Nothing thrills me more than when you speak about nirvana. How mysterious it is that I can long so much for something that I don’t know and you can’t say. The word itself is still unpolluted and so wondrous. On the other hand, I noticed last week that we now have “enlightened” insurance policies! Would you please thrill my heart once more?
This must be Kaveesha, because the question can come only from California. In California you can have enlightened insurance policies. In California everything is possible! But there is no insurance, no guarantee for enlightenment. You have to earn it, you have to deserve it. Nobody can give it to you; it is not a commodity.
And I can see why the word nirvana thrills you into ecstasies. It is certainly one of the words which is unpolluted. There is a reason why it remained unpolluted. The first reason that it remained unpolluted was its meaning. Unless you have come to a deep understanding of yourself and existence, the word nirvana will create fear in you. It is a negative word. Literally it means blowing out the candle.
Gautam Buddha used the word for the ultimate state of consciousness. He could have chosen some positive word, and in India there were many positive words for it: moksha, freedom, liberation; kaivalya, aloneness, absolute aloneness; brahmanubava, the experience of the ultimate. But he chose a strange word, which has never been used in spiritual contexts: blowing out the candle. How can you relate it with a spiritual experience?
Buddha says your so-called self is nothing but a flame, and it is being kept burning through your desires. When all desires disappear the candle has disappeared. Now the flame cannot exist anymore. The flame also disappears – disappears into the vast universe, leaving no trace behind it; you cannot find it again. It is there but it has gone forever from any identity, from any limitation.
Hence Buddha chose the word nirvana rather than realization, because realization still can give you some egoistic superiority – that you are a realized person, that you are a liberated being, that you are enlightened, that you are illuminated, that you have found it. But you remain. And Buddha is saying you are lost – who is going to find it? You disperse, you were only a combination. Now each element goes to its original source. The identity of the individual is no more. Yes, you will exist as the universe….
So Buddha avoided any positive word, knowing the human tendency, because each positive word can give you a feeling of ego. No negative word can do that; that’s why it remains unpolluted. You cannot pollute something which is not. And people were very much afraid to use the word – with a deep inner trembling – nirvana.
Thousands of times Buddha was asked, “Your word nirvana does not create in us an excitement, does not create in us a desire to achieve it. The ultimate truth, self-realization, the realization of God – all those create a desire, a great desire. Your word creates no desire.”