Nirvana (Sanskrit nirvaṇa, fallen nibbāna – extinction, extinction) – in the Indian religious thought (Jainism) the ultimate goal of all living beings; one of the key concepts of Buddhism, denoting the transcendental state attained by the Buddha as a result of the knowledge of the four noble truths and the passage of the eight stages of dhyana (meditation).
The state of nirvana presupposes the complete eradication of affects and egocentric attachments (klesha, Asya), which “feed” the process of rebirth (samsara, karma), so its offensive is often compared with the extinction of fire on exhaustion of fuel. In the texts, nirvana is often described in purely negative terms as the absence of some fundamental properties of samsaric existence – primarily spirit.
Concerning the Buddha, one can see a certain adaptation to the level of the audience. He aspired to ensure that nirvana not only served as a contrast to the habitual practice of its listeners but also seemed to them an attractive goal. It is unlikely that most of the followers of the Buddha would be inspired by the ideal of nothingness (that is how many European thinkers who saw in Buddhism interpret nihilism interpreted Nirvana), he speaks of bliss, for the more “advanced” – about the cessation of consciousness.
Nirvana does not necessarily entail physical death. The death of an arhat who has already experienced nirvana is called parinirvana (supreme nirvana). It is believed that those who have attained it completely disappear from all existences, worlds and times, therefore bodhisattvas, who care for the good of other beings, postpone their final care to help them alleviate their fate.
In Mahayana, nirvana is identified with shunyata (emptiness), dharma-kaya (the immutable essence of the Buddha), and dharmadhatu (ultimate reality). Nirvana is not here the result of the process (otherwise it would be another transitory state), but the supreme eternal truth that is implicit in the empirical existence (the idea of the identity of nirvana and samsara).