The Third Noble Truth – The Cessation of Dukkha

Buddha profile
[Reference: Chapter 4: The Third Noble Truth: The Cessation of Dukkha]

According to Buddha, it is possible to attain freedom from suffering, from the continuity of dukkha. This possibility may be realized with the attainment of Nirvāna. The real nature of Nirvāna is hard to describe. It can neither be perceived by the sense-organs, nor can it be conceived by the mind. Language is limited in what it can convey.

Nirvāna may be approximated by saying that it is an absence of desire or thirst, but that does not describe it fully. It may also be approximated as an absence of attachment, conditioning, illusion, hatred, conceit, etc.

No continuity of anything remains in Nirvāna. There is only the unborn, ungrown, and unconditioned.

Nirvāna may only be expressed in negative terms as neti, neti (not this, not that), because it is not something. But Nirvāna is neither negative nor positive. It is definitely no annihilation of self, because there is no self to annihilate.

Nirvāna is freedom from all evil, freedom from craving, hatred and ignorance, freedom from all terms of duality, relativity, time and space.


The book “What the Buddha Taught” relates a sutta by Buddha describing approach to Nirvana as follows:

1.1       A man is composed of six elements: solidity, fluidity, heat, motion, space and consciousness. He analyses them and finds that none of them is ‘mine’, or ‘my self’.

1.2       He understands how consciousness appears and disappears, how pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations appear and disappear. Through this knowledge his mind becomes detached.

1.3       Then he finds within him a pure equanimity, which he can direct towards the attainment of any high spiritual state, and he knows that thus this pure equanimity will last for a long period.

1.4       But then he thinks:

(a)      ‘If I focus this purified and cleansed equanimity on the Sphere of Infinite Space and develop a mind conforming thereto, that is a mental creation.

(b)     ‘If I focus this purified and cleansed equanimity on the Sphere of Infinite Consciousness… on the Sphere of Nothingness … or on the Sphere of Neither-perception nor Non-perception and develop a mind conforming thereto, that is a mental creation.’

1.5       Then he neither mentally creates nor wills continuity and becoming, or annihilation. As he does not construct or does not will continuity and becoming, or annihilation, he does not cling to anything in the world.

1.6       As he does not cling, he is not anxious; as he is not anxious; he is completely calmed within (fully blown out within). And he knows: ‘Finished is birth, lived is pure life, what should be done is done, nothing more is left to be done.’

1.7       Now, when he experiences a pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensation, he knows that it is impermanent, that it does not bind him, that it is not experienced with passion. Whatever may be the sensation, he experiences it without being bound to it.

1.8       He knows that all those sensations will be pacified with the dissolution of the body, just as the flame of a lamp goes out when oil and wick give out.

1.9       Buddha says, ‘Therefore, O bhikkhus, a person so endowed is endowed with the absolute wisdom, for the knowledge of the extinction of all dukkha is the absolute noble wisdom.

1.10    This deliverance, founded on Truth, is unshakable. This is Nirvana.


According to Buddhism,

2.1       The Absolute Truth is that there is nothing absolute in the world, that everything is relative, conditioned and impermanent, and that there is no unchanging, everlasting, absolute substance like Self, Soul, or Ātman within or without.

2.2       The realization of this Truth (to see things as they are without illusion or ignorance is the extinction of craving ‘thirst’ of dukkha) is Nirvāna. But Nirvāna is not the result of the extinction of craving, or of anything else.

2.3       Nirvāna is beyond logic and reasoning. However much we may engage in highly speculative discussions regarding Nirvāna or Ultimate Truth or Reality, we shall never understand it that way.

2.4       Nirvāna is beyond cause and effect. TRUTH IS. NIRVĀNA IS. The only thing you can do is to see it, to realize it.

2.5       One lives the holy life with Nirvāna as its final plunge, as its goal, as its ultimate end.

2.6       “Nobody” realizes Nirvāna. There is simply an arising and cessation of existence. It is the thought that thinks. It is the realization that realizes. There is no external power that produces the arising and the cessation of dukkha.

2.7       Nirvāna is not some state, nor realm, nor position in which there is some sort of existence. There is no such thing as ‘entering into Nirvāna’. Nirvāna means complete extinction.

2.8       Wisdom, when cultivated, sees the secret. The forces which feverishly produce the continuity then become calm and incapable of producing any more karma-formations.

2.9       Nirvāna can be realized in this very life; it is not necessary to wait till you die to ‘attain’ it.

2.10    He who has realized the Truth, Nirvana, is the happiest being in the world. He is free from all ‘complexes’ and obsessions, the worries and troubles that torment others. His mental health is perfect. He does not repent the past, nor does he brood over the future. He lives fully in the present. Therefore he appreciates and enjoys things in the purest sense without self-projections. He is joyful, exultant, enjoying the pure life, his faculties pleased, free from anxiety, serene and peaceful. As he is free from selfish, desire, hatred, ignorance, conceit, and all such ‘defilements’, he is pure and gentle, full of universal love, compassion, kindness, sympathy, understanding and tolerance. His service to others is of the purest, for he has no thought of self. He gains nothing, accumulates nothing, not even anything spiritual, because he is free from the illusion of Self, and the ‘thirst’ for becoming.


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