Nirvana, The ideal saint of both the schools of Hinayana is the Arhat who has simply ‘blown’ himself out of existence by annihilating all desires and passions.
The ideal is said to be negative, individual and selfish. Nib-bana is said to be a negative cessation of all earthly miseries.
It is given in the third Noble Truth about the cessation of suffering. It is often compared with the extinction of the flame of a lamp.
Just as a lamp when it becomes extinguished goes neither hither nor thither, neither to the earth nor to the sky, neither to this direction nor to that, it has been utterly blown out on account of the oil being consumed; similarly a sage obtains Nirvana when the desires and the passions have been consumed; he goes neither this way nor that, but obtains utter peace.
The very word ‘Nirvana’ means ‘blowing out’ . It is the dissolution of the five skandhas. It is the cessation of all activities (chittavrttinirodha) and of all becoming (bhava nirodha).
But there are many verses and passages in the Pali Canon which emphatically reject this negative conception of Nirvana.
Here the real nature of Buddha’s teachings bursts forth breaking the outward covering of the Hinayana. Nirvana is identified with positive bliss.
It is said to be the highest and the indestructible state. It is the fearless goal. It gives happiness here and hereafter.
It is the highest bliss. We are even told that to mistake Nirvana as annihilation is ‘a wicked heresy’.
This repudiates the views of Rhys Davids, Oldenberg and Paul Dahlke and the earlier view of Mrs. Rhys Davids that Nirvana is only negative extinction.
Unfortunately, the Pali Canon gives both the negative and the positive descriptions of Nirvana and Hinayana inclines towards the former.
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