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Bhante Katukurunde Nanananda’s Interpretation of Nibbana: Experience Without Boundary

March 25, 2019
Arjuna Jayawardena

Abstract: This research is an attempt to interpret how the early Buddhist teachings portray Nibbana and how this portrayal might be understood as a fitting conclusion to the Buddha’s quest to overcome suffering. In particular, we have tried to shed light on what is meant by bhava-nirodha (cessation of existence), a common description of Nibbana, and how such a dictum might avoid annihilationist interpretations without, at the same time, leaning towards an eternalist interpretation, the two extremes the Buddha seeks to avoid. In the second section, we attempt to see how the Buddha instructed his disciples to abandon the arising of the self-perspective. We have relied heavily on Bhante Katukurunde Nanananda’s analysis of the sutta-pitika as seen in a number of his books and most notably, in his Nibbana: The Mind Stilled series.

Introduction: Nanananda, formely a Pali lecturer, came under the guidance of Bhante Matara Sri Nanarama and was invited by the latter to deliver the sermons on Nibbana which would comprise the Nibbana:

The Mind Stilled series [1]. Nanananda’s interpretation is notable, first, in its disagreement with the commentarial tradition’s understanding, and second, in its insistence of Nibbana being the cessation of existence while nevertheless avoiding an annihilationist point of view. The sermons also rely heavily on the early texts. For the most part, these sermons were met with much resistance for the very same reasons that they are notable (the commentarial tradition is held in very high esteem in Sri Lanka, where these sermons were delivered).

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