“Nirvana” is a common word in pop-culture, but most Buddhists don’t talk about it often. What does it really mean?
In Buddhism, we are said to be trapped in samsara, an existence filled with suffering caused by ego—our desire to create and maintain a permanent self that is not subject to change. We achieve nirvana—a state of total peace without any clinging or struggle—when we are completely free from the illusion of ego. One who reaches nirvana is called an arhat, an enlightened person who is free from suffering and the poisons of passion, aggression, and ignorance. Mahayana Buddhism also teaches that it is possible to go beyond dwelling in nirvana and follow the path of the bodhisattva, who attains complete buddhahood by dedicating themselves to the enlightenment of all sentient beings.