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What is samsara?

The word samsara comes from Sanskrit, meaning to “flow together” which alludes to the flux and flow of the universe and in general, empirical existence. In spite of the many sensual delights samsara has to offer, within eastern spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism the term is almost exclusively associated with being bound or limited. In these traditions, life is not portrayed as an endless playground for reaping pleasures, but instead, something more akin to imprisonment where individuals work out the effects of their past deeds in order to eventually obtain liberation.

Samsara also has other meanings related to the misinterpretation of reality. For example, the belief that I am lacking and that my happiness is dependent on objects, or the belief that I am the doer, a separate entity among other entities.

Vedanta shows over and over again that samsara is a condition of the mind rooted in ignorance and that while there is no end to samsara, there is a way out and that way out is obtaining right knowledge and actualizing that knowledge.


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