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An introduction to Nibbana

The Pāli word Nibbana, pronounced as Nibbaana (which is written as Nirvāna in Sanskrit) is composed of the two words ‘Ni’ and ‘Vāna’, where ‘Ni’ represents Negation and ‘Vāna’ means craving.

Craving and desire and attachments leads to Kammic activities that tie you down in Sansāra, which means that you get caught up in the never ending circle of life through rebirth.

When craving is eradicated, Kamma forces do not accumulate and you escape the circle, thereby achieving Nibbana.

Nibbana however is not something that can be explained or expressed in words.  It is not something that can be understood with your intellect alone.  We cannot clearly express what it is, but we can say what it is not.  Nibbana is not a state of nothingness.  It is meant to be self realised (pachchattam vedithabbo)

So, how do we achieve it?  One does not have to leave this plane of existence in order to realise it.  Nibbana can be attained in this life itself.  If Nibbana is achieved in this life itself, we refer to it as Nirodha samāpatti.  Nibbana is eternal, it is desirable, and it is an eternal happiness.  According to the Lord Buddha,  “Nibbānam paramam sukham” – Nibbana is the highest bliss that can be achieved.

Where exactly is Nibbana?  This is one thing that we cannot express.  The Buddha states that it is located where the four elements āpo, thejo, vāyo, pathavi have no footing.

What is the way to Nibbana?  That, we will cover in the next article

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Tipitaka / Tripitaka

The Lord Buddha did not keep a written record of the Dhamma and expounded it verbally to suit the audience and the situation.  However, with the passing away of the Buddha (Parinibbāna), the need was felt for the wisdom to be recorded for eternity.

Three months after the Parinibbāna, in the 8th year of King Ajātasattu’s reign, the first council was held at Rajagaha with the participation of 500 Arahants.  The venerable Ananda Thera and venerable Upali Thera answered questions based on the Dhamma and Vinaya aspects of the Buddha’s teachings and the final outcome was the creation of the Tripitaka, which represents the entire teachings of the 45 years of the Ministry of Gauthama Buddha.  The Tripitaka is available to us in the Pali language, and we believe this to be the most pristine version of the Dhamma.

The word Tripitaka literally translates as “Tri” meaning Three, and “Pita” / “Pitaka” meaning Basket or Vessel, thereby giving us the three baskets of knowledge.

The Three Components or Baskets are:

  1. The Vinaya Pitaka, which deals with the rules and regulations that are to be followed by the Bhikkus, and contains approximately 226 components.  It consists of the five following books
    1. Pārājika Pāli – Major offenses
    2. Pāchittiya Pāli – Minor offenses
    3. Mahāvagga Pāli – Greater section
    4. Chullavagga Pāli – Lesser Section
    5. Parivāra Pāli – Epitome of the vinaya
  2. The Sutta Pittaka, consisting mainly of the discourses by the Buddha to the Sangha as well as the Lay people.  This is divided into five groupings or Nikāyas
    1. Digha Nikāya – collection of long discourses
    2. Majjhima Nikāya – collection of mid length discourses
    3. Samyutta Nikāya – collection of kindred sayings
    4. Anguttara Nikāya – collection of gradual sayings
    5. Khuddaka Nikāya – smaller collection, which is again divided among 15 books as
      1. Khuddaka Pātha – Shorter texts
      2. Dhammapada – The way of the truth
      3. Udāna – Paeans of Joy
      4. Itivuttaka – “thus said” discourses
      5. Sutta Nipātha – Collected discourses
      6. Vimāna Vatthu – Stories of celestial mansions
      7. Peta Vatthu – Stories of Petas
      8. Theragāthā – Psalms for the Bhikkus
      9. Therigāthā – Psalms for the Bhikkunis
      10. Jāthaka – Birth stories of the Bodisatwa
      11. Nidessa – Expositions
      12. Patisambhidā – Book on analytical knowledge
      13. Apadāna – Lives of Arahants
      14. Buddhavamsa – History of the Buddha
      15. Chariyā Pitaka – Modes of Conduct
  3. The Abidhamma Pitaka, containing the most profound philosophy of the Buddha.  It is the higher doctrine.  There is some amount of speculation as to whether it is the work of the Buddha himself, or whether it was the collaborative work of other Bhikkus with an immense knowledge and understanding of the Buddha’s teachings.  The Abidhamma Pitaka consists of the following 7 books
    1. Dhammasangani – Classification of Dhamma
    2. Vibhanga – Divisions
    3. Dhāthukathā – Discourse on elements
    4. Puggala Paññatti – The book on individuals
    5. Kathāvatthu – Points of controversy
    6. Yamaka – The book of pairs
    7. Patthāna – The book of causal relations

What is my objective in presenting all of this?  Simply to show you that Buddhism is a lot more than we give it credit for.  Buddhism is not a doctrine where you learn prayers / gāthās  by heart and recite them expecting blessings from gods.  It is a collection of knowledge and truths that we must uncover by studying it in detail, and it is that understanding that will take you one step closer towards Nibbāna.

The above is based on the book “The Buddha and his teachings” by Ven Nārada

Dhammapada verse 165

Attana hi katam pipam
attana samkilissati
attana akatam papam
attanava visujjhati
suddhi asuddhi paccattam
nanno annanam visodhaye.

“By oneself alone is evil done; by oneself is one defiled.
By oneself alone is evil avoided; by oneself alone is one purified.

Purity and impurity depend on oneself;
No one can purify another”

This verse was uttered by the Buddha to Chulakala Upasaka in relation to an incident where he was accused for a crime not committed by him, and being saved due to the testimony of others.

Another way to interpret this is that we alone are responsible for our lives and that we should not think about external influences such as the positioning of planets, and etc which can be corrected via poojas.  However, what we do in this life can affect the next one, and what we did in previous births can have a bearing on this one.

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Inaugural Post

Welcome to DailyDharma.org, a website that is dedicated to the teachings of Gauthama Buddha, and the ultimate truth.

The Dharma that was expounded by the Buddha over the course of 45 years of his ministry unleashed a tidal wave of reform in India and the other countries to which the Dharma was sent forth.  However, throughout the course of 2500 years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha, we see that there have been those that have splintered off from the teachings. We can see this in history by the hosting of the various Dharma Councils in order to discuss and ratify the teachings, and we can see this today when we see the different sects such as Mahayana and Theravada and others, and even within our own Theravada, we see the different Nikayas such as Malwathu and Asgiri.  The Amarapura Nikaya was then formed in 1800 due to the issues that arose via withholding of Upasampada (higher ordination) to the ordained, and restricting it to certain castes.  Gauthama Buddha was against the caste system from the very onset.

Not everyone will agree with what is presented through this website in an age where the Devala has a more prominent place within the Temple, and Astrology has crept into every aspect of how we conduct our activities.  Gauthama Buddha clearly stated that we should not put our faith in Astrology as we control our destiny based on the good and bad that we do.

It should be pointed out that the content is based on research of material based on Buddhist literature translated from Pali.  The objective is to explore Buddhism in the purest form possible and to take us further down the path of truth.  Being a Buddhist does not mean that you perform a set of rituals and recite Ghathas.  It is a much deeper religion and philosophy.

Buddhism is about the Truth of life and moving beyond the journey though Sansaara with the ultimate goal being Nibbana.

Join us in the journey, and we will bring you regular updates that are truly thought provoking