It’s not another idea.
The introduction to the Digha Nikaya (Walshe’s translation) says some fun things about Nirvana.
I would like to bring your attention to what is said about the conflict between the ideas of Nirvana as “Extinction” and Nirvana as “The Highest Bliss“.
We are told that we find the “two apparently contradictory meanings of Nirvana… both used in authentic texts’.
Scholars will always have a hard time with this one. Why? Because Nirvana is too far away from them, it is too close. 😉
Attaching to either definition is delusion. Attaching to any definite thing or idea is delusion.
Scholars and Priests will never be able to touch Nirvana because it is beyond delusive dualistic reasoning.
Yet, for those of us that would still like to poke at the notion of Nirvana, the Venerable Nyanatiloka said (as I learned from the introduction to the Digha Nikaya):
One cannot too often and too emphatically stress the fact that not only for the actual realization of the goal of Nibbana, but also for a theoretical understanding of it, it is an indispensable preliminary condition to grasp fully the truth of Anatta, the egolessness and insubstantiality of all forms of existence.
Without such an understanding, one will necessarily misconceive Nibbana — according to one’s either materialistic or metaphysical leanings — either as annihilation of an ego, or as an eternal state of existence into which an Ego or Self enters or with which it merges.
Reading this literally gives me chills. Tathagatagarbha (Buddha-Nature) is beyond delusive dualistic reasoning. Not substantial, not insubstantial, not created or destroyed, not limited or limitless. Come from it, go to it, dharmata!
The introduction follows this wonderful quote with:
What this in effect means is that in order to ‘understand’ Nibbana one should have entered the Stream or gained First Path, and thus have got rid of the fetter of ego-delusion.
Scholars and Priests.
Scholars are the materialists that will conceive of Nibbana as annihilation of ego. Priests are the metaphysicians that will sell you eternalism.
Those who wander the path will see for themselves. It’s like trying to describe the flavor of an apple to friends who have never tasted an apple. Impossible. The most you can do is to suggest that your friends have a taste for themselves.
Between annihilation and eternalism, you’ll find GnoTruth.
Every Buddha sings the same song.