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Nirodha-samäpatti Here we come to a further problem of interpretation of the Theravada tradition. Could it be said that though an arahant does not seek escape from samsara in a metaphysical sense, experientially his goal is to withdraw or escape from this world, seeking the rapturous attainments (samäpatti) in high meditative states (samädhi) of the cessation of consciousness? ' Is this nirodha (cessation) level of  FESTSCHRIFT FOR WALPOLA RAHULA meditation a state of unconsciousness, and can it be identified with nibbäna, or if not identified, at least serve as the best intimation for us of what constitutes the nature of nirvanic awareness in this life?
The Digha Nikäya has a story about the Buddha Gotama, who, though 'being conscious and awake' (sanni samäno jägaro) did not notice the falling rain beat and splash, the lightning flash and the thunderbolts crash. 3 7 Although the text does not state that the Buddha was in a nirodha state, his lack of reaction suggests something of the sort. This is similar to the story of Sanjiva, who, having attained the jhänic state of the cessation of perception and feeling (sannävedayitanirodha) was thought to be dead by those who came upon him and proceeded to try and cremate him (unsuccessfully).
13 The position that there is a Buddhist goal which is equivalent to annihilation is to be as rigorously avoided as its opposite, that of eternalism. 14 The Tathägata teaches the doctrine of the Middle Way, and interpretive formulations which lose sight of the balanced middle position are earnestly denied. , a bhikkhu named Yamaka says: Thus do I understand the doctrine taught by the Exalted One — in so far as a bhikkhu has destroyed the äsavas [desire for sense pleasures, becoming, speculative views and ignorance], he is broken up and perishes when the body breaks up, he is not after death.
Buddhist Studies in honour of Walpola Rahula by Editorial Committee