Hinduism is the world's oldest major religion, adhering to the belief in samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth that is also known as reincarnation. People accumulate positive and negative karma during their lifetimes. A person's karma corresponds to his or her good deeds or evil actions. The karma earned affects the soul as it is reborn into the next life. The ultimate goal of Hinduism is called moksha, meaning salvation from samsara. This can only be achieved by abandoning all earthly desires and becoming one with the universal soul. Salvation from the cycle of reincarnation means that a person will no longer have to endure the repeated pain and suffering of earthly existence.
Buddhists also believe in the samsara cycle of reincarnation, death and rebirth. The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was a boy who lived a privileged life and attained enlightenment after questioning his spiritual state and wandering as a hermit. He finally achieved enlightenment by following the Eightfold Path, the middle way between excess and self-deprivation. The Buddha taught that to end the state of suffering, one must follow this path to become free of desire and achieve nirvana, or salvation from samsara.
In short, Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism believe that the soul is reborn over and over into new lives. The ultimate goal is to end the suffering of reincarnation by exiting the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Reincarnation is seen as a path leading to this salvation. Human existence is perceived as cyclical rather than linear. Souls can be reborn into humans, plants or animals.
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