Is the state of Nibbana the state of "not existing at all in any way" or is it nonexistence with benefits that are too deep to understand from the perspective of samsara? Does the only "bliss" pertaining to Nibbana happen during the Arahant's life or when an arahant dies? Just to be clear (because I hear conflicting words concerning this) we will be "no more" if we become enlightened and the path is learning how to accept this, right?

  • 2
    The Path is learning how to accept everything. I would tag this question with Nonduality, but the Tag is not approved yet.
    – user2341
    Jun 27, 2015 at 0:43

8 Answers 8


My limited understanding is that 'I' never really was in the first place. That which never appeared cannot vanish. That which was never born cannot die. The cycle of birth and death is broken by truly realizing that the entire cycle is predicated on ignorance. Practice is the road to the eradication of ignorance, though doing good, avoiding evil and purifying this mind.


Nibbana isn't just something that happens after death, but can be experienced during meditation during fruition. The only difference between this Nibbana experienced in life and the Nibbana after the death of an Arahat is that in the case of the Arahat, they don't come out again. If you can experience Nibbana in this life as at least a sotapanna then you can be certain that it is something good and not mere non-existence, and thus you can be certain that Parinibbana is also something good and also not a mere non-existence.

(Note that in this context I'm refering to Nibbana in the sense of the deathless element rather than as the mind which is totally free from defilement. Such a mind is in Nibbana in a sense, but that is a different sense than the actual fruition attainment of Nibbana.)

  • It's some kind of a permanent mental state of no arising. Permanent because there's no arising? A zone where one is fine with no arising forever because there is no wish to be anyway. Nothing needing or wanting to arise is what's good?
    – Lowbrow
    Oct 15, 2014 at 15:46
  • @user535875 When the mind experiences Nibbana there is no arising and ceasing, correct. But Nibbana is much more than just the absence of arising and ceasing. It is also called 'The Other Shore' and 'The Refuge' for example.
    – Bakmoon
    Oct 15, 2014 at 22:17

Is the state of Nibbana the state of "not existing at all in any way" or is it nonexistence with benefits that are too deep to understand from the perspective of samsara?

I think it's cessation, described in the third noble truth: no longer suffering because no longer clinging to that which is impermanent.

Does the only "bliss" pertaining to Nibbana happen during the Arahant's life or when an arahant dies?

I think the dharma is supposed to be immediate, and (with enough training and practice, and right view etc.) applicable and effective now.

This description of Akalika, Timelessness says,

Akalika: Timelessness, A synonym for Arahantship, An attribute of the Dhamma

Various translations include:

  • Timeless, Outside of time
  • The negation of "of the present, involving time, not immediate"
  • Not a matter of time
  • Not subject to time
  • Not dependent on time; not limited to a particular time; immediate, immediately effective etc.

I'm not sure what you mean by "bliss pertaining to Nibbana" but the Kimattha Sutta for example describes states (joy, rapture, serenity) which I infer are experienced during life.

I suppose it means something like the Present continuous, or the Perfect.

Just to be clear (because I hear conflicting words concerning this) we will be "no more" if we become enlightened and the path is learning how to accept this, right?

I tried to ask about that in this question: What are examples of identity-view? to try to understand what's meant by abandoning identify-view or self-view.

The question isn't great but I found all the answers helpful.

Identity view is just one of the fetters, and "abandoning identity-view" is the first of the four stages of enlightenent:

enter image description here

I think that ("identity-view") is what you were talking about, when you were asking about "we will be 'no more'".

As for what it is or isn't: I think it's what it is, i.e. it is "such": see Tathatā.

Being a "non-returner" (i.e. 'abandoning sensual desire') help make you immune to suffering in this world. Abandoning the final fetters (e.g. "material-rebirth lust" keep you from being reborn after you die, so you're immune to suffering in the next world.


It is too deep to understand Nibbana (or Nirvana as in the text below) from the human perspective, but it is possible to experience it.

Dogen is a very verbose Zen master who has left many trails. Here TRICYCLE states some of Dogen's beliefs. If you want straight from Dogen, you can try some of his books from Shambala. http://www.tricycle.com/web-exclusive/fundamentals-dogens-thoughts?page=0,1

Nirvana is often described in Buddhist scriptures as “the other shore.” One crosses the ocean of birth and death toward the shore of total freedom. In Mahayana teaching bringing others across the ocean of suffering to the shore of enlightenment is considered to be as important as or even more important than bringing oneself over. Those who vow to dedicate their lives to this act of “ferrying” others are called bodhisattvas, or beings who are dedicated to bodhi. In some schools of Mahayana, Zen in particular, there is a strong emphasis on the immediacy of enlightenment, indicating that the ocean of birth and death is itself nirvana.

As quoted earlier in this introduction, Dogen says, “Between aspiration, practice, enlightenment, and nirvana, there is not a moment’s gap.” Thus, nirvana is one of the four elements in a practitioner’s spiritual activity. For Dogen, nirvana is inseparable from enlightenment, and it is inseparable from one’s practice at each moment. In other words, there is no authentic practice that lacks enlightenment or nirvana.

While Dogen discusses aspiration, practice, and enlightenment in detail, he does not explain the last element, nirvana, which seems to be an invisible element in his teaching. It is as though he talks about the experience of nirvana without using this word.

Nirvana is regarded as the realm of nonduality, where there is no distinction between large and small, long and short, right and wrong, appearing and disappearing, self and other. It may be called reality itself, or the absolute place beyond time and space. This is a realm that cannot be grasped objectively. The intuitive awareness or transcendental wisdom that goes beyond dualistic, analytical thinking and leads us into this realm is called prajna in Sanskrit.

Dogen calls this place of inner freedom the buddha realm. It is where one is many, part is whole, a moment is timeless, and mortality is immortality. To experience this beyondness in the midst of the passage of time, change, and decay is a miracle. For Dogen, this miracle can happen each moment, as each moment of duality is inseparable from a moment of nonduality.

Duality and nonduality, change and no-change, relative and absolute, coexist and interact with each other. Dogen calls the experience of this dynamic “actualizing the fundamental point.” It is an immediate but subtle and mysterious unfolding of nirvana within a life of change and decay. Dogen suggests that we can realize this dynamic of “not one, not two” by going into and maintaining the deep consciousness that is experienced both in zazen and in daily activities conducted in a meditative state of body and mind.

Dogen is saying Nibbana is always here but the human mind that does not practice the Buddha Way is not aware of it. The question of whether we exist or not could be restated to in what way do we exist or what is our real beingness. When we drop the mask and look in the mirror of consciousness we see more clearly what is and what is not. Talking about it before or after that point has minimal value. Experience in the practice of meditation is the great revealer.

  • So Beautiful !!
    – user2341
    Jun 27, 2015 at 0:41
  • It is so beautiful. That reminds me of the people that discovered when a person put up a ladder and looked over the great wall the person disappeared over the wall. So they watched this happen again and again. Finally they decided they would put a rope on the man so he could not go beyond the wall and then he would tell them what they saw. So when the man looked over the wall they pulled him back with a rope. When he got down all he could do was smile. He could say nothing, just smile. It is so beautiful!
    – soulsings
    Jun 29, 2015 at 0:35

As my teacher says, everything has its price and, Completion being the highest joy -- it has the highest price. We have to give away everything :)

So (Mahayana) Nirvana is not as much a state of "not existing at all in any way" as it is a state of not holding on to anything. Remember Bob Dylan? "when you've got nothing -- you've got nothing to loose"... Not in the primitive sense; this means not holding on to any kind of ground, any territory -- conceptual or psychological. It is a place beyond hope and fear. Naturally it is also a place beyond coarser problems such as obsessions, aversions, and holding on to mistaken assumptions.

At the same time as Buddha of Pali Canon warned us in the parable of the cow, when letting go of hangups we must go through progressive stages, so we can get stable on each level before taking the next step.


The bliss you are referring to can be understood in this way....

Now you are alive and you are feeling countless emotions.Those can be divided into 3 groups

  • feelings born because of lust (no just the erotic sense simply lusting for anything)
  • feelings born because of hate
  • feelings born because of confusion

As long as you are like anyone you will burn in these three fires there is no hope of true peace of mind until you are free from these three.So this also says another thing that there is only a small room for some comfort.

And this is what you try to reach with everything in your life.

That's why you

  • Eat the food you like
  • Wear the clothes you like
  • Talk of things you like
  • Hear the songs you you like
  • Find someone to love
  • Think the things you like

So as you can see there is no escape, let me provide an example from Lord Buddha......

"A normal being (a one who hasn't reach Nirvana) is like a skinned cow which lives,if it stand birds attack it,if it go into the water fish attach it,If it lay on the ground worms attack it. Like this there is no escape for a normal one he is always driven by his six senses burning in lust hate and confusion."

So where does the bliss comes from?

imagine if you can be free from these three,it will be absolute freedom and peace wouldn't it?

So imagine an Arahant....

He has no burning caused by those three,he is in bliss of peace.So is it only when he is alive?

No,Look at yourself you are not only burning from the fires of this life you are burning from the fires of last lives

let me explain....

Don't you have a fear about what karma would bring tomorrow?

  • Whether you will live or not
  • Whether you will have your arms and legs attached to you even after tomorrow
  • Whether you will face an accident
  • Whether you will live long or not

You are not going to get away that easy,You are burning from fires of your next life and lives to come.

Don't you think about these.....

  • What your life will be in next life
  • what will happen to you in that life
  • where you will be born and as what

So the bliss after death is?

Imagine yourself as an arahant....

As of this moment you are free from

  • feelings born because of lust
  • feelings born because of hate
  • feelings born because of confusion

you have no fear of today, because you have done what was needed to be done.Which is freeing yourself from the never ending fire of lust,hate and confusion (Reaching nirvana).As of this moment you are in the bliss of nirvana.You have nothing to fear about the future you can choose the time of death even before the life does it for you( giving up "Aayu sanskara"),You know there is no more living (no more next lives).So there is no suffering and there is no more suffering to expect.This is the bliss, the realization of "I have seen the end of all and i am free now".

I am sure you are confused,let me end my question with the last explanation and you will get it all after this...

When an arahant dies his or her mind does not create itself another life,why? because their karma has been deleted by them being arahant. So there is nothing more left to give them a birth. The example given in Buddhism is "Like a lamps fire blown by from the wind".they do not collect any karma,that function is no longer available to their minds.So when they die it is like deleting a file from your Phone or Computer,it is gone forever.It is not gone somewhere else,it is not gone to a different format.It is simply no more.This is how an arahant's mind work in the last moment.

So the bliss is nothing but having to go trough this pain no more.

If you have any questions about the answer please leave a comment.

May Triple gems bless you!


Reading the 33 Sermons on Nibbāna by Bhikkhu K. Ñāṇananda will offer many insights on the topic.

Introduction: The present set of thirty-three sermons on the topic of Nibbāna were originally delivered between 1988 and 1991 as fortnightly lectures at Meetirigala Forest Monastery of Sri Lanka by the Venerable Bhikkhu K. Ñāṇananda at the behest of the Venerable Mātara Sri Ñāṇarāma Mahāthera. They combine deep insight into the Dhamma with academic erudition, being based on copious quotations from the Pāli discourses that alternate with illustrative similes and useful indications for meditation practice.



Is the state of Nibbana the state of "not existing at all in any way" or is it nonexistence with benefits that are too deep to understand from the perspective of samsara?

The state of Nibbana is neither "not existing at all in any way", nor "existing in all ways". It is neither "nonexistence with benefits", nor "existence with benefits".

Does the only "bliss" pertaining to Nibbana happen during the Arahant's life or when an arahant dies?

The "bliss" pertaining to Nibbana happens during the Arahant's life when Nirvana is attained. When the arahant dies, Nibbana is attained, which is "beyond bliss" - neither "bliss", nor "not bliss".

Just to be clear (because I hear conflicting words concerning this) we will be "no more" if we become enlightened and the path is learning how to accept this, right?

The path is learning how to experience it. One of the prerequisite to experiencing it, is to accept we will be "no more" if we become enlightened.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .