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July 28, 2007


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I think most Westerners, when looking at Buddhist rebirth, use worldly logic (which is incomplete and is profane) that excludes the absolute from the equation. Most Asian Buddhists know that they are not born out of "nothing", and certainly there will be more "good" or "bad" rebirth pending the outcome of how one lives his/her life here.

Like one Zen master that I know says that when one sees a turtle on the fence post, it certainly did not get there on its own. So I think rebirth is not some kind of blind chance and/or random possibility. Rebirth in itself, ensures that one lives "morally" and those who don't know rebirth or refuse to know rebirth, will repeat bad rebirth again and again.

Certainly, no "god" is going to come down to save mankind from the madness that in itself, is an endless dream that one has created on his/her own.

I enjoy reading your posts, though I remain on the side of the skeptics when it comes to any of the variety of "life-after-death" scenarios offered by various belief sets, including the notion of rebirth proffered by the Buddha.

Here's why. I agree that birth and its concomitant consciousness are remarkable. But there is no logic that connects birth and consciousness to more. Is rebirth a possibility which I cannot exclude based on evidence available to me? Yes. But so, too, is the possibility that I'll be turned into a banana tree by tomorrow morning.

The only thing that makes me more interested in rebirth than in banana-tree-ism is that people whom I have come to respect deeply tell me that they've had experiences that led them to believe in one or more versions of the life-after-death scenarios.

But knowing the ability of my own mind to delude me, I can't rule out the possibility that delusion extends more broadly than my own experience. In a way, I suppose, my resistance to accepting such a belief stems from the very utility I perceive such a belief might have, whether it is based in relatively objective experience or whether it's completely an invention. If something is so useful, we'll tend to delude ourselves into believing it, just to have its utility available to ourselves.

So I sit on my zafu, notice my thoughts, and see what there is to see.

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