ehowton (ehowton) wrote,

Nirvana ॐ

As my post before exposed, there are many complex nuances to any single Indian word we may assume we know how to use. I am just as ignorant as any of you in the proper understanding of things I have had no reason to research outside of first-hand experience, yet just as fallible to human nature. In this case I'd used nirvana in the first draft of my Double-Whammy 茶 post before I realized that while I may have been using it in proper context, I had no solid understanding of the breadth of its scope, which I naturally assumed was much greater than in the way which I had intended to use it.

Salvation. Everyone wants it, everyone has different ideas about how to get there. Some religions allow you the freedom to choose your own spiritual enlightenment and some religions have multiple paths to the same end. And of course some religions believe theirs is the only way, and if you disagree, you should die. Some of these religions offer salvation after you've learned to reach it yourself, others would have you believe you can be as rotten on the inside as you want to be as long as you mumble some words. Some of these make a lot of rational sense. Others less so.

Regardless, when your average everyday American uses nirvana in sentence, they're likely not talking about finally breaking free from the cycle of reincarnation, rather being in a state of mind which is typically identified as being pro-[some desire] without interruption from the real world, that "some desire" being greatly different for each individual. One man's swimming in a sea of cock on the HD channel is another man's stack of muscle car magazines - too varied to completely define outside the connotation of a deep, inner peace or longing finally sated. At least, that was my understanding of its meaning prior to looking it up.

As alluded to, breaking free from the eternal cycle of birth, pain, death, reincarnation to a final, spiritual salvation is the predominant idea behind nirvana. Nirvana as a concept, nirvana as a process. Nirvana as a goal. My personal favorite is the literal Buddhist translation, which means 'blowing out' [greed, hatred and ignorance.] (Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benāres to Modern Colombo, page 63) although other religions balance this with "while also suffering greatly" a'la Job-style. For the sake of argument I'm going to consider adolescence my period of "great suffering." Hey, its all relative.

Speaking of ignorance, it too is a word as misunderstood as nirvana. Okay - try not to laugh - but you would not believe how many times I've heard in reply, "How dare you call me ignorant! I simply have no knowledge of that subject!" Cue the heavy sigh. I have no idea where the idea came from that every person who can ambulate and speak has to be an expert on everything, all the time, but it wears me out. Especially those who cannot differentiate between opinion and fact, or think that their emotional response is an all-seeing, benevolent god, blessing them with gifts to assist them through life. Or maybe even worse, those who choose one political party over the other. Really?

What does all this mean? I have no idea. Do I subscribe to any of it? You betcha. Because I don't really care why anyone chooses to shed themselves of greed, hatred and ignorance. Just that they do.

Tags: nirvana, philosophy, suffering

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