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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Can you find a Buddhist (or even Hindu) dictionary that says Nirvana=Compassion? I'd love that link. 

In other words, who are these "others"?

I've heard it referred to as "Cosmic Consciousness" by Alan Watts or "ego death" by psychedelicists. However, I agree with Unseen. The compassion is not equated to nirvana, but is like an attribute of this experience in the same way that westerners attribute their God with the "all-pervasive, ever-forgiving, infinite love."

Another phrase used in eastern philosophy that might be closer related to "nirvana" is what is called "non duality." The manifold universe is, in truth, a Single Reality. There is only one Great Being, which the sages call Brahman, in which all the countless forms of existence reside. That Great Being is utter Consciousness, and It is the very Essence, or Self (Atman) of all beings (according to eastern philosophy).

So, when Unseen says "non-duality" or nirvana is a dissolution of the ego, the self from its separation with the subject-object duality, he means the dissolving of the subject of experience in contrast with the world, the object being experienced. When there is no longer a "you" to separate from a "world," that is the transformation of consciousness that is called "nirvana." A seamless, interconnected oneness experienced as a form of consciousness most people are unaware of and, in fact, do not realize exists.


And it's from that perspective from which a lot of eastern scripture is based upon. And you won't find much about it in detail, because that's the whole point. That it's not a concept to mull over or to be preached, but a transformation in consciousness to be experienced.
 
Ramesh's notion or interpretation of "nondoership" is taken that way because he's a fatalist or believes in hard determinism. If everything is predestined to happen, including all that which makes up the ego, your thoughts, your choices, your actions, etc. Then, if you take that seriously, then in a sense, "you" as the ego never really made a choice if it was destined to occur, anyway. So, they call this "nondoership." So, that's why he said that it's even a joke for someone to think they have something to surrender to God, because these God-seekers must surrender their sense of personal will, but you only give it up to realize you never had it in the first place!
 
 

"no longer a "you" to separate from a "world,""  - I think this has to do with mindfulness.  There's always going to be a "you".  The question is, are "you" controlled by your ego and conscious mind?  Or have you trained your ego and conscious mind to obey you and do your bidding?  What is the most compassionate thing to do? 

Knowing cosmic consciousness does not localized to spirituality theism. Its a concept that incorporates the general consciousness of sentient beings/human beings/intelligent life forms that primarily focus on empathy, love, understanding and tenderness, and to be the said norm of the cosmos , and very much part of survival as a civilization/ cosmic nation on a planet. In theory, if they lack cosmic consciousness and its said to vibrate lower, the chances of the civilization reaching its peak of self destruction by war or consuming a planet's natural resources are great.

I agree, broadly.  Another part of the picture is the actual ego.  The ego is a legitimate part of consciousness which as far as I can see, roughly corresponds to the prefrontal cortex

Its functions include:

"planning[,] complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior." ...

"... abilities to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social "control" (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially unacceptable outcomes)."  

We tend to confuse the ego with the self, when they are distinct.  The ego is a part of the self.  It exists to guide, protect, and achieve satisfaction for the self.  A great problem arises when the ego tries to solve problems by using only material from within or generated by the ego.  To make progress, it has to look beyond itself, to concrete reality and to a healthy relationship with other people, respecting their needs and their rights to autonomy. 

I definitely think it is to do with dissolving the boundaries of the ego so that we are no longer just concerned with our own selves, but can expand it to include others within that boundary. 

Simon, that's rather nice, but it isn't the Buddhist definition of Nirvana. Buddhists believe in compassion, but compassion isn't Nirvana, though it can be a stop on the way.

The Buddhist definition of Nirvana is vague and does not do the job. 

I attained nirvana when I was 17, 45 years ago.

No-one believes you. 

One of the rare occasions when Simon and I agree on something.

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. 

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