process of birth and death continues ad infinitum until
this flux is transmuted, so to say, to nibbanadhatu, the
ultimate goal of Buddhists.
Pali word Nibbana is formed of Ni and Vana. Ni
is a negative particle and vana means lusting or craving.
"It is called Nibbana, in that it is a departure from the
craving which is called vana, lusting." Literally, Nibbana
may also be defined as the extinction of lust, hatred and ignorance,
"The whole world is in flames," says the Buddha. "By
what fire is it kindled? By the fire of lust, hatred and ignorance,
by the fire of birth, old age, death, pain, lamentation, sorrow,
grief and despair it is kindled."
should not be understood that Nibbana is a state of nothingness
or annihilation owing to the fact that we cannot perceive it with
our worldly knowledge. One cannot say that there exists no light
just because the blind man does not see it. In that well known
story, too, the fish arguing with his friend, the turtle, triumphantly
concluded that there exists no land.
of the Buddhists is neither a mere nothingness nor a state of
annihilation, but what it is no words can adequately express.
Nibbana is a Dhamma which is "unborn, unoriginated, uncreated
and unformed." Hence, it is eternal (dhuva), desirable
(subha), and happy (sukha).
Nibbana nothing is "eternalized," nor is anything "annihilated,"
to the Pali text references are made to Nibbana as sopadisesa
and anupadisesa. These, in fact, are not two kinds of Nibbana,
but the one single Nibbana, receiving its name according to the
way it is experienced before and after death.
is not situated in any place nor is it a sort of heaven where
a transcendental ego resides. It is a state which is dependent
upon this body itself. It is an attainment (dhamma) which is within
the reach of all. Nibbana is a supramundane state attainable even
in this present life. Buddhism does not state that this ultimate
goal could be reached only in a life beyond. Here lies the chief
difference between the Buddhist conception of Nibbana and the
non-Buddhist conception of an eternal heaven attainable only after
death or a union with a God or Divine Essence in an after-life.
When Nibbana is realized in this life with the body remaining,
it is called sopadisesa nibbana-dhatu. When an arahat attains
parinibbana, after the dissolution of his body, without
any remainder of physical existence it is called anupadisesa
the words of Sir Edwin Arnold:
any teach Nirvana is to cease
Say unto such they lie.
If any teach Nirvana is to live
Say unto such they err."
a metaphysical standpoint Nibbana is deliverance from suffering.
From a psychological standpoint Nibbana is the eradication of
egoism. From an ethical standpoint Nibbana is the destruction
of lust, hatred and ignorance.
the arahat exist or not after death?
Buddha replies: "The
arahat who has been released from the five aggregates is deep,
immeasurable like the mighty ocean. To say that he is reborn would
not fit the case. To say that he is neither reborn nor not reborn
would not fit the case."
cannot say that an arahat is reborn as all passions that condition
rebirth are eradicated; nor can one say that the arahat is annihilated
for there is nothing to annihilate.
Oppenheimer, a scientist, writes: "If we ask, for instance,
whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must
say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron's position changes with
time, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron is at rest,
we must say 'no'; if we ask whether it is in motion, we must say
Buddha has given such answers when interrogated as to the conditions
of man's self after death; but
they are not familiar answers from the tradition of the 17th and
18th century science."