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The Third Noble Truth: Duhkha-Nirodha

The Third Noble Truth: Duhkha-Nirodha

  • Since suffering is caused, it can be eliminated by eliminating its causes. In other words, the cessation of suffering can be brought about by the removal of the conditions on which suffering depends. It is the dependence of suffering on certain conditions that makes it possible for us to overcome suffering and become free from all fetters of existence.
  • It is clear from the twelve-fold chain that ignorance is the fundamental condition of suffering. It is because of our ignorance that we crave and suffer. We are ignorant of the truth that there is no persisting self, that nothing is permanent, that all is sorrow. When this ignorance is removed, nirvana is attained.
  • Nirvana is not a state of inactivity. Buddha’s own life was full of activity, even after his enlightenment. Buddha distinguishes between 2 kinds of action: (a) those done under the influence of attachment (raga), hatred (dvesa), infatuation (moha) and (b) those done without these.                              The Third Noble Truth: Duhkha-Nirodha
  • It is only the first kind of actions that strengthen our desire to cling to the world and generate the seeds of karma causing rebirth. The second kind of actions which are done with perfect insight into the real nature of the universe and without attachment, do not accumulate karma producing rebirth.
  • Buddha points out that the difference between the two kinds of karma is like that between the sowing of ordinary productive seeds and the sowing of seeds which have been fried and made barren.
  • Again, nirvana does not mean extinction of existence. The etymological meaning of `nirvana’ is ‘blown out’. The liberated one is compared to the extinction of the flame of a lamp. Some interpreters of Buddhism have explained nirvana as complete cessation of existence. But if it is so then Buddha cannot be said to have been liberated till he died.
  • Also, Buddha seems to have suggested that nirvana stops rebirth and, therefore, it means the extinction of all misery. It does not mean necessarily that after death the liberated saint does not continue in any form.                                                          The Third Noble Truth: Duhkha-Nirodha
  • Further, Buddha’s silence about the condition of the liberated after death does not mean his denial of the existence of such a person after death. Buddha’s silence might just mean that the state of liberation cannot be described in terms of ordinary experience.

Arhathood and Bodhisattvahood:

  • Relying on the words of Buddha, “Be a light unto thyself” (atmadipo bhava), Hinayana emphasizes liberation for and by the individual himself. It is the difficult path of self-help. Its goal is Arhat Hood, the state of the Ideal saint who obtains personal salvation.
  • Nirvana is regarded as the extinction of all misery. The idea of liberation in Hinayana is said to be negative and egoistic. The nirvana means ‘blowing out’. The Arhat simply blows himself out of existence by annihilating all desires and passions. Like an extinguished flame of a lamp, he goes neither this way nor that but obtains utter peace.
  • Mahayana believes that nirvana is not a negative cessation of misery but a positive state of bliss. Its Ideal saint is Bodhisattva who defers his own salvation in order to work for the salvation of others. The Bodhisattva is he who attains perfect wisdom and inspired by the love of all beings, works for the salvation of others.
  • In Mahayana, Buddha is transformed into God and worshipped as such. Thus, Mahayana replaces the negative and individual conception of nirvana with positively blissful and universal conception of it.                                                              The Third Noble Truth: Duhkha-Nirodha

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