Holding the Buddha’s hand, Gangarama Temple
I was reading about these immortal jellyfish. Apparently they do it by reversing sexual maturation. Basically, sex kills. This doesn’t necessarily transition into anything, I just thought that immortal jellyfish were pretty cool.
I’m a Buddhist but I don’t really believe in rebirth. For a while I thought that the idea was a Hindu corruption of the faith, but Bhante Gunaratna, who I consider a practicing Buddhist, has said that he believes in it. I also read thru the Dhammapada and some other books and the concept is clearly there. It’s not an item of faith, however, it’s there as in, ‘meditate for a while and you will see’. I haven’t seen.
For me the idea of no-self and the idea of some quality of self being reincarnated is a contradiction. I pretty much believe that when you die you just don’t exist anymore. I have, however, tried to understand rebirth, and I can only imbibe it in two ways.
I Am Ethereal
Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? What is there around us that we cannot. (Orange Catholic Bible, Dune)
In this, uh, incarnation, the idea is that there is no self and that we/I are in fact part of some other energy consciousness thing. Precisely, that our suffering and attachment binds us into this world and letting go lets us go. I can sorta follow this. I think that the idea and boundaries of self are constantly changing and I think that in 1000 years technology will make us about as indistinguishable from our descendants as us and our rodent cousins. That is, at that point, I think there will be energy beings encoded in light and corporate consciousnesses and stuff. In like 100 years actually.
At that level I think that Artificial Intelligence will make real what we’ve always suspected, that consciousness is not bound to the material form, and that AI will also suffer. So, on a vague, metaphysical level, OK.
I Am Genes
On the other hand, it is possible that what the Buddha meant as rebirth could also be interpreted as birth, that is genetics. I should note that this squares with the Dhammapada not especially well. The idea here is that attachment drives us to sense pleasure, drives us to sex, drives us to reproduce, drives our genes to continue. That the self which is passed on is actually genetic.
This I can sorta see. As people get more educated they tend to have less children. It’s possible that at the highest level of enlightenment you have no children at all. Well, yes, the Buddha was celibate (though he had a child before). Rahula, however, also became a monk and the Buddha’s line effectively ended.
So, by cultivating awareness, you don’t attach, don’t even attach to love and sex and family and home, and thus do not become reborn. In the sense that you don’t give birth. That is, rebirth is birth and karma is genetic.