What IS Nibbana, exactly?


The rūpa I call my body isn’t an abstraction. Clearly it’s anatta, but it is much more of an event than an idea.

Oxford Dictionary definition of “abstraction”


Obviously there are examples for all the categories mentioned above. The Buddha wasn’t into word games and IMO there isn’t any abstract philosophy in EBTs (Core texts) at all. If he stated something, he actually experienced it.


I really agree with this point. :sunglasses:

One major problem with the Pali translations into English is a systemic failure to translate the word “nibbana” into either ‘extinguishment’ or ‘quenching’ and instead leaving it untranslated and often capitalizing it. Makes the word have a more esoteric or mystical quality that surely wasn’t intended. Nibbana/nirvana was a super commonly understood verbiage.

Buddha Gotama was direct in his speech, often subtle, but never overly opaque and this is seen in the suttas.


The categories may be abstract, but I think they do point to particular aspects of our experience. These categories represent the Buddhist model of human experience, though there are others. IMO they are not things to be believed in or grasped at, but a framework for exploration.




I would say that they point to discreet stretches (shortlasting) of experience.


My pleasure! I’m so very happy it found a good home :slightly_smiling_face:

For posterity’s sake, I interject here merely to drop in a link to the material I’ve collected on Nibbāna on the chance it may be useful to some future student :blush:


A good but long exposition is given here as to what Nibbana is.

My understanding is that Nibbana ( or liberation ) is an experience that one gets when defilements ( mind states of craving and ignorance) are removed . What one sees or defines as a defilement is relative to where you are in the path. ( The very dhamma that carries you could become your own defilement - it is only insight and wisdom that will tell you this. ) Through practice and with insight the restless mind activity ( i.e thoughts / cognition / vinanna or what one would generally call higher order brain activity) comes to a halt. This is the cessation of Vinnana / Consciousness. ( It is not the same as being unconscious which most people tend to assume if you are not versed in the terminology. ) It is a state where you are fully alive , but no cognition , but have just bare experience.


The progression for attaining liberation/nibbāna experience is described in SN/SA in the following series of five stages (Choong Mun-keat, The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism, p. 53):

  1. passati, sammā-passaṃ, sammādiṭṭhi (i.e. seeing the five aggregates/six sense spheres as anicca, dukkha, anatta)
  2. nibbidā (disgust with the five aggregates/six sense spheres)
  3. nandirāgakkhaya, virāga (destruction of delight and desire, fading away of desire)
  4. vimutti (vimuccati, suvimutta), nirodha, ceto-vimutti, paññā-vimutti (i.e. liberation, cessation)
  5. vimutti-ñāṇa (knowledge of liberation)