In the West, people use the word "Nirvana" in a
way that makes it sound wonderful. I wonder what many of the people who use it
think it is? Because Buddhists believe that life is suffering, after many
reincarnations it is possible for a person to stop the reincarnation process,
and the pain that accompanies it, by leaving this world and ceasing to exist.
If you understand the world as envisioned in sixth century B.C.E. India, this
is an appealing concept. If today, you believe that life is suffering, it is
still as appealing.
Both Christianity and Buddhism require courage and an
attempt to do the right thing as a cornerstone of their religions. Although I am a
Christian, the actions of Buddhist monks almost always receive my admiration.
The word "cheng" in Mandarin means "to
become." In the Christian religion, you can become worthy of entering
heaven during one lifetime. Achieving Nirvana could consist of reincarnations
over millions of years.
Although I believe in the resurrection and am a Christian,
I've never assumed that I have the only way of reaching a higher power. So
therefore, when I hear the word Nirvana used, I realize that to many in the
West, it's a term they probably can't fathom.