[Buddha-l] liturgical languages

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Fri May 13 15:02:20 MDT 2005

On Fri, 2005-05-13 at 12:24 -0400, Stanley J. Ziobro II wrote:

> In the case of the Buddha's parinivana, would that not also ultimately
> indicate an accomplished state, thereby subjecting the process of
> enlightenment to some essence and, as you note, contradict the anatta and
> anicca propositions?

The Buddhist abhidhammikas anticipated this question about 2200 years
ago. Their way of handling it was to say that parinirvana (like nirvana)
is not a thing. All things are conditioned. Nirvana is not conditioned.
Therefore it is not an entity. Rather, it is an absence. Like all
absences, it has only a conceptual existence. The concept is flawed, to
be sure, but no more so than all other concepts. 

Incidentally, exactly the same was said about bodhi (awakening). It also
cannot be an entity, for if it were, it would be conditioned and subject
to decay and eventual loss. So it can only be an absence, which is not a
thing at all.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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