Elaine Waller-Rose
Los Angeles, California
Psychotherapist and Social Worker

“Before I became a Buddhist, I felt some sort of rebirth needed to occur in order to work out one’s difficulties and move to a higher sense of being. Now that I am a Buddhist, I understand reincarnation on two levels. On one, there is the sense of all things in a collective returning to reach a higher state toward nirvana. On a personal level, I think we return as long as we have samsaric desires. I will be back, and until then I’m working on it.”

Ken May
Barre, Massachusetts
Office Manager
“I think the core thing for me is the sense of impermanence. With everything changing, reincarnation just enforces the teaching of impermanence and karma. What we do in this lifetime, we are going to take with us in the next life experience.”

Marcia Tyson Kolb
Castle Hayne, North Carolina
Writer and Teacher
“For a number of years reading and studying, getting into New Age, I believed in reincarnation. But as I move forward in my practice and study of Buddhism, what really matters is being very present with our life right now. Living as mindfully as I can now, hopefully, will affect the future. In my Buddhist practice it’s really letting go of the past and future, being here now. I believe in reincarnation and karma, but being here in the moment is what is important.”



Paul Curtis
Wakefield, Quebec
Picture Framer and Photographer
“I have no direct experience of reincarnation. Intuitively it feels right to me, and logically it makes sense. Mozart, for instance, was composing at the age of six; and then there are the tulkus.”

Roberta Kurland
Furnace, Pennsylvania
Teacher and Nurse
“That is the one thing I’ve had a lot of difficulty with in terms of the dharma. Reincarnation seems to be an idea that gives a continuity to birth, life, and death—which to me smacks of heaven and hell, which is what made me leave Christianity. You can look at the dharma as a jewel. Old jewels pick up dirt and become encrusted with things. I think reincarnation is an encrustation that keeps people from thinking about their own extinction. I think it is something not to get attached to, something you need to get beyond. I do believe in the consequences of karma in this life, and generational kanna, too.”


Willard Carey
Seattle, Washington
Retired Boilermaker
“My introduction to Buddhism was in 1957 by way of Alan Watts and his book The Way of Zen. I had been sent to prison at San Quentin for marijuana possession. Alan came to speak with us on a weekly basis. Once I began practicing meditation, I came to realize the truth of karma and reincarnation. It was the only thing that made sense logically. I grew up in Los Angeles and as a boy I stole and so forth; I thought that I could get away with everything. But through Buddhism I learned that I was my own judge and that I would eventually pay for my deeds.”


Ken Bacher
Tucson, Arizona
“It’s what you do today that is important.”


Martha Tack
Barnet, Vermont
Director, Milarepa Center

“We must always be ready to die, which is why, in this lifetime, you need to do a great deal of hard work very quickly. There is so much accumulated karma and there are so many things to purify—if you truly wish to be enlightened for the sake of all sentient beings, there is a lot to be done.”


Donna Thomson
Santa Fe, New Mexico

“There is a Zen koan that goes something like: When a wheel is spinning, even a wheelwright cannot tell which way it is spinning. Reincarnation is like that for me. This life is not the only one we lead. Reincarnation is not a linear thing, like going from life A to life B to life C. Like a wheel spinning with lots of different things happening, reincarnation, birth, and death happen all the time. To me it means there is no final destination.”


Terry Burtyk Scantlin
Washington, D.C.
Psychological Rehabilitator
“It means doing my best now so I can do better later, and that people have continued opportunities to move forward and become their best. For your future opportunities you’ll be able to better serve others and help others reach their best. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I had a friend die two days ago. If I ever need him again, I’m sure I’ll be able to recognize him.”


Jack Van Allan
Santa Rosa, California
Buddha Sculptor
(pictured with restored Manjushri)

“I don’t know about reincarnation, but I respect people who follow the precepts regardless. I’d rather try to fulfill the precepts than to concern myself with whether or not reincarnation happens. If it does or doesn’t, what can I do about it? I feel the same way about enlightenment. I have to deal with my life as I find it.”

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