Nibbana is difficult to understand. But if we view it from the progression of jhana, nibbana is the natural ending of jhana.
- First there are the rupa jhanas. Here the 5 senses are supressed and we are left with the mind-sense that is stabilized by concentration to the meditation object. From the first the the fourth jhana the meditation object is refined.
- Then there are the arupa jhanas where the meditation object itself is removed. There is now an unlimited space, then unlimited consciousness (removing the space), then nothingness (removing the consciousness) but there is still perception of nothingness, and then there is not-perception-nor-not-perception where the perception is refined to the minimum level.
- What is consciousness? That which knows the object. Without object there can be no consciousness. What happens if what’s little perception in the fourth arupa jhana is removed? We get nirodha samapatti. Without perception (sanna) there is no consciousness.
- What is nirodha samapatti without a living body? We get nibbana.
So we can view nibbana as a meditative state where perception is gradually supressed until there is no perception. Without perception there is no consciousness. And without a living body that need to be fed there is no need to “wake up”. It is the ultimate state for meditators.
It is also interesting to consider what the Buddha did before parinibbana.
How the Blessed One Passed into Nibbana
And the Blessed One entered the first jhana. Rising from the first jhana, he entered the second jhana. Rising from the second jhana, he entered the third jhana. Rising from the third jhana, he entered the fourth jhana. And rising out of the fourth jhana, he entered the sphere of infinite space. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of infinite space, he entered the sphere of infinite consciousness. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of infinite consciousness, he entered the sphere of nothingness. Rising from the attainment of the sphere of nothingness, he entered the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. And rising out of the attainment of the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, he attained to the cessation of perception and feeling.
And the Venerable Ananda spoke to the Venerable Anuruddha, saying: “Venerable Anuruddha, the Blessed One has passed away.”