Udana commentary


Regarding the controversial statement ‘imina ālokasabhāvataṃyeva nibbānassa dasseti’

It is found in the suppavāsāsuttavaṇṇanā of the same commentary

tamasā visaṃsaṭṭhattā kenaci anobhāsanīyā lokasabhāvābhāvato eva gatiādibhāvarahitā appatiṭṭhā anārammaṇā amatamahānibbānadhātu khandhasaṅkhātānaṃ upādīnaṃ lesamattassapi abhāvato anupādisesāti vuccati

Which makes it pretty clear that Ven Dhammapala didn’t think of Nibbana as a literal light.Since tamasā also means avijja/moha.

We also find In dvayatānupassanāsutta

amosadhammaṃ nibbānaṃ, tadariyā saccato vidū


He argues that since there is no gloom, nibbana must have light. That’s his argument. So, it doesn’t look metaphorical. The use of sabhava merely reinforces that. This doesn’t contradict CT, since nibbana is a very real thing for CT. It’s not merely cessation, nothingness. It being something means it can be argued to have its own light.

It having light isn’t an exegesis I agree with, but it’s there.

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I don’t see that in his commentary


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The context is Ven. Dhammapala saying nibbana is full of light, because there is no gloom there. Gloom, sun and moon are conditioned. There being no gloom, sun or moon there is instead unconditioned light, which is the intrinsic nature of nibbana (Ven. Dhammapala’s words, not mine). No one is saying that the light described here is physical. That looks like a straw man.

Saying that nibbana has the nature of light is also consistent with the wider context of CT, since nibbana isn’t nothing according to CT. It’s really some-thing. There is existence in final Nibbana, according to CT.

(Edited by mod to remove unnecessary comment)

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What existence is it, according to Theravada?
You agree it is not physical, so not rupa.
Is it another one of the khandhas?


Take a look at all the uses of sabhava in the udana atthakatha. If you think it’s always used in the sense that you have in mind, there is really no point in continuing this conversation.

Hint: If i want to say, the nature of this body is to become wrinkled and bent, I can use ‘sabhava’ to express that meaning in Pali.


On the nature of existence and nibbana
Translation by Nyanaponika

Itivuttaka 44

This was said by the Blessed One, spoken by the Holy One, and thus I have heard:
There are, O monks, two aspects of Nibbána: the Nibbána- element with the groups of existence still remaining (sa- upádisesa-nibbánadhátu), and the Nibbána-element with no groups remaining (anupádisesa-nibbánadhátu).
What now is the Nibbána-element with the groups of
existence still remaining? In that case, O monks, a monk is an Arahat: he is taint-free, has fulfilled the holy life, accomplished his task, thrown off the burden, attained his goal, cast off the fetters of existence and is liberated through right wisdom. But there still remain with him (until his death) the five sense- organs that have not yet disappeared and through which he still experiences what is pleasant and unpleasant, as well as bodily ease and pain. The extinction of greed, hatred and delusion in him, this is called the Nibbána-element with the groups of existence still remaining.
And what is the Nibbána-element with no groups of existence remaining? In that case, O monks, a monk is an Arahat … liberated through right wisdom. In him, all those feelings, no longer relished, will even here (at his death) come to extinction. This is called the Nibbána-element with no groups of existence remaining.


:pray: :pray: :pray:


It’s not any of the aggregates or anything conditioned according to CT. It does though exist, having its own nature. As the Visuddhimagga says, its not simply cessation. Its very subtle. To quote Ven. Dhammapāla again


So here we see that nibbāna does truly exist, as the opposite of all conditioned things. If dukkha exists, nibbāna must exist. Its just beyond comprehension.

Just because saṃsāra is beginningless and endless, one should not have any concept of time regarding nibbāna. Again, just because innumerable Buddhas, Solitary Buddhas, and Noble Disciples have entered parinibbāna, one should not associate nibbāna with numbers.

The idea of the endless cycle of rebirth pertains only to mental and material phenomena that are subject to the process of arising and cessation, or momentary births and deaths. Don’t let that lengthy process linger in your mind when you consider nibbāna. For nibbāna is real, whereas time is a concept. Saṃsāra is infinite, but nibbāna cannot be said to have any beginning at all. One is apt to get confused since nibbāna is the very antithesis of saṃsāra. Saṃsāra is an endless process that defies measurement. Nibbāna exists in the ultimate sense, whereas the existences of beings are always changing and do not remain for a moment. Do not think of nibbāna with any reference to the transient world. Do not wonder about the present location of the former Noble Ones. For example, as a train moves along, trees at a distance seem to be moving along with it, but in fact the trees are stationary. Similarly, saṃsāra moves on like the train, but nibbāna is motionless like the distant trees. The reflection of the moon at its zenith would appear in every ray of water, if rays were placed in every house in Asia. The number of moons reflected in the rays has nothing to do with the actual moon. The reflections are like those who have passed on to nibbāna, and nibbāna is like the moon.

This, then, is a short explanation about nibbāna or deliverance, with particular emphasis on the fact that nibbāna is not for any “person” to enter.

Ledi Sayādaw

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Sure, context matters. In the passage we are discussing Ven. Dhammapāla is discussing ultimate realities, so its not bad reasoning to read it as referring to true existence here.

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Ven Dhammapala is explaining, Blessed Ones intention in stating ‘na ubho candimasūriyā’.

Are you innocently mixed up about ‘existent’ and ‘existence’ , or are you intentionally using them interchangeably?


I would infer that it is, in fact, the former rather than the latter, as he does not strike me as someone who thinks there’s any being, person, controller, etc.

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I’m using them when moving from singular to plural.

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Just to be clear, you are using ‘existent’ and ‘existence’ in the sense of ‘atthi’ and ‘atthibhāva’?

I wasn’t really being that technical with it. What I am referring to are the true, real existents of the sabhāva-dhammas.

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I am sorry, I am not a native English speaker. I don’t get what you are trying to say.

When Ven. Dhammapāla is using sabhāva here the context is in terms of the ultimate realities, so its not a given that he is being metaphorical.

I think whatever English translation you are using is tripping you up. Since the OP was originally sent as PM for the mods I only shared a small excerpt from the suppavāsāsuttavaṇṇanā. Which I think you didn’t check for yourself. Here is a bit more context. Notice the same passage from the paṭhamanibbānapaṭisaṃyutta sutta.

tathā yā sā bhagavatā anuppattā pathaviyādiphassavedanādirūpārūpasabhāvavinimuttā lujjanabhāvābhāvato lokasabhāvātītā tamasā visaṃsaṭṭhattā kenaci anobhāsanīyā lokasabhāvābhāvato eva gatiādibhāvarahitā appatiṭṭhā anārammaṇā amatamahānibbānadhātu khandhasaṅkhātānaṃ upādīnaṃ lesamattassapi abhāvato anupādisesāti vuccati, yaṃ sandhāya vuttaṃ –

"atthi, bhikkhave, tadāyatanaṃ, yattha neva pathavī na āpo na tejo na vāyo na ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ na viññāṇañcāyatanaṃ na ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ na nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ nāyaṃ loko na paro loko na ca ubho candimasūriyā, tatrāpāhaṃ, bhikkhave, neva āgatiṃ vadāmi na gatiṃ na ṭhitiṃ na cutiṃ na upapattiṃ, appatiṭṭhaṃ appavattaṃ anārammaṇamevetaṃ, esevanto dukkhassā"ti

sā sabbesampi upādānakkhandhānaṃ atthaṅgamo, sabbasaṅkhārānaṃ samatho, sabbūpadhīnaṃ paṭinissaggo, sabbadukkhānaṃ vūpasamo, sabbālayānaṃ samugghāto, sabbavaṭṭānaṃ upacchedo, accantasantilakkhaṇoti yathāvuttasabhāvassa kadācipi avisaṃvādanato tathā avitathā anaññathā. evametā abhijātiādikā tathā gato upagato adhigato paṭipanno pattoti tathāgato. evaṃ bhagavā tathā gatoti tathāgato.

I’m going by the Pāli. Perhaps you could explain why that quote supports your argument?

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