The Notion of Reincarnation

The Buddhist Wheel of Samsara and its Six Realms of Desire

The Buddhist Wheel of Samsara and its Six Realms of Desire

Who are we and where do we come from--a survey in the space/place of the present with an imaginary voyage in time. We are at least all that we remember, and more which we submerge in our own internal oceans of forgetfulness.

What is there to be written, if that significant vehicle is to be adopted, about the notion of reincarnation? There are two approaches to the Six Realms, so we receive the teaching. One is that we are reincarnated in each and every moment of awakening, as an ongoing process of contin­uous rebirth. That we are reborn instantly in Hell when agitated by our wrath; that we die and are tortured when we sleep, when we twist our realities about us noose-like; that we arrive, here and now, in the Celestial Lands with each wave of bliss, vibration of accord, harmony, resonance without and within.

Primitive beliefs about reality may yet teach, through the models of the signs and tokens: that mesh of fairy-tale and folklore recreated, patched into the weavings of our consciousness--asleep and awake. Should we then imagine that we then might appear again as dogs or birds, demons or gods--and in the forms of our pre­sent imaginings--on a reef in the casting of our net for a glimpse of the silvery fish. Fish move fluidly, lone and in self-protective schools, in one ocean. Our reefs move very slowly: coral growth, sand. Silicon is an element of principal abundance on the earth in its hydrogen sea.

From the OKEANOS which was, and still is, more than the salt sea, more even than the night sky and the darkness of our dreams, and the free-association areas of our frontal cortex--from the Herakleitan flow, the Taostream of Joyce and Agatha Tyche, riverrun of lucky reckoners--from all this and the array of probablities, even the unimaginable: TO?

Gauguin in the Marquesas: Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? On a painting frequently misun­derstood in Paris and maloverseen by our culture towers, the European wandering where everybody eats, nobody works. Genghis Khan?

We imagine: In one of MY past reincarnations I believe I was an Egyptian--not your ordinary Egyptian, of course, but a Pharoah. Of course. Not one of the humble, or proud collective workers on the first great make-work piece of public architecture--would that be the Ziggurat at Ur? The Step Pyramid and its Complex at Zoser's Saqqara? No, of course, having been pre-programmed by the backs of countable, but many dollar bills, we like to see ourselves as having THE pyramid, being built for us. And so the archaeologists and historians leave us the choice of identity: Khufu. But the ladies will see Nefertiti, rather like Elizabeth Taylor. Who wants to have been Zoser's architect and fellow politican Im Hotep. Only the well-educated who have read that he might have come from some other star. Then OH YES, him (but not his third assistant).

Am I reborn from the marauding psychic ghost of Genghis Khan, this time without the spot and shy epicanthis folds? Then too must I be the brains and being of all those four hundred thousand metaprograms, whose skulls the Khan piled up into a great pyramid that was once Bokhara, sowing salt in the fields to hasten the terrestial desolation. As a reincarnate Pharoah people disbelieve because I do not resemble Yul Brunner; and Moses was either Michelangelo or Charlton Heston. Charlton plays with the role of rein­carnating the most-permitted archetype: El Cid, el Campeador, the Sublime artists, prophets, heroes. All will be enter­tained by the investiture and posturing.

Thus our probabilities richly enhance the kaleidoscopic choice of what we think we have been or just might be. Apparently something short of satisfactory, however, is the play extended into the business of brushing tooth, getting the Murine into the eye. And so we turn to the philosophical bundle, swaddled in conceptualization, weighted with the rock that murdered Marpa's son thrown off his high impatient horse.

The horse knows the dieection. Zimmer in the King and the Corpse. Tripitaka's white horse on the way west, a water spirit, flowing, coiling through the hole in the reed. Left or tight hand spiral? North or southern hemisphere? Spinning into decrepitude through time as matter moves through space in the forms of helices. These bodies will decompose entropically; and the counter spiral culminate.

Kurt von Meier
Circa 1972