Inside the Buddhist world, Nirvana is the name of the highest (and most pure) state of mind that a man could ever reach. It is a singular consciousness that, once reached, allows the spirit to be conscious of its unity with everything else. This consciousness also recognizes that the separation of singular concepts--like right and wrong, you and others, life and death--is illusory.
The first human being to attain Nirvana was the prince, Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha of our times), who lived from about 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. After a long and hard journey of self-knowledge and abdication, he began the teachings that would later become the basis for Buddhism. Now the question is: If Nirvana is such a singular consciousness that a lot of people spend all their lives to attain it, is it possible to explain how to reach Nirvana? It's hard work, no doubt, but once Buddha attained Nirvana, he explained some simple facts that this article will revisit. Listed below are the steps left to us by the Buddha himself. Keep in mind, however, that the journey is built everyday into all of our actions, from the moment we say good morning until the time we lie down again to sleep.
Clear your mind and be in peace of spirit for reading these steps:
- Knowledge of the four noble truths.
- First, suffering is inevitable in life in all forms--inside and outside us, from a broken heart to unavoidable diseases, aging and death.
- Second, all suffering comes from ignorance. We cannot see the truth about what happens in our lives; we don't understand why things happen; and why we don't get the best from each action. Your ignorance reveals itself through your anger and envy.
- Third, we MUST BELIEVE that the suffering can stop (through learning and practicing the path).
- Fourth, knowledge of the existence of the path, called The Noble Eightfold Path.
- Practice the Noble Eightfold Path: It's the fundamental way to apply the teachings of Buddha in our lives, and it happens through:
- The Right Understanding - By a constant journey of self-knowledge, searching for a way of life that makes us able to grow spiritually.
- The Right Thought - Free of the three poisons: envy, anger and ignorance.
- The Right Speech - Avoid creating bad karma with your words. Be truthful, compassionate and helpful while talking.
- The Right Action - Use the body to implement and express conclusions of the Right Thought and Understanding.
- The Right Way of Life - We must do all of our jobs and daily works with morality. We can't expect to earn money from things that may cause suffering to our brothers.
- The Right Effort - It's not easy to always keep in mind these teachings, but with the right effort, we will be able to evolve. We must have in mind that to win all the treasures of the Dharma - teachings of Buddha - we must exercise every moment in all of our actions, carrying the goodness with us at all times.
- The Right Attention - We must attempt to perfect our nature (our pure spirit) and not fall into the illusion that generates anger, envy and ignorance.
- The Right Concentration - We must learn to calm our minds using meditation, to find peace of spirit, and to not get overwhelmed with every little problem.
Take knowledge of the dependent origination: Another revelation left by Buddha to illuminate our way to Nirvana is to know that all existing things have a dependent origination, and it's impossible to find only one condition or cause for the existence of a phenomenon. Keep this in mind to help remember that we can't be sad because we did or did not do something that brings suffering to us, first, because suffering is inevitable, and second, because there are a million (and you can rationally think of them) reasons that make this phenomenon exist (and not only the one that is making us sad, as we usually think).
- Realize the Anatta: It's a consequence from the last step. If all the things are linked, then so are we, and the conception (and perception) of a self separated from anything else is an illusion.
- Realize the Anicca: One of the reasons that suffering is inevitable is the fact that all things are impermanent. Once we realize this, we will understand that it's not right being so fond of things (and people) around us, because they are not forever (and neither are we). So taking knowledge of this fact first allows us to understand more clearly the nature of things, and the nature of the universe--that everything is in a slow and constant mutation (it's our task to make it better).
- Realize the Dukkha: The fundamental cause that makes all beings suffer comes from a nebulous mind. And that nebulousness comes from the ignorance of these steps. (Remember that all religions have their own concepts and steps to attain a peaceful spirit and mind.)
To do no evil;
To cultivate good;
To purify one's mind:
This is the teaching of the Buddha's."
These are some of the most important teachings left by Buddha for us. In fact, he discovered and left more than two thousand mental exercises to calm our spirits and open our minds to the truths of the universe. The Buddhist doctrine is a way to purify our presence, always walking with goodness, and knowing that life is already the greatest gift we should ever wish for, and to be happy for it, living with the thought that we are all connected and we do not have any consequence over the happenings in our lives. To us, the only task remaining is: TO LIVE WITH LOVE, FOR US, AND FOR OUR BROTHERS... But still, with only this simple task, we continue to create problems for ourselves. We must learn via the experiences that we have, to see more clearly, be calmer and love every moment lived. This is the way to Nirvana.
Diego I. Cintra