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~