You can begin again and again

It’s raining where I live in Minnesota today, but my mind is on the end of the dry season in Thailand 12 years ago.

I was in a truck, which shook loose our bodies and the dirt. Out tumbled a question I’d been wondering about for a while:

“What about reincarnation?”

We’d been having conversations like this for a few months. I had been working on a meditation practice and was finding a lot of benefit in it. Mostly because of the way it oriented me to what was happening right now and the clarity it gave me about myself.

Buddhism seemed like a religious practice I could finally see myself keeping. I’d always been interested in religion in the way you’re interested in what you think you lack.

I once made a project of reading the King James Bible before bed. It seemed like a natural pick after the Redwall series, and its dimensions made for an even swap in the drawer of my white wicker nightstand.

I liked some of what I read as metaphor but faltered in my self-conversion when I tried to convince my brain to file any of it as fact the way I did that Boron has 5 protons. Maybe the juxtaposition with Redwall didn’t help.

So when I asked about reincarnation, it wasn’t a challenge, it was a plea.

Ajaan Adisak heard what I asked. “I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I do believe in rebirth.”

I pressed my fingers into my thigh one-two-three-four-five while I waited for the rest of what he had to say.

“Buddhism tells us to pay attention to the present moment to see how things really are. I can’t tell from the present moment whether reincarnation has happened. But what I can tell from the present moment is that every moment is new. And in every moment I can be new. Every moment is a little birth. I know rebirth is true because I can observe it.”

I saw a raindrop on the windshield. I imagined more of them on the road, pressing the dirt into the earth, fusing them together. I imagined Ajaan Adisak’s words doing the same thing in my mind.

I

 

You can begin again and again

This essay also appeared on Medium.

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a writer with a master's degree in psychology. She crafts thoughtful, compassionate essays about culture, mental health, mindfulness, and motherhood. Her writing has appeared in Scary Mommy, Motherly, Motherwell, and more. You can find the latest from Emily at www.emilypgerickson.com.

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