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The Sabba Sutta (SN 35.23) (trans. Thanissaro) states:

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

The commentary on this sutta by Thanissaro Bhikkhu states:

Furthermore, the following discourse (SN 35.24) says that the "All" is to be abandoned. At no point does the Canon say that nibbana is to be abandoned. Nibbana follows on cessation (nirodha), which is to be realized. Once nibbana is realized, there are no further tasks to be done.

Thus it seems more this discourse's discussion of "All" is meant to limit the use of the word "all" throughout the Buddha's teachings to the six sense spheres and their objects. As the following discourse shows, this would also include the consciousness, contact, and feelings connected with the sense spheres and their objects. Nibbana would lie outside of the word, "all." This would fit in with another point made several times in the Canon: that dispassion is the highest of all dhammas (Iti 90), while the arahant has gone beyond even dispassion (Sn 4.6; Sn 4.10).

This raises the question, if the word "all" does not include nibbana, does that mean that one may infer from the statement, "all phenomena are not-self" that nibbana is self? The answer is no. As AN 4.174 states, to even ask if there is anything remaining or not remaining (or both, or neither) after the cessation of the six sense spheres is to differentiate what is by nature undifferentiated (or to objectify the unobjectified — see the Introduction to MN 18). The range of differentiation goes only as far as the "All." Perceptions of self or not-self, which would count as differentiation, would not apply beyond the "All." When the cessation of the "All" is experienced, all differentiation is allayed.

On the other hand, Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote in the book The Connected Discourses of the Buddha Vol II:

On first consideration, it would seem that the six internal and external sense bases should be understood simply as the six sense faculties and their objects, with the term āyatana, base, having the sense of origin or source. Though many suttas lend support to this supposition, the Theravada exegetical tradition, beginning already from the Abhidhamma period, understands the six pairs of bases as a complete scheme of classification capable of accommodating all the factors of existence mentioned in the Nikayas. This conception of the six bases probably originated from the Sabba Sutta (35:23), in which the Buddha says that the six pairs of bases are "the all" apart from which nothing at all exists. To make the six bases capable of literally incorporating everything, the Vibhanga of the Abhidhamma Pitaka defines the mind base (manāyatana) as including all classes of consciousness, and the mental phenomena base (dhammāyatana) as including the other three mental aggregates, subtle nonsensuous types of form, and even the unconditioned element, Nibbāna (see Vibh 70-73).

So, Thanissaro Bhikkhu says that Nibbana is not included in The All. Bhikkhu Bodhi says Nibbana is included in The All. Who is right? And why?

What is also interesting is that Bhikkhu Bodhi's interpretation would put all types of consciousness within the classification of the six sense bases.

  • I have never heard nor read that throughout all the 45 years after the enlightenment Lord Buddha told something like, "I have mistakenly preached that ...", "Please correct what I have preached ...", "I forgot to tell you ...". So I agree with Bhikku Bodhi because in Sabba sutta it's emphasized that, "Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief." – Damith Feb 14 at 6:05
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I didn't read the question but Thanissaro says as a footnote:

To abandon the eye, etc., here means to abandon passion and desire for these things.

Nibbana is the same. Nibbana is not experienced due to passion & desire for Nibbana. Therefore, passion & desire for Nibbana is also abandoned.

Nibbana is included within The All, i.e., included as a sense object (per Ud 8.1) experienced by the mind sense organ. Thanissaro is wrong translating 'dhamme' as 'ideas'. 'Dhamme' is 'mind objects'. Nibbana, per Ud 8.1, is a mind object or 'ayatana'.

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Not sure there's any conflict between Ven. T and Ven. B. Notice that Ven. B's SN 35.23 footnote on defining the scope of the All, his first footnote citing the Comy. says this:

Spk: The all (sabba) is fourfold:
(i) the all-inclusive all (sabbasabba ), i.e., everything knowable, all of which comes into range of the Buddhas knowledge of omniscience;
(ii) the all of the sense bases (aatanasabba), i.e., the phenomena of the four planes;
(iii) the all of personal identity (sakkyasabba ), i.e., the phenomena of the three planes; and
(iv) the partial all (padesasabba), i.e., the five physical sense objects.

Each of these, from (i) to (iv), has a successively narrower range than its predecessor. In this sutta the All of the sense bases is intended.

Now that sounds like Ven. T's idea too! Also notice the last paragraph in Ven. B's intro. to SalayatanaSamyutta:

To make the six bases capable of literally incorporating everything, the Vibhanga of the Abhidhamma Pitaka defines the mind base (manayatana) as including all classes of consciousness, and the mental phenomena base (dhammayatana) as including the other three mental aggregates(feeling/perception/volitionalFormations), subtle nonsensuous types of form, and even the unconditioned element, Nibbana (see Vibh 70-73)

So basically Ven. B simply cited the positions of the SN Comy. (at SN 35.23, which Ven. T also shares) and the Vibhanga (at intro. to Samyutta 35), both just seems to define the scope differently. The SN Comy. limited the scope, hence leaving the extra "stuff" outside, while the Vibhanga extended the scope, hence including everything.

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Does Nibbana lie within The All or not?

The, or what ever peception of Nibbana, nibbana-sanna, or nimitta, yes, is part of "the all". Nibbana, in and of itself, no. That's why the Buddha told his monks to let go even of the perceptiin of Nibbana and they didn't rejoiced after the approach.

[Not given for trade, exchange, stacks or Buddh-ism but purposed for liberation of that]

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Nibbana is ultimate stoping of senses. Completely detacheded state. But The liberated one still use it, but never ever attached to it. The state is like lotus, where the drop of water ultimately drop. Nothing doing, mere natural.

But who don't reached this state are still clinging to sense, they are attached. They call their individuality as their own, do deeds as their own and eat the fruits thereoff as their own. Hence Nibbana is not included those who are not detached. Nibbana is not all as related to blind but at the same time it is all for the realised one as one uniformity.

Buddha just said, in one statement, the Truth. "Yam kinki samudayadhamna, sabbam tam nirodhadhamma". The real meaning of the statement is, "Whatever light has com burning inside, verily, is the path to relieve your suffering".

In another word, "Atta Dip Bhavo". Be one with that lamp of wisdom.Keep it burning, so that all your deeds burn, to find the release. In my word, it's the inner Teacher which is the real lamp burning inside. When you are, he isn't, when you are not, he is.

If you like to know how the person who reached that state live, I would recommend to see U. G Krishnamurti.

......May all being be awaken.

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