With this stage he attains Nirvâṇa, the best known word and the most difficult to explain in all the vocabulary of Buddhism.
It is perhaps used more by western students than by oriental believers and it belongs to the same department of religious language as the word saint. For most Christians there is something presumptuous in trying to be a saint or in defining the precise form of bliss enjoyed by saints in heaven and it is the same with nirvana. Yet no one denies that sanctity and nirvana are religious ideals. In a passage already quoted, Gotama described how in attaining Buddhahood he sought and arrived at the incomparable security of nirvana in which there is no birth, age, sickness, death, pain or defilement.
This, confirmed by many other statements, shows that nirvana is a state attainable in this existence and compatible with a life of intellectual and physical exertion such as he himself led. The original meaning is the state of peace and happiness in which the fires of lust, hatred and stupidity are extinguished and the participle nibbuto apparently derived from the same root had passed into popular language in the sense of happy.
Two forms of nirvana are distinguished.
1. The first is upâdi-sesa-nibbânam or nirvana in which the skandhas remain, although passion is destroyed.
This state is also called arhatship, the condition of an arhat, meaning originally a worthy or venerable man, and the person enjoying it is alive. The idea that the emancipated saint who has attained the goal still lingers in the world, though no longer of the world, and teaches others, is common to all Indian religions.
2. With the death of an arhat comes the state known as an-upâdi-sesa-nibbânam in which no skandhas remain. It is also called Parinibbânam and this word and the participle parinibbuto are frequently used with special reference to the death of the Buddha.
The difference between the two forms of nirvana is important though the second is only the continuation of the first. Nirvana in this life admits of approximate definition: it is the goal of the religious life, though only the elect can even enter the struggle. Nirvana after death is not a goal in the same sense. The correct doctrine is rather that death is indifferent to one who has obtained nirvana and the difficulty of defining his nature after death does not mean that he has been striving for something inexplicable and illusory.
Arhatship is the aim and sum of the Buddha's teaching: it is associated in many passages with love for others, with wisdom, and happiness and is a condition of perfection attainable in this life. The passages in the Pitakas which seem to be the oldest and the most historical suggest that the success of the Buddha was due to the fact that he substituted for the chilly ideal of the Indian Munis something more inspiring and more visibly fruitful, something akin to what Christ called the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thus we are told in the Vinaya that Bhaddiya was found sitting at the foot of a tree and exclaiming ecstatically, O happiness, happiness. When asked the reason of these ejaculations, he replied that formerly when he was a raja he was anxious and full of fear but that now, even when alone in the forest, he had become tranquil and calm, "with mind as peaceful as an antelope's."
Nirvana is frequently described by such adjectives as deathless, endless and changeless. These epithets seem to apply to the quality, not to the duration of the arhat's existence (for they refer to the time before the death of the body) and to signify that in the state which he has attained death and change have no power over him. He may suffer in body but he does not suffer in mind, for he does not identify himself with the body or its feelings.
Numerous passages could be quoted from the poetical books of the Pali Canon to the effect that nirvana is happiness and the same is stated in the more dogmatic and logical portions. Thus we hear of the bliss of emancipation and of the happiness which is based on the religious life and the words "Nirvana is the greatest happiness" are put into Gotama's own mouth.
The middle way preached by him is declared to be free from all distress, and those who walk in it make an end of pain even in this life. In one passage Gotama is found meditating in a wood one winter night and is asked if he feels well and happy. The night is cold, his seat is hard, his clothes are light and the wind bitter. He replies emphatically that he is happy.
Those who live in comfortable houses suffer from the evils of lust, hatred and stupidity but he has made an end of those evils and therefore is happy. Thus nirvana is freedom and joy: it is not extinction in the sense we give the word but light to them that sit in darkness, release to those in prison and torture. But though it is legitimately described in terms which imply positive happiness it transcends all human standards of good and evil, pleasure and pain. In describing the progress to it we all—whether Indians or Europeans—necessarily use such words as better, higher, happier, but in truth it is not to be expressed in terms of such values.
In an interesting sutta a Jain argues that happiness is the goal of life. But the Buddha states categorically first that perfect happiness is only attainable by abandoning the conscious pursuit of happiness and secondly that even absolute happiness when attained is not the highest goal: there is a better state beyond, and that state is certainly not annihilation or extinction of feeling, for it is described in terms of freedom and knowledge.
The Dhamma-sangaṇi speaks of Nirvana as the Uncompounded Element and as a state not productive of good or evil. Numerous assertions are made about it incidentally but, though we hear that it is perfected and supramundane, most of the epithets are negative and amount to little more than that it transcends, or is absolutely detached from, all human experience. Uncompounded (asankhato) may refer to the passing away of all sankhâras but what may be the meaning of dhâtu or element in this context, I do not presume to conjecture. But whatever else the word may mean, it clearly does not signify annihilation.
Both here and in the Questions of Milinda an impression is produced in the mind of the reader, and perhaps was not absent in the mind of the writer, that nirvana is a sphere or plane of existence resembling though excelling space or ether. It is true that the language when carefully examined proves to be cautious and to exclude material interpretations but clearly the expositor when trying to make plain the inexplicable leaned to that side of error rather than towards annihilation.
Somewhat similar is the language attributed to the Buddha in the Udâna.
"There is a state (âyatanam) where there is neither earth nor water, fire nor air, nor infinity either of space or of consciousness, nor nothingness, nor the absence of perception or non-perception, neither this world nor another, neither sun nor moon.
That I call neither coming, going, nor standing, neither death nor birth. It is without stability, without movement, without basis: it is the end of sorrow, unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, uncompounded."
The statements about nirvana in the Questions of Milinda are definite and interesting. In this work, Nâgasena tells King Milinda that there are two things which are not the result of a cause, to wit space and Nirvana. Nirvana is unproduceable (which does not mean unattainable) without origin, not made of anything and uncompounded. He who orders his life aright passes beyond the transitory, and gains the Real, the highest fruit. And when he has gained that, he has realized Nirvana.
The parts of the Pitakas which seem oldest leave the impression that those who heard and understood the Buddha's teaching at once attained this blissful state, just as the Church regards the disciples of Christ as saints. But already in the Pitakas we find the idea that the struggle to obtain nirvana extends over several births and that there are four routes leading to sanctification. These routes are described by the names of those who use them and are commonly defined in terms of release from the ten fetters binding man to the world.
The first is the Sotâpanno, he who has entered into the stream and is on his way to salvation. He has broken the first three fetters called belief in the existence of self, doubt, and trust in ceremonies or good works. He will be born again on earth or in some heaven but not more than seven times before he attains nirvana.
He who enters on the next stage is called Sakadâgâmin or coming once, because he will be born once more in this world and in that birth attain nirvana. He has broken the fetters mentioned and also reduced to a minimum the next two, lust and hate. The Anâgâmin, or he who does not return, has freed himself entirely from these five fetters and will not be reborn on earth or any sensuous heaven but in a Brahmâ world once only.
The fourth route is that of the Arhat who has completed his release by breaking the bonds called love of life, pride, self-righteousness and ignorance and has made an end of all evil and impurity. He attains nirvana here and is no more subject to rebirth. This simple and direct route is the one contemplated in the older discourses but later doctrine and popular feeling came to regard it as more and more unusual, just as saints grow fewer as the centuries advance further from the Apostolic age. In the dearth of visible Arhats it was consoling to think that nirvana could be won in other worlds.
The nirvana hitherto considered is that attained by a being living in this or some other world. But all states of existence whatever come to an end. When one who has not attained nirvana dies, he is born again. But what happens when an Arhat or a Buddha dies? This question did not fail to arouse interest during the Buddha's lifetime yet in the Pitakas the discussion, though it could not be stifled, is relegated to the background and brought forward only to be put aside as unpractical.
The greatest teachers of religion—Christ as well as Buddha—have shown little disposition to speak of what follows on death. For them the centre of gravity is on this side of the grave not on the other: the all important thing is to live a religious life, at the end of which death is met fearlessly as an incident of little moment.
The Kingdom of Heaven, of which Christ speaks, begins on earth though it may end elsewhere. In the Gospels we hear something of the second coming of Christ and the Judgment: hardly anything of the place and character of the soul's eternal life. We only gather that a child of God who has done his best need have no apprehension in this or another world. Though expressed in very different phraseology, something like that is the gist of what the Buddha teaches about the dying Saint. But this reticent attitude did not satisfy ancient India any more than it satisfies modern Europe and we have the record of how he was questioned and what he said in reply.
Within certain limits that reply is quite definite. The question, does the Tathâgata, that is the Buddha or perfected saint, exist after death, which is the phraseology usually employed by the Pitakas in formulating the problem, belongs to the class of questions called not declared or undetermined, because they do not admit of either an affirmative or a negative answer.
Other problems belonging to this class are: Is the world eternal or not: Is the world infinite or not: Is the soul the same as the body or different from it?
It is categorically asserted that none of these questions admit of a reply: thus it is not right to say that
(a) the saint exists after death,
(b) or that he does not exist,
(c) or that he both does and does not exist,
(d) or that he neither exists nor does not exist.
The Buddha's teaching about these problems is stated with great clearness in a Sutta named after Mâlunkyaputta, an enquirer who visits him and after enumerating them says frankly that he is dissatisfied because the Buddha will not answer them.
"If the Lord answers them, I will lead a religious life under him, but if he does not answer them, I will give up religion and return to the world.
But if the Lord does not know, then the straightforward thing is to say, I do not know."
This is plain speaking, almost discourtesy.
The Buddha's reply is equally plain, but unyielding.
"Have I said to you, come and be my disciple and I will teach you whether the world is eternal or not, infinite or not: whether the soul is identical with the body, or separate, whether the saint exists after death or not?"
"Now suppose a man were wounded by a poisoned arrow and his friends called in a physician to dress his wound.
What if the man were to say, I shall not have my wound treated until I know what was the caste, the family, the dwelling-place, the complexion and stature of the man who wounded me; nor shall I let the arrow be drawn out until I know what is the exact shape of the arrow and bow, and what were the animals and plants which supplied the feathers, leather, shaft and string.
The man would never learn all that, because he would die first."
is the conclusion,
"hold what I have determined as determined and what I have not determined, as not determined."
This sutta may be taken in connection with passages asserting that the Buddha knows more than he tells his disciples. The result seems to be that there are certain questions which the human mind and human language had better leave alone because we are incapable of taking or expressing a view sufficiently large to be correct, but that the Buddha has a more than human knowledge which he does not impart because it is not profitable and overstrains the faculties, just as it is no part of a cure that the patient should make an exhaustive study of his disease.
With reference to the special question of the existence of the saint after death, the story of Yamaka is important. He maintained that a monk in whom evil is destroyed (khînâsavo) is annihilated when he dies, and does not exist. This was considered a grave heresy and refuted by Sâriputta who argues that even in this life the nature of a saint passes understanding because he is neither all the skandhas taken together nor yet one or more of them.
Yet it would seem that according to the psychology of the Pitakas an ordinary human being is an aggregate of the skandhas and nothing more. When such a being dies and in popular language is born again, the skandhas reconstitute themselves but it is expressly stated that when the saint dies this does not happen.
The Chain of Causation says that consciousness and the sankhâras are interdependent. If there is no rebirth, it is because (as it would seem) there are in the dying saint no sankhâras. His nature cannot be formulated in the same terms as the nature of an ordinary man. It may be noted that karma is not equivalent to the effect produced on the world by a man's words and deeds, for if that were so, no one would have died leaving more karma behind him than the Buddha himself, yet according to Hindu doctrine, whether Buddhist or Brahmanic, no karma attaches to the deeds of a saint. His acts may affect others but there is nothing in them which tends to create a new existence.
In another dialogue the Buddha replies to a wandering monk called Vaccha who questioned him about the undetermined problems and in answer to every solution suggested says that he does not hold that view.
Vaccha asks what objection he has to these theories that he has not adopted any of them?
"Vaccha, the theory that the saint exists (or does not exist and so on) after death is a jungle, a desert, a puppet show, a writhing, an entanglement and brings with it sorrow, anger, wrangling and agony.
It does not conduce to distaste for the world, to the absence of passion, to the cessation of evil, to peace, to knowledge, to perfect enlightenment, to nirvana. Perceiving this objection, I have not adopted any of these theories."
"Then has Gotama any theory of his own?"
"Vaccha, the Tathâgata has nothing to do with theories, but this is what he knows: the nature of form, how form arises, how form perishes: the nature of perception, how it arises and how it perishes (and so on with the other skandhas).
Therefore I say that the Tathâgata is emancipated because he has completely and entirely abandoned all imaginations, agitations and false notions about the Ego and anything pertaining to the Ego."
But, asks Vaccha, when one who has attained this emancipation of mind dies where is he reborn?
"Vaccha, the word 'reborn' does not fit the case."
"Then, Gotama, he is not reborn."
"To say he is not reborn does not fit the case, nor is it any better to say he is both reborn and not reborn or that he is neither reborn nor not reborn."
"Really, Gotama, I am completely bewildered and my faith in you is gone."
"Never mind your bewilderment. This doctrine is profound and difficult. Suppose there was a fire in front of you. You would see it burning and know that its burning depended on fuel.
And if it went out (nibbâyeyya) you would know that it had gone out. But if some one were to ask you, to which quarter has it gone, East, West, North or South, what would you say?"
"The expression does not fit the case, Gotama. For the fire depended on fuel and when the fuel is gone it is said to be extinguished, being without nourishment."
"In just the same way, all form by which one could predicate the existence of the saint is abandoned and uprooted like a fan palm, so that it will never grow up in future.
The saint who is released from what is styled form is deep, immeasurable, hard to fathom, like the great ocean. It does not fit the case to say either that he is reborn, not reborn, both reborn and not reborn, or neither reborn nor not reborn."
Exactly the same statement is then repeated four times the words sensation, perception, sankhâras and consciousness being substituted successively for the word form. Vaccha, we are told, was satisfied.
To appreciate properly the Buddha's simile we must concentrate our attention on the fire. When we apply this metaphor to annihilation, we usually think of the fuel or receptacle and our mind dwells sadly on the heap of ashes or the extinguished lamp. But what has become of the fire? It is hardly correct to say that it has been destroyed. If a particular fire may be said to be annihilated in the sense that it is impossible to reconstitute it by repeating the same process of burning, the reason is not so much that we cannot get the same flames as that we cannot burn the same fuel twice.
But so long as there is continuous combustion in the same fireplace or pile of fuel, we speak of the same fire although neither the flame nor the fuel remains the same. When combustion ceases, the fire goes out in popular language. To what quarter does it go? That question clearly does not "fit the case." But neither does it fit the case to say that the fire is annihilated.
Nirvana is the cessation of a process not the annihilation of an existence. If I take a walk, nothing is annihilated when the walk comes to an end: a particular form of action has ceased. Strictly speaking the case of a fire is the same: when it goes out a process ceases. For the ordinary man nirvana is annihilation in the sense that it is the absence of all the activities which he considers desirable. But for the arhat (who is the only person able to judge) nirvana after death, as compared with nirvana in life, may be quiescence and suspension of activity, only that such phrases seem to imply that activity is the right and normal condition, quiescence being negative and unnatural, whereas for an arhat these values are reversed.
We may use too the parallel metaphor of water. A wave cannot become an immortal personality. It may have an indefinitely long existence as it moves across the ocean, although both its shape and substance are constantly changing, and when it breaks against an obstacle the resultant motion may form new waves. And if a wave ceases to struggle for individual existence and differentiation from the surrounding sea, it cannot be said to exist any more as a wave. Yet neither the water which was its substance nor the motion which impelled it have been annihilated. It is not even quite correct to say that it has been merged in the sea. A drop of water added to a larger liquid mass is merged. The wave simply ceases to be active and differentiated.
In the Saṃyutta-Nikâya the Buddha's statement that the saint after death is deep and immeasurable like the ocean is expanded by significant illustration of the mathematician's inability to number the sand or express the sea in terms of liquid measure. It is in fact implied that if we cannot say he is, this is only because that word cannot properly be applied to the infinite, innumerable and immeasurable.
The point which is clearest in the Buddha's treatment of this question is that whatever his disciples may have thought, he did not himself consider it of importance for true religion. Speculation on such points may be interesting to the intellect but is not edifying. It is a jungle where the traveller wanders without advancing, and a puppet-show, a vain worldly amusement which wears a false appearance of religion because it is diverting itself with quasi-religious problems.
What is the state of the saint after death, is not as people vainly suppose a question parallel to, am I going to heaven or hell, what shall I do to be saved? To those questions the Buddha gives but one answer in terms of human language and human thought, namely, attain to nirvana and arhatship on this side of death, if possible in your present existence; if not now, then in the future good existences which you can fashion for yourself.
What lies beyond is impracticable as a goal, unprofitable as a subject of speculation. We shall probably not be transgressing the limits of Gotama's thought if we add that those who are not arhats are bound to approach the question with misconception and it is a necessary part of an Arhat's training to get rid of the idea "I am."
The state of a Saint after death cannot be legitimately described in language which suggests that it is a fuller and deeper mode of life. Yet it is clear that nearly all who dispute about it wish to make out that it is a state they could somehow regard with active satisfaction. In technical language they are infected with arûparâgo, or desire for life in a formless world, and this is the seventh of the ten fetters, all of which must be broken before arhatship is attained.
I imagine that those modern sects, such as the Zen in Japan, which hold that the deepest mysteries of the faith cannot be communicated in words but somehow grow clear in meditation are not far from the master's teaching, though to the best of my belief no passage has been produced from the Pitakas stating that an arahat has special knowledge about the avyâkatâni or undetermined questions.
Almost all who treat of nirvana after death try to make the Buddha say, is or is not. That is what he refused to do. We still want a plain answer to a plain question and insist that he really means either that the saint is annihilated or enters on an infinite existence. But the true analogues to this question are the other insoluble questions, for instance, is the world infinite or finite in space? This is in form a simple physical problem, yet it is impossible for the mind to conceive either an infinite world or a world stopping abruptly with not even space beyond.
A common answer to this antinomy is that the mind is attempting to deal with a subject with which it is incompetent to deal, that the question is wrongly formulated and that every answer to it thus formulated must be wrong. The way of truth lies in first finding the true question. The real difficulty of the Buddha's teaching, though it does not stimulate curiosity so much as the question of life after death, is the nature and being of the saint in this life before death, raised in the argument with Yamaka.
Another reason for not pressing the Buddha's language in either direction is that, if he had wished to preach in the subtlest form either infinite life or annihilation, he would have found minds accustomed to the ideas and a vocabulary ready for his use. If he had wished to indicate any form of absorption into a universal soul, or the acquisition by the individual self of the knowledge that it is identical with the universal self, he could easily have done so. But he studiously avoided saying anything of the kind.
He teaches that all existence involves suffering and he preaches escape from it. After that escape the words being and not being no longer apply, and the reason why some people adopt the false idea of annihilation is because they have commenced by adopting the false alternative of either annihilation or an eternal prolongation of this life.
A man makes himself miserable because he thinks he has lost something or that there is something which he cannot get. But if he does not think he has lost something or is deprived of something he might have, then he does not feel miserable.
Similarly, a man holds the erroneous opinion,
"This world is the self, or soul and I shall become it after death and be eternal, and unchanging."
Then he hears the preaching of a Buddha and he thinks
"I shall be annihilated, I shall not exist any more,"
and he feels miserable. But if a man does not hold this doctrine that the soul is identical with the universe and will exist eternally—which is just complete full-blown folly--and then hears the preaching of a Buddha it does not occur to him to think that he will be annihilated and he is not miserable. Here the Buddha emphasizes the fact that his teaching is not a variety of the Brahmanic doctrine about the Âtman. Shortly afterwards in the same sutta he even more emphatically says that he does not teach annihilation.
He teaches that the saint is already in this life inconceivable (ananuvejjo):
"And when I teach and explain this some accuse me falsely and without the smallest ground saying 'Gotama is an unbeliever; he preaches the annihilation, the destruction, the dying out of real being.' When they talk like this they accuse me of being what I am not, of saying what I do not say."
Though the Buddha seems to condemn by anticipation the form of the Vedanta known as the Advaita, this philosophy illustrates the difficulty of making any statement about the saint after his death. For it teaches that the saint knows that there is but one reality, namely Brahman, and that all individual existences are illusion: he is aware that he is Brahman and that he is not differentiated from the world around him. And when he dies, what happens? Metaphors about drops and rivers are not really to the point. It would be more correct to say that nothing at all has happened. His physical life, an illusion which did not exist for himself, has ceased to exist for others.
Perhaps he will be nearest to the Buddha's train of thought who attempts to consider, by reflection rather than by discussion in words, what is meant by annihilation. By thinking of the mystery of existence and realizing how difficult it is to explain how and why anything exists, we are apt to slip into thinking that it would be quite natural and intelligible if nothing existed or if existing things became nothing. Yet as a matter of fact our minds have no experience of this nothing of which we talk and it is inconceivable. When we try to think of nothingness we really think of space from which we try to remove all content, yet could we create an absolute vacuum within a vessel, the interior of the vessel would not be annihilated. The man who has attained nirvana cannot be adequately defined or grasped even in this life: what binds him to being is cut but it is inappropriate and inadequate to say that he has become nothing.
Sanskrit Nirvâṇa: Pali Nibbâna.2.
Maj. Nik. 26.3.
E.g. the words addressed to Buddha, nibbutâ nûna sâ narî yassâyam îdiso pati. Happy is the woman who has such a husband. In the Anguttara Nikâya, III. 55 the Brahman Jâṇussoṇi asks Buddha what is meant by Sanditthikam nibbâṇam, that is nirvâṇa which is visible or belongs to this world. The reply is that it is effected by the destruction of lust, hatred and stupidity and it is described as akâlikam, ehipassikam opanayikam, paccattam veditabbam viññûhi--difficult words which occur elsewhere as epithets of Dhamma and apparently mean immediate, inviting (it says "come and see"), leading to salvation, to be known by all who can understand. For some views as to the derivation of nibbana, nibbuto, etc. see J.P.T.S. 1919, pp. 53 ff. But the word nirvâṇa occurs frequently in the Mahâbhârata and was probably borrowed by the Buddhists from the Brahmans.4.
But parinirvâṇa is not always rigidly distinguished from nirvâṇa, e.g. Sutta Nipâta, 358. And in Cullavag. VI. 4. 4 the Buddha describes himself as Brâhmaṇo parinibbuto. Parinibbuto is even used of a horse in Maj. Nik. 65 ad fin.6.
Sam. Nik. XXII. 1. 18.7.
Vimuttisukham and brahmacariyogadham sukham.8.
Maj. Nik. 139, cf. also Ang. Nik. II. 7 where various kinds of sukham or happiness are enumerated, and we hear of nekkhammasukham nirupadhis, upekkhâs, arûparamanam sukham, etc.9.
E.g. Maj. Nik. 9 Ditthe dhamme dukkhass' antakaro hoti.10.
Ang. Nik. V. xxxii.11.
Maj. Nik. 79.12.
Asankhatadhâtu, cf. the expression asankhâraparinibbâyî. Pugg. Pan. l. 44.13.
Tabulated in Mrs Rhys Davids' translation, pp. 367-9.14.
Such a phrase as Nibbâṇassa sacchikiriyâya "for the attainment or realization of Nirvana" would be hardly possible if Nirvana were annihilation.15.
Udâna VII. near beginning.16.
These are the formless stages of meditation. In Nirvana there is neither any ordinary form of existence nor even the forms of existence with which we become acquainted in trances.17.
This negative form of expression is very congenial to Hindus. Thus many centuries later Kabir sung "With God is no rainy season, no ocean, no sunshine, no shade: no creation and no destruction: no life nor death: no sorrow nor joy is felt .... There is no water, wind, nor fire. The True Guru is there contained."18.
IV. 7. 13 ff.19.
See also Book VII. of the Milinda containing a long list of similes illustrating the qualities necessary for the attainment of arhatship. Thirty qualities of arhatship are mentioned in Book VI. of the same work. See also Mahâparinib. Sut. III. 65-60 and Rhys Davids' note.20.
E.g. Dig. Nik. xvi. ii. 7, Cullavag. ix. 1. 4.21.
E.g. Pugg. Pan. 1. 39. The ten fetters are (1) sakkâyadiṭṭhi, belief in the existence of the self, (2) vicikicchâ, doubt, (3) silabbataparamâso, trust in ceremonies of good works, (4) kâmarâgo, lust, (5) paṭigho, anger, (6) rûparâgo, desire for rebirth in worlds of form, (7) arûparâgo, desire for rebirth in formless worlds, (8) mano, pride, (9) uddhaccam, self-righteousness, (10) avijjâ, ignorance.22.
There is some diversity of doctrine about the Sakadâgâmin. Some hold that he has two births, because he comes back to the world of men after having been born once meanwhile in a heaven, others that he has only one birth either on earth or in a devaloka.23.
Avyâkatani. The Buddha, being omniscient, sabaññu, must have known the answer but did not declare it, perhaps because language was incapable of expressing it24.
Jiva not attâ.25.
Maj. Nik. 63.26.
Sam. Nik. xvii. 85.27.
Maj. Nik. 72.28.
Which is said not to grow up again.29.
It may be that the Buddha had in his mind the idea that a flame which goes out returns to the primitive invisible state of fire. This view is advocated by Schrader (Jour. Pali Text Soc. 1905, p. 167). The passages which he cites seem to me to show that there was supposed to be such an invisible store from which fire is born but to be less conclusive as proving that fire which goes out is supposed to return to that store, though the quotation from the Maitreyi Up. points in this direction. For the metaphor of the flame see also Sutta-Nipâta, verses 1074-6.30.
Maj. Nik. 9, ad init. Asmîti diṭṭhim ânânusayam samûhanitvâ.32.
See especially Sutta-Nipâta, 1076 Atthan gatassa na pamâṇam atthi, etc.33.
Sam. Nik. XXII. 85.34.
Maj. Nik. 22, Alagaddûpama-suttam.35.
Later in the same Sutta: Kevalo paripûro bâladhammo.36.
Four emphatic synonyms in the original.37.
Dig. Nik. I. 73 uccinna-bhava-nettiko.38.
I recommend the reader to consider carefully the passage at the end of Book IV. of Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (Haldane and Kemp's translation, vol. I. pp. 529-530). Though he evidently misunderstood what he calls "the Nirvana of the Buddhists" yet his own thought throws much light on it.