Karma: Buddhist Afterlife Beliefs

Karma is a concept of deeds or actions and highly regarded in the Indian religion. It is understood as the cause of the entire cycle of cause and effect of life that originated from ancient India. This concept may have originated from the traditions of the Shramana and was later adopted by Buddhism and Jainism religions. Research suggests that its worldwide understanding was adopted from the Brahmin orthodox religious culture. The idea brought forward by the karma religious concept conceptualizes life between earth and heavenly realm of the ancestors. These concepts are not necessarily displaying individuals’ past actions but embrace both their present and past deeds. Therefore, in one aspect everybody will be the product of what he/she presently is while the other concept negates the ideals herein. In other words, the present is the result of the past and a reflection of the future but the present is not the exact presentation of the past or the future.  Therefore, the life in the future cycle denotes life after death.

The Hind’s doctrines of karma and the reincarnation as well as the ultimate religious believe of life after death or cycle of death and rebirth are widely accepted by the Buddha. Buddha emphasises that, what connects the living to the dead or simply the rebirth process is the desire or craving for almost everything in the world. However, getting out of the Ferris’ goals of reincarnation releases an individual from such desires.  The Buddha’s doctrine “anatta”, departs from Hinduism in a radical way. The doctrine has the notion that an individual does not have eternal soul but possess “bundles” of habits, sensations, memories, desire, among others, which in totality delude the thinking necessary for a stable and self-lasting life. The physical body of life has negative connotations both Buddhism and Hinduism. This is widely because it is a form of suffering from which one should be released from. As per the principles of Buddhism, abandoning the false sense of self, leads to a bundle of impulses and memory disintegration, leaving nothing for reincarnation thus anything is widely left to experience pain.

According to the present day perspective, especially from the western societies, the vision of Buddhists is very unappealing: life is not only portrayed as unattractive but the nirvana prospects, which dissolves to nothingness seems less desirable. However, Buddhists may currently argue that their reactions to the dark side of life demonstrate how insulated they are from the suffering and pain which is fundamental for human existence. According to the Tibetan Buddhism, after death, the departed spirit undergoes a through lifelong process for a period of forty-nine days. This period is largely divided into stages, which are referred to as the “bardos.” The bardo conclusion has it that a person either enters the nirvana or enters Earth to be reborn

According to the karma concept of life after death, when a person dies the body dies as well. However, the ATMAN that is the immortal soul that is within the body does not die. Nevertheless, the bath of the soul afterwards is decided by an individual’s actions and thoughts when he /she were alive and all these are called the KARMAS. In addition, after death, the soul search and find the body which had departed and continues what is called life after death. It is not obvious that the soul can take the body of a real human being. Therefore, it can take the bodies of animals or other creatures, and these may be visualized as ghosts. Hindus support these ideals of karma with so many stories. In the Bhagavad Gita, for example, lord Krishna states that the immortal soul of the body (Atman) changes bodies like the body changes cloth, until a realization is attained. This explains as well why in a dream or vision, different ghost bearing certain similarities are seen.

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