“How Can Something that is Selfless Be Reborn?”

A friend asked, “How can something that is selfless be reincarnated?” The question was in the context of the paramita or “Transcendental Virtue” of Patience, and so I thought to connect the two ideas with the following reflections on Patience and Rebirth.

Firstly, it is noteworthy that the question was changed from one about “reincarnation” to a question about “rebirth.” This will make things easier. Reincarnation is a broad term that has expressions in many traditions. In the Indian context, it was an assumption that everyone shared and still shares in a significant way. In the Greek context it is known as metempsychosis, and survived even into Christian times, but was eventually made a heresy and it mostly disappeared except in pagan or other liminal contexts. Nowadays there are various New Age versions of a reincarnation doctrine, but mostly it is just a vague and unarticulated cultural belief for those that have it.

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Sacred Groundlessness: Deepening the Ethics of Mindfulness in the Midst of Global Crisis

This chapter situates the question of ethics and mindfulness in the context of a global crisis—a crisis that is at once ecological, social, and personal—and suggests that these dimensions of the global crisis contain a common and underlying crisis of being, a nihilistic despair that is symptomatic of an inability to come to terms with groundlessness and relativity. Informed by the methods of insight (vipashyanā) within the awareness traditions of Tibetan Buddhist Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen, the emerging trend of “compassion” within secular mindfulness discourse is critiqued and applied to the question of nihilism and the global crisis

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On the Origins of Mindfulness

During the first session of my mindfulness certification program at UCLA this year, one participant asked, “Where did Mindfulness come from?” The instructor joked that many believe Mindfulness to have been invented by Jon Kabat-Zinn some thirty years ago, which is not...

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