It’s time to take a detour from the personal practice series to traverse a topic that without exception, impacts each and every being on the planet — karma and rebirth. The majority of us take for granted that this life we’re living is our only loop on the roller coaster and therefore, not a matter we commonly consider. Yet, if we look closely, we may discover that this underlying perception touches virtually every aspect of our daily lives.
As a welcome to the New Year, the question of rebirth can be seen brazenly prancing through the piece, Have We Met? I’d apologize for the overt manner in which the theme is introduced, but it wouldn’t be sincere. It does however, come from the right place. Rattling the cage of our belief system is not about parroting Eastern doctrine, nor is it due to having spent too many months with a meditation blanket wrapped around my head.
Karma and rebirth are worthy subjects of consideration, primarily due to our deeply grounded confidence in the contrary. Sprouting from our trust in this seed of certainty, this principle source of influence provides a beacon guiding the direction of our behavior. Every decision we make — the methods by which we raise our children, how our leisure time is spent, career choices and each set of ethical crossroads we encounter, in some way stems from this core. But have we ever considered examining the basis?
As a planetary populace we have, generally speaking, accepted our faith via cultural inheritance. For all the energy spent on arguing about whose God trumps whose, many of us have given very little consideration to the logistical conditions surrounding our religious convictions. If born in another culture, with another set of parents, my mother would have told me I was xxx. We’d have different prayers, holidays and very likely, physical representations of who or what this meant. I would no sooner question this upbringing than I did the Catholic traditions I was born into.
Although it would appear that the pious are divided geographically, dogma however, is not. There is no exclusivity on asserting a set of moral principles that aren’t fully understood or followed. Many of us, from youth through adulthood have accepted what we’ve been taught as truth. Our trust in parents, teachers, religious community and society, have provided an unflinching security in these assertions. But even if after careful investigation, we decide that our faith makes sense, how many of us have ever comparison-shopped?
This is certainly not to suggest moving from one organized religion to another. Creed swapping will not provide immediate alleviation from our existing mindset; these habituated impressions are culturally ingrained aspects of our being. This dialogue is merely designed to open our eyes to the possibility, that there may be rationale to begin digging a bit deeper.
The topic can be unsettling for numerous reasons (and for this I do apologize). The most glaring of which is, a lack of understanding as to how this impacts the rules of engagement within the game we’re currently playing. Many of us have barely begun to feel as if we’re moving forwarded within the existing constructs of our lives. If the rules are suddenly changed, this may not bode well for our current tactics. For, even if we are executing all the right moves, if we’re playing them out on the wrong board, we are never going to win.
There are very good reasons why we wash the dishes before going to bed, brush our teeth every day and take our cars in for regular maintenance. These proactive measures are employed to alleviate our future selves of the headaches involved with cleaning up a mess. Tremendous amounts of time are expended planning for our future, ensuring our comfort, and minimizing the burden we place on those we care about.
However, if we’ve got another several thousand lifetimes or so ahead of us, would it not at least be at least marginally prudent, to consider what might be required to line up our next rebirth to be a pleasant one? It is far from guaranteed and our immediate lack of exposure to this understanding is a blinding factor inhibiting our present approach. A bit of investigation may not only assist us in better navigating the waters of this life, but also in judiciously aligning us in the next.
In the West alone, there are thousands of educated individuals that are affiliated with philosophies that propound the systems of karma and rebirth. These individuals don’t necessary hold these views because they are Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh. They stand by their affiliation because it corresponds to their views.
The subjects of karma and rebirth have been thoroughly explored, analyzed and expounded. It’s only because we haven’t looked, that we’ve not contemplated the findings. There are considerations that cannot be ignored with even just a cursory examination, and far too many uncertainties if we blindly accept the one life only assertion, simply because it’s what we [think we] know.
There is only one answer to the question of rebirth. We either come back or we don’t; there is no middle ground. It’s a line of reasoning that can only enhance the awareness we have of ourselves, and the world in which we live — regardless of whether or not we shift our opinions.
Pushing through this unmarked door is a new beginning, revealing the vast expanse of life’s mysterious landscape. Diving into this deeper meaning of existence is far more captivating with eyes wide-open. You can then decide if this changes anything.
Or if it changes everything…
~ by Christine Fowle
~ Featured Image: Buddha Meditation by Bigsteel
~ Embedded Image: Open Door by VeryAngelic