March 18, 2024

The Meaning of Samsara in Hindu Philosophy

Most Indian philosophical traditions acknowledge that life is an ongoing cycle of suffering and impermanence. They also typically teach that this state, known as Samsara, is intimately tied to Karma: that every action we perform has an karmic consequence in both this lifetime and future lives; effectively determining our fateful paths forwards. In essence, Karma determines our fateful paths as individuals or ultimately influences what kind of birth awaits us next time around.

Samsara is defined by its central discomfort: feeling of lack and incompleteness that drives us to seek fulfillment through things which cannot truly deliver on their promises of wholeness and happiness. Our pursuit of such things and experiences only adds more suffering; its cyclical mechanism can only be broken by understanding karma and practicing mindfulness to release any unnecessary attachments in this lifetime.

However, a yogi can only find true liberation from samsara through realizing that everything is an aspect of an eternal Truth and nothing truly permanent or unchanging - this is nirvana and is usually considered the goal of most religions that believe in reincarnation.

Some Hindu and Jain traditions, including Visistadvaita Vedanta, believe that devotion to Ishvara alone cannot bring liberation from samsara, thus necessitating devotional practice as part of their path toward moksha or liberation.

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