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Bryce Paulson PHIL 509 3/13/14 Waking up in Nibbana T e !

"al#e$ one%s concep# o& Nibbana is consi$ere$ #o be i'possible #o &ully un$ers#an$ # roug reason alone( W ile # is 'ay be #rue) reason can s#ill allo* us a par#ial un$ers#an$ing) or a# leas# a reconcilia#ion # a# *oul$ allo* # ese #eac ings #o s#an$ on # eir o*n as plausible) non+con#ra$ic#ory pillars o& kno*le$ge( In # is a##e'p#) I *ill ou#line 'y un$ers#an$ing o& # e process o& rebir# ) ka''a) # e non+sel& an$ Nibbana) # roug # e use o& a 'e#ap orical e"a'ple o& a person s#uck in a sub*ay sys#e' ri$ing #rain a&#er #rain( ,sing # is e"a'ple &or a &oun$a#ion along *i# # e *ri#ings o& - ris#op er .o*ans) /0a n /'aro an$ /0a n Pasanno) *ill elp clari&y # e li'i#ing &ac#ors o& our nor'al un$ers#an$ing an$ pos#ula#e a e"a'ple o& a person *alking up &ro' a $rea' #o e"plain * a# 'ig # be appening * en a enlig #ene$ person reac es # eir &inal $es#ina#ion o& Nibbana( I *ill argue # a# .o*ans% i$ea o& a union be#*een a libera#e$ $i'ension an$ Nibbana is # e bes# un$ers#an$ing a non+enlig #ene$ person is able #o ac ie1e(

I *ill re&er #o a person%s consciousness or soul as a 2being3( T is re&erence o& a being is no# 'ean# #o re0ec# # e $oc#rine o& no+sel&( I# is si'ply use$ &or # e sake o& clari#y in 'y e"a'ple( I'agine # is being as a person ri$ing a sub*ay #rain( T is being $oesn%# kno* * ere # ey are going) bu# # ey $o kno*

# a# # ey are e1en#ually going #o arri1e a# a s#op( !ac s#op represen#s # e $ea# o& # eir u'an bo$y( Bir# is represen#e$ by boar$ing a #rain( ,n#il boar$ing a #rain) # e being $oes no# a1e a bo$y or 'a#erial sel&( T is union is # e cause o& # e beings su&&ering( T e being $e1elops a &alse sense o& sel& $ue #o # e assu'p#ion # a# i#s u'an bo$y is really * o # ey are( T e being is e"periencing a #ype o& a'nesia) bu# ins#ea$ o& &orge##ing * o # ey are) # ey # ink # a# # ey are so'eone( T is &alse sense o& sel& is crea#e$ $ue #o # e beings lack o& clear percep#ion( Wi# in 'y e"a'ple) ka''a is represen#e$ as percep#ion( T is percep#ion o& #ru# is 'a$e clear by goo$ ac#ions # a# rein&orce # e correc# #ypes o& in#en#ions or clou$ # e beings percep#ion by # e *rong #ype o& in#en#ions( T ese in#en#ions are ei# er rig # or *rong in rela#ion #o # e beings concep# o& sel&( 4el&less in#en#ions lea$ #o goo$ ac#ions # a# rein&orce an$ &acili#a#e clear percep#ion( .o*ans un$erlines # e i'por#ance o& in#en#ions) saying) 2T e 'os# i'por#an# &ac#or in $e#er'ining # e 'oral 5uali#y o& ac#ions is # e person%s in#en#ion( 31 .oo$ ka''a is re5uire$ in or$er &or a being #o s#ar# #o unra1el # e #rue na#ure o& # eir si#ua#ion an$ ul#i'a#ely o1erco'e su&&ering( I& a being $oes no# reac enlig #en'en# by # e ne"# #rain s#op # ey are &orce$ #o lea1e # e #rain an$ c oose #o boar$ a ne* #rain) resul#ing in a ne* bo$y an$ u'an li&e( T e unenlig #ene$ being s#ill as a sense o& sel& an$ yearns #o boar$ # e ne"# #rain in or$er #o in ibi# a ne* bo$y( T e being re#ains i#s sa'e clari#y o& percep#ion 6ka''a7 in#o # e ne"# bo$y(
1

Gowans, C. W.(2003). Philosophy of the Buddha. (p 105).( New York, NY:

Routledge.

W en a being as per&ec#ly clear percep#ion # ey are able #o #urn # e 'in$%s eye in*ar$ #o i#s o*n core) # e sel& is e"pose$ as a 'ere $elusion( T ey reali8e # e 2sel&3 is 'erely a clus#er o& processes $e1elope$ $uring # e #i'e spen# in # e sub*ay( T ey reali8e # a# # e consciousness # a# # ey i$en#i&ie$ as # eir ac#ual sel& an$ bo$y *ere no# ing bu# an elabora#e 'a8e or #es#( T is &ull un$ers#an$ing allo*s # e' #o reac enlig #en'en#( /long *i# # is) # ey no* kno* # a# # is is # eir &inal li&e as a u'an( In # e #rain e"a'ple # e enlig #ene$ ri$er is able #o reali8e # a# # ere as been a se# o& s#airs lea$ing ou# o& # e #rain s#a#ion # is * ole #i'e( ,pon reac ing # e ne"# s#op # e being is able #o reac # eir 2&inal $es#ina#ion39 an$ cease # e cycle o& rebir# ( T is &inal process o& 'o1ing 2in#o3 Nibbana a&#er $ea# is * a# I *ill a##e'p# #o $escribe( /long # e *ay I *ill s o* # e proble's *i# an$ li'i#s o& our nor'al # inking * en #rying #o un$ers#an$ Nibbana( T e !"al#e$ one $escribes # e process o& reac ing Nibbana a&#er $ea# as) 2 # ere is no co'ing an$ going # ere is no $ecease an$ uprising: * en # ere is no# $ecease ;an$ uprising # ere is nei# er < ere% nor <beyon$% nor <in+be#*een # e #*o% =us# # is # e en$ o& su&&ering(33 >ro' # is *e can ga# er # a# Nibbana is no# a place # a# a being goes #o in our regular un$ers#an$ing o& going so'e* ere( ?n #op o& # a# Nibanna $oesn%# see' #o be a place a# all( @y presen#a#ion o& # e being lea1ing # e sub*ay sys#e' 'ay see' #o con#ra$ic# # e !"al#e$ ones $iscre#ion no co'ing an$ going( To a$$ress # is ob0ec#ion I nee$ #o e"plain # e process o& Nibbana

2 3

Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha. (p. 10 ) Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha. (p. 150)

a&#er $ea# &ur# er( T e !"al#e$ one is 1ague * en $escribing * a# Nibanna is) e ra# er speaks o& * a# i# is no#( Pasanno $escribes is reasoning &or # is) 2His e&&or# in speaking in # ese 'ini'alis# *ays see's $esigne$ #o 'ee# #*o purposesA &irs#ly) #o re&lec# # e ul#i'a#ely nonpersonal an$ in$e&inable na#ure o& ,l#i'a#e Beali#y: secon$ly 6an$ principally7 #o a*aken in # e 'in$s o& is lis#eners # e insig # * ic is oly an$ libera#ing(3 4 W a# can *e 'ake o& # is *i# our li'i#e$ use languageC Because # e

being goes no * ere an$ s#ays no* ere *i# ou# beco'ing $ecease) # e process a&#er # e &inal beco'ing lea1es &e* op#ions &or a plausible un$ers#an$ing( Nibbana is a #i'eless an$ i''a#erial 2reali#y3) # e only real reali#y( 4o in or$er #o un$ers#an$ # is reali#y) our $e&ini#ion o& reali#y &alls s or# because o& our pre0u$icial clinging #o nor'al *ays o& # inking( Pasanno $escribes # e proble') 2?ur # oug #s an$ percep#ions are so geare$ #o opera#e in #er's o& # ree $i'ensional space as # e basic reali#y) an$ # a# 1ie* o& # ings see's so ob1ious #o co''on sense) # a# i# is ar$ &or us #o concei1e o& any o# er possibili#y( I# is only # roug 'e$i#a#i1e insig # # a# *e can $e1elop # e unco''on sense re5uire$ #o see # ings $i&&eren#ly(3 5 We are able #o say is # a# Nibbana e"is#s) bu# again # e use o& regular un$ers#an$ing o& e"is#ence is 'islea$ing( /n enlig #ene$ person 2kno*s Nibbana3D T is kno*le$ge is unlike our nor'al concep# o& kno*le$ge( Ba# er) i#
!

"asanno, #., $ #%aro, #. (&ds.). (200'). The Island An Anthology of the

Buddhas Teachings on Nibbana (")*+. (p. 1 ,). Retr-e.ed /ro% 0ttp:11www.s2r-3d.2o%1do21 5'5 3301 200'4104314N-3anna50e6sland
5 6

"asanno, #., $ #%aro, #. The Island An Anthology of the Buddhas Teachings on Nibbana (")*+. (p. 155). Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha. (p. 13')

is a $irec# a##ack a# all u'an #ypes 2kno*le$ge3 because e1ery# ing *e kno* is an illusion( Ho* $oes a being kno* so'e# ing # a# isn%# * a# *e consi$er kno*le$geC Ho* can Nibbana be no# ing * ile also being no# no# ingC To ans*er # ese las# #*o 5ues#ions) I *ill s o* o* a ca#egorical 'is#ake can keep so'eone &ro' un$ers#an$ing so'e# ing # a# &i#s # is s#range $escrip#ion( I& so'eone *ere #o s#u$y # e Bu$$ is# #eac ing o& # e sel& as a series o& processes) ye# s#ill ask # e Bu$$ a * ere # e sel& *as( T e Bu$$ a *oul$ #ell # e' # a# # e sel& is no* ere( I# #akes on no p ysical &or' ye# *e can s#ill kno* i# e"is#s( I# is a series o& processes # a# crea#e an illusion consciousness an$ o& a &alse sense o& sel&( I# can be sai$ # a# # e being nee$s #o go so'e* ere *i# ou# going any* ere( T e 'os# plausible #ype o& s#ruc#ure # a# I can pu# any &ai# in#o is a #ype o& union be#*een eac being an$ Nibbana # a# as e"is#e$ &or # e en#ire#y o& # e beings e"is#ence( T is lea$s 'e #o belie1e # a# # e being si'ply ceases #o e"is# *i# in # is reali#y( T is cessa#ion is no# $ea# o& # e being( Ba# er # e being is si'ply back #o * ere i# s#ar#e$ an$ as al*ays been) ou#si$e o& # e sub*ay( T is un$ers#an$ing s o*s # a# 'y e"plana#ion o& # e being lea1ing # e sub*ay $oes no# con#ra$ic# # e !"al#e$ one( I# can be # oug # o& as # e being a1ing a long $rea' # a# # ey are u'an an$ # is is # eir sel&( T roug Bu$$ is# #eac ings # ey learn # e #ec ni5ues re5uire$ #o a1e luci$ $rea's( ?nce # ey a1e reac e$ enlig #en'en# # ey a1e beco'e 'as#ers o& luci$ $rea'ing) an$ cease # e su&&ering cause$ # e con#en# o& # e $rea' an$ # e &alse sel&( T is allo*s # e' #o &inally *ake up &ro' # eir $rea' a&#er $ea# ( ,pon a*aking # ey

$o no# $ie or 'o1e in#o nir1ana( T ey a1e al*ays been # ere: # ey si'ply go# sucke$ in#o a $rea' abou# a person on a sub*ay( .o*ans $escribes a si'ilar union as # e one I presen#e$ #o $escribe # e process) 2# e person $issol1es all sense o& sel& oo$ as an illusion an$ # ereby $isco1ers # e pre1iously i$$en &ac# # a# # e libera#e$ $i'ension 6* a# I re&er #o as a being7 an$ Nibbana a1e al*ays been uni#e$(3E T is $escrip#ion allo*s &or # e lack up uprising # a# # e Bu$$ a $escribes( T e being is no# 2beco'ing3 any# ing ne* or 2going3 so'e* ere $i&&eren#( T ey &inally are able #o be * a# # ey a1e al*ays been $e1oi$ o& any illusions( W a# # ey a1e al*ays been) I canno# say) i# is beyon$ 'y un$ers#an$ing( To conclu$e # is $iscussion I *ill o&&er one 'ore line o& suppor# o& # e i'possibili#y o& really kno*ing * a# appens * en an enlig #ene$ in$i1i$ual reac es # eir &inal $es#ina#ion) 2To borro* # e language o& 'o$ern p ysics) one coul$ ap#ly re&er #o ParinibbFna as an <e1en# ori8on% &ro' beyon$ * ic no# ing e1er re#urns an$ &ro' * ence no 'essages can co'e( /roun$ a black ole) i# is # e $is#ance &ro' i#s sur&ace beyon$ * ic # e la*s o& gra1i#y ensure # a# # ere can be no #urning back( I# is a one+*ay bor$er( /ll in&or'a#ion is los# &ore1er once so'e# ing as passe$ # e e1en# ori8onA # e la*s o& reali#y # a# &unc#ion beyon$ # a# li'i#: * e# er # ey &or' ga#e*ays #o o# er $i'ensions: i& # ey are sources o& big bangs genera#ing o# er uni1erses: * e# er 5uali#ies an$ occurrences) 'ul#iple $i'ensionali#ies) curling pro&usions o& planes o& #i'e an$ space # a# u##erly $e&y

Gowans, Philosophy of the Buddha. (p. 155)

$escrip#i1e po*er are # ere: or an a*eso'e no# ingness ; all o& # is is unkno*able( 4uc *on$er&ul unkno*abili#y is # e principle in 5ues#ion(3 G

"asanno, #., $ #%aro, #. The Island An Anthology of the Buddhas Teachings on Nibbana (")*+. (p. 171).