User:Dorje108/Nirvana research

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Definition[edit]

Gethin[edit]

Rupert Gethin states: "Literally nirvāṇa means ‘blowing out’ or ‘extinguishing’ [...] What the Pali and Sanskrit expression primarily indicates is the event or process of the extinction of the ‘fires’ of greed, aversion, and delusion. At the moment the Buddha understood suffering, its arising, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation, these fires were extinguished. This process is the same for all who reach awakening, and the early texts term it either nirvāṇa or parinirvāṇa, the complete ‘blowing out’ or ‘extinguishing’ of the ‘fires’ of greed, aversion, and delusion. This is not a ‘thing’ but an event or experience."[1]

Paul Williams[edit]

Nirvana is broadly speaking the result of letting-go, letting-go the very forces of craving which power continued experiences of pleasure and inevitably suffering throughout this life, death, rebirth, and redeath. That, in a nutshell, is what nirvana is. It is the complete and permanent cessation of samsara, thence the cessation of all types of suffering, resulting from letting-go the forces which power samsara, due to overcoming ignorance (thence also hatred and delusion, the 'three root poisons') through seeing things the way they really are. Nirvana here is not 'the Buddhist name for the Absolute Reality' (let alone, God forbid, 'the Buddhist name for God'). Nirvana is here an occurrence, an event (not a being, nor Being). Literally it means 'extinguishing', as in 'the extinguishing of a flame', and it signifies soteriologically the complete extinguishing of greed, hatred, and fundamentally delusion (i.e. ignorance), the forces which power samsara. These forces are thus completely destroyed. This event of extinguishing occurred when the Buddha became the Buddha. He 'attained nirvana' while seated in meditation at the foot of a tree. Having come out of his meditation he knew it had finally been done, once and for all. 'Nirvana' is not used by Buddhists to refer to the extinguishing of the person, or the individual. The Buddha did not suddenly go out of existence at the time of his liberation. It does not follow, therefore, from the use of this term alone that liberation in Buddhism is the equivalent (as some people seem to think) of ceasing to exist. Nor does it follow in anything other than the purely grammatical sense that nirvana is entirely negative. After his nirvana the Buddha continued to live and act in the world, living and acting as a person completely free of greed, hatred, and delusion. - Williams, Paul (2002-12-07). Buddhist Thought (pp. 47-48). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

Geshe Tashi Tsering[edit]

Nirvana is simply the cessation of suffering, not the annihilation of the person. People often misunderstand this point, thinking that nirvana is the complete cessation of not only suffering but also of the person trying to gain that state. That is not what Buddhist practice is for. - Tsering, Geshe Tashi (2005-06-10). The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 442-444). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Ajahn Sucitto[edit]

Nibbāna is held to be the ultimate goal in Buddhism, and yet even defining it is difficult. As I’ve said, it means something like “not blowing” or “not bound.” It’s not about having one’s wishes fulfilled, or going to a happy place; it’s not about hanging out in eternity with blissed-out deities, or a loving Father, or even in some super-chilled formless glow. In fact it’s about not hanging out anywhere at all. Nibbāna doesn’t have a location, or an aim. It can’t be defined as a thing or as nothing—because it’s not in the category of “things,” even subtle things like happiness or compassion or formless inner space. But nibbāna, once rightly understood, is an attractive option. It is the ending of sorrow and delusion, and it is supremely peaceful. And by the extinguishing of the “three fires” of greed, hatred, and delusion, nibbāna gives tangible results in terms of other people’s welfare... - Sucitto, Ajahn (2010-09-14). Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching (pp. 162-163). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

The metaphors associated with nibbāna often liken it to the blowing out of a fire. When it is no longer burning, the fire has “nibbāna’d”—the elements on which it was based are no longer in a state of combustion. This may seem like sterility and lifelessness from the viewpoint of the fire, but from the perspective of the elements it means life and potential. That is, when the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion are extinguised, the mind is free to operate in terms of its fullest capacity. - Sucitto, Ajahn (2010-09-14). Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching (p. 163). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Here, mind means something like “heart.” So qualities like calm, clarity, and kindness are all enhanced both through the practice-path of extinguishing the fires, and through the result or Fruit, where the tinder and the sparkiness of the heart are removed. How that manifests in terms of what a nibbāna’d person subsequently does depends on other capacities—such as their intellect. It’s rather like switching off the engine of a boat in order to inspect and remove its defective drives: when you switch on the engine on again, however sweetly the boat may run, its power depends on the size of the engine. - Sucitto, Ajahn (2010-09-14). Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching (p. 163). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Smith and Novak[edit]

We may begin with nirvana, the word the Buddha used to name life’s goal as he saw it. Etymologically it means “to blow out” or “to extinguish,” not transitively, but as a fire ceases to draw. Deprived of fuel, the fire goes out, and this is nirvana. From such imagery it has been widely supposed that the extinction to which Buddhism points is total annihilation. If this were so, there would be grounds for the accusation that Buddhism is life-denying and pessimistic. As it is, scholars of the last half century have exploded this view. Nirvana is the highest destiny of the human spirit and its literal meaning is “extinction,” but what is to be extinguished are the boundaries of the finite self and the three poisons that feed that self: “The extinction of greed, the extinction of hate, the extinction of delusion: this indeed is called Nirvana.” (Samyutta Nikaya, 38, 1.) - Smith, Huston; Novak, Philip (2009-03-17). Buddhism: A Concise Introduction (pp. 51-52). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

It does not follow that what is left will be nothing. Negatively, nirvana is the state in which the faggots of private desire have been completely consumed and everything that restricts the boundless life has died. Affirmatively, it is that boundless life itself. Buddha parried every request for a positive description of that boundless state, insisting that it was “incomprehensible, indescribable, inconceivable, unutterable”; after all, after we eliminate every aspect of the only consciousness we have known, how can we speak of what is left?2 One of Buddha’s heirs, Nagasena, preserves this point in the following dialogue. Asked what nirvana is like, Nagasena countered with a question of his own:

“Is there such a thing as wind?” “Yes, revered sir.” “Please, sir, show the wind by its color or configuration or as thin or thick or long or short.”...

- Smith, Huston; Novak, Philip (2009-03-17). Buddhism: A Concise Introduction (p. 52). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

Moffit[edit]

The Buddha referred to this state when the mind is no longer consumed by suffering as nibbana. The pains of life do not disappear, but rather their ability to burn you ceases. What you see with your eyes, touch with your body, taste with your tongue, smell with your nose, hear with your ears, and think with your mind may be pleasant and enjoyable, or unpleasant and quite painful, but they no longer burn; you are not in a state of suffering.

Phillip Moffitt. Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering (Kindle Locations 605-608). Kindle Edition.

The fruit of realizing cessation is nibbana, in which you are no longer affected by dukkha." Nibbana literally means "cooled" and is analogous to a fire that's no longer burning. Thus, when there is cessation, your mind no longer burns in response to the arising of pleasant and unpleasant in your life; it isn't reactive or controlled by what you like or dislike.

Phillip Moffitt. Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering (Kindle Locations 1654-1656). Kindle Edition.

Fronsdal[edit]

The word nibbana or nirvana refers to freedom from suffering. While the Theravada tradition sometimes describes nibbana as a great happiness or peace, more often it has been defined as resulting from the complete absence of clinging or craving. One reason for this negative definition is that nibbana is so radically different from what can be described through language that it is best not to try. Another reason is so that the goal of Buddhist practice is not obscured with metaphysical speculations about the nature of the goal. Still another reason for the negative definition of nibbana is to avoid confusing it with any particular states of being. We easily become attached to states such as calm, peace, joy, clarity, or radiant light-states that sometime arise during meditation practice, but which are not its goal. We may believe that we need to attain them if we are to realize the Third Noble Truth. But if we remember non-clinging is the means to release, then we will be less inclined to cling to any state. Don't cling to your happiness. Don't cling to your sadness. Don't cling to any attainment.

Fronsdal, Gil (2001-12-01). Issue at Hand (p. 9). self. Kindle Edition.

Fronsdal, Gil (2001-12-01). Issue at Hand (pp. 8-9). self. Kindle Edition.

Keown[edit]

‘Nirvana’ literally means ‘quenching’ or ‘blowing out’, in the way that the flame of a candle is blown out. But what is it that is ‘blown out’? Is it one's soul, one's ego, one’s identity? It cannot be the soul that is blown out, since Buddhism denies that any such thing exists. Nor is it the ego or one's sense of identity that disappears, although nirvana certainly involves a radically transformed state of consciousness which is free of the obsession with ‘me and mine’. What is extinguished, in fact, is the triple fire of greed, hatred, and delusion which leads to rebirth. Indeed, the simplest definition of nirvana-in-this-life is as ‘the end of greed, hatred, and delusion’ (S.38.1). It is clear that nirvana-in-this-life is a psychological and ethical reality, a transformed state of personality characterized by peace, deep spiritual joy, compassion, and a refined and subtle awareness. Negative mental states and emotions such as doubt, worry, anxiety, and fear are absent from the enlightened mind. Saints in many religious traditions exhibit some or all of these qualities, and ordinary people also possess them to some degree, although imperfectly developed. An enlightened person, however, such as a Buddha or an Arhat, possesses them all completely.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1020-1025). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1016-1020). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Lama Surya Das[edit]

Nirvana is inconceivable inner peace, the cessation of craving and clinging. It is the end of suffering. Nirvana is liberation, everlasting freedom, fulfillment, and enlightenment itself.

Where is nivana? If it's not right here, it is nowhere. So how do we experience it? Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is within, and always available to everyone. The Tibetan masters teach that nirvana is ever present, just on the other side of the knot of clinging. According to the Tibetan teachings of Dzogchen, we can actually experience nirvana in a moment. It's not something that we have to build up or fabricate; its available through a spiritual breakthrough. These are the "Aha!" experiences that can be precipitated by simply letting go, b relinquishing craving, attachment, greed, and delusion, by waking up even for a moment from the dream of our semiconscious lives. - "Awakening the Buddha Within", p. 75

Bhikkhu Bodhi[edit]

The state of perfect peace that comes when craving is eliminated is Nibbāna (nirvāṇa), the unconditioned state experienced while alive with the extinguishing of the flames of greed, aversion, and delusion.

Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2011-12-15). The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering (p. 25). Independent Publishers Group. Kindle Edition.

Abhidharma[edit]

§30 Definition Nibbānaṃ pana lokuttarasankhātaṃ catumaggañāṇena sacchikātabbaṃ magga-phalānam ālambanabhūtaṃ vānasankhātāya taṇhāya nikkhantattā nibbānan ti pavuccati.

Nibbāna is termed supramundane, and is to be realized by the knowledge of the four paths. It becomes an object to the paths and fruits, and is called Nibbāna because it is a departure from craving, which is an entanglement.

Guide to §30

Nibbāna is termed supramundane: The concluding section of this chapter deals briefly with the fourth ultimate reality, Nibbāna. Etymologically, the word nibbāna —the Pali form of the better known Sanskrit nirvāṇa—is derived from a verb nibbāti meaning “to be blown out” or “to be extinguished.” It thus signifies the extinguishing of the worldly “fires” of greed, hatred, and delusion. But the Pali commentators prefer to treat it as the negation of, or “departure from” (nikkhantatta), the entanglement (vāna) of craving, the derivation which is offered here. For as long as one is entangled by craving, one remains bound in saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death; but when all craving has been extirpated, one attains Nibbāna, deliverance from the cycle of birth and death.

Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2012-11-06). A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha (Vipassana Meditation and the Buddha's Teachings) (Kindle Locations 5193-5198). Independent Publishers Group. Kindle Edition.

Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2012-11-06). A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha (Vipassana Meditation and the Buddha's Teachings) (Kindle Locations 5188-5193). Independent Publishers Group. Kindle Edition.

Peter Harvey[edit]

When craving and other related causes come to an end, dukkha ceases. This is equivalent to Nibbana (Skt Nirvana), also known as the unconditioned or unconstructed (asankhata), the ultimate goal of Buddhism. [...]

Nibbana literally means 'extinction' or 'quenching', being the word used for the 'extinction' of a fire. The 'fires' of which Nibbana is the extinction are described in the 'fire sermon' (Vin I.34-5) [...]

Nibanna during life is frequently defined as the destruction of these three 'fires' or defilements (e.g. S.IV.251)

Attainment of[edit]

Bhikkhu Bodhi[edit]

At the climax of such contemplation the mental eye turns away from the conditioned phenomena comprised in the aggregates and shifts its focus to the unconditioned state, Nibbāna, which becomes accessible through the deepened faculty of insight. With this shift, when the mind’s eye sees Nibbāna, there takes place a simultaneous penetration of all Four Noble Truths. By seeing Nibbāna, the state beyond dukkha, one gains a perspective from which to view the five aggregates and see that they are dukkha simply because they are conditioned, subject to ceaseless change. At the same moment Nibbāna is realized, craving stops; the understanding then dawns that craving is the true origin of dukkha. When Nibbāna is seen, it is realized to be the state of peace, free from the turmoil of becoming. And because this experience has been reached by practising the Noble Eightfold Path, one knows for oneself that the Noble Eightfold Path is truly the way to the end of dukkha.

Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2011-12-15). The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering (p. 26). Independent Publishers Group. Kindle Edition.

Importance of[edit]

Keown[edit]

nirvana. Nirvana is the summum bonum of Buddhism – the final and highest good. It is both a concept and an experience. As a concept it offers a particular vision of human fulfilment and gives contour and shape to the ideal life. As an experience it becomes incarnate over the course of time in the person who seeks it.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 887-888). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 886-887). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Goleman[edit]

“Bearing in mind that the fundamental goal of Buddhist practice is the achievement of nirvana, when you study the mind what you're really concerned with is what specific mental states impede the accomplishment of that end.

Goleman, Daniel (2008-11-19). Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama (Kindle Locations 3538-3539). Bantam. Kindle Edition.

Dalai Lama[edit]

“But the ultimate aspiration of a practicing Buddhist is the attainment of nirvana. The emphasis is within oneself, so then these negative emotions and the resulting actions become important; now we have to know what's going on within the mind. In Buddhism, then, the aim is different. From the cultural perspective, you see, Buddhists have a fundamentally different orientation toward emotion. From that point of view, even subtle degrees of grasping the reality of self and the world becomes obstructive and negative.

Goleman, Daniel (2008-11-19). Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama (Kindle Locations 5513-5517). Bantam. Kindle Edition.

Wisdom and virtue[edit]

Keown[edit]

A solution to these problems may lie in the suggestion that leading a moral life is only part of the ideal of human perfection which nirvana represents. Thus while virtue (sīla, Sanskrit: śīla) is an essential component in this ideal it is incomplete on its own, and needs to be supplemented by something else. The other component which is required is wisdom (paññā, Sanskrit: prajñā). ‘Wisdom’ in Buddhism means a profound philosophical understanding of the human condition. It requires insight into the nature of reality of the kind which comes through long reflection and deep thought. It is a kind of gnosis, or direct apprehension of truth, which deepens over time and eventually reaches full maturity in the complete awakening experienced by the Buddha.

Nirvana, then, is a fusion of virtue and wisdom. The relationship between them might be expressed in philosophical language by saying that virtue and wisdom are both ‘necessary’ conditions for nirvana but neither is ‘sufficient’: only when the two are present together are the necessary and sufficient conditions for nirvana found. An early text likens them to two hands which wash and purify each other, and makes quite clear that a person who lacks one or the other is incomplete and unfulfilled (D.i.124).

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 901-905). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 895-901). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.


Moments of Nibbana[edit]

Moffit: The late Thai meditation teacher the Venerable Ajahn Buddhadosa says that each of these ordinary moments in which the mind is no longer grasping is a moment of nibbana, a little sampling of the mind being free from clinging. He teaches that if you did not have many of these small, brief moments of cessation each day you would literally go crazy from the tension and stress that arise from clinging. There are hundreds, even thousands of moments each day when your mind is not grasping at anything. Your mind is temporarily, albeit briefly, content with how things are, and it is not stressed. - Phillip Moffitt. Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering (Kindle Locations 1723-1726). Kindle Edition.

Goldstein: Ajahn Buddhadasa, a well-known Thai master of the last century, said that when village people in India were cooking rice and waiting for it to cool, they might remark, “Wait a little for the rice to become nibbana.” So here, nibbana means the cool state of mind, free from the fires of the defilements. As Ajahn Buddhadasa remarked, “The cooler the mind, the more Nibbana in that moment.” We can notice for ourselves relative states of coolness in our own minds as we go through the day. - Goldstein, Joseph (2011-03-15). One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism (p. 158). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Ajahn Buddhadasa spoke of how the coolness of Nibbana continuously nourishes and sustains our life because it puts out the mental fires of greed, anger, and delusion. It would be impossible to live if these fires raged all the time. Temporary Nibbana is the temporary absence of defilements. The supreme state of Nibbana is when all forces of the defilements are extinguished. It’s helpful for us to see and experience this temporary Nibbana, because it inclines us to experience absolute reality, the Unconditioned, the “Ultimate Cool.”

Goldstein, Joseph (2011-03-15). One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism (p. 158). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Beyond words[edit]

Goldstein[edit]

Nibbana is said to be ineffable and indescribable, unknowable by the conceptual mind, yet it is also described as the deathless, absolute peace, freedom, and so forth. It is Nibbana that the Buddha declared to be the final goal of the spiritual journey: “This holy life … does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of virtue for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable deliverance of mind that is the goal of this holy life, its heartwood and its end.”

Goldstein, Joseph (2011-03-15). One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism (pp. 158-159). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Goldstein, Joseph (2011-03-15). One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism (p. 158). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Rahula[edit]

Therefore Nirvāṇa is known also by the term Taṇhakkhaya ‘Extinction of Thirst’. Now you will ask: But what is Nirvāṇa? Volumes have been written in reply to this quite natural and simple question; they have, more and more, only confused the issue rather than clarified it. The only reasonable reply to give to the question is that it can never be answered completely and satisfactorily in words, because human language is too poor to express the real nature of the Absolute Truth or Ultimate Reality which is Nirvāṇa.

Language is created and used by masses of human beings to express things and ideas experienced by their sense organs and their mind. A supramundane experience like that of the Absolute Truth is not of such a category. Therefore there cannot be words to express that experience, just as the fish had no words in his vocabulary to express the nature of the solid land. The tortoise told his friend the fish that he (the tortoise) just returned to the lake after a walk on the land. ‘Of course’ the fish said, ‘You mean swimming.’ The tortoise tried to explain that one couldn’t swim on the land, that it was solid, and that one walked on it. But the fish insisted that there could be nothing like it, that it must be liquid like his lake, with waves, and that one must be able to dive and swim there.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 917-923). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 911-917). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Nirvāṇa is beyond all terms of duality and relativity. It is therefore beyond our conceptions of good and evil, right and wrong, existence and non-existence. Even the word ‘happiness’ (sukha) which is used to describe Nirvāṇa has an entirely different sense here. Sāriputta once said: ‘O friend, Nirvāṇa is happiness! Nirvāṇa is happiness!’ Then Udāyi asked: ‘But, friend Sāriputta, what happiness can it be if there is no sensation?’ Sāriputta’s reply was highly philosophical and beyond ordinary comprehension: “That there is no sensation itself is happiness’.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1106-1113). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1105-1106). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Nirvāṇa is beyond logic and reasoning (atakkāvacara). However much we may engage, often as a vain intellectual pastime, in highly speculative discussions regarding Nirvāṇa or Ultimate Truth or Reality, we shall never understand it that way. A child in the kindergarten should not quarrel about the theory of relativity. Instead, if he follows his studies patiently and diligently, one day he may understand it. Nirvāṇa is ‘to be realized by the wise within themselves’ (paccattaṃveditabbo viññūbi). If we follow the Path patiently and with diligence, train and purify ourselves earnestly, and attain the necessary spiritual development, we may one day realize it within ourselves—without taxing ourselves with puzzling and high-sounding words.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1119-1121). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1113-1119). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula - negative terms[edit]

But if Nirvana is to be expressed and explained in positive terms, we are likely immediately to grasp an idea associated with those terms, which may be quite the contrary. Therefore it is generally expressed in negative terms2—a less dangerous mode perhaps. So it is often referred to by such negative terms as Taṇhakkhaya ‘Extinction of Thirst’, Asaṃkhata ‘Uncompound’, ‘Unconditioned’, Virāga ‘Absence of desire’, Nirodha ‘Cessation’, Nibbāna ‘Blowing out’ or ‘Extinction’.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 928-933). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Thich Naht Hahn[edit]

Imagine a meeting in which everyone is stating his own opinions and disagreeing with everyone else's. After the meeting is over, you are exhausted by all these ideas and discussions. You open the door and go outside into the garden, where the air is fresh, the birds are singing, and the wind is whistling into the trees. Life out here is quite different from the meeting with its words and anger. In the garden, there are still sounds and images, but they are refreshing and healing. Nirvana is not the absence of life. Drishtadharma nirvana means "nirvana in this very life". Nirvana means pacifying, silencing, or extinguishing the fire of suffering. Nirvana teaches that we already are what we want to become. We don't have to run after anything anymore. We only need to return to ourselves and touch our true nature. When we do, we have real peace and joy.

Experiential, psychological dimension[edit]

Goldstein[edit]

All these different expressions of Nirvana highlight a discussion that has been going on since the earliest days of Buddhism. What is the experiential, psychological dimension of Nirvana? Is it experienced as the ending of awareness, as something apart from the mind, or is it pure awareness itself? Is it an immanent reality, this very mind free of defilements, or is it a transcendent reality, something beyond the ordinary mind altogether? Even in the earliest teachings of the Buddha, there is much to support each of these views.

Goldstein, Joseph (2011-03-15). One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism (p. 181). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Ringu Tulku[edit]

The important thing to understand in the context of the four noble truths is that someone who has attained the cessation of suffering or the state of nirvana, will no longer react within the pattern of aversion and attachment. The way such a person sees things will be nondualistic and therefore nonconceptual.

[...] When this dual reaction is gone, nothing is haunting or fearful anymore. We see clearly, and nothing seems imposing, since nothing is imposed from our part. When there is nothing we do not like, there is nothing to fear. Being free from fear, we are peaceful. There is no need to run away from anything, and therefore no need to run after anything either. In this way there is no burden. We can have inner peace, strength, and clarity, almost independent from circumstances and situations. This is complete freedom of mind without any circumstantial entanglement; the state is called "nirvana" [...]. Someone who has reached this state has gone beyond our usual way of being imprisoned in habitual patterns and distorted ways of seeing these things. - p. 34-35 , Daring Steps Towards Fearlessness

Nirvana during life[edit]

Gethin[edit]

At the moment the Buddha understood suffering, its arising, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation, these fires were extinguished. This process is the same for all who reach awakening, and the early texts term it either nirvāṇa or parinirvāṇa, the complete ‘blowing out’ or ‘extinguishing’ of the ‘fires’ of greed, aversion, and delusion. This is not a ‘thing’ but an event or experience. After a being has, as it were, ‘nirvāṇa-ed’, the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion no longer arise in his or her mind, since they have been thoroughly rooted out (to switch to another metaphor also current in the tradition). Yet like the Buddha, any person who attains nirvāṇa does not remain thereafter forever absorbed in some transcendental state of mind. On the contrary he or she continues to live in the world; he or she continues to think, speak, and act as other people do—with the difference that all his or her thoughts, words, and deeds are completely free of the motivations of greed, aversion, and delusion, and motivated instead entirely by generosity, friendliness, and wisdom. This condition of having extinguished the defilements can be termed ‘nirvāṇa with the remainder [of life]’ (sopadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa/sa-upādisesa-nibbāna): the nirvāṇa that comes from ending the occurrence of the defilements (kleśa/kilesa) of the mind; what the Pali commentaries call for short kilesa-parinibbāna.24 And this is what the Buddha achieved on the night of his awakening.

Gethin, Rupert (1998-07-16). The Foundations of Buddhism (pp. 75-76). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Gethin, Rupert (1998-07-16). The Foundations of Buddhism (p. 75). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Williams[edit]

The tradition refers to the nirvana which the Buddha attained when he completely eradicated greed, hatred, and delusion as 'nirvana with a remainder [of "fuel" or life?]' (Sanskrit: sopadhisesanirvana; Pali: sa-upadisesanibbana). When an enlightened person like the Buddha dies, by definition there is no further rebirth. When that occurs it follows that the psychophysical elements that make him up as the embodied living individual he is (psychophysical elements known collectively as the five aggregates (q.v.)) cease, and are not replaced by further psycho physical elements. This is called 'nirvana without a remainder [of "fuel" or life?]' (Sanskrit: nirupadhisesanirvana; Pali: anupadisesanibbana). As Gethin points out (1998: 76, see also Norman 1990-6, 1996 volume: 12-18), this 'nirvana without a remainder' is sometimes referred to in modern Buddhist usage (probably incorrectly) as parinirvana, restricting 'nirvana' to 'nirvana with a remainder'. And what of a Buddha who has attained 'nirvana without a remainder'? What is it like for that person? Is it fun? The question is considered absurd. Without the psychophysical elements (including consciousness, but cf. Harvey 1990: 67 and 1995) there is no sense to the idea of a person (and certainly no sense to 'fun', at least as it is normally understood in samsara).

Williams, Paul (2002-12-07). Buddhist Thought (pp. 48-49). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

Williams, Paul (2002-12-07). Buddhist Thought (p. 48). Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

Keown[edit]

‘Nirvana’ literally means ‘quenching’ or ‘blowing out’, in the way that the flame of a candle is blown out. But what is it that is ‘blown out’? Is it one's soul, one's ego, one’s identity? It cannot be the soul that is blown out, since Buddhism denies that any such thing exists. Nor is it the ego or one's sense of identity that disappears, although nirvana certainly involves a radically transformed state of consciousness which is free of the obsession with ‘me and mine’. What is extinguished, in fact, is the triple fire of greed, hatred, and delusion which leads to rebirth. Indeed, the simplest definition of nirvana-in-this-life is as ‘the end of greed, hatred, and delusion’ (S.38.1). It is clear that nirvana-in-this-life is a psychological and ethical reality, a transformed state of personality characterized by peace, deep spiritual joy, compassion, and a refined and subtle awareness. Negative mental states and emotions such as doubt, worry, anxiety, and fear are absent from the enlightened mind. Saints in many religious traditions exhibit some or all of these qualities, and ordinary people also possess them to some degree, although imperfectly developed. An enlightened person, however, such as a Buddha or an Arhat, possesses them all completely.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1024-1025). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1018-1024). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1016-1018). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Lopez[edit]

Two types of nirvana are thus described. The first is called the "nirvana with remainder." This is the nirvana that the Buddha achieved under the Bodhi tree, when he destroyed all the seeds for future rebirth. But the karma that he created in his present life was still functioning and would do so until his death, like a watch that has been wound but will eventually stop. Thus, his mind and body during the rest of his life are what was left over, the remainder, after he realized nirvana. - page 47, The Story of Buddhism

Rahula[edit]

In almost all religions the summum bonum can be attained only after death. But Nirvāṇa can be realized in this very life; it is not necessary to wait till you die to ‘attain’ it.

He who has realized the Truth, Nirvāṇa, is the happiest being in the world. He is free from all ‘complexes’ and obsessions, the worries and troubles that torment others. His mental health is perfect. He does not repent the past, nor does he brood over the future. He lives fully in the present.[Saṃyutta-nikāya I (PTS), p. 5] Therefore he appreciates and enjoys things in the purest sense without self-projections. He is joyful, exultant, enjoying the pure life, his faculties pleased, free from anxiety, serene and peaceful.[Majjhima-nikāya II (PTS), p. 121] As he is free from selfish desire, hatred, ignorance, conceit, pride, and all such ‘defilements’, he is pure and gentle, full of universal love, compassion, kindness, sympathy, understanding and tolerance. His service to others is of the purest, for he has no thought of self. He gains nothing, accumulates nothing, not even anything spiritual, because he is free from the illusion of Self, and the ‘thirst’ for becoming.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1099-1104). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1095-1099). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Nirvana after death[edit]

Gethin[edit]

Eventually ‘the remainder of life’ will be exhausted and, like all beings, such a person must die. But unlike other beings, who have not experienced ‘nirvāṇa’, he or she will not be reborn into some new life, the physical and mental constituents of being will not come together in some new existence, there will be no new being or person. Instead of being reborn, the person ‘parinirvāṇa-s’, meaning in this context that the five aggregates of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being cease to occur. This is the condition of ‘nirvāṇa without remainder [of life]’ (nir-upadhiśeṣa-nirvāṇa/an-up ādisesa-nibbāna): nirvāṇa that comes from ending the occurrence of the aggregates (skandha/khandha) of physical and mental phenomena that constitute a being; or, for short, khandha-parinibbāna.25 Modern Buddhist usage tends to restrict ‘nirvāṇa’ to the awakening experience and reserve ‘parinirvāṇa’ for the death experience.26

Gethin, Rupert (1998-07-16). The Foundations of Buddhism (p. 76). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. Gethin, Rupert (1998-07-16). The Foundations of Buddhism (p. 76). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown[edit]

What becomes of such a person at death? It is in connection with final nirvana that problems of understanding arise. When the flame of craving is extinguished, rebirth ceases, and an enlightened person is not reborn. So what has happened to him? There is no clear answer to this question in the early sources. The Buddha said that asking about the whereabouts of ‘an enlightened one’ after death is like asking where a flame goes when it is blown out. The flame, of course, has not ‘gone’ anywhere: it is simply the process of combustion that has ceased. Removing craving and ignorance is like taking away the oxygen and fuel which a flame needs to burn. The image of the blowing out of the flame, however, should not be taken as suggesting that final nirvana is annihilation: the sources make quite clear that this would be a mistake, as would the conclusion that nirvana is the eternal existence of a personal soul.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1030-1032). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Keown, Damien (2000-02-24). Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Kindle Locations 1025-1030). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula[edit]

Now another question arises: What happens to the Buddha or an Arahant after his death, parinirvāṇa? This comes under the category of unanswered questions (avyākata).3 Even when the Buddha spoke about this, he indicated that no words in our vocabulary could express what happens to an Arahant after his death. In reply to a Parivrājaka named Vaccha, the Buddha said that terms like ‘bom’ or ‘not born’ do not apply in the case of an Arahant, because those things—matter, sensation, perception, mental activities, consciousness—with which the terms like ‘born’ and ‘not born’ are associated, are completely destroyed and uprooted, never to rise again after his death.4 An Arahant after his death is often compared to a fire gone out when the supply of wood is over, or to the flame of a lamp gone out when the wick and oil are finished.5 Here it should be clearly and distinctly understood, without any confusion, that what is compared to a flame or a fire gone out is not Nirvāṇa, but the ‘being’ composed of the Five Aggregates who realized Nirvāṇa. This point has to be emphasized because many people, even some great scholars, have misunderstood and misinterpreted this simile as referring to Nirvāṇa. Nirvāṇa is never compared to a fire or a lamp gone out.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1067-1073). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 1059-1067). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Definitions from the Suttas[edit]

Rahula[edit]

Let us consider a few definitions and descriptions of Nirvāṇa as found in the original Pali texts:

‘It is the complete cessation of that very ‘thirst’ (taṇhā), giving it up, renouncing it, emancipation from it, detachment from it.’3

‘Calming of all conditioned things, giving up of all defilements, extinction of “thirst”, detachment, cessation, Nibbāna.’4

‘O bhikkhus, what is the Absolute (Asaṃkhata, Unconditioned)? It is, O bhikkhus, the extinction of desire (rāgakkhayo) the extinction of hatred (dosakkhayo), the extinction of illusion (mohakkhayo). This, O bhikkhus, is called the Absolute.’5

‘O Rādha, the extinction of “thirst” (Taṇhakkhayo) is Nibbāna.’6

‘O bhikkhus, whatever there may be things conditioned or unconditioned, among them detachment (virāga) is the highest. That is to say, freedom from conceit, destruction of thirst,1 the uprooting of attachment, the cutting off of continuity, the extinction of “thirst” (taṇhā), detachment, cessation, Nibbāna.’2

The reply of Sāriputta, the chief disciple of the Buddha, to a direct question ‘What is Nibbāna?’ posed by a Parivrājaka, is identical with the definition of Asaṃkhata given by the Buddha (above): ‘The extinction of desire, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of illusion.’3

[Etc...]

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 940-953). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Rahula, Walpola; Demieville, Paul (2007-12-01). What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada (Kindle Locations 934-939). Grove Press. Kindle Edition.

Mahayana[edit]

Gethin: non-abiding nirvana[edit]

For the Mahayana becoming a Buddha generally involves attaining what is characterized as the ‘unestablished’ or ‘non-abiding’ (apratiṣṭhita) nirvāṇa: on the one hand the knowledge of a buddha that sees emptiness, is not ‘established’ in saṃsāra (by seizing on birth as an individual being, for example), on the other hand the great compassion of a buddha prevents the complete turning away from saṃsāra. So ultimately he abides neither in saṃsāra nor in nirvāṇa.16 Thus, while it may appear that a buddha takes birth as an individual being like the rest of us, in truth he does not. What we ordinarily see here on earth, as it were, is merely a body created by the Buddha, a nirmāṇa-kāya.

Gethin, Rupert (1998-07-16). The Foundations of Buddhism (p. 232). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Gethin: Thervada and Mahayana[edit]

The traditions of Indian Buddhism that resisted the Mahayana vision continued to think in terms of three approaches to what was essentially one and the same final release from suffering, nirvāṇa: the path of the śravaka or ‘disciple’ leading to arhatship, the path of the pratyeka-buddha and the path of the bodhisattva leading to the attainment of the samyak-sambuddha (see above, pp. 32–4). The Mahāyāna sūtras express two basic attitudes to this.7 The first is that the path of the disciple and the path of the pratyeka-buddha do lead to a kind of awakening, a release from suffering, nirvāna, and as such are real goals. These goals are, however, inferior and should be renounced for the superior attainment of buddhahood. The second attitude, classically articulated by the Lotus Sūtra, sees the goal of the disciple and the pratyeka-buddha as not true goals at all.8 The fact that the Buddha taught them is an example of his ‘skill in means’ (upaya-kauśalya) as a teacher.9 These goals are thus merely clever devices (upāya) employed by the Buddha in order to get beings to at least begin the practice of the path; eventually their practice must lead on to the one and only vehicle (eka-yāna) that is the mahāyāna, the vehicle ending in perfect buddhahood.

Gethin, Rupert (1998-07-16). The Foundations of Buddhism (pp. 228-229). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Gampopa: Hearers and Solitary Realizers[edit]

So these two families, the Hearers and the Solitary Realizers, engage in their respective vehicles and even though they achieve the results of their practices, these results are not the final nirvana. How do they abide when they achieve their fruits? They maintain unafflicted states of meditative concentration,3 but those states are based on the psychic imprint of ignorance. Since their meditative concentrations are unafflicted, they believe that they have achieved nirvana and remain that way. If their states are not the final nirvana, then one might argue that the Buddha should not have taught these two paths. Is there a reason the Buddha should teach such paths? Yes.

Gampopa. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings (p. 52). Kindle Edition.

Gampopa: two paths[edit]

Similarly, sentient beings without courage are frightened when they hear about the Buddha's wisdom. They believe attaining Buddhahood is a great hardship, and think, "I have no ability to do this." There are other people who are not interested in entering the path, or who enter the path but turn back. To counter these problems, Buddha presented these two paths, and allows them to rest in these states. As said in the White Lotus of Sublime Dharma Sutra [Saddharmapundarikasutra]:

Likewise, all the Hearers Think that they achieved nirvana, But they have not achieved the final nirvana Revealed by the Buddha. They are only resting.

When these Hearers and Solitary Realizers are well rested in those states, Buddha understands this and encourages them to attain Buddhahood. How does Buddha encourage them? He awakens them through his body, speech, and wisdom mind. "Through wisdom mind" means that light radiates through the Buddha's wisdom and touches the mental bodies of the Hearers and Solitary Realizers. As soon as the light reaches them, they arise from their unafflicted meditations. Then the Buddha appears physically in front of them. With his speech he says:

O you monks! You have not finished your deeds; you have not finished all that you are supposed to do. Your experience of nirvana is not the final nirvana. Now all you monks have to work toward enlightenment. You should attain the realization of the Buddha.

From the White Lotus of Sublime Dharma Sutra, in verse form:

You, monks, today I declare: You have not achieved the final nirvana. In order to achieve the primordial wisdom of the Omniscient One, You must cultivate great perseverance. Through that, you will achieve the wisdom of the Omniscient One.

Gampopa. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings (pp. 52-53). Kindle Edition.

Dudjom Rinpoche[edit]

Nirvana of lower vehicles[edit]

Dudjom Rinpoche states:

If you are wondering what is the point in obtaining this human body that is so hard to find, the benefits of doing so are enormous. Not only is one easily able, temporarily, to accomplish all the happiness and perfections of the higher realms, but one can also accomplish the nirvana of the lower vehicles and unsurpassable enlightenment as well. Without obtaining a human body, there is no way one can achieve any kind of happiness in cyclic existence, let alone accomplish liberation.

Rinpoche, Dudjom; Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (2011-11-08). A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices (Kindle Locations 1810-1813). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Using nirvana in general sense[edit]

Look at the Buddhas who have come to this World of Forbearance—Vipashyi, Shikhin, Vishvabhu, Krakucchanda,Kanakamuni, Kashyapa, and Shakyamuni—who blazed with the light and majesty of the major and minor marks, like the full moon in autumn. They came with retinues of Listeners, Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, and other worldly protectors, as if surrounded by galaxies of stars. These radiant beings, their bodies shining with light, their voices clear and soft, their minds limpid and free of stain, were as firm and stable as diamonds, yet they all passed into nirvana, and even their teachings (apart from those of the Lord of the Shakyas) have gradually disappeared. Reflect on this and ask yourself: “Why should my body, which is as devoid of essence as a bubble, last forever?”

Rinpoche, Dudjom; Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (2011-11-08). A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices (Kindle Locations 2030-2035). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Rinpoche, Dudjom; Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (2011-11-08). A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices (Kindle Location 2030). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Rinpoche, Dudjom; Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (2011-11-08). A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices (Kindle Locations 1809-1810). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Great Vehicles nirvana[edit]

The “state beyond the world” comprises the three levels of nirvana. Of them, the Listeners’ and Solitary Realizers’ nirvanas are inferior with respect to the Great Vehicle’s nirvana, so we should not dedicate to these, for as the Buddha advises in the Middle Sutra of Transcendent Wisdom, Subhuti, you should dedicate this source of good only to the level of Buddhahood. Do not dedicate it to the levels of Listeners or Solitary Realizers, or to other levels.

Rinpoche, Dudjom; Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (2011-11-08). A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices (Kindle Locations 6194-6198). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Glossary definition (nondwelling nirvana)[edit]

NIRVANA (Skt.), mya ngan las ’das pa, lit. “beyond suffering” or “the transcendence of misery.” While this can be loosely understood as the goal of Buddhist practice, the opposite of samsara or cyclic existence, it is important to realize that the term is understood differently by the different vehicles: the nirvana of the Basic Vehicle, the peace of cessation that an Arhat attains, is very different from a Buddha’s “nondwelling” nirvana, the state of perfect enlightenment that transcends both samsara and nirvana.

Rinpoche, Dudjom; Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (2011-11-08). A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices (Kindle Locations 8211-8215). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Duckworth: Nonabiding nirvana[edit]

Since the paths are different, so are the results: the Lesser Vehicle does not result in the practitioner becoming a complete buddha; rather, the aim is to achieve a personal nirvana that is the total extinction of existence. The Great Vehicle, however, does result in becoming a complete buddha. A buddha remains actively engaged in enlightened activity to liberate beings for as long as samsara remains. Thus, those who accomplish the Great Vehicle do not abide in samsara due to their wisdom that sees its empty, illusory nature. Further, unlike those who attain the nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle to escape samsara, they do not abide in an isolated nirvana due to their compassion. For these reasons, in an the Great Vehicle, nirvana is said to be “unlocated” or “nonabiding” (apratiṣṭhita), staying in neither samsara nor nirvana.

Duckworth, Douglas; Mipam, Jamgon (2011-12-20). Jamgon Mipam: His Life and Teachings (Kindle Locations 434-436). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

Duckworth, Douglas; Mipam, Jamgon (2011-12-20). Jamgon Mipam: His Life and Teachings (Kindle Locations 430-434). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

Khunu Rinpoche[edit]

The term “non-abiding nirvāṇa” indicates that a fully awakened buddha is utterly free from saṃsāra, yet due to compassion has not entered into a more restricted form of nirvāṇa that precludes continued activity within the world.

Khunu (2012-11-11). Vast as the Heavens, Deep as the Sea: Verses in Praise of Bodhicitta (Kindle Locations 1480-1482). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

Pabongka Rinpoche[edit]

The benefits [of meditating on loving kindness] are enormous, such as achieving these eight cardinal virtues of love. You will be reborn as a universal emperor or as Brahmā the same number of times as the number of living beings you took as objects for your meditation on love. That is why the meditation is called the brahmāvihāra or “stages of Brahmā.” But if you take all sentient beings as your object, all beings, who extend to the limits of space, you will achieve the nonabiding [or dynamic] form of nirvāṇa— the mahābrahmā state [that is, the Mahāyāna nirvāṇa— buddhahood].

Pabongka (2006-07-10). Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment (Kindle Locations 10474-10476). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

Pabongka (2006-07-10). Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment (Kindle Locations 10472-10474). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

Three scopes/levels[edit]

The subject matter of these teachings can be included in the various paths of the three scopes. The small scope covers the causes to achieve the high rebirth states of the gods and humans: the ethics of abandoning the ten nonvirtues, etc. The medium scope includes the practices that will cause one to gain the definite excellence of liberation— such practices as abandoning [the first two of the] four truths, engaging in [the last two of these truths], and the practice of the three high trainings. The great scope contains the practices that bring about the definite excellence of omniscience— such practices as the development of bodhichitta, the six perfections, etc. Hence, all this subject matter forms a harmonious practice that will take a person to enlightenment and should be understood as being completely without contradiction. Such is how to understand that all realized teachings are without contradiction.

Pabongka (2006-07-10). Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment (Kindle Locations 1790-1796). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

Khenpo Pelzang - three stages[edit]

How to attain liberation, that is, one of the three levels of enlightenment, is summarized in the stages of the paths for the three kinds of beings, so it is important to remember these.

Pelzang, Khenpo Ngawang (2012-02-10). A Guide to The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Kindle Locations 1949-1950). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Within traditions - notes[edit]

Difference - Brief[edit]

The two main traditions of Buddhism, the Theravada and Mahayana, differ in their descriptions of nirvana. Both traditions emphasize that nirvana is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path, and that the actual experience of nirvana is beyond words or description. However, the Theravada tradition emphasizes the peace of the cessation of suffering that occurs from distinguishing the fires for attachment, aversion and ignorance, and thus being released from samsara. By contrast, the Mahayana tradition emphasis two levels of nirvana: the limited nirvana that comes from the cessation of suffering; and the nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana, or buddhahood, that transcends both samsara and limited nirvana.

Difference - Detailed[edit]

The two main traditions of Buddhism, the Theravada and Mahayana, differ in their descriptions of the Buddhist path and in their descriptions the result of the path−nirvana. Both traditions emphasize that nirvana is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path, and that the actual experience of nirvana is beyond words or description. However, the Theravada tradition emphasizes the peace of the cessation of suffering that occurs from distinguishing the fires for attachment, aversion and ignorance. In the Theravada tradition, one who achieves nirvana is called an arhat, and arhathood is considered to be the final goal of the Buddhist path. By contrast, the Mahayana tradition emphasis two levels of nirvana: the limited nirvana that comes from the cessation of suffering, referred to as arhathood in the Mahayana tradition; and the nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana that comes when the cessation of suffering is infusion with great compassion for all sentient beings. This nonabiding nirvana is said to transcend both samsara and the limited nirvana of the arhats. This nonabiding nirvana is also referred to as Buddhahood in the Mahayana tradition.

Mahayana[edit]

Two levels[edit]

The Mahayana (Great Vehicle) tradition emphasis two levels of nirvana:

  • The nirvana of the Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle)
    • Indicates freedom from samsara and the cessation of suffering
    • Referred to as arhathood in the Mahayana tradition
  • Nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana
    • Indicates a state that transcends both samsara and the nirvana of the Hinayana
    • Referred to as buddhahood in the Mahayana tradition
    • The ultimate goal of the path

Nirvana of the Hinayana[edit]

In the Mahayana tradition, the path of the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, is distinguished from the path of the Hinayana, or Lesser Vehicle. The Hinayana path is typically described as consisting of two subdivisions: the path of the sravaka (listener, hearer, or disciple) and the path of the pratyeka-buddha (solitary realizer). While the Hinayana path is sometimes equated with the modern day Theravada tradition, the terms are not synonymous. As Walpola Rahula notes, the modern-day Theravada formed separately from the Hinayana traditions referred to in the Mahayana texts.[a]

From the Mahayana point of view, the nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle is a form of liberation or awakening, but it is not the final goal of the path. Contemporary scholar Rupert Gethin explains:[2]

The Mahāyāna sūtras express two basic attitudes towards [the nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle]. The first [attitude] is that the path of the disciple [sravaka] and the path of the pratyeka-buddha do lead to a kind of awakening, a release from suffering, nirvāna, and as such are real goals. These goals are, however, inferior and should be renounced for the superior attainment of buddhahood. The second attitude, classically articulated by the Lotus Sūtra, sees the goal of the disciple and the pratyeka-buddha as not true goals at all.[b] The fact that the Buddha taught them is an example of his ‘skill in means’ (upaya-kauśalya) as a teacher.[c] These goals are thus merely clever devices (upāya) employed by the Buddha in order to get beings to at least begin the practice of the path; eventually their practice must lead on to the one and only vehicle (eka-yāna) that is the mahāyāna, the vehicle ending in perfect buddhahood.

Nonabiding nirvana[edit]

From the point of view of the Mahayana tradition, only by following the Mahayana path can one attain the highest level of realization, which is the nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana, or buddhahood, that transcends both samsara and the limited nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle.[d]

Contemporary translator Douglas Duckworth presents the Mahayana point of view:[6]

The Lesser Vehicle does not result in the practitioner becoming a complete buddha; rather, the aim is to achieve a personal nirvana that is the total extinction of existence. The Great Vehicle, however, does result in becoming a complete buddha. A buddha remains actively engaged in enlightened activity to liberate beings for as long as samsara remains. Thus, those who accomplish the Great Vehicle do not abide in samsara due to their wisdom that sees its empty, illusory nature. Further, unlike those who attain the nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle to escape samsara, they do not abide in an isolated nirvana due to their compassion. For these reasons, in the Great Vehicle, nirvana is said to be “unlocated” or “nonabiding” (apratiṣṭhita), staying in neither samsara nor nirvana.
Harvey[edit]

An advanced Bodhisattva who has experienced Nirvana does not rest content with this. He turns again to samsara in the service of others, which the Mahayna-samgraha calls his ‘non-abiding’ (apratiṣṭhita) Nirvana, not clinging either to samsara or to Nirvana as something supposedly separate from this (Nagao, 1991).

Harvey, Peter (2012-11-30). An Introduction to Buddhism (Introduction to Religion) (p. 137). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

At the completion of stage six and entry into stage seven, the Bodhisattva reaches a level of development parallel to that of the Arhat (Williams and Tribe, 2000: 180– 1, 268). He or she is free of ‘obscuration’ (avarana) in the form of the ‘defilements’ (klesa) of greed, hatred and delusion. At death, he could leave the round of rebirths and enter final Nirvana, 8 but his Mahayana ‘great compassion’ prevents him from doing so. Knowing that samsara is not ultimately different from Nirvana, he attains ‘non-abiding Nirvana’ (see p.   137), not attached to or resting in either samsara or Nirvana.

Harvey, Peter (2012-11-30). An Introduction to Buddhism (Introduction to Religion) (p. 158). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Harvey, Peter (2012-11-30). An Introduction to Buddhism (Introduction to Religion) (p. 158). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Walpola Rahula states: "We must not confuse Hinayana with Theravada because the terms are not synonymous. Theravada Buddhism went to Sri Lanka during the 3rd Century B.C. when there was no Mahayana at all. Hinayana sects developed in India and had an existence independent from the form of Buddhism existing in Sri Lanka. Today there is no Hinayana sect in existence anywhere in the world. Therefore, in 1950 the World Fellowship of Buddhists inaugurated in Colombo unanimously decided that the term Hinayana should be dropped when referring to Buddhism existing today in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, etc. This is the brief history of Theravada, Mahayana and Hinayana."[web 1]
  2. ^ Gethin footnote: Also Śrīmālādevī 78–94; and Lankāvatāra Sūtra 63; cf. Herbert V. Guenther (trans.), The Jewel Ornament of Liberation (London, 1970), 4–6.
  3. ^ Gethin footnote: On the notion of ‘skill in means’ see Michael Pye, Skilful Means (London, 1978); Williams, Mahāyāna Buddhism, 143–50.
  4. ^ From the Mahayana point of view, the nonabiding (apratiṣṭhita) nirvana is superior to the nirvana of the Lesser Vehicle:
    • The Padmakara Translation Group states: "It is important to realize that the term is understood differently by the different vehicles: the nirvana of the Basic Vehicle, the peace of cessation that an Arhat attains, is very different from a Buddha’s “nondwelling” nirvana, the state of perfect enlightenment that transcends both samsara and nirvana."[3]
    • Rupert Gethin states: "For the Mahayana becoming a Buddha generally involves attaining what is characterized as the ‘unestablished’ or ‘non-abiding’ (apratiṣṭhita) nirvāṇa: on the one hand the knowledge of a buddha that sees emptiness, is not ‘established’ in saṃsāra (by seizing on birth as an individual being, for example), on the other hand the great compassion of a buddha prevents the complete turning away from saṃsāra. So ultimately he abides neither in saṃsāra nor in nirvāṇa."[4]
    • Thrangu Rinpoche states: "The samadhi with the union of samatha and vipasyana fully developed will free one from the bondage of samsara so one attains a state of nonabiding nirvana, which is Buddhahood.[5]

References[edit]

Published references[edit]

  1. ^ Gethin 1998, p. 75.
  2. ^ Gethin 1998, pp. 228-229.
  3. ^ Dudjom Rinpoche 2011, Kindle loc. 8211-8215.
  4. ^ Gethin 1998, p. 232.
  5. ^ Thrangu Rinpoche 1993, p. 125.
  6. ^ Duckworth 2011, Kindle loc. 430-436.

Web-references[edit]