Eight Worldly Thoughts

Being happy when….

we get something

we feel good

we become well known

someone speaks well of us


Being unhappy when…

we don’t get something

we feel sick

we aren’t well known

someone puts us down

These are the things that keep us chained in samsara or cyclic life.  To be free of the eight worldly thoughts is to be free or close to freedom.

Groundhog Day

This is the first post in a series on my favorite spiritual and/or Buddhist movies.

Groundhog Day is one of the best illustrations of the idea ogroundhog day movie coverf cyclic life (samsara) and how we are trapped.  This comedy, released in 1993, has Bill Murray redoing the same day over and over and over again.  He starts out a semi-nasty character and follows along on that tract trying over and over to seduce Andie MacDowell as he repeats the same day over and over.  He mingles in crime and debauchery.  He reaches a state of desperation and then, over time, he lets go of his unethical ways and begins to embrace goodness until finally he wakes up one day and time has begun to move again.  He has become, free from cyclic life!

The movie is a perfect illustration of the slow process of enlightenment.  This slow process guarantees that all sentient beings will become enlightened and leave cyclic life by a process of trial and error.  Not unlike Bill Murray, we will all eventually learn what doesn’t bring us lasting happiness and will discover what does.


Samsara is the Sanskrit for “cyclic life” or korwa (Tibetan)

The definition in Tibetan is:
sakche nyerlen gyi pungpoy gyun yagne yangdu lenpa ni korwa yin

which is translated:

Samsara is the condition of having to take on, over and over again, a stream of impure parts (heaps or aggregates) which were forced on you.

The Tibetan word pungpoy refers to something like a heap or pile.  The Sanskrit is skandha which is usually translated as aggregates.

The Tibetan word nyerlen implies that you are forced (by karma in this case) to take on the impure parts.

The idea of samsara and being forced to be reborn is central to the Buddha’s teachings and in contrast to some spiritual schools of thought that believe we choose to come into this world in order to learn lessons that we have likewise chosen to learn.  This is an interesting samsaric idea, but closer examination of the mind reveals how little choice we have in our unenlightened state.

Enlightenment marks the end of samsara as evidenced in the Buddha’s words:

Through countless births in the cycle of existence I have run, not finding although seeking the builder of this house; and again and again I have faced the suffering of new birth.

Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen.
You shall not build a house again for me.
All your beams are broken, the ridgepole is shattered.
The mind has become freed from conditioning; the end of craving has been reached.

—Dhammapada XI. 8&9 (153&154)