Search This Blog


Buddhism in the News


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Poem and A Passage

James: I'll start with a lovely poem that I've seen on the lastest Macy's commercial:

The Earth has come to life today.
Spring is here, horray, horray. The flowers are happy. They wave delight. The sun shines bright with all her might. So fly little fairy, fly, fly, fly. Fly through the meadow & touch the sky. When you get to where your going, Remember this day. The day the Earth came out to play.

James: The following are some excerpts from the book, Buddhism is Now What You Think: Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs regarding rebirth and reincarnation. There is some confusion in Buddhism over these two different concepts:

One common understanding of Buddhism is that it involves reincarnation. But if we go back to the original insights of the Buddha, we don't find this teaching. What the Buddha taught was rebirth, not reincarnation. Though they are often confused, they are not the same at all. And we sometimes come up with thoughts of reincarnation: "I'll come back as someone else." Sometimes these notions are coupled with the idea that if we're good, we can come back in more fortunate circumstances. What all of these concepts have in common is that they suppose some enduring entity--incarnate, here and now--that persists and, after it dies, disintegrates, only to reemerge as something else again. But there's a problem here. If it becomes something else, then in what way is it the same? How is it still, in some manner, what it used to be? And if it's not, then how is this reincarnation? Indeed, what does the term it even refer to?

Here is what many people miss (or ignore) about the Buddhadharma: the Buddha himself pointed out that this view is inaccurate and extreme. It's called the eternalistic view--but the awakened see directly that permanence is never found, that the eternalistic view simply doesn't hold up. As the great thirteenth-century Japanese Zen teacher Dogen Zenji said, "Just as firewood does not revert to firewood once it burns to ash, so a person does not return to life after death." The fact is, within this one life span, as we live from moment to moment to moment, we are never a particular, unchanging person. You are not the same person you were ten or twenty years ago. In fact, you're not the same person you were ten or twenty minutes ago.
Nothing persists. Nothing repeats. Nothing returns. Each moment is fresh, new, unique--impermanent. There is no way to hold a view of reincarnation without holding a view of permanence.

This moment has been born again and again, innumerable times while you've read this chapter. Learning to see this, and not the recycling of souls,
is the liberation the Buddha pointed to.

James: The other extreme wrong view is that of nihilism. That we die and we are snuffed out but this is false thinking because there is nothing to "snuff out." Believing that we cease to "be" is Wrong View because it presupposes a belief in materialism. That there is something that can be "born" out of nothing into something and back to nothing it returns. It is a view that acknowledges pain, suffering and death that comes with life but then says that a "person" ceases to exist forever. Meaning that death or non-existence is permanent. "Things" can not be permanent and impermanent at the same time.

Just wanted to point out the other side of the issue.

~Peace to all beings~

Stumble Upon Toolbar


dragonflyfilly said...

Thanks for the fairy verse, i really enjoyed reading it...and thanks for the clarification ref. rebirth and reincarnation...i can see it is hard to accept that i am not the same person i was 20 years ago, because although i know this is true, i still feel like the same person, but of course i know that this is not possible, it is merly my eroneous perception of myself.



Anonymous said...

Hope you all are doing good.

Here are some opportunities for doing activities for global good without any capital investiment.

A. Click to donate sites. By clicking on links at these sites, the sites will engage in activities of social good.

B. Search and donate sites. For every search we do on these search sites, a certain sum will paid to charities.

C. Using the unused processing power of our computers for global good.

D. Instant message and contribute.

Feel free to share all these links and messages to all your colleagues/ friends.

david said...

Thanks James,

It's a very empowering thing to be awakened that rebirth is a continual process.

I've always understood this notion as we find it in Tibetan teachings. It is essentially the view that there are no "dead" people. It is an anti-nihilistic view of the no-self reality of existence.

The consciuosness that we are, which is a process, continues along. Our minds are constantly transforming and what we call death is just another day of transformation.

The tibetan word "Bardo" is accurately translated as "the between". We are in the long "between" right now, the world of action. When we sleep we are in the "dream between". When we die we are in the "reality between". Once there we will get some true insights but, we will be drawn back by our karma and our attachments of the long "between" This particular "wave form" that we call our "selves" re-emrergers to work out these attachements.

We are not in a place, as such, we exist in the infinite and we are always between, because you can never really be anywhere

MethoDeist said...

Thanks for that as I really enjoyed it. I have never liked the idea of reincarnation or other aspects of theological Buddhism but I am a practitioner of philosophical Buddhism or Dharma.

I had read that the Buddha never really talked about reincarnation, God and the like but this just clarifies that.

I also like Process Philosophy (and many other philosophies as well) that all take the view that was stated here. That life is always changing and becoming new as each moment passes. That everything is in a constant state of change and evolution. I understand that many do not like this because they want something permanent but that in and of itself shows non-acceptance which is a part of craving which brings about dissatisfaction and suffering.

I have always felt that afterlife scenarios are nothing but ways to make us feel better about death or in the case of Cosmic Karma and Heaven/Hell to keep us in line out of fear of punishment.

I don't see not focusing on what happens when we die as nihilistic because life has meaning in purpose in living in the moment and enjoying life in its fullness.

It is much better to practice mindfulness and focus on the here and now of ones life in my book.


"James" said...


It is a scary prospect but such a liberating one. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem. :)


Yes, empowering is a great word. Thank-you for the explanation of the Tibetan wisdom on this matter.


Great point on focusing on THIS MOMENT as it is the only moment. And in focusing on THIS MOMENT we realize that it is a precious, beautiful, wonderful moment. We can make of it whatever we wish.

Greenwoman said...

Hello James...My eyes are watering from a headcold too much to read closely...but I loved the picture and wanted to say hello. ((hugs))

Mac said...

great post James! This is a topic I struggled with for a time.

trinitystar said...

Great thought evoking post.
There is no permanency in life as you say each moment changes as we do with that moment. Continuous.
love your sweet poem.
hugs :o)

Paul said...

THank you, James! If I've understood you correctly, then I find your view that death cannot be permanent because all "things" are impermanent very interesting. Thanks for posting that! You've given me plenty to think about.

"James" said...

Green Woman:

Aww thanks for saying hello. I just got over a head cold. I hope you're feeling a little better by now.

I bow to you.


Thanks. I'm glad that you found some insight through the post. Namaste.


I wish that was my poem but it's from a commercial. It is a great poem though. :)


Ah, yes it is something to meditate upon. I have been doing just that for some time now and am finding some peace with it all. All the best.

dragonflyfilly said...

Hi James,
since you posted this and i read it, there has been a HUGE shift. and yes, confusing and frightening...when i all at once realized that i am not who i thought i was very alarming...but the alarm passed and i am feeling a little more settled.


ShareThis Option