Rebirth

“Transmigration across the five states and rebirth in the six realms”. This is a phrase that states that life does not end when we die. Buddhism views life not as a finite period of birth to death, but rather like a clock, going around and around without end, or spinning like a wheel.

Life consists of the one before, the one now, and the one after. We are constantly going through the process of birth and death. When the willow withers, it will sprout again. When flowers wilt, they will bloom again. The sun sets in the evening and rises again the next day. Winter comes; can spring be far away? Such concepts of rebirth are so beautiful, so real. The future is bright and hopeful!

When humans eat vegetables and grains, the waste material is used for fertilizer. More plants can be grown, further satisfying the human’s need for food. Humans feed pigs and sheep, and the latter are used as food for humans. The cycle is continuous and complete. “We get melons when we plant a melon seed and harvest beans when we plant a bean.” These are all examples of rebirth and the Law of Cause and Effect. The world goes through the cycle of formation, abiding, destruction, and emptiness. The seasons change from spring to summer, fall, and then winter. Humans also live through birth, aging, sickness, and death. Everything goes through the cycle of rebirth.

Rebirth is circular. It is hope. Water evaporates under the heat of the sun. It condenses and becomes rain upon cooling. Flowers wilt and seeds are formed. When the latter are planted, they sprout and bear flowers and fruit. The spring river flows toward the east. All cycles continue to flow. A family’s fortune rarely lasts for more than three generations. Dynasties seldom rule for more than a thousand years. “We are anxious when we see others pass away. Not only do we grieve, we watch for our turn.” rebirth teaches us about cause and effect and the impermanence of things. As the wheels of a train turn, they move forward. When the turbines of a ship turn, they advance. As a result of our delusions, we create and suffer from karma. The bindings of delusion, karma, and suffering have a firm grip on life. We endlessly circle the whirlpool of rebirth. Though we may not fear death, we still suffer the pain of rebirth.

Rebirth can spell a better future, but it can also mean the beginning of misfortune. The changes in government or the rise and fall of a family illustrate rebirth in this lifetime. We can only live with our own causes and conditions and accept the results.

Rebirth can be frightening. When we carefully consider it, we realize that all the people in the world could have at one point been our parents or siblings. If we can see through the countless eons of time, we will understand this possibility. As one saying goes, “Rebirth bring about dire consequences. The grandson marries his former grandmother. Cows and sheep are guests at their wedding. Previous relatives are cooking in the pots.” The cycle of rebirth cannot be overlooked!