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.
Compassion effectively means the freedom to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
We can say that to be "enlightened" means to be "made lighter". We see a mastering of the passions, conscious mind, emotions and ego desires, and a lack of attachment to those things. We see negative emotions replaced with positive ones, negative consequences replaced with positive ones. We see strength, love, peace, joy.
RE: "Compassion effectively means the freedom to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done." - I know of absolutely no one who would accept that as a definition of compassion.
I've noticed you throwing the term, "ego" around so loosely that it strongly indicates to me that you don't even know the meaning of the term. I suggest you revisit the definition, then you might want to rewrite some of your more bizarre comments that utilize it.
What are your definitions of compassion, and the ego?
Compassion is linked to empathy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion When you empathize with someone and feel you are able to help, you go and help . Ego tends to be from having self esteem to believing that believing that one is more important than others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego#Ego
RE: "Compassion effectively means the freedom to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done." Perhaps it is better to demonstrate what compassion is not.
My electricity bill is due. I would like to continue to have my lights come on when I flip the switch. I need to sit down and write the electricity company a check and mail it, so they will continue to provide me with electricity. In short, writing and sending a check to the electricity company needs to be done and done now - if I exercise my freedom to write and send it, in order to keep my appliances running, have I shown compassion? (Why do I feel like I'm explaining something on Sesame Street?)
According to your definition, I have.
Yes, you've shown compassion towards yourself.
If you'll read that Wikipedia article more thoroughly, you'll find the definition somewhat different from the one at which you've arrived. (I DO respect people's rights to call themselves whatever they like, but I hope you'll respect my desire not to have to figure out how you make backward letters, in order to call you by your name of choice.)
The mind, in Freudian terms - and though many have discredited some of his findings, he did coin those terms, so if we insist on using them, in fairness, we should use his definition - is comprised of the Superego, the Ego and the Id.
To put this in terms I hope even Paynton can understand, the Superego is loaded with rules to live by - walk, don't walk, etc., that it has received from various sources throughout life - parents, grandparents, other relatives, school, church, experience, everyone we meet, basically, who has cause to impart advice to us. Even a punch in the nose can tell us not to ridicule a violent man twice your size. But much of the information the Superego possesses, is invalid - if a dog howls outside your window at night, it will mean a death in the family, and other superstitions, including religion and the nonsense we're discussing now. One of the jobs of the Ego, is to sort through the Superego's set of life-guidelines, intended to aid survival of the individual, and determine which conform to reality and which are nonsense, and to discard the nonsense.
The Id, on the other hand, is a spoiled brat - Carl Sagan called it the "Reptilian Brain," and the reptilian brain was the main reason the T-Rex never had more than two items on his day-planner: "1) Kill something!, 2) Eat it!" The Id wants instant gratification; it wants what it wants, and it wants it NOW. Another responsibility of the Ego is to keep the Id in line with reality - "No, you Dweeb, you may not chug a pint of rum, you're driving through a school zone in a 2-ton vehicle." Something like that.
The Ego then, acts as a regulator, keeping, as much as is possible, the Superego and the Id grounded in reality, but this will depend entirely on the Ego's OWN definition of reality. If your mother, for example, stomped a dozen baby ducks every morning before breakfast, you could grow up believing this to be normal, and your regulator, your Ego, would add stomping baby ducks to its repertoire of normalcy. (I sometimes exaggerate, for effect.)
Insanity, then, could be defined as a condition in which an individual's regulator was faulty, due to bad wiring (an actual, physical defect), or that it was using data for its regulation process that deviated so significantly from that of the aggregate of us, as to make us fear for our safety, or for the person's own safety, should that person be allowed to continue to live among us, and/or, without supervision.
That's actually a pretty good description. We can see, "ego" is a small word but there's a lot to it. We can talk about it all day. It needs to be defined in a clear way, but there are multiple viewpoints from which to do this - psychological, spiritual, moral; ... probably others. These multiple viewpoints have to fit together, and we need to know more than one viewpoint in order to get a better idea of the reality.
"If your mother, for example, stomped a dozen baby ducks every morning before breakfast, you could grow up believing this to be normal, and your regulator, your Ego, would add stomping baby ducks to its repertoire of normalcy." I would say that comes from the subconscious - the memory - but then, the ego is partly subconscious. As for learning - apparently, what is learned is hard-wired into the brain architecture.
"That's actually a pretty good description." - I can't begin to tell you how it worms the cockles of my heart to know you feel that way, aqnd nothing beats warm cockles.
Still feel the need to sneak that "spiritual" in there, don't you? Sea kelp, you little theist, you!
We can say that to be "enlightened" means to be "made lighter".
Yes, shedding worldly concerns is part of becoming a good Buddhist, but they are not at the core of enlightenment. The "light" in "enlightenment" has a lot more to do with light as in "seeing the light," where light stands metaphorically for beholding or achieving a reality or truth or some sort of ultimate value which transforms your view of reality.
As usual, you're makin' it up as you go along.
It means a lot of things. These words are short - "Nirvana", "enlightenment", but they need a lot of unpacking. There are structures and concepts at the heart of those ideas.
"Light" can refer to the freedom from "heavy" emotions like anger, hatred, revenge; and from attachments to "heavy" things like expectations, opinions, mental constructions, etc. etc. to be replaced by compassion, clarity and optimism, which make you feel light. It's not even about shedding worldly concerns. Afterwards, we should be more able to take on worldly concerns, because we are not being distorted by heavy emotions or attachments, so we are more free to be efficient and effective.
"a reality or truth or some sort of ultimate value which transforms your view of reality." - transcending the conscious mind and individual ego.