Types of nirvana

80 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.

  • Explanation of natural nirvana
  • Emptiness, free from elaborations
  • Actual nirvana, free from afflictions
  • Nirvana with remainder and nirvana without remainder
  • Views of different tenet schools for arhat’s nirvana
  • Polluted aggregates, continuum of consciousness
  • Comparing the paths of arhats and bodhisattvas
  • Prasangika’s view of nirvana with remainder and without remainder

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 80: Types of Nirvana (download)

Contemplation points

  1. What is natural nirvana? Why does the emptiness of the mind make it possible to attain liberation? Explain this in your own words.
  2. Different tenet systems have different definitions for nirvana with and without remainder. How do the Svatantrikas and below view this type of nirvana? What about the Vaibhasikas and Sautantrikas? Finally, how do the Prasangikas, Svatantrikas, and Cittamatra schools describe nirvana with and without remainder?
  3. Why do spiritual teachers emphasize generating bodhicitta even if it is contrived or artificial? What is the benefit of putting these thoughts in the mind as opposed to what arhats might generate in their minds?
  4. What is the view of nirvana with and without remainder that is unique to the Prasangika?
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.