Posted by David on December 16, 1998 at 06:35:15:
In Reply to: Nirvana and Heaven posted by david rose on December 16, 1998 at 01:50:05:
Hi David Rose,
In the Shorter Discourse On The Lion's Roar Sutta the Buddha points out the difference between his path and those of the other sects of his time. The other sects of his time more than adequately cover the principles found in todays main religions, including Christianity. The end-all distinguishing characteristic was that in Buddhism neither the view of a self existing (eternalism) nor the view of a self not existing (annhilism)is held to. In Christianity, there is definitely the holding onto an idea of a permanent eternal self - the soul (which goes to eternal heaven...or, eternal hell). Furthermore, most (especially the biggest) branches of Christianity hold God to be a permanent and eternal entity as well. As the Buddha points out in the Shorter Lion's Roar Sutta, holding to a view of self as existing or as not existing is clinging, and following the linkages of dependent co-arising from clinging to ignorance also shows clearly that no matter how worthy and good such a Way may be, if it holds to the self or no-self view, it is still tainted by some degree of ignorance and it's subsequent effects.
Nibanna is simply the name we use for when no ignorance at all remains for the "one" who has extinguished it. Simple, but not ease for most of us. Ignorance refers to not being aware of how things are - for example, not being "experientially" aware that self does not exist eternally, and that nor does a self not exist. Heaven is only another samsaric realm, like this realm we are in now, where some of us "self"s go to based on our accumulated causes (and conditions). But according to the Buddha, we would stay in heaven a lot longer and feel much more pleasant much more of the time (until it was time to leave!).
Hope this helps,
p.s. the Shorter Discourse On The Lion's Roar Sutta can be found at http://world.std.com/~metta/canon/majjhima/mn11.html
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