The meaning of the word Nibbana clearly extends to the absence of mental defilements the cause of Dukkha. So that at any moment that our minds are empty of ‘self’ and ‘belonging to self’ then that is Nibbana. For example, at this moment as you sit here I will attest that everyone, or almost everyone, has a mind empty of the feelings of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ because there is nothing engendering them. In listening attentively you give no opportunity for self – consciousness to arise. So look and see whether or not the mind is empty of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. If there is some emptiness (and I merely use the word some, it’s not completely or unchangingly empty) then you are dwelling within the sphere of Nibbana. Even though it is not absolute or perfect Nibbana, it is Nibbana just the same. Continue reading
We must first be aware of these two categories, ’empty of I’ and ‘not empty of I’. The former is called ’empty’ and the latter is called ‘disturbed’ and to save time that is how they will be referred to from now on.
Here your common sense may say straight away that nobody likes being disturbed. If I were to ask those people who like being disturbed to raise their hands, if anyone did so it would have to be a joke. Everyone likes to be empty in one way or another. Some people like the lazy emptiness of not having to work. Everyone likes to be empty of annoyance, not having the kids coming to bother you. But that emptiness is an external thing, it is not yet true emptiness.
Inner emptiness means to be normal, to have a mind that is not scattered and confused. Anyone who experiences this really likes it. If it develops to its greatest degree, which is to be empty of egoism, then it is Nibbana. Continue reading
In the last discourse given by the Buddha called the Parinibbana Sutta, the Discourse concerning his passing away into total nibbana, there is a special section on body movement and posture:
And again when the meditator is walking, she or he is aware of walking, when standing, aware of standing, when sitting, aware of sitting, when lying down, aware of lying down. Whatever position or movement the meditator is in, that is what she or he is aware of.
In other words, sitting meditation is only a part of the meditation. What the Buddha wanted us to do was to develop a meditative life—to know what we are doing at all times, leading a life of full-time awareness. Continue reading
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When we hear or read the word ‘liberation’ (nibbana), we often get the idea that it is unattainable, otherworldly, reachable only by spiritual giants, and that it has very little to do with us. We do not have to look at it that way. Let us consider the three kinds of liberation—’signless’, ‘wishless’, and ‘voidness’ liberation. Signless liberation is attained by completely penetrating impermanence (anicca), wishless liberation by completely penetrating unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and voidness liberation by penetrating coreless substance (anatta).
We’re all familiar with impermanence, but what is signless liberation? Suppose we are attached to or highly appreciative of a person, a situation, a belonging. Can we let go of clinging to it? We can try to let go of anything at all, no matter how small. We direct our attention to the fact that all we examine is totally fleeting. We fathom that truth in everything, in all living beings, and, having seen it, we let go of our belief in the solidity of things. We thereby let go of our attachment. If we can do that with anything or anyone, even for a moment, we have won a moment of signless liberation—a moment of direct knowledge that nothing has any intrinsic value, that it’s all a passing show. Having had that experience, even for one moment, gives us an inkling of what the Buddha meant when he spoke about freedom. Freedom is often misunderstood as the ability to do anything we want. We have probably tried that already and found that it doesn’t work. Even if we were to follow only our desires, we would soon be satiated and then feel unfulfilled. Continue reading
The victorious king gave a command, ‘Put the prisoners of war to death.’
‘Mahaharaj!’ exclaimed the astounded General, ‘that is against the dharma (code) of the warrior class (Kshatriya) to which I belong.’
‘I do not belong to your class,’ replied the king dismissively. ‘I am of the lowest class. My dharma does not forbid the killing of prisoners who fought against me.’
There were many kingdoms in ancient India varying in physical size and military might. More often than not, the bigger and stronger powers absorbed the smaller and weaker ones by unprovoked military actions. A king always accompanied his army and led it if he belonged to the Kshatriya class.
The General raised his voice, ‘In that case you should not have come to the battlefield!’ The General was a mercenary. He continued, ‘There are strict rules regarding warfare. A strong power must never attack a weak one. A bowman must not shoot at an infantryman fighting with staves and swords. It is mandatory to allow a fleeing enemy to escape. A dead soldier’s family has to be looked after.’ Continue reading
The Buddha’s Teaching of Mindfulness
There is this one way for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrows and griefs, for the going down of sufferings and miseries, for winning the right path, for realizing nibbana, that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness.
Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying among the Kuru people in a township called Kammassadhamma. While he was there, the Lord addressed the monks: ‘There is this one way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrows and griefs, for the going down of sufferings and miseries, for winning the right path, for realizing nibbana*, that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness. What are the four?
[* Nibbana (Pali), Nirvana (Sanskrit): The unborn; the utmost security from the bonds of greed, hatred and delusion; beyond eternity and annihilation; beyond description and conception; the very basis and foundation of what we are and of all that is.] Continue reading
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