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Lions Roar : July 2018
BRITISHMUSEUM,LONDON#1913,1221.1©TRUSTEESOFTHEBRITISHMUSEUMPHOTOBYMAERYAN Nirvana: Unconditional Happiness Thanissaro Bhikkhu on the Buddha’s discovery of a joy beyond all causes and conditions. AS A YOUNG MAN, the Buddha had a vision of the world: that all beings were like fish in a dwindling stream, fighting one another for a last gulp of water before they all died. Everywhere he looked for happiness, everything was already claimed. The implications of this vision struck terror in his heart: Life survives only by feeding on other life, physically and mentally; to be interdependent is to “inter-eat”; and the suffering that results serves no larger purpose, and so is totally pointless. This was the realization that drove him from home into the wilder- ness, to see if there might be a happiness that wasn’t dependent on conditions, that didn’t die, that didn’t need to feed. His awakening was the discovery that such a happiness did exist, in a dimension, touched by the heart and mind, that was totally free from conditions. It wasn’t the result of any- thing and didn’t cause anything else. The path leading to that discovery was what the Buddha taught for the rest of his life. No single name did full justice to that dimension, so he named it largely with similes and analogies. The primary name was nirvana, unbinding. This was an analogy based on the way fire was viewed at the time: Fire burns—agitated, trapped, and hot—because the fire element clings to its fuel. When it lets go of the fuel, it goes out, cool and unbound. The Real Reasons to Meditate Buddhist meditation is about more than just improving your life (although it does that too). As 12 Buddhist teachers explain, it goes to the heart of who you are, the way you live, and how you see reality. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 57