Argument and Discussion · Various Belief Systems - Dialogues

Dialogue on Dying and Rebirth

Dialogue between G S and M D

MD – Is the desire to end one’s Life, contrary to what Zen is about?

GS- A quote “The Buddha’s teaching is all about understanding suffering – its origin, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. When we contemplate suffering, we find we are contemplating desire, because desire and suffering are the same thing.” Do you “desire” to die because of your suffering? It seems almost like a self answering question…….

MD – Is it any great thing to prolong a Life that is painful, dishonorable and unfulfilling?….and plz, I am not suicidal….I am just asking

GS – Each human is born into this world in a particular circumstance (unless a person equates buddha nature with pure chaos). Nature, or buddha-nature, or Reality, “grew that leaf on the tree of life”…… we as humans realize that because we are self-aware, it gives us a freedom to short circuit this (in fact it does). Of course each person has the right to choose, and along with our existence comes that type of choice…… but to look at it from another angle, each form in this physical universe has its unique location in time and space….. so…… do we focus on what we DON’T have, and on what life ISN’T giving us, or do we look at WHAT IS….. i honestly feel that life and Zen is about watching, yet participating….. suffering when it comes, joyful when it comes.. without getting stuck in it….finding our root nature of equanimity….. in the end, cutting ones life short is a choice we all have……

MD – My desire to continue living is bc I want to see the sequel…just in case there is no Afterlife….u never know….I cant wait 1000 years to be reborn into Human form…at the very least I have to watch the GOTs finale…..I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell.

GS – i have never seen any evidence of an afterlife (have always remained as open to “all that” as i could) ,………. but i see evidence all around me of the deep awareness system behind the universe…… looking at how emperors and kings have struggled with the question of an afterlife, it strikes me as a purely human phenomenon…… wanting to live forever….. for myself, it seems the deep natural workings of “buddha-nature” or which ever name a person chooses to call this “system”sometimes get confused with “messages from beyond”…… the brain and its memories, like the leaf, when its lifetime is completed, returns nourishment to the tree……. i have been through many many funerals (being a PK) and listened to many many sermons trying to placate loved ones of folks who have passed on….. they all felt like excuses in the end…… i think DNA is DNA, and it is physical….. but everything in the physical world has its roots in buddha-nature…… and buddha-nature seems to be like the essence from which everything rises from and returns to….

GS – for me. it keeps going back to the life of a leaf… the tree grows it, it does its “stuff” for its lifetime, then it turns yellow or red or gold, then falls to the ground and becomes nutrients for the tree…. my awareness can’t imagine not existing though…. but it is at peace with this sense of things…..

MD – – GS if I truly believed in Human Rebirth….I guess that I would see the sequel.
if only I was Theravada, not Zen….perhaps I could be the next HHDL

GS – so is it loss of “awareness as oneself as an individual” that is so troubling?

MD – I, like everyone else, deal with eternal suffering

GS – i drew a stupid complicated diagram of “where we come from and where we return to” and “the relationship between the individual mind and the Great Mind”, which seemed to rise from my zazen practice …. it helped me to put these questions to rest…. but i dared not share it as it is still “conceptualizations”….

GS – do you mind telling me exactly what you mean by “eternal suffering”? I would like to be more clear on your conception of it.

MD – My answer is, I guess, I know that I don’t have the answers, but I continue to search for them, while knowing that I never will

GS – do you think the human condition continues after the body dies?

MD – I don’ t know, but I doubt it.

GS –So is it the concept that we continue on a wheel of death and rebirth that is troublesome?

MD – his is the essential difference, imho, between Zen, and Theravada and Vajyarana.
imho, the Zen concept of Rebirth is far more subtle than the older sects of Buddhism
imho, Zen is essentially a secular belief, while the older sects r based upon mysticism

GS – I asked a Zen teacher many years ago what he thought about this, and he answered “lots to deal with in our daily practice of zazen and this life, and not much to be gained from focusing on that question”….. I felt it was a blow off at the time… for myself, over the years, the issue has been resolved by finding the deepest part of myself… digging deeper and deeper…. and finding a kind of “rooted place” beyond the individuated “me”…. but that sense is a sense of “being a part of the whole”, and not so much in the place where DNA and brain are like a separate entity…… i am still concerned about the moment of dying, but the sense of “returning to the source” is deeply satisfying….. there doesn’t seem to be a sense of a separate “me” in that place…… all imho…..

MD – I agree with him….better to focus upon the here and now, then to speculate as to what happens after. Try not to overthink things….Live in the Moment. It is only by enjoying Life in the present moment can one find Serenity. Que sera sera….what will be, will be….and there’s very little that u can do to change it….so u might as well enjoy the present.

GS – i had an interesting experience when i was starting to practice zazen….. due to my upbringing in an evangelical setting, there was a fear that opening up my mind, as in zazen, something “evil” might happen…. (i laugh now when i remember this, but it was VERY real at that time) i decided to sit with it….. it came up as a train coming down the tracks towards me…. and i was sitting on the tracks….. the sense was that every time this “scarey train” had come towards me in the past, I had jumped down between the timbers and hidden.. so i never knew what would happen… and i had had serious nightmares since i was a child….. so i decided to sit there and not move… the train came closer and closer, and i got more and more scared….. but resolved to stay there…. and then WHOOSH…. the train vaporized, and I broke into laughter…. i had been afraid of this “fear” for so long, and it was really just a ghost train……. after that, the fear (of that type) went away…… silly story, but it was huge in my experience of fear dropping off….

MD – there is nothing to fear, but fear itself. We live, we suffer, we die….if we are lucky we have some moments of happiness while doing so.



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