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(By Dr. S. A. Ediriweera)
Nirvana is a state of supreme happiness. It is life without suffering. It is the Third Noble Truth.

Nirvana is the ultimate aim of Buddhists. The summum bonum of Buddhism.

Nirvana is achieved in life and is not something gained after death. For example the Buddha attained Nirvana at the age of 35 years and lived till 80 years.

Nirvana is attained by completely eradicating craving and that could be done by following the Noble Eightfold Path (The Fourth Noble Truth).

Nirvana is absolute mental peace brought about by completely abolishing greed, hatred and delusion. Perfect mental peace is immense happiness, it is the happiness of calming down, tranquillity achieved by allaying passions.

Nirvana is not something to be perceived with the five senses. To a question by Udayi "What happiness can it be if there is no sensation"? Sariputta the chief disciple of the Buddha replied "That there is no sensation itself is happiness". Nirvana is a supramundane state to be realised by wisdom.

One who has achieved Nirvana is free from all forms of self identification. The concept of ‘self’ is no more. The Ego illusion is completely uprooted. Rebirth producing craving and ignorance has been stopped. The mind is not attached to anything, there is ceasing of becoming and one is delivered from all future rebirths and deaths.

Nirvana is not a place to enter into. Venerable Nagasena’s reply to King Milinda’s question "In what region is Nirvana located"? was "great king there is no place where Nirvana is located. Nevertheless this Nirvana exists. Just as there is no place where fire is located, the fact being that a man by rubbing two sticks together produces fire - so also there is such a thing as Nirvana, but no place where it is located. The fact being that a man by diligent mental effort realizes Nirvana."

Nirvana is complete inner transformation achieved by perfecting virtue and wisdom. Nirvana has to be experienced and cannot be expressed in words. One has to taste sugar to know its sweetness, words do not really convey the taste, similarly supreme bliss Nirvana has to be realized.

Just as there is Heat - there is Cold.

Just as there is Evil - there is Good.

Just as there is Darkness - there is Light.

Just as there is Dukkha - there is Nirvana.

With growing awareness, we strive,

To end the cycle of life and death,

Till a state we reach,

Where their is the end of sorrow.
(Courtesy :Essentials of Buddhism)

WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka