Does the Buddha Exist After His Death?

 The question: 'Does the Buddha exist after His death or not', is not a new question. The same question was put to the Buddha during His lifetime.
When a group of ascetics came and asked the same question from certain disciples of the Buddha, they could not get a satisfactory answer from them. Anuradha, a disciple, approached the Buddha and reported to Him about their conversation. Considering the understanding capacity of the questioners, the Buddha usually observed silence at such questions. However in this instance, the Buddha explained to Anuradha in the following manner:

'O Anuradha, what do you think, is the form (Rupa) permanent or impermanent?'
'Impermanent, Sir.'

'Is that which is impermanent, painful or pleasant?'
'Painful, Sir.'

'Is it proper to regard that which is impermanent, painful and subject to change as: 'This is mine; this is I, this is my soul or permanent substance?'

'It is not proper, Sir.'

'Is feeling permanent or impermanent?'
'Impermanent, Sir.'

'Is that which is impermanent, painful or pleasant?'
'Painful, Sir.'

'Is it proper to regard that which is impermanent, painful and subject to change as 'This is mine, this is I, this is my soul'?'

'It is not proper, Sir.'

'Are perfection, formative tendencies and consciousness, permanent or impermanent?'
'Impermanent, Sir.'

'Is that which is impermanent, painful or pleasant?'
'Painful, Sir.'

'Is it proper to regard that which is impermanent, painful and subject to change as: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my soul?'?'

'It is not proper, Sir.'

'Therefore whatever form, feeling, perception, formative tendencies, consciousness which have been, will be and is now connected with oneself, or with others, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near; all forms, feelings, perceptions, formative tendencies and consciousness should be considered by right knowledge in this way: 'This is not mine; this not I; this is not my soul.' Having seen thus, a noble, learned disciple becomes disenchanted with the form, feeling, perception, formative tendencies and consciousness. Becoming disenchanted, he controls his passion and subsequently discards them.'
'Being free from passion he becomes emancipated and insight arises in him: 'I am emancipated.' He realizes: 'Birth is destroyed, I have lived the holy life and done what had to be done. There is no more birth for me.'

'What do you think, Anuradha, do you regard the form as a Tathagata?'
'No, Sir.'

'O Anuradha, what is your view, do you see a Tathagata in the form?'
'No, Sir.'

'Do you see a Tathagata apart from form?'
'No, Sir.'

'Do you see a Tathagata in feeling, perception, formative tendencies, consciousness?'
'No, Sir.'

'O Anuradha, what do you think, do you regard that which is without form, feeling, perception, formative tendencies and consciousness as a Tathagata?'
'No, Sir.'

'Now, Anuradha, since a Tathagata is not to be found in this very life, is it proper for you to say: 'This noble and supreme one has pointed out and explained these four propositions:
A Tathagata exists after death;
A Tathagata does not exist after death;
A Tathagata exists and yet does not exist after death;
A Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death?'
'No, Sir.'

'Well and good, Anuradha. Formerly and now also I expound and point out only the truth of Suffering and cessation of Suffering.' (Anuradha Sutta - Samyutta Nikaya.)

The above dialogue between the Buddha and Anuradha may not be satisfactory to many, since it does not satisfy the inquiring mind of the people. Truth is such that it does not give satisfaction to the emotion and intellect. Truth happens to be the most difficult thing for man to comprehend. It can only be fully comprehended by Insight. Buddhahood is nothing but the embodiment of all the great virtues and supreme enlightenment. That is why Buddhas who could enlighten others are very rare in this world.

by K. Sri Dhammananda 

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