Nibbana (Nirodha) from the viewpoint of Arūpa Jhāna

Nibbana is difficult to understand. But if we view it from the progression of jhana, nibbana is the natural ending of jhana.

  1. First there are the rupa jhanas. Here the 5 senses are supressed and we are left with the mind-sense that is stabilized by concentration to the meditation object. From the first the the fourth jhana the meditation object is refined.
  2. Then there are the arupa jhanas where the meditation object itself is removed. There is now an unlimited space, then unlimited consciousness (removing the space), then nothingness (removing the consciousness) but there is still perception of nothingness, and then there is not-perception-nor-not-perception where the perception is refined to the minimum level.
  3. What is consciousness? That which knows the object. Without object there can be no consciousness. What happens if what’s little perception in the fourth arupa jhana is removed? We get nirodha samapatti. Without perception (sanna) there is no consciousness.
  4. What is nirodha samapatti without a living body? We get nibbana.

So we can view nibbana as a meditative state where perception is gradually supressed until there is no perception. Without perception there is no consciousness. And without a living body that need to be fed there is no need to “wake up”. It is the ultimate state for meditators.

It is also interesting to consider what the Buddha did before parinibbana.

How the Blessed One Passed into Nibbana

  1. And the Blessed One entered the first jhana. Rising from the first jhana, he entered the second jhana. Rising from the second jhana, he entered the third jhana. Rising from the third jhana, he entered the fourth jhana. And rising out of the fourth jhana, he entered the sphere of infinite space. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of infinite space, he entered the sphere of infinite consciousness. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of infinite consciousness, he entered the sphere of nothingness. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of nothingness, he entered the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. And rising out of the attainment of the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he attained to the cessation of perception and feeling.

  2. And the Venerable Ananda spoke to the Venerable Anuruddha, saying: “Venerable Anuruddha, the Blessed One has passed away.”

There are meditators that tried to eliminate perception without developing insight which are then reborn in the asanasatta realm.

So for permanent elimination of perception, samatha only is not enough but insight also need to be developed to uproot the latent defilements i.e. the attachment to being (bhava-upadana).

Not too sure about that.
Nibbana is unconditioned, and not a meditative state.

Meditative state is just an allegory. You are focusing on the words and not on the context.

The closest state to nibbana is nirodha samapatti. The closest state to nirodha samapatti is the fourth arupa jhana.

The fourth arupa jhana is the state of almost no-perception. In nirodha samapatti there is no consciousness. Since consciousness must have an object, without perception we can assume there can be no consciousness. Thus from the state of almost no-perception to a state of no-perception.

If we generalize the pattern, the progression of rupa jhanas → arupa jhanas → nirodha samapatti → nibanna is the refinement of perception until there is no perception.

  1. In rupa jhanas, sensual perception is eliminated
  2. In arupa jhanas, material perception is eliminated
  3. In nirodha samapatti, perception itself is temporarily eliminated (because there is still a living body)
  4. In nibbana, perception is permanently eliminated

It is difficult to understand the appeal of nibbana from a sensual world perspective where we live on. But from the meditative progression point of view, nibbana is the ultimate state of tranquility.

Are you a follower of Bhante Vimalaramsi?
It sounds like you are making up your own interpretations or following those like Bhante Vimalaramsi.

This Bhante has an expanding brain meditation method and talks of 9th jhānas as Nibbāna. You might be interested in him.
Usually we only discuss dhamma like this if we are pointing out wrong view or asking if it is right view.

Clarifying:

The Abhidhamma will mention that meditation on Nibbāna is similar and so near to a jhāna object that they are classed as such. That is why there are two enumerations of Cittas. The expanded one includes the “jhānas” for Nibbāna.
Just like jhānas, there is pañña, sañña and sati cetasikas present.

I hope you can learn Abhidhamma. It makes everything very clear. Often people think that “blanking out” is Nibbāna but it surely is not. When I wake up very early in the morning, i notice that time can pass super fast. This is because of the inertia of bhavanga so early in the morning just from waking up. To counter that, I must get up quickly and be active. and oh… this blanking out it is not Nibbāna.
Often Mahasi students are instructed to stay up the whole night and stare at a clock. If 20 minutes or so passes, then this is considered Nibbāna. I heard about this as a teaching but never got this first hand. However, a Mahasi Lay person Teacher from S. Africa came to our monastery once and I asked him to verify this. He said it was true. He said it was not Nibbāna but would give people a taste for what it would be like.

I am not aware of Bhane Vimalarasi teaching.

Also I don’t call nibbana as jhana. As I have repeatedly wrote in the above posts, this is simply a hypothesis to understand nibbana. Jhana is a citta. I wrote: nibbana is a permanent stopping of perception. Without perception there can be no consciousness. I don’t think it is that hard to understand what I am trying to write here.

I have ample knowledge of abhidhamma. Before replying please understand first what I am trying to express. It is exhausting having people trying to explain to you where they themselves misunderstood what you are trying to express.

What I found interesting with this idea is that people does not usually associate nibbana with perception.

Anyone should understand that for consciousness to occur it need to have an object. Perception is where the object is received. Without perception there can be no consciousness. Without consciousness there is no formation, thus asankhata.

I don’t understand what you are trying to say. I think that people confuse Nirodhasamāpatti or Parinibbāna with regular attainments of Nibbāna such as Phalasamāpatti.

Perhaps you can explain further then.

Phalasamapatti is a lokuttara citta which is still sankhata (conditioned formation) since it is impermanent. So I am not talking about it here.

In nirodha samapatti, consciousness cease to exist. It is different with sleeping or when in comma where there is still bhavanga consciousness. In nirodha samapatti, there is no consciousness.

How can consciousness disappear in nirodha samapatti? I think the key to understand it is in the fourth arupa jhana, which is neither-perception-nor-not-perception, in other words, perception is almost disappear in the fourth arupa jhana.

Before that, a permise that I will repeat again is: Consciousness need an object to appear. Objects come from the 6 senses. Without perception (sanna) there is no object. Without object there is no consciousness that can appear. This is not having a blank mind. This is nibbana (ceasing to exist)

This is the basic definition of citta in abhidhamma. Citta is something that is conscious of an object.

To understand nibbana, we need to understand nirodha samapatti. To understand nirodha samapatti, we need to understand the fourth arupa jhana. To understand the fourth arupa jhana, we need to understand the third arupa jhana, and so on … to understand the second rupa jhana, we need to understand the first rupa jhana.

From the first rupa jhana to the fourth arupa jhana, the proses is a process of elimination where it ends with the almost elimination of perception.

From the first rupa jhana to the fourth arupa jhana, perception is eliminated step by step. First sensual perception is eliminated, then form perception is eliminated. After arupa jhana there is nirodha sampatti where all perception is eliminated. By eliminated I do not mean that it is permanently eliminated but simply that it is supressed.

So there is a process of eliminating perception starting from the first rupa jhana to the fourth arupa jhana. My view here is that nibbana is the permanent elimination of perception. I will write again here: Without perception, there is no consciousness that can appear. Without consciousness that can appear there is no formation, thus asankhata.

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To summarize: I am not trying to define what nibbana is. My idea is that we might be able to understand what nibanna is like by comparing it with the jhana states

What is the similarity between the jhana progressions:

  1. first rupa jhana
  2. second rupa jhana
  3. third rupa jhana
  4. fourth rupa jhana
  5. first arupa jhana
  6. second arupa jhana
  7. third arupa jhana
  8. fourth arupa jhana
  9. nirodha samapatti (yes this is not a jhana but I will include it here since it is the next stage for an anagami/arahat that has mastered arupa jhana)

The meditation object becomes more and more subtle.

  1. in rupa jhana, there is no sensual perception
  2. in arupa jhana, there is no form perception
  3. in nirodha samapatti, there is no perception

Can you see the pattern here?

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Any of these jhanas can be a basis for insight .
So one could take the elements in 2nd jhana and see their nature and become enlightened. Or any other jhana. Or indeed even elements unrelated to mundane jhana can be object and a basis for insight.

So when talking about the progression of the jhanas and nibbana it might imply that progressing in jhana is the path.
But the path is something else again.

Indeed, insight is the one that removes the latent tendencies which cuts the cycle of kamma which removes future rebirths which removes future formations.

Which is why there is the asannasata realm. Supressing perception does not eliminate rebirth.

The main idea that I want to express here is that: there is similarity between the 8 jhanas, nirodha samapatti, and nibanna with regards to elimination of perception. Each stage eliminates more and more perception up to the point that there is no perception. With no perception there is no consciousness that can appear. With no consciousness, there is no formation. Thus the state of asakhata is realized.

If we have meditated and feel the tranquility, we might already feel for a tiny bit what nibanna is. This is easier to explain to others. Sit and close your eyes, focus on one meditation object. Imagine the concentration become more and more subtle until the consciousness itself disappeared. This is the ultimate meditation state. This is probably how we can imagine what nibbana is.

To realize this state of asankhata, the working of kamma need to be stopped, temporarily as in nirodha samapatti, or permanently as in parinibbana. To stop the fruition of past kamma, clinging (upadana) need to be eliminated by insight. Which is why a non-ariya meditator can only supress perception to the state of neither-perception-nor-not-perception. While to stop perception completely in nirodha samapatti, requires the attainment of anagami or arahat.

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You need to be specific when you talk about Nibbāna.
Nibbāna cannot be attained unless one has contemplated the four noble truths and the three characteristics anicca dukkha & anatta. Furthermore mind and matter must be penetrated (the three paramatta) before the fourth can be known.

Those who know “blanking out Nibbāna” cannot explain what the difference is with Nibbāna and Nirodha. I still think you are skipping some steps. The main concern is that one must be an anagami first. The Nirodha attainment comes after.

But I am not talking about the path to the attainment of nibbana here. Those who want to learn about it can read the visuddhi magga.

What I am expressing is the similarity between the fourth arupa jhana, nirodha samapatti, and nibbana with regards to the elimination of perception.

Of course, someone in fourth arupa jhana cannot just enter nirodha sampatti. To stop perception, the fruition of kamma need to be stopped. Since perception itself is ahetuka citta that appears conditioned by past kamma. This is why someone in the fourth arupa jhana that want to completely eliminate the perception need to practice insight meditation.

I changed the title to reflect nirodha and arūpa jhāna

Friend i agree with you that in nirodhasamāpatti one eliminates the last perception, thus it is the summit of a process of “gradual disappearance” (anupubba nirodha).

However, i believe the Nirodha samāpatti to be attained mainly by the work of wisdom gained by strong insight knowledge together with the mastery of the 8 jhāna, not by the ending of kamma, but mainly by the wisdom power which has uprooted the defilements, because anāgāmi can attain it, and because it is said in Patisambidhāmagga:

“kathaṃ dvīhi balehi samannāgatattā tayo ca saṅkhārānaṃ paṭippassaddhiyā soḷasahi ñāṇacariyāhi navahi samādhicariyāhi vasibhāvatā paññā nirodhasamāpattiyā ñāṇaṃ?”

“What is, having been endowed by the two powers and tranquilized the three formations by the wisdom of mastery development of the 16 kind of knowledge and nine kind of concentration, is the wisdom of the cessation attainment -knowledge?”

The two powers are samatha and vipassanā power, and 16 kind of knowledge are insight knowledge, including magga phala up to Arahantship.
While what you said on samatha and the 8 samāpatti with gradual disappearance, we should not forget the fundamental importance of strong insight knowledge (wich destroy wrong perceptions) the for attainment of nirodhasamāpatti:
It is said further:

“katamaṃ vipassanābalaṃ? aniccānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. dukkhānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. anattānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. nibbidānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. virāgānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. nirodhānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. paṭinissaggānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. rūpe aniccānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ … pe … rūpe paṭinissaggānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ. vedanāya … pe … saññāya… saṅkhāresu… viññāṇe… cakkhusmiṃ … pe … jarāmaraṇe aniccānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ … pe … jarāmaraṇe paṭinissaggānupassanā vipassanābalaṃ.”

“What is the power of insight? Contemplation of impermanence is insight power… Of suffering… Of non self… of disenchantment… of dispassion… of disappearence… of relinquishment… Contemplation of impermanenece in the materiality is insight power… pe… of relinquishment in materiality is insight power… In feeling…in perception… in formations… in consciousness… in the eye… pe… contemplation of impermanence in aging and death is insight power…”

And then it is explained the power of insight prevents the shaking of the mind by the defilements due to wrong perceptions:

“vipassanābalanti kenaṭṭhena vipassanābalaṃ? aniccānupassanāya niccasaññāya na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. dukkhānupassanāya sukhasaññāya na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. anattānupassanāya attasaññāya na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. nibbidānupassanāya nandiyā na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. virāgānupassanāya rāge na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. nirodhānupassanāya samudaye na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. paṭinissaggānupassanāya ādāne na kampatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. avijjāya ca avijjā sahagatakilese ca khandhe ca na kampati na calati na vedhatīti — vipassanābalaṃ. idaṃ vipassanābalaṃ.”

“Insight power, how it is insight power? By the contemplation of impermanence, the perception of permanence does not shake, this is insight power… By the contemplation of suffering, the perception of pleasure does not shake- this is insight power… pe… By ignorance and the defilements associated with ignorance and aggregates don’t shake don’t wave and don’t quake- this is insight power. Such is insight power.”

I am starting to see your point. It is a little thought provoking.
The confusion comes with typical wrong-viewers who like to make up their own dhamma in addition to the wrong title for the post (fixed).

This is all my own speculation:
So I think what happens is each jhāna is attained by emerging from one jhāna, reflecting on the faults and then removing the factor in the previous jhāna. Arūpajjhāna uses the bases to attain the next with removal.
Sañña is not completely gone. I think it is classically said to be like a smear of oil… not enough to cook, not completely gone.

The faults of arūpajjhāna are that they are still bound by tilakkhaṇa. So the enlightened (any of the four puggalā) will choose Nibbāna. However, while the Nibbāna object itself is not bound by the the tilakkhaṇa, the mind that takes this as object is still real objects that arise and pass. The one who is already familiar with Nibbāna at a deep level such as the anāgāmini and arahant will lean toward nirodhasamāpatti as a way of freedom because they are constantly bombarded with the knowledge of the tilakkhaṇa dhammas arising and passing.

It would seem that one would need to go to the 8th arūpajjhāna and then attain nirodhasamāpatti. But it would also be possible after some practice to go directly, just as one does with 14 ways psychic power training. I think that is why this is available only to the anāgāmini and arahant .

The passage from the patisambhidhamagga is interesting but it does not explain why arupa jhana mastery is required in addition to insight to attain nirodha samapatti.

Here is another speculation: the perception in the fourth arupa jhana is almost gone that it can be supressed fully by the power of concentration. But if the arupa jhana citta is supressed, then the ahetuka citta which is conditioned by past kamma will appear. We know that nibanna has the power to escape from fruition of past kamma thus ending the cycle of rebirth. So maybe using the power of the fourth arupa jhana to eliminate perception (of the arupa object) and using the power of nibbana to supress the occurence of ahetuka citta (from kamma), a temporary cease of consciousness can be realized.

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Yes this is purely a speculation. But the novelty of the idea is using perception to explain what nibbana is. Nibbana is often defined as the permanent destruction of nama-rupa, which tend to feel like annihilation. Annihilation is usually countered using the argument that since there is no “I” then there is no self that is annihilated. Still the nama-rupa exists (or to be correct: the cycle of rebirth) and it is then destroyed (or stopped in terms of the rebirth cycle). One of the strongest instrict of a living being is survival so nibbana is contradictory to that basic instrict. Which make nibbana less appealing as a goal.

Kamma is the fuel that produces new nama rupa. Perception can be considered the fuel pipe, because it is via perception that feeling occurs, and then tanha, upadana, new kamma, and so on. By constraining the fuel pipe, we can also constrain the effect of kamma. By fully constraining the fuel pipe, the creation of new nama-rupa can be stopped. This isn’t annihilation but cessation which I found more inline with the meaning of the word nibbana itself.

This might be wrong, but if it can make nibbana more desirable as a goal then it could be beneficial. The Buddha said an egg will hatch as long as it is incubated not matter what the mother hen think while she is incubating it [1]. The Buddha also supposedly temped his half-brother to pursue the path by showing him the fairies of the tavatimsa [2]. So as long as the right path is followed, no matter what the pursuer perceive the goal is, the right goal will be manifested.

[1] https:// www .accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.101.than.html
[2] https:// en .wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanda_(half-brother_of_Buddha)

Nirodha Sacca is Nibbana. Nirodha is relief from pain - the cessation of pain. We all have had this experience many times in life. We might not notice when the pain ceased. But we know what hurt the body and mind are no longer hurt us now. They ceased. For example, a kid fell and it hurt his knee. After 20 years or so, the scar is still there but that pain can’t be felt. Memory of the fall is still in the mind although the painful feeling that appeared at the knee is no longer.
Nibbana is cessation of feeling and perception. That is how Right View is established and mental pain ceases.
Nibbana can be compared with sleep. Whoever suffering from whatever mental and physical pain gets a relief when he falls asleep. His problem is he is alive so he will wake up to suffer again.
We all died countless times in the past infinity. But birth lets us suffer the pain again and again by giving us the body and mind to suffer with.