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How does one remain dedicated to the pursuit of nibbāna, when one has seen clearly that ultimately there is no separate nibbāna. What does one aspire towards now?

Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya sūtra: «There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path to follow»

Where beauty is, then there is ugliness; where right is, also there is wrong.
Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent; delusion and enlightenment condition each other.
Since olden times it has been so. How could it be otherwise now?
Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other is merely realizing a scene of stupidity.
Even if you speak of the wonder of it all,
how do you deal with each thing changing?

................................................................................................~Ryokan

  • What do you mean that "ultimately there is no separate nibbāna?" Nibbana as the unconditioned reality is clearly distinct in its attributes from conditioned experience. Are you talking more specifically about Nibbana as the cessation of the defilements? – Bakmoon Oct 3 '14 at 0:29
  • Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya sūtra: « There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path to follow » Where beauty is, then there is ugliness; where right is, also there is wrong. Knowledge and ignorance are interdependent; delusion and enlightenment condition each other. Since olden times it has been so. How could it be otherwise now? Wanting to get rid of one and grab the other is merely realizing a scene of stupidity. Even if you speak of the wonder of it all, how do you deal with each thing changing? -Ryokan  – Buddho Oct 3 '14 at 0:37
  • it feels as if the question is mixing the incompatible parts of Mahayana and Theravada. Pursuit of nibbāna is a Theravadin idea, and prajñāpāramitā is a Mahayana idea. One or the other, as far as I understand. – Anthony Oct 3 '14 at 0:42
  • no incompatible paths. slightly different in the beginning, but merging further down the way. – Andrei Volkov Oct 3 '14 at 0:43
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    @qweilun I can honestly say as a committed practitioner of Theravada Buddhism who has also studied Madhyamaka that in my opinion the differences between the two are almost entirely terminological. – Bakmoon Oct 3 '14 at 1:33
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When the Heart Sutra says "There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path to follow" it isn't saying that none of these things exist. What it means is that none of these things exist in terms of 'Svabhava' which means something like 'intrinsic existence' or 'self nature' or 'essence'. In terms of 'Svabhava' none of these things exist, but in terms of the experience of these things and in terms of their actual features and characteristics, they do exist.

And I think that the quote by Ryokan means that opposites are concepts which are relative and exist as abstract concepts which are imputed onto experience. It is absolutely true that the abstracted concept of Nibbana and the abstracted concept of conditioned existence relatively depend on each other as part of a dualistic pair, but that doesn't mean that the experiences and properties to which these concepts refer are themselves interdependent.

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I interpret the question [before it was edited 10-2-14 to mean that how does one build and maintain an individual practice whose goal is nibbana or nirvana (same term different language) which some interpret to mean enlightenment. This then poses a problem because what is going to experience nibbana or nirvana, the individual?

Here is one interpretation of nibbana or nirvana "to be blown out" or "to be extinguished."[quoted text below this paragraph] Here is where the goal of nibbana could be in conflict if one conceived of attaining nibbana. Nibbana is rather an erasure or elimination or disappearance of an appearance of a self that is now seen to be a phantom or dream.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_(Buddhism)

Nirvana (Sanskrit, also nirvāṇa; Pali: nibbana, nibbāna ) is the earliest and most common term used to describe the goal of the Buddhist path.[1] The literal meaning of the term in Sanskrit is "to be blown out" or "to be extinguished". Within the Buddhist tradition, this term is typically glossed as the extinction of craving (tanha), or more broadly, the extinction of the fires of attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha) and ignorance (moha or avidyā).[1] In the Buddhist view, when these fires are extinguished, suffering (dukkha) comes to an end, and one is released from the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra).

Buddhist tradition distinguishes between the experience of someone who reaches nirvana during their lifetime (sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa) and the experience of nirvana after one passes away (nir-upadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa). The experience of nirvana-in-this-lifetime is described as a transformed state of mind that is free from negative mental states, peaceful, happy, and non-reactive. The experience of nirvana-after-death (commonly referred to as paranirvana) is said to be beyond words or description.

The two main traditions of Buddhism, the Theravada and Mahayana, differ in their presentations of nirvana. The Theravada tradition emphasizes the cessation of suffering and liberation from samsara. The Mahayana tradition emphasizes two stages of nirvana: the first stage is described (using similar language to the Theravada tradition) as the cessation of suffering and liberation from samsara; the next and final stage is referred to as the nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana, or buddhahood, that transcends both samsara and the limited nirvana of the first stage.

There really is no conflict with nibbana and the path to it. The problem is imagined by those who believe they have to get somewhere they are not already. Extinguish the movie that is covering the screen of consciousness and what is always present is visible, not because it appeared, but because the illusory dreams of selfhood become invisible once the falsehoods that feed this false sense of self are extinguished or drop away in awakening.

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Good question. A couple of thoughts:

  • Do you still have ups and downs? One day you understand everything, and one day you are angry, helpless and miserable? If so, that's a good reason to keep working.
  • There is a difference between intellectual understanding and full realization. When you attain realization, you don't ask questions like "How does one remain dedicated to the pursuit" or "what does one aspire towards now?" Keep meditating.
  • Why so much focus on "one"? Go help many!
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  • Thank you. I'll use an analogy of video games to be brief. I feel like all levels of the game have been unlocked, but what level I choose to play at on any day is quite random. There was a period of constancy of experience at the boss level that lasted for months, as if I had become an expert at the game, I needed to spend no time at all on myself, all my time and energy belonged to the world, I had no ills, but then I must have hit a bug in the code, now each day I respawn at a different level, from amateur to pro. Makes sense? I'll send you more information in private if interested. – Buddho Oct 3 '14 at 2:16
  • @Srini'cheeni'Ramakrishnan Are you practicing meditation under a specific tradition? Also, Stackexchange doesn't have a private message system. The only real way to exchange information in private is to give out your email address. I don't know if Andrei will give you his, but if you like you can email me at ************** (email address deleted by moderator). – Bakmoon Oct 3 '14 at 2:43

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