What is nibbana?

(From 'The Social Harmony' by Venerable Pyinnyathiha)

          The highest aim of Buddhists is to attain nibbana. It is not an abode. It is regarded as the highest stage of mental purity. The nature of its great peace cannot be fully expressed in words, in thoughts, or in the form of similes. Yet, some scholars have presented it as something positive; others have on the other hand seen it as something negative. Anyway, the following sutta may help people understand what the nature of nibbana is.

          Once Venerable Sariputta was staying among the folk of Magadha at Nalaka village. Then the wanderer Jambukhadaka, paid a visit to him and asked, "You, Buddhists, utter the word of nibbana frequently. What is nibbana?" Venerable Sariputta replied, "The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion is called nibbana." "Is there any practice to attain nibbana?" Jambukhadaka added. "Yes, indeed, it can be attained through the practice of the noble path; right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration", Venerable Sariputta replied.(S. iv. 251)

          If we try to seek the cause of the unhappiness men bring upon themselves, we can find these three primary psychological causes; greed, hatred and delusion. Only when nibbana is attained, the three causes and their effect, unhappiness, are absolutely destroyed and uprooted, and then inner peace appears.

          Instead of arguing whether nibbana is something negative or positive, everybody should try to attain nibbana by following the eightfold noble path. For example, just by having knowledge of a recipe for a cake, one does not have an appetite for it and cannot understand what the taste of the cake will be.


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