Parinirvana or ‘Nirvana Day’, is the day when the death and enlightenment of the Buddha is remembered by Buddhists in the majority of Mahayana countries. Siddhartha Gautama was a wealthy prince who became disillusioned and renounced his wealth and family when he discovered the harsh realities of the world beyond the palace walls. Determined to understand the truth of life, he decided one day to sit beneath the Bodhi Tree* (the tree of awakening). After meditating deeply on the subject, he achieved Enlightenment and became Buddha.
The Buddha taught that the idea that we exist as isolated entities is an illusion. All living things are interrelated; and we are part of that interconnectedness and do not have autonomous existence. Buddha taught a path from selfishness to generosity, from ignorance to wisdom, from hatred to loving-kindness. A few countries celebrate Parinirvana on 8 February.
* Bodhi is the name for the tree under which Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment; it is a type of fig tree, scientifically known as Ficus religiosa.
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