Nirvana is Cool

Nibbana is Cool

Nibbana for Everyone

A Truth Message from Suan Mokkh

By Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
(adapted and translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu)

“The word “nibbana” means “cool.” Back when it was just an ordinary word which people used in their homes it also meant “cool.” When it is used as Dhamma language, in a religious context, it still means “cool,” but refers to cool from the fires of defilement (kilesa), while in the common people’s usage it means cool from physical fires.”

Nibbana is nirvana. In Buddhism, you get the same words slightly differently in Pali and Sanskrit.

That said, I am excited to know that nirvana is about coolness. That just strikes me as perfect. We all need to “cool off” sometimes. It is currently July as I write this. Cooling off is immediately urgent. People are dying because they can’t.

We all know what it’s like to have our minds stuck in an endless, obsessive, defiling loop.  At such times, nothing appeals as much as getting off the emotional roller coaster and cooling off.

As the earth continues to warm, we may see more and more Buddhism and other tropical-origin religions. We will be able to relate to that better, as opposed to, say, Northwestern European Reformed Christianity. The attractiveness of the warmth of a hearth will gradually be replaced by metaphors such as, maybe, a cool glass of iced tea with friends. “Keeping the home fires burning” may be replaced by the idea of swimming together in a cool autumn lake. Even now, the expression sounds more like a marital hell than bliss. The warmth of the sun may lose its appeal to the cool reflection of the moon on a pond.

These subtle shifts of language are huge in implications in terms of evangelizing. Rule #1 in communication is “Know your audience.” These shifts are imperceptible at first. Give it a generation and ask yourself the last time you remember hearing about “keeping the home fires burning.” Even now, when was the last time you heard someone referred to as a “good family man”? Whoever defines the terms of the debate has already won.

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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