Siddharta Achieves Nirvana

In the last article, we talked about the moment when the Buddha finally understood what causes the suffering of the world and how he could bring it to a definitive end.

Siddharta Becomes the Buddha

This was the moment when we can properly call Siddharta the Buddha. The word Buddha often is translated as the “enlightened one”, this is a common translation and I suppose it is not a bad one to use. It certainly is a translation that is understandable to many people, but technically is a little bit misleading.

Buddhists say that a Buddha is someone who has awakened from the dream of ignorance, and also someone who’s wisdom has blossomed like a flower.

The root that lies behind the word Buddha can mean to wake up from a dream and also can be used to refer to a rose, to speak of its opening, of its blossoming.

These days we generally translate the word Buddha as the awakened one, and also I think it would be fine to say that he is the one who has blossomed. But doesn’t sound quite right in English, so I think I’ll stick with the word awakened.


When Siddharta became a Buddha he also achieved the state, or the goal that Buddhists call Nirvana. There is a lot of confusion about Nirvana in our world, and Buddhists don’t make matters any easier when they insist that only a Buddha can now what Nirvana actually is.

How could I know such a rarified and elusive state? For the rest of us it would be enough to simply know what the word itself means. I suspect that this would take us closer to the experience of Nirvana, to understand it as a concept. This is discussed in more depth in the article What is Nirvana.

Nirvana means to extinguish or to blow out. So, a Buddha is someone who not only had understood the causes of suffering, but has blown them out. He no longer suffers from the ignorance and desire that feed the fire of death and rebirth.

As you think about this ideal, as you think about the story of the Buddha’s life, you might ask yourself why Buddhists find this to be attractive. The answer goes back to the idea of Samsara. Buddhist took the problem of death and rebirth very seriously. In fact, the concept of Nirvana is a gauge of how serious the issue of Samsara was.

It was only a great sage who could escape the cycle of death and rebirth. In a more positive way, you can also sense how Nirvana involves a sense of freedom and calm. This is missing from ordinary life in this world.

The Buddha had no longer anything to worry about once he had achieved this breakthrough. For him, all the storms of Samsara were over. He was free from that and he could live his life with the awareness it would never come back into the cycle of frustration, in the cycle of Samsara again.

This article is part of the series about The Life of the Buddha.

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