Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • James H. StoverEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_463

Nirvana (Sanskrit) or nibbana (Pali) literally means “extinction” or “blow out.” Negatively articulated, it is detachment from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) and the cessation of suffering (dukkha). Positively articulated, it may be rendered as a transcendent, blissful mode of existence. To this extent, it is associated with both liberation and enlightenment and is the goal of Buddhism.

Siddhartha Gautama is said to have experienced two kinds of nirvana. The first nirvana was experienced at the moment of his awakening (bodhi) when he was meditating under the Bodhi Tree and actually became a Buddha. Subsequently, no longer bound by ignorance or the desires of this world, he carried on his earthly ministry for the next 45 years in this enlightened state of nirvana. His teaching (dharma) was that one could experience awakening or nirvana by practicing the Eightfold Path, a synergism of moral conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom. The second nirvana was that which Siddhartha...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyWheeling Jesuit UniversityWheelingUSA