Can we experience nirvana before achieving the supreme state of enlightenment? Yes, the qualities of a nirvanic state of meditation are completely possible – but only if we can hold a monadic-buddhic state of meditation and consciousness. Who can do that? Someone who practices meditation on and off the cushion, which might be you.
The experience of a nirvanic state includes the qualities of tranquility, the cessation of thought and personal identification processes, and the experience of pervasive awareness as peace and radiance (even radiating blackness). But in order to experience this, the practitioner must accomplish various factors of meditation first.
- shamatha. Peaceful abiding is the ground of all meditation. Shamatha matures into ever widening and deepening states that always include more of the same primary qualities but lose the sense of personal identity, effort, and separateness. Shamatha, when achieved, is a state of dharana (withdrawal from the outer such that concentration can be established) combined with dhyana (concentration of a meditative or yogic nature).
- a conceptual understanding of oneself as more than body, brain, and brawn. A human being is pure Awareness embodied. We can approach that from many angles – spiritual, religious, philosophical – in order to widen our view of ourself and therefore of others. This motivates one’s joyous responsibility to be compassion and Awareness-wisdom.
- a sense of (conceptual) or some experience with the innate higher resonating fields of consciousness-Awareness. These seemingly distinct fields or types of awareness are simply qualities of the full range of Awareness-Being. Concepts such as vertical models of planes of consciousness or the direct experience of refined meditations are the necessary foundation for a nirvanic state in meditation.
Why would one put effort into accomplishing this state? For what it reminds one is possible. This state could be the state of the world as humans live it. Peace is because we make it. Compassion is because we live it. Wisdom creates benefit because we make decisions that are lastingly wise.
In order to experience a nirvanic state in meditation (called by many names in different meditative traditions), we also have to be living our practice to the extent that we can and hold ourselves responsible for. Doing so, our meditations ripen and mature and our immediate personal world is transformed.
Podcast: A nirvanic experience