Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Joy 10/82: Nirvana

Why can't this be Nirvana?

There is suffering and there is joy.  That is reality.  And the reality is that everything changes and all suffering and joy is the creation of our own perception.  I am in a particularly joyful period of my life ... yet some people might perceive my life as suffering ... and I know that "this, too, shall pass."  Life may not always be this joyful but I am at peace with that reality.  The challenges of life have not passed away ... there will be more to come but I feel more equipped than ever to accept whatever shows up. 

I am part of a small, spiritual book club and we are reading, at a very slow pace, Buddhism, Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen.  The reading pace and the clarity of the writing give me a lot of time to contemplate and I recently wondered if this is Nirvana.  That seems like an outrageously arrogant and ignorant thought ... and, yet .... 

I've always thought of Nirvana as something like Heaven ... if not exactly a place, at least a fixed state of being ... a state to strive for and, perhaps, some day achieve.  But, if everything is impermanent, perhaps Nirvana is also.  Perhaps it's possible to have "Nirvana moments," to gain it, lose it, gain it again and lose it again.  Perhaps as we experience it even for a fleeting moment, it reveals its face and tells us it is truly possible so that we keep walking, even in baby steps, toward its call.  Sometimes I feel such a deep calm that my entire body feels hushed ... and I wonder if this is Nirvana and in that moment of wondering, the calm is broken like a small pebble dropped into a pool.
Wikipedia says:  The Buddha described Nirvāna as the perfect peace of the state of mind that is free from craving, anger and other afflicting states (kilesas). It is also the "end of the world"; there is no identity left, and no boundaries for the mind. The subject is at peace with the world, has compassion for all and gives up obsessions and fixations.

In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says of Nirvāna that it is "the highest happiness". This happiness is an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightenment or bodhi, rather than the happiness derived from impermanent things. The knowledge accompanying Nirvāṇa is expressed through the word bodhi.  It carries further connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace.
About the image:  After a winding drive on the backroads as part of the Sierra Art Trails, I was greeted by this statue by Norma Rogers


  1. Fascinating. I just read a poem over at OneShot (One Stop Poetry) about nirvana "never being afar" even if one were in a black hole.

    I tend to think of it as complete acceptance of being.