Nirvana literally means extinction. Like the extinction of a candle flame, or the extinguishing of passions. Nirvana is also known as freedom from desire, and therefore freedom from suffering. We can investigate nirvana to a deeper understanding when we relate it to our breath.
"When you hold onto something, like your breath, your self, or an item, you lose it. Breath can not be held forever, eventually, it escapes. When you let go of your breath, however, by breathing out, you get your breath back again. This is what is meant by extinction or nirvana. Breathe out and you can breathe again, hold on and it will escape. Don't hold onto anything, let it all go, there you have it all."
- There is suffering (dukkha) in the world
- The suffering is caused by our attachments and desire. These attachments keep us stuck in the world of suffering, which is also the world of illusion, called samsara. Samsara was a commonly used term at the time, and it also carried with it the idea of reincarnation having not reached perfection, individuals would be doomed to repeat the world, life after life, until they reached perfection and were free of it. In these traditions, as with early Buddhism, the belief is that reincarnation is a punishment for failing to reach enlightenment, not a reward (as it is often imagined in the West). Buddhist reincarnation implied a return to the world of suffering, and happened because of attachment to that world.
- There is an alternative to suffering and illusion, and it is enlightenment (nirvana). Buddha, literally translates as awake, or awakened one, and so enlightenment entails some notion of waking up to the world around you. Of course, there are a lot of debates as to how best translate nirvana, with some scholars calling it peace or happiness, but the general idea is the same, that through some form of rethinking and re-being, one can free themselves from samsara.
- And the form that such rethinking and re-being should take is the eightfold path, which includes right intent (trying to do good), right livelihood (living in a way that benefits others), right mindfulness (mindfulness practice), and right concentration (meditation), and four others.
Nirvana is not some magical place above the clouds. It's right here, right now. By seeing reality correctly and extinguishing emotions and desires, you end your suffering. By ending your suffering, you become free, this freedom is Nirvana.
Originally from: themiddleway.net (tHNx guys cool stuff)