Questions and Answers

Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 6 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Slightly edited to improve readability

  They are still identifying with the process of coming out of Cessation. There’s still identification going on, the fetter of conceit is still there.

One thing I want to make clear is to not equate Cessation of Perception and Feeling and Nibbāna as one and the same.  It’s the experience of coming out of Cessation of Perception and Feeling, seeing the links of Dependent Origination as they arise without any involvement, and then making contact with the Nibbāna element.

At the level of contact with the Nibbāna element, there is some sense of relief that arises. That relief is the feeling that one experiences, or that is experienced by the mind.

The anāgāmi does not crave for that feeling. They don’t expect that feeling to continue to be there, but at the same time they identify with the Dhamma, they still identify with the process, and there is still that conceit in them where they have this sense of I have attained this or I have experienced this. The gateway into arahantship is that there is complete detachment with the whole  process, when it arises again after Cessation of Perception and Feeling and you see the links. There is complete non-involvement in any of the arising of the links and when the mind contacts the Nibbāna element, at that point it is just seen as an impersonal and impermanent process, and not worth holding on to. So, even that relief is not held onto. And because there is no identification and holding on to that relief, the fetters associated with identification, particularly conceit – upon which the fetters of restlessness, the craving for being and the craving for non-being are based – and Ignorance are destroyed once and for all. Because now you fully understand the four Noble Truths and no longer identify with anything and there is the understanding that any identification process leads to suffering. Therefore, the mind is no longer prone to do that.

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Category: Online Retreat

This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 6 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.

Not every Cessation will be followed by Nibbāna, especially in the case of an anāgāmi [who can, after practicing, enter Cessation at will for a long time].

What’s important to see is the contact with the Nibbāna element. You don’t require Cessation to attain Nibbāna. Nibbāna can occur from the first jhana onwards. If you can be in a state where you are completely letting go and not grasping onto anything, not grasping onto any of the Formations that create the factors of the jhana, you can attain Nibbāna from that point on.

 And then of course, there are cases in the suttas where there are beings who attain arahantship by just merely listening and reflecting deeply on the Dhamma. So, Nibbāna can happen even without Cessation. 

[Comment]

To add to that, in the Therīgāthā and the Theragāthā, which are suttas from the earliest arahant nuns and monks, often they see for instance a bucket with water falling over and seeing the water flow out, they attain arahantship. I’m guessing they are in a permanent meditative state with that, but it’s not always in sitting meditation.

[Answer]

 Exactly, that is true. And just to round out what you just said regarding just seeing something and being able to reflect on it without having to be in sitting meditation, in the case of  beings like Bahiya [Ud 1.10] who went to the Buddha and just by listening to the Buddha’s discourse on not self, and seeing not self in any aspect of the seeing and the cognizing and so forth, he was able to let go of all his attachments, let go of all the defilements, and then attain arahantship.

So, there are different ways that this can happen. It’s not just precluded by Cessation.

Watch it here

Category: Online Retreat