Does giving up Samsara mean giving up on life in general?

A Student writes:

In the book ‘Words of my Precious Teacher’ by Patrul Rinpoche it says ‘remember always that the activities of samsara are transient and without the slightest meaning’. What does that mean in regard to our daily lives, and where does this leave us in relation to Karma?  

Lama Shenpen responds:

In this quote the way ‘samsara’ is being used in quite specific.  It doesn’t mean everything. It is not saying everything is transient and without the slightest meaning.

I often see samsara being used to mean life in general.  It doesn’t mean life in general.  Samsara means the weary round of rebirth driven by ignorance of our true nature beyond thought, clinging to wrong views, getting caught up in the complications of our confused thinking that turns all we do into karmic actions that bring about further entrapment in samsara – the weary round of rebirth and falling into the sufferings of the six realms. 

All of this that is meaningless suffering. If we could really understand our true nature, the nature of life itself, we could enjoy unalloyed happiness forever, working to bring all beings to that same state of truth and peace.  That would indeed be meaningful wouldn’t it?  Samsara is meaningless – Dharma is the path to ultimate meaningfulness!

Lama Shenpen Hookham

Become a student of Lama Shenpen, join the Living the Awakened Heart Training – the structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme. The training, which is open to all, brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at

2 thoughts on “Does giving up Samsara mean giving up on life in general?

  1. Could samsara be seen not as meaningless but rather as providing conditions that mirror our ignorance and confusion to back to us so we can begin to uncover our heart’s awareness? Could we see samsara as providing us with the obstacles without which we would not be prodded into slowly slowly seeing and acting through our Buddha Nature? Are our our activities to support the mandalas near and far into which we are woven not meaningful even though stained with attachments and not (yet) an expression of unconditioned love? Thank you for your response!

    1. Hi Leslie, thank you for your question. Unfortunately Lama Shenpen isn’t able to reply personally to questions on here. We share Lama’s responses to questions sent directly to her by her students/Sangha members. You’re asking an interesting question. In my understanding, what I’m hearing from your question, is that it’s already in line with what Lama is saying here. If by Samsara you mean the world around us, then that will always be meaningful. If you’re practising Dharma then everything becomes even more meaningful as that’s ‘the path of ultimate meaningfulness’ as Lama says. So turning towards all experiences in our daily life, our different mandalas, examining our hearts/minds, habits, using obstacles as practice and keep re-aligning ourselves with the direction of Awakening, then every action is very much meaningful. Lama says that our actions will always be mixed with the ego mandala until complete and perfect awakening, but if we’re checking in with our heart wish, continually aligning to our practice mandala, then as much as possible our actions will be aligned with the Dharma and very meaningful. It’s just our endless clinging to wrong views etc that is meaningless. Hope that helps in some way! Best wishes, site admin/AHS mentor

Comments are closed.