1: What is Nirvana?


It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question just as I did.

–Trinity

Nirvana in simple words is freedom from suffering of life. But Nirvana cannot be understood without attaining it, just like a person who has not tasted a strawberry can not be explained how it really tastes. But we can compare it with other things in world that we know to understand what it must be like. Thus by the end of this book you will gain good understanding of what Nirvana is. For the time being Nirvana is –

For Layman:

Nirvana is the state of being perfect, being free from greed, anger and ignorance and all defilements of our mind. The person who has attained Nirvana does no action, speech or thought that will harm others or will cause any bad reaction in future in anyway. He has no desires that will cause greed, jealousy and anger to be arisen. Thus he is free from suffering, free from fear, worry and tension. Thus, he does not suffer any worldly pain.

For Philosopher:

It means freedom from cycle of birth and death. There will be no further birth after attaining Nirvana and no further suffering. The person may still have to go through illness, old age and death, which is the consequence of birth in present life. There is no suffering of mind, but only of body as a result of wear and tear of body and limited lifespan of physical body.

For Buddhist:

On attaining nirvana, a person is free from the three root cause of suffering and understands the true nature of all things. Thus there is no further attachment, no further desires that will lead him to further sufferings. Thus, the person attaining Nirvana has perfected himself. Nirvana also means freedom from the cycle of Samsara or cycle of birth & death & suffering. On death, the body is disintegrated into its component parts that of earth, water, fire and air. The mind or consciousness no longer exists as there is no further desires and karma left to form into another life for rebirth.

Why do we need to attain Nirvana? Nirvana means freedom from suffering as a human being/living being. But, why do we suffer? We suffer due to our deeds also called karma or action which have bad reaction/effects. So if we are able to reduce our bad deeds/karma/action we will suffer less to that extant. Our actions in turn are the result of our mental defilements. If we are able to completely remove our defilements we will stop suffering altogether. This is basically the aim of Nirvana. But Nirvana is much more than just eradicating our defilements, it is eradicating defilements through wisdom, through knowledge and understanding.

How do we attain Nirvana? To attain Nirvana we need to follow the Noble Eight Fold path. In this book simple and easy to follow steps cover the Eight Fold path which can be followed by anyone. Though the steps are simple, they need to be followed by each person for himself, which in turns needs willingness and persistence.

Buddha after attaining Nirvana or Enlightenment (found the path to eradicate sufferings), taught the path to his disciples and all people so that they can too, like him eradicate their suffering and attain Nirvana. Many people at his time and after him attained Nirvana following the path or teachings.

  • Buddha’s teachings or the path is referred as the Dhamma.
  • Those who have benefited from practicing Buddha’s teachings are referred as the Sangha.
  • All those who attained Nirvana after Buddha following his teachings are referred as Arahats.
  • Those who avoid attaining Nirvana even though they can attain it, so that all people can benefit from their teachings and knowledge are referred as Bodhisattva.
Advertisements

Introduction


Hey, it just sounds to me like you need to unplug, man.

–Choi

This book “Attaining Nirvana” is about Nirvana or complete eradication of suffering of living beings, that Buddha gained more than 2500 years ago. Buddha taught the path to eradication of suffering or the path to Nirvana following which many people have gained Nirvana over these years. Even now, and in future too, anybody can attain Nirvana by following Buddha’s teachings or Dhamma.

Though there are many books on Buddhism, there are very few books referring to any possibility of attaining Nirvana and still less in this very life time. Buddha’s teachings are directed towards Nirvana – complete eradication of sufferings/Dukkha. Many monks have attained Nirvana to become Arahat in a single lifetime by following Buddha’s teachings. We have tried to include in this book only those teachings that are relevant to attaining Nirvana and can be easily practiced by any layman. Other teaching may be added as a separate part in future if needed.

Some Buddhist concepts are very simple for anyone to understand. But some are very difficult for even brilliant minds to grasp easily. They are difficult because our mind refuse to accept these concepts. These are concepts we have grown up to mean something else and we are unable to change our view. There are a lot of good books on Buddhism covering every aspect of Buddhism and a lot of them are for free distribution. Readers are advised to read other books on Buddhism too, to better grasp the concepts.

This book is covered in three parts. Part I – Practice, Part II – Insight and Part III – Nirvana and You.

Part I is Practice, the practising part of attaining Nirvana. It has basic required teachings which are essential to attain Nirvana. It basically deals with understanding of the Four Noble Truth for eradicating suffering and Noble Eight Fold Path that needs to be followed for Attaining Nirvana. It includes a hand chart that can be used for practising.

Part II is Insight which is essential, but not readily grasped by our mind. This also makes Buddhism different from other philosophies in the world. This is the understanding part of attaining Nirvana. It deals with concepts that make attaining Nirvana easier and also make it more clear what nirvana actually is and why it is so important to attain Nirvana and eradicate our suffering. This Part covers Karma, Rebirth and Dependent Origination.

Part III is Nirvana and You, this chapter will help you understand Nirvana better, clear your doubts, give motivation and help you check your development progress. This part covers topics which aid in practising for Attaining Nirvana and may not be directly related to Buddha’s teachings. This is also the reason these chapters are kept separate.