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Nirvana in the Pali tradition

81 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Non-abiding nirvana
  • Free from the extremes of samsara and personal nirvana
  • Four buddha bodies
  • Two purities
  • Nirvana in pali tradition
  • Elimination of five aggregates subject to clinging
  • Cessation of duhkha and its origins
  • Emptiness and dependent arising
  • Eradication of attachment, anger and ignorance
  • Meaning of nirvana in Pali and Sanskrit

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 81: Nirvana in the Pali Tradition (download)

Contemplation points

  1. What is non abiding nirvana? What is a bodhisattva’s view of the personal nirvana of an arhat and why are they not content with this? What are the two extremes that a bodhisattva aspires to be free from?
  2. Consider the debate: When you attain nirvana, are you getting rid of something that existed or are you simply understanding something that is already there? Spend some time with this. What is the view of some of the different traditions?
  3. Consider nirvana as the “elimination of the five aggregates subject to clinging.” What kind of image does this evoke in your mind regarding the nature of samsara? Take some time to imagine what a state free of that would be like.
  4. Why does the Buddha, when describing his own attainment of nirvana, say that dependent arising is a truth that is hard for ordinary beings to see (why not emptiness)?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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