ᠣᠷᠴᠢᠯᠠᠩ, орчлон (orchilang, orchlon)
SINHALA සංසාරය (sansāra)
TIBETAN འཁོར་བ་ (khor ba)
VIETNAMESE Luân hồi
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SAṃSāRA (Sanskrit, Pali; also samsara) in
Rebirths occur in six realms of existence, namely three good realms (heavenly, demi-god, human) and three evil realms (animal, ghosts, hellish). Samsara ends if a person attains nirvana , the "blowing out" of the desires and the gaining of true insight into impermanence and non-self reality.
* 1 Characteristics
* 1.1 Mechanism
* 2 Realms of rebirth
* 3 Cause and end
* 4 Psychological interpretation * 5 Alternate translations * 6 See also * 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 8.1 Web references * 8.2 Sources
In Buddhism, saṃsāra is the "suffering-laden cycle of life, death, and rebirth, without beginning or end". In several suttas of the Samyutta Nikaya 's chapter XV in particular it's said "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating and the rebirth across different realms of birth – such as heavenly, human, animal, hellish and others – occurs in the same way that a flame is transferred from one candle to another. Buddhaghosa attempted to explain rebirth mechanism with "rebirth-linking consciousness" (patisandhi).
The mechanistic details of the Samsara doctrine vary within the Buddhist traditions. Theravada Buddhists assert that rebirth is immediate while the Tibetan schools hold to the notion of a bardo (intermediate state) that can last up to forty-nine days before the being is reborn.
REALMS OF REBIRTH
A thangka showing the bhavacakra with the ancient five cyclic
realms of saṃsāra in Buddhist cosmology. Medieval and contemporary
texts typically describe six realms of reincarnation. See also:
Buddhist cosmology typically identifies six realms of rebirth and existence: gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hells. Earlier Buddhist texts refer to five realms rather than six realms; when described as five realms, the god realm and demi-god realm constitute a single realm.
The six realms are typically divided into three higher realms (good) and three lower realms (evil). The three higher realms are the realms of the gods, demi-gods, and humans; the three lower realms are the realms of the animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings. The six realms are organized into thirty one levels in east Asian literature. Buddhist texts describe these realms as follows:
* GODS REALM: the gods (devas ) is the most pleasure-filled among
six realms, and typically subdivided into twenty six sub-realms. A
rebirth in this heavenly realm is believed to be from very good karma
accumulation. A Deva does not need to work, and is able to enjoy in
the heavenly realm all pleasures found on earth. However, the
pleasures of this realm lead to attachment (
Upādāna ), lack of
spiritual pursuits and therefore no nirvana. Vast majority of
Buddhist lay people, states Kevin Trainor, have historically pursued
Buddhist rituals and practices motivated with rebirth into Deva realm.
The Deva realm in Buddhist practice in southeast and east Asia,
states Keown, include gods found in Hindu traditions such as
Hungry Ghosts realm of Buddhist samsara, a 12th-century painting from Kyoto Japan
* HUNGRY GHOST REALM: hungry ghosts and other restless spirits
(preta ) are rebirths caused by kamma of excessive craving and
attachments. They do not have a body, are invisible and constitute
only "subtle matter" of a being.
Buddhist texts describe them as
beings who are extremely thirsty and hungry, very small mouths but
very large stomachs. Buddhist traditions in Asia attempt to care for
them on ritual days every year, by leaving food and drinks in open, to
feed any hungry ghosts nearby. When their bad karma demerit runs out,
these beings are reborn into another realm. According to McClelland,
this realm is the mildest of the three evil realms. According to
Yangsi Rinpoche, in contrast, the suffering of the beings born in the
realm of the hungry ghosts is far more intense than those born in the
* HELL REALM: beings in hell (naraka ) enter this realm for evil
karma such as theft, lying, adultery and others. The texts vary in
their details, but typically describe numerous hellish regions each
with different forms of intense suffering, such as eight extremely hot
hellish realms, eight extremely cold, being partially eaten alive,
beating and other forms of torture in proportion to the evil karma
accumulated. These beings are reborn in another realm after their
evil karma has run its course, they die, and they get another chance.
This realm is not similar to afterlife hell in Christianity, states
Damien Keown, because in
CAUSE AND END
Samsara is perpetuated by one's karma, which is caused by craving and ignorance (avidya).
Samsara is perpetuated by karma.
Thus acts of body and speech are driven by an underlying intention or will (cetanā ), and they are unwholesome or wholesome because they are motivated by unwholesome or wholesome intentions. Acts of body and speech are, then, the end products of particular kinds of mentality. At the same time karma can exist as a simple 'act of will', a forceful mental intention or volition that does not lead to an act of body or speech.
In the Buddhist view, therefore, the type of birth one has in this life is determined by actions or karma from the previous lives; and the circumstances of the future rebirth are determined by the actions in the current and previous lives.
CRAVING AND IGNORANCE
Inconsistencies in the oldest texts show that the Buddhist teachings on craving and ignorance, and the means to attain liberation, evolved, either during the lifetime of the Buddha, or thereafter. According to Frauwallner, the Buddhist texts show a shift in the explanation of the root cause of samsara. Originally craving was considered to be the root cause of samsara, which could be stilled by the practice of dhyana, leading to a calm of mind which according to Vetter is the liberation which is being sought.
The later Buddhist tradition considers ignorance (avidya) to be the root cause of samsara. Avidya is misconception and ignorance about reality, leading to grasping and clinging, and repeated rebirth. According to Paul Williams, "it is the not-knowingness of things as they truly are, or of oneself as one really is." It can be overcome by insight into the true nature of reality. In the later Buddhist tradition "liberating insight" came to be regarded as equally liberating as the practice of dhyana. According to Vetter and Bronkhorst, this happened in response to other religious groups in India, who that a liberating insight was an indispensable requisite for moksha, liberation from rebirth.
The ideas on what exactly constituted this "liberating insight" evolved over time. Initially the term prajna served to denote this "liberating insight." Later on, prajna was replaced in the suttas by the four truths . This happened in those texts where "liberating insight" was preceded by the four jhanas, and where this practice of the four jhanas then culminates in "liberating insight." The four truths were superseded by pratityasamutpada, and still later, in the Hinayana schools, by the doctrine of the non-existence of a substantial self or person. And Schmithausen states that still other descriptions of this "liberating insight" exist in the Buddhist canon:
"that the five Skandhas are impermanent, disagreeable, and neither the Self nor belonging to oneself"; "the contemplation of the arising and disappearance (udayabbaya) of the five Skandhas"; "the realisation of the Skandhas as empty (rittaka), vain (tucchaka) and without any pith or substance (asaraka).
Samsara ends when one attains moksha , liberation. In early
Nirvana , the "blowing out" of desire, is moksha. In later
Buddhist texts suggest that rebirth occurs through the transfer
of vinnana (consciousness) from one life to another. When this
consciousness ceases, then liberation is attained. There is a
connection between consciousness, karmic activities, and the cycle of
rebirth, argues William Waldron, and with the destruction of vinnana,
there is "destruction and cessation of "karmic activities"
(anabhisankhara, S III, 53), which are considered in
In some Buddhist traditions, rebirth is envisioned to occur in more than six realms of existence. Above ten realms depiction in Vietnam.
According to Chogyam Trungpa the realms of samsara can refer to both "psychological states of mind and physical cosmological realms".
Gethin argues, rebirth in the different realms is determined by one's karma , which is directly determined by one's psychological states. The Buddhist cosmology may thus be seen as a map of different realms of existence and a description of all possible psychological experiences. The psychological states of a person in current life lead to the nature of next rebirth in Buddhist cosmology.
Paul Williams acknowledges Gethin's suggestion of the "principle of the equivalence of cosmology and psychology," but notes that Gethin is not asserting the Buddhist cosmology is really all about current or potential states of mind or psychology. The realms in Buddhist cosmology are indeed realms of rebirths. Otherwise rebirth would always be into the human realm, or there would be no rebirth at all. And that is not traditional Buddhism, states Williams.
David McMahan concludes that the attempts to construe ancient Buddhist cosmology in modern psychological terms is modernistic reconstruction, "detraditionalization and demythologization" of Buddhism, a sociological phenomenon that is seen in all religions.
* Conditioned existence (Daniel Goleman) * Cycle of clinging and taking birth in one desire after another (Phillip Moffitt) * Cycle of existence * Cyclic existence (Jeffry Hopkins) * Uncontrollably recurring rebirth (Alexander Berzin) * Wheel of suffering (Mingyur Rinpoche)
* ^ Earlier Buddhist texts refer to five realms rather than six realms; when described as five realms, the god realm and demi-god realm constitute a single realm.
* ^ A B Ending samsara:
* Kevin Trainor: "Buddhist doctrine holds that until they realize nirvana, beings are bound to undergo rebirth and redeath due to their having acted out of ignorance and desire, thereby producing the seeds of karma". * Conze: " Nirvana is the raison d’être of Buddhism, and its ultimate justification."
* ^ Samsara is the continual repetitive cycle of rebirth within the six realms of existence:
* Damien Keown: "Although Buddhist doctrine holds that neither the
beginning of the process of cyclic rebirth nor its end can ever be
known with certainty, it is clear that the number of times a person
may be reborn is almost infinite. This process of repeated rebirth is
known as saṃsāra or 'endless wandering', a term suggesting
continuous movement like the flow of a river. All living creatures are
part of this cyclic movement and will continue to be reborn until they
* ^ Samsara is characterized by dukkha:
* Chogyam Trungpa: "Samsara arises out of ignorance and is characterized by suffering." * Rupert Gethin: "This precisely is the nature of saṃsāra: wandering from life to life with no particular direction or purpose."
* ^ A B Ignorance and craving:
* John Bowker: "In Buddhism, samsāra is the cycle of continuing appearances through the domains of existence (gati), but with no Self (anātman, ) being reborn: there is only the continuity of consequence, governed by karma." * Chogyam Trungpa states: "Cyclic existence 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 and is characterized by suffering." Note that Chogyam Trungpa's description includes a reference to the bardo, or intermediate state, that is emphasized in the Tibetan tradition. * Huston Smith and Philip Novak state: "The Buddha taught that beings, confused as they are by ignorant desires and fears, are caught in a vicious cycle called samsara, freedom from which—nirvana—was the highest human end."
* ^ Other scholars note that better rebirth, not nirvana, has been the primary focus of a vast majority of lay Buddhists. This they attempt through merit accumulation and good kamma.
* ^ The driving force behind rebirth in the six realms of samsara is karma:
* Peter Harvey: "The movement of beings between rebirths is not a
haphazard process but is ordered and governed by the law of karma, the
principle that beings are reborn according to the nature and quality
of their past actions; they are 'heir' to their actions (M.III.123)."
* Damien Keown: "In the cosmology , karma functions as the elevator
that takes people from one floor of the building to another. Good
deeds result in an upward movement and bad deeds in a downward one.
* ^ Aṅguttara Nikāya III.415: "It is "intention" that I call karma; having formed the intention, one performs acts (karma) by body, speech and mind. * ^ Padmasambhava: "If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition; if you want to know your future life, look at your present actions."
* ^ See:
* Erich Frauwallner (1953), Geschichte der indischen Philosophie,
Band Der Buddha und der Jina (pp. 147-272)
* Andre Bareau (1963), Recherches sur la biographie du Buddha dans
les Sutrapitaka et les Vinayapitaka anciens, Ecole Francaise
* Schmithausen, On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of
'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism
* K.R. Norman, Four Noble Truths
* Tilman Vetter, The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early
Buddhism, by Tilmann Vetter
* Richard F. Gombrich (2006). How
* ^ Tillmann Vetter: "Very likely the cause was the growing influence of a non-Buddhist spiritual environment·which claimed that one can be released only by some truth or higher knowledge. In addition, the alternative (and perhaps sometimes competing) method of discriminating insight (fully established after the introduction of the four noble truths) seemed to conform so well to this claim."
According to Bronkhorst, this happened under influence of the "mainstream of meditation," that is, Vedic-Brahmanical oriented groups, which believed that the cessation of action could not be liberating, since action can never be fully stopped. Their solution was to postulate a fundamental difference between the inner soul or self and the body. The inner self is unchangeable, and unaffected by actions. By insight into this difference, one was liberated. To equal this emphasis on insight, Buddhists presented insight into their most essential teaching as equally liberating. What exactly was regarded as the central insight "varied along with what was considered most central to the teaching of the Buddha." * ^ In the Nikayas the four truths are given as the "liberating insight" which constituted the awakening , or "enlightenment" of the Buddha. When he understood these truths, he was "enlightened," and liberated, as reflected in Majjhima Nikaya 26:42: "his taints are destroyed by his seeing with wisdom." Typically, the four truths refer here to the eightfold path as the means to gain liberation, while the attainment of insight in the four truths is portrayed as liberating in itself. * ^ Majjhima Nikaya 26 * ^ Anguttara Nikaya II.45 (PTS) * ^ Samyutta Nikaya III.140-142 (PTS) * ^ Phra Thepyanmongkol: "The designation that is Nibbana is anatta (non-self)", states Buddha, in Parivara Vinayapitaka. * ^ Chogyam Trungpa states: "In the Buddhist system of the six realms, the three higher realms are the god realm, the jealous-god realm, and the human realm; the three lower realms are the animal realm, the hungry ghost realmm, and the hell realm. These realms can refer to psychological states or to aspects of Buddhist cosmology."
* ^ Trainor 2004 , p. 58, QUOTE: "
* ^ Christmas Humphreys (2012). Exploring Buddhism. Routledge. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-136-22877-3 . Brian Morris (2006). Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-521-85241-8 . , QUOTE: "(...) anatta is the doctrine of non-self, and is an exteme empiricist doctrine that holds that the notion of an unchanging permanent self is a fiction and has no reality. According to Buddhist doctrine, the individual person consists of five skandhas or heaps - the body, feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness. The belief in a self or soul, over these five skandhas, is illusory and the cause of suffering." Richard Gombrich (2006). Theravada Buddhism. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-134-90352-8 . , QUOTE: "(...) Buddha's teaching that beings have no soul, no abiding essence. This 'no-soul doctrine' (anatta-vada) he expounded in his second sermon." * ^ David J. Kalupahana (1975). Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. University Press of Hawaii. pp. 115–119. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1 . * ^ David J. Kalupahana (1975). Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. University Press of Hawaii. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1 . * ^ William H. Swatos; Peter Kivisto (1998). Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. Rowman Altamira. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7619-8956-1 .
* ^ Bruce Mathews (1986). Ronald Wesley Neufeldt, ed.
* ^ John Bowker. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2012 "Saṃsāra."; John Bowker (2014). God: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 84–86. ISBN 978-0-19-870895-7 .
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