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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Well then it is, as you say a (kind of) religion.

"Do you believe that all/most Atheists reach Nirvana?"

Seriously, I would venture that 99 out of 100 atheists are not interested in Nirvana, mantras, or meditation. The only thing we definitely have in common is the rejection of supernatural belief systems. If someone did attain this state of mind and found it mentally gratifying and rewarding I would be interested to know more, only if the investment of time and energy was reasonable. I'm a busy kind of guy.....  :^ )

Rest!

Garden!

Love!

Study!

Fellowship!

Kindness!

Compassion!

Humor!

Good Works!

Explorations!

Always trying to grow a deeper 'soul'....

The answer:

Click here

Very NICE, thank you for the review!

It is a choice, but getting above the pit, at times, can be hard.

Yeah Mon, Smoke a blunt, he happy. Bob Marley died of operable cancer, after he decided not to treat it due to his religious beliefs. Another victim of a bullshit religion.

I think he died of getting out of bed the wrong side. 

you can't reach nirvana because you're human and you'll be always aging. That is suffering.

Yahweh - you're right, of course.  Buddhism has always stressed the fact that pain and suffering are an inevitable part of life.  How do they deal with this?  I'm not sure.  I could look it up and find out, but I'm not going to, because it should be well-known, and if it's not, then they're not doing a very good job. 

Thomas Merton in "Zen and the Birds of Appetite" says that suffering is caused by avidya, the fundamental error in the way we experience the world through the lens of desire, aversion, mental constructions etc.  I tend to agree with this view, but it is of course not the only source of suffering. 

The goal has to be to minimize pain and suffering.  Sometimes these are a necessary and inevitable result of having awareness and love.  Sometimes they're an unavoidable result of being alive.  Under these circumstances, we don't feel so bad about it. 

Another great source of suffering is faulty morals.  Also, unrealistic expectations.  Another is cowardice. 

Craving is something I've neglected in my studies, although of course it's a big part of the picture.  We can make these dry abstract statements, but as we've seen, there's a great deal of unpacking to do before they make sense.  Satisfying a craving brings short-term pleasure but not long-term happiness: "contentment, resilience, joy, strength, peace, love, inner vitality...".  That said, - what's wrong with enjoying yourself?  What is wrong with surfing?  Nothing.  In itself, surfing is morally neutral.  That Tao Master lady sounds like a killjoy.  I presume she gets paid money to tell people not to enjoy themselves. 

I think what we have here is another word problem.

"we experience the world through the lens of desire, aversion,"

We are averse to pain so it is perfectly natural to avoid putting our hand in a flame. There are some things we are averse to which cannot be avoided - like ageing. On the other side we have desire. We could avoid the opposite sex entirely, but realistically we are probably going to fall in love. So we have inevitable aversion and inevitable desire. We need to strive for something in-between which is neither - namely acceptance. I am ageing - lately more quickly than ever. There is natural aversion. I strive, instead for acceptance. I'm just another lump in the pudding of life. Eventually this lump will blend in. Same for love. I can recognize the physical forces which drive this love and accept this union while striving not to attach. 

It's not the pain, it's not the pleasure, it's the way we perceive them. - Pretty much what you said above.

"What is wrong with surfing?"

I find that hard, too. However she doesn't really try to get me to stop surfing - just be mindful - don't get attached. Fun can be really attractive. She might feel differently if she could experience the peace of laying around in crystal-clear water feeling the warm water and the warmer breeze and, occasionally throw in a dose of excitement.

"That Tao Master lady sounds like a killjoy."

I've never met someone so full of joy. One can almost see her aura.

"I presume she gets paid money to tell people not to enjoy themselves."

Nope. I don't get it. I've occasionally tried, unsuccessfully, to find out how she pays her bills, but that seems not to be relevant. Even knowing I'm an atheist, she does nothing but give.

Mike -

"We are averse to pain so it is perfectly natural to avoid putting our hand in a flame." -

I agree, this is something of a paradox, and I have struggled with the idea.  I think it comes down to discovering the proper job of work of the ego.  Apparently, it's there to steer us successfully through the world, and one of its basic, legitimate functions is to keep us safe.  So of course, we have a fundamental biological desire-aversion response to everything, and that's as it should be.  But there's more to life, and more to reality, than that.  However, especially (as the cliche goes) in the over-intellectuallised, over-egotized West, we think that the conscious mind/self is the sum total of reality, when it's not.  We say "I think, therefore I am", while Buddhists might say "I am, therefore I am".  I'm going to extend this idea.  There's something we can be which is deeper and more transcendent than the senses, the mind, and the desire-aversion response. 

"I've never met someone so full of joy. One can almost see her aura."

OK, but damn.  She needs to see that surfing's a joyful activity.  I think there are practical implications to non-attachment to do with morality.  ie. non-attachment ultimately makes morality easier. 

OK, but damn.  She needs to see that surfing's a joyful activity. 

That's the problem, Simon.  She would say that when you can feel as much joy in peeling a potato as you can surfing, then surfing will become an acceptable practice.  However, since at that point you can feel joyful whether you surf or not, perhaps you will not surf any more.  The lesson is that joy should be generated from within, and not from external stimuli.

It's not my cup of tea, but it has a certain merit for some :)

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