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by (960 points)

Where or to what state does one become after parinirvana?  I understand that samsara is uncontrolled rebirth in any of the realms of existence, but where does one "go" after attaining parinirvana, leaving the body in this world/realm? Is one able to control rebirth or is there a state "outside of samsara" where Buddhas and arhants reside? Where did the Buddha go, or where are the arhants gone?

If all phenomena is impermanent (annica) as well as our self not existing (anatta) then would this not imply that once one obtains nirvana, that nirvana is not permanent and ones self would again become an illusion, trapped in uncontrollable rebirth ad infinitum? A cycle within cycles!

by (7.7k points)
I would suggest you to stick to the Theravada school and not to mix it up with other schools. "existences outside of samasara" is a teaching coming from schools of Mahayana.

2 Answers

0 votes
by (5.0k points)
Where does a fire go when it goes out? Does it go north, south, east, west, up, or down? No. It doesn't go anywhere. It ceases without remainder.

Reality is moments of experience not objects or entities. Moments of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. Nibbana is the cessation of experience. Parinibanna occurs after death once Arahantship has been attained. It is cessation without remainder. No more experience arises. There is no being that goes anywhere because there was never any being to begin with. There was only ever moments of experience.
by (960 points)
So in a round about way you are saying non existence?
When one is free from samsara by attaining nirvana and when one dies in paranirvana one ceases to exist?
by (5.0k points)
I'm trying to explain that the question is asked from an incorrect point of view. It assumes the existence of a being that dies and is reborn. But in Buddhism ultimate reality doesn't have objects or beings. Ultimate reality is moments of experience.

There was no being to begin with in ultimate reality. The view that there are beings is part of ignorance/wrong view. So nothing dies and nothing is reborn. There are just more experiences or cessation of experiences.
0 votes
by (3.3k points)
The questions are wrong. As @mhernandez points out.

Posing the questions this way you assume an existing being. But there is no such thing. Hence questions like 'where does one go' are unanswerable. There is no 'one' that could go anywhere. It's wrong to say that Buddha's and Arahants reside outside samsara. It's also wrong to say that they don't. Because the premisse of the question is wrong. Answering either way would assume the correctness of the question.

When it comes to what Nibbana is then I think, for practical purposes, the easiest way is to say that Nibbana is the ending of suffering. So long as there is suffering the goal has not been achieved. That's really all one needs to know.
by (960 points)
Very poignant replay thank you.
I think I understand the "answer" to my own question intellectually from my own experience, though it is still hard to grasp the state inbetween arising and ceasing, if that makes sense. The real reason for me to ask this question is that differing views I have been taught suggest that there are existences outside of samasara where once one becomes enlightened one can reside and "bless" lesser beings trying to find nirvana, which lead me to believe that either these views are wrong and not Buddhas teachings (but a distorted view of Buddhas world view) or are outside of my realm of understanding.
by (5.0k points)
It's not part of Theravada Buddhism as far as I know. But the only way to find out is to see for yourself. Practice the 4 satipatthanas and find out.
by (3.3k points)
Hi Remyla,

Samsara  _is_  experience, experience _is_  Samsara. Samsara and experience are basically the same. So long as you experience you are, therefore, in Samsara. Saying something like 'being and/or residing' outside doesn't make sense then. It's indeed wrong.
I think you picked up on this correctly.
DN1 comes to mind, not sure why. This is, if memory serves, the sutta where Buddha explains more than 20 different wrong views. Not sure this helps though because I don't know whether this specific sutta addresses the raised issue.

When it comes to the state between arising and ceasing... that's being.
Maybe you meant the state between ceasing and arising? There is no correct way to talk about it, since it is outside of existence. Effects apply to Samsara. So, one can only describe the effects on existence. I'm not sure how to say this all.
by (3.3k points)
@mhernandez
It's from the suttas and experience.
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