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Nirvana (myang 'das): "Beyond suffering," expresses several levels of enlightenment, depending on whether our viewpoints is from the Basic Vehicle or the Great Vehicle. [MR]

Nirvāṇa (myang 'das)

  • Nirvāṇa (lit. "state beyond sorrow") refers to the ultimate attainment of buddhahood, the permanent cessation of all suffering and the dissonant mental states which cause and perpetuate suffering, along with all obscure misconceptions with regard to the nature of emptiness (Skt. śūnyatā). Nirvāṇa is therefore the antithesis of cyclic existence (Skt. saṃsāra). Since it is through the misapprehension of the nature of actual reality (Skt. dharmatā) that conscious states of delusion arise, a total elimination of these dissonant mental states can only be effected by generating a genuine insight into the true nature of actual reality. All the bodhisattva paths expounded in the sūtras and all the aspects of the continuum of the path, which are expounded in the tantras are regarded as the means by which nirvāṇa might be attained. Classical Buddhist literature mentions three types of nirvāṇa 1) nirvāṇa with residue, ie. the initial state of nirvāṇa when the person is still dependent on his or her psycho-physical aggregates (skandha); nirvāṇa without residue, ie. an advanced state of nirvāṇa where the former aggregates have also been consumed within emptiness; and non-abiding nirvāṇa, ie. a state that has transcended both the extremes of conditioned cyclic existence and also the isolated peace or quiescence of nirvāṇa. On the characteristics of nirvāṇa from the rNying-ma point of view, see bDud-'joms Rin-po-che, NSTB, pp. 60-109. GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)