## What is Nirvana

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I would start with the Panjavi one, it's a bit more approachable. Siderits is used as a University text but I find him pretty hard to read. Murti's book is one of those that is advertised for ridiculously high prices on Amazon but it should be available in the public domain if you look around for it. Still my favourite.
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It wasn't 'a stance'. It was advice. I agreed with it, for the reasons I gave, I'm not going to elaborate.

Clearly then, you're working with a heuristic for how even an unenlightened person can nevertheless choose the right school, the right lineage, the right teacher, and thus, the right practice.
A heuristic that I'm not privy to (and I'm quite sure neither is the OP).
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Not at all. Remember the character Vachagotta, the kinds of questions he would ask and the responses to them? The 'undetermined questions?' ('avyakarta' from memory.) It's simply a matter of not entertaining speculations like 'I wonder what it would be like not to act in an egocentric way?' The only way to discover that is to do it. And even then, that is not something the ego can latch onto and say it's something it can take credit for. You can only know by doing, not by pondering it.
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It seems to me that to live without human ego is to live as God. God no longer an object of thoughts or devotion, but know as the true identity. Even animals have some identity
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Buddhism is not a theistic religion, though, and would never use that terminology.
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Not at all. Remember the character Vachagotta, the kinds of questions he would ask and the responses to them? The 'undetermined questions?' ('avyakarta' from memory.) It's simply a matter of not entertaining speculations like 'I wonder what it would be like not to act in an egocentric way?' The only way to discover that is to do it. And even then, that is not something the ego can latch onto and say it's something it can take credit for. You can only know by doing, not by pondering it.

The OP is specifically asking about what is nirvana. It's a request for a clarification of terms.

But, and this is my point, there are several competing ideas about what nirvana is. How do you decide which one is the relevant one? (And which one will then inform your practice.)
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the OP is engaging in just the kind of speculative questions that I referred to.

So if the ego dies...

this is my point, there are several competing ideas about what nirvana is

Completely different question. Nowadays you can browse books from all different traditions and schools, I daresay that in traditional cultures, you would never have that kind of choice at all.
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seems to me that to live without human ego

"Egolessness" is a term from popular/modern Buddhism. It's rather difficult to talk about it because "egolessness" is a term that is hard to support with the Pali canon.
It's the way some people, including some Buddhists, render the term Pali term "anatta". It's a highly debated term.

In my opinion, "egolessness" approaches the problem of suffering from a direction which I would never take and which is fraught with further problems. I think the doctrine of "egolessness" is an extracanonical doctrine, so I would never associate it with what the Buddha taught.
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— baker

the OP is engaging in just the kind of speculative questions that I referred to.

The title of the thread is "What is Nirvana".

The "speculative questions" are not the OP's fault, though. It's evident the OP has read some popular Buddhist writings, in good faith assuming they teach what the Buddha taught.

Anyone reading the writings of some modern/popular Buddhists would have those questions. And not because of their propensity for speculation, but simply because anyone wanting to make sense of those texts would end up with those questions.

When you read the suttas, such questions do not arise in your mind. When you read some modern/popular Buddhists, they do. And why is that? Whose fault is that?

this is my point, there are several competing ideas about what nirvana is
— baker

Completely different question. Nowadays you can browse books from all different traditions and schools, I daresay that in traditional cultures, you would never have that kind of choice at all.

No, it's a question that refers to @unenlightened's advice and your agreeing with it. Both of you implicitly criticize people for "talking instead of doing", but you gloss over the problem of what exactly it is that one should be doing.

Should one follow some teacher who teaches egolessness, or some other? Based on what can one make such a decision?

(Having multiple options to choose from only makes the matter worse, not easier.)
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it's a question that refers to unenlightened's advice and your agreeing with it. Both of you implicitly criticize people for "talking instead of doing", but you gloss over the problem of what exactly it is that one should be doing.

Guilty as charged.
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I feel like I need a rational understanding of the goal. Ego is one thing, but identity is another. To destroy the identity through self humiliation is annihilation unless identity comes back with humility
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Buddhism is not a theistic religion, though, and would never use that terminology.

That’s not true. There are quite clearly buddhist practices that believe in deities. Of course you may not refer to these as ‘true buddhism’ but that doesn’t matter to those who practice that particular kind of buddhism.

Btw have you experienced ‘bliss’? Just curious because it seems a bit daft for anyone to ask for advice from you if you haven’t.
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I feel like I need a rational understanding of the goal.

Fair enough!

There are quite clearly buddhist practices that believe in deities. Of course you may not refer to these as ‘true buddhism’ but that doesn’t matter to those who practice that particular kind of buddhism.

Rather it's that the deities they worship are not recognised as such by monotheism. Buddhism is not theistic in the sense of relying on God or gods, the basis of the religion is the recognition of dependent origination - emptiness. Of course, it turns out there's quite a lot of convergence between Buddhism and Christianity in terms of ethics and conduct, but the principles are nevertheless distinct.

Btw have you experienced ‘bliss’?

Sure! Decades ago, I got initiated into meditation practice by an organisation that was kind of like a cross between EST and Transcendental Meditation. They taught the theory behind it, and a twice-daily meditation practice with mantra repetition. I found through that practice that I would have intense and unexpected episodes of bliss - such as one morning when standing at a supermarket checkout. But those feelings dissipate just as quickly as they arrive, and you can't do anything to hold onto them, so I learned that it was a mistake to depend on them or try and seek them out, but every so often it would occur. 'The bliss you cannot have', I used to call it.

This was before a became interested in Buddhism - it was that which lead to my interest, through seeking a framework within which such experiences are intelligible.
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Rather it's that the deities they worship are not recognised as such by monotheism. Buddhism is not theistic in the sense of relying on God or gods, the basis of the religion is the recognition of dependent origination - emptiness. Of course, it turns out there's quite a lot of convergence between Buddhism and Christianity in terms of ethics and conduct, but the principles are nevertheless distinct.

It is still incorrect to imply that buddhism is not theistic because there are examples of this.

I don’t know what you mean (personally) by ‘bliss’ and I’m also interested to know whether you think there are other means of experiencing ‘bliss’. How would you describe the moment you had in the supermarket? You said it was more of glimpse, so how long did this fleeting experience last? Minutes? Hours? Days? After it had subsided what had changed for you?
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It is still incorrect to imply that buddhism is not theistic because there are examples of this.

I'm not implying it, I'm stating it. If there are examples of theistic Buddhism, then I'd be interested to know what they are. There are holy beings in Buddhism, but no creator God. (See Principled Atheism in the Buddhist Scholastic Tradition, Richard P. Hayes.)

I don’t know what you mean (personally) by ‘bliss’ and I’m also interested to know whether you think there are other means of experiencing ‘bliss’. How would you describe the moment you had in the supermarket? You said it was more of glimpse, so how long did this fleeting experience last? Minutes? Hours? Days? After it had subsided what had changed for you?

Those episodes were generally brief, but the point which struck me was that it was something entirely new, something I had never felt previously. It was like another dimension of experience. As I said, they were transient, but they left an impression.

At that time I had been reading the literature of popular spirituality - Krishnamurti, books on Buddhism and related subjects that were circulating at the time. Something clicked at that time, or came together - it was an opening or awakening experience, I thought maybe what is called the opening of the heart chakra (although don't know for sure). There are such states as meditative realisations but they're impossible to describe. The consequence was a greater sense of empathy with others and also a sense of joy. It was a permanent change, although not a permanent state, because no state is permanent. But nothing exceptional, life goes on, I think overall it made me a better person, but certainly neither sage nor saint. If you want an exceptional example read this account from the annals of Richard M. Bucke, who solicited accounts of individuals whom he said had experienced Cosmic Consciousness, from his book of that name, published in 1901. (Nothing like that ever happened to me.)
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I'm not implying it, I'm stating it.

Yu must be using the term 'theism' as rigidly meaning 'creator' then. I don't and others don't. It is only correct for certain branches of buddhism and in the cases where it isn't it is only correct - as far as I know - in terms of 'theism' being framed as belief in a 'creator'.

Tibetan buddhism is clearly 'theistic' although they don't believe in a creator god or frame the 'beings' they talk about as gods ... just because they use different terms it doesn't mean the principles are any different from polytheistic beliefs.

I can only agree (as far as I know) that there are no distinct buddhist groups that believe in a creator god but there are distinct groups that do believe in 'higher beings' they just don't frame them as gods in what would be identical to more western traditions.

Those episodes were generally brief, but the point which struck me was that it was something entirely new, something I had never felt previously. It was like another dimension of experience. As I said, they were transient, but they left an impression.

At that time I had been reading the literature of popular spirituality - Krishnamurti, books on Buddhism and related subjects that were circulating at the time. Something clicked at that time, or came together - it an opening or awakening experience. I think maybe what is called opening of heart chakra. There are such states as meditative realisations but they're impossible to describe. The consequence was a greater sense of empathy with others and also a sense of joy. It was a permanent change, although not a permanent state, because no state is permanent. But nothing exceptional, life goes on, although I think overall it made me a better person, but certainly neither sage nor saint. If you want an exceptional example read this account from the annals of Richard M. Bucke, who solicited accounts of individuals whom he said experienced cosmic consciousness. (Nothing like that ever happened to me.)

You can do better than that! The link you provided did so so why can't you? I'm very curious about this. You can send DM if you prefer
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Grotta del Cane & Nirvana. Expect the $CO_2$ situation to worsen in the coming century. Avalokiteshvara, the thousand-armed one, did make a promise.

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I feel like I need a rational understanding of the goal.

Nirvana is the complete cessation of suffering.
See The Four Noble Truths.

Ego is one thing, but identity is another. To destroy the identity through self humiliation is annihilation unless identity comes back with humility

If you're going to insist on this terminology, more than just casually, then, from some point on, you need to take responsibility for doing so and have some justification for doing so.
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it's a question that refers to unenlightened's advice and your agreeing with it. Both of you implicitly criticize people for "talking instead of doing", but you gloss over the problem of what exactly it is that one should be doing.
— baker

Guilty as charged.

To be clear:
So you agree you gloss over the problem of what exactly it is that one should be doing?
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For me identity is the same as consciousness.
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*shrug*
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I think in all Buddhism gods are part of samsara but have been released. I haven't seen Buddhist talk about a being that is necessary existence
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I haven't seen Buddhist talk about a being that is necessary existence

The nearest to a philosophical sense of necessary being is the term 'unconditioned'.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion the Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned. UD 8.3

This points to the fundamental distinction between the uncreated and created. In theistic religions, that is represented as the relationship between creator and created. And that is a distinction which has been completely lost to modern thought.
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So you agree you gloss over the problem of what exactly it is that one should be doing?

I didn't see it as germane to the point of the OP, which initially seemed to me a philosophical question, using Buddhism as an illustrative example. That's why I agreed with Unenlightened's remark. However this forum being what it is, a meandering discussion has now ensued, and I'm OK with that, too.
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As I've tried to explain above, I can only see consciousness existing with a sense of self. Those seem self evidently identical to me. It's just meaningless to talk about, say, a plant having consciousness but no identity. BUT this is my knowledge of life on this side of death. In another realm of existence all my mental distinctions might become meaningless. The Buddhist claims of anatman don't replace the soul with God, as Hindus do, and so it seems to Westerners that they preach annihilation. The East though has a very different sense of individuality however and when we speak of an afterlife probably all earthly words won't suffice to describe it. I do find Buddhism peaceful and it's ideal of compassion has helped my personally at times
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Ego is not an entity but a pattern of habituated activity.
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Nirvana is the complete cessation of suffering.

There's more.

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This points to the fundamental distinction between the uncreated and created. In theistic religions, that is represented as the relationship between creator and created. And that is a distinction which has been completely lost to modern thought.

I think in all Buddhism gods are part of samsara but have been released. I haven't seen Buddhist talk about a being that is necessary existence

Buddhism is a theism. This isn’t really up for dispute. I find it evasive to not reply and evade questions. I find this happens a lot when someone theistic guards their sect/beliefs. Buddhists believe in a ‘higher plane’ of being and some believe in higher beings. That is a description of theism and there need be no belief in and creator god to qualify a religion as a religion.

@baker If you wish to experience ‘bliss’ then I can tell you what to do but the chances are you won’t do it. Basically you need to stress yourself for a prolonged period of time. How much and for how long would be completely dependent upon your physiological makeup.

The triggers for altered states of consciousness are sleep deprivation, fasting, intense concentration, trance dance, hyperventilation and/or prolonged periods of ‘pain’ in some form or another. It won’t be pretty but the chances are if you achieve something like the desired goal you won’t recall half of what really happened anyway (in terms of the negative side of it). A lot of it is about being brutally honest with yourself, getting rid of distractions and facing up to fears.

Meditation - in the philosophical sense - may get you there. Meditation in the buddhist sense won’t. It can give you glimpses though. What you should be doing is what you want to do. The problem is you don’t know that so just live of a little more instinct and exploration if you are seeking some ‘answer’. Never give up, I mean never … if you experience ‘bliss’ you’ll understand why those words are ironic :D
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Note: most religious folk have no clue what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. It is a system of perpetuating a myth more than understanding the mythic symbols. Jung is probably the only one in modern times that really opened this up more.
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