Re: rebirth

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Posted by Tim ( on October 08, 2000 at 09:12:57:

In Reply to: rebirth posted by Jon on October 08, 2000 at 01:27:42:

Have you ever had the experience of looking at something, zooming in on it, and suddenly realizing that it looks different at that range? Then zooming in again and finding yet another world and set of facts and existence? And again, and again. Every so often a magazine publishes pictures of everyday objects under extreme magnification with commentary on how different they look at that level.

That's how the world looks in general, and that's how Buddhism looks too. "We" are not reborn; the karma is reborn, as a pattern held together with the sticky ooze we create for ourselves. That's on a single-life level. Zoom in and you'll find that we also die and are reborn in every moment. But only adepts live on that level. Most us live our lives on the single-life level. On that level, we have to fight to survive illness, forage for food, tend to our organismal needs. It's on that level that we have to go to work, plan for the future, stock our shelves and make love. The point is not to get stuck on that level. Practice lets us zoom both out and in. We get a bigger perspective, and a smaller one. We get to see the universe as a whole, and ourselves as assemblies of actions. Both directions show us interconnected with everything else.

There isn't anything physical passed on from moment to moment, or from lifetime to lifetime, at least not sequentially. (You may indeed be made up partly of elements you used once before, for instance.) At all times we are just results of actions. Those actions (which we can call "karma") have results, which we often call "us", both now and in future lifetimes. So it's a matter of semantics whether you say "something goes on" or "nothing goes on". Both are true, but only partly.


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