Discover more from Timeless Luminosity Newsletter
2023, June, Issue 48
Rebirth is sometimes confused with reincarnation. It’s only natural that we see self in this process, as this self is the only thing that has preoccupied our mind since we were born. Ego has trapped us in this condition of suffering that we think is real. We’ve obsessed about self. It’s at the center of all our thinking and judging and continued delusions.
When we die, you may be surprised, even though you’ve discovered this an infinite number of times, that self isn’t real. You may completely lose self in the luminous condition, as I did when I died. This is disturbing to some people. It is this disturbance, in fact, that leads us to rejecting our real condition in light, thus becoming instantly propelled into another life through that ignorant view, that rejection of what is, while clinging to what is not.
To reincarnate, it means that an ever-present self must go from one lifetime into another. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means when we have self. Reincarnation can only be possible if self is possible. What is completely missing in this belief is having some sort of knowledge about what self actually is. We need to look at mind, examining all phenomena, all appearances to our senses, in order to even begin to have some idea about what creates self, or even what that is.
Consciousness creates a self that is not real, it is fabricated. Everything that we think we are is a fabricated illusion that does not last for more than the thought itself. As the thought changes, self changes. In time, we look back at our lives and we have no idea who we are. We never really know, even though we all walk around assuming that we know, projecting this ego, this self-identity that we think is real, all throughout our lives. We don’t even question the validity of this notion of self, even in our later years, when we should know better, at least you would think.
This physical body eventually dies. We never know when this might happen. Consciousness transmigrates through the death bardo, either very peacefully, if you have prepared yourself, or in a wildly out-of-control full-on panic, if you are entirely unprepared. If this consciousness cannot remain fully open, integrated and unlimited in that luminous ineffable condition, it then transmigrates, due to various causes and conditions. Once in a new body, with new problems and new circumstances, another self is fabricated, which is not real. Our old self becomes utterly forgotten, as we struggle to deal with all the karmic winds, all the new problems of adapting to a new life.
Cyclic existence is not about self reincarnating, it is about consciousness transmigrating, usually completely out of control. Buddhism gives us the tools we need to gain control of the situation; however, few actually apply these tools. In order to gain some control, we need to start with the aspiration to awaken, which is indeed a very compassionate thing that the consciousness of mind can decide to do. This needs to become a daily practice, with constant reminders.
To understand how rebirth works, let’s say you are dreaming, and you see a duck. When the dream begins, you think you are you. Since we are more open in our dreams, the possibilities become endless. As you focus on the duck, you gain great compassion for the duck, as you watch what it is doing, looking for food, splashing in the water, etc. Pretty soon you become the duck. You don’t even notice that you had been a human just a moment ago. Here, as a duck, you start searching for something to eat. You’re hungry. You see someone throwing corn on the water; so, you decide to swim over there to eat the seeds. You have a funny feeling that you know that person, even though you were just that person a moment ago. In dream logic, it doesn’t matter. You fabricated both selves. You enjoy being a duck.
Even though this example doesn’t really make sense from a relative point of view, it makes complete sense from the ineffable reality that actually envelops our existence. Self didn’t exist in one place, and it didn’t exist in another place; however, in both instances, it felt completely normal and natural. When you suddenly became a duck, you didn’t start speaking like a human. Why would you do that? As a duck, there is absolutely no need to speak as a human. You need to clean your feathers and find something to eat. Ducks eat a lot, and they need to take good care of their feathers.
As you discover new things about awakening, you will find yourself unable to hold onto this notion of self. It will feel very disorienting and turbulent. Your sense of who we really are will become more apparent. You will discover a timeless luminosity that has always been there. The comedy, as well as the tragedy that we call existence, will be discovered. In this laughter, this incredible joy of the open expanse that you experience when it is revealed, you will awaken.
Until then, have fun being a duck.
Blessings in Light,