Author Topic: I don't understand what Nirvana is  (Read 3612 times)

Offline learis

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I don't understand what Nirvana is
« on: September 07, 2015, 06:59:21 pm »
The most I know is that it's the state of pure bliss/happiness. Even that could be wrong.

But yeah, I believe it's the ultimate goal of buddhism, right?

Could some buddhists further describe it? Do you gain omnipotence and omniscience when you achieve it? Do you still have desires after you achieve it (desire to help others, desire to have fun, etc.)? What is the process of achieving it?

Offline KimAndre

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2016, 03:28:37 pm »
Wow.. over 400 views, almost a year later and not a single response.

Says a bit about the magnitude of the question you're asking..

A version of this question is exactly the reason I signed up here.

To answer your first one, if it's the ultimate goal of Buddhism, it depends. To my knowledge, the Theravada traditions focus on an ultimate goal of Nirvana (or, as they base their traditions upon the Pali canon, Nibbana, which is the Pali word). To the Mahayana traditions on the other hand, Nirvana is only half the quest. To them, the ultimate goal is to become a Buddha. One who teaches an entire world-system the Dhamma (truth, way, teaching, discipline).

To answer your second question, the Majjhima Nikāya, according to Wikipedia, states that the Buddha has more superpowers than any other being. Personally I've yet to come across a single Buddhist scripture that claims so, but yet I think there is a certain logic to the possibility of doing whatever you want with yourself once you realize you're all that is. More importantly though, I think the quest for such powers is an inferior one that will, like all else in all the worlds of existence, ultimately lead to suffering. I believe those who attain such powers rarely, and only briefly if ever, play around with it, and enjoy it even less.

Omniscience I believe comes even before Nirvana, during Enlightenment. "Neccessiscience" one could call it. Knowing what one needs to know to fulfill the path. Whoever wants to actively KNOW every and all bits of information at once anyway?

To your third question, desire for anything at all one could say is the exact opposite of Nirvana. Desire is almost by definition suffering, atleast in the Buddhist sense, derived from the Pali word Dukkha. To want something means to experience the unwanted, and this is a problem. Fun, helping others, any pleasure at all, only has any appeal if it's desirable. Which is another way of saying, you'll only want something if you want it... The thing is, you don't choose what you want. All objects of desire are basically inventions dancing about declaring "You're not perfect, you're not content, you're not at peace, you're not in bliss, you're not complete. You need me." They're problems. Pains. Disturbing. On the other hand, followers of the Mahayana traditions do plan to postpone their abiding in Nirvana in order to help liberate others, so it seems it is possible to return from Nirvana and acquire desires. Whether or not there's a safety mechanism that only allows you to desire helping others liberate themselves or if the Buddha really did attain Nirvana and not only Enlightenment prior to his Parinirvana, or if Nirvana is also used as a term denoting Enlightenment, separate from The Ultimate, unconditioned, perfect Nirvana, I don't know.

To answer your fourth and last question, the process is found, as the Fourth Noble Truth, in the Noble Eightfold Path. Ofcourse, this depends whether or not you yourself mean Enlightenment or Nirvana.

Metta

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2016, 09:54:08 pm »
It is pointless to discuss something that can only be known and understood through experience.

Here is a discussion regarding the topic, which goes nowhere:

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/general-buddhism-discussion/is-nirvana-a-different-dimension-or-just-a-different-state-of-mind/
« Last Edit: June 03, 2016, 09:57:19 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2016, 02:54:10 am »
It is pointless to discuss something that can only be known and understood through experience.

Here is a discussion regarding the topic, which goes nowhere:

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/general-buddhism-discussion/is-nirvana-a-different-dimension-or-just-a-different-state-of-mind/


An interesting observation which raises an important question- does a discussion have to go anywhere to be useful? I don't know the answer myself, although I remember reading 'Samuri Zen: The warrior Koans' by Trevor Leggett. You've discussed koans here I think, where the value is not in any answer, but in the thinking processes. In fact, I don't think any answer was acceptable since the tension built up trying to answer a given koan was the aim in the first place.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2016, 11:55:03 pm »
The most I know is that it's the state of pure bliss/happiness. Even that could be wrong.
But yeah, I believe it's the ultimate goal of buddhism, right?
Could some buddhists further describe it? Do you gain omnipotence and omniscience when you achieve it? Do you still have desires after you achieve it (desire to help others, desire to have fun, etc.)? What is the process of achieving it?


There are some clues here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca3/nibbana.html

Cessation of suffering, liberation, peace, bliss and so on.  It's described differently in the various schools of Buddhism of course.

Offline chowkit74

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2016, 03:30:59 am »
Nibbāna – How can it be described?

What is nibbāna?  And where is nibbāna?  For general understanding, nibbāna is not a state of paradise or some sort of heavenly realms that can be found alongside the planes of existence within the cosmos.  In an ultimate sense, nibbāna does not exist at all, but why?  This is because there is non-existence of the mind to provide the descriptions, perceptions, names, shapes, etc. within the state of nibbāna.  Furthermore, mind is dependent arising but nibbāna is a non-dependent arising state of affairs i.e. with no rising and falling activities taking place.  In other words, nibbāna is a completely neutralised state of affairs – in contrast with the conventional phenomenon that would subject to the conditional influences i.e. in a continuous and constantly changing state of affairs. 

In the dependent nature or samsāra, there is an element of suffering or dukkha.  Suffering means ‘bearing with’ in the Buddhist context and ‘letting go’ is the antonym of it.  Literally, there are no elements of grasping when one practises letting go.  When no grasping arises, the becoming process would slow down.  This is because everything in the dependent nature is nothing but energy.  And energy is nothing but mere vibration.  When the becoming process slows down, it means energy is vibrating at lower frequencies.  When the becoming process ceases, energy literally stops vibrating.  Energy just got ‘frozen.’  Zero vibration means zero becoming.  Zero becoming means an absolute cessation of any changing activities.  Thus an absolute stage of absence is achieved.  Absence means a perfect state of balance.  Therefore, absence is not about nothingness but instead it is about no-thing-ness.  No thing means no becoming or no changing.  No changing means no suffering.  No suffering means no mind.  Mind is the forerunner of all states.  No mind means a completely neutralised state of affairs - that is nibbāna.  The state of nibbāna is inexplicable in conventional terms but still, it can be tasted by the enlightened ones during deep meditation.

However, there is an argument that says nothing stops completely in the scientific world.  In physics, there is something called zero-point energy or the lowest level that energy could exist.  Scientists have discovered that Hydrogen (the smallest molecule in the material Universe with a single atom) cannot be frozen completely i.e. it would cool down to a specific low temperature and then continues to vibrate again.   In other words, the material Universe does not freeze itself completely in the coldest region and there is always energy that vibrates in the outer space. 

Well, it is a valid argument that energy can neither be stationary nor be created nor be destroyed in the scientific sense.  But how then could we best describe a scenario of ‘frozen’ energy here?  Let us look at the case of a black hole in the material Universe.  Black holes were originally called frozen stars because they appear to ‘freeze’ at a size just slightly bigger than the Schwarzschild radius - the distance at which all matter within that distance will collapse into the singularity.  Around the black hole, there is a surface called event horizon that marks the point of no return.  Any objects that fall and cross the event horizon would appear to freeze from the perspective of an observer who is stationary at great distance from the event horizon.  Just as in Einstein’s special theory of relativity, if you were to enter a black hole, you would find your watch ticking along at the same rate as it always had but someone else at great distance from the black hole would see a different ticking rate on your watch than the usual, and you would see their watch to be ticking at a different than normal rate.   

For instance, if you were to station yourself just outside a black hole, while you would find your own watch ticking at the normal rate, you would see the watch of a friend at great distance from the hole to be ticking at a much faster rate than yours.  Your friend would see his own watch ticking at a normal rate, but see your watch to be ticking at a much slower rate.  Thus if you stayed just outside the black hole for a while, then went back to join your friend, you would find that the friend had aged more than you had during your separation.  At the end of the day, if you were to cross into the event horizon, you appear to freeze, as seen by your friend and it is only an ‘optical’ illusion that makes your friend think that you never cross the horizon when in actual fact you did.

Once again, when one talks about energy, one talks about vibration.  And energy can never be stationary at any point of time but it can appear to freeze under a special circumstance described as above.  In other words, when there are opposing forces, there would be vibration.  In the absence of opposing forces, vibration would cease to exist i.e. it is considered to be blown-off but not annihilated.  This means in the absence of vibration, energy would still exist but it seems to freeze due to the homologous force arising.

In the Buddhist context, there are two opposing forces arising in the dependent nature i.e. the force of Awakening (an inward tendency force) and the force of Ignorance (an outward tendency force).  For an ignorant being, during a disintegrating process, the elements of prevailing consciousness or so-called the ‘chain of consciousness’ would die out and the force of Ignorance would overcome the force of Awakening.  The elements of subtle consciousness would then liberate into fragments.  The amount of liberated fragments is very much dependent on the level of Ignorance or Awakening within the being.  And for an ignorant being, the level of Ignorance would surpass the level of Awakening and this would mean the intensity of Ignorance is higher than the intensity of Awakening.  A higher intensity of Ignorance would mean a higher intensity of becoming.  A higher intensity of becoming would mean a higher amount of liberated fragments.  On the other hand, for a fully awakened being, the force of Ignorance would be blown-off (cease to exist) completely.  The remaining force of Awakening i.e. an inward tendency force would conquest in full scale and thus conjuring up a circumstance that is known as the black hole of emptiness i.e. the eternal bliss of nibbāna. 

As a conclusion, nibbāna is a completely neutralised state of affairs that is boundless, timeless and permanent.  The ultimate goal in the Buddhist practice is to quest for an everlasting happiness that is unconditional via enlightenment.  While enlightenment is about realisation, wisdom is about applying it into one’s daily perspectives and decision making, wholesomely.   Therefore, if one wishes to gain enlightenment and wisdom, one would need to walk the walk and not talk the talk.  In other words, enlightenment can never be achieved through desire for it is a mere intention of building castles in the air.  Buddhism is about the sheer determination to pull one’s act together to end the state of suffering conclusively and not just blowing hot air. 

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2016, 04:53:30 am »
I once had a friend who was blind.  He was an excellent musician and vocalist.  He was blind from birth.  I tried to explain the experience of vision using the analogy of different wave lengths and frequencies of sound, since he was accomplished, an expert really, in the field of sound.  No matter what I said to him, he said that he could not understand vision.

No matter what we say to others, we can explain something that they have never experienced themselves.  How much more ridiculous is it that we try to explain to others what we have never experienced.  How much more ridiculous is it for us to try to explain something to others, which not only we have never experienced, but they have not experienced themselves.

There is an axiom: It is like the "The blind leading the blind!"

My suggestion is for only those who have experienced nibbana to discuss its nature with only those who have experienced nibbana.  Even so, what would be the point, because both would already know what nibbana was and would need no explanation as they have already experienced it. :namaste:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2016, 04:29:44 am »


No matter what we say to others, we can explain something that they have never experienced themselves.  How much more ridiculous is it that we try to explain to others what we have never experienced.  How much more ridiculous is it for us to try to explain something to others, which not only we have never experienced, but they have not experienced themselves.


My suggestion is for only those who have experienced nibbana to discuss its nature with only those who have experienced nibbana.  Even so, what would be the point, because both would already know what nibbana was and would need no explanation as they have already experienced it. :namaste:

A good point, Ron-the-Elder, but I remember very negative experiences at Buddhist centers about this. I was one of those who wanted to experience nibbana, but couldn't get anyone to talk about it. One person even said that it was not possible in this lifetime! Luckily I didn't allow such comments to put me off, but decided then and there that if I was ever in the position to offer advice in the future I would tell it like it was for me. Hopefully with mindfulness!
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline serendipity

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2016, 10:04:34 pm »
What is the process of achieving it?
The 6 organs  (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, brain) are deceptors that can make nonexistent world appear realistic.

If you can detach yourself from the 6 organs, you will get yourself out of the hallucination, and into Nirvana.

"Detachment of mind from the 6 organs" can only be achieved through the practice of meditation which requires specific technich and knowledge.  It is not that any meditation will do.

Offline ECS

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2016, 06:10:59 pm »
Perhaps Buddhism is something human never understood , is something human could not learn to know and is something human will never know ...why ???? Simply Buddhism is not knowledge . Buddhism is a natural process of realization and realization is not knowledge ..

Perhaps I could explain my realization of Buddhism by this close example :-

If you fall into a river and getting out of the water is never an option ...if you choose to swim against the current or away from the current , regardless what you do , you will just suffering of fatigue as you will end up in the sea ....but if you choose to swim with the current and you swim as fast and as hard as possible towards the sea ... still you will just suffering of fatigue as you will never find the sea .... the sea is you . Buddhism is a process of realization not determination of knowledge that you hold ......

Offline serendipity

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2016, 09:24:41 pm »
Buddhism in short is a science of human body, and of the universe.
Buddhism explains very clearly how eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body-skin and brain can trick people into believing in what they see, hear... are all real.

When you believe in what you see, hear....are all real, and there comes the birth of the universe, and endless cycles of birth and death by The Law of Cause and Effect.

Buddha says that the 6 sense-organs are the cause of ignorance.
They are like dark glasses. If you wear it, you will always see darkness. 
The way to get out of darkness, is take the glasses off.

That is why the buddhist sutra often says that Buddha and Bodhisattva  have no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and brain.

In fact, we don't need to rely on eyes to see; rely on ears to hear....rely on brain to think.
Buddha tells us that we can see without eyes; hear without ear; think without brain
This can only be achieved by specific meditation.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 09:39:05 pm by serendipity »

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2016, 10:31:58 pm »
Buddha says that the 6 sense-organs are the cause of ignorance.
They are like dark glasses. If you wear it, you will always see darkness. 
The way to get out of darkness, is take the glasses off.

No, in the teachings on dependent origination, ignorance is the first cause.  Ignorance is the tinted glass.

The sense organs themselves aren't to blame.

Offline serendipity

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2016, 04:27:55 pm »
Buddha says that the 6 sense-organs are the cause of ignorance.
They are like dark glasses. If you wear it, you will always see darkness. 
The way to get out of darkness, is take the glasses off.


No, in the teachings on dependent origination, ignorance is the first cause.  Ignorance is the tinted glass.

The sense organs themselves aren't to blame.

you don't know that the 6 sense-organs are the cause of ignorance, then now I should refer you to The Shurangama Sutra, which is also one of the very important sutras in buddhist studies.


The Shurangama Sutra
" if in your cultivation of Bodhi you do not carefully consider the origin of affliction, you cannot realize the empty falseness of the sense-organs and sense-objects or the ocation of delusion.  If you don’t even know its location, how can you subdue it "

"your visible eyes, ears, nose and tongue, as well as your body and mind, are like six thieving matchmakers who plunder the jewels of your household."

"you do not yet know that your organs have accumulated habits that are without beginning"


http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/Buddhism/Shurangama/ps.ss.02.v4.020526.screen.pdf

« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 05:10:15 pm by serendipity »

Offline serendipity

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2016, 04:34:46 pm »
No, in the teachings on dependent origination, ignorance is the first cause.  Ignorance is the tinted glass.

The sense organs themselves aren't to blame.

What you know about the dependent origination is only the BASICS.
There are deeper reasons for the 6 sense-organs to be the origin of  ignorance.

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination in fact is divided into 3 phases:
1. the past_ 2. the present_ 3. the future

When we deal with problems, we need to deal with the ones presently in action.
that is why we don't deal with "ignorance" because it is something already happened.  We need to deal with the 6 sense-organs because they are presently in action producing new ignorance.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 05:06:32 pm by serendipity »

Offline Tirisilex

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Re: I don't understand what Nirvana is
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2016, 09:15:12 am »
The one thinh I know is that Nirvana is a tough thing to understand and In order to understand it you need to be in it. Keep walking the path.

 


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