I don't know if nirvana is a permanent or impermanent state, but is it true that after nirvana, no new intentions will be formed by the individual? And what is left-over is only a karmic residual of previous living?

from the wiki:

When preliminary nibbana with substrate occurs (that is, nibbana of a living being), constructive consciousness, that is, the house-builder, is completely destroyed and no new formations will be constructed.

3 Answers 3


In the example from Ud 6.1 below, the Buddha clearly had the intention to go to the Pavala shrine for the day's abiding. So, after complete liberation, it's still possible for the individual to have intention, but without the underlying tendencies (anusaya) from AN 7.11.

That is, from SN 12.38, it says "what one intends AND what one plans AND whatever one has a tendency towards" - so that means underlying tendencies (anusaya) are mandatory for the basis for the maintenance of (clinging) consciousness.

So, the Buddha had intention and planning, but without underlying tendencies. Therefore, his intention and planning was free from greed/ lust/ passion, aversion/ hatred and delusion.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vesālī at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. Then, early in the morning, he adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went into Vesālī for alms. Then, having gone for alms in Vesālī, after the meal, returning from his alms round, he addressed Ven. Ānanda, "Get a sitting cloth, Ānanda. We will go to the Pāvāla shrine for the day's abiding."

Responding, "As you say, lord," to the Blessed One, Ven. Ānanda followed along behind the Blessed One, carrying the sitting cloth. Then the Blessed One went to the Pāvāla shrine and, on arrival, sat down on the seat laid out.
Ud 6.1

“Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards (yañca ceteti yañca pakappeti yañca anuseti): this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness."

“If, bhikkhus, one does not intend, and one does not plan, but one still has a tendency towards something, this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness.
SN 12.38

“Mendicants, there are these seven underlying tendencies. What seven? The underlying tendencies of sensual desire, repulsion, views, doubt, conceit, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. These are the seven underlying tendencies.”
AN 7.11

  • 2
    yes this seems to be the right way to think about it...and this seems to allude to the fact that one needs to do the work toward the goal, not possible via idealization.
    – blue_ego
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 16:54
  • it's actually somewhat difficult to imagine...the idea of karmic imprint becoming residual...of the previous intention, tendency, disposition, only rightness is left...seems unbelievable
    – blue_ego
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 1:02

There remain just the intentions which are path elements: renouncing (world, sensuality), non-harming, non-conflicting, with no objectivity in the world, base on right view, good householder, and with it, only speech and deeds which are part of the path are done, till rest decays, has been given away.

Those, the Arahat remains at the ten-fold Noble Path with single objectivity toward Nibbana.

Nibbana isn't revokeable, of course.


That is the traditional understanding, yes.

And if you think about it, as everything is equalized in the grand scheme of things - indeed, any motivation by which projects or impulses would be formed must cease without reminder.

Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.

More importantly, as the view of self has been abandoned, how can any individual intention ("i shall do X") be seriously considered anymore?

That's not to say that such one is passive, not at all. It's just that the duality between individual action and automatic reaction has been transcended.

  • that last statement gives me the idea of one who has disappeared completely....i don't know why that seems to be
    – blue_ego
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 16:12
  • you might say that about a drunk as well...transcended action-reaction
    – blue_ego
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:40
  • Certainly you are free to argue as seems right to you. Sometimes that actually works well and at other times you may keep holding to old misconceptions. In this case, I'm pretty sure you don't accurately understand what I said. The fact that Buddha walks up to Ananda, says "we will go to the city" and then indeed it turns out they go to the city - doesn't mean in Buddha's mind there's an "intention", at least not in the technical sense of the word. There's no actor there to have an intention.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 21:57
  • of course he wouldn't say that to me though..."i am not an actor..."
    – blue_ego
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 0:50
  • It's okay:) One of us here asks questions and the other answers them. Let's get back to this topic 20 years from now, if we can.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 0:59

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