The word is Sanskrit for "to extinguish." Sanskrit nirvāṇa, literally, act of extinguishing, from nis- out + vāti - it blows.
In this case, it means to extinguish, “ignorance, hatred and earthly suffering.”
o Nirvana is called “extinguishing the craving that keeps the fire going.” The craving is extinguished, so the fire is put out.
o “The state, which couldn't be related in language, is called nirvana. Souls that have achieved ‘parinirvana’ are free of the cycle of reincarnation.”
o One who attains nirvana is called an “arhat” in Tibetian terms – which means “"one who has destroyed the foes of afflictions." This means the foes of the five poisons – ignorance, excessive desire, anger, jealousy and pride – and all the attendant defining tendencies of the mind are destroyed.
What it spiritually means;
1. The spiritual explanation:
o nirvana is attained by wisdom, wisdom comes from understanding that things are always in transition – always changing.
o Om. I am neither mind, intelligence, ego, nor chitta,
Neither ears nor tongue nor the senses of smell and sight;
Nor am I ether, earth, fire, water, or air:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Śiva! I am Śiva!
------ Sankaracharya (Atma bodha)
o Though the object of experience becomes unreal to him who has reached the state of liberation, it remains real to all other beings.
------ Patanjali Yoga Sutras
o When the mind is bent on the practice of discrimination, it moves toward liberation.
------ Patanjali Yoga Sutras
o "But this experience is beyond the reach of the ordinary man. Do you know what it is like? If you burn camphor nothing remains. When wood is burnt at least a little ash is left. Finally, after the last analysis, the devotee goes into samādhi. Then he knows nothing whatsoever of 'I', 'you', or the universe.”
----- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
o …..He is One. He is the Ever-existent. He is the Truth. He is the Supreme Unity without a second. He is Ever-full and Self-manifest. He is Eternal Intelligence and Bliss (33-34). -- Mahanirvana Tantra
o He is without change, Self-existent, and ever the Same, Serene, above all attributes. He beholds and is the Witness of all that passes, Omni-present, the Soul of everything that is. He, the Eternal and Omnipresent, is hidden and pervades all things. Though Himself devoid of sense, He is the Illuminator of all the senses and their powers (35-36). ------- Mahanirvana Tantra
o The Cause of all the three worlds, He is yet beyond them and the mind of men. Ineffable and Omniscient, He knows the universe, yet none know Him (37). ------- Mahanirvana Tantra
o 'The extinction of desire, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of illusion.’ (by Sariputta)
o ……. This Dharma has a single flavor
Of liberation and nirvana.
I expound its meaning with the same subtle voice,
Always making the Mahayana
The subject of my illustrations.
I see everywhere, and regard all as equal.
I have no feelings of like or dislike;
For me there is no this or that.
Nor do I have either love or hate.
I have no attachments and make no distinctions,
And so always teach the Dharma equally to all; … ---- (Lotus Sutra)
o How great is the clothing of liberation,
Formless, field of happiness, robe!
Devoutly wearing the Tathāgata’s teaching,
Widely I will save living beings. ------- (Shobogenzo)
o The mind is not within or without,
And neither can it be found in another place.
It is not mixed with anything, nor is it apart.
Because this mind is not the slightest thing at all,
The nature of sentient beings is nirvana. -------- (Shantideva)
o No abandonment, no attainment,
No annihilation, no permanence,
No cessation, no arising--
This is nirvana.
----- (Fundamental Treatise on the Middle Way)
o There is nothing at all to remove.
There is not the slightest thing to add.
It is the perfect view of the perfect meaning.
When perfectly seen, one is fully liberated.
----- (Precious Sky Sutra)
o ….the final liberation is not YOUR liberation, the final liberation is FROM YOU. Enlightenment is not yours, cannot be. When you are not, it is there. Drop yourself in your totalness: the world of things, the world of thoughts, the world of the self; all three layers, …….let them drop! Let them disappear. Nobody remains -- and then everything is there.
o when you see that you are not there -- there is no entity inside, no substantial entity, you cannot call yourself 'I' -- you are freed. This is what liberation is in the buddhist way. This is what nirvana is. The word nirvana means cessation of the self, arising of a no-self, emptiness ... the zero experience. Nothing is, only nothing is.
o You are already that which you want to become, the goal is within you, it is your own nature. You are not to achieve it. It is not in the future, it is not somewhere else. It is you right now, this very moment. But there are a few obstacles -- those obstacles have to be removed. It is not that you have to attain godhood -- godhood is your nature -- but there are a few obstacles which have to be removed.
o Freedom means freedom from the self, not freedom of the self. The moment the prison disappears the prisoner also disappears, because the prisoner is the prison! The moment you come out of the prison, you also are not. There is pure sky, pure space. That pure space is called nirvana, moksha, liberation.
o Enjoy, relax. Just understanding this, that there is nowhere to go, is liberation. Liberation is not like a goal somewhere else waiting for you. Liberation is understanding that you are already liberated.
o …… No desiring of the world distracts you, no desire of liberation distracts you. You are so deeply herenow that you ARE simply here now; your mind is moving nowhere else, your mind is not wandering anywhere. In that pure moment, completely centred and grounded, YOU are enlightened --……
o To be liberated from experiences is to be liberated from the world. ’The world’ means ALL kinds of experiences…..
o Nirvana simply means cessation. You will not be. Nothing will be.
3. J. Krishnamurti.
o “But the moment you yourself are dissatisfied, the moment you yourself desire to escape and to attain liberation, then you yourself seek the source of Truth.”
o In order to attain liberation it is not necessary to join any organization, any religion, because they are binding, they are limiting, they hold you to a particular form of worship and belief.
o For those who have discovered Truth and attained the fulfilment of life -which is happiness and liberation- time and the complications of time have ceased.
o It is in this area of perception that the ultimate freedom of man lies.
o We think freedom is something to be achieved, that liberation is an ideal state of mind to be gradually attained through time, through various practices; but to me, this is a totally wrong approach. Freedom is not to be achieved; liberation is not a thing to be gained. Freedom, or liberation, is that state of mind which is essential for the discovery of any truth, any reality; therefore, it cannot be an ideal; it must exist right from the beginning. Without freedom at the beginning, there can be no moments of direct understanding because all thinking is then limited, conditioned. If your mind is tethered to any conclusion, to any experience, to any form of knowledge or belief, it is not free; and such a mind cannot possibly perceive what is truth.
o The man who says he knows does not know; the man who says he has attained liberation has not realized.
o …a religious man is one who is helping to free the individual, and himself, from all the cruelty and suffering in life - which means that he is free from all belief. He has no authority; he does not follow anyone because he is a light unto himself, and that light arises from self-knowledge; it is the liberation that comes into being when the individual completely understands himself.
o The perception, the liberation and the very perception bringing about liberation; he wants to perpetuate, to turn it into a process. And therefore he gets caught and loses the quality of perception entirely.
4. Sri Ramana Maharishi.
o “Liberation is our very nature. We are that. The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature. It is not to be freshly acquired. All that is necessary is to get rid of the false notion that we are bound. When we achieve that, there will be no desire or thought of any sort. So long as one desires liberation, so long, you may take it, one is in bondage.”
o “Liberation (Mukti) is not to be gained in the future. It is there for ever, here and now.”
o “One believes that there is bondage and therefore seeks liberation. But the fact is that there is no bondage but only liberation. Why call it by a name and seek it?”
o “(Mukti or) liberation is our nature. It is another name for us. Our wanting liberation (mukti) is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade, voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat there, making great efforts to get back into the shade and then rejoicing, `How sweet is the shade! I have reached the shade at last!' We are all doing exactly the same. We are not different from the reality. We imagine we are different, that is we create the (bheda bhava) the feeling of difference and then undergo great (sadhana) spiritual practices to get rid of the feeling of difference (bheda bhava) and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create feeling of difference (bheda bhava) and then destroy it?”
o “Leave liberation alone. Is there bondage? Know this. See yourself first and foremost.”
o “Silence, which is devoid of the assertive ego, alone, is liberation.”
o “Liberation is not anywhere outside you. It is only within.”
o “Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no birth or death, no projection or drawing in, no seeker, no bondage and no liberation. The one unity alone exists.”
o “The Self which is of the nature of intelligence (chit) has no sense of ‘I’. Nor does the insentient body possess a sense of ‘I’. The mysterious appearance of a delusive ego between the intelligent and the insentient, being the root cause of all these troubles, upon its destruction by whatever means, that which really exists will be seen as it is. This is called liberation (moksha).”
o “The firm conviction that there is neither bondage nor liberation is the supreme purpose of all efforts.”
o “The real `I' in which the activity of thinking and forgetting has perished, alone is the pure liberation.”
o “By destroying the ego, which rises (from that Consciousness), that Consciousness itself bestows the supreme joy of liberation. Be sure about it.”
o “Do you know what liberation (Moksha) is? Getting rid of non-existent misery and attaining the Bliss which is always there, that is liberation (Moksha).”
o “Liberation is only to remain aware of the Self.”
“If one enquires, ‘for whom is there bondage and liberation?’ it will be seen, ‘they are for me’.
If one enquires, ‘Who am I?’, one will see that there is no such thing as the "I’.” --- (Sri Ramana Maharishi)
Al-Hillaj Mansoor and Master Junnaid
When Al-Hillaj Mansoor went to his master Junnaid, his family, his friends, even his neighbors had all come out of the town to say goodbye. He was going in search of truth. When he reached Junnaid, he entered; Junnaid was alone sitting in the mosque.
He asked, ”May I come in, sir?”
Junnaid looked at him, and looked here, and looked there, and said, ”First leave the crowd out! And you have some nerve to ask, ‘May I come in, sir?’ Then why is this crowd all around you?”
Al-Hillaj could not believe... he looked all around, there was nobody.
Junnaid said, ”Don’t look all around, close your eyes! and then look all around. Your friends, your family, your neighbors – they are still there.”
He closed his eyes and he was surprised. The people he had left behind... he was still remembering them: their tears, their last greetings, the elder ones giving him their last blessings. They were all there, the whole crowd was there.
Junnaid said, ”Get out, with this whole crowd! When you are alone then ask, ‘May I come in, sir?’”
It took seven months. Al-Hillaj used to live outside the mosque; the master used to live inside. Hundreds of disciples would come and go, and thinking that he must be a shoe maker or a shoe shiner, they would put their shoes in front of him. And sitting there doing nothing... he thought, ”This is not bad,” so he started polishing their shoes.
After seven months, one night when there was nobody around, Junnaid came out and said, ”Al-Hillaj, come in.”
But Al-Hillaj said, ”Forgive me, sir. Now I cannot ask, ‘May I come in, sir?’ because that ‘I’ is also gone. I am absolutely alone.”
Junnaid said, ”That’s why I had to come. You stupid! Come in. I knew that now it will be difficult for you to ask the question, because who will ask the question? The crowd is gone, and with the crowd that fellow who used to be ‘I’ – that too is gone. And the poor fellow is shining shoes...” And Al-Hillaj belonged to a very rich, royal family.
Junnaid said, ”That’s why I have come in the middle of the night, to bring you in. When you are not then you are called in; when you are not then the whole existence is ready to receive you.”
Al-Hillaj Mansoor (the Sufi mystic).
A man came to Al- Hillaj Mansoor and asked the same question,”What is liberation?”
He was sitting in a mosque with beautiful pillars all around. Listening to the question al-Hillaj Mansoor went immediately towards a pillar, and holding the pillar by both hands started shouting,
The man could not understand what was happening. He had just asked about liberation and this man seemed to be mad. Mansoor is holding the pillar, and he is asking the man, “Please help me, the pillar is holding me. And it is not leaving me. Liberate me.”
The man said, “You are mad, you are holding the pillar. The pillar is not holding you.”
Mansoor said, “I have answered, just get out of the place. Nobody is binding you.”
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2. Collected Works – Sri Ramana Maharishi.
3. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharishi – Sri Ramanashram
4. Day by Day with Bhagavan - From the Diary of A. Devaraja Mudaliar
5. Ramana Maharishi and the Path of Self-Knowledge By Arthur Osborne.
6. Life in Freedom by J. Krishnamurti
7. Exploration into insight by J. Krishnamurti.
8. Tradition and Revolution by J. Krishnamurti.
9. And the flowers showered by Osho.
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11. The Heart Sutra by Osho.
12. This very body the Buddha by Osho.
13. Dang Dang Doko Dang by Osho.
14. God is dead, Now Zen is the only living truth by Osho.
15. The Wisdom of sands Vol.1 by Osho
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20. What is Nirvana? by Kyabgon Traleg Rinpoche.
21. Atma Bodha –of Sankaracharya – Tr. By Swami Nikhilananda.
22. Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna By Mahendranath Gupta (“M”), His Disciple
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24. Mahanirvana Tantra – Tr. By Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroff)