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Dictionary Information: Definition Nirvana
Thesaurus: Nirvana
Description and Meaning: Nirvana

  Nirvana (Nirvana) (nr-v1ne, ner-) n.
[Sanskrit, nirvNam, a blowing out, extinction, nirvana: nis-, nir-, out, away + vti, it blows. Pali, nibbana; Jap., nehan]

1. Often Nirvana, a. Buddhism. The ineffable ultimate in which one has attained disinterested wisdom and compassion. b. Hinduism. Emancipation from ignorance and the extinction of all attachment.
2. An ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability, or joy.
3. The ability to consciously pause an activity or activities of the mind. Her mind became inactive, the result was the experience of nirvana.
4. A state of liberation from unhappiness. Illumination, characterized by the merging of the individual, transitory I in consciousness. Nirvana frees one from suffering and fear of death. It is the highest, transcendent consciousness, referred to in the Bhagavad-Gita as brahman-nirvana, in the Upanishads as turiya, in yoga as nirbija-samadhi, and in Vedanta as nirvikalpa-samadhi.
5. The goal of spiritual practice in all branches of Buddhism. In the understanding of early Buddhism, it is departure from the cycle of unhappiness and entry into an entirely different mode of existence. It requires complete overcoming of the three unwholesome roots--undisciplined-desire, hatred, and delusion (akushala). Nirvana is unconditioned (asamskrita) consciousness. Its characteristic marks are pausing the activities of the mind in a state of consciousness.
6. In Mahayana, nirvana is an emphasis on the unified nature of the world. Nirvana is conceived as a human experience of oneness with unconditioned consciousness (the absolute). Which gives insight into the unity of the world (samsara), body, mind and soul. It is a state of transcending conditioned consciousness. It is also described as dwelling in the experience of the intense bliss in cognizing one's identity with unconditioned consciousness. It is freedom from attachment to the states of unhappiness, satisfaction and happiness.
7. In the West nirvana has often been misunderstood as mere annihilation; even in early Buddhism it was not so conceived. Nirvana literally means "The blowing out of a candle". The fire that goes out does not pass away, but merely becomes invisible by passing into a conscious experience of space (akasha); thus the term nirvana does not indicate annihilation but rather entry into another mode of existence and experience. The fire that comes forth is the self. From consciously experiencing space the self dissolves momentarily. Self-flame thus returns back, and the conscious experience of space dissolves. Thus nirvana is a special experience not conceived by the perception of sight, but rather by consciously discarding conditioned brainwave activity. It is an experience that takes place in time but is also a timeless experience. This is the "emptiness" which is referred to in Buddhist Sutras.
8. Nirvana means "bliss," but far more often nirvana is characterized merely as a process of the cessation of the states of unhappiness, satisfaction, and happiness. For Buddhism, which sees all of human existence as suffering, nirvana interpreted as the cessation of suffering suffices as a goal for the spiritual effort.
9. In Hinayana two types of nirvana are distinguished: nirvana which consists of knowledge and nirvana where knowledge exists though in an uncreated form. Both being experiences of different modes of consciousness. It is reached through successively overcoming the various states of mind; knowledge of unhappiness, knowledge of satisfaction and knowledge of happiness. For the overcoming of each state a specific "realm of knowledge" is acquired. For the Sautrantikas nirvana is just the transcendence of the lower states of knowledge; unhappiness, satisfaction and happiness, but not their complete disappearance. The knowledge of nirvana is based on knowledge of unhappiness, satisfaction and happiness. Therefore, transcendence means additional knowledge, not discarding of knowledge. In the Vatsiputriya school, which puts forth the idea of the "individual" (pudgala, anatman), nirvana is a positive state in which the individual's knowledge continues to exist and grow, but is easily turned off when not needed. Leaving a bright clear consciousness associated with sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Thinking becomes focused, direct and clear.
10. In Mahayana nirvana has a positive character, since it is state of awareness of one's identity with unclouded consciousness. The experience of unity that encompasses the experiencer includes one's own body and mind. In this view, there is no essential distinction between the soul, mind, body or world, because they are experienced in an interconnected way.
11. Two types of nirvana are distinguished: indeterminate (apratishthita-nirvana) and complete (pratishthita-nirvana). In actuality, the experiencer moves between both types of nirvana. Having the capability to cease the activities of the mind and to create mental activity in various combinations of thought, seeing, hearing and remembering, etc.
12. The Madhyamikas see nirvana as emptiness (shunyata), which they define as "coming to rest of the manifold creations of the mind." This means the cessation or absence (temporarily) of the activity of the mind. Nirvana is a conscious experience of the oneness with reality that had always existed, only is not recognized. Nirvana and samsara are not different if one perceives the world in its true nature, which is emptiness. It is our discriminating mind that prevents us from recognizing this true nature.
13. Nirvana for the Yogachara is the awareness that the world as we know it is a manifestation of the mind. This "mind-only" teaching is the cessation of discrimination of the world, nirvana and all objects. Experiences are made of objects in the presence of the senses interacting with the mind. The perception that the objects seen are separate from the mind are created as a result of an unconsciousness mind. This school recognizes two types of nirvana: that of the arhat, with whom, only silent knowledge remains. It is a coming to rest, a consciously experienced bliss. The nirvana of the Buddha is seen as a conscious exercise of compassion. Where the Buddha knowingly seeks ways to help others attain nirvana. In this form of nirvana, which exhibits a positive character and represents conscious unity with all beings, the individual continues in force.
14. In Zen Buddhism nirvana is the realization of the true nature of the mind (consciousness), which is identical with the true nature of how human beings experience their world--the buddha-nature (bussho). This realization is only possible through wisdom. Thus nirvana is often equated with prajna. In the Zen sense, prajna and nirvana are two aspects of the same state. Nirvana is the state in which a person lives who has attained prajna and thus also insight into his own mind or true nature; and prajna is the wisdom of a person who has attained nirvana. "The Bodhisattva's nirvana is perfect tranquillity, but it is not extinction nor inertness." Buddha, Lankavatara Scripture, Goddard.
15. Early Chinese Buddhism, which originated the Nirvana School in the 5th century, includes the teachings of the Mahaparinirvana-sutra. The teachings of this sutra are nirvana is eternal, joyous, personal, and pure in nature. This contrasts with the view put forward in the Prajnaparamita-sutra, in which nirvana is described as the realization of emptiness (shunyata). All beings possess buddha-nature and can attain buddhahood. In this sense the true self is like the Tathagata. The Nirvana school also originated the practice, so characteristic of Chinese Buddhism, of dividing the teachings of the Buddha into phases. The Mahaparinirvana-sutra is considered to be the last of the Buddha's discourses.
Nibbana: Pali //nibbana//, Sanskrit //nirvana//. The meaning is "extinction," that is, of the "fires" of lust, hate, and delusion, or, more briefly, of craving and ignorance, and so nibbana is a name for the third Truth as liberation. The word is made up of the prefix //nir// (not) and //vana// (effort of blowing; figuratively, craving); probably the origin was a smith's fire, which goes out or becomes extinguished (//nibbayati//) if no longer blown on by the bellows; but the simile most used is that of a lamp's extinguishment (//nibbana//) through exhaustion of wick and oil. Wheel Publication No. 17. c 1981, 1995 Buddhist Publication Society.

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