The Mahabheriharaka Sutra

In the Buddha’s teachings the Buddha always contrasts the nature of samsara with the natures of Nirvana.

Samsara (our world of suffering) is characterized by the 3 characteristics – anicca, dukkha, anatta.  In other words:

  • Impermanent things that we crave for and seek to grasp, lead to suffering when they decay and die and are separated from us.
  • If something is impermanent then it is imperfect – it is unsatisfactory and leads to suffering.

It follows that anything with these 2 characteristics are not worthy of being regarded as Self (anatta) – not worthy of being regarded as who you really are.

Nirvana on the other hand, is what happens when these samsaric characteristics impermanence and suffering are overcome:

  • If you no longer have anything impermanent – then only the eternal remains.
  • If you no longer have any suffering – what’s left must be happiness – the eternal, never-ending bliss of Nirvana.
  • And if everything that is not-self is abandoned – what’s left must be your real Self:

Kasyapa, according at the time one becomes a Tathagata, a Buddha, he is in Nirvana, and is referred to as permanent, steadfast, calm, eternal, Self (Atman).

The Mahabheriharaka Sutra, cited in Existence and Enlightenment in the Lankavatara Sutra: A Study in the Ontology and Epistemology of the Yogacara School of Mahayana Buddhism, SUNY Press, 1991, by Florin Giripescu Sutton, p71.

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