The Third Noble Truth: Suffering Can End!
The Buddha said, “This, O Monks, is the Truth of Cessation of Suffering (nirodha). It is the utter cessation of that craving (tanha), the withdrawal from it, the renouncing of it, the rejection of it, liberation from it, nonattachment to it.”
Nirvana literally means “cooling by blowing” or “blowing out.” What blows out? Adherence to the three poisons (kleshas): greed, hatred, and delusion. It's like putting that fire out that the Buddha spoke of in the Second Noble Truth. This is the prognosis. The misery can stop if life can be approached with wisdom (prajna) instead of desire. It's hard to get to this realization without some meditation. By doing so, you examine the moment-by-moment changing nature of experience. When you do this, you see into the three marks, or reality, and are no longer fooled by them. These marks, again, are dukkha (suffering; pervasive dissatisfaction), anicca (impermanence), and anatta (no-self). Short of buddhahood, you might be able to have a peek at this experience from time to time in meditation. These peeks are reminiscent of the peak experiences discussed by Abraham Maslow and other psychologists. They are a glimpse. According to Buddhist scholar Todd Lewis, nirvana can be understood as “an impersonal state that transcends individuality” and as “eternal, tranquil, pure, and deathless…and the only permanent reality in the cosmos.” Nagarjuna, the second-century philosopher (and second most influential person in the history of Buddhism after the Buddha), added to the definitional mystique of nirvana when he said, “There is not the merest difference between samsara and nirvana.
” What he means by this is that nirvana is beyond all conditions, beyond all categories, and cannot be grasped by the conceptual mind. It goes beyond intellect and must be experienced for yourself to be understood.
Advanced meditation provides the opportunity to burn up past karma or the conditionings that you have experienced. It is akin to untying knots that have accumulated in your mind over a lifetime of experiences. Each knot that is untied, each conditioning that is deconditioned, every bit of karma that is burned up moves you closer to awakening. Taken to its ultimate realization you will reach samyaksambodhi — perfect and complete enlightenment. Language begins to fail in its ability to capture this experience, so you'll have to sit down and experience it for yourself. Bliss is one of the words that approximates the experience, and in the Japanese Zen tradition, it has been called satori. Whatever it is called, it can be tasted through meditation.