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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The Buddha taught that craving is the cause of ALL suffering (I guess he never stubbed his toe or had a toothache). When I studied Buddhism, it was all about suffering, not aversion or delusion (at least as causes of suffering). Anyway,

Nirvana is a state free of the craving that makes life so unpleasant. In fact, craving Nirvana itself is also dysfunctional. 

Thus, if you are asking yourself if you've achieved Nirvana, you haven't reached it yet. This is because the asking itself reveals a craving for Nirvana.

While archaeopteryx maintains that Buddhism is philosophy, not religion, he's wrong. While it lacks some of the trappings of, say, theistic religions, it does have rituals, which philosophies don't.

I'd say "attachment" more than "craving". And if you can detach yourself from the pain of a stubbed toe or toothache, as you would anything material... well I probably don't have to explain.

Doesn't that depend on the nature of the ritual? Tharavadan rituals are predominantly non-religious. Many Buddhist rituals are habit of practicality.

If you prefer "attachment" to "craving" then you have an issue with the translators. But don't forget that one of the Buddha's most famous sermons is The Fire Sermon where he describes the world and the senses as being in flames due to our craving. I'll stick with craving because it's more dramatic, in line with the spirit of The Fire Sermon.

Right, but the senses being flames due to our "craving" (let's say "desire") is basically saying "you suffer because of your attachment to the material." It's about detachment. In the interest of the cessation of suffering. Noble Truths.

"Desire" has positive connotations, as in romantic love. I think "craving" is more suitable because it's 100% negative.

I like your point Unseen, in that the "craving" for Nirvana is basically a juxtaposition to Nirvana itself. I think that what many people "crave" is liberation. I'm sure most people can relate to the turmoil that life brings. I myself have a "craving" for this because it seems like a state of being that would and could bring about a level of healing.

Belle - I agree with you and I think it depends on how you define craving. 

I should think craving is one of those terms that is easily understood without need of definition. It's more than just a passing thought that you might like a slice of watermelon, for example. It's things like wanting wealth, not wanting to die, even obsessing about putting an end to the craving.

Unseen - I would say that Buddhism is a religious philosophy: ie. a religion without a God. 

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.....  :^ )

Hey Ed I'm curious where you got that statistic, lol. It's a pretty exaggerated presumption don't you think? The idea of true liberation is the very essence of what being a freethinker is all about imho.

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