So I thought TNO's ending was just that. Awakening to his true self. Until then, through all his lifetimes, he had been attempting to either escape or overcome his karma. He made an about-face and embraced it instead. And at that instant he was liberated.
I don't think he physically ceased to exist at that moment; we did see him still alive and kicking, in a manner of speaking, in the final cinematic. But in Buddhist terms, that would be his final lifetime, and when the clock would eventually run out on him — and it would, whether it would take a day, a year, a century, or an aeon — he would be free from the wheel of rebirth.
(Some Buddhists believe that after awakening you stop creating new karma, but you still have to work off the karma you had accumulated before awakening. That's another way of seeing why TNO had to do as he did at the ending.)
Originally Posted by Prime Junta
In traditional Buddhism, there's nothing particularly special about death. The thing you call "you" has no intrinsic existence; it's just a stream of moments of consciousness which gives the illusion of continuity, much like a movie consisting of still frames projected in quick succession gives the illusion of motion. This stream is constantly transforming, and can also stop. A hard blow to the head will do that, for example. If it's not hard enough to kill you, it will eventually resume, and because it's drawing from a pool of memories and habits it gives the illusion of being the "same" stream that was interrupted before you got hit on the head.
Sin, however, is IMO the wrong lens with which to look at the game. The crucial difference between sin and karma is that sin involves transgression against universal or divine laws, and imply a judge and punishment (or forgiveness, in the case of Christianity). Something external to you that sees, judges, and punishes or forgives IOW. You can't really have sin without a judge and/or a redeemer.
Karma, however, is entirely impersonal. Suppose you take a really heavy rock, aim carefully, and drop it on your big toe. The result will be intense pain. You do not need a judge sentencing you to that pain, nor an executioner to inflict that pain, nor can any external redeemer free you from that pain. Pain is simply the consequence of dropping a heavy rock on your toe. All the dharmic religions see karma more or less this way. Anything you do will come back to you, as implacably and impersonally as a rock dropped on your toe will cause pain, and a drink of cool water when you're thirsty on a hot day will cause relief.
Originally Posted by Maylander
I've given the ending of PST a fair bit of thought over the years. Given how the D&D setting works (travelling the planes etc), I'd say the ending we see is anything but final. Keep in mind that while TNO is now mortal again, he is probably the most powerful mortal in all the planes as he's gained the memory and knowledge of a thousand lifetimes.
Someone as powerful as TNO shouldn't have much trouble escaping the war by travelling to Sigil, Fearun or whatever.