If there is no re-birth

In the Great Middle Way, the translation of “Tathagata” is given as “One Come (Back) Thus”, rather than “One Gone Thus (to Peace)”. The original Sanskrit supports both translations —it is not whimsical.

Some schools of Dharma (in particular, those concerned mostly with individual liberation) may be less interested in exploring and promoting an understanding of karma and rebirth than those whose primary concern is universal enlightenment, which requires the willingness to return to cyclic existence to assist suffering sentient beings to attain liberation and enlightenment.

If there is no re-birth, then the suffering of a lifetime is neither beginningless nor prolonged, but rather a fairly circumscribed and quite momentary experience, requiring no greater exertion than resigned endurance for a few decades. Death would bring a happy ending to all sorrows; why trouble ourselves with any further practice?

If there is no re-birth, then the teachings on karma are false, as most often a sentient being does not —in one brief lifetime— experience the full result of his/her actions. No re-birth = no karma.

If there is no re-birth, it would follow logically that death will end all suffering. Why, then, would the Buddha teach the Middle Way? Why not just promote mass suicide? And, if we are concerned for the suffering of others, why not just kill them all? Obviously, these ‘solutions’ to suffering are distinctly proscribed in the Dharma.

It is the thought of interminable suffering (our own and that of others) that spurs us to arouse the heart of compassion, bodhicitta. Thus, the schools of Dharma that cultivate bodhicitta are certainly concerned with rebirth, and the great spiritual Heroes, the Bodhisattvas, are the models whom we emulate.

May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering!

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
This entry was posted in Dharma View. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to If there is no re-birth

  1. garudauk says:

    I had not heard of that translation before, but to me it makes perfect sense.

    I do struggle with ‘rebirth’ itself as it may be open to misinterpretation as a death and rebirth of the mind.
    Perhaps ‘transmutation’ is better with reference to the mind?

    • Tashi Nyima says:

      The mind does not die, and therefore it is not reborn. It is our perspective that assigns such categories as ‘birth and death’, as we identify so strongly with these bodies. The mind simply continues, moment to moment, as it does during this very lifetime, and manifests another form suitable to the continuum when this particular body can no longer sustain it.

  2. Yue-han Su says:

    But one does not need to believe in re-birth to be moved to compassion at the sight of suffering and anguish. Nor is it so that mass suicide is the logical outcome for those not believing in re-birth and karma: for some belief in an afterlife is enough. For others, a feeling that this life is the only life we may ever have is enough to regard it and all life as precious.

    I readily confess that I do not fully understand (realize) re-birth, and that I wonder if I ever will. It is a mystery to me, but since I do not understand most things, it’s easy enough to relax into not knowing. I find myself on familiar ground.

    For now this seems like a sure thing: Avoid that which causes harm; embrace that which benefits one and all; purify the mind. Surely that is enough creed for one lifetime at least.

  3. Tashi Nyima says:

    There is no need to accept any doctrine until it is confirmed by our reason and experience. However, it is always best to keep an open mind concerning the teachings of the Buddha and the Masters. Rebirth is such a teaching.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s