Apratishtita Nirvana

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
User avatar
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:06 pm
Location: St Andrews, Scotland

Apratishtita Nirvana

Postby vinodh » Tue May 21, 2013 2:33 pm

astus wrote:The idea of "parinirvana" is generally not upheld by any Mahayana school but only as a skilful means, since buddhas remain helping sentient beings till the end of samsara. This is true for both the Jodoshu and Jodoshinshu as far as I know. Also note that one of the names of Amida is Infinite Life, i.e. he doesn't just "nirvana away" any time soon.

If I understand correctly, do all schools of Mahayana agree with the concept of Apratishtita (non-abiding) Nirvana ?

OTOH, are there any (historical) non-Mahayana schools that agree with the same concept ?


yo dharmaṁ paśyati, sa buddhaṁ paśyati

One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha
śālistamba sūtra

na pudgalo na ca skandhā buddho jñānamanāsravam
sadāśāntiṁ vibhāvitvā gacchāmi śaraṇaṁ hyaham

Neither a person nor the aggregates, the Buddha, is knowledge free from [evil] outflows
Clearly perceiving [him] to be eternally serene, I go for refuge [in him]

User avatar
Posts: 428
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 3:08 am
Location: Trāyastriṃśa. Just kidding. What a cool sanksrit word, huh?

Re: Apratishtita Nirvana

Postby Nilasarasvati » Wed May 22, 2013 1:01 am


I was under the impression that in the Tibetan tradition, Buddhas are beyond coming and going (that's what makes them Buddhas) but in relative terms, perfect Buddahood is a terminal end. Only the emanations of their aspirations, merit, and actions (or something like that) persist infinitely because they are so powerful.

Sort of like how a star burns out but we receive it's light for aeons.

Sorry I have no textual basis for this, I can't even recall where I heard it.

Posts: 1106
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Apratishtita Nirvana

Postby Jnana » Wed May 22, 2013 3:11 am

vinodh wrote:If I understand correctly, do all schools of Mahayana agree with the concept of Apratishtita (non-abiding) Nirvana ?

All doctrinal schools do. According to Yogācāra sources, apratiṣṭha nirvāṇa is the revolved basis (āśrayaparāvṛtti) that has eliminated the defilements without abandoning saṃsāra.

This is also related to the Trikāya doctrine (i.e three bodies). Emanation bodies (nirmaṇakāya) like Siddhārtha Gautama still display parinirvāṇa. According to Bhāviveka, this is done so that beings will become disgusted with saṃsāra and decide to take up the noble eightfold path.

vinodh wrote:OTOH, are there any (historical) non-Mahayana schools that agree with the same concept ?

Not that I'm aware of. However the term appatiṭṭha (Skt. apratiṣṭha) does occur in the Pāli Nikāyas in the context of an arhat's consciousness (e.g. SN 22.53) and also in the context of nirvāṇa (e.g. Udāna 8.1).

User avatar
Former staff member
Posts: 6333
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Apratishtita Nirvana

Postby Astus » Wed May 22, 2013 10:37 am

As I theorise it, non-abiding nirvana is based on nirvana with residue with the difference in emphasising that such residue (i.e. the aggregates) are empty so there is no need to get rid of them, and that's why the Mahayana criticism of the "sravaka nirvana" as nihilism.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.

1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

Posts: 99
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:04 am

Re: Apratishtita Nirvana

Postby Azidonis » Sun May 26, 2013 4:24 pm

"Unlocalized nirvana"... as opposed to "localized nirvana"?

A dualistic notion of nirvana... no way.

Posts: 165
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 3:10 am

Re: Apratishtita Nirvana

Postby Kunzang » Mon May 27, 2013 6:35 am

John Makransky's Buddhahood Embodied has a lot of discussion about apratishtita nirvana and is an excellent reference for those wishing to understand this concept and related ideas.

Return to “Mahāyāna Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mikenz66 and 16 guests