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Buddhism 03/24 The Doctrine of Reincarnation

Along with the Indian quest for wisdom, the Buddha inherited a basic Indian assumption about the nature of life: Human beings, like all other living creatures, lived not just one life, but came back into this world again and again in a continuous process of death and rebirth. This process is known in India as samsara, or “wandering” from one life to the next.

At first glance, the idea of samsara may seem attractive, a chance to enjoy some of the things we missed in this life, but in ancient India, samsara was viewed as a burden. To escape this burden, a person had only two options: to perform good actions (karma) and hope for a better rebirth or to renounce action altogether and bring the cycle of death and rebirth to an end.

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