Saṃsāra (Buddhism) - Contemporary Glosses

Contemporary Glosses

The following table provides brief descriptions of the term samsara given by various contemporary Buddhist teachers and scholars:

Brief expression Description Source
Cycle of rebirths The beginningless and endless cycle of rebirths throughout the six realms; the confused state of suffering from which Buddhists seek liberation. Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen (2010). A Complete Guide to the Buddhist Path. p. 458 (from the glossary)
Cyclic existence Cyclic existence; the continual repetitive cycle of birth, death, and bardo that arises from ordinary beings' grasping and fixating on a self and experiences. All states of consciousness in the six realms, including the god realms, characterized by pleasure and power, are bound by this process. Samsara arises out of ignorance and is characterized by suffering. Chögyam Trungpa. The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation. Edited by Judy L. Lief. Shambala. p. 137 (from the glossary)
Cyclic existence The state of being constantly reborn due to delusions and karma. Tsering, Geshe Tashi (2006), Buddhist Psychology: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Perseus, Kindle Locations 2286-2287 (from the glossary)
Cycle of clinging The cycle of clinging and taking birth in one desire after another. Phillip Moffitt. Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering. Rodale, Kindle Location 2881 (from the glossary)
Continuous vicious cycle the continuous vicious cycle of confirmation of existence. One confirmation needs another confirmation needs another . . . Chögyam Trungpa. The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation. Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 403-405).
Conditioned existence the worldly realm of suffering; conditioned existence. Goleman, Daniel (2008). Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Kindle Locations 3588 and 4711.
Going round and round going nowhere but round and round. That’s called ‘samsāra’ – happy or unhappy, it’s the business of going round and round. Ajahn Sucitto (2011). Meditation, A Way of Awakening. Amaravati Publications. p. 182. (from the glossary)
A mental trap , the pain and anxiety that he experiences is what Buddhists call “samsara,” which is a kind of mental trap. Khyentse, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse (2011). What Makes You Not a Buddhist, (p. 72). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.
Wheel of suffering Wheel; in Buddhist terms, the wheel of suffering. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (2008). The Joy of Living. p. 115
Uncontrollably recurring rebirth Uncontrollably recurring rebirth under the power of disturbing emotions and attitudes (kleshas) and of karma. Some translators render it as "cyclic existence." Alexander Berzin, The Berzin Archives, Definition of samsara
Cyclic existence Cyclic existence; the six realms: the lower realms of the hell beings, hungry ghosts and animals, and the upper realms of the humans, demigods and gods; the recurring cycle of death and rebirth within one or other of the six realms. It also refers to the contaminated aggregates of a sentient being. Lama Zopa Rinpoche (2009), How Things Exist: Teachings on Emptiness, Kindle Locations 1295-1297
Cyclic rebirth Although Buddhist doctrine holds that neither the beginning of the process of cyclic rebirth nor its end can ever be known with certainty, it is clear that the number of times a person may be reborn is almost infinite. This process of repeated rebirth is known as saṃsāra or ‘endless wandering’, a term suggesting continuous movement like the flow of a river. All living creatures are part of this cyclic movement and will continue to be reborn until they attain nirvana. Keown, Damien (2000), Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, Kindle Locations 702-706, 880
Vicious cycle The Buddha taught that beings, confused as they are by ignorant desires and fears, are caught in a vicious cycle called samsara, freedom from which—nirvana—was the highest human end. Smith, Huston; Novak, Philip (2009), Buddhism: A Concise Introduction, HarperOne, Kindle Edition, Kindle Location 2574

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