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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly SPRING 2 0 09 80 ➤ continued from page 45 the teaching of rebirth is not an essen- tial part of the teaching, and is in fact an obstacle. Is the teaching of rebirth essential to Buddhist practice? PonloP rinPoche: Oh no, not that ques- tion! [Laughter] A lot of people say to me that they can’t see past or future lives, so they have no conviction in a system that pos- its rebirth. But as much as we cannot see a past or future life, neither can we see that there isn’t a past and future life. That brings us back to square one. What is most important is to do your best in your present life, and as long as you have lived your life fully and practiced dharma, you can feel comfortable that there will be a good rebirth, if there is rebirth. It’s better to prepare as if there is a rebirth, rather than have it come upon you as a surprise. It’s like Woody Allen said, “I don’t believe in the afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.” [Laughter] The bardo teachings also tell us that having a meaningful and good process of dying depends largely on having a meaningful and good process of living. If we have lived our life fully in a whole- some way with virtuous and compas- sionate and loving practices, our rebirth will be positive, if there is any. ajahn amaro: There are many people who want to be committed Buddhists but don’t like the idea of past and future lives. Many well-known Buddhist teach- ers have that same kind of reticence about rebirth. There’s a teaching in the Middle Length Discourses, Majjhima Nikaya 60, the Apannaka Sutta. It’s called “The Incontrovertible Teaching,” and it’s almost verbatim the teaching that Rinpoche described. The Buddha starts off by saying, “If you ask me, I say that there is this life and there are previous lives and future lives. They’re the result of good and bad action. However, there might be some other good person who has the view that there are no past lives, no future lives, only this life. If that person leads a virtu- ous life, they will attract good friends to them, they will sleep easily at night, they centers & programs information www.kwanumzen.org books www.kwanumzen.org/ppp zen master seung sahn founding teacher photo by arunas kulikauskas Zen Mountain Monastery o ne month residential program An introduction to Zen and the Eight Gates of Training mount ains and rivers order of zen buddhism with Abbot John Daido Loori and Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, Resident Priest 845.688.2228 firstname.lastname@example.org www.mro.org Join us for a month-long intensive in a monastic and lay residential community in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Rigorous training in zazen, teacher-student relationship, academic study, liturgy, the Buddhist precepts, work practice, art practice and body practice. The month culminates with a week-long silent retreat.