Nirvana in Buddhism
Nirvana is the ultimate goal of the path of Buddhism. Primarily, Nirvana refers to the extinguishing of
craving, attachment and ignorance. Attainment of Nirvana implies the attainment of freedom from
these root causes of all suffering, and thus to be released from the cycle of rebirth.
Buddhist philosophy views a marked difference between the nature and consequence of Nirvana
attained during one’s life time, and the posthumous attainment of Nirvana. If Nirvana is attained within
one’s lifetime, it is said to leave one free of negative mental activity, and peaceful and non reactive in
existence. Nirvana attained after the death of the being is supposedly indescribable.
Nirvana in This Life:
Freedom from states of mental negativity essentially incorporates the total deconstruction of all rigid
patterns of thought into a state of consciousness that is said to be above the torments and obsessions of
the self experienced by the ignorant. The attainment of peace is apparently inherent to the process of
transformation the personality undergoes during the course of Enlightenment. This peace enables one
to exist entirely in the present and with the purest of perception. The non reactive element of the
attainment of Nirvana relates to the disassociation with attachment and craving. In this state, qualities
like serenity and clarity are enhanced and the absence of dualistic conceptualization is natural.
Nirvana after Death:
According to Buddhist philosophy, an everyman is reborn into one of the six realms of the universe,
upon the demise of his physical being. If one attains Nirvana during their lifetime, they are liberated
from the cycle of rebirth, and the consciousness is not reborn in any physical form upon the death of
their physical entities. Nirvana, if experienced after death is supposedly inexplicably profound. The idea
behind the notion suggests that since the fundamentals of sensation, thought, perception, and
consciousness are nonexistent in death, the experience of Enlightenment that occurs in this state is
inexplicable to mortal intellect.
Differing Approaches to Nirvana:
The two major sects of Buddhism in the modern context, the Theravada and the Mahayana, present
variant theories on the attainment and concept of Nirvana. The Theravada tradition’s ideology on
Nirvana is essentially based on the second of the Four Noble Truths prescribed by the Buddha, that is,
the cessation of suffering and liberation from the universe. The Mahayana tradition, on the other hand,
while including the ideology of cessation of suffering in their presentation of Nirvana, goes on to include
a next stage of non abiding Nirvana, or a form on Enlightenment that transcends the universe and the
extent of liberation achieved by the previous stage. The initial stage is called the Nirvana of the
Hinayana. The Hinayana path is described by the tradition as that of the sravaka, and includes the role of
listener or disciple, and that of the pratyeka Buddha, the solitary essence of realization.
The aim of the Hinayana path is to attain a personal Nirvana, in a manner of speaking, which delivers
from existence. It alone does not make one a Buddha. The Mahayana path does result in the
transformation of one into a complete Buddha. This entity remains engaged in the liberation of beings
through the course of universal existence, and does not seek solace in an isolated Nirvana to escape the
illusory nature of being, on account of its compassion, nor does it exist on the tangible plane of universal
reality, on account of its awareness of the emptiness and futility of nature.
The Middle Path:
The Middle Path is the essential guiding principle of the Buddhist philosophy, and spans several aspects
of non extremism. It expounds the merits of moderation between the extremes of self mortification and
self indulgence, as well as that of the metaphysical points of view of the nature of things. All dualities of
the world are deemed delusory, and the dawning of this realization is the attainment of Nirvana. The
philosophy of the Middle Path extends further to include the avoidance of the extremities of
permanence and nihilism, expounding the virtue of the acceptance of the lack of inherent value in