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 Lakshmi Series

Nirvana



Nirvana is an endless expanse of unused consciousness and awareness.  

Nirvana is something that we eternally are.  Nirvana is reality.  Nirvana is not a time or a place or a dimension, although it includes times and dimensions and places.  Nirvana is beyond the ocean, beyond the sky, beyond eternity itself.  

We are alive, we believe, we think, act, conceive, rebel, oppress, liberate.  We are alive.  We do things without knowing why, inventing answers that satisfy our minds, projecting reasons into the sun and the sky.  Long before we came into this world, long before this world, nirvana existed, empty of thought waves, permanent, eternal, everlasting, brighter than ten billion suns, without shape or form yet giving all things shape and form.  When this world has gone away, when all the people we know, all the beings who have ever been have said their last, done their last, nirvana will remain.  

Nirvana is an end to pain and suffering.  This is a world filled with pain and suffering.  The absence of nirvana is suffering.  A spiritually liberated person like myself, or someone else who has crossed the ocean of life and death and come to rest in nirvana, is the opiate to life.  Human beings seek us out because when they're in our presence they no longer feel the pain of separativity.  They seek us out and for a few brief moments or hours or days or years, the pain of life decreases.  
Nirvana is an end to pain and suffering.  This is a world filled with pain and suffering.  The absence of nirvana is suffering.

But then something lures them back to the pain.  They seek rebirth, they seek salvation in this world or in some other world.  They forget the perfection of awareness, nirvana, the causeless cause.  Why do we seek suffering so?  Krishna and Arjuna come to mind: Krishna, the liberated soul, he who has become nirvana; Arjuna, the seeker, who wants, yet does not want, liberation.  Liberation means extinction of all that you know and all that you love - to the ignorant.  To the wise, liberation rather is going beyond this world, beyond time, beyond place, beyond space-dimension, beyond maya, becoming the suffusion of eternal light.  

But only the illumined know nirvana.  Nirvana does not cause anyone or anything to cease in this world or any other world.  Nirvana, rather, is perspective.  It's a release from bondage, not simply the bondage of the body or of time or of this world, but the bondage of vision, perspective; thinking that we're someone or something trapped in a body, in time, in place; thinking that we're important, that we matter or feeling that we don't matter.  

Nirvana doesn't cause this world to go away because this world has never really existed in the way that we think that it does.  Our absorption in nirvana does not alter cause or effect.  Rather, what happens is we become absorbed in nirvana.  That is to say, the "we" that we always knew is replaced by another we, which is nirvana, in which case this world dissolves, life dissolves, death dissolves, all peoples, places, dimensions, times, causations, pains, loves, all these things dissolve - insubstantial, transitory, like a cloud that moves through the sky and appears to be quite solid, and is, for a time.  Soon the winds of time move through it, causing its whiteness to separate and soon it dissolves before our eyes, it vanishes into the sky, it's gone.

So all these worlds which seem so substantial to us - our careers, our families, our friends, our concerns, even our silence in meditation - vanish, as does the cloud in nirvana, nirvana being not an end or a beginning.  Beginnings and ends are ways of seeing things that we, women and men in this world, create.  Nirvana just is.

The download of this talk is provided by a link to the
Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism
Rama with Vayu
Illusion means to not see things exactly as they really are.
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