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Nirvana ॐ

Posted on 2011.12.11 at 10:30
Current Location: 67114
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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.


michelle1963 at 2011-12-11 16:52 (UTC) (Link)
For the sake of argument I'm going to consider adolescence my period of "great suffering."

I imagine many of us can relate to adolescence and perhaps some period of the young adulthood that follows on its heels as a period of "great suffering". It is certainly the time in my life that I would define as such. The line made me laugh.
ehowton at 2011-12-12 14:48 (UTC) (Link)
Of course I had to throw that in in case you brought up war again!
michelle1963 at 2011-12-12 16:28 (UTC) (Link)
Hello.... INTJ here. I must consider all scenarios. ;-) But I promise not to bring up war again ~ maybe.
michelle1963 at 2011-12-11 16:57 (UTC) (Link)
Nirvana. Transcendence from Earthly cares would have been my definition. I am glad to see that I am not far off. (That said, I must admit to having studied the subject at one time.)

Within your blog, and between you and I personally, we have been discussing the psychology behind happiness. I would make the observation that while one still harbors greed, hatred, and ignorance, s/he cannot be happy.

Ignorance may be the toughest to shed. Our culture tends to disdain greed (at least blatant greed) and hatred to a greater degree than some cultures. However, the over-riding feeling of "we don't need no stinkin' education, knowledge of other cultures, understanding of other religious ideas, ability to speak another language, etc. is not only tolerated, but actually embraced. This saddens me greatly.
ehowton at 2011-12-12 14:55 (UTC) (Link)
...we have been discussing the psychology behind happiness.

The subject continues to fascinate me. All the moreso because you and I excel at creating it! I'm looking forward to the eventual recipe we uncover with great anticipation.
pcofwildthings at 2011-12-11 20:21 (UTC) (Link)
Blind Seer: You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first... first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell. You shall see a... a cow... on the roof of a cotton house, ha. And, oh, so many startlements. I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouchsafed your reward. Though the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.


Ulysses Everett McGill: The treasure is still there boys, believe me.
Delmar O'Donnell: But how'd he know about the treasure?
Ulysses Everett McGill: I don't know Delmar. The blind are reputed to possess sensitivities compensating for their lack of sight, even to the point of developing paranormal psychic powers. Now, clearly seeing into the future would fall into neatly into that category; its not so surprising then that an organism deprived of its earthly vision...
Pete: He said we wouldn't get get it. He said we wouldn't get the treasure we seek on account of our ob-stac-les.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Well what the hell does he know, he's just an ignorant old man?
ehowton at 2011-12-12 14:53 (UTC) (Link)
I saw the first half of that movie in 1999. Never got around to finishing it. Great soundtrack though!
pcofwildthings at 2011-12-12 15:10 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to be obscure then. It is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I agree, the soundtrack is excellent! The characters are on a journey (each seeking their own personal nirvana, I suppose), and there is plenty of greed, hatred, and ignorance along the way, to be sure. But I found the dialog superbly entertaining, and the whole movie just funnier than heck.

I haven't missed the point of your post, I just have nothing of import to add, as you seem to have fleshed it out very well.
ehowton at 2011-12-12 15:21 (UTC) (Link)
I just have nothing of import to add, as you seem to have fleshed it out very well.

I get that a lot.
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