Samsara and Karma

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  • Literally means 'wandering on' and is an endless cycle of death and rebirth
  • Buddha understood samsara through meditation
  • On the night of Englightment, Buddha remembered up to 91 kalpas back
  • In the centre is the 3 mental poisons, biting each others tail to show they feed off each other
  • Yama, the lord of death, spins the wheel and shows the inevitability of death
  • There are 6 realms for example the hell realm, hungry ghost realm, animal realm and the human realm.
  • Every realm has a bodhisattva in to help Buddhists gain enlightenment and the human realm is known as the 'most marvellous opportunity for spiritual development' (Harvey)
  • There are 12 niddanas (links) around the outside that are the cycle of existence and are a chain of cause and effect in which samsara is recreated.  The 12 niddanas make up the paticca samupadda (dependent origination/arising)
  • Hinduism taught reincarnation- rejected by the Buddha due to anatta (no fixed self)
  • Happiness is futile in samsara as we don't understand why we suffer
  • The ultimate goal is to escape samsara and become enlightened
  • It is dependent on karma (affects rebirths) and the escape link is the 8th link between craving and suffering. Understanding craving causes suffering breaks the link = escape from samsara
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  • Actions in this life have consequences in this life or the next
  • Kusala (good action, skilful), akusala (bad action, unskilful)
  • The result of the action is karma phala (karmic fruit)
  • Intention in the most important. Kamma chanda (bad intention) is selfish, dhamma chanda (good intention) is full of compassion and wisdom
  • Inaction is just as important as bad intention (karma by omission)
  • Dependent originality- 12 links of causality
  • We need to transform bad habits that produce negative intentions
  • Lack of awareness is a choice (spiritual ignorance)
  • The human realm is the best realm to transform yourself - Human realm is the 'most marvellous opportunity for spiritual development' (Harvey)
  • Natural law- we are all responsible for our own actions and destiny
  • Death proximate karma- our last thoughts effect our rebirth and karma
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