Breaking the circle: Death and the afterlife in buddhism by Carl B Becker

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By Carl B Becker

During this much-needed exam of Buddhist perspectives of loss of life and the afterlife, Carl B. Becker bridges the distance among books on dying within the West and books on Buddhism within the East.Other Western writers have addressed the mysteries surrounding demise and the afterlife, yet few have approached the subject from a Buddhist point of view. the following, Becker resolves questions that experience bothered students because the starting of Buddhism: How can Buddhism reconcile its trust in karma and rebirth with its denial of an everlasting soul? what's reborn? And while, precisely, is the instant of death?By systematically tracing Buddhism’s migration from India via China, Japan, and Tibet, Becker demonstrates how tradition and atmosphere impact Buddhist spiritual tradition.In addition to discussing ancient Buddhism, Becker exhibits how Buddhism resolves debatable present matters to boot. within the face of contemporary medicine’s pattern towards depersonalization, conventional Buddhist practices imbue the demise approach with admire and dignity. while, Buddhist culture deals documented precedents for choice making in circumstances of suicide and euthanasia.

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In a broader categorization, these aggregates can be conceptualized into those of matter/form (rupa) and those of mental faculties (nama*). Most of the khandhas are clearly more closely related to mental processes than to matter. This is not to imply a dualistic system in which either rupa or nama could exist without the other. Rather, both form and faculty are interdependent on each other, and all of the khandhas are necessary in concert for there to exist what we can call a person. 5 The five-khandha analysis provides a logical, philosophical reason for rejecting selfhood.

The Buddhist view is that this life is but one of millions of continuous lives of suffering, destined to continue indefinitely until the cycle is broken. This necessitates a path of selflessness and discipline that leads to enlightenment and freedom from the wheel of rebirth. Thus, not only death but the inescapability of survival is essential to the Buddhist philosophy. Broadly speaking, Buddhists believe that there are two significantly different possibilities after each person's death. Either some aspect of the person's psyche will be reborn in a new body, or else the person will achieve a state called nirvana, which is above and beyond the realms of death and rebirth.

The early Buddhist scriptures are far from unambiguous about the meaning of nirvana. Their allusions to it tend to be more allegorical than literally descriptive. Problems of interpretation are intensified when we try to translate the words and concepts of nirvana into the English language, in our dramatically different culture and age. One approach to understanding nirvana might be to try to put ourselves into the cultural and meditative framework in which the Buddha lived and taught, and to conduct our further analyses in Pali, but this is impractical for the majority of us.

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