The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The Buddhist term, "Mahaparinirvana", meaning "great,complete Nirvana" is also encountered. The word "Mahaparinirvana" usually refers to the ultimate state of Nirvana (everlasting, highest peace and happiness) entered by an Awakened Being (Buddha) or "arhat" at the moment of physical death, when the mundane skandhas (constituent elements of the ordinary body and mind) are shed and only the Buddhic skandhas remain (this in Mahayana Buddhism). However, it can also refer (in the Mahayana) to the same inner spiritual state reached during a Buddha's physical lifetime too. In the Mahayana Buddhist scripture entitled the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra", the Buddha teaches that unlike "ordinary" Nirvana, "Mahaparinirvana" is the highest state or realm realised by a perfect Buddha, a state in which that Buddhic being awakens to "the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure". Only in Mahaparinirvana is this True Self ("atman") of the Buddha said to be fully discernible.
In Buddhism, parinirvana (Sanskrit -- Pali: Parinibbana -- Chinese: 般涅槃; Pinyin: bō niè pán) is the final nirvana, usually understood to be within reach only upon the death of someone who has attained complete Awakening. It is the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice and implies a release from the cycle of deaths and rebirths as well as the dissolution of all worldly physical and mental aggregates or skandhas (form, feeling, perception, mental fabrications and consciousness).