You might have heard people around you express their happiness by saying, “I was in a state of Nirvana.” The word Nirvana has been fully entrenched into modern English, yet the true meaning and origin have been lost. Have you ever wondered what is Nirvana?
Nirvana is a spiritual state that is hard to articulate into words. It is a concept that helps you redirect not one life but all the lives that you have lived as Buddhism claims. Nirvana is just the destination, but the journey leading to it is the true essence of your life and existence.
It’s more than living a content and happy life devoid of crime and negativity and walking the path of ethics and good values. It’s the awakening of your soul to see the physical world’s temporariness and ephemerality and wake up from this vivid dream to achieve internal happiness or more perfectly phrased “nirvana.”
History at a Glance
Before we move forward to get a more in-depth insight into the principles of spiritual happiness, we must take a look at its roots. Only then can we fully internalize and accept the changes to our soul. Nirvana is a word associated with both Hinduism and Buddhism. Although many of the core principles overlap, there are a few yet stark differences in both religions that redefine the meaning of Nirvana.
However, it is more closely related to Buddhism, which had started within Hinduism itself, which explains why many of the beliefs are similar in both religions. Buddhism originated based on the philosophy and life of Siddhartha Gautama, a rich royal prince. Born in 563 BC in Nepal, he was brought up in the laps of luxury. Despite those years of royalty, the prince always felt a void.
I guess it was deity’s way of summoning His true believers. Finally, as a young man, Gautama left his former life, including the luxuries and his wife and son, to search for the true nature of life. His only guide was the knowledge of Hinduism that he had learned since birth.
Wandering as a homeless nobody and seeing his people’s suffering made him realize that he had been living an ignorant life. There was more to life than eating, working, and getting fame. His observations lead him to believe that the leading cause of suffering was worldly possessions. Therefore, he eliminated the object from its roots to the point of starvation.
He indeed did not find the truth, but he realized that extremism in any form was harmful. So, he walked the path between royalty and poverty. Under the Bodhi tree, through meditation and yoga, he became Buddha (the enlightened one).
He was the one without suffering, without attachments to the world. He had found the truth of life that he had been searching for. He believed that his life of searching would be complete when he shared his knowledge with others.
What is Nirvana?
Whenever the Buddha was inquired, “what happens when one reaches Nirvana?” he would generally be unable to explain it in words. He said that it was a state that is inconceivable by the human mind unless they feel it for themselves. ‘Nirvana,’ in its literal meaning, stands for “to extinguish.” In context, it means extinguishing one’s ignorance, hatred, and desire.
Like Buddha had lived in ignorance closed off from the sufferings; being a prince, there might have been royal feuds, and the life of luxury he had lived was his desire. The path to achieving Nirvana helps you escape the samsara, cycle of reincarnation.
According to Buddhism and Hinduism, a soul is reborn in the next life as a reward or punishment to their last. This applies to all living creatures, animals, and birds alike. In short, you carry along with your baggage of karma from your current lives and all the lives you have lived.
Karma is less of God’s judgment and more related to Newton’s equal and opposite law of motion. So, when you achieve Nirvana you detach yourself from unnecessary relations and stop accumulating ‘bad karma.’ You need to learn the art of letting go. Instead, you spend the rest of your life or lives working off the karma you’ve collected.
Achieving Nirvana means you’ve transcended the karmic cycle. When you have entirely escaped the cycle, you reach Pari-nirvana in the afterlife. This leads us to discuss how one can achieve Nirvana.
How to Achieve Nirvana?
Much can be learned from Buddha’s life. However, Buddha left behind a very comprehensive and practicable guide for his disciples. Controlling your ignorance, desires, and hatred is vital.
Basically, you need to master your senses. The seed of evil is planted when you interact with it. Therefore, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path have proved successful.
Four Noble Truths
These four points summarize what Buddha had learned in life, i.e.:
- Life is suffering.
- The cause of suffering is ignorance of our real purpose.
- The suffering is not eternal and can be ended by overcoming the ignorance and attachment to earthly things.
- To overcome ignorance, you must follow the Eightfold Noble Path.
Eightfold Noble Path
The path is a set of eight ideals without even one of these achieving Nirvana is impossible. Each of these is interdependent. These are:
- Right views
- Right intention
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right contemplation
These may seem like vague and very open-ended ideals and can be interpreted differently. But in Buddhism, it all revolves around filling the world with compassion, patience, and joy. Obliterating your individual needs and success is the ultimate key to internal happiness.
So, where are you in this journey to Nirvana? Are you curious about what happens when one reaches Nirvana? Awakening your soul to reach Nirvana is more about searching about the truth that is cleverly hidden in this world for the righteous to find. Here’s how to practice spirituality without religion.