15 Apr
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Temporary Nibbana

One of the readings from this month’s DPP homework is Nibbana for Everyone, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu). He writes:

The word ‘nibbana‘ means ‘coolness.’ Back when it was just an ordinary word that people used in their homes, it meant ‘coolness.’ When it is used as Dhamma language, in a religious context, it still means ‘coolness,’ but refers to the cooling or going out of the fires of defilement (kilesa, reactive emotions), when in common people’s usage it means the cooling of physical fires….

Any reactive emotion that arises cease when its causes and conditions are finished. Although it may be a temporary quenching, merely a temporary coolness, it still means Nibbana, even if only temporarily…This indeed is the temporary Nibbana that sustains the lives of beings who are still hanging onto defilement [greed, hatred and delusion].

Anyone can see that if the egoistic emotions exist night and day without any pause or rest, no life could endure it. You ought to consider carefully the fact that life can survive only because there are periods when the defilements don’t roast it, which, in fact, outnumber the times when the defilements blaze…

“Every time the defilements [greed, hatred and delusion] don’t appear, Nibbana becomes apparent to the mind. This kind of Nibbana nourishes the lives of living things so they survive and don’t go crazy…We can experience Nibbana here and now by breathing in cool and breathing out cool. It is the automatic quenching of heat, of thirst, of dukkha [suffering] in ordinatry life, even without our being conscious of it. It is the eternal nourishment and sustenance of life.

(image: “A Whole World,” by Couprie and Louchard) 

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