The Heretic Sage

Many of you already know about my deep gratitude towards Ven. Ñāṇananda who I consider to be one of the greatest living Dhamma and Meditation masters. If anything you ever read on this blog might have helped you, all that potential puñña goes straight to this exceptional monk whose singular patience, learning, insight, wisdom, humility and penetration of the Dhamma I owe so much.

Now the Ven. Bhikkhu Yogananda (whom I have never heard of before but who considered himself a “Nyanavirist” – which actually is not a bad foundation bringing you quite close to Ven Ñāṇananda’s vicinity of understading) has posted a very detailed report on his meeting with Ven. Ñāṇananda, a meeting which occurred last year. He did an excellent job of summarizing that experience (‘escaping’ Pa Auks Na Uyana monastery 🙂 ) and foremost of all, the most interesting Dhamma discussion wich took place between the two.

There is lots of interesting points raised. Especially for those of you who are already acquainted with Ven. Ñāṇananda’s writings (such as “Magic of the Mind”, “Concept and Reality”…”Nibbana – the Mind Stilled”) this post is a great read, because Ven. Yogananda has the Ven. Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda clarify some rather tricky Dhamma questions (which is his specialty anyways). He also did a great job of introducing the closest student Ven. Nyanarama probably ever had to a wider audience in his short but very honest and close observation of his meeting with the “heretic sage”. So here is the link for those of you interested:

On a side note: I found it quite fascinating to hear that Ven. Ñāṇananda (again an exception in this matter) is outspoken about a Western import to Sri Lanka with regard to the interpretation of Nibbana/Nirvana. He explains what is wrong with the notion of perceiving Nirvana as “a flame unbound” – a concept/mistranslation which leads towards an existentialist interpretation of the Dhamma and a notion which, when confronted with it 30 years ago in Sri Lanka itself, resulted in the creation of his masterpiece of contemporary Buddhist insight literature: The 33 Nibbana Sermons. If you haven’t read anything from Ven. Ñāṇananda yet, these are a great way to start.

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  1. startingswimmer

    Dear theravadin,

    Thanks for sharing this with us. The link you provided doesn’t work anymore, and I found another link on Dhammawheel (

    For the reference of other readers, this interview is included at the back of “Nibbana The Mind Stilled” according to Dhammawheel.

    I’ve read the first three parts of the interview, and have the following questions:

    1. “There is no ‘thing’ that exists on its own. Here again, I’m reminded of some­thing Dr. W.S. Karunaratne said: ‘Exis­tence has got to be rel­a­tive; there is no absolute exis­tence.’ But the world thinks of uni­tary things exist­ing on their own. They ask, ‘why, even when I don’t look at this thing, doesn’t it con­tinue exist­ing’? But really there is only a diṭṭha, a seen. There is only a suta, a heard. But the moment we think of a seen ‘thing’, a heard ‘thing’, we are trapped. We cre­ate things with maññanā, ideation* [*the formation of ideas or concepts].

    The prob­lem with ‘things’ is solved in the Bāhiya Sutta: there are only diṭṭha, suta, muta, viññāta, noth­ing else. That is the theme in the Kālakārāma Sutta too. As long as one does maññanā about these, one would be deluded.”

    Would the theme of the Kālakārāma Sutta, and in particular the Bāhiya Sutta (and the Māluṅkyaputta sutta) be about not to connect “I” with the sense objects (not to papanca) so that one can guard the senses and fare dispassionately (without “that arrow”, that self-fetter), or the ideation of “things” and their existence?

    2. “For the Ara­hant … all con­cepts have become trans­par­ent to such a degree in that all-encompassing vision, that their bound­aries together with their umbra and penum­bra have yielded to the radi­ance of wis­dom. This, then, is the sig­nif­i­cance of the word anantaṃ (end­less, infi­nite). Thus the para­dox­i­cally detached gaze of the con­tem­pla­tive sage as he looks through the con­cepts is one which has no object (ārammaṇa) as the point of focus for the worldling to iden­tify it with.”

    — Did the Buddha teach us that nibbana is about non-conception? How to interpret “a bhikkhu who is an arahant …, he too directly knows earth as earth …”?

    Thanks and metta,


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