Discovering Buddhism

Samsara and Nirvana

“Samsara, or cyclic existence, does not refer to our land or our house or our things. Samsara refers to the mental afflictions and the negative thoughts that bind us to this tiresome cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.”

–Yangsi Rinpoche, Practicing the Path

All living creatures know suffering—this is the Buddha’s first noble truth. And many of us also know how ordinary pain can grow into extraordinary suffering due to the power of our minds. In Buddhism, these negative states of mind that lead to suffering are called delusions. They are a primary cause for our remaining stuck in samsara—the cycle of endless rebirths that ordinarily propels one’s mind toward more suffering. The good news is that complete liberation from the suffering of an afflictive mind (nirvana) is entirely possible.

Explore the meaning of samsara and nirvana with Gus Cutz, and learn how to move out of a state of inevitable suffering to one of pure and irreversible peace. Find out how to develop your own determination to be completely free from suffering (renunciation) and its role on the spiritual path. Get empowered with practical tools for dealing with disturbing emotions up to the point of elimination, and reflect on the possibility of nirvana––and how that differs from enlightenment. 

This is the ninth of 14 modules in the Discovering Buddhism series. Students may join at any point in the cycle. Discovering Buddhism was designed for students interested in deepening their understanding of fundamental Buddhist concepts, and provides an experiential taste of the Buddha’s teachings and the skills we need to make our lives most meaningful. Each module includes teachings, meditations, readings, discussions, and a short retreat. For more information on the Discovering Buddhism program, please click here.