The Philosophy of Reincarnation and the Now Moment

Presence and Reincarnation; A Contradiction in Terms?

meditationWe talked in class, about the importance of presence, and the role of meditation in bringing us back to the only moment that has ever, and that will ever, exist—Now. And then a student asked a question:

“But Hindus believe in reincarnation—isn’t that a future-worry?”

At the heart of meditation, in Hinduism, and in all the Dharmic traditions, including Buddha Dharma and Sikh Dharma, is the importance placed on nurturing our power of focused awareness. It strengthens the mind’s ability to consciously choose, anew in each moment, where to focus its attention. As it happens, the best thing to focus on is now, and although there are countless reasons why, these are the three most important ones:

1.  Now is it the most incredible and momentous event of our lives.

2.  Now is the only time and place joy lives.

3. Now is the only time and place we can discover how the mind really works, and thus, get it to work better.

Now starts with the simple sensation of our own breath flowing in through our noses, and down into our lungs. Watching this is where presence begins and where true meditation begins.

I can appreciate my student’s concern about reincarnation, and the idea that if it happens at a future time, then thinking about it would seem to constitute future thinking—a direct contradiction to the enterprise of staying present.

However—and this is at the heart of my response—Just because you know the rest of the staircase is there, doesn’t mean you ever walk more than one step at a time!

The subtler nuances of my response concern the idea of reincarnation itself, which may be conceived of in myriad ways.

Ask a Zen Buddhist what she thinks of reincarnation and get one answer. Ask 10 others and get 10 more. Ask a Hindu, get another one still. Life and death happens every moment. It happens because you change every moment. In each and every moment, the forces of creation, preservation and destruction happen within you and without you, on every level of your physical, spiritual and mental existence. On the cellular level there is a war going on, and in the world of our minds, as meditation clearly shows us, we are forever duking it out.

But we only notice the aftermath and inevitable changes that follow, when something moves us and shakes us to such a degree that we’re thrown into shock—when we’re sure nothing will ever be the same again. We must remember though, that at any moment, we may proclaim with absolute certainty, that nothing will ever be the same again. We always notice only later, when, seen through the bittersweet palette of our mind’s eye, we gaze nostalgically back upon the events of our lives.

Reincarnation, conceived of in the most brute sense, as the soul taking up residence in a new physical vessel, after the complete physical death of the prior, is still just an extension of the way life is already—you know there’s a tomorrow, but you don’t live there. You know you’ll die, but you choose to live, while you’re alive.

In this unrefined interpretation of reincarnation, the soul’s rebirth is determined by the karmic balance left after our physical existence is done. But in the meantime, and in realtime, through meditation, we can redeem our innumerable debts. When we say we choose to live, we can really do it, by waking up now. The Hindus call it Moksha. We can all call it liberation.

 

8 Comments

  1. Meditation can be a key factor in stimulating energy and selfness in the mind, body, and soul. If we take the time to learn and practice yoga and meditation we can heal the body through stretching and breathing exercises. These can all be significantly beneficial to our well being.

     
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  2. “It is Buddha’s Birthday, also known as Hana Matsuri in Japan. The story goes that when the Buddha was born, dragons flew down from heaven and poured fragrant water over the land, like a sweet rain, and all the flowers on land and water bloomed simultaneously. So on this day, statues of a young Buddha are decorated with flowers and carried to temples in procession, and children in Japan take turns pouring sweet tea over the Buddha’s head. It is a day of gratitude.”
    -Writer’s Almanac 4/7/11

    Great Article and Happy Birthday to Buddha.

     
    Reply
  3. It ultimately boils down to the classic saying that “the journey is more important than the destination.” This article expands on that and solidifies why that belief is so essential. If people always focus on getting to end point to end point through out their lives, they’ll never be happy because they don’t feel fulfilled. Fulfillment is learning to let go and letting yourself become one with your experience. It applies to all areas of life, actually.

    If someone always throws themselves into accomplishing a goal, but doesn’t the little time necessary to just appreciate the changes they’re already making in themselves, they’ll become frustrated if they ever reach their goals.

     
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  4. LOL.
    .
    .
    “I am not a woman.”
    “I am not a man.”
    “I am not a person.”
    “I am not myself.”
    “I am a teacher.”

     
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  5. professor quesada, you are the man!

     
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    • And the woman too! :)

       
      Reply
  6. After reading this truly great and informative article and also being in your philosophy class, I’v realized that I really need to meditate more!!! Thank you for your help professor Quesada!

     
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  7. A very unique article. Effectively combines the ideas of meditation (now), Reincarnation, and Upanishandic Principles to further emphasize the idea that all in one (the soul).

    Really captures the spirit and unique fundamentalism of Hindu Meditation and Yogic Principles! This article will HELP awaken your “intellect” and liberate your “Moksha”

    Good job!

    -Troy

     
    Reply

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