Is nirvana an individual attainment?

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Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby flowerbudh » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:59 pm

Let's say that "I" am able to reach nirvana. "I" am free, but every "other" living being is still trapped in samsara... doesn't this suggest that "I" too am still trapped? I believe that all forms of life, like branches on a tree, grew from one original source, aka dependent origination. Won't we *all* have to cease to exist in samsara to achieve the supreme state?
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. - The Buddha
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby wisdom » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:09 pm

flowerbudh wrote:Let's say that "I" am able to reach nirvana. "I" am free, but every "other" living being is still trapped in samsara... doesn't this suggest that "I" too am still trapped? I believe that all forms of life, like branches on a tree, grew from one original source, aka dependent origination. Won't we *all* have to cease to exist in samsara to achieve the supreme state?


Its true that what we see and experience is dependently arisen. The Buddha Nature however is unconditioned, free, and never becomes a conditioned, dependently arisen object. Once you attain to that freedom you won't return to Samsara again unless you decide to out of compassion for all living beings. If Buddhahood could become a dependently arisen object, then it would be subject to birth, decay and eventually death. If this was true (that Buddhahood was a conditioned object) then that would mean that although someone became a Buddha today, they could somehow lose it tomorrow by encountering a force that changes it. This is not the case. The Buddha nature is beyond the past, present and future, and it is also unchanging and indestructible.
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby oushi » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:25 am

flowerbudh wrote:Let's say that "I" am able to reach nirvana. "I" am free, but every "other" living being is still trapped in samsara... doesn't this suggest that "I" too am still trapped? I believe that all forms of life, like branches on a tree, grew from one original source, aka dependent origination. Won't we *all* have to cease to exist in samsara to achieve the supreme state?

The only difference between samsara and nirvana is delusion. If you see others as "others", that is samsara.

Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra wrote:At that time, Subhūti addressed the Buddha, saying, “Bhagavān, when good men and good women develop the mind of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi, how should their minds dwell? How should they pacify their minds?” The Buddha told Subhūti, “Good men and good women develop Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi by giving rise to a mind thusly: ‘I will liberate all sentient beings. Yet when all sentient beings have been liberated, then truly not even a single sentient being has been liberated.’ Why? Subhūti, a bodhisattva who has a notion of a self, a notion of a person, a notion of a being, or a notion of a life, is not a bodhisattva. Why is this so? Subhūti, there is actually no dharma of one who develops Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi.


That which makes you see "other" as trapped, is what needs to be liberated, not all sentient beings. If you reach Nirvana, for you all sentient beings are liberated, but for them, no one was liberated.
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby greentara » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:37 am

Oushi, 'The only difference between samsara and nirvana is delusion. If you see others as "others", that is samsara' Short and sweet and to the point. Thats the way I'm able to grasp and understand the teachings of the Buddha. There are of course other teachings which depart from this and claim to be the 'uber' truth but I still think to see others as others is samsara.
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby ClearblueSky » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:47 am

All forms of life did originally come from a single source, that is not only your spiritual belief but a fact, and a really beautiful one that science has recently unveiled. Helps feel a connection at those times the world can seem so separate. On this relative level, we're our own people, and not everyone will see their Buddha nature at the same time. We have to work on it to help others see it too. If we are truly getting liberated one by one and separately, and there are actually an "infinite" number of beings as it's said, then due to that there could never be a time where the "final" being gets liberated. I guess that's why Buddha nature is beyond time or dependent origination (and unfortunately, beyond words). I guess all we can do is practice to see it's nature, and do our best to help bring everyone else we can there too.
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby disjointed » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:17 am

flowerbudh wrote:Let's say that "I" am able to reach nirvana. "I" am free, but every "other" living being is still trapped in samsara... doesn't this suggest that "I" too am still trapped? I believe that all forms of life, like branches on a tree, grew from one original source, aka dependent origination. Won't we *all* have to cease to exist in samsara to achieve the supreme state?


When I was younger this idea caused me to really despair. I thought even if I was free, omniscience would make that meaningless because I would experience all the suffering of all the beings as if it was myself.

Now I don't see things this way because I recognize that, while there is some sort of connection between beings, we individually can end our feeding and nirvana. And I think now that the Buddha's activity is nothing like the samsaric activity motivated by desperation, but an activity that,... LOL my brain froze up thinking about it.

And now I want to meditate. Goodnight.
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby flowerbudh » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:27 pm

Thank you oushi for such a clear explanation. I've started experiencing all as one through my meditations. That oneness and sameness is such a peaceful state in which to dwell. :)
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. - The Buddha
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:13 pm

Wonderful :) A more peaceful mind free from craving and distraction is of immense benefit in discerning your situation.

Just be careful that it's not a new sticky concept of oneness as opposed to the old concept of separateness.
I know my mind at least can pull a self rabbit out of any hat.
Ideas of self versus ideas of not-self can share the characteristics and effects of any idea and grasping, no matter the actual "flavor" or content.

That said, I think oneness is a lot more skillful of a tool than separateness.
It doesn't reinforce the same old me/you, this/that dichotomy that we've practiced our whole lives and that causes so much isolation and suffering.
Oneness can also be a good backdrop to notice these separating habits, especially regarding aversion and thoughts/circumstances you don't want.

That said, I'd recommend a quick search of the forum for "monism".
Some people much smarter than I have discussed the idea.
It may help you discern a middle path between "all is one" (monism) and "all is two" (what we're most familiar with).
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby invisiblediamond » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:56 pm

flowerbudh wrote:Let's say that "I" am able to reach nirvana. "I" am free, but every "other" living being is still trapped in samsara... doesn't this suggest that "I" too am still trapped? I believe that all forms of life, like branches on a tree, grew from one original source, aka dependent origination. Won't we *all* have to cease to exist in samsara to achieve the supreme state?


That is the Mahayana approach. See the Diamond Sutra.
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Re: Is nirvana an individual attainment?

Postby lobster » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:53 am

flowerbudh wrote:Thank you oushi for such a clear explanation.


:twothumbsup:

I've started experiencing all as one through my meditations. That oneness and sameness is such a peaceful state in which to dwell. :)


Indeed. Don't wallow but by all means develop a feel for peace. If possible start to explore the 'emptiness of peace'. In this sense emptiness/nirvana is infinite. That does not mean we should 'space out', rather we should 'spaciousness in'. :popcorn:
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