I had a small, interesting shift in view some days ago, when I overheard a conversation on reincarnation vs. rebirth.
From a Buddhist view, there is no reincarnation – of any separate/permanent entity, but there is rebirth – of patterns or karma. There are no separate entities, because all phenomena are aspects of a seamless whole. There are no permanent entities because all phenomena are in constant change. This is a view reflected in systems theories as well.
Still, something may be reborn. If there is, then it is the patterns or karma that is reborn. It is the habitual patterns of sensation, emotions, cognition, that are continued and expressed in a different being.
It is difficult to put words on what is beyond any concepts. One attempt may be to say that there is One Mind (God, Spirit, Buddha Mind), expressed in all phenomena. It is the same One Mind that expresses itself as awareness in any living being, although it often identifies itself exclusively with that one body/personality and perceives itself as separate from everything else.
Sometimes, it awakens to its own nature, as being beyond that one being. It can awaken to itself as clear and luminous space, in which all experiences unfold. As beyond dualistic and transdualistic perception, but functioning as either. It can awaken to itself as clear, luminous space, manifesting as any and all experiences, and any and all pheonomena.
In the last few weeks, I had explored how it is this One Mind manifesting, even in the deluded operations of this personality. I see dualistic perceptions, reactiveness, dullness, etc. – and at the same time directly experience how this is also Big Mind manifesting. From this view, there is no need to change anything. Everything just is.
On the other hand, it is the natural functioning of the small self to want something else. Ultimately, to find relief from suffering – to find happiness and equanimity. The desiring and seeking of the small self view naturally and effortlessly complements the tranquility and equanimity of Big Mind view. They are inseparate, both are God/Big Mind manifesting.
As with most shifts, this one can be expressed in the same words as I would have used before, but my experinece of it is a little different.
In a way, it is karma – the habitual patterns of sensations, emotions, cognition – that is liberated. Through practice and openings, they transform into patterns that allow the Big Mind view to be more clearly expressed through the small self. They are liberated from the suffering of cuntioning in a small self context only. And this is what is passed on. This is what may be reborn.
In the beginning of practice, we tend to identify exclusively with small self, and practice to liberate this small self from suffering. Then, we realize that there is no separate/permanent small self to liberate. There is only the fluidity between Big Mind and small self. At this point, we may practice just because that is the natural expression of this view and realization, and to better assist other small selves to be relieved from suffering and open to Big Mind.
And we may also practice to allow the next body/personality in which these habitual patterns are reborn, to more easily open for Big Mind. The more I have done the job here, the easier it will be for the next poor schmuck born with these patterns to open up for Big Mind.