This week seems like a good time to talk about the cycle of life that is called Samsara in Eastern Philosophy. Within the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism and Yoga, there is the notion of this never ending cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.
According to this understanding, our life is only one of many that stretches back through the eons. In order to be freed from this cycle we must strive to attain enlightenment. Raja Yoga is what is the official term for what we in the West widely call Yoga. There are indeed three types of Yoga that come from Hindu tradition- Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga, all of which offer a path toward freedom from the cycle of Samsara.
You don’t have to be Hindu in order to gain the benefits of Yoga or even to benefit from an understanding of Samsara. We have cycles in our lives constantly. Realizing that there are cycles and stages to our lives, we can come closer to happiness in this life, no matter what our beliefs may be about the next.
I encourage you to meditate on the cycles of life that you see around you. In nature there is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth constantly. But also in our lives we see that stage of our life are born, die, and then we are reborn as new people. Here’s an easy example that we can all relate to. When you’re young, you’re a student. You’ll be a student for years and years. You were born into the life of a student on the first day that you set foot into a classroom and when you graduate from high school or college, your student self dies and is reborn into an adult.
You can see the cycle of Samsara all around you. Look for it in big places and small places to help you find peace in the constant change.