Nibbana

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Dhamma wheel 2x2

The Realisation of Nibbàna

The Yogi (person who disciplined himself with precepts, with a concentrated mind) who wishes to realize Nibbàna tries to understand things as they truly are. With his one-pointed mind he scrutinises himself and, on due examination, discovers that his so-called “Ego-personality” is nothing but a mere composition of mind and matter (form)—the former consisting of fleeting mental factors that arise as a result of the senses coming into contact with the sense-stimuli, and the latter of forces and qualities that manifest themselves in multifarious phenomena.

Having thus gained a correct view of the real nature of himself, freed from the false notion of an identical substance of mind and matter, he attempts to investigate the cause of this “Ego-personality”. He realises that everything worldly, himself not excluded, is conditioned by causes past or present, and that this existence is due to past ignorance (avijjà), craving (tanhà), attachment (upàdàna), Karma, and physical food (àhàra) of the present life. On account of these five causes this personality has arisen and as the past activities have conditioned the present, so the present will condition the future.

Meditating thus, he transcends all doubts with regard to the past, present, and future (Kankhàvitaraõavisuddhi). Thereupon he contemplates that all conditioned things are transient (Anicca), subject to suffering (Dukkha), and devoid of an immortal soul (Anattà). Wherever he turns his eyes, he sees nought but these three characteristics standing out in bold relief. He realises that life is a mere flowing, a continuous undivided movement. Neither in a celestial plane nor on earth does he find any genuine happiness, for every form of pleasure is only a prelude to pain. What is transient is therefore subject to suffering and where change and sorrow prevail there cannot be a permanent ego.

As he is thus absorbed in meditation, a day comes when, to his surprise, he witnesses an aura emanating from his body (Obhàsa). He experiences an unprecedented pleasure, happiness, and quietude. He becomes even-minded and strenuous. His religious fervour increases, and mindfulness becomes perfect, and Insight extraordinarily keen. Mistaking this advanced state of moral progress for Sainthood, chiefly owing to the presence of the aura, he develops a liking to this mental state. Soon the realisation comes that these new developments are only obstacles to moral progress and he cultivates the ‘Purity of Knowledge’ with regard to the ‘Path’ and ‘Non-Path’ (Maggàmagga-nànadassana Visuddhi).

Perceiving the right path, he resumes his meditation on the arising (Udaya nàna) and passing away (Vaya nàna) of conditioned things. Of these two characteristics the latter becomes more impressed in his mind, because change is more conspicuous than becoming. Therefore he turns his attention to the contemplation of the dissolution of things (Bhanga nàna). He perceives that both mind and matter, which constitute his personality, are in a state of constant flux, not remaining for two consecutive moments the same. To him then comes the knowledge that all dissolving things are fearful (Bhaya nàna). The whole world appears to him like a pit of burning embers, a source of danger. Subsequently he reflects on the wretchedness and vanity (âdeenava nana) of the fearful world and feeling disgusted with it (Nibbidà nàna), wishes to escape therefrom (Muncitukamyatà nàna).

With this object in view, he meditates again on the three characteristics (Patisankhà nàna), and thereafter becomes completely indifferent to all conditioned things— having neither attachment nor aversion for any worldly object (Sankhàrupekkhà nàna). Reaching this point of mental culture, he takes for his object of special endeavour one of the three characteristics that appeals to him most, and intently keeps on developing insight in that particular direction, until that glorious day when, for the first time, he realises Nibbàna, his ultimate goal.

A Javana thought-process then runs as follows:—

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
G O D G O D G O D G O D G O D G O D G O D
Parikamma Upacàra Anuloma Gotrabhu Magga Phala Phala

G – Generation (Utpada); O – Organization (Titi) ; D – Destruction (Bhanga)

When there is no Parikamma thought-moment, in the case of an individual with keen Insight, there arise three Phala thought-moments.

These nine kinds of insight, viz:— Udaya, Vaya, Bhanga, Bhaya, âdãnava, Nibbidà, Muncitukamyatà, Patisankhà and Sankhàrupekkhà nàõas are collectively called “Patipadà Nànadassana Visuddhi”—Purity of Knowledge and Vision as regards the Practice.

Insight found in this Supramundane Path Consciousness is known as Nànadassana Visuddhi— Purity of Knowledge and Vision.

When the spiritual pilgrim realises Nibbàna for the first time, he is called a Sotàpanna—one who has entered the Stream that leads to Nibbàna for the first time. He is no more a worldling (Puthujjana) but an Ariya. He eliminates three Fetters—namely, Self-illusion (Sakkàya ditthi), Doubts (Vicikicchà), and Adherence to Wrongful Rites and Ceremonies (Sãlabbata Paràmàsa). As he has not eradicated all the Fetters that bind him to existence, he is reborn seven times at the most. In his subsequent birth he may or may not be aware of the fact that he is a Sotàpanna. Nevertheless, he possesses the characteristics peculiar to such a Saint.

He gains implicit confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, and would never violate any of the five Precepts. He is moreover absolved from states of woe, for he is destined to Enlightenment.

Summoning up fresh courage as a result of this distant glimpse of Nibbàna, the Aryan pilgrim makes rapid progress, and perfecting his Insight becomes a Sakadàgàmi, (Once-Returner), by attenuating two other Fetters— namely, Sense-desire (Kàmaràga) and illwill (Patigha).

In this case, too, and in the case of the other two advanced stages of Sainthood, a Javana thought-process runs as above; but the Gotrabhå thought-moment is termed “Vodàna” (pure) as the individual is purified.

A Sakadàgàmi is reborn on earth only once in case he does not attain Arahantship in that life itself. It is interesting to note that the pilgrim who has attained the second stage of Sainthood can only weaken these two powerful fetters with which he is bound from a beginningless past. Occasionally he may be disturbed by thoughts of lust and anger to a slight extent.

It is by attaining the third stage of Sainthood, Anàgàmi (State of a Never-Returner), that he completely discards the above two Fetters. Thereafter he neither returns to this world nor does he seek birth in celestial realms, since he has rooted out the desire for sensual pleasures. After death he is reborn in the “Pure Abodes” (Suddhàvàsa) environment reserved for Anàgàmis and Arahants. There he attains Arahantship and lives till the end of his life.

Now the earnest pilgrim, encouraged by the unprecedented success of his endeavours, makes his final advance, and destroying the remaining five Fetters— namely, Attachment to Form-Sphere (Råparàga), Attachment to Formless-Sphere (Aråpa ràga), Conceit (Màna), Restlessness (Uddhacca), and Ignorance (Avijjà), attains Arahantship, the final stage of Sainthood.

It will be noted that the Fetters have to be eradicated in four stages. The Path (Magga) thought-moment occurs only once. The Fruit (Phala) thought-moment immediately follows. In the Supramundane classes of consciousness the effect of the Kusala Cittas is instantaneous hence it is called Akàlika (of immediate fruit); whereas in the case of Worldly Consciousness effects may take place in this life, or in a subsequent life, or at any time till one attains Parinibbàna.

In the Mundane consciousness Kamma is predominant, while in the Supramundane Pannà or wisdom is predominant. Hence the four Moral Supra mundane Consciousness are not treated as Kamma.

These eight Consciousness are called Lokuttara. Here Loka means the Five Aggregates of Attachments (Pancupàdanakkhandha). Uttara means that which transcends. Lokuttara therefore means that which transcends the world of Aggregates of Attachment. This definition strictly applies to the Four Paths. The Fruits are called Lokuttara because they have transcended the world of Aggregates of Attachment.

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