I did write what may have been the longest “comment” in history on the thread started by Ajahn Brahmali - the aim of which was to share my thoughts and experiences on this, so you might not think I had more to share! The thing is, once one accepts rebirth into one’s world view, one stops thinking about how it impacts one’s life, one’s just aware that it does; it’s just implicitly there in the background. So now that people have been asking this question (about how an acceptance of rebirth into one’s views impacts life/Practice), and having made myself attempt to answer it, I’m now finding more and more ways in which an acceptance of rebirth informs my life, my hopes and my imagination both for myself and other beings. So this question has been useful in clarifying and making things more explicit in my own mind.
I’m sure most of us are familiar with this saying: “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Often this is literally impossible and we need to call on our imagination or invite others to do so if we want to share our understandings on life, in effect, if we want to foster empathy between each other, if we want to open loving windows into each other’s lives. So that’s what this thread is about. An opportunity to help each other imagine how and why an acceptance of Rebirth can positively impact our lives and indeed, our planet.
I’m looking forward to the extra motivation to Practice after reading what may be shared here . Thank you @samseva for kicking things off!
So here’s more from me!
Rebirth, it’s often been stated, impacts the depth of our virtue and the motivation to develop it. But what of those of high integrity who already have a highly developed sense of compassion?
Well, I suggest that, aside from whatever conditioning they experienced in this life, that they are also conditoned by their kamma from past lives. That they may have brought their inclination towards morality from what they cultivated in another life. I suggest, that perhaps, in their past life, they even believed in rebirth and cultivated virtue based on this belief!!
So using this assumption as a basis, I would like to play a little game of “let’s imagine”. Let’s imagine that a Buddhism without Rebirth gained popularity in the world. The current generation of highly moral, kind hearted people, faded away from this life and moved on to the next. As the generations pass, the notion of one life only, begins to sink into the Buddhist population more solidly, and with the passing of the older generations (who were unknowingly conditioned by their views/practices from past lives as well - even though they actively sought to make such notions seem redundant) their successors, growing up without the conditioning that the oldies had from past lives gone, increasingly start questioning their faith - why should they be quite so good? Maybe it’s best not to be quite so strict - after all, isn’t it all about “letting go”. Fast forward 1000 years, the teaching on rebirth is all but gone from the popular conscience - all over the world - and the teachings on morality have faded, Buddhism has become an intellectual past time for those who can be bothered pondering it’s teachings as a means of asserting their intelligence or their pessimistic outlooks. Meditation has become a pleasant tool used by the medical profession. Transformation is relegated to legend and story and toothless metaphor.
Coming back to now…
This is another reason why I think it’s important to share this radical notion that rebirth is important. Even if you want to argue with it (not on this thread…start your own! ) those arguments will put something there into your mind/heart; so at the moment of death, regardless of your current view, this conditioning will be there - at least to some degree.