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I came across the concept of Nirodha in the book The Meditative Mind by Daniel Goleman. I think it's originally from the Visuddhimagga. In the book it seems to be placed above Nirvana in the path of insight. I have never heard of this term anywhere else or ever heard of anything being above Nirvana. Does anyone have any details about what this is and why it would be placed above Nirvana.

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Nirodha is usually translated as "cessation", as in "cessation of suffering", the third noble truth. In a more general sense, Nirodha is often used as a synonym of Nirvana.

Digging deeper, Nirodha doesn't mean passive cessation (as in something ceasing by itself), but rather actively suppressing, controlling something. For example, suppressing a criminal by isolating him. In modern Hindu, a language descended from Sanskrit + local vernaculars, nirodha is a word for condom. From this we can understand, that cessation of suffering is not an automatic result of the Realization, but a skill one can master.

Digging even deeper, to the question if there is anything above Nirvana, Mahayana gives a clear answer that Nirvana is really just the other side of Samsara. Somewhere midway between confusion and enlightenment, one is supposed to realize that "bodhi and nirvana are hitching posts for donkeys" (to quote Linji, the founder of Rinzai school). In this sense, Nirodha can be seen as true liberation from any form, beyond all duality, including liberation from the very concept of liberation.

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"Actively suppressing" as mentioned above implies volition. The meaning of nirodha in paticca-samuppada is the absence of cause and since there is no cause the phenomena does not arise. Like there is death because of birth. If there is no birth then death is nirodha - it doesn't arise. Volition plays no role. – dhammarak Sep 2 '14 at 19:19
Disagreed. Ever heard a phrase "Exertion of fabrication against a cause of dukkha" (MN 101)? That's what it means, volition is critical. – Andrei Volkov Sep 2 '14 at 19:27
Here is another sutta for you: "Tell me, dear sir, how you crossed over the flood." "I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place." "But how, dear sir, did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?" "When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place." (SN I.1) – dhammarak Sep 2 '14 at 21:22
This is about Enlightenment being "ego's ultimate disappointment". This is not about giving up volition. Cessation of impulsion, yes, due to the final knowledge, but not cessation of volition. – Andrei Volkov Sep 2 '14 at 23:43

Nirodha is a term that is normally translated as 'cessation' or 'stopping'. It's what happens to suffering in the 3rd noble truth, dukkhanirodha (cessation of suffering) and to all of the other elements of the chain of Dependent Arising.

The context which you refer to is the state of nirodhasamāpatti (attainment of cessation), saññāvedayitanirodha1 (cessation of perception & sensation) or nibbāna2 (quenching or stilling). It is a state where all sensory, corporeal and incorporeal experience ceases. It is the last of the meditative attainments after transcending the four jhānas & the four arupa āyatanas (formless spheres).3

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Venerable Prayudh Payutto a distinguished Thai Scholar Monk explains that another way of interpreting nirodha is that the phenomena does not arise because it's cause has been eliminated. In that sense nirodha would not entail the cessation or suppression of something that has already arisen but instead there is no arising at all. Like for example in 3rd noble truth - dukkhanirodha - which means that suffering does not arise because the cause for it's arising has been eliminated.

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Yes, that's what I meant by "suppressing" or "controlling" -- not letting it happen. One of the definitions of suppress is to "prevent the development, action, or expression of (a feeling, impulse, idea, etc.); restrain." Thanks for clarification. – Andrei Volkov Sep 2 '14 at 16:12
"Not letting it happen" implies there is volition and the meaning of nirodha as quoted above does not imply volition. Since the cause is not present, volition does not play any role. – dhammarak Sep 2 '14 at 19:14
Volition plays the role in removing the cause. It doesn't remove itself, you know :) – Andrei Volkov Sep 2 '14 at 19:20
Sankhara-nirodha viññana-nirodho (sankhara=volitional formations) ...... Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti – dhammarak Sep 2 '14 at 21:31
From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. ...... Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering – dhammarak Sep 2 '14 at 21:33

To add to both @Unrul3r @Andrei Volkov's answers.

You can break the links of Dependent Origination when you understand it at the experiential level. When enter the Attainment of Cessation you see the links in one direction (contact has ceased followed by ... ) and when coming out the other direction (contact has started followed by ... ). Depending on the clarity you achieve you enter one of the stages of sainthood.

Understanding of Path Leading Out of Misery and Path of Misery starts at with contact followed by sensation at the experiential level. This becomes clear and the understanding becomes 1st hand when you enter the Attainment of Cessation.

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