proof of nirvana?

If you're new to the forum or new to Buddhism, this is the best place for your questions. Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Post Reply
User avatar
Supramundane
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

proof of nirvana?

Post by Supramundane » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:24 am

A friend of mine naively asked me the other day, "is there any proof of Nirvana? can you show it to me?"

Before i tell you how i answered, i am curious to know your answers.
Can we prove the existence of Nirvana, either through logic or sutras?

it is a fair question after all.




Btw, I answered in the affirmative:)

User avatar
takso
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:08 am

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by takso » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:27 am

One could only catch a glimpse of nirvana when the dust settles after the mind is neutered.
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1354
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by seeker242 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:48 pm

No, Nirvana is not a thing that can be shown. It's an absence of defilement. How are you going to prove the absence of greed or hate in someones mind? Although, it's quite logical to conclude that if hate can be reduced some, then it can be reduced more. If it can be reduced more, then it can be reduced even more than that. If it can be reduced even more than that, then there's no reason why it can't be reduced down to none. When all defilements are reduced to none, then Nirvana. :smile:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

User avatar
Supramundane
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Supramundane » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:58 am

seeker242 wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:48 pm
No, Nirvana is not a thing that can be shown. It's an absence of defilement. How are you going to prove the absence of greed or hate in someones mind? Although, it's quite logical to conclude that if hate can be reduced some, then it can be reduced more. If it can be reduced more, then it can be reduced even more than that. If it can be reduced even more than that, then there's no reason why it can't be reduced down to none. When all defilements are reduced to none, then Nirvana. :smile:
“Everything is on fire; the eyes are on fire; sights are on fire; visual perception is on fire. . . ; the ears are on fire. . . ; the nose is on fire. . . ; the tongue is on fire. . . ; the body is on fire. . . ; the mind is on fire. . . . They are on fire with greed, hate, and delusion” (from the Mahavagga of the Theravada Vinaya).

i think you have understood the sutras well; nirvana is a verb not a noun. it is not a place, not a state, not a 'heaven'.

perhaps it is a dimension of the mind and with the readiness of time we can drink from its spring.

if nirvana is nibuti, it is as you say a scalpel, a paring away. the self is not there to experience nirvana but a casing to be ejected and to be pared away. it is in our way to the apprehension of nirvana. i see nirvana in this light as a possibility; the noblest thing we can do as human beings.

perhaps this is why the buddha purportedly did not like to speak of nirvana but fell silent; it is more of a revealing than an actual existing thing. this is why concepts like Buddhamind, True Nature, etc. are controversial in buddhism. the real impulse of the buddha seems to be to pare away, to pull back layers of delusion. his intellect was an instrument as precise as dental tools and cut away rather than built and thus couching concepts in positive language such as True Self were anathema to him.

could the penchant for couching nirvana in negative terms thus be the same? perhaps this is why he was reticent to speak about it. 'a cleaning of defilements' as you rightly point out is not a noun --- place --- state, etc.

Nirvana would thus be a negating force.

User avatar
Supramundane
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Supramundane » Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:06 am

takso wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:27 am
One could only catch a glimpse of nirvana when the dust settles after the mind is neutered.
i like your take on the question.

i once spoke to someone who told me that the goal of buddhism is to glimpse nirvana, if even for a moment. once we did that, all our cares would fall away.

once we realize the true nature of reality, if only for a heartbeat, we would in a flash comprehend that all of our samsaric worries were puny and inconsequential. (he perhaps subscribed to the Zen school of thought come to think of it)

if we can train the six consciousnesses, eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness, the momentary consciousnesses of the six senses, to not latch onto the phenomenological world, then at that point, some say, we can apprehend nirvana (Mahayana Sutra of Consciousness).

thus we can state that nirvana does not exist because existence in buddhism occurs, technically speaking, when the sense-consciousnesses cling onto an object. and nirvana does not do that.

Nagarjuna would add that it does not exist but it doesn't not exist either.

does this mean it is the negating force i alluded to earlier in the post above?

User avatar
Supramundane
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Supramundane » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:27 am

my answer to the question about proof of nirvana was as follows:


Yes, i can provide proof of nirvana.

I will provide it when you provide me proof of samsara.

User avatar
Drenpa
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:50 am

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Drenpa » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:57 pm

i think you have understood the sutras well; nirvana is a verb not a noun. it is not a place, not a state, not a 'heaven'. perhaps it is a dimension of the mind and with the readiness of time we can drink from its spring.
A verb describes an action, state or occurrence - so if you're saying Nirvana is a verb you'll have to reformulate ur idea that it's a dimension of the mind that at some point in time, when ur ready, you can drink from.

User avatar
Supramundane
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Supramundane » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:42 am

Drenpa wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:57 pm
i think you have understood the sutras well; nirvana is a verb not a noun. it is not a place, not a state, not a 'heaven'. perhaps it is a dimension of the mind and with the readiness of time we can drink from its spring.
A verb describes an action, state or occurrence - so if you're saying Nirvana is a verb you'll have to reformulate ur idea that it's a dimension of the mind that at some point in time, when ur ready, you can drink from.
oops! thanks for the head's-up, Drenpa; mixing metaphors is not rocket surgery but i seem to have done it.

Let me change dimension of mind to 'potential of mind'. Dimension suggests a topology which i do not subscribe to.

The Buddha characterized dukkha as a fire; i think this means nirvana can be seen as drinking from a cool spring, if i am to align my metaphors.

metta

Thundering Cloud
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:06 pm

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Thundering Cloud » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:42 pm

I think my answer to your friend would be something like:

There can never be absolute proof of anything. Scientific theories can be tested and validated but never known for sure to be true. Mathematical theorems and proofs rely on the blind acceptance of a specified set of axioms; what they are proving is that the theorem is true if the axioms are true. The axioms themselves are, by definition, never proven. So the short answer is no. Nothing can be proven absolutely.

But it's important to examine why they feel they need such proof. Would they live their lives differently if you could give it to them? What significance, precisely, would having such a proof hold for them?

stevie
Posts: 109
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by stevie » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:59 pm

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:24 am
A friend of mine naively asked me the other day, "is there any proof of Nirvana? can you show it to me?"

Before i tell you how i answered, i am curious to know your answers.
Can we prove the existence of Nirvana, either through logic or sutras?
Of course through sutras because there are many sutras that mention Nirvana in the affirmative. But will your friend accept these sutras as valid ?
But logic will fail because there isn't an appropriate syllogism of the kind '{This or that} is Nirvana because of {the sign}.' Why? Because Nirvana is signless.

ford_truckin
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:03 am

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by ford_truckin » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:23 pm

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:24 am
A friend of mine naively asked me the other day, "is there any proof of Nirvana? can you show it to me?"

Before i tell you how i answered, i am curious to know your answers.
Can we prove the existence of Nirvana, either through logic or sutras?

it is a fair question after all.




Btw, I answered in the affirmative:)
only by practice. 8fold path.

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 6959
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:17 am

seeker242 wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:48 pm
No, Nirvana is not a thing that can be shown. It's an absence of defilement. How are you going to prove the absence of greed or hate in someones mind? Although, it's quite logical to conclude that if hate can be reduced some, then it can be reduced more. If it can be reduced more, then it can be reduced even more than that. If it can be reduced even more than that, then there's no reason why it can't be reduced down to none. When all defilements are reduced to none, then Nirvana. :smile:
I don't know if there is a gradual reduction of hatred that ever reaches nirvana. If we were to graph it:

y=hatred
x=mental training

y=1/x

y never reaches 0, hatred never reaches nirvana.

That's why I think the sudden is the only viable path. Nirvana: Just do it.

:sage: :rolling:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

steveb1
Posts: 609
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: proof of nirvana?

Post by steveb1 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:54 am

Supramundane wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:24 am
A friend of mine naively asked me the other day, "is there any proof of Nirvana? can you show it to me?"

Before i tell you how i answered, i am curious to know your answers.
Can we prove the existence of Nirvana, either through logic or sutras?

it is a fair question after all.

Btw, I answered in the affirmative:)
I don't see how proof is possible - it's like the inept demand to theists, "Show me your God!"
Inept because mystical experience is non-material and utterly subjective, so it cannot be drawn out of the private sphere of the "qualia" for physical and public demonstration. And unrealistic inasmuch as it attempts to apply quantitative processes to a qualitative category.

At best, evidence for God can only be invitational: that is, the experiencer invites the seeker or questioner to undergo whatever methods the experiencer has employed in order to attain the divine experience.

Similarly in Buddhism - with Bodhi and Nirvana - evidence of one's experience of living within the Unborn and the Unconditioned can only be a matter of invitation - as is classically attributed to the Buddha, i.e., (in words to the effect) "Don't have faith in me, and by all means test my teachings and methods for yourselves". One can only tell a questioner, "Well, it seems to work this way for me"...and mention various meditation methods by which one might at least experience a first glimpse of satori or some other state of compassionate non-attachment.

Honey is said to be sweet. One can know all the physical and chemical data about honey, but will only realize its sweetness by tasting. No one can taste it for you. Only you, by yourself, can do it.

Enlightenment is said to be radiant, blissful and any number of other beneficent categories.
One one can ingest all the scholarly and anecdotal data about Enlightenment, but will only realize it by "tasting" it via personal seeking and the potential inner transformation that may ensue. No one can do it for you. Hence, it remains unprovable, private, and subjective for all others but the practitioner him-or-herself.

Post Reply

Return to “Discovering Mahayana Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests