Etymology from Wikipedia
The term nirvana in the soteriological sense of “blown out, extinguished” state of liberation does not appear in the Vedas nor in the Upanishads; according to Collins, “the Buddhists seem to have been the first to call it nirvana.” This may have been deliberate use of words in early Buddhism, suggests Collins, since Atman and Brahman were described in Vedic texts and Upanishads with the imagery of fire, as something good, desirable and liberating. Collins says the word nirvāṇa is from the verbal root vā “blow” in the form of past participle vāna “blown”, prefixed with the preverb nis meaning “out”. Hence the original meaning of the word is “blown out, extinguished”. (Sandhi changes the sounds: the v of vāna causes nis to become nir, and then the r of nir causes retroflexion of the following n: nis+vāna > nirvāṇa). However the Buddhist meaning of nirvana also has other interpretations.
L. S. Cousins said that in popular usage nirvana was “the goal of Buddhist discipline,… the final removal of the disturbing mental elements which obstruct a peaceful and clear state of mind, together with a state of awakening from the mental sleep which they induce.
Nirvāṇa (/nɪərˈvɑːnə/ neer-VAH-nə, /-ˈvænə/ -VAN-ə, /nɜːr-/ nur-; Sanskrit: निर्वाण nirvāṇa ; Pali: nibbāna; Prakrit: ṇivvāṇa; literally, “blown out”, as in an oil lamp) is a concept in Indian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism) that represents the ultimate state of soteriological release, the liberation from repeated rebirth in saṃsāra.
In Indian religions, nirvana is synonymous with moksha and mukti. All Indian religions assert it to be a state of perfect quietude, freedom, highest happiness as well as the liberation from or ending of samsara, the repeating cycle of birth, life and death. However, non-Buddhist and Buddhist traditions describe these terms for liberation differently. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union of or the realization of the identity of Atman with Brahman, depending on the Hindu tradition. In Jainism, nirvana is also the soteriological goal, representing the release of a soul from karmic bondage and samsara. In the Buddhist context, nirvana refers to realization of non-self and emptiness, marking the end of rebirth by stilling the fires that keep the process of rebirth going.
Nirvana (nibbana) literally means “blowing out” or “quenching”. It is the most used as well as the earliest term to describe the soteriological goal in Buddhism: release from the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra). Nirvana is part of the Third Truth on “cessation of dukkha” in the Four Noble Truths doctrine of Buddhism. It is the goal of the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Buddha is believed in the Buddhist scholastic tradition to have realized two types of nirvana, one at enlightenment, and another at his death. The first is called sopadhishesa-nirvana (nirvana with a remainder), the second parinirvana or anupadhishesa-nirvana (nirvana without remainder, or final nirvana).
In the Buddhist tradition, nirvana is described as the extinguishing of the fires that cause rebirths and associated suffering. The Buddhist texts identify these three “three fires” or “three poisons” as raga (greed, sensuality), dvesha (aversion, hate) and avidyā or moha (ignorance, delusion).
The state of nirvana is also described in Buddhism as cessation of all afflictions, cessation of all actions, cessation of rebirths and suffering that are a consequence of afflictions and actions. Liberation is described as identical to anatta (anatman, non-self, lack of any self). In Buddhism, liberation is achieved when all things and beings are understood to be with no Self. Nirvana is also described as identical to achieving sunyata (emptiness), where there is no essence or fundamental nature in anything, and everything is empty.
In time, with the development of Buddhist doctrine, other interpretations were given, such as being an unconditioned state, a fire going out for lack of fuel, abandoning weaving (vana) together of life after life, and the elimination of desire. However, Buddhist texts have asserted since ancient times that nirvana is more than “destruction of desire”, it is “the object of the knowledge” of the Buddhist path.
From the Urban Dictionary
1. A term used in Hinduism, the native religion of India and third largest religion in the world behind Christianity and Islam. Hinduists believe that a person reincarnates until they achieve an understanding of the relationship between God(known by Bhrama or Atman) and man. The state at which this is achieved is known as nirvana, and person who has achieved this is known as a guru. It is believed that once nirvana is achieved, a person will achieve the aftelife, rather than reincarnating.
2. A term used by Buddhists to describe the ultimate state of enlightment in which the soul is free from all worldly possessions. Derived from the Hinduist phrase.
3. A state of total bliss or happiness.
4. A popular rock band of the same name from the late 80s and early 90s featuring Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)
“He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw
other faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of
hundreds, of thousands, which all came and disappeared, and yet all
seemed to be there simultaneously, which all constantly changed and
renewed themselves, and which were still all Siddhartha.” – From Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha
From Esoteric Psychology II – Chapter I – The Egoic Ray – Rules for Inducing Soul Control
IV. Rules for Inducing Soul Control
In considering the rules which can induce soul control, it is not my intention to recapitulate the many rules which the aspirant must follow as he perseveres in his endeavor to tread the path to the source – that path to what the Buddhists call Nirvana. This Path is, in fact, but the beginning of that higher Way which leads to a life incomprehensible, even to the most developed of the Beings in our planetary Hierarchy. Nor is it essential that we emphasize the details of living which must control the man who is seeking to function as a soul in command of the personality. These have oft been adequately outlined by disciples down the ages, and reduced to many words. They have also been dealt with in my earlier book A Treatise on White Magic and other books. Our immediate problem is the application of these rules for discipleship and a steady progress in their practical technique. My present purpose is a far more difficult one, for this Treatise is written for the future more than for present students. I seek to indicate the basic rules determining the hierarchical government, and conditioning, therefore, world affairs. We are here concerned therefore with the subtle activities of energies which, on the inner side, actuate the outer activities and bring about those events in the world of men which later form history.
From Esoteric Psychology II – Chapter I – The Egoic Ray – Rules for Inducing Soul Control
With these two divine trends (towards synthesis and towards the vision) the Hierarchy is at this time primarily occupied. Their watchwords are unification and sight. For humanity, these developments will produce the integration of the soul and the personality, and the awakening of that inner vision which will permit a flash of the Reality to enter into man’s consciousness. This is not a flash of his own divinity, or a sensing of God as Creator. It is a flash of the divinity inherent in the Whole, as it works out a vaster scheme of evolutionary process than any hitherto grasped or sensed by the keenest minds on earth. It concerns the vision granted when a man achieves Nirvana, and enters upon the first stage of that endless Path which leads towards a beauty, comprehension and unfoldment, untouched as yet by the highest type of human insight.
It would be well to point out here that beyond the stage of illumination, as it can be achieved by man, lies that which we might call the unfoldment of divine Insight. We have, therefore, the following unfoldments and possible developments, each of which constitutes an expansion in consciousness, and each of which admits man more closely and more definitely into the heart and mind of God.
Instinct – Intellect – Intuition – Illumination: All of them leading up to Insight.
In these words, sequentially presented, there is perhaps made clearer to us the fact of God’s own vision. More is not possible until each of those words signifies something practical in our own inner experience.
This quality of the inner vision with which the Hierarchy are seeking to work and to develop in the souls of men (it would be of use to ponder on this last phrase, as it presents an aspect of hierarchical endeavor not hitherto considered in occult books) is an expression of the Principle of Continuance, which finds its distorted reflection in the word so often used by disciples: Endurance. This principle of continuance constitutes the capacity of God to persist and “to remain.” It is an attribute of the cosmic Ray of Love as are all the principles which we are now considering in connection with these soul rules or factors – these trends of divinity and these tendencies of the divine life. Let us not forget that all the seven rays are subrays of the cosmic Ray of Love. We shall, therefore, see why these principles are determining soul activities, and can only come into play when the kingdom of God, or of souls, begins to materialize on earth.
This principle of continuance is based upon the clearer vision of Deity and upon the consequent continuity of God’s plan and purpose which results when the objective is clearly seen by Him and developed in plain and formulated outline. It is the macrocosmic correspondence to the continuance and the continuity found in man when – after a night of sleep and of unconsciousness – he proceeds with his daily avocation and consciously resumes his planned activities.
From the hints given above it will be seen how the work of the Hierarchy in connection with mankind falls into two parts: the work with individual human beings, in order to awaken them to soul consciousness, and then the work with them, as souls, so that (functioning then on soul levels and as conscious units in the kingdom of God) they can begin to vision the objective of God Himself. This second division of Their effort is only now becoming possible on a wide scale, as men begin to respond to the trend towards synthesis, and to react to the divine principle of coherence, so that (stimulated by their group relation) they can unitedly sense the vision and react to the principle of continuance. A hint is here given as to the true and future purpose of group meditation. More on this subject is not possible.
From Initiation, Human and Solar – Glossary N-Q
Nirmanakaya Those perfected beings who renounce Nirvana (the highest state of spiritual bliss) and choose a life of self-sacrifice, becoming members of that invisible host which ever protects humanity within karmic limits.
This from A Treatise on Cosmic Fire – Section Two – Division F – The Law of Attraction
The Three Vestures. – “The stream is crossed. Tis true thou hast a right to Dharmakaya vesture; but Sambhogakaya is greater than a Nirvani, and greater still is a Nirmanakaya – the Buddha of Compassion.” – Voice of the Silence, p. 97.
“The three Buddhic bodies or forms are styled: Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya.
The first is that ethereal form which one would assume when leaving his physical he would appear in his astral body – having in addition all the knowledge of an Adept. The Bodhisattva develops it in himself as he proceeds on the path. Having reached the goal and refused its fruition, he remains on earth, as an Adept; and when he dies, instead of going into Nirvana, he remains in that glorious body he has woven for himself, invisible to uninitiated mankind, to watch over and protect it.
Sambhogakaya is the same, but with the additional luster of three perfections, one of which is entire obliteration of all earthly concerns.
The Dharmakaya body is that of complete Buddha, i.e, no body at all, but an ideal breath; consciousness merged in the universal consciousness, or soul devoid of every attribute. Once a Dharmakaya, an Adept or Buddha leaves behind every possible relation with, or thought for, this earth. Thus to be enabled to help humanity, an Adept who has won the right to Nirvana, ‘renounces the Dharmakaya body’ in mystic parlance; keeps, of the Sambhogakaya, only the great and complete knowledge, and remains in his Nirmanakaya. The esoteric school teaches that Gautama, Buddha with several of his Arhats, is such a Nirmanakaya, higher than whom, on account of his great renunciation and sacrifice for mankind, there is none known.”
– Voice of the Silence, p. 98.
The Rays and the Initiations – Part Two – Section One – The Aspirant and the Mysteries of Initiation
There has been much emphasis upon the life of the soul and its expression upon the physical plane; this has been necessary and a part of the evolutionary development of the human consciousness. The kingdom of souls must eventually give place to the rule of the spirit; the energy of the Hierarchy must become a force, receptive to the energy of Shamballa, just as the force of humanity has to become receptive to the energy of the kingdom of souls. Today all three processes are going on simultaneously, though the receptivity of the Hierarchy to the second aspect of the Shamballa energy is only now beginning to be recognizable. The Hierarchy has for long been receptive to the third or creative aspect of the Shamballa energy, and – at some very distant period – it will be responsive to the first aspect of that same energy. The triple nature of the divine manifestation must also express itself as a duality. This can be understood in a faint way when the disciple realizes that (after the third initiation) he too must learn to function as a duality – Monad (spirit) and form (matter) – in direct rapport with the consciousness aspect, the mediating soul being absorbed into both of these two aspects of divine expression, but not functioning itself as a middle factor. When this has been achieved, the true nature of Nirvana will be comprehended, the beginning of that endless Way which leads to the One; this is the Way whereon duality is resolved into unity, the Way that Members of the Hierarchy are seeking to tread and for which They are preparing.
From Esoteric Psychology II – Chapter I – The Egoic Ray – The Growth of Soul Influence
When the work under the first category is accomplished upon the physical plane and its technique is understood, man can then achieve escape from the physical body in full, waking continuity of consciousness. When a similar work has taken place on the higher plane and the “bridge” is satisfactorily built, then the “initiate” can escape from the limitations of form life and enter into that state of consciousness called Nirvana, by the Buddhist. This high state of being has to be entered also in full continuity of consciousness. Both these major crises in the life of the soul, – one leading to physical incarnation and one producing the liberation of the soul from that condition, – are, and must always be, the result of group vibration, of group impulse, group incentive and group impetus. One impetus originates in the group of souls, of which an incarnating ego is an integral part; the other is the result of the activity of the groups of atoms which are vibrating in response to (but not in unison with) that egoic impulse. In this phrase is summed up the work and opportunity of the soul, for it works towards the regeneration of matter and not towards the consummation of its own salvation. It might be stated that the liberation of the soul or ego comes about when its work of salvaging matter (through utilizing it and building it into forms) has been carried forward to a desired point. It is not primarily due to the attainment of a certain spiritual stature by the man and the demonstration of certain spiritual qualities. This desired stature and these spiritual qualities are manifested when the vehicles have been “occultly saved”, and matter has thus been transformed, transmuted and symbolically “raised up into heaven”. When the vehicles vibrate in unison with the soul, then is liberation achieved.
Note added by me.
If I understand it correctly the causal vehicle is destroyed or “blown out” at the fourth initiation and this if not accompanied by the vacation of the physical vehicle corresponds to sopadhishesa-nirvana or nirvana with remainder.