Sayadaw U PANNA DIPAKaba Aye Sayadaw
World Buddhist Meditation Institute, Yangon
The word "Nibbana" is very frequently and extensively used by all Buddhists because Nibbana is the ultimate goal in Buddhism. Whenever a Buddhist performs any meritorious deed, he strenuously aspires to Nibbana alone. But actually neither by uttering words nor by praying can Nibbana be attained.
Though one can write and express the word "Nibbana", yet the real meaning or sense of it cannot be realized until one has attained it by oneself. Nibbana is not a thing or an object that one can have, nor a place where one can reach, nor a sense object that one can feel, nor a happiness that one can enjoy in the worldly sense, but the most supreme and pure state of insight (Nana) which surpasses all mundane conditions.
According to the exposition of the Buddhist canonical Texts, Nibbana is a Pali word which is composed Of two constituents, namely Ni and vana. Ni is negative particle and vana means craving and it therefore means the absence of craving: In other words, craving (Tanha) functions as a link between one life and another; but the release or absence of craving is the disconnection of chains of life-process in Samsara.
In Sanskrit, Nibbana is written as "Nirvana" which is derive from the root "Va" meaning "to blow" and the prefix "Nir" meaning "out"; therefore Nibbana means "to blow out", that is to blow out the flame of one's craving.
The Nibbanic state is not a negative concept like nothingness, but positive. From a negative outlook, naturally we often come across pairs of opposites, such as, black and white, darkness and light, short and long; sorrow and happiness; so also life continuum (Samsara) and Nibbana also can be considered in a similar way. As Samsara here means birth, old age, disease, death, sorrow, lamentation, grief, pain, and despair, Nibbana therefore means absence of birth, absence of old age, absence old disease, absence of death, absence of sorrow, absence of lamentation, absence of grief, absence of pain, absence of despair and on the whole, absence of all suffering of life.
Again from the positive standpoint, Nibbana is characterized as the Ultimate Liberation, Happiness and Peace. According to Abhidhamma (higher Doctrine), there are two kinds of happiness, (1) happiness enjoyed by senses and (2) happiness attained and experienced in insight or supreme wisdom.
Regarding the former, the happiness cannot be enjoyed unless there is a sense object which is to be sought after. Therefore a sense object is a happiness in the worldly sense, and no sense object means on unhappiness. For this reason, the happiness enjoyed by the sense is only temporary and imaginary.
But in the case of the latter, the characteristic of Nibbana is supreme peace transcending sense experience (Santi lakkhana), the essence of indestructibility (Accuta rasa), and the discernment in the disciple's attainment which is devoid of any sign of from or shape or colour etc. (Animittapaccupathana)
So the Nibbanic state is devoid of everything like the four great elements, existence, static entity, rebirth, death, consciousnessness, mind and matter (Nama & Rupa) and so on. It has only the phenomenal nature of ceasing or, extenuation of Mind and Matter which is always grasping the desirable sense objects.
Actually. Nibbana, in its true nature is single (Ekameva Nibbana), but it can be attained by a twofold way, namely, (1) Saupadisesa Nibbana the attainment of Nibbana while still in life and (2) Anupaldisesa Nibbana =the attainment of Nibbana at the moment of death. Again Nibbana can also be treated from three aspects, namely (1) Sunnata - devoid of the existence of an Ego or Soul, (2) Animitta - devoid of sign of: permanent or shape from and (3) Apanihita -devoid of desire or craving.
Nibbana therefore, being. non-conditioned by any phenomenon is a spaceless timeless and encased state devoid of substance. In reality, Nibbana does not exist in any particular place, but it is attained only by going beyond the conditioned state. Therefore one might say that the Nibbanic state lies within the latent potentiality of everyone who actually searches for it.
The word "Nibbana" is very essential in the Texts of the Buddha's Teaching and is used in many different Ways. For example: (1) Sacca - the state of precise Truth, (2) Mokkha - The state of Liberation from defilements. (3) Siva - The state of Ultimate Peace and (4) Sukha - The, state of Happiness because of the release from the dangers of Samsara.