Samsara in Buddhism
The concept of Samsara in Buddhism refers to the cycle of life, which includes birth, living, death and returning to life. The term can be literally translated as “continuous movement.” Samsara is the continually repeating cycle of birth and death, where beings cycle through six realms of existence. This concept is closely related to the ideas of karma and Nirvana.
In Buddhist teaching, the reason Samsara exists is that people fixate on themselves and their experiences. It comes from ignorance and it causes a state of suffering and dissatisfaction. Samsara in Buddhism can be overcome by following the Buddhist path and improving your karma. Essentially, Samsara is life on earth, filled with sorrow and pain.
Karma and Samsara
Karma is the Buddhist version of the law of cause and effect. It teaches that whatever you reap in life is what you sow. Each day gives people the opportunity to rewrite their karma, with the chance to do good or not to do good. It represents, on a moment-by-moment basis, all the good or bad people do through their lives. In Buddhism, whatever you did in this life will affect what you become in your next life. In this way, the cycle of Samsara is driven by the law of karma.
Nirvana and Samsara
Nirvana is the eternal state of being where Karma and Samsara no longer exist. It represents the end of desire, suffering and individual consciousness. Until Nirvana is reached through enlightenment, the cycle of Samsara is repeated over and over.
How Samsara Works
From life to life, the only things that are passed on are some feelings and impressions and moments from each life, as well as the karma that is created throughout the cycle. Your personality exists in your present life, and some aspects of it are passed on to the next life. You are similar to, but not exactly the same as, your previous self.
Each life refines your personality to get you closer to breaking the Samsara cycle. Your karma will affect the conditions surrounding your rebirth. In Buddhism, each life is another opportunity to do good and improve karma to break the endless cycle of Samsara and get closer to the goal of reaching Nirvana.
The concept of Samsara in Buddhism teaches that human beings have the ultimate control over themselves. If people use the laws of Buddhism in daily living and practice Metta, or loving kindness, they will eventually reach self-acceptance. This helps begin the journey to accepting others and to eventual enlightenment. Only then will the cycle of Samsara be broken.