Help for responding to people who say: Buddha never said there's nothing after parinibbana

Any sutta, commentaries, subcommentaries or contemporary books, lectures etc to help support the claim that there’s nothing after parinibbana?

To be clear, I am sidestepping the 4 unanswered questions of whether the Buddha exist or not etc after death. Because it is known that the question is invalid due to assuming a self in Buddha by the questioner.

The question which can be validly asked is whether there is something or nothing after parinibbana.

Some thai ajahns thinks there’s something as well as some mahayana Buddhists. How to interact with them to show the classical Theravada standpoint?


Hello, Venerable. I can share some quotes which help me with this issue:

after the last consciousness of the Arahant, who has

abandoned arousing [future aggregates] and so prevented kamma from giving

result in a future [existence], there is no further arising of aggregates of existence,

and those already arisen have disappeared.

-Vism XVI.72

Consciousness that is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as not existing, and I too say that it does not exist.

-SN 22.94

"At Savatthi. Seated to one side, that mendicant said to the Buddha: “Sir, is there any form at all that’s permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever? Is there any feeling … perception … choices … consciousness at all that’s permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever?” “Mendicant, there is no form at all that’s permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever. There’s no feeling … perception … choices … consciousness at all that’s permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever.”

Then the Buddha, picking up a little bit of dirt under his fingernail, addressed that mendicant: “There’s not even this much of any form that’s permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever. If there were, this living of the spiritual life for the complete ending of suffering would not be found. But since there isn’t, this living of the spiritual life for the complete ending of suffering is found.

There’s not even this much of any feeling …

perception … choices …

consciousness that’s permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever. If there were, this living of the spiritual life for the complete ending of suffering would not be found. But since there isn’t, this living of the spiritual life for the complete ending of suffering is found.

What do you think, mendicant? Is form permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, sir.” “Is feeling … perception … choices … consciousness permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, sir.” … “So you should truly see … Seeing this … They understand: ‘… there is no return to any state of existence.’”-SN 22.97

The body broke up,perception ceased,feelings went cold— all —fabrications were stilled,consciousness has come to an end.-Ud 8.9

“Now what, bhikkhus, is the Nibbāna-element with no residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant … completely released through final knowledge. For him, here in this very life, all that is experienced, not being delighted in, will be extinguished. That, bhikkhus, is called the Nibbāna-element with no residue left.“These, bhikkhus, are the two Nibbāna-elements.”These two Nibbāna-elements were made knownBy the Seeing One, stable and unattached:One is the element seen here and nowWith residue, but with the cord of being destroyed;The other, having no residue for the future,Is that wherein all modes of being utterly cease.Having understood the unconditioned state,Released in mind with the cord of being destroyed,They have attained to the Dhamma-essence.Delighting in the destruction (of craving),Those stable ones have abandoned all being.

-It 44

This thread on dhammawheel also has a HUGE amount of info that disproves the position that nibbana is some kind of existence.

Also, Mahasi Sayadaw’s work “On the Nature of Nibbana,” in full is amazing, and contains logic and explanation as to how Ud 8.1 and other points completely rule out this heretical view of nibbana. I’ve shared a very small selection here, but the whole article is excellent, but too long to share much more here.

Absence of Mind and Matter in Nibbāna

In nibbāna there are no such things as mind or mental concomitants, which can be met with in the sense-sphere or form-sphere. It naturally follows that mind and matter that belong to the thirty-one planes of existence are totally absent in nibbāna. However, some would like to propose that after the parinibbāna of the Buddha and the Arahants, they acquire a special kind of mind and matter in nibbāna. Such an extraordinary way of thinking may appeal to those who cannot do away with self or ego.

With regard to this proposition a learned Sayādaw reasoned that if there is a special kind of mind and matter in nibbāna, there must also be a special kind of rebirth which gives rise to a special kind of old age, disease, and death, which in turn bring about a special kind of sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and despair. When the teachings explicitly say cessation, it will be improper to go beyond it and formulate an idea of a special kind of existence. Extinction points to nothing other than Nothingness. Nibbāna, which is not involved in mind and matter, cannot be made to get involved either in this world or in other worlds.

Nibbāna Offers No Sense-objects

In the absence of mind, matter, consciousness, concomitants, etc., There can be no sense-objects, and in the absence of sense-objects no opportunities arise for mental formations to play their part. Nibbāna means the end of suffering. Since there are no primary elements and no mind and matter, everything ceases, and this cessation means eternal peace. All sufferings end.

-Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, On the Nature of Nibbana

Bhikkhu Sujato wrote three articles refuting the idea that nibbana is eternal consciousness that are great, too. The most compelling argument, in my opinion, is that all arguments that some suttas support this idea rely on suttas that do not say that they are talking about parinibbana, and so do not prove that consciousness exists after the death of an arahant at all. They are clearly talking about nibbana while alive. Here are some relevant quotes, and I’ve linked the articles below.

When passages such as the ‘anidassana vinnana’ or the ‘pabhassara citta’ are invoked to lend support for the notion that Nibbana is an eternal cosmic awareness that survives the death of an arahant, the first question we should ask is, ‘Do these phrases actually refer clearly to the state of an arahant after death?’ If they don’t, they are irrelevant to the problem. We all agree that an arahant is conscious before their death.

Arguments for the ‘eternal-consciousness Nibbana’ almost invariably tend to slip from talking about the citta or vinnana in this life to the state after death. It is a subtle sleight of hand, which pivots on the ambiguity of the term Nibbana, and is hidden by the conceptual fog that mere mention of the term evokes.
-Bhikkhu Sujato “Nibbana Remains Not Vinnana”

…i believe that the Buddha actually said what he meant, and don’t feel the need to rely on later teachers to correct him. To expand or clarify things, sure; but not to propound something that is manifestly different.

What I am talking about is not, in fact, identical with the annihilation of the materialists, and I would ask you to respect the fact that, while you may see no difference, I do. That the Buddha’s view was similar to that of annihilation, and was liable to be mistaken for it, is acknowledged in the Suttas themselves. However, the fallacy is that of reductionism: because the Buddha’s teaching of Nibbana as the “cessation of existence” (bhavanirodho nibbanam) shares some things in common with the annihilationist teaching of the destruction of a physical (or immaterial, for that matter) Self, it is assumed to be the same.

This is why, as I emphasized in a previous comment, the Buddha’s position will be always misunderstood as long as one or other aspect is emphasized exclusively. To repeat: when speaking of the ontology of Nibbana–what actually exists after the death of an arahant–the Buddha always spoke in negative terms: the cessation of consciousness, the ending of the five aggregates, and so on. However, when he spoke of our subjective attitudes towards Nibbana, he always spoke in positive terms: the peaceful, the sublime, the refuge, and so on.
-Bhikkhu Sujato, comment to Nibbana is not vinnana. Really, it just isn’t.

The Suttas emphatically, repeatedly, and unambiguously (sabbena sabbam sabbattha sabbam kassaci kimhici) deny the possibility of any “Nibbanic sentience”, and this is, in fact, one of their principle doctrines, stated in direct opposition to the Upanishadic notion of the transcendent consciousness. In addition to this ontological position, the Suttas also express an unreserved and equally unambiguous positive sense of how we should feel about Nibbana. Beyond this, one is proliferating the unproliferated….
-Bhikkhu Sujato, comment to Nibbana is not vinnana. Really, it just isn’t.

The Buddha was so very very emphatic that the end of dependent origination was the end of all forms of consciousness. Making distinctions between “consciousness” and “awareness” and the like is no use, since these do not apply in the suttas.

Unfortunately, most Buddhist commentators on this point are not familiar with the relevant pre-Buddhist Upanishads; for in those texts, it is precisely vijnana (= Pali vinnana) that is the “Universal Awareness” that survives all. If you read what the Upanishads say about vijnana, side by side with what the Buddha says, it becomes perfectly clear that the Buddha was specifically adopting the Upanishadic terminology in order to refute it.

If what the Buddha taught is really in essence the same as the Upanishads–and the ideas that you good gentlemen are talking about are, indeed, Upanishadic–then why was he so chronically unable to say so clearly? Why did he not repeat, as part of the basic definition of Nibbana, that it meant “an eternally lasting radiant omniscient transcendent consciousness”. It’s not so hard; I can do it, and the Upanishadic teachers could. Why did the Buddha, so extraordinarily clear and analytical in all things that matter, fail to say what he meant? Why, in all the dozens of epithets and descriptions of Nibbana, did he so scrupulously avoid anything that implies an existent state? Why, then, do those who search to validate such ideas in the Suttas constantly bringing up the same few, obscure passages of poetic or dubious interpretation? Passages which, moreover, have been shown time and time again to not mean what they are supposed to. The pabhassara citta in the canon, for example, clearly refers to the mind that is developed through samadhi; and if it can be developed it cannot be unconditioned. If actually you consider the passages that supposedly support the idea of Nibbana as a transcendental consciousness, they invariably undermine any such tendency by phrasing themselves in the negative: “There is the unborn…” It’s an emphatic assertion of a negative, not of a positive.

Nibbana is supposed to be threatening. It’s supposed to be disturbing. That’s why, when the Devas or others of limited ability here of it, they are terrified and traumatized. Who gets traumatized by the idea that they will live forever as a transcendent consciousness? Nibbana poses the ultimate existential question, which is why the Buddha always described in ontologically in the negative. At the same time, however, he described it psychologically in the positive: the peaceful, the shelter, the cool, the ultimate bliss. But we can’t realize that state of peace as long as we still attach to refined forms of suffering such as a transcendent consciousness.
-Bhikkhu Sujato’s comment on “Vinnana is not nibbana really it just isn’t”


Sela sutta:

This puppet is not made by itself,
Nor is this misery made by another.
It has come to be dependent on a cause,
When the cause dissolves then it will cease.

As when a seed is sown in a field
It grows depending on a pair of factors:
It requires both the soil’s nutrients
And a steady supply of moisture.

Just so the aggregates and elements,
> And these six bases of sensory contact,
> Have come to be dependent on a cause;
> When the cause dissolves they will cease


ANguttara nikaya I

328 "Bhikkhus, just as even a trifling amount of feces is foul smelling, so too I do not praise even a trifling amount of existence even for a mere finger snap. (note179)

Bodhi (179) Mp explains that after the Buddha had given a discourse on the rebirth of beings, saying that there are nine persons “freed from hell, the animal realms, and the sphere of afflicted spirits” (see 9:12) he considered:“If the bhikkhus, on hearing this discourse think: ‘We are freed from hell, etc’ they may think there is no need to strive for the higher paths and fruits. Let me then stir up a sense of urgency in them.” Mp glosses the words, “I do not praise even a trifling amount of existence,” with: “I do not praise rebirth in any realm of existence even for a short time” (appamatakampi kaalam bhave patisandhim na vannayaami)


Ah… I remember the olden days where I was accused of heretical Nihilist views when I said that nothing exists after parinibbāna. Ven Kumarabhivamsa was attacked too. Like some punk thought he knew more about Buddhism than an abhivaṃsa scholar. They make 6 of these degrees per year out of 300,000 monks. (at that time…6 out of 500,000). Plus he is a pa-auk meditation teacher. We had to delete the comments… and then Mistakes of Pa-Auk suddenly appeared with his own channel.

If you say there is nothing after Parinibbāna, they accuse you of Nihilism.
In short and simple English… the wrong (Nihilist) view negates attainments and kamma and the causes for rebirth or even saṃsāra. The Nihilist believes that there is a limited number of births or even only this current birth regardless of removing the causes for rebirth. They also believe this regardless of morality, etc. It is a very dangerous wrong view.
However, when those causes are removed with wisdom and the fuel is no more, then the 5 khandas pass away and do not arise again.

The Eternalist who belive that Buddha lives in Nibbāna is another wrong view. The angle is to show the difference between Nihilism and Parinibbāna.

The problem is that those who assert in The Buddha living in Nibbāna believe in this Thai Forest Citta thing. It is some type of Sixth Khanda. When you encounter people like this, there is nothing you can say to them to convince them otherwise. I think this borders with Mahāyāna stuff as well. It is nonCT headache stuff like this that caused me to give up on dhammawheel and help create this group with @RobertK.

Here is an article I wrote long ago.

As for Suttanta Buddhists… the Citta thing especially in the Thai Forest Bible, causes this to arise. That is another reason why they think the commentaries and abhidhamma is wrong. If CT is correct, then the biography is wrong. (notice I say biography).


That’s so cool that the Buddha used the puppet analogy, too! I thought that was a later thing from only the Vism. Thanks for sharing. Here’s the Visuddhimagga quote:

, just as a marionette is void, soulless and without curiosity, and
while it walks and stands merely through the combination of strings and wood,
[595] yet it seems as if it had curiosity and interestedness, so too, this mentalitymateriality is void, soulless and without curiosity, and while it walks and stands
merely through the combination of the two together, yet it seems as if it had
curiosity and interestedness. This is how it should be regarded. Hence the
Ancients said:

The mental and material are really here,
But here there is no human being to be found,
For it is void and merely fashioned like a doll—
Just suffering piled up like grass and sticks.
-Vism XVIII.31


Here is another good quote that clearly implies there is nothing after parinibbana (because there’s barely anything now, and after what is here now is gone, that’s it) from the Visuddhimagga, and its likely sutta inspiration:

…the Ancients said:

There is no doer of a deed
Or one who reaps the deed’s result;
Phenomena alone flow on—
No other view than this is right.

-Vism XIX.20

For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
Doing exists although there is no door.
Extinction is but no extinguished person;
Although there is a path, there is no goer.
-Vism XI.90

saṃyutta nikāya 5

connected discourses with bhikkhunis

  1. Vajira
    At Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Vajira dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Savatthi for alms. When she had walked for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Blind Men’s Grove for the day’s abiding. Having plunged into the Blind Men’s Grove, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day’s abiding.

Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Vajira, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:

“By whom has this being been created?
Where is the maker of the being?
Where has the being arisen?
Where does the being cease?”

Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Vajira: “Now who is this that recited the verse—a human being or a nonhuman being?” Then it occurred to her: “This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from concentration.”

Then the bhikkhuni Vajira, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” replied to him in verses:

“Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, is that your speculative view?
This is a heap of sheer formations:
Here no being is found.

“Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates exist,
There is the convention ‘a being.’

“It’s only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be,
Nothing but suffering ceases.”

Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, “The bhikkhuni Vajira knows me,” sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.
-SN 5.10


MN22 and SN 22:86

pubbe c’aham bhikkhave etarahi ca dukkhan c’eva pannapemi, dukkhassa ca nirodham
Bhikkhus, both formerly and now what I teach is [only] suffering and the end of suffering.

Commentary translations by Dhammanando :Majjhima Atthakathā to the Alagaddūpamasutta:

Pubbe cā ti pubbe mahābodhimaṇḍamhiyeva ca. Etarahi cā ti etarahi dhammadesanāyañca. Dukkhañceva paññapemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhan ti dhammacakkaṃ appavattetvā bodhimaṇḍe viharantopi dhammacakkappavattanato paṭṭhāya dhammaṃ desentopi catusaccameva paññapemīti attho.

“Both in the past…” means “Both in the past at the great throne of Enlightenment. “And now…” means “and now during this teaching of Dhamma.”

“I set forth only dukkha and the cessation of dukkha” – the meaning is: “Not having set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma while dwelling at the place of Enlightenment, from the time that I did set it in motion, when teaching the Dhamma I set forth only the four truths.”

Saṃyutta Atthakathā to the Anurādhasutta:

“Dukkhañceva paññapemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhan” ti vaṭṭadukkhañceva vaṭṭadukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ nibbānaṃ paññapemi. ‘Dukkhan’ ti vā vacanena dukkhasaccaṃ gahitaṃ. Tasmiṃ gahite samudayasaccaṃ gahitameva hoti, tassa mūlattā. ‘Nirodhan’ ti vacanena nirodhasaccaṃ gahitaṃ. Tasmiṃ gahite maggasaccaṃ gahitameva hoti tassa upāyattā. Iti pubbe cāhaṃ, anurādha, etarahi ca catusaccameva paññapemīti dasseti. Evaṃ imasmiṃ sutte vaṭṭavivaṭṭameva kathitaṃ.

“I set forth only dukkha and the cessation of dukkha” means: “I set forth only the dukkha of the cycle [of saṃsāra] and the cessation of the dukkha of the cycle: nibbāna.”

Alternatively: by the term ‘dukkha’ is meant the truth of dukkha. When taken in that sense, the truth of arising is included too, on account of its being the root cause [of dukkha]. By the term ‘cessation’ is meant the truth of cessation. When taken in that sense, the truth of the path is included too, on account of its being the means [for realising cessation]. So the sense: “Both in the past and now, Anurādha, I set forth only the four truths” is shown. Thus in this sutta just the cycle and ending of the cycle is spoken of.

note 268 By ven Bodhi to the statment in MN

The import of this statement is deeper than appears on the
surface. In the context of the false accusations of §37, the
Buddha is stating that he teaches that a living being is not
a self but a mere conglomeration of factors, material and
mental events, linked together in a process that is inherently dukkha, and that Nibb›na, the cessation of suffering,
is not the annihilation of a being but the termination of
that same unsatisfactory process. This statement should
be read in conjunction with SN 12:15/ii.17, where the
Buddha says that one with right view, who has discarded
all doctrines of a self, sees that whatever arises is only
dukkha arising, and whatever ceases is only dukkha ceasing.

and note 165 to SN 22:86

This oft-quoted dictum can be interpreted at two levels. At the more superficial level the Buddha can be read as saying that he does not make any declaration about such metaphysical questions as an afterlife but teaches only a practical path for reaching the end of suffering here and now. This interpretation, however, does not connect the dictum with the Buddha’s previous statement that the Tathāgata is not apprehended in this very life. To make this connection we have to bring in the second interpretation, according to which the “Tathāgata” is a mere term of conventional usage referring to a compound of impermanent formations, which are “suffering” because they contain no permanent essence. It is just these that stand while the Tathāgata lives, and just these that cease with his passing away. The context in which the dictum occurs at MN I 140,14-15 also supports this interpretation.”—

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This likely couldn’t convince the mahayana practitioner.

They think once the conceptual overlay is gone, suffering is gone there, but the phenomena still goes on, even after parinibbana.

They think we haven’t break through to emptiness insight, thus thinking that even the phenomena, 6 sense contacts must pass away after parinibbana, that the difference between arahant still living and dead arahant is really cessation not just another step and phenomena rolls on.

Hard to get through to these people, maybe it’s not worth it. Wrong view is so dangerous… but then could their view be qualified as wrong view? Not liberated, thinking they are liberated… hmmm… yes likely.


Thank you for your reply, Venerable. This may not be a great piece of evidence to convince. What about my first reply, did you find anything in that, or the links provided, that is helpful and convincing?

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I think it’s too much effort to teach those who doesn’t want to be taught. Anyway thanks. I tried, they were not responsive.

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Found a gem in MN 60

34.14The view of those ascetics and brahmins who say that 34.15there is no such thing as the total cessation of continued existence is close to greed, yoking, relishing, attachment, and grasping. 34.16The view of those ascetics and brahmins who say that 34.17there is such a thing as the total cessation of continued existence is close to non-greed, non-yoking, non-relishing, non-attachment, and non-grasping.’ 34.18Reflecting like this, they simply practice for disillusionment, dispassion, and cessation regarding future lives.