Nirvāṇa and Ataraxia

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Tiago Simões
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Nirvāṇa and Ataraxia

Post by Tiago Simões » Wed May 09, 2018 10:53 am

Quick question, is it possible to translate nirvāṇa as ataraxia? Are they the same concept?
Ataraxia (ἀταραξία, literally, "not perturbed", generally translated as "imperturbability", "equanimity", or "tranquillity") is a Greek philosophy term used to describe a lucid state of robust equanimity that was characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry.

Achieving the state of ataraxia was a common goal for many Ancient Greek philosophies. As a result, the term plays an important role in many different Ancient Greek philosophical schools. The use of the term ataraxia to describe a state free from mental distress is similar throughout these different schools, but the role of the state of ataraxia within a philosophical school varied depending on the school's own philosophical theory. The mental disturbances that prevented one from achieving ataraxia often varied between schools, and each school often had a different understanding as to how to achieve ataraxia. Some schools valued ataraxia more highly than others. Three schools that often employed the term ataraxia within their philosophies were Epicureanism, Pyrrhonism, and Stoicism.
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti spoke to the elder Śāriputra and the great disciples: “Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathāgata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

- Chapter 9, The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”

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Wayfarer
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Re: Nirvāṇa and Ataraxia

Post by Wayfarer » Wed May 09, 2018 12:20 pm

There is a school of thought that Pyrrho of Elis, a Greek philosopher, travelled to India (actually, ancient Gandhara, which is nowadays the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan) and there studied with Buddhists. It is thought he brought back some of these ideas to ancient Greece, where he formed the school of 'Pyrrhonian scepticism' that remained influential albeit fairly obscure in Western philosophy.

Some references on that idea: Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism (Studies in Comparative Philosophy and Religion), Adrian Kuzminski

Pyrrho in India, Edward Flintoff

The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, Thomas C. McEvilly.

Actually, the comparison that is usually made with ataraxia is not Nirvāṇa, but 'nirodha', meaning 'cessation'. Nirodha is certainly a key aspect of the Buddhist path, but it is not the final aim.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

Tiago Simões
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Re: Nirvāṇa and Ataraxia

Post by Tiago Simões » Wed May 09, 2018 7:14 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 12:20 pm
Actually, the comparison that is usually made with ataraxia is not Nirvāṇa, but 'nirodha', meaning 'cessation'. Nirodha is certainly a key aspect of the Buddhist path, but it is not the final aim.
I think those are synonyms, no? nirodha and Nirvāṇa?
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti spoke to the elder Śāriputra and the great disciples: “Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathāgata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

- Chapter 9, The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”

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Re: Nirvāṇa and Ataraxia

Post by Wayfarer » Wed May 09, 2018 9:39 pm

Not sure - perhaps. It’s not as well-known a term, but it might have the same meaning.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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