Posted by: lrrp | December 20, 2007

Death and “RE- INKARMATION”

The word Death is a taboo in the Western world. Usually the Westerner attempts to conveniently forget it, although it haunts around him every time! Why this fear? He does not believe in rebirth. He thinks every thing is finished with the demise of the body. If he understands that there is neither birth nor death his fear vanishes. Instead of death & birth, there are only manifestations in this world of inter-being. There is only impermanence & in this impermanence the manifestations come about. Nothing has its own existence in this Universe of inter-existence. No permanent self exists. There is only a combination of mental & physical energies. They do not remain the same for two consecutive moments.

“As we live in a world of inter-existence for the Buddhist, death is nothing but a simple transformation. At this moment I remember one documentary film made by a French director on Sri Lanka. I was invited for the release of the said film followed by a discussion. In the film there was a scene of a funeral where people were white-clad. The audience asked me why they were wearing white clothes during a sad moment like death. I explained to them that in our culture the death is not an unhappy incident. For a Buddhist, death is like a change of his or her clothing because he or she believes in rebirth.”

We know what Heraclites said: “No person can bathe two times in the same river.” But a Buddhist may say no person can bathe even one time in the same river because the person and the river change in every shortest moment possible. It is a series that continues unbroken, but changes every moment. The series is nothing but movement.

The great Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran says: “You would know the secret of death but how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life.” He also says that the death can not be separated from life and the death and life are one like the sea and the river. Therefore, death and birth are inseparable. These two are nothing but one. According to Buddhism nothing can be created and nothing can be destroyed.

As we live in a world of inter-existence for the Buddhist, death is nothing but a simple transformation. At this moment I remember one documentary film made by a French director on Sri Lanka. I was invited for the release of the said film followed by a discussion. In the film there was a scene of a funeral where people were white-clad. The audience asked me why they were wearing white clothes during a sad moment like death. I explained to them that in our culture the death is not an unhappy incident. For a Buddhist, death is like a change of his or her clothing because he or she believes in rebirth. We take only what we have done with us! We reap what we have sown. It is called KARMA. A French philosopher proposes the word: RE-INKARMATION!

The famous French adage comes to my mind: “He who sows wind reaps tempest!” It is a clear definition for KARMA. Until very recent times death was rarely spoken of in public, in these countries. In France a psychologist who worked for accompaniment of dying people wrote a book called Intimate Death. Since then a lot of people seem to have taken an interest in the subject of death which once was a taboo. A commentary written on the Tibetan book of Death, by a Tibetan Lama has been a bestseller in every corner of the world for some time and I think that it has become an eye-opener for most people living in this hemisphere on the tabooed subject of death. Nowadays Westerners are talking in public on death. The creation of palliative care units was an indirect result of this book. Anyway it is a good sign that death is not purposely ignored.

Karma is what we create by thought, body & word. When we do by body, thought & word a negative act we emit a negative energy to the universe & it follows us! It is very simple. For Karma there is no space & time. Therefore it can easily follow the doer.

I throw a stone to a pond. It falls on water with a flash. It runs down to the bottom & touches the ground of the pond. With it a water ring is born & it goes becoming wider & wider towards the bank. Then it touches the bank & then returns to the stone & exerts force on the stone that made the trouble in the water. Karma is exactly the same.

Jean Paul Sartre has said “L’homme est la somme de ses actes.” (The man is the sum of his acts.) Hegel goes on: “The man is nothing but the series of his acts.” Without being aware they talk of KARMA.

Buddhist KARMA is not SIN. The words KUSALA & AKUSALA are skilful action & unskilful action. In Buddhism there are no original sins. The man is able to change & transcend KARMA. Hence it is not fatalism. Fatalism is the antipode of KARMA
Therefore be careful of RE-INKARMATION!

(Bhikkhu Mandawala Pannawansa Thero is well known Buddhist monk born in Sri Lanka, currently lives in France.)


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