Nirvana is certainly experiential but its essence or substance remains, nevertheless, indescribable. Words merely point to it. In that regard they are very limited. They cannot get us to what they’re pointing to when it comes to nirvana.
It is also a mistake to assume that nirvana is altogether negative. In Buddhism’s long history, nirvana is held to be, fundamentally, positive, experienceable, and supreme. Some say that nirvana is like the moon covered by clouds. It only becomes visible when the wind dissipates the clouds which made the moon seem like it was not there. In this sense, illusion hides nirvana and because our temporal world is an illusion it, more than anything, hides nirvana as if it were not there.
Among modern Buddhists, the belief that one can realize nirvana has changed into there is no need to realize nirvana—problem solved. A modern Buddhist who has gone to college; who has learned a lot of new words and abstract notions; who has been taught to be always skeptical could not care less about nirvana. Any vestige of a religious mind has been driven out of this person. In one respect, this person is like the Communists of old who were essentially anti-religious.
We might wonder if modern man has become somewhat of a new kind of barbarian insofar as he appears to be overly skeptical of anything spiritual, such as religion, by which man hopes to see beyond the world of his biological organism. One of the great ironies of this new century is that while a new kind of barbarism is growing which rejects both the spiritual and the beyond, in the past some men of science during the 20th century discovered the necessity of an extra-physical factor; a substratum of everything which is of a spiritual substance. Now when these two sides face each other there is an almost intolerable tension that begins to develop. One must either accept or deny that the only true process of measurement is the non-physical mind measuring the physical, biological brain. If we accept the non-physical mind then the attainment of nirvana is a worthy goal and those who would deny this are surely fools, but fools who will not cease their hatred of the spiritual.