Author Topic: What is Nirvana?  (Read 34371 times)

Offline Dairy Lama

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What is Nirvana?
« on: November 18, 2011, 06:40:57 am »
I thought it would be interesting to explore what Nirvana is ( and isn't ).

To start us off, here is an extract from Wiki.


"The Buddha described nirvāna as the perfect peace of the state of mind that is free from craving, anger, and other afflicting states (kilesas). In nirvāṇa the deeply set roots of craving (Pali: tanha, raga, lobha) and aversion (Pali: dosa)—dispositions of the mind/brain apparatus considered in Buddhism the cause of human suffering (dukkha—the first noble truth according to the Buddha)—have been dissolved and uprooted. These underlying dispositions furthermore are the basis for the process of repeated incarnation so their uprooting means that one is no longer subject to further rebirth in samsāra. In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says of nirvāna that it is "the highest happiness", an enduring, transcendental happiness qualitatively different from the limited, transitory happiness derived from impermanent things.

Nirvana is also characterized by transcendental knowledge or bodhi a concept translated most commonly into English as 'enlightenment'. This knowledge is considered in terms of being fully awake to the true nature of reality (see bodhi). One who possesses or abides in bodhi is called a buddha or arahant. The Buddha explains the unique character of the enlightened mind as a result of it having become "unconditioned" (asankhata) which is to say free from the conditions formerly obscuring it by the volitional formations. This ultimate state is described by the Buddha as "deathlessness" (Pali: amata or amāravati) and naturally accrues in the fullness of time to one having lived a life committed to the threefold training (Noble Eightfold Path). Such a life is concerned with performing wholesome actions (Pali: kusala kamma) with positive results and finally allows the cessation of the origination of worldly activities altogether with the attainment of nibbāna. Until then beings forever wander through the impermanent and suffering-generating realms of desire, form, and formlessness; collectively termed: samsāra."

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Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 02:22:10 pm »
Nirvana just means "Not produced, not destroyed". 

In other words, that which does not arise, nor cease.  It did not begin, and so it will never end.  It was never created, hence will never be destroyed.  That which is not-born and therefore will never die. 

It means neither coming into being, nor ceasing to be - because of this, birth and death have ended - so Nirvana is a realm beyond birth and death, a place where birth and death have ended - therefore it is a realm where the drawbacks of impermanence (i.e., old age, decay, sickness and death) can not touch.

To understand it better, you need to know what the conditioned is, vs the unconditioned.  Conditioned means things that arise and cease.  Unconditioned means things which do not arise nor cease.  We live in the conditioned world - just about everything we see arises and ceases.  Hence any happiness that we seek in the conditioned world will naturally be conditioned and impermanent - any happiness that we find in our everyday world will eventually decay and cease.  This is because anything that is impermanent is time-bound - once it arises, it will dwell for a bit and then decay and die off - this is the pattern of all impermanent things.  The Buddha is pointing to a happiness that is not subject to impermanence - that does not decay because it is not time-bound.  As he said, Nibbanam parramam sukkham - Nirvana is the highest happiness.

Other names for Nirvana/Nibbana are the True Mind and the Buddha Nature.

This is a rough starting point to understanding it.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 03:28:12 pm »
My understanding is that nibanna is what is left once all attachments, defilements, taints, hindrances, fetters, and shackles have been abandoned leaving a mind void of descriptions, views, perspectives, definitions, all manner of mental factors and activities; able to be experienced, but not described.  A mind beyond luminosity.

My question is, "What moves into nibbana?"...or, are we already in nibbana, but just can't experience it, because of all the obstructions?

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-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline dhammaseeker51

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2011, 03:53:42 pm »
The highest contentment.
Content to simply be, concious, aware, wanting nothing.

with Metta

Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2011, 05:12:10 pm »
Nirvana is also the ending of greed, hatred and delusion/ignorance.

So getting back to basics of the 4 Noble Truths and Dependent Origination.

There is the origin of suffering which is Tanha/Craving, i.e., greed - the desire to get.  The desire to get rid of something (hatred).  In Dependent origination, there is ignorance as the first link.  With the cessation of these 3 things - greed, hatred and ignorance - what do you get?....  Yes, you get Nirvana.

So the Buddha's teachings all tie in and are inter-related - because they pretty much all point to Nirvana, a state which neither comes into being nor ceases to be.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 05:14:22 pm by Optimus Prime »

Offline t

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2011, 05:30:34 pm »
Where only supreme catness is....no trace of dogmatism iz  :cheesy:

Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2011, 06:09:54 pm »
My question is, "What moves into nibbana?"...or, are we already in nibbana, but just can't experience it, because of all the obstructions?


Nothing moves into Nirvana, nothing goes out of Nirvana - it is beyond movement.  Why?  Because what moves, changes.  What doesn't change is fundamentally free of arisings and ceasings, free from creation and destruction, free from comings and goings etc...  What changes is bound by time and impermanence.  Nirvana is beyond this.

Actually, Nirvana is present with us in the here and now - it's just that we think it's lost and something so unattainable.  Remember that Nirvana is something that neither comes into being nor ceases to be - it is not something that is created when we get enlightened (remember, it's not something that is created or destroyed) - so considering this why do we think that Nirvana is lost right now?

The second is the primal pure substance of the beginningless Bodhi Nirvana. There is no beginning; therefore the Buddha calls it “beginningless”; it was even before the beginning itself had occurred.

”Bodhi” is Sanskrit; it is interpreted to mean “awakening to the Way.” There are three kinds of Bodhi: The Bodhi of the true nature, which refers to your inherent Buddha-nature. Originally, everyone has the Buddha-nature; The Bodhi of actual wisdom, which refers to your genuine wisdom, not false wisdom; Expedient Bodhi, which refers to the state of people who have accomplished Bodhi and who then use expedient and clever means to teach and transform living beings. These three kinds of Bodhi can be said to be one. Divided they are three; in combination they are one. Together they are the Bodhi of the true nature, and from it comes the Bodhi of actual wisdom and expedient Bodhi.

Where does Bodhi itself come from? Bodhi doesn’t come from anywhere or go anywhere. Each of us is endowed with it. No one person has any more or less of it than anyone else. It neither increases nor decreases, is neither produced nor extinguished, is neither defiled nor pure.

Most people think that nirvana follows upon death, but actually it is not necessarily an after-death state. It is the certification to and attainment of a principle. “Nirvana” is a Sanskrit word which is interpreted to mean “neither produced nor destroyed.” Since it is neither produced nor destroyed, birth and death are ended. One attains nirvana when one reaches the position of not being subject to birth and death. But nirvana is not the Buddha’s dying. When the Buddha dies, he enters nirvana; he enters and certifies to the principle of nirvana with its four virtues of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity. Some people who haven’t seen things clearly in their study of Buddhism think that nirvana is just death, but nirvana is emphatically not death. One who holds this view does not understand Buddhist principle.

It is the primal bright essence of consciousness. “Primal” means that it is originally a pure substance, that is, one which is neither defiled nor pure, neither increasing nor decreasing. Originally its light illuminates everywhere. “Consciousness” here does not refer to the eight consciousnesses, nor to the eye-consciousness, the ear-consciousness, the nose-consciousness, the tongue-consciousness, the body-consciousness, the mind-consciousness, nor the manas or the alaya consciousnesses. It is not any of the eight consciousnesses. It refers to the essence of consciousness, which is but another name for Bodhi Nirvana. The phrase is used here to avoid repetition for the sake of literary style. It refers to the most essential and wonderful aspect of consciousness, the inherent Buddha-nature, the bright substance of the permanently dwelling true mind that can bring forth all conditions. Because of conditions, you consider it to be lost. Because these causal conditions arise, you keep getting farther and farther away from where you want to be, like someone running farther and farther down the road. Didn’t I say before that the more Ananda answered the Buddha’s questions the farther off the track he got? All conditions are transformed and appear from within the primal bright essential consciousness, but after a long time of clutching at these conditions, it seems that something has been lost. What is lost? Nothing, really. The primal bright essential consciousness seems to be lost, but it isn’t. The primal pure substance of Bodhi Nirvana is the true jewel in your household. Basically, it is right there with you but you don’t know how to use it to your advantage. Since you can’t use it, it seems to be lost. It is as if you had a valuable gem which you have hidden away so well that after a long time you can no longer remember where you put it. Once you forget where it is, you can no longer make use of it. Although you may be destitute, you don’t know how to get at it and derive benefit from it. It’s the same as if it weren’t there. What do you use instead? You use your false thinking, your mind that seizes upon conditions. In the process you forget the true mind, and once it is forgotten, it is as good as lost. And this is why you have not become Buddhas and are bound up by birth and death instead: you have not found your true mind.

Source:  Master Hsuan Hua's commentary to the Shurangama Sutra (Sutra text in bold)
http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama1/shurangama1_22.asp


You can actually open up to the unconditioned during your meditation and use this as your basis for stillness in meditation - so it's not some abstract theory but something which the Buddha encouraged us to USE in our own meditation.

Offline Hanzze

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2011, 07:46:29 pm »
Many ideas, anybody an idea to come rid of ideas? *smile* I mean, we could simply look for our self. Well if we run a travel agency its pretty important to find tasty words.

"Hey, that guy might know where I like to go." *smile*

Offline ground

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2011, 09:20:49 pm »
Cessation, mere irreversible cessation.

Kind regards

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2011, 02:51:57 am »
Nibbana Sutta: Total Unbinding (1) translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support (mental object). This, just this, is the end of stress."

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline ground

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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2011, 03:04:12 am »
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2011, 04:10:25 am »
Nibbana Sutta: Total Unbinding (1) translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support (mental object). This, just this, is the end of stress."

So, please check my conclusions with regard to experiencing nibanna.:

The process we follow is to:

1.  Study The Dhamma
2.  Practice:  Meditation, & Mindfulness
3.  Live our lives in accordance with The Noble Eight Fold Path, The Middle Way.
4. Attain right and harmonious understanding and penetration of The Dhamma.
5. Eliminate all defilements of mind, abandoning all taints, fetters, hindrances, & delusions.
6.  Restore mind to its natural luminosity
7.  Mind (the luminous container now free of mental factors) dissolves and disperses, gone the way of The Tathagata.
8.  Nibbana is directly experienced / revealed / attained.

There is no need to go anywhere.  Nibanna is not a place, it is a state of existence.  Nibanna has been here all along, and is here as we write and read this message, we just couldn't and can't directly experience that reality, because of our conditioned defilements of mind.

Next question:

If we (all of us) were experiencing nibanna before ignorance and conditioning arose, and fell into conditioned ignorance resulting in the experiencing of the samsaric realms, what is to prevent this from happening again even after re-experiencing nibanna?  After all, if it happened once, couldn't it happen again?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 04:48:37 am by Bodhisatta2011 »
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 Optimus Prime

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2011, 04:37:06 am »

Offline ground

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Re: What is Nirvana?
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2011, 04:44:36 am »
If we (all of us) were in nibanna before ignorance and conditioning arose, and fell into conditioned ignorance resulting in the experiencing of the samsaric realms, what is to prevent this from happening again even after re-experiencing nibanna?  After all, if it happened once, couldn't it happen again?
The assumption that "we (all of us) were in nibanna before ignorance and conditioning arose" actuall boils down to the assumption that there has been an absolute beginning. But this sort of reasoning has been rejected by the Buddha as not appropriate.
So ignorance is without beginning. The only mandatory cause for cessation to arise is being taught. Once there is cessation there is no falling back. If there is falling back then the alleged cessation has actually been a manifestation of ignorance.

kind regards

 


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