Apratishtita Nirvana

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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]
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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.
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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).
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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.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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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.
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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.
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