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For other uses, see Samsara (disambiguation).

Saṃsāra or Sangsāra (Sanskrit: संसार) (in Tibetan called 'khor ba (pronounced kɔrwɔ [IPA] in many Tibetan dialects), meaning "continuous flow"), is the repeating cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation) within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Taoism[1] In Sikhism this concept is slightly different and looks at one's actions in the present and consequences in the present.

According to the view of these Asian religions a person's current life is only one of many—stretching back before birth into past existences and reaching forward beyond death into future incarnations. During the course of each life the quality of the actions (karma) performed determine the future destiny of each person. The Buddha taught that there is no beginning or end to this cycle. The goal of these Asian religions is to escape this process, the achievement of which is called moksha. In popular use, Samsara [a westernized spelling] may refer to the world (in the sense of the various worldly activities which occupy ordinary human beings), the various sufferings thereof; or the unsettled and agitated mind through which reality is perceived.

Etymology and origin

Saṃsāra means "he flows into himself," to perpetually wander, to pass through states of existence.

The historical origins of a concept of a cycle of repeated reincarnation are obscure but the idea appears frequently in religious and philosophical texts in both India and ancient Greece during the middle of the first millennium B.C.E. [2] Orphism, Platonism, Jainism and Buddhism all discuss the transmigration of beings from one life to another. The concept of reincarnation is present even in the early Vedic texts such as the Rig Veda but the concise idea of it is said to have originated from the Shramana traditions. Several scholars believe that reincarnation was adopted from this religious culture by Brahmin orthodoxy, and Brahmins first wrote down scriptures containing these ideas in the early (Aitereya) Upanishads.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Cycle of rebirth

The concept of samsara is closely associated with the belief that one continues to be born and reborn in various realms in the form of a human, animal, or other being (depending on karma).[9] Jainism maintains that one who accrues a significant amount of bad karma can also be reborn as a plant or even as a rock,[10] and similar tendencies can be found in Purāṇas, in the Bhagavadgītā, in the Manusmṛti[11] and in similar texts. Nonetheless, most philosophic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism[12] maintain that plants and even more obviously rocks cannot be included in samsāra since they lack the possibility of experience (bhoga) and, hence, of karma.

In Buddhism, at the moment of death the consciousness (consciousness of the different senses, such as eye consciousness, ear consciousness etc.), acts as the seed for the spawning of the new consciousness in a new biological structure, conducive to the volitional (Saṅkhāras) impulses at the moment of death (which are themselves affected by previous volitional impulses). In other Indian religions, the volitional impulses accrued from the present life are transmitted to a consciousness structure popularly known as the soul, which, after an intermediate period (in Tibetan called the bardo), forms the basis for a new biological structure that will result in rebirth and a new life. This cyclical process ends in the attainment of moksha. If one lives in extremely evil ways, one may be reborn as an animal or other unfortunate being.[9]

Samsāra in Hinduism

In Hinduism, it is avidya, or ignorance, of one's true self that leads to ego-consciousness of the body and the phenomenal world. This grounds one in kāma (desire) and the perpetual chain of karma and reincarnation. Through egotism and desire one creates the causes for future becoming. The state of illusion that gives rise to this is known as Maya.

Through ascetic practice one finally attains sanctity and liberation (moksha or mukti).

Broadly speaking, the holy life (brahmacarya) which leads to liberation is a path of self-purification by which the effects of sins are released.

The Hindu Yoga traditions hold various beliefs. Moksha may be achieved by love of Ishwar/God (see bhakti movement, see Mirabai), by psycho-physical meditation (Raja Yoga), by discrimination of what is real and unreal through intense contemplation (Jnana Yoga), and through Karma Yoga, the path of selfless action that subverts the ego and enforces understanding of the unity of all.

The Rig Vedic, Yajur Vedic and Atharva Vedic Upanishads like Aiteraya Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad, Swetaswatara Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad etc. contains the most ancient ideas on Reincarnation of soul.[13][14][15] Hence, based on this, the earliest known texts to have spoken about karma, sansara and Moksha or Mukti, are the Vedas and other Dharmic Texts. (Dharmic Texts stands for the Vedas, Ithihasas and Puranas). The Vedas describe Karma as the result of enjoying the sensory pleasures of this material universe.[16]

Saṅsāra in Jainism

Main article: Samsara (Jainism)
Further information: Karma in Jainism

In Jainism, Saṅsāra is the worldly life characterized by continuous rebirths and reincarnations in various realms of existence. Saṃsāra is described as mundane existence, full of suffering and misery and hence is considered undesirable and worth renunciation. The Samsāra is without any beginning and the soul finds itself in bondage with its karma since the beginningless time. Moksha is the only liberation from samsāra.

Samsara in Buddhism

Main article: Saṃsāra (Buddhism)

Within Buddhism, samsara is defined as the continual repetitive cycle of birth, death, and bardo that arises from ordinary beings' grasping and fixating on a self and experiences. Samsara arises out of ignorance (avidya) and is characterized by dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction). In the Buddhist view, liberation from samsara is possible by following the Buddhist path.

Saṅsāra in Sikhism

In Sikhism, it is thought that due to actions here and now and interactions with fellow humans, that people obtain the chance of Union with Akal. Through controlling the 5 thieves Kaam, Krodh, Moh, Lobh and Hankaar, they are able to achieve the state of the Gurmukh or "God willed" as opposed to Manmukh or "selfwilled". Human life in Sikhism is deemed to be the highest form of life and the only form of life capable of being a Gurmukh.

In popular culture

Samsara is a book of poetry by Erica Anzalone.

Samsara is a fragrance produced by the House of Guerlain.

Samsara appears in the manga series Naruto, in which there's an Eye Technique after Byakugan and Sharingan called the Rinnegan. In English, it literally means the Samsara Eye, and allows the the user to potentially completely master all five basic nature transformations that form the basis of ninjutsu.

Samsara is frequently referenced in the Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga video game series, of which the plot revolves around one point; to reach a paradise called Nirvana.

The name Samsara is used as a move in Persona 3 and Persona 4, which causes a 100% instant kill for all enemies without a resistance to light.

Samsara is the title of the opening track of the album Deep Blue by Parkway Drive.

Samsara is a 2011 non-narrative documentary film, directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson.

Corpse Party: Book of Shadows contains a track named "Escaping Samsara" in its list of playable soundtracks.

See also


External links

  • Sansara – Tour of This Universe and Beyond
  • Reincarnation: A Simple Explanation
  • Karma in Sikhism
  • About Reincarnation
  • Samsara (Film, IMDB)

ko:윤회 it:Samsāra hu:Szamszára sk:Samsára

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