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Is there any sutta in the Pali Canon which describes the supramundane view that Nibbana cannot be attained?

I'm looking for a verse or quote from the Pali Canon which describes Nibbana as unattainable or unrelinquished based on the fact that is unconditioned. Ie, not from the ordinary conventional sense of attaining a possession or attainment of a goal, but rather from the supramundane where Nibbana is unconditioned.

Does such a sutta, passage, or verse exist?

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  • Related: buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/39194/…
    – user13375
    Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 15:16
  • i swear i read something in the pali canon that made it seem like the answer to your question is yes, but I won't be able to find it. also the idea i recall was more like a realization rather than unattainable
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 2 at 16:34

2 Answers 2

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Nibbana is attained (ajjhagā, ajjhagamaṁ, adhigacchati).

Visaṅkhāragataṁ cittaṁ,

My mind has reached the Unconditioned

taṇhānaṁ khayamajjhagā.

Attained the destruction of craving.

Dhp 154

Then, monks, being subject myself to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, seeking the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Nibbana, I reached [attained; ajjhagamaṁ] the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Nibbana.

MN 26

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  • I think the question is asking, "Nibbana can be obtained or taained in the mundane sense of the word -- but is there anywhere which says to the contrary in a supramundane sense.?" So I think this doesn't address what the question is asking.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 21:40
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The closest I've seen in the Pali canon to what you're describing is in the Mulapariyaya sutta. I am not sure if it constitutes the idea of "cannot be attained," but the Buddha here describes Unbinding as this:

A monk who is a Worthy One, devoid of mental fermentations... directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as 'mine,' does not delight in earth. Why is that? Because, with the ending of delusion, he is devoid of delusion, I tell you.

He directly knows water as water... the All as the All...

He directly knows Unbinding as Unbinding. Directly knowing Unbinding as Unbinding, he does not conceive things about Unbinding, does not conceive things in Unbinding, does not conceive things coming out of Unbinding, does not conceive Unbinding as 'mine,' does not delight in Unbinding. Why is that? Because, with the ending of delusion, he is devoid of delusion, I tell you.

My limited understanding of this is that an Arahant may be aware that they have come to an end of suffering, but nevertheless they do not have a positive (or any) feeling towards being an Arahant, and they also do not feel ownership over this quality. It might depend on what "supramundane" refers to, but these seem to at least be unconventional aspects of an attainment listed in the sutta above.

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