English readers of religious philosophy were first enlightened on the Buddhist concept of nirvana in the early 19th century. The word is a borrowing from Sanskrit that means "the act of extinguishing" and, in Buddhism, it refers to a state in which desire and one's conscious attachment to things in secular life (or, in particular, the negative emotions these desires/attachments bring about) are extinguished through disciplined meditation. Once these things are vanquished, peace, tranquility, and enlightenment are said to be fully experienced; ignorance dissolves and the truth becomes fully known.
In nirvana, a person also not only enters a transcendent state of freedom of all negativity but breaks free of the religion's beliefs in the continuous cycle of birth, death, and rebirth and the effects of karma—the force created by one's actions that is to determine what that person's next life will be like. A person who has gained insight into the true nature of existence in the cosmos and has achieved nirvana is known as an arhat, or an arahant, in some schools of Buddhism.
By the end of the 19th century, people were using nirvana figuratively for any secular state or place of great happiness and peace.
My favorite party scene is outdoors on brick-lined East 4th Street, a block of renovated buildings connected by strings of twinkling lights. It's people-watching nirvana even before you wander into the bars, clubs and restaurants….
— Fran Golden, The Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2017