Category Archives: Nirvana

Nāgārjuna’s Nirvana

Nāgārjuna’s stance on Nirvana is best illustrated in his Magnum Opus, The Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. In Sanskrit it is translated as “Root Verses on the Middle Way”. The work is comprised of 448 verses in twenty-seven chapters. Chapter twenty-five is on Nirvana. As a whole this philosophic-wonder is an inexorable analysis of many of the most central categories of Buddhist thought, exposing them to a scrutiny that disclosures the absurd consequences that follow from envisioning any of them to be real in the sense of possessing an independent and intrinsic nature (Svabhāva). Nāgārjuna drives-home the realization that all these categories exist only relationally but do not exist in an Absolute sense. In the Twenty-fifth chapter, he subjects Nirvana to a similar critique, finding it to be neither existent, nonexistent, both existent and nonexistent, nor neither existent nor nonexistent. These, of course, are his “four alternatives” or tetralemma. Hence, Nirvana like Samsara is self-empty of that intrinsic nature. In this sense there is no-difference between them. This chapter consists of 24 aphorisms that concisely strips-down Nirvana bare and reveals for us what it is and is not. The rest of this blog will present each of these with accompanying commentary. read more

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Nirvana in the Dharmakaya Sutra

As a great buildup to the Dharmakaya as the Nirvanic Kingdom of Self found in the Dharmakaya Sutra, we first need to review The Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra (Nirvana Sutra). When first asked what is meant by Nirvana, The Blessed One responds with Nirvana is what I mean by Liberation. But this is no ordinary liberation. True liberation neither comes into existence nor goes out of existence. This is precisely the Great Liberation of the Tathagata. He does not come into existence, he does not go out of existence, he does not age, he does not die. Thus: read more

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The Lanka’s Nirvana

As a quick reference, the abridged version of the Lankavatara Sutra as found in the Buddhist Bible, Chapter XIII, offers a general overview of the Lanka’s take on Nirvana. Our Study will offer here a more extensive treatment as covered throughout the sutra. This is largely a compilation from the Complete Lanka and Discussion as found in our library. read more

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School Days

This blog will overview Nirvana as seen through the lens of the various Buddhist schools. This snapshot is a quick summary: read more

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Nirvana: Early Foundations

The early formulations of Nirvana hinges upon primary ideations of what constitutes life after death. Materialists would not even consider notions of what happens to the corporeal frame after the life cycle ended. For them all life simply ceases to exist in any form since the “Material Substance” is hereafter disbanded altogether. Eternalists emphasized the notion that the “individual soul” lingers on after death into some form of heavenly paradise. This idea continues today in Christianity and other mainline religions. Other spiritual schools insist that the “person” dissolves away after the earthly sojourn and now merges with and enjoys some impersonal embrace of an all-encompassing Absolute. Others, like Hinduism, believed that the individual soul would return to its earliest primal state after many rebirths. read more

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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. read more

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