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  • Nibbana is not a simple concept, so it is difficult to understand.
  • Can be argued that those who fully understand the concept of nibbana have already achieved it. 
  • Interpreted differently through different schools of Buddhism

Nibbana and Parinibbana

  • Nibbana is seen as being enlightened, or seeing things for how they are. 
  • Freedom from dukkha
  • interpreted differently through schools
  • Nibbana is sometimes used to describe nibbana with substrate (an underlying substance or layer) experienced in this world, sometimes without substrate, experienced after death.
  • Without substrate it may be called parinibbana or final nibbana.
  • Within the samsaric world, when nibbana is achieved, only physical dukkha remains. The enlightened being is therefore able to percieve the world as it really is, so can avoid the psychological forms of dukkha caused by: greed, hatred and ignorance (3 poisons). Therefore, nibbana extinguishes these fundamental causes of suffering.
  • kammic formations are no longer created, as their manners are carried out against these kammic consequences.
  • Rather than desire, they act our of wisdom and compassion. 
  • Yet, the enlightened being is still subject to physical dukkha and kammic consequences.
  • Buddha suffering pain from a splinter cna illustrate this.  He had the physical pain but did not feel the emotional angst which accompanys physical pain. 
  • At death, with Theravada, parinibbana is achieved. The enlightened being leaves the world of samsara behind.
  • Enlightened being has no boddy, no self (anatta), so the remaining khandas, continue some kind of existence.
  • In some schools, bodhisattvas choose to delay their parinibbana, to help the sentient beings. 
  • In some schools, nibbana and samsara are percieved as identical, so nibbana is a matter of realising and understanding this identity

Describing Nibbana

  • Nibbana is not a thing, nor a place like heaven. It is a realisation.
  • Some say it is impossible to describe nibbana, as it is an experience outside of samsaric existence, so using samsaric language to describe it fails. 
  • Yet people are reluctant to aim for a goal if they dont know what it entails.
  • Describing nibbana can be attempted both positively and negatively, there are advantages and disadvantages of both
  • Positive
  • Nibbana may be described as: cool water tha relieves fever, nirvana relieves the fever of the passons.
  • Like medicine that puts an end to illness, nirvana puts an end to all suffering.
  • advantages
  • makes nibbana seem like a positive aim
  • can be attractive or desirable for the reader/listener
  • easy to relate to for most people
  • disadvantages
  • can give a false sense of existence or reality to a state of mind
  • can easily be mistaken for images of heaven
  • might be thought of as a place, or give the image that the self can experience nibbana as they continue to exist in the same state
  • runs the risk…


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