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Lions Roar : May 2018
I have no proofs for or against rebirth. That said, the idea that there’s a carryover of karmic seeds, which determine a person’s life experiences, can be applied in harmful ways. The implication is that if your life is full of misfortune and misery, you’ve no one but yourself to blame. Those who suffer shouldn’t be made to feel they’re being punished for something that happened in a past they can’t remember. —Annette Seidenglanz, Burlington, Vermont My oldest son, who was very non-verbal as a young child, told me in detail about a previ- ous death in which he fell while wearing red shoes. He also talked about watching a mur- der “from above.” He was about four years old at the time. The murder was a real case, but there was no way he could have known about it without a past life connection. —Kim Breimeier, Minnesota I’ve watched as my children grew up, my atti- tudes changed, my life entered new phases, new careers, and in new countries. Rebirth? Every second I’m born again, every day, every year. If it happens like this, it can happen after this form of “me” is long gone. —José M. Tirado, Hafnarfjorður, Iceland When we die, we’re carried on into the future by those we’ve touched, and those people keep sharing with more people. Thus, what you’ve left behind is shared forever. In that way we never die. —Barbie Weppler, Calgary, Alberta Without a faith in rebirth, Buddhism is nothing but a quaint psychology. The whole point of a Buddhist path is to escape the chains of rebirth. The longer I practice, the more clearly I’m able to see the cycle I’d like to escape. Belief in rebirth doesn’t seem to be a foundation for practice, but rather its flowering. —Linda J. Daly, Norristown, Pennsylvania SHARE YOUR WISDOM Do you believe in rebirth? What makes you a Buddhist? Send your answer, photo, and location to firstname.lastname@example.org Though I’m devout Christian, my answer is yes. The beauty of nature and life is cyclical. Why wouldn’t we die to be reborn? I used to question my belief, but I looked up “resurrec- tion” and “rebirth” and found that the words are similar enough that I no longer question it. —Robin Whitley, Beech Mountain, North Carolina While rebirth and past lives are referred to many times in the Pali canon, I’ve never understood what’s reborn. If it’s the person and personality, wouldn’t this contradict Buddhism’s teaching of anatta, not-self? All cultures and religious traditions have a notion of an afterlife which serves to console the dying. If a lie makes someone less fear- ful, I’m not against it. But as a materialist, I believe that when my body-brain dies, my self lives on only in the memories of my friends. I like poet Mary Oli- ver’s belief that we have only “one wild and precious life.” —Will Yaryan, Bangkok, Thailand I’ve had an unshakable belief in rebirth since before I learned the word in grade school. I believe I was born into this life having practiced Buddhism in other lives, and I feel deeply grateful to be able to pick up my studies again. —Sue-Marie Casagrande, Poulsbo, Washington With a background in natural history, the common dynamics I see are cycles. Life just keeps going one way or another. This happens because of that—that happens because of this. So why not rebirth? What comes around goes around seems far more logical than to end up in one place... forever. —Bill Krumbein, Santa Rosa, California Karma has been called the twin doctrine of hope and responsibility. It makes sense to me that we return to clean up our own messes and to continue to love old connections and new. Rebirth as a mechanism for continuity seems neces- sary. I don’t expect to be “me” again, but whatever “I” picks up the thread will carry hopes and responsibilities onward. —Katherine Elswick, Cave Creek, Arizona LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 27 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE