known.’ This is how you should train, Bāhiya.

When, Bāhiya, for you the seen will be merely the seen, the heard will be merely the heard, the sensed will be merely the sensed, the known will be merely the known, then Bāhiya, you will not be that. When, Bāhiya, you are not that, then Bāhiya, you will not be there. When, Bāhiya, you are not there, then Bāhiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor between-the-two. Just this is the end of unsatisfactoriness.
This is noble liberation which is the elimination of craving and clinging. MN 106 Āneñjasappāya Sutta:
This is death-free, namely, the liberation of mind through not clinging.
This is the effortless clarity of consciousness which is non-abiding and not established (appatiṭṭha viññāṇa). SN 22.53 Upaya Sutta:
When that consciousness is not established, not increasing, not concocting, it is liberated. Being liberated, it is steady. Being steady, it is content. Being content, he is not excited. Unexcited, he personally attains complete nibbāna. He discerns that, ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, done is what had to be done, there is nothing further here.’
There is no more seeking of any kind. There is no more personal agenda. There is no identifying with any phenomena or turning anything into a fixed reference point. There is no “here” nor “beyond” nor “between-the-two.”
The awakened mind is measureless (appamāṇacetasa), free from any sort of measuring (pamāṇa). In evocative terms, an awakened one is deep (gambhīra), boundless (appameyya), and fathomless (duppariyogāḷha). Utterly free from any reference to specifically fabricated consciousness (viññāṇasaṅkhayavimutta). “Gone” (atthaṅgata), the measureless mind is untraceable (ananuvejja) even here and now. It doesn’t abide in the head, or in the body, or anywhere else for that matter. It doesn’t have size or shape. It’s not an object or a subject.
Just as the sky is formless and non-illustrative, the measureless mind is non-illustrative and non-indicative (anidassana). This effortless clarity is unmediated by any specific fabrication or volitional intention. It is unaffected knowing: The seen is merely the seen (diṭṭhamatta). The heard is merely the heard (sutamatta). The sensed is merely the sensed (mutamatta). The known is merely the known (viññātamatta). But there is no you there. Of course, this liberating gnosis and vision can’t adequately be pointed out or indicated by words alone. It is to be individually experienced (paccatta veditabba).

The Recognition of Cessation and the Seven Factors of Awakening (Satta Bojjhaṅgā)
Sustained, dedicated practice of the recognition of cessation will gradually create the optimal conditions for the arising of all seven factors of awakening. SN 46.76 Nirodha Sutta (abridged):
Here monks, a monk develops the awakening factor of mindfulness accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of dhamma-investigation accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of energy accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of joy accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of tranquility accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of meditative composure accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the awakening factor of equanimity accompanied by the recognition of cessation, dependent upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, resulting in letting go.

It is in this way that the recognition of cessation is developed and cultivated so that it is of great fruit and benefit. It is in this way that the recognition of cessation is developed and cultivated so that one of two fruits is to be expected: either final gnosis in this very life or, if there is a residue of clinging, the state of nonreturning. It is in this way that the recognition of cessation is developed and cultivated so that it leads to great good. It is in this way that the recognition of cessation is developed and cultivated so that it leads to great security from bondage. It is in this way that the recognition of cessation is developed and cultivated so that it leads to a great sense of urgency. It is in this way that the recognition of cessation is developed and cultivated so that it leads to dwelling in great comfort.
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