The Deathless: Consciousness Without Feature
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog. Almost an entire year! I guess I’ll be trying to update this blog a lot more periodically. Feel free to also check out my website which seems to get updated a lot more than this blog.
Buddha often referred to Nirvana as the unconditioned, unbinding, undying and the “deathless state”. However, the deathless state is something that can be realized right here and now. In the Kodhavagga, the Buddha said, “Those sages who are inoffensive and ever restrained in body, go to the Deathless State, where, having gone, they grieve no more.” The property of the deathless state is that of exquisite peace as it is the resolution of all fabrications and the relinquishment of all acquisitions; it is the ending of craving; it is dispassion, cessation, and unbinding.
The “deathless state” of Nirvana is not defined in terms of time and space. There is no coming, going, here, there, past, present, etc. This is why the consciousness of the Deathless (or Nirvana) is said to be “without feature” or “without surface”, without end, and luminous all around. The “consciousness without feature” is not included in the five skandhas, because the consciousness-aggregate only covers the consciousness that is in connection with time and space. Therefore, “consciousness without feature” should not be confused with the formless stage of concentration called the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, which is fabricated and willed. Since “consciousness without feature” is not defined in terms of time and space, it can not be said to be eternal because eternity is still a function of time.
Buddha insisted that an awakened person, unlike us ordinary folk, can not be located or defined in any relation to the aggregates in this life. Therefore, after death (or “parinirvana”), a Buddha or Arahant can not be described as existing, not existing, neither, or both, because these descriptions can only apply to definable things