What keeps us in the Cycle of Birth and Death

By Desmond Yeoh SC

We are reborn again and again into the material world by choice. We choose to do so because we think that there is a stage whereby lasting happiness can be found; perhaps if we are reborn as a king or the president of the most powerful country in the world. However, we can easily observe that Presidents and Kings have not found lasting happiness. In fact, they seem angry and agitated all the time. President Trump is a very good example.

Or we think that if we meet our soulmate, we would have lasting happiness or at least be happy most of the time. The Buddha was reborn with his soulmate over and over again for many lifetimes but in his final rebirth, they agreed to separate so that the Buddha could seek the way out of suffering.

Yet, we choose to deny this because it can be very depressing to acknowledge the truth. However, we can only find peace by seeing the world as it truly is. Only by having the right view of the world, are we able to make life decisions that bring more and more peace into our lives.

Even in this current lifetime, we think that if we achieve certain things, we can get out of suffering. So we struggle and live on hope. It is like playing a video game. We win and lose over and over again and the artificial coins we earn in the game can only be used in the game and not in our real life. We know this but still we get excited about earning those coins and progressing to the next stage. It is the same with our life: All the wealth, power and reputation we gain in this life is only for this life. We know this, and yet we struggle. Even billionaires struggle for the next billion.

What we carry into our next life are our negative tendencies. The bag of negative tendencies weighs us down and determines our next rebirth. It determines who our next parents would be. Our parents determine our genetic make-up and have the most influence over our character and perception of the world. Being born to wise parents can give us a boost as we progress on our spiritual evolution. So, the more negative tendencies we remove from the bag, the lighter we become and the higher our rebirth would be. Eventually, we realise that no happiness can be found in the material world, even in the realm of gods. This is because all realms are tainted by the law of impermanence. This law causes uncertainty, fear and loss. With this “anvil of impermanence” hanging over our heads, waiting to drop down on us, no lasting happiness can ever be found. Only when we clearly feel this in our very core, will there be dispassion for the material world. When that happens, we will go out like the flame from a candle; never to be reborn again.

%d bloggers like this: