Coming in November: Nirvana

Nirvana is more often than not misconstrued within Buddhist circles. It is merely discernable as “marking the end of rebirth by stilling the fires that keep the process of rebirth going.” This has much to do with the early Prakrit language translation as: ṇivvāṇa, literally “blown out”, as in an oil lamp. Hence the ongoing connotation of coming to a point of extinction. It needs to be stated unequivocally that the Mahayanists deny the reality of Nirvana as a separate element that transcends the living world. More specifically, a Lankavatarian would state that one does not vanish in Nirvana, nor is Nirvana abiding in you; for it transcends the duality of knowing and known and of being and non-being. In other words, the Nirvanic Mind is not in a symbiotic-relationship with the apparent you. No, IT is not in you but transcends all categorical imperatives of here or there, being and non-being. IT is a Transcendent Kingdom unto Itself. This series will explore the ongoing evolution of the term within various Buddhist schools as expertly articulated by the renowned Russian Indologist Fyodor Shcherbatskoy (1866-1942) in his seminal work, The Conception of Buddhist Nirvana. We will then consider the definition as presented in the Lankavatara Sutra, Tozen’s Dharmakaya Sutra, and then through the lens of Nāgārjuna.

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