Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Nirvana Day

One of my new calendars has a lot of holidays from different religions on it. I am going to make an effort to learn about the holidays I'm not familiar with.

Today is Parinirvana Day, or Nirvana Day, a Buddhist holiday commemmrating the death of Shakyamuni Buddha at age 80 in the year 483 BCE. It is not a sad day, but a celebration because the Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body, achieving freedom from physical existence and its sufferings.

On Nirvana Day, passages from the Paranibbana Sutta, which describes the Buddha's last days, are often read. Buddhists contemplate their lives and how they can achieve Nirvana. They meditate or go to temples or monastaries. It is a day to reflect on one's own future death and the recent deaths of friends or relations.

The Buddha described Nirvana as the ultimate goal. The Buddha reached Nirvana during his enlightenment. When he died 45 years later, he then passed through pari nirvana, meaning completed nirvana.

Nirvana literally means extinguishing or unbinding and refers to the freedom from things which bind us such as jealousy, ignorance, fear, etc. Once these are totally overcome, a state of bliss is achieved, and the cycle of death and rebirth is no longer necessary. All karmic debts are settled, and all want and suffering is gone. Nirvana is attained by meditating and following the guiding principles of Buddhism, in particular the Four Noble Truths which Buddha experienced while meditating under the Bodhi tree:

  • Life is suffering
  • Suffering is due to having desires
  • Suffering can be ended when overcoming desires
  • The way to end suffering is through the Eightfold Path

    The Eightfold Path is:
  • Right view
  • Right thought
  • Right speech
  • Right action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right contemplation

    For more information, see my sources:

  • 1 comment:

    1. Thanks for the information. Yesterday was also an auspicious occasion of invoking the goddess of learning, music and arts, the beatific Saraswati in Hinduism.