Cyclic Existence

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Cyclic Existence ('khor ba)

  • Cyclic existence (Skt. saṃsāra) is the mundane state of existence, conditioned by the imprint of past actions (karma), and characterised by a cycle of life, death and rebirth in which the six classes of sentient beings (Skt. ṣaḍgati; Tib. 'gro ba rigs drug) undergo recurring sufferings (duḥkhatā). Cyclic existence emerges from fundamental ignorance (avidyā) through a process known as the twelve links of dependent origination (dvādaśaṅgapratītyasamutpāda). When fundamental ignorance, identified as the misapprehension of the nature of actual reality (dharmatā) is reversed, cyclic existence is itself reversed, and the contrasting state of nirvāṇa is attained, free from suffering and the processes of rebirth. See also under dependent origination, and nirvāṇa. GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)