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Saṃsāra and Nirvana – the Ultimate Duality

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By Ethan Indigo Smith

 

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

 

The more I learn about Buddhism, the more I appreciate the many teachings of Buddha and the subsequent learned people who followed him, and the more I hear people speaking on such lessons – whether they realize it or not.

 

Truth resonates like that. To find resonating truth in the time of the Kali Yuga – the Fourth Age of Deception – I try to find correlation of information among many subjects, and Buddhism both reveals truth and also correlates with truths from other cultures and also others systems; those of science, psychology and the esoteric.

 

I will attempt to summarize one of the most profound teachings of Buddhism that can require an immense amount of absorption (another term for meditation or contemplation) to integrate – that there is Saṃsāra and Nirvana. Understanding this duality can lead to a greater understanding, being the ultimate contrast of Buddhism.

 

First though, here are some teachings as a base to this idea.

 

Saṃsāra and Nirvana

 

Saṃsāra literally means “continuous movement” and is commonly translated as “cyclic existence” or “cycle of existence”. In Buddhism, Saṃsāra refers to the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that is created by our fixating on the self and experiences, specifically, the process of cycling through rebirth after rebirth within the six realms of existence. In the Buddhist view, one can only be liberated from Saṃsāra through Nirvana.

 

Nirvana literally means “extinguishing”, and refers to the extinction of the fires of attachment, aversion and ignorance. In the Buddhist view, when these fires are extinguished, suffering comes to an end and one is released from the cycle of rebirth.

 

Buddhists perceive reality and its volatile predictability through a set of conditions or principles, known as the Four Thoughts. One, we have a precious human body capable of gaining enlightenment and assisting others in the process.Two, everything is impermanent; ourselves and the condition of the natural and man-made world, if you will. Three, everything is made up of Karma; you are the result of it and everything that’s been done results in karma bouncing around. Four, we exist in the state of Saṃsāra, this gross physical realm where we can be either animals chasing tails or carrots tied to string – or we can become elevated beings.

 

An optimal response to these conditions is contained in The Four Immeasurables. These are Love for self, Love for others, Love for the happiness of others, and Love for all in equanimity. The conditions of Saṃsāra require that we take compassionate courses of action via the Four Immeasurables – the four forms of love – otherwise we enhance our suffering and the suffering of others. Buddhists, having addressed reality thoroughly, realize that in every meeting there is parting, in every spring there is fall, and in every birth there is death.

 

Saṃsāra is the happiness and hell on earth, the everything. Its opposite is Nirvana. Samsara is everything in reality. Nirvana is nothingness; the bliss that just IS, the essence beyond birth and death and even beyond duality. It is oneness.

 

CONTIUNE READING

 

Previous articles by Ethan:

 

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