last week i attended the annual 3-day zazen retreat hosted by nishijima sensei at tokei-in temple in the tea covered hills of shizuoka (2 hrs. from tokyo by bullet train). as usual, the question of reincarnation came up during the talks. and, as usual, nishijima expressed his opinion that there was no such thing as reincarnation and that the belief in reincarnation is not buddhism. and, like always, most of the people who heard this were pretty cheesed off about it. after all, everybody knows that all buddhists believe in reincarnation. richard gere says so!
i'm not trying to sound high and mighty here. seven years ago when i began studying with nishijima, i too asked the reincarnation question and i too was pretty cheesed off by his reply. i should have known better, really. after all, i'd been practicing for a decade or so by then. it's not hard for me to understand why people ask the question. we're all scared of dying and we all want some kind of assurance that we're going to live forever. having a kindly old man in black robes tell you you're going to be reborn after you die is pretty comforting.
In my experience, costant repetition of a relatively unchanging experience implies pleasure or lack of displeasure with it...
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