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20 October 2014
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Nirvana Day - 08 February 2014

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Questions answered

Why is Nirvana Day celebrated on different days and why does it have different names?

Temple statue in KathmanduBuddhists use the lunar calendar to define when dates of festivals should take place. Dates when there are a full moon are used often. The different names for Nirvana Day arose due to a split in Buddhist teaching in 100 AD which resulted in the two separate schools of thought, Hinayana and Mahayana. There are now even more, including, for example, Zen Buddhism.

Nirvana Day is followed by Mahayana, or Theravada Buddhists, who tend to be people from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

How do you reach Nirvana?

Nirvana is attained by meditating and following the guiding principles of Buddhism, in particular the Four Noble Truths which Buddha experienced whilst he meditated under the Bodhi tree:

  • Life is suffering
  • Suffering is due to having desires
  • Suffering can be ended when overcoming desires
  • The way to end suffering is through the Eightfold Path.

The four noble truths have multiple references as well and can be named differently, but they refer to the same thing.

The Eightfold Path is:

  • Right view
  • Right thought
  • Right speech
  • Right action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right contemplation

What is meditation?

Buddhists believe that meditation is crucial to well being. It is a way to clear the mind and encourage positive thinking. It also concentrates on ridding the mind of bad thoughts and negative energy.

To meditate you need to find a quiet area where you can concentrate. There are lots of different ways of meditating. Some people sit on a cushion, with their legs crossed, focussing on deep breathing. Others attend classes and learn different techniques and how to meditate for longer sessions.

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