Rebirth Right Now
I’m not sure just how Kurt Spellmeyer wants us to rediscover the meaning of rebirth in “After the Future” (Fall 2015). In his article, he cites Mircea Eliade, Joseph Campbell, and Karen Armstrong on the subject of myth. We can see what those teachers did as psychologizing myths, taking them from a realm separate from human beings and relocating them in the realm of the conscious and unconscious mind of each individual. My own teacher, Maezumi Roshi, did something similar with the concept or myth of rebirth. He enjoyed pointing out that in the Abhidharma it says we die and are reborn 6,400,099,980 times in 24 hours. This puts rebirth not in some future where we will pay for our sins or reap the benefits of our good behavior, but in this present moment, which is where we both experience and influence our karma.
—Sydney Musai Walter, Roshi Lamy, NM
Rebirth: All or Nothing?
I really enjoyed “After the Future.” Thank you. It is the most commonsensical thing I have ever read about rebirth. And it makes even more sense of the point, which is becoming increasingly apparent to me, that there is no such thing as our “own” supreme and perfect enlightenment.
Already Each Other
After reading Pamela Gayle White’s “Because We Can” (Fall 2015), and as a person with a terminal cancer diagnosis who has also worked as a hospice volunteer, I would like to suggest that there is no need for the helper to trade places with the person they are helping. Rather, it might be helpful to all concerned to recognize that the person in the position of lending help is also already on the path to his or her own dying.
Loving Envy Away
Daisy Hernández’s “Envidia” (Fall 2015) was knockout gorgeous writing that hit me right in the gut. What the author points me to is a hidden trap. If I base metta [lovingkindness] on consoling myself that someone with whiter teeth, a higher credit score, or the latest and greatest iPhone also has their own secret suffering, then at best I could easily be coddling my ego in misery-loves-company fashion. At worst I could be subtly putting them down to raise myself up. This is the challenge of metta: to drop any such delusions and go back to the root of suffering, to view myself with lovingkindness and go from there.
Then there is mudita, the practice of being happy for the good fortune of others. Mudita is my favorite form of shaking off the envy demon, even more so than metta. It releases the grip of my ego, softens and expands my heart, allows my eyes to see others’ happiness not as something I don’t have but as something I can contribute to. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said: “If I am only happy for myself, many fewer chances for happiness. If I am happy when good things happen to other people, billions more chances to be happy!”
—Uma Valerie Carruthers
Know What You Don’t Know
Curtis White’s “My Father’s True Nature” (Fall 2015) reminded me to practice “beginner’s mind,” or not knowing: we truly can’t know another’s experience and what contributed to their behavior and way of living. The hardest thing is to suspend judgment of another, especially of a parent who has wronged us or seemed selfish or insensitive or worse, and try to have faith in their true nature despite it all. I still struggle with this, but I’m grateful for the reminder.
Truth or Truthiness?
I had mixed feelings about the images of Japanese women that appeared in White’s article. Yes, they are part of the story, but what of the people they depict and the narrative the author created around them? Here are a few questions to consider. First, the women in these photos are completely recognizable; would they (or their descendants) want these pictures published? Second, how do we know that these women were in fact engaging in “prosperous sex”? We have no idea whether they were participating freely or were coerced. Third, is everyone really “having fun”? If you look closely at the body language, the women are pulling away.
Los Altos, CA
-Tricycle Magazine (@tricyclemag)
@tricyclemag Great post. Envy comes from comparing. To spin it, it could show us our potential. Shows us what’s possible.
-Anis Qizilbash (@AnisQiz)
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Illustrations by Roberto La Forgia
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