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The wheel of samsara (or suffering)

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The wheel of samsara (or suffering) - The basis of Buddhist ethics
  • 1. The Wheel of Samsara (or Suffering)
    A look at Buddhist Theory of Emotional Attachment

2. Samsara is this world, filled as it is with so much pain and sorrow. All beings in this world are subject to the law of karma. Karma means volitional act, that is, something you do, say, or think that is in fact in your control. Any such act has moral consequences, called vipaka, which means fruit. In traditional Buddhism, this consequences can occur in this life, or in a future life.
The greatest portion of the Wheel is devoted to representations of the six realms -- the realm of the gods, the realm of the titans, the realm of humans, the realm of animals, the realm of the hungry ghosts, and the realm of demons -- each realm looked over by its own boddhisattva. The outermost circle is the 12 steps of dependent origination. The entire Wheel is held by Yama, the Lord of Death.
3. The greatest portion of the Wheel is devoted to representations of the six realms -- the realm of the gods, the realm of the titans, the realm of humans, the realm of animals, the realm of the hungry ghosts, and the realm of demons -- each realm looked over by its own boddhisattva. The outermost circle is the 12 steps of dependent origination.
The entire Wheel is held by Yama, the Lord of Death.
4. 5. The Four Noble Truths are:
1. Our delusions of self cause our suffering,2. Suffering is a fact of life resulting from our attachment to what we desire,3. If we extinguish our attachment, we reduce our suffering, and 4. By following the Eightfold Path and developing wisdom, we can alleviate our suffering.
6. Dependent origination
Dependent origination occurs within the context of flowing through a number of states of ignorance and types of attachment, being continually re-birthed within one of the realms (mind-states). Thus living things are just transient beings through each realm (mind-state), which infers that the perception of an independent self life existence is an illusion. The Twelve dependent origination links, which resemble a persons thought processes on the outer part of the Wheel of Samsaraare explained:
7. Ignorance (avidya). "A" is ignorant of the dharma. The blind man cannot see the truth
8. Impulses (samskara). "A" therefore has intentions (karma), good, bad, or neutral, and acts on them. A potter creates a new pot from clay and water.
9. Consciousness (vijana). These create a new conscious being, "B," who enters a womb. A monkey, with no self control, jumps from one branch to another.
10. Name and form (namarupa). "B" takes form. Three or four men in a boat: The body is the vehicle that carries us through life.
11. The six bases (shadayatana). "B" comes into a world of objects ready to be experienced. House with doors and windows: The senses let in the world, like windows let light into a house.
12. Contact (sparsha). "B" has contact with that world of objects. Lovers symbolize the intimate contact between world and mind.
13. Sensation (vedana). "B" has perceptions of that world of objects. A man with an arrow in his eye: Sensations can be so strong that they blind us to the truth.
14. Craving (trishna). "Bs" perceptions give rise to desires. A man drinking: The promise of satisfaction only leads to intoxication.
15. Clinging (upadana). Desire leads "B" to cling to life, even at death. Like a monkey clinging to a fruit tree, we cling to things.
16. Becoming (bhava). And another conscious being, "C," is begun. A pregnant woman: A new life has begun.
17. Birth (jati). Thus, "C" is born. A woman gives birth.
18. Old age and death (jara-maranam). And "Cs" birth leads inevitably to his or her old age and death. An old man carries a corpse to its resting place.
And the cycle continues, one thing leading to another....
19. A rooster chasing a pig chasing a snake chasing the rooster -- craving, hatred, and ignorance.
20. The Ten Fetters (Samyojana) bind us to samsara.
1. Belief in a separate personality or individuality (drishti) 2. Doubt that has no desire for satisfaction (vichikitsa) 3. Uncritical attachment to rules and rituals (silabbata-paramasa) 4. Sensuous craving (kama-raga) 5. Ill will, wishing harm on others (vyapada) 6. Craving for a higher material existence (rupa-raga) 7. Craving for non-material existence (arupa-raga) 8. Conceit or egotism (mana) 9. Restlessness (udhacca) 10. Ignorance (avidya)
21. Dharmas are the ultimate elements or particles of the universe . A little like atoms, they are very small, but they exist for only a split second, in keeping with the doctrine of impermanence. And while atoms are purely material, dharmas include all phenomena, mental and physical. I like to think of them as little flashes of colored light, and I would translate the word as scintilla. Dont get confused between these and the Dharma, meaning the teachings of the Buddha!
Like the ancient Greeks, the ancient Buddhists thought there were four basic elements: earth, water, air, and fire. The dharma theory turns these elements into qualities, or even verbs: fire becomes hot becomes burning; air becomes cool becomes blowing.... Ultimately, then, all things are nothing more than bundles of these qualities or actions, and are empty inside. This led to one of the most important ideas of the Madhyamaka School of Mahayana Buddhism: Shunyata, which means emptiness.
22. The Heaven Realm
Heaven is blissful and populated by devas, or gods. Devas are not omniscient or omnipotent creators, but they are very powerful and live for countless ages. They are seven times larger than humans, their bodies shine with a brilliant light and everything around them stays fresh and beautiful. Some reign over celestial kingdoms, while most live in delightful happiness and splendor. Most of the devas relax in a palace in the clouds. They gather around a musician, dancing, in a pavilion decorated with banners. Some devas float through the sky, while others play musical instruments in the garden or swim in a refreshing pool. A wish-fulfilling tree which is rooted in the asura realm bears fruit in the heaven realm, and some of the devas staff a celestial army to protect heaven from marauding asuras. However, the happiness of the devas is not simply a matter of sensual pleasure derived from material things, though the devas certainly do not lack such pleasure. Rather, the beings in heaven have mastery of desire, control of themselves, joy and contentment, and they experience progressively deeper states of meditation. Suffering is transcended in the heaven realm.
23. To be reborn in the heaven realm, beings have performed austere, meritorious and charitable deeds, but did not gain enlightenment or liberation. They are still attached to a concept of self. They attain states of peace and bliss in meditation, but do not drop the perception of there being some one who has attained that peace and bliss. Eventually they are lulled into a sense of complacency and neglect their spiritual practice. The merit stored up from the good things the devas did in the past will run out, and they will begin to descend from heaven. Their bodies become dim and become capable of producing sweat, they get uncomfortable and ill at ease, their flower garlands fade and their clothes, which always remained clean no matter how long they wore them, get old and begin to smell. Descending devas are tormented by the knowledge that they will soon lose the experience of heaven and be reborn in one of the other realms of existence. They are engulfed in sorrow, and in a certain sense this mental anguish is worse than the suffering experienced even in the hell realm.
A white buddha is depicted in the corner of the heaven section of the wheel, set off in a circle, playing a musical instrument. Inevitably the devas will begin to descend out of the heaven realm, so the buddha depicted in this realm is simply playing a musical instrument, harmonizing with the devas and patiently waiting for karma to run its course. A deva who learned acceptance and patience from this buddha might be able to move to the human realm (where there is the most potential for ultimate liberation from the whole wheel of life process), rather than the asura realm or one of the lower realms, if s/he did not respond to the loss of heaven with anger, jealousy or despair.
24. The Asura Realm
The asura realm is populated by powerful beings who experience a life that could be almost as pleasurable as that of the devas in the heaven realm. However, the asuras are very envious and suspicious of each other, so they spend their time absorbed in great wars and conflicts instead of enjoying themselves. The realm is full of assembling armies and asuras in battle gear. Even though they value justice, wisdom and faith, they always desire to be superior to others, so they are competitive and egotistical.
Feelings of: constrained, paranoid, fearful, worried, ungrateful
25. Even worse, the asuras are plagued by envy for the devas, who they can see, just as humans can see animals. A wish-fulfilling tree grows in the asura realm, but it bears fruit only up in the heaven realm, out of reach of the asuras. The asuras try to obtain the fruits of the heaven realm by chopping down the wish-fulfilling tree and by making war on the devas. There is no anger or hatred in the heaven realm, but when the devas see what is happening, they enter a magical forest that makes them aggressive. Then they defend themselves from the asuras. The king of the devas, Indra, rides on the central head of an immense elephant with thirty-three heads, named Supremely Steady. His ministers ride on the other 32 heads. An unimaginably large divine army surrounds them, and they raise a mighty battle cry and rain weapons down o

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