Why are we born?
We are born so that we will not have to be born again.
No matter where you prepare your last bed,
No matter where the sword of death falls,
The terrifying messengers of death descend,
Horrid and giant; and glare with thirsty eyes.
Friends and family, weeping, surround you.
Eyeing your wealth and possessions,
They offer prayers and enshroud you.
Unprepared, you pass away;
Helpless and alone.
From 'Songs of spiritual change' by His Holiness the 7th
Dalai Lama (transl. Glenn Mullin)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The basis on which Buddhist[s] accept the concept of rebirth is principally the continuity of consciousness . . . If you trace our present mind or consciousness back, then you will find that you are tracing the origin of the continuity of mind into an infinite dimension; it is, as you will see, beginningless.
Therefore there must be successive rebirths that allow that continuum of mind to be there.
We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible
that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is
likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.
From a Buddhist point of view, the actual
experience of death is very important. Although how or where we
will be reborn is generally dependent on karmic forces, our state
of mind at the time of death can influence the quality of our
next rebirth. So at the moment of death, in spite of the great
variety of karmas we have accumulated, if we make a special effort
to generate a virtuous state of mind, we may strengthen and activate
a virtuous karma, and so bring about a happy rebirth.
Ordinarily, it is difficult to remember
one's past life. Such recollections seem to be more vivid when
the child is very young, such as two or three, and in some cases
even younger. ...When the present body is fully formed, the
ability to recall past life seems to diminish.
The mental associations with this life become increasingly dominant.
There is a close relationship during the first few years of
one's life with the continuum of consciousness from the previous
life. But as experiences of this life become more developed
and elaborate, they dominate.
It is also possible within this lifetime to enhance the power
of the mind, enabling one to reaccess memories from previous
lives. Such recollection tends to be more accessible during
meditative experiences in the dream state. Once one has accessed
memories of previous lives in the dream state, one gradually
recalls them in the waking state.
at the Crossroads: Conversations with The Dalai Lama on
Brain Science and Buddhism
Born stupid? Try it again.
Diamond Way T-shirt
The successive existences in a series of rebirths are not like the pearls in a pearl necklace, held together by a string, the ‘soul,’ which passes through all the pearls; rather they are like dice piled one on top of the other. Each die is separate, but it supports the one above it, with which it is functionally connected. Between the dice there is no identity, but conditionality.
H.W. Schumann, from The Historical Buddha
After all, it is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born
December 11, 2016