BUDDHISM is not a religion of despair, but of hope and freedom. It is very optimistic about the possibility of ending suffering. The Buddha declared that despite of so much suffering all around, there was no need for despair and that the suffering could be ended eventually through an intelligent path of action. He found the solution in the problem itself.
Suffering ends when the craving ends. It ceases to exist, only when the beings achieve complete liberation from it. The seeds of this reverse process are sown when a monk or a follower of the Buddha becomes aware of the impermanent and distasteful nature of the world and its objects.
There are five stages in the process of this liberation. They are, the extinction of craving, the extinction of clinging, the extinction of the effects of karma, the extinction of rebirth and the extinction of rebirth, cessation of decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, grief and despair.
When a person passes through these five stages, his craving ceases and he finds permanent freedom from all forms of suffering. He becomes liberated from the world of impermanence and change. He does not return nor re-enter into the wheel of existence.
The path to Nirvana goes through two stages. The first phase happens when a person is still alive on earth. During this phase, all the impurities of the seeker are removed and he becomes an Arhat or a holy person. At this stage the ego is no more nourished, but remains on earth in a very diminished state. The second stage is set in motion when the fivefold process comes to an end and the Arhat leaves this world. At this stage the ego is completely dissolved, without any trace, bringing an end to the five fold process.