This a word often misunderstood as death by none Buddhist and also by Buddhist. So, we will take a look at some of the interpretations of “nirvana”.
Buddhist tradition distinguishes between nirvana in this lifetime and nirvana after death. In “nirvana-in-this-lifetime” physical life continues, but with a state of mind that is free from negative mental disturbances, the mind is peaceful, happy, and non-reactive. With “nirvana-after-death”, paranirvana, the last remains of physical life vanish, and no further rebirth takes place.
In the Mahayana tradition, the highest goal is Buddhahood, in which there is no abiding in Nirvana, but a Buddha re-enters the world to work for the salvation of all sentient beings
The term nirvana describes a state of freedom from suffering and rebirth
The extinction of greed, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of delusion: this indeed is called Nirvana.
In the Theravada-tradition, nirvana is regarded as an uncompounded or unconditioned state of being which is “trans-mundane”, and which is beyond our normal dualistic conceptions
In one interpretation, the “luminous consciousness” is identical with Nirvana.
One who has eternal peace and bliss?
As you see, nirvana is not death; we can say it is deathless death. A person can be well alive in nirvana, because the spirit is in such a state of complete peace and bliss. And nirvana after a person is death; one is free from rebirth (back into Samsara / suffering of existence).
Therefore, nirvana can be achieved in one’s life time, not after death, when one has attained Enlightenment, one is in nirvana. The Buddha’s teachings clearly charted out the Path for his followers to learn and practice, it is the path of his own experience leading to his own enlightenment. The Buddha never ask his disciples to worship him as some sort of higher being, but to fellow his steps, and try and prove for themselves.
Enlightenment is recovery of true self, our very own divinity, the true spirit within us all along, never apart from each of us since birth, each of us has Buddha-Nature within, similar to Christian’s saying…there’s God within.
We don’t need to seek for enlightenment from “out-there”, we just need to “wake-up”. Wake up from what? You might ask; wake up from dream-like state of existence.
All things are mere manifestation of our own mind, our anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, endless desires etc. creates cloud-like delusional sufferings, we don’t realize we created our own sufferings, day in and day out, we don’t even realize that we are suffering, then one day, when our physical body can no longer function, everything seem suddenly come to an end, then we ask ourselves; where did time go? What have I done with my life?
True happiness is spiritual, not money, love, or other form of success in life; they offer temporary happiness, which subject to change of time and space. Economy change, people change, nothing is permanent.
True happiness is here and now on the Buddhist Path, developing wisdom and compassion by purification of our body, speech and mind. Detachment of all poisons, (to the mind–greed, hatred, jealousy, proud…)