THICH HUYEN VI
THE CYCLE OF BIRTHS-AND-DEATHS
“SAMSARA” THE CYCLE OF BIRTHS AND DEATHS (1)
The question of life after death has been debated right from the beginning of philosophical speculation. So many papers and documents have been written and so many philosophical have tried to discuss this problem endlessly. In short, there are two theories which deserve our attention:
- One theory holds that when human beings and animals die, they are lost. There is no existence at all afterwards. “Dust as they are, to dust they return”.
- Another theory maintains just the opposite that the souls of human beings after death live forever. Either they go to heaven to enjoy the happiness there, or they are condemned to hell to undergo punishment.
The two theories mentioned above are not correct. Why? After death people are not quite lost. Nothing in this world is lost, not even small things like particles of dust or small feathers. Less so the body of a man. The other view what they should lives forever either in heaven or in hell is also wrong. We know that a thing never constantly remains at one place. On the contrary, it always changed; On the other hand, although there is constant change, there cannot be total annihilation, for man has to reap the fruits according to what he sows.
Therefore, the two theories, Uccheda-dristi, the view that death ends life for good, in contrast with the view that (personality) is permanent, are not acceptable to Buddhist. According to the Buddhist doctrine, a being after death is not quite lost, nor does it love forever, but it is caught up in the cycle of births and deaths, in Samsara.
The term “Cycle of births and deaths” is equivalent to Samsara, a Sanskrit word. In Chinese, it is called Lun-hui. Lun means the Cycled, Hui means its movements. The picture of the cycle turning is a sight very clear to all. Lord Buddha used this image to illustrate the idea of moving in several cycles of life and death with 6 modes of existence. (2) Sometimes beings are born in this world, sometimes they live in another world, always moving in the cycle of births and deaths which never stops.
If we believe in the law of cause and effect we cannot refuse to accept the fact that Samsara exists, as described, because it continuously proves the theory of cause and effect. Sometimes the cycles is hidden from our view, sometimes it appears, sometimes it goes up and down, is lost and then becomes manifest again. This proves beyond any doubt the law of the cycle of births and deaths.