Nirvana is a  term used to describe the profound peace of mind that is acquired with liberation.  It is the state of being free from suffering.

The word literally means "blown out" (as in a candle) and refers, in the Buddhist context, to the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished. (loosely quoting Wikipedia here...)

So...I'm curious if you all believe that Atheists as a general rule are able to reach this level of liberation? Do you think it's possible for Theists to do so? Do you believe that all/most Atheists reach Nirvana? How do you know when you've reached it? Once you've reached it how do you know you'll be able to stay there? Is it just in your mind or is there more to it? What could be a scientific explanation for the state of Nirvana?....Do you believe that Nirvana is attached to any kind of religious dogma since it's roots are found in Buddhism? Isn't Buddhism a religion? If not, then why not. If you believe Nirvana is rubbish, then tell me why.

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Quoting Wiki for that word.. Nirvana:

"A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and samsara. It represents the final goal of Buddhism."

We can break that word as "Nir+vana" in Indic languages.
It's a negation of "Va+na". 
To understand this, here's an eg.  
"Ishvara" = God, "Vada" = ism, "Nir" = Not.
>> Nir+ishvara+vada= NonTheism. 
 
There are various definitions for that word "va+na",

  1. "va+na/ब+न" means "FOREST", Nir+vana = ?"Not Wild"?
  2. (neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self)
    that's a midway virus of Buddhism & you can trace it back to "theistic" non-Dualism of Hinduism.
  3. (subject is released from the effects of karma and samsara)
    Main problem in the relation between "your deeds" Karma & "world" samsara is the question on the belief that "Karmas in this lifetime will affect your afterlife" ? in another planet?
    Here for eg.. You're a soul & your body is in human "avatar" of this world. You are here to be free from the infinite cycles of birth & rebirths. You'll be free from the tags of "born again & again & again ... Hindu/Buddhist", IF your "sin" level will be at zero OR IF you've a ticket to Nirvana's concert (unification with supreme soul/GOD in Hinduism).

Thank God !!  I'm a born again & again & again... Hindu Atheist,
I'll be happy with my Bacterium avatar in my next life "on a new planet".   :-P 

There are many wings of Buddhism & most of them follow Buddhism as a tradition.
If you'll phonetically translate "Buddhi+ism" back to English from Indic languages, that's "Mind+ism".
In my mind "Nirvana" is equivalent to "Death", when the soul "atoms/energy" of this body will be unified with the Universe.
Technically in theosophy, Nirvana is equivalent to "people of Abrahamic faiths gaining access to the Garden of Eden".
++ If you are interested in the cosmic database of Karmas & Samsaras..
(jus 4 lulz) Aakashic Records are pan-dimensional DB with Big-Bang Protection &  built-in consciousness (for 311 trillion 40 billion light yrs) aka "Mind of God/ Book Of Life".. + Base of Mr. Deepak Chopra's books.
Best argument for the existence of supreme soul/Nirvana in both Buddhism & Hinduism is
"Neither the existent Nor the non-existent."

In my mind "Nirvana" is equivalent to "Death", when the soul "atoms/energy" of this body will be unified with the Universe.

As I said elsewhere, in Hinduism as well as Buddhism, the goal is the opposite of what it is in Western religions who want the individual soul to go on forever. Rather, in those Eastern religions it's to escape the cycle of birth and death and merge into something larger, totally losing the individual's sense of self.

The best and most surefire way to reach Nirvana is to use google maps. Make sure you have your backstage pass handy.

I reach a first approximation when I am not bothered by theists, telemarketers, bill collectors, and 'nothing else to watch' moments of the ''700 Club'!

Happily it is not really necessary to be dead!

As follow up from latter postings:

Sadly I found myself thinking about this for a few more seconds and then had this insight into even the deeper meanings:

  If I were to 'appear' to be closer to the ultimate enlightened state roughly equal to 'death', my ''not being bothered by theists, telemarketers, bill collectors, and 'nothing else to watch' moments of the 700 club'', would be much more likely. 'Appearing' to be dead when a theist knocks, would involve a great deal of preplanning, which would exceed my performance ability & zombie mimic skills. 

  Mimicing a zombie over the phone would most likely cause the offending telemarketer to laugh uncontrolably, snorting, and respiratory convulsive behaviors. While the first few seconds would be fun for me, not dropping out of character would be difficult, it is unclear if this could attract the attentions of SNL via an unsolicited email from the offended telemarketer. If actual moneies would be involved, maybe this would be OK.

  A mailing from bill collectors does become one more difficult expression of my second approximation to enlighenment. Do I send a DVD/CDROM of my performance? Would large drops of mimiced dried blood be ok on my returned mail? Sadly this begins to look like a free 6 month stay at the local mental hospital.     

  The '700 Club', does offer an interesting opportunity. I expect they could use the 'zombie' mimicing' DVD/CDROM on their prime-time morning show as an example of the 'decay' of their blessed Christian Country. While they might not understand the true underlying intent, the DVD/CDROM would offer some of the best entertainment during their otherwise psyco-draining programming. 

In the end, I am still alive, my many times fantacy humor still happily unfullfilled, and one more hit to the climate of 'rabid seriousness' is done. Not quiet a 'Occupy' action, sorry...;p)

Sadly, my 'enlightenment' is still delayed to some major degree. I expect winning the Darwin Award will not be televised.... 

Ironically, James - speaking of the 700 Club reminded me of the religious zealots in this country - and Roman Emperor Decius, who was killed in battle after only two years in that capacity, who persecuted Christians who refused to sacrifice to the old, Roman gods. He felt that what Rome needed was a return to the old ways, that the people had strayed too far from their gods, and therefore he required everyone in Rome to sacrifice and receive an official certificate, proving that you had done so, or face the consequences.

Except for the target enemy, how different is that from the Pat Robertsons, Rick Santorums and Michelle Bachmans of today's America? A return to the old ways will fix everything.

"..return to the good old days' just might 'fix everything', I expect a much lower population would truely save the planet from US. So many of US have forgoten how hard it was not to die. We have it rather nice in comparison at present.

I expect that 'Nirvana' could be seen through very different ideologies, but with similar results. The 'perfect Christian Nation', would be small enough to drown in a bath tub after the die off from enforced ignorance.

I think you take a left on Sepulveda --

In the spirit of the playful banter above: You can't reach Nirvana.  Kurt Cobain is dead.

Perhaps he's the only one in the band who actually reached it.

Kurt wasn't the first to name his band "Nirvana," and in fact, when they played in California, they had to legally refer to themselves by a different title altogether. People say that the "27 Club" is another Nirvana.

But interesting enough, you're right but in another context. "You" can't reach Nirvana. "You" as the ego. No one can get enlightenment. Here's an excerpt from Ramesh Balsekar's Wiki page that I thought was interesting on this topic…

Balsekar taught from the tradition of Advaita Vedanta nondualism. His teaching begins with the idea of an ultimate Source, Brahman, from which creation arises. Once creation has arisen, the world and life operate mechanistically according to both Divine and natural laws. While people believe that they are actually doing things and making choices, free will is in fact an illusion. All that happens is caused by this one source, and the actual identity of this source is pure Consciousness, which is incapable of choosing or doing.

This false identity which revolves around the idea that "I am the body" or "I am the doer" keeps one from seeing that one's actual identity is free Consciousness. Like other Vedanta teachers, he says that while creation and creator appear to be different and separate, that they are actually two sides of the same coin.

Balsekar taught that life is a happening but there is no individual doer of life.

The final truth, as Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj and all the sages before them have clearly stated, is that there is neither creation nor destruction, neither birth nor death, neither destiny nor free will, neither any path nor any achievement. All there is is Consciousness.
What is the significance of the statement 'No one can get enlightenment'? This is the very root of the teaching. It means that it's stupid for any so-called master to ask anyone to do anything to achieve or get enlightenment. The core of this simple statement means, according to my concept, that enlightenment is the annihilation of the "one" who "wants" enlightenment. If there is enlightenment - which can only happen because it is the will of God or if you don't like the term "God," then cosmic law - then it means the "one" who had earlier wanted enlightenment has been annihilated. So no "one" can achieve enlightenment and therefore no "one" can enjoy enlightenment."
The joke is even the surrendering is not in your control. Why? Because so long as there is an individual who says "I surrender" there is a surrenderer, an individual ego... What I'm saying is that even the surrendering is not in [your] hands.
So, who cares?
Where is the "me"? The "me" is always associated with the body and the body as seen through the microscope is nothing but a play of cells being created and destroyed.
Truth or Reality is itself a concept. When you are in the truth or in deep sleep, which is only a pale reflection of the real, in that state of deep sleep is the Truth. And in that Truth there is no experience. In the waking state, the state of deep sleep is a concept. In deep sleep it is the Truth. But the moment you think of Reality, the moment you think Subject, the moment you think of the Absolute, the moment you think of the Truth, it is a concept. It is only when the thinking totally stops that Truth exists.
When we talk of time and space, we say infinite space and eternal time. It is still a mental concept of total space and total time. But the mind cannot conceive of that state prior to the arising of the space-time. The moment you think of Reality, the reality is a concept. You are the Reality of which the split-mind makes a concept. You are the Reality, but not as the "me."
It's very simple. Don't think about what you have heard here. Just don't think about what you think you've understood. And then that understanding will have a chance to flower. But the more you think about what you have understood, the more it's wasted.
"All there is, is Consciousness. And the mind is merely a reflection of that Consciousness." - Ramesh Balsekar

So 'Nirvana' is not reached by the individual mind, because that version of 'Nirvana' is at best an analogue of the real thing. Similar to a 'virtual reality' model only appearing to be the real one.

I stand corrected, but did suggest that a first iteration of the 'idea' is not the 'thing' itself. Only 'reducing' does not get us to that final state....

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