0 votes
by (150 points)
How do we know Buddha has reached to Nibbana ? Buddha himself may not have said it ? If so, how would one know ?  Thank you.

2 Answers

0 votes
by (8.5k points)
If you follow his instructions you can see for yourself if it leads to nibbana or not. If it leads to nibbana then how can one who does not know the destination give instructions on how to reach it?
by (150 points)
So one does not know whether he has reached to Nibbana ? So it is more a general acceptance and believe that he did ?
by (8.5k points)
How can you know what someone else has attained or not? He has claimed that he has attained it. And he has given instructions for others to attain it.
by (150 points)
Unless I am mistaken, I don’t think he has claimed that he did ? Nibban is attained at the time of Death which is also dependent on the Karma of your life, that is the reason I have asked this question as how does one know. Thank you for your answer anyway.
by (8.5k points)
Nibbana is to be attained in this life not after death. Hence Sotappana, Anagami, etc.
by (8.5k points)
You can find more info on the Buddha's life here in these suttas: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/buddha.html#awakening

I suggest reading the suttas where he talks about his awakening.
by (150 points)
Thought it is attained at the time of death also in consideration of your Karma during this life time. Any way this is my understanding as a Theravada Buddhist.
by (150 points)
Thank you for the link
by (8.5k points)
Karma is useful for being reborn in a life that makes it easier to practice the Buddha's teaching. But Karma is not what leads to nibbana. Nibbana is the complete unconditioning of the mind's ignorance, desire, and aversion. Karma creates more conditioning. So karma can never lead to nibbana.
by (150 points)
edited by
This is such an interesting topic. I agree with you on Karma, it alone cannot take one to Nibanna however it helps you on the path.

After reading further from the looks you and I are referring to Two Types of Nibbana. I believe you are referring to Sopadhiśeṣa-Nirvāṇa whereas I am referring to Nir-Upadhiśeṣa-Nirvāṇa. Please see the descriptions below, they are slightly different.

(sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa), "nirvana with remainder", "nirvana with residue." Nirvana is attained during one's life, when the fires are extinguished. There is still the "residue" of the five skandhas, and a "residue of fuel", which however is not "burning".  Nirvana-in-this-life is believed to result in a transformed mind with qualities such as happiness, freedom of negative mental states, peacefulness and non-reactiveness.

(nir-upadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa), "nirvana without remainder," "nirvana without residue". This is the final nirvana, or parinirvana or "blowing out" at the moment of death, when there is no fuel left.

Where I am from, most people are only aware of the later nir-upadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa "blowing out" at the moment of death, when there is no fuel left.

So thank you, I have learnt something new today which is sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa
by (2.0k points)
I think what you are referring to is parinirvana which is conventional human death of one who has attained the state of nirvana in this life.
I am no scholar and I do not come from a theravada perspective per say but from my own understanding we can not know the state that buddha has reached (nirvana) until we have experienced it ourselves, which is the state of sotapanna.
When you have experienced nirvana, even if it was only for a microsecond (no time in nirvana for reference but yutadhammao has once said quoting scriptures one can only initially abide in it for a maximum of 7 days) you will instinctively know the actual meaning of the 4 noble truths and that the path buddha explained is heading towards nirvana.
Doubt in the buddhas teaching of the path is one of the 3 fetters that are released for a sotapanna.

For simple sake, one has faith in the buddha, practices his teachings then looses faith when one comes to realize his teachings are true from your own direct experience of putting the teachings into practice.
There is no other way.

I will direct you to this sutra for some reference: https://accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.027.than.html#fn-4
+1 vote
by (17.2k points)

"Then, monks, being subject myself to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, seeking the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Unbinding, I reached the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding. Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, seeing the drawbacks of aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, seeking the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Unbinding, I reached the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding. Knowledge & vision arose in me: 'Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.' - Ariyapariyesana Sutta

Then I claimed in the world with its gods, its Maras and high divinities, in this generation with its monks and brahmans, its princes and men to have discovered the full Awakening that is supreme. Knowing and seeing arose in me thus: 'My heart's deliverance is unassailable. This is the last birth. Now there is no renewal of being.'" - Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta

There are many such example in the Suttas.

by (150 points)
Thank you for sharing the Text and the Links.
by (17.2k points)
You're welcome!
by (2.0k points)
Just to point out relating to OPs question.
The Buddha saying "I am awake" or "Iam a Buddha" etc is just him saying that, we cannot know he is a Buddha.
It is like me saying I am the queen of Zimbabe, how do you know! It is just words.
Only following the teachings and seeing for ourselves can we actually know the Buddha has attained nirvana.
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