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What Is Nirvana?

Robert Wright: Nirvana certainly has its exotic aspects. Attaining it, according to traditional Buddhist belief, means being liberated from an otherwise endless cycle of rebirth. But this story about nirvana — the story about how exactly you find the escape hatch from recurring life cycles — leads seamlessly to a more naturalistic story about nirvana, a claim about the mechanics of suffering and of contentment. And in the process of following one story to the other, you can see mindfulness meditation in a new light, a light that emphasizes how much more than casually therapeutic it can be; a light that shows it to be one of the most radical undertakings imaginable, a rebellion against the very laws that govern human existence.

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