Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series, » a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and dios-raw.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our eighth topic is focused on «Death». Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!
“Searching outside of you is Samsara (the world). Searching within you leads to Nirvana.” ~ Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style
“Samsara is one flower. Nirvana is another flower. Enlightenment happens when both the flowers blooms.” ~ Amit Ray, Peace Bliss Beauty and Truth: Living with Positivity
In Buddhism, samsara is often defined as the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Or, you may understand it as the world of suffering and dissatisfaction (dukkha), the opposite of nirvana, which is the condition of being free from suffering and the cycle of rebirth.
In literal terms, the Sanskrit word samsara means “flowing on” or “passing through.” It might be understood as the state of being bound by greed, hate, and ignorance, or as a veil of illusion that hides true reality. In traditional Buddhist philosophy, we are trapped in samsara through one life after another until we find awakening through enlightenment.
However, the best definition of samsara, and one with more modern applicability may be from the Theravada monk and teacher Thanissaro Bhikkhu ~
“Instead of a place, it’s a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them.” And note that this creating and moving in doesn’t just happen once, at birth. We’re doing it all the time.”
Samsara is contrasted with nirvana. Nirvana is not a place but a state that is neither being nor non-being.
Theravada Buddhism understands samsara and nirvana to be opposites. In Mahayana Buddhism, however, with its focus on inherent Buddha Nature, both samsara and nirvana are seen as natural manifestations of the empty clarity of the mind. When we cease to create samsara, nirvana naturally appears; nirvana, then, can be seen as the purified true nature of samsara.
However you understand it, the message is that although the unhappiness of samsara is our lot in life, it is possible to understand the reasons for it and the methods for escaping it.
This brings us to the Four Noble Truths. Very basically, the Truths tell us that:
~We are creating our samsara;
~How we are creating samsara;
~That we can stop creating samsara;
~The way to stop is by following the Eightfold Path.
The Buddha discouraged speculation about the nature of nirvana and emphasized instead the need to strive for its attainment. Those who asked speculative questions about nirvana he compared to a man wounded by poisoned arrow who, rather than pulling the arrow out, persists in asking for irrelevant information about the man who fired it, such as his name and clan, how far away he was standing, and so forth.
In keeping with this reluctance on the part of the Buddha to elaborate on the question, the early sources describe nirvana ranging from “the absence of desire” and “the extinction of thirst” to “blowing out” and “cessation.” A smaller number of positive epithets are also found, including “the auspicious,” the good,” “purity,” peace,” “truth,” and “the further shore.”
Certain passages suggest that nirvana is a transcendent reality which is unborn, unoriginated, uncreated and unformed. It’s difficult to know what interpretation to place upon such formulations. In the last analysis the nature of final nirvana remains an enigma other than to those who experience it. What we can be sure of, however, is that it means the end of suffering and rebirth.
Let us know your thoughts on samsara and nirvana below…