Zen And Nirvana





The beatitude of Zen is Nirvana, not in the Hinayanistic sense of the

term, but in the sense peculiar to the faith. Nirvana literally

means extinction or annihilation; hence the extinction of life or the

annihilation of individuality. To Zen, however, it means the state

of extinction of pain and the annihilation of sin. Zen never looks

for the realization of its beatitude in a place like heaven, nor

believes in the realm of Reality transcendental of the phenomenal

universe, nor gives countenance to the superstition of Immortality,

nor does it hold the world is the best of all possible worlds, nor

conceives life simply as blessing. It is in this life, full of

shortcomings, misery, and sufferings, that Zen hopes to realize its

beatitude. It is in this world, imperfect, changing, and moving,

that Zen finds the Divine Light it worships. It is in this

phenomenal universe of limitation and relativity that Zen aims to

attain to highest Nirvana. We speak, says the author of

Vimalakirtti-nirdeca-sutra, of the transitoriness of body, but not

of the desire of the Nirvana or destruction of it. Paranirvana,

according to the author of Lankavatarasutra, is neither death nor

destruction, but bliss, freedom, and purity. Nirvana, says Kiai

Hwan,[FN#276] means the extinction of pain or the crossing over of

the sea of life and death. It denotes the real permanent state of

spiritual attainment. It does not signify destruction or

annihilation. It denotes the belief in the great root of life and

spirit. It is Nirvana of Zen to enjoy bliss for all sufferings of

life. It is Nirvana of Zen to be serene in mind for all disturbances

of actual existence. It is Nirvana of Zen to be in the conscious

union with Universal Life or Buddha through Enlightenment.





[FN#276] A commentator of Saddharma-pundarika-sutra.





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