From ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’, by Thich Nhat Hanh

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“Nirvana means extinction, above all the extinction of ideas – the ideas of birth and death, existence and nonexistence, coming and going, self and other, one and many. All these ideas cause us to suffer. We are afraid of death because ignorance gives us an illusory idea about what death is. We are disturbed by ideas of existence and nonexistence because we have not understood the true nature of impermanence and nonself. We worry about our own future, but we fail to worry about the future of the other because we think that our happiness has nothing to do with the happiness of the other. This idea of self and other gives rise to immeasurable suffering. In order to extinguish these ideas, we have to practice. Nirvana is a fan that helps us extinguish the fire of all our ideas, including ideas of permanence and self. That fan is our practice of looking deeply every day.

In Buddhism we talk about Eight Concepts: birth, death, permanence, dissolution, coming, going, one, and many. The practice to end attachment to these eight ideas is called the Eight No’s of the Middle Way – no birth, and no death, no permanence and no dissolution, no coming and no going, no one and no many.

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Once these ideas have been destroyed, we touch nirvana. Nirvana is release from the Eight Concepts, and also from their opposites – impermanence, nonself, Interdependent Co-Arising, emptiness, and the Middle Way. If we hold onto the Three Seals as fixed ideas, these ideas also have to be destroyed. The best way to do this is by putting these teachings into practice in our daily lives. Experience always goes beyond ideas.”

From ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’, by Thich Nhat Hanh

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