In order to attain Nirvana one must be able to understand that his or her self is an illusion , error or is like a dream. This understanding doesn't come naturally. Naturally one finds that there is a self. Naturally one finds that he or she is behind feelings ,thoughts ,perceptions. Most humans and animals (I guess ) would more likely observe and conclude that I am angry, I am coming , I am going , I am doing this or that , I am suffering etc.. He fails to see that he is made up of aggregates. He fails to see that all aggregates dissolve. He fails to see that his self will dissolve too because it is made up of aggregates.He clings to the thought that that was me. Clearly we see that in order to attain Nirvana a sophisticated Teacher is required because Nirvana requires a deep understanding of self. I wonder whether a teacher is always required for Nirvana or nature provides a clue to non-existence of self.

So my questions are :

Is it possible for humans or animals to attain automatic Nirvana? (Here automatic means without any help from external teacher)

If yes , then what is the need of Buddha ?

EDIT : For more clarification on the meaning and nature of the word Automatic in the above question I add the following: I say automatic Nirvana in the above question because all aggregates must dissolve automatically and complete dissolution of Self is Nirvana.No amount of Karma or no kind of karma can keep the Self alive forever.Self by nature is liable to pass away as an error , illusion or dream.

Here I quote,from the book Buddha by Dr. Hermann Oldenberg ,page 216, about the things which no one can stop from happening:

There are five things which no Samana, and no Brahman, and no god, neither Mara, nor Brahma, nor any being in the universe, can bring about. What five things are these ? That what is subject to old age, should not grow old, that what is subject to sickness, should not be sick, that what is subject to death, should not die, that what is subject to decay, should not decay, that what is liable to pass away, should not pass away—this can no Samana bring about, nor any Brahman, nor any god, neither Mara, nor Brahma, nor any being in the Universe."

If no one can stop the dissolution of Self from happening then we see that eventually everyone will attain Nirvana with or without a great teacher like Buddha.

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    Whom does Dheeraj Verma expect to be able to explain the errors in the reasoning of the question, aside a Buddha, through his Dhamma? And yes, if automatical errors would decay, no need of Buddha at all. Maybe it's good to pack not to many in one question, just a thought. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:14
  • Give me some clue as to where I am wrong? I am saying Nirvana is bound to happen with or without teacher because Self is bound to dissolve due to its own nature. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:18
  • Dhamma, fist is not about self, but to go beyound suffering, and if suffering will be gone by death, then no comment and no need for Buddha at all, lost and out. But it was more about making, one by one question as to but in once whole theories. Dheeraja Verma. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:23
  • We know that death of body is inevitable. But we also know that death of Self is inevitable. It may take few rebirths but death of self is inevitable. Death or Obliteration of Self is Nirvana. And this is bound to happen by nature. Therefore there is no need for Buddha. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:00
  • Than you have you answer, may it be for you like that and the Buddha is not mad at, that Dheeraj does not need him. So might however choose a more relayable way, for them the Buddha has much value Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:13

3 Answers 3


In Buddhism, rebirth will occur endlessly without the attainment of Nibbana (which does not happen naturally or by some sort of evolution). There is no automatic nibbana. Natural spiritual evolution is a Hindu idea (see Chapter 26 of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda) and not a Buddhist one.

In Buddhism, all beings are not naturally progressing towards Nibbana. It is possible to be reborn as a Brahma, then later as a pig as in Dhammapada 338-343:

On one occasion, while the Buddha was on an alms-round at Rajagaha, he saw a young dirty sow and smiled. When asked by the Venerable Ananda, the Buddha replied, "Ananda, this young sow was a hen during the time of Kakusandha Buddha. As she was then staying near a refectory in a monastery she used to hear the recitation of the sacred text and the discourses on the Dhamma. When she died she was reborn as a princess. On one occasion, while going to the latrine, the princess noticed the maggots and she became mindful of the loathsomeness of the body, etc. When she died she was reborn in the Brahma realm as a puthujjana brahma but later due to some evil kamma, she was reborn as a sow. Ananda! Look, on account of good and evil kamma there is no end of the round of existences."

The Self disappears and arises again endlessly through rebirths - which is explained through dependent origination. As stated in Milindapanha 3.5.5, rebirth is like light of a candle passed from one candle to another. It can be passed on forever. Also see this answer.

It is indeed possible to become enlightened (i.e. attain Nibbana) without ever encountering the teachings of a Sammasambuddha.

Such beings are called Pacceka Buddha or Pratyeka Buddha (see here and here), which literally means "private Buddha" or "lone Buddha". You can find some details in this question. A Pacceka Buddha would not have the ability to teach others and start a Buddha Śāsana.

While it is possible for someone to become free from suffering this way, it is immensely harder than if someone learns it from a Sammasambuddha (or Samyaksambuddha).

My analogy here is that Albert Einstein is a "Buddha" of physics who discovered the Theory of General Relativity and taught it to others through his groundbreaking published paper and his lectures to trained physicists. While it is possible for others to discover this on their own, it is immensely difficult. It is easier to learn it from Einstein and from those who have learned it from him.

  • Just a question to it came to mind: didn't ALL Buddhas encounter a Buddha in perevious life, maybe got even taught to some extend? So Einsteins knowledge does not come from nothing, does it? Good and reasonable sample btw. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:17
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    A reborn person most likely will not carry memories of past births. The Bodhisatta who became Gautama brought his paramittas (perfections) with him but not his past knowledge of the Dhamma. Just like people of today who have forgotten the ancient languages whose symbols are carved on walls of caves and pyramids, at the time of Gautama, people had forgotten the teachings of previous Buddhas. Gautama learned some basic things from unenlightened teachers of his time like Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. Similarly, Einstein learned foundations of physics and mathematics from Newton and others.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:02
  • Good. Who taught it, or why did he train to accumulate perfection. Where to know from what are usefull perfections, skills? (Is it) Like someone collecting mouse-dung and luckily mouse-dung got a great value on marked? Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 22:34
  • Since a maybe conductive matter, my person made a question out of this topic, here, Nyom Ruben. Sure that he will be interested. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 23:24
  • @ruben2020 The Einstein analogy has its limitation. The Truth which Buddha preached is like a sun shine or moon shine for all to see. It is natural. No one can hide the Truth which Buddha preached. Truth is not hidden from anyone just like the sunshine or the moonshine is not hidden from anyone. Therefore anyone can realize the Truth and attain Nirvana. Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 7:26

I would say that nibbana is more than just a dissolution of Self - that places too much emphasis on Atman: the cessation of objectification is the giving up of craving for sensual pleasure, craving for existence, craving for non-existence. SN 22.22

There are paccekabuddhas (in times when a Buddha has not expounded the Dhamma), so people can - with dedication and practice - abandon the above conceits without a guide. But never will a spontaneous, a-causal and 'automatic' nibbana arise - there will always be a process, even if it only means one intentional choice to relinquish all views (whoever may be that strong willed).

  • When nature has shown you beautiful as ugly then wouldn't you relinquish the view of beauty and ugly and call it illusion. There is no choice. Eventually one will realize that self is an illusion , error or is dream like. Obliteration of Self, I assume, is Nirvana because I read it somewhere. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:16
  • suttacentral.net/en/mn2 states that improper attention leads to 6 wrong views of self, 'I have no self' is one of them (the Buddha was not a Nihilist). The point of the ceassation of objectification is to recognise that experience is a flux of conditional processes, not a combination of objective objects (to somewhat borrow MN18 'delineating a delineation')... Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:05
  • In a similar way, Newtonian mechanics (absolute space, absolute time, absolute object) is very much an Essentialist description of the world. It is not 'wrong' though - it describes a great fraction of the world of motion. It is superseeded by GR (no absolute time, no absolute space), and moreso relational QM (no absolute objects or properties), which describe a greater fraction of experience. In this way, to borrow Karl Popper's take on the scientific method, any notion of Self is simply a less explicative system than dependent origination. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:11
  • Seeing any conception of Self as any thing more than an innaccuracy builds more of it than it deserves imo. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 17:12

No, it's not possible to attain Nirvana without an external help, because attaining Nirvana without a help from an external teacher would be relying on self-existance exlusively -- not in the sense of 'ego' but rather in a sense of svabhava.

So it is not a conventional self (ego) is an error, but rather the idea of it as of something perpetual, undividable and non-dependent on other phenomena, such as non-dependent on causes and effects.

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