Friday, October 31, 2008

Samsara, Karma and Nirvana - Finding Peace in Everyday Life

By Isa Bella

The slightest remark at work, and I think I'm going to get fired... The slightest remark at home, and I think I'm going to get a divorce... I get easily offended, and I easily fly off the handle. To achieve self-control, and stop reacting to external circumstances, I need to practice detachment. Buddhism helps me shift my consciousness, and recognise that nothing is as important as it seems. Life is a journey, and I need to remind myself that I'm not here because I'm perfect. I'm here because I make mistakes, and I can learn from them. What matters is the progress I make along the way.

Samsara is the continuing journey of the soul on its cycle of birth, death and rebirth as it heads towards enlightenment, a state of ultimate bliss and God realisation. The cycle of birth and death only ends when a person fully dissolves their Karma. Karma literally means "action". It's the universal law of cause and effect, which governs rebirth and the world of Samsara. It's a belief system similar to the saying, "What goes around, comes around". Karma reflects the idea that the good and evil a person does will return either in this life or in a later one. "As you sow, so shall you reap". You reap what you sow, and you experience the results of your own actions.

If we neglect our children, they won't turn out to be well-adjusted and responsible individuals. If we fail to give them the love and approval they need, they might turn to alcohol, drugs or other destructive behaviours. As parents, we surely reap what we sow. What you do comes back to you. The more you give without expecting anything in return, the more you will get back, and your most precious gift is your time. Give your time and full attention to your child today. Do something together, like reading a book aloud, or going to the park. Share a hug and a laugh.

Nirvana is like Heaven, and it's the goal of spiritual practice in Buddhism. It's the liberation from the cycle of rebirth. It's a state of peace and happiness we experience when we're finally free from the endless cycles of reincarnation. This condition of wellbeing arises out of the absolute cessation of desire and human suffering. It's a total "blowing-out", like the flame of a candle, and symbolises the extinction of the ego. Arrogance and self-importance are gone once and for all. We become emancipated from all negative emotions such as greed, envy, jealousy, contempt, and hatred, just to name a few. Pure love replaces fear in our hearts, and we become enlightened. The candle of the ego is blown out, but our light shines brighter than ever.

by Isa Bella

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