Implications of the Rebirth Process in Daily Life and in Society

1. Unless one develops abhiññā powers via meditation, the rebirth process cannot be “proven” with certainty. Yet, there is mounting evidence for it that cannot be ignored either; see, “Evidence for Rebirth”.

  • Putting that question aside, let us look at some mundane implications IF indeed the rebirth process, as described by the Buddha, is correct.

2. The first thing to realize is how short this life of 100 years or so is. It is unimaginably small. Our universe has been there for about 14 BILLION years and that is just a blip in the cosmic time scale.

3. Looking at the world history, most calamities of war could have been prevented if people understood how short this life is. Where are those emperors and kings today, who sacrificed so many human lives to capture another country or to maintain their powers?

  • Because of the atrocities they committed, they are most likely to be in the lowest of the apāyā.
  • For the briefest time of enjoyment and power, they accumulated so much bad kamma to spend billions of years in total misery.

4. What significance would race, color, ethnicity, religion, beauty, money, etc would have in one’s actions if one really understood that all those are not only temporary, but one could be on the other side in the very next life? This is a topic that is worth contemplating a lot.

5. Let us take the struggle between the Palestinians and the Israelis, because it is making headlines these days; one could take any other conflict. According to Buddha Dhamma, there are two effects that come to play here.

  • One in either camp will develop a mindset to hate the other side, take revenge for some action, etc. If they have any kammic energy for the human “bhava” they will come back to the same place with matching “gati”, looking for revenge; see, “Paṭicca Samuppāda – “Pati + ichcha” + “Sama + uppada“.
  • The other aspect is for any bad action one does in such a conflict is going to have consequences RELATED to that act. When person A kills or harms another person B, A becomes indebted to B. One way to “pay back this debt” is for B to be born as a child to A; see, “Kamma, Debt, and Meditation“. Isn’t that the biggest irony of all? A Palestinian (Israeli) becoming the child of an Israeli (Palestinian)?
  • Either way, the conflict  will continue for a long time, unless both sides realize the folly of it all.
  • This is true for many other conflicts that have been going-on for generations. It is likely that most of the characters involved have been the same. They are too much “involved” in the conflict and are unable to free their minds from it.

6. Let us take another example of a slave owner in the old days. That person made a lot of wealth by exploiting those slaves, but for how long? At most 100 years. Where are those slave owners now? They would either be in one of the lowest four realms OR could be a slave himself somewhere, possibly to a former slave.

  • It is easy to extend this analysis to many other cases; it is good idea to contemplate on such things. It makes one understand the true meanings of anicca, dukkha, anatta. That is unfruitful to do immoral things to achieve a brief moment of sense pleasure, where the consequences can play out for much longer time in a future birth.

7. Yet we strive for a quarter of our lives to go through the basic educational process (which is the only part that makes any sense in the long term), and basically most of the rest of the life to “accumulate things and prestige”.

  • We do not stop and think about how the last years of the life are going to be, let alone about future lives. By the time we have made much of those accomplishments, our senses start degrading, and no matter how much money we have, we will never be able to maintain our physical appearance or the level of sense pleasure to our liking.

  • The problem is that we are too busy to contemplate on such issues because we are in a frantic struggle to “make money for survival”, and whatever vacation time we get we would not want to spend that time for contemplation, but to go on trip or do some such activity to “enjoy ourselves”. But when one gets back from a vacation, it feels like one needs another to recover from those hectic activities.

8. There is another reason that people do not want to even think about such things; it could be depressing. But I can say with conviction that once one understands the “true nature of this world”, it WILL lead to a peaceful state of mind. It will also be easier to get into samadhi and jhānā.

  • The reason is that as one understands anicca, dukkha, anatta (the futility of doing immoral things to gain sense satisfaction in world that is INHERENTLY not setup for that), one GRADUALLY loses attachment to worldly things and this makes the mind peaceful; this is the root cause of niramisa sukha; see, “Three Kinds of Happiness – What is Niramisa Sukha?”.
  • Nibbāna or “Nivana” or “cooling down” is not like any sense pleasure. Rather, it is a relief. A good analogy is the following: suppose someone has a migraine headache; then the day that headache disappears, that person will get a HUGE sense of relief. It is not a sense pleasure, but rather a feeling of well-being that is hard to express.

9. I can give one example to make this point. Many people who start understanding anicca, dukkha, anatta, realize that they do not watch TV or go to entertainment events as much as they used to. This is not something they do deliberately, it just happens. They would rather enjoy a meditation session at home or read/listen to Dhamma. It may be already happening to some of you.

  • The mind cannot be forced. It just takes the better path; but the mind has to be exposed to the better, correct path. This is why giving true Dhamma is the best giving.

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