20 May 2021

Rebirth - Illusory Advice


Apprentice: One Buddhist ‘belief’ I’ve never been sure about is rebirth. I find it interesting, and maybe helpful to adopt as an attitude sometimes ... but I can’t say I ‘believe’ it.

Teachers: Sure – that is fine. Rebirth can be held as a possibility rather than as a belief. You cannot prove that you will wake up in the morning, but experience shows that this is the most likely possibility at this stage of your life, given your current level of health.

Develop an understanding of emptiness and form, perception and response, continuity of consciousness, the arising and dissolution of the elements – and it seems most likely that death is not final and total. A continuity of some description is more likely. Thus you can live with the open view of rebirth being the most likely possibility – but not as a rigid, fixed ‘belief.’

Rebirth, from one life to the next, cannot be proven through your current experience. You can however, look at rebirth as the moment-by-moment experience of your life: you die and are reborn in each moment. For each new moment to arise, the previous moment has to die. ‘You’ die in each moment, and ‘you’ are reborn into each moment. ‘You’ are never quite the same from one moment to another, and as such, a new person arises into each moment. It is excellent to question these things and ponder on them, and the only source of certainty and confidence is your practice. 

Illusory Advice, Ngakma Nor’dzin & Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin, Aro Books Worldwide, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-898185-37-6, p26


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