~ A short story written by Ven Chuan Guan. An adaptation inspired by The Lotus Sutra and The Egg.
You passed away in your sleep, leaving behind your two kids.
Then you saw me. Or more like you noticed that I can see you.
“Am I dead” you asked.
“Yeap.” I replied.
“Is this the after-life? Am I in heaven or hell? … “
“Neither. This is the intermediary state.”
“The state before you get reborn.”
“Wow. So the Hindus & Buddhists were right?”
“So were other folks until they removed the teachings on rebirth. But they are all right in some ways. Their followers fighting definitely didn’t help.”
“So now what?”
“You don’t remember do you?”
“Remember what?” You wondered, oblivious of what I am implying.
“Our last conversation.”
“You are going to be reborn again, as a boy.”
“So who are you? Are you God?”
“No, but some call us that.”
“Us? You mean there are more of you?”
“Lots more. So much, it would be pointless to count. Innumerable, infinite … a whole lot.”
“So what are you?”
“We are beings with Great understanding of this world. You are like us actually.”
“So I’m God too?”
“Well, if you insist on that name. In a way, you are God, we all are. The world we live in is ‘created’ by ourselves.”
“So what is the point of this all? I get reborn, not remembering anything. I mean why isn’t it more obvious, this rebirth thingie? If I can remember, it would be way easier to accept rebirth. Who came up with this bright idea anyway?”
“We are forgetful. Can you remember what you ate for lunch last Wednesday?”
“Just because you don’t remember it does not mean it didn’t happen. We never day dream or think about brushing our teeth in the morning, but we remember that one first date or one bad day. And many times we remember wrong but believe to be true.”
“Your point being?”
“We spend our life preoccupied with some things in our life but ignore most of that which does not interest us. And you wonder why we cannot remember our past life? ”
You are silenced by my statement.
“In a way, we ‘chose’ to forget our past lives, by choosing to hold onto tiny bits here and there, blowing them up, until they are all we think of, all we remember.”
“With these, we project and create the world in which we are reborn into.”
“So what is the point of these all … ?”
“In a way, there is no point in it, no fixed purpose anyway. It is up to ourselves, up to you. Kind of like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game book”
“So life is a game?”
“More like a book, and you are the author, character and reader. All in one. What you become is up to you. ”
“So I can choose to be God, or the richest person, the most beautiful person in the world just by choosing?”
“Yes, by choosing through your karma, your actions.”
“Oh, not just by wishing or thinking?” You jested.
I chuckled. “That’s called wishful thinking. And I’m here to make sure you don’t spend another precious human life on ‘inconsequential choices’ and ‘ wishful thinking’.”
“You mean I’ve had many lives? So you are my career mentor?”
“Yes, you spent … let’s see, 7,538,256 human lives in this world cycle so far … mostly getting nowhere. I’m here to give you an ‘upgrade’ if you will.”
“Like a frequent flyer class upgrade? Do others get it?”
“Well, technically, I cannot really give you an upgrade, no one can. I can only point it out to you. It will do nothing for the rest because they cannot understand it anyway.”
“So what is the upgrade?”
“I’ve given it to you already.”
“This conversation is the ‘upgrade’. But only because you are ready. For those who aren’t ready, it might as well be a story or a legend.”
“But I don’t feel any different.”
“Oh dear, then it didn’t work … … ”
“I’m just kidding. You are not supposed to feel any different. The change is inside, a change in mindset. This change will render your future actions on a different path, away from self-centered ego-cherishing behaviour, towards a path of wisdom & compassion.”
“Like a Buddha?”
“Yes, but only later, much later. For now, you are what is called a Bodhisattva, an Enlightening being.”
“But I get to be a Buddha right?”
“You are already one!”
“The potential anyway. We all have the potential to be one, Buddha Nature.”
“What then? When I become a Buddha?”
“Then you sip lemonade and lay by the beach forever”
“Not! That’s why you are not the Buddha yet. Not that there’s anything wrong with lemonade and beaches. But there are more for you ahead. When you become a Buddha, then you finally start on the path of Enlightenment.”
“You mean it’s not the end?”
“No. It’s the start. Well, it’s the start and the end. Kinda like when you finish all your studies and graduate with a degree and start from the bottom, doing some real work.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about that if I were you.”
“And what should I worry about?”
“Your next life … …”
Those words fade away as images flash through your mind. Fleeting memories, sights, sounds, faces, emotions, thoughts, deeds … some more familar than others. You find yourself drawn towards one.
You are reborn.
1 thought on “The Cycle”
How anyone can know if they (or anyone else) has had a past life if it cannot be remembered. The Buddha reputedly saw the long chain of succession of his own past lives. He was already preconditioned by his culture to view his existence in this way. Did he see something that was real or was it the construct given to him by his culture? How could he know for sure and even more so, how could we know merely by the recount of his experience?