In today’s world of precise and over booked schedules, we hear a lot many people speaking of attaining Nirvana. What exactly is Nirvana? And why is it so important for people to attain Nirvana?
Nirvana is defined as the state of mind which is free from any desires or expectations. Once we attain Nirvana, our mind is free from craving, anger and mental suffering. The philosophical teachings of Nirvana points out that there is a lot of suffering in this world and this suffering rises as a result of our desires and expectations of how we want our lives to be. Nirvana leads to cessation of sufferings. The fundamental teachings of Nirvana highlight the fact that the path of enlightenment, leading to Nirvana, requires the individual to understand his/her relationship to the natural world and accept the consequences of being mortal. To attain Nirvana, we have to understand that our emotional and mental desires are responsible for the suffering we endure and we have to change our mindset in a way that our mood is not controlled by the desires of fulfillment.
The term Nirvana is associated with the oldest religion of the world, Hinduism, and its best known off-shoot, Buddhism. Both the religions talk of Nirvana as a higher state of being. Nirvana has more association with Buddhism than Hinduism. Buddhism was born out of Hinduism in the 5th century. It started as a movement within Hinduism and was based on the philosophy and life of a great man by the name of Siddhartha Gautama but eventually diverged and formed its own root.
It was Gautama who questioned enlightenment for the first time and wanted to understand the true nature of life. He thought of all his attachments as distractions. He started taking his first steps down the path of enlightenment and detached himself from the earthly life. His early life and new life were at opposite poles to each other. He travelled farther down the path but still hadn’t achieved enlightenment.
He realized that if he continued to travel down that path that he would lose his life before any accomplishment. So finally he took the middle path, which defined life between the best and worst conditions that a person could ever experience. The legend goes that soon after he took the middle road, he achieved enlightenment!
What does this tell us? It tells us that Nirvana is attained when we no longer let any of the earthly feelings, from poverty to luxury, to affect us in any way. The Sanskrit meaning of Nirvana is “to extinguish.”Extinguish all the ignorance, arrogance, proud, craving, anger and any other earthly feeling to attain enlightenment that turned Siddhartha Gautama to the man that we know as the Buddha or “the awakened one.”
It is believed that achieving Nirvana helps one to escape samsara, the cycle of reincarnation. We are quite familiar with the concept that at each life a soul is punished or rewarded based on actions (karma) from his current as well as past lives. Unlike what is believed, the law of karma is not God’s judgment over our behavior. It can be thought of as Newton’s 3rd law of motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What goes around comes around.
So how does Nirvana help us escape from the punishments? Well, Nirvana teachings say that once we attain Nirvana, we no longer accumulate any bad karma because we have transcended it. So in our future lives we just have to work off the old quota of bad karma that we have accumulated with no new additions.
According to traditional teachings, the three keys that help to achieve Nirvana are wisdom, ethical conduct and mental discipline. Wisdom helps us to gain knowledge about the true nature of all things. We must always be critical observers and view the reality as it is supposed to be, not as it appears to be. A deep reflection of the true nature of things and a thorough investigation provides us with the right intentions to move towards the goals of our life.
When we conduct ourselves in a way that ensures that our actions would never hurt anybody else’s feelings then we attain a peace of mind. We must be very truthful and never let our actions aggravate or contribute to the misery of the people around us.
Mental discipline lets us have complete control over our mind. Meditation is the best way to attain mental discipline. We should never let go of the effort to improve ourselves. We should always have a true understanding and see things for what they actually are and never let them play with our emotions. We have to train our mind to gain insight into the changing flow of life and the experiences that life awards us with.
For most people, achieving Nirvana is not a piece of cake. It requires immense determination and a whole lifetime of committed dedication. Nirvana is the best medicine for a life of suffering and discontentment. So if you are really not happy with your life and tired of the sufferings, its time you take the road that leads to inner peace and peace of mind that transforms your soul to be free of desires and expectations which are the culprits of a discontent life.