Nibbāna

On deliverance beyond all striving, unconditioned, uncreated, the indestructible.

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Nibbāna

Nibbana

Introduction

Nibbāna, the ultimate deliverance from all delusion, has many aspects, and is often misunderstood, sometimes as annihilation, sometimes as supreme happiness, rarely as the cessation of ignorance through insight, and still more rarely as the ending of all striving, a solution of a problem by means of a dissolution thereof. It is not through logic that insight dawns in the awakening of understanding, but through the realisation that all problems and conflicts have arisen from a misunderstanding of the source of all action, the ‘self’.

Is Nibbāna the solution to all problems? It is rather the dissolution of all conflict.

A refusal to see can never lead to understanding. Only in actually experiencing the cessation of wilful thought can a negation be understood without a search for an answer to a problem which will always be in the interest of ‘self’. It is this insight, taking the place of logic, contemplation instead of concentration, which sets the mind free from striving towards a goal. It is in the actual that the real can be experienced, not through escape, not through projection, not through accumulation of virtue, not through concentration in seclusion, not in stages of growth and evolution, but in realising the void of that delusion, which has created the ‘self’ to endure, to become secure, to resist in order to exist. It is the realisation of the void of an ideal, of the futility of trying to attain an image of the real.

It is only the truth which can set free.

Nibbāna

Nibbāna (the Pāli term Nibbāna is used here throughout, in preference to the more commonly used Sanskrit Nirvāṇa, because of its special connotation given to it by the Buddha in his discourses, as they are handed down to us in the Pāli language.) is thought of as the highest attainment; the ultimate goal, bliss supreme, perfect understanding, the end of all sorrow, non-created, everlasting, the unrelated absolute, deliverance from all evil tendencies, cessation of all becoming and rebirth, freedom from ignorance, supreme insight.

One might continue this litany of praise and still remain as far as ever from its experience. Nibbāna remains incomprehensible. If the finite mind with its limitations of thought could comprehend Nibbāna, Nibbāna too would be limited and finite, relative and conditioned. It would not be Nibbāna.

Nibbāna cannot be described because our words which are symbols of our thoughts are limited by our relative experiences, by our feelings of the senses, by the perceptions of our desires, by the ideas of our hopes and fears, by the thoughts of self in achievement, in attainment, in conception, none of which is realisation. Realisation can be considered as a concept, though that, of course, is very far from realisation. As a conceptualisation it would be converted from an idea into an ideal. Still, it deserves consideration, if that would lead even negatively to better understanding.

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