Where does the Tathāgata reappear after death?

BUDDHA QUOTES // Aggivacchagotta Sutta 72, Majjhima Nikāya

Vaccha :
When a Tathāgata’s mind is fully liberated, Master Gotama, where does it reappear after death? …

Buddha :
The term ‘reappear’ does not apply.
The term ‘does not reappear’ does not apply.
There term ‘both reappears and does not reappear’ does not apply.
The term ‘neither reappears nor does not reappear’ does not apply.

Vaccha :
Here I have fallen into bewilderment, here I have fallen into confusion, the measure of confidence I had gained through previous conversation with Master Gotama has now disappeared.

Buddha :
It is enough to cause you bewilderment, Vaccha, enough to cause you confusion. For this Dhamma is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.

It is hard for you to understand it when you hold another view, accept another teaching, approve of another teaching, pursue a different training, and follow a different teacher. So I shall question you in return. Answer as you choose.

What do you think? Suppose a fire were burning before you. Would you know “this fire is burning before me?”

Vaccha :
Yes I would.

Buddha :
What does this fire before you burn in dependence on?

Vaccha :
This fire burns in dependence on fuel of grass and sticks.

Buddha :
If that fire before you were extinguished, would you know “this fire before me has been extinguished?”

Vaccha :
Yes I would.

Buddha :
When that fire before you was extinguished, to which direction did it go? To the east, the west, the north or the south?

Vaccha :
That does not apply, Master Gotama. The fire burned in dependence on it’s fuel of grass and sticks. When that is used up, if it does not get more fuel, being without fuel, it is seen to be extinguished.

Buddha :
So too Vaccha, the Tathāgata has abandoned the material form by which the Tathāgata might be described; this form has been cut it off at the root, made as a palm stump, done away with, so that the Tathāgata is no longer subject to future arising. The Tathāgata is liberated from reckoning in terms of material form; having become profound, immeasurable, hard to fathom like the ocean. Thus, the term ‘reappear’ does not apply;  ‘does not reappear’ does not apply…

Related Posts