Nirvana for dummies

Once again, my little girl has motivated me to be a better person by asking a seemingly simple question.
She asked me if I believe in rebirth or reincarnation.
It hit me like a ton of bricks, because I never expected this from her. More importantly, I did not know how I was going to answer. If you are a parent, I’m sure you can relate to that feeling of “oh crap, how do I answer this?!”.
So as mindfully as I could, I attempted to answer her. I explained how Christians believe in heaven and hell; Hindu’s believe in reincarnation; and Buddha basically taught us to not worry about it but focus on the present moment. I tried to explain that being a good person now is all any of us need to be focused on.
She seemed quite content with my answer, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Now I’m sure many of you are thinking of other ways I should have explained it to an 11 year old, but I did the best I could on the spot. And I feel it was the right answer to give.
But, as is very common, conversations with my little girl motivate me to learn more. She inspires me to be a better person, and to gain more wisdom. To me, she is a little Buddha. She is such a loving example of peace, acceptance, compassion and non-judgment. And she is always completely in the moment.

So off I went in search of answers to rebirth, and how Buddhism and Buddha explained it. I wanted to be better prepared next time she asked me a question like this.
The answers I came up with rather surprised me.
First of all, I was right, the Buddha did basically say “don’t worry about it”. Focus on the now, the present moment. My Mom always used to say to me “Watch your nickels, and your dollars will take care of themselves”. Maybe my Mom was really a Buddhist at heart. She certainly acted with loving kindness, compassion and acceptance every day of her life.
But getting back to the idea of rebirth, I have read some things that make it sound very simple. Ala “Nirvana for Dummies”.
The Buddha described Nirvana as the unconditioned mode of being, that is free from mind-contaminants such as lust, anger, or craving. The word Nirvaṇa (Pali: Nibbana) simply means “extinction” or “blowing out” of the fires of greed, anger, and delusion.
Now I may be a simpleton, but this sounds very attainable to me. I see it as something that is attainable for all of us. We don’t need to go sit on some mountaintop with a Yogi to achieve this state. It’s here right now for each of us. How sweet is that!
As I sit here typing this, it just came to mind the name of Bhante Sujatha’s guided meditation CD “Putting Out the Fires in Your Mind“. No wonder he titled his CD this way. That’s exactly the path to Nirvana. Duh!

So that’s it, that’s my “Dummies Guide to Nirvana”. I hope it helped you see the path a little more clearly, because it has certainly helped me.
And thank you again to my little girl for always teaching her Daddy so much. I love you Honey.

May you live in peace and harmony, may you be well happy and peaceful. Happy New Year too!

Theruwan Saranai