Nirvana is defined as a peaceful state of mind that is free from craving, anger and mental suffering. The concept of Nirvana is based on the philosophy and beliefs attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, who lived between the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.
The fundamental teachings of this philosophy acknowledge that there is suffering in the world, and that much of this suffering is caused by our desires and expectations of how life should be. The path to enlightenment, which leads to the cessation of suffering (nirvana), requires that we understand our relationship to the natural world and accept the consequences of being conscious mortal beings. We must understand the cognitive and emotional causes of suffering and attempt to change our patterns of thought and behavior so that our mind and our mood is not controlled by our desires for fulfillment. The traditional steps for achieving nirvana require wisdom, ethical conduct, and mental discipline.
Wisdom purifies the mind and allows it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. We must be critical observers and view reality as it is, not just as it appears to be. The view of nature gained through deep reflection and validated through investigation provides us with the right intention to reach toward goals that are compatible with the new vision.
Ethical conduct gives us the peace of mind that comes from knowing that our actions do not result in harm for other living beings. We must be truthful and considerate. We must act in ways that are not harmful to others, and our work must not contribute to human misery or aggravate the condition of our fellow men.
Mental discipline provides control over our own mind. This is accomplished through contemplative and meditative practices. We always have to make an effort to improve ourselves. We have to maintain a high level of awareness to see things for what they are without letting them influence our emotions, and we have to allow the mind to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.
Achieving nirvana requires determination, and a whole lifetime of dedication. In Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path, which contains the principles discussed here, is the way to the cessation of suffering.
The Fat Buddha or Laughing Buddha is also called Budai or Milefo in Chinese, or Hotei in Japanese. According to Chinese tradition, Budai was a Chinese Zen monk born in Fenghua during the Later Liang Dynasty (907–923 CE) of China. He was considered a man of good and loving character. In folklore, the Fat Buddha is admired for his happiness and wisdom of contentment. A popular belief is that rubbing the belly of the Fat Buddha brings wealth, good luck, and prosperity. Statues of the Fat Buddha are sold as souvenirs in Asia.