On Rebirth, Immortality and the debris that we are

Buddhist Wheel of Life (Bhavachakra). Here Yama, the Lord of Death is holding the symbolic Wheel of Life

This week I am in a pensive mood. The last few months have been rough and so it helps to step back and re-investigate some of the bigger life questions – You know the usual – what’s the deal with reincarnation, rebirth and Karma is? Are we truly born and born again, if so what is the point of life? What determines if I am born again as a cow, an ape or even a born-again christian? (the last is my attempt at faith based humor) … and what is all this Karma stuff?

It all became clear to me one night in a seedy neighbourhood in San Francisco where a friend and I were discussing a book called “God’s Debris”. The discussion moved from one abstract theory to another for most of the night – As we were winding down, the topic changed to his two sons as he tried to explain to me the experience of being a father. Being a committed single man on the prowl, honestly my interest started to wane off – that was until he described the day of his son’s birth.

A birth of a child, as he described it, was rebirth – at the very moment his child was born, he felt an energy transfer to his son & felt that life had given him a second chance. Nothing else mattered at that moment as he says he knew he would live on. What a wonderful concept, I thought to myself – but, as with other concepts traversed that night it vaporised with the first light of dawn.

To be honest, it did not truly sink in until I picked up my parents at the airport this week. As with any teenager I was a rebel – I identified with the wrong crowds, tried to break away from my parents shadow as I tried to reassert my own identity; but this week as my Dad and Mom step into my car it suddenly dawned upon me that as I grew older I was claiming a lot of their traits. The physical similarities at first glance are obvious – but if you look at it deeper, although we may have different experiences shape us, we have common aspirations for the future, we share many values and to a greater degree even approach challenges in a similar vein.

Perhaps that is rebirth – Our hopes dreams and values are passed on from generation to generation and when I am no longer around, that will be personified in my offspring. In a way that makes us all immortal – AND that my friends, is a wonderful feeling.

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