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Fig 2.14 – Nirvana before Death

Text: Page 51

The Reclining Buddha symbolized the dissolution of the ego and a state beyond description and an experience of the true Self. It originated as a symbol of the Buddha reclining during his last illness, before Parinirvana, which refers to nirvana attained before death, the release from samsara, karma, and rebirth. Nirvana literally means extinction or extinguishing because when in a state of nirvana there is an extinction of desire and the illusion of a separate independent self. One who achieves nirvana in life is called an arahant, someone who has fully embraced the dharma and the vision of the Buddha of a life without craving, negativity, and misknowing. Like the moksha in Hinduism, nirvana can be realized in this lifetime with the realization of the illusion of a separate individual self. The Reclining Buddha symbolizes nirvana before death, someone who attained nirvana during this lifetime.

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