Reply To: Gandhabba: Lying in Wait for Appropriate Womb



A very elegant way of explaining this. with regard to your reply #1 above, like you (perhaps not at the same level), not for the purpose of satisfying some curiosity to fit Buddha Dhamma into science, but to see where Buddha Dhamma reflects/mirrors what modern science is discovering. I too have the opinion that science is far and away behind the Buddha Dhamma. I find my myself leaning toward the concept that consciousness is elemental and that what human beings believe to be some sort of per-existing material world, is actually a world in which consciousness forms the material world by following certain laws of nature.

Your reply (#s 2-4) has much meaning for me. There is nothing intrinsically important about my early life that I would seek to protect. Therefore, I will tell you that the reason for my initial question stems from a curiosity about the “why” I was born to the parents that I was. You see, I have a remarkable memory from very early childhood (1-2 years). Before my mother passed away, I wrote her an 80 page letter. Within that letter I described to her the first home we lived in after my birth, and then the second home shortly after my birth. She was astounded that I was able to remember minute details of the interior of these places, the weave of the material on the furniture, the colors on the walls, the placement of the furniture, events that had taken place and so on.

From the earliest reaches of my life, I have always felt somehow that I was in the wrong place or that I was misplaced; an intense intuition that I was different. My parents were uneducated, neither having even graduated high school. In school, first through third grades, the teachers were frequently beside themselves as to what to do with me. In first grade I could already read far above my level, do math, and was extremely creative, such as playing musical instruments without any knowledge of what I was doing or understanding music. Eventually, the school recommended that I be placed in a school for gifted children, but my parents misunderstood and thought that the school was telling them I was mentally retarded.

Early in my childhood I began doing strange things. I built a kind of shrine deep in the woods (I lived in a rural area of New England) and would feed the animals. I began writing, but not simple stories. When in school we were tasked with creating a book report, selecting topics from a list made by the teacher, I found the topics to be too simple and uninteresting to me. So, I asked the teacher if I could choose my own topics. The first report I produced for the class was titled: “A Psychoanalytical View of Edgar Allen Poe’s Life and Works.” (I still have it somewhere.) The second report I produced for the class was titled: “Demos Kratos: Comparing the Ideas of Karl Marx with 1620 Plymouth Plantation.” Not only were my teachers befuddled but my parents were completely lost.

At one point I heard a composition of Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a theme of Paganini, and proceeded to play it on the piano. No lessons nor any knowledge of music composition whatsoever. Around the 7th grade I began to develop a deep interest in Science, in particular Chemistry and Biology. At the 9th grade level, when presented with dissecting animals in Biology, I did not want to do it. So, I asked the teacher if I might conduct my own experiments for class credit. The teacher inquired of me what it was that I wanted to do and I replied that I wanted to prove Mendel’s Laws of Heredity. She gained approval from the Headmaster of the school and so I successfully duplicated Mendel’s processes and came to the same conclusions that he did.

Please do not take this diatribe to be an aggrandizement of my achievements, rather I expound on these things to clearly set out a pattern.

My childhood was not happy due to the fact that my father was extremely jealous of my abilities, particularly since he could not read. He was always suspicious of my intentions. Without going into all of the gory details, my relationship with my parents ended when the State authorities stepped in to remove myself and my two sisters from the home due to severe child abuse. I did not wish to live in the Foster care system with people that I did not know. So, at the age of (barely) 16, I set out on my own.

One very persistent and powerful thread that I have been cognizant of since early age, is my curiosity to know that there must be more to life than what I was experiencing. But, this question/curiosity had less to do with the World in general, but more to do with the existence, and the causes and effects associated with human life. It should be no surprise that my involvement with religion became a major focus in my life, beginning with seeking the priesthood in Catholicism to Protestant Ministry and everything in between. Even reaching as far as learning the language of ancient scriptures such as the Septuagint, Masoretic Text, and others. However, in the end, I was unable to find satisfactory answers to question like; “What is the purpose of life?” “Why do human beings die?” I could not combine what my natural intuition was telling me with what Judaeo-Christianity could provide.

It was by pure happenstance (or not), that I heard a CD in a Physical Therapist’s office of a Dhamma talk. Almost immediately, my attention was laser-like. I went to book stores and bought everything and anything about Buddhism. This was the beginning of an enormous life-change event leading to presenting myself at a Zen Monastery to become a monk. Circumstances made it impossible for me to fulfill that desire, for reasons that are now not important.

So, as you can see, with the level of understanding of the Buddha Dhamma that I now have (which you could probably fit into a thimble), it is perhaps only natural that I would ask such a question, “Why I was born into the family and circumstances that I was.” Understanding the “why” certainly helps to examine the possible conditions of my own kamma. Is there some indication in the Sutta where a gandhabba is “misplaced” or “accidentally” falls into the wrong womb? I feel as though I have nothing in common whatsoever with either of my parents other than physical genetic similarities.

However, I find that in learning such things though, the experiences of my life have a much deeper meaning. Not only in gaining an understanding of the past, but putting it all into perspective for the here and now and for future rebirths. I cannot know, of course, into which realm I will experience the next rebirth, however it is certainly a wondrous thing to know that my understanding and efforts right now, will bear better quality fruit down the road. That, by itself, is liberating! So, I thank you for your post.

With metta,