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Nirvana, Nihilism and Satori

Nirvana, Nihilism and Satori

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An in-depth study of the Buddhist concept of Nirvana and common misconceptions regarding it. By Douglas M. Burns, Wheel Publication No. 117–119
An in-depth study of the Buddhist concept of Nirvana and common misconceptions regarding it. By Douglas M. Burns, Wheel Publication No. 117–119

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Published by: Buddhist Publication Society on Oct 10, 2010
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Nirvāna, Nihilism and Satori
By
Douglas M. Burns, MD
Buddhist Publication SocietyKandy • Sri Lanka
The Wheel Publication No. 117–119
Copyright © Buddhist Publication SocietyFirst Edition: 1968Second Printing: 1983Digital Transcription Source: BPS Transcription ProjectFor free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted and redistributed inany medium. However, any such republication and redistribution is to be made available to thepublic on a free and unrestricted basis, and translations and other derivative works are to beclearly marked as such.
 
Contents
Preface..................................................................................................................................................3 Introduction........................................................................................................................................4 I. Cardinal Features of Buddhist Thought.......................................................................................5 The Realm of Change.....................................................................................................................5Life, Living and Empiricism..........................................................................................................7 II. The Nature of Nirvāna................................................................................................................11III. Theories Regarding Nirvāna.....................................................................................................16 Trance.............................................................................................................................................16Ecstasy...........................................................................................................................................23Regression.....................................................................................................................................18 The Practical Solution..................................................................................................................21 IV. Zen Enlightenment.....................................................................................................................22Electroencephalographic Studies................................................................................................22 Case Studies of the Satori Experience........................................................................................23Satori and Conversion.................................................................................................................25Perceptual Alteration...................................................................................................................28 V. The Occurrence of Arahants.......................................................................................................32 VI. Aesthetic and Moral Criticisms................................................................................................36Apathy and Negation..................................................................................................................36A Selfish Goal................................................................................................................................39 Escapist..........................................................................................................................................41VII. The Motive and the Means......................................................................................................43VIII. The Buddhist Institution.........................................................................................................48
Note:
The numbering of Pali Canon references follows that of the Pali Text Society, London, but not all translations are taken from this source.2
 
Preface
As heirs of a great religious and cultural heritage covering 2,500 years of history, the Buddhistsof today are faced with the challenge of a new age. In the unending quest for human fulfilment,men continue to look to the mystical, the supernatural, the occult, and the divine. But the newage appears as an age of reason, intellect, pragmatism, and technology. Even the age-oldtraditions of metaphysics and philosophy appear to wither before the onslaught of science andpsychology. Where once there were forests, now there are farms; where once farms, now cities;where once silence, now noise. Ethics, morals and traditions, once the guidelines of humanvalues, are now tottering and groping for new bases, new foundations other than the dogmas of antiquity (the dictates of our ancestors).The penetrating and stirring insights of the Lord Buddha have filtered through the paths of history. Through the centuries, the Buddha Dhamma has often taken on new meanings and newinterpretations depending on the cultural circumstances and emotional wishes of the peoplewho call themselves “Buddhists.True, Buddhism as the impersonal Truth is universal,transcending the bounds of race, nation or culture. But as a social, personal organization ormovement, the true and valuable insights of the Enlightened One sometimes were all but lost, buried in the maze of metaphysics, ritual, folklore, and mythology.We are proud that Dr. Burns’ present writing is one of unique quality. It traces Buddhism back to its earliest known teachings and clearly explains them impartially, as free from culturaland personal bias as possible. It then jumps across 2,500 years of history and presents theDhamma in its uncoloured form to the modern world. In an era where scepticism seemsparamount, even the most critical reader will surely be impressed not only with the wisdom of Buddhism but also with its reasonable and practical application to the lives of all of us today.Princess Poon Pismai DiskulPresidentWorld Fellowship of Buddhists3

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