What is the purpose or cause of cessation or extinction or Nirvana. Did Buddha ever talk about it?

For example, see how SN 23.1 ends:

“But sir, what is the purpose of extinguishment?”

“Your question goes too far, Rādha. You couldn’t figure out the limit of questions. For extinguishment is the culmination, destination, and end of the spiritual life.”


3 Answers 3


So Radha is asking kimatthiya --

“But sir, what is the purpose of extinguishment?”
“Nibbānaṃ pana, bhante, kimatthiyan”ti?

That is kim plus atthiya

So asking "kimatthiya?" is like asking, "Nibbana is with the intention of satisfying a desire for what beyond nibbana?"

The question implies that nibbana is a stepping-stone to something else -- like a way of getting from here to somewhere else.

But it isn't -- instead it's the destination, the end-result, the goal.

I think that's explained in the Uṇṇābhabrāhmaṇa Sutta (SN 51.15)

“The purpose of living the spiritual life under the Buddha, brahmin, is to give up desire.”

“But is there a path and a practice for giving up that desire?”

“There is.”

“What is that path?”

“It’s when a mendicant develops the basis of psychic power that has immersion due to enthusiasm … energy … mental development … inquiry, and active effort. This is the path and the practice for giving up that desire.”

“This being the case, Master Ānanda, the path is endless, not finite. For it’s not possible to give up desire by means of desire.”

“Well then, brahmin, I’ll ask you about this in return, and you can answer as you like. What do you think, brahmin? Have you ever had a desire to walk to the park, but when you arrived at the park, the corresponding desire faded away?”

“Yes, sir.”


Thee purpose of Nirvana is to eliminate mental fabrication which leads to rebirth. Brith brings about a host of suffering and unsatisfactoriness. By realising Nirvana one does not get reborn hence do experience the suffering which is part and parcel of life.

  • Thank you, master. But why buddha said in Radha Samyutta, when asked by radha the same question that, "I cant answer that question". Purpose of extinction. Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 7:22
  • The Buddha did not say "I can't answer that question". What was said was "You weren't able to grasp the limit to questioning" meaning if you keep on questioning like this there will be no end to it. Say the Buddha said this is to end suffering. When one can ask why do that? Based on the answer to that you can continuously ask why that? Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 7:38
  • Rightly said. But still I have some feeling that he knows but didn't answer. He says, the question is Accasara, not worthy. Forgive me but A Saint in India, Maharashtra such as Dnyaneshwar said that It's Divine Being not different from thou. It's my play of creation, preservation and dissolution. Individuals are my dreams and I am the dreamer. Sorry, to put other philosophies. But forgive me. I had to ask for it! Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 7:51
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    @SandeepTelang - That is not 'other philosophy', but what the Buddha is teaching. The point is that the true nature of Reality would be beyond conceptual fabrication and beyond the reach of words, so beyond a certain point questions cannot be answered by anyone except the questionner.
    – user14119
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 12:52

Nirvana is its own purpose ,its when complete dis-identification with all that manifests has occurred. Buddha's problem was suffering ,suffering's reason he figured out was attachment IN THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS .Thus when there is complete detachment from all forms ,ideas and feelings there is the state of Nirvana .

Actually Nirvana is already here its not something that your fake identity will achieve.All whats necessary is unveiling it ,when you have unveiled all the hindrances ,the attachments then only Nirvana remains ,which is really nothing at all,all things manifest in its lab.

  • If he who has won truth can't say it exist, it doesn't exist, or both or neither. Neither can be said world is eternal, not non-eternal, exist or doesn't exist after extinction. That's what Buddha says. But my topic is if you don't know that thou exist or doesn't exist after death, then the concept of rebirth is criticizable. Because it's just wave on water we call individuality, then there are many waves comes and go with time immomerial. So there is no absolute cessation. Wave is not water, neither water is wave but after cessation of wave, can one assure other wave doesn't arise again? Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 2:22
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    In the far age time there are seers who says Universe is superimposition on Brahman as sun reflected in water, although not in water. Individuals take the reflected sun as real and attach to it. But wise one know that the original sun is not fell down, it's there. Having known they renounce and live the life as that of Sun while others just attach to reflection. "There is no oasis situated yonder, you are left with mirage". What you are catching as goal either of Nibbana or moksha or salvation or enlightenment or cessation of suffering doesn't exist at all! They are chasing the mirage! Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 2:25
  • Yes you are right ,thats why Nirvana is not the mental idea not that mirage ,its the unmanifest in which all manifests ,including false self ,its quality eternal,not a thing that changes overtime like character ,body .Its paradoxical in that its everything and nothing at the same time,it doesn't submit to logic.Buddha just didn't want to confuse his disciples .Cessation is only of identification not of what manifests ,so everything happens ,even the false self happens thats ok but there is no identification. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 9:31
  • Yes Sir, well said. What a tragedy of life neither one can hold of mirage nor that of Sun! Everything perishes. But mere a look at that Sun in a day of life is enough. His all sorrow perishes, he knows all things that have form s are impermanent and neither Sun nor it's mirage is self either. Rhinosourous horn sutra from Gandhara equally states the same by every paccekbuddhas. But thanks Sir for discussion without using quotes. May all beings happy! Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 11:58

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