(x)Thus, from the first viewpoint, Nirvana is a mental state—a state free from craving—which can be attained here and now on a temporary basis during meditation. Achieving this state is an important part of Lord Buddha's mental training. This perception of Nirvana is much more useful than the usual, fatalistic picture as something far off, incomprehensible and essentially unreachable.
This usual picture is the second viewpoint. Here, Nirvana is seen as a realm, far beyond Heaven, outside of time and space, where the enlightened disciples of Lord Buddha continue to be with him eternally, in supreme peaceful happiness. This is Ayatanā Nibbāna, Nirvana Residence. This viewpoint can also be very useful, providing us with a goal in life—the ultimate answer to the question "Where am I going?"
Yes, Ayatanā Nibbāna is far off; we had better set more immediately achievable sub-goals. But, this perspective says that eternal happiness, the ultimate goal in most religions, IS attainable. Being able to visit during meditation substantiates this conception and makes the seemingly interminable journey bearable. Realizing that we are reborn over and over anyway develops patience for the protracted mission.
This perspective that Nibbana can be visited in meditation, and that Buddha and arahants can be "seen" there, strikes me as a bit too simplistic, and seemingly tied to (conditioned) meditative realms. But of course, as this is coming from an abbot, I can't simply write it off. Can someone point me towards some resources where Nibbana is portrayed in this light? Comments on this?Meditation-based positions reflect direct familiarity with Nirvana. Lord Buddha and his enlightened disciples can be seen there.