This Dhamma Wiki article, Nibbana, says that "Nibbana (Pali), nirvana (Sanskrit), is the highest spiritual state and the ultimate goal of Buddhism."

Please describe nibbana. What is it? How do you know you are in Nibbana?

How can somebody describe Nibbana if it's impossible to know what follows after death?

6 Answers 6


It is possible to describe the nibbana, but non ariya practitioner can't understand the description.

In abhidhamma taught that the non ariya practitioner can't know the real nibbana, until he will be ariya. Because he has not enough ability.


Althought there are many expressions denoting Nibbana, even and especially by the Buddha: No, is't not possible to describe, just or simply not in the sphere of "All", senses and their faculties, since it lies beyond.

Sabba Sutta

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

This work, which might give a notion, might be a useful inspiration to "see and realize for oneself":

Mind Like Fire Unbound: An Image in the Early Buddhist Discourses (Fourth Edition), by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff) (1999; 4pp./11KB)

Early Buddhism borrowed two of its central terms from the workings of fire. Upadana, or clinging, originally referred to the fuel that kept fire burning; nibbana, the name of the goal, to a fire's going out. This is the first book to examine these terms from the perspective of how the early Buddhists themselves viewed fire — what they saw happening as a fire burned, and what happened to the fire when it went out — to show what light this perspective throws on Buddhist doctrine in general, and the practice of meditation in particular. With extensive quotations from the Pali canon, newly translated, this is also a useful sourcebook for anyone who wants to encounter Buddhist teachings in their earliest known context.

Nibbana is displayed in the third Noble Truth, which might be the most proper way to describe it, yet it lies beyond the sphere of imagination, because there is nothing compareable in the sphere of the six senses:

"Now from the remainderless fading and cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-and-form. From the cessation of name-and-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress and suffering.

read more about the third Noble Truth & Nibbana

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for any commerzial purpose or other low wordily gains by trade and exchange.]


The article you quoted, amply describes Nibbana using 33 phrases, from Samyutta Nikaya 43.

I can't tell you how to know if you have attained Nibbana. But I can tell you how to know if you have not attained Nibbana - you would be afflicted with one or more of the ten fetters. Even if you have experienced a little of one of these, even once today, you've not yet reached "the other shore" which is "taintless", "peaceful", "sublime" and "deathless".

These are:

  • belief in a self (Pali: sakkāya-diṭṭhi)
  • doubt or uncertainty, especially about the Buddha's awakeness and nine supermundane consciousnesses (vicikicchā)
  • attachment to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa)
  • sensual desire (kāmacchando)
  • ill will (vyāpādo or byāpādo)
  • lust for material existence, lust for material rebirth (rūparāgo)
  • lust for immaterial existence, lust for rebirth in a formless realm (arūparāgo)
  • conceit (māna)
  • restlessness (uddhacca)
  • ignorance (avijjā)

After attaining Nibbana, the Buddha remained alive for decades and was therefore able to describe it, before his passing away.


Please describe nibbana. What is it? How do you know you are in Nibbana?

The doctrine starts with the "four noble truths".

See also "arahant", and the four stages of enlightenment.

How can somebody describe Nibbana if it's impossible to know what follows after death?

I don't think they're related: Nibbana is not an after-death state, not an after-life.


It is not possible to describe Nibbana but entering to Nibbana while you're alive-and in your physical body gives few results:

1- Unlimited, unquestionable, perfect peace and happiness

2- Starting the process of involuntary and spontaneous purification of the mind and spontaneous mindfulness

3- Experiencing temporary and different types of blissful states of mind time to time.

4- Time to time experiencing physical pain in different parts of the body(especially when waking up from sleep in nights) due to opening of the closed energy systems of the body(Eventually this will end)

5- Stop believing in self(but the identification with self will continue until the person internalized Nibbana's effects in his/her life)

6- Time to time entering to Nibbana again.

There are some other results of entering to Nibbana but these 6 things can be enough signposts for people to check If they realized Nibbana or not. There are amazing states of mind that can be confused with Nibbana but entering to Nibbana gives permanent results.

The way to enter the Nibbana is not thinking or craving Nibbana but practising mindfulness all day long with effort. It is perfectly possible for most of the Buddhist meditators and many of the non-Buddhist meditators to enter to Nibbana in this life time or maybe in a very short period of time. Thinking that Nibbana is an unattainable goal is completely wrong and this idea is the main problem in Buddhists and many of the spiritual people in general.

The important thing is not just entering Nibbana(as contrary of many people think) but actually internalizing Nibbana's effects on oneself and let the positive results of Nibbana to be permanent in one's life.



How can somebody describe Nibbana if it's impossible to know what follows after death??>

You experience Nibbana while you are alive. What you experience after death will be the same. Obviously, there is no rebirth and there is no physical body or consciousness to experience it.

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