In Buddhism, a transcendent state in which is neither suffering, desire nor sense of self, and the subject is released from this effects of Karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism. The word nirvana is so prevalent for English speakers that its true meaning is often lost. The word has been adopted to mean ”bliss” or ”tranquility”. But what is it, really? And how does it fit into Buddhism?
”The Real Meaning Of Nirvana
In the spiritual definition, Nirvana is an ancient Sanskrit word that means something like to extinguish,” with the connotation of extinguishing a flame. This more literal meaning has caused many westerners to assume that the goal of Buddhism is to obliterate oneself. But that’s not at all what Buddhism, or nirvana, is about. The liberation really entails extinguishing the conditions of samsara, the suffering of dukkha,. Samsara is usually defined as the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, although in Buddhism this is not the same as the rebirth of discreet souls, as it is in Hinduism, but rather a rebirth of karmic tendencies. Nirvana is also said to be liberation from this cycle and from this cycle and from dukkha, the Stress/Pain/ dissatisfaction of life. In his first sermon after his enlightenment, Buddha preached the Four Noble Truths. Very basically, the Truths explain why life stresses and disappoints us. The Buddha also gave us the remedy and the path to liberation, which is in Eightfold Path.
Buddhism, then, is so much a belief system as it is a practice that enables us to stop struggling.
”Nirvana Is Not A Place”
So, once we’re liberated, what happens next? The various schools of Buddhism understand nirvana in different ways, but they generally agree that nirvana is not a place. It is more like a state of existence. However, the Buddha also said that anything we might say or imagine about nirvana will be wrong because it is utterly different from our ordinary existence. Nirvana is beyond space, time and definition, and so language is by definition inadequate to discuss it. it can only be experienced. Many scriptures and commentaries speak of entering nirvana, but nirvana cannot be entered in the same way we enter a room or the way we might imagine entering heaven.
Of course, many generations of Buddhism have imagined nirvana to be a place, because the limitations of language give us no other way to talk this state of being. There is also an old folk belief must be reborn as a male to enter nirvana. The historical Buddha never said any such thing, but the folk belief came to be reflected in some of the Mahayana sutras. This notion was very emphatically rejected in the Vimalakirti Sutra, however in which it is made clear that both women and lay people can become enlightened and experience Nirvana.