عنوان مقاله [English]
Death has preoccupied the minds of sociologist, philosophers and historians who have tried to deconstruct it in recent decades and suggested new ways for understanding, acting and living besides it (Walter, 1994). Despite the last centuries in which people faced death directly, new ways of understanding and deconstructing death is influenced by mass media images, interpretation and representations developed by social scientists (Jacobsen, 2013: 15). These studies have been carried out under the title of " Thanatology".. Although death is a natural phenomenon, it is also a social and cultural thing or as sociology is concerned a social construction. It must seem obvious that religions have always and everywhere been concerned about death, even in prehistoric times when what we now call “religion” was not yet institutionalized (Bregmen, 2010: 1). From religious point of view, Death is the gateway to the other world. According to most theories of early religion, a great deal, if not all, of religious inspiration has been derived from it. The idea of immortality was also derived from religions (Lifton and Olson, 1974: 35 ). So it is necessary to describe these ideas if one wants to deal with them. This paper aims at recognizing the cultural condition ,related rituals and representations to Buddhism. It tries to answer this question that death representations in Buddhism show what aspects and values of their society?
This is a qualitative research which uses document analysis technique. Social representations have content and structure. Content includes information, believe and attitudes which are used by special groups to refer to social things. On the other hand, structural elements show the way that content is organized. They can be divided into two parts: core and periphery. This approach is called Central Core theory (Abric, 1994). So the data was gathered using this approach to recognize social representation of death in Buddhism. Based on this approach, there are three criteria to identify representations: symbolic value, expressive value, associative value. In this paper the emphasis is on the symbolic value that is defined as: symbolic element has a symbolic value that is identified via recognition of elements which can change the meanings.
The history of Buddhism is a mixture of fact, myth and legend. Traditionally, Buddhists claim their faith is eternal, synonymous with reality itself. While the teachings may seem abstract, they come from specific, concrete situation that all human beings can relate to. Death is regular occurrence in any society. Buddhist teachings stress the inherently fragile and impermanent nature of existence and try to promote acceptance and understanding so that we may transcend the suffering that comes with life and its inevitable end. Death is merely a fact of existence. death is intimately tied to birth. Anything that is born will inevitably die. Life is, in this sense, a perpetual perishing. Every moment, thus, is essentially marked by death, and it leads inevitably to another birth, another death, and so on. Thus, samsara is a thoroughly interdependent and interconnected cycle. The interconnectedness of birth, life, and death was a cornerstone of traditional Indian cosmology.
It may seem that all of this focus on funerals and death gives Buddhism a gloomy demeanor, many people are concerned about the religion being reduced to ‘‘Funeral Buddhism’’.Nonetheless, facing death is an important part of Buddhism. After all, the Buddha taught that one overcomes suffering by understanding and acceptance rather than avoidance. By and large, cultures where Buddhism has flourished are resigned to death, regarding it as the basic accompaniment to life. They think funeral rituals are a regular part of the Buddhist life cycle. Moreover, because life is a constant process of change, grief too, as part of life, shall ultimately pass. Buddhist teachings and practices, by promoting depth of understanding, attest to one of life’s great paradoxes: that joy can be found even in the midst of suffering. Certainly Buddhism from its inception has insisted that death must be accepted rather than denied or ignored. Such acceptance, though, should not be confused with a morbid, necrophiliac curiosity. In this, perhaps, Buddhism is no different from other major world religions. Moreover, like other religions, Buddhism offers a host of ritual practices for handling death, and its teachings offer hope and consolation for both the deceased and the bereaved. As far as Buddhism is concerned, then, it seems to be a source of great psychological and sociological wisdom when it comes to dealing with our inevitable mortality.Yet Buddhism offers more than this. In its focus on death, Buddhism paradoxically prompts us to ask ourselves whether we are really living. Since death is inevitable and could happen at any moment, life is precious. In truth, it is in this moment and this moment alone that we live, and we should embrace it here and now in all its awful glory.
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