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Buddhadharma : Spring 2014
SPRING 2 0 1 4 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 15 EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO TEACHERS@THEBUDDHADHARMA.COM NARAYAN HELEN LIEBENSON: Anatta (not-self) is a central teaching of the Buddha, as is rebirth. How do we put these seemingly contradic- tory teachings together? The Buddha taught that freedom from samsara, the repetitive round of birth and death, is possible through the understanding of not-self—that nothing whatsoever can be clung to as me or mine. So it could be said that rebirth affects those who cling to a sense of self but ends for those who release such clinging. As for what is reborn, the Buddha didn’t ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN is former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center GESHE TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet NARAYAN HELEN LIEBENSON is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center ASK THE TEACHERS I was raised a Christian and taught that there is an eternal soul that leaves the body upon death and goes to heaven or hell. While I am now a Buddhist practitioner, my early religious upbringing has remained a problem. My logical brain tells me there must be something that animates a being and leaves the body when it dies; after all, one can tell the difference between a corpse and a living being. In the Theravada tradition, we have the Jataka tales that describe Gautama’s previous lives. In the Zen tradition, Jiyu-Kennett Roshi describes her former lives in her autobiography, The Wild,White Goose. In the Vajrayana tradition of Tibet, there is the tulku tradition with the intentional reincarnation of realized beings such as the Dalai Lama. Please help me understand the Buddhist concept of what is reborn or reincarnated. What is it that is never born yet never dies? Is it conscious- ness? Awareness? Is it empty? It seems like an eternal soul to me. Q (LEFT–RIGHT):BARBARAWENGER,JANINEGULDENER,MARYLANG