Saturday, February 21, 2004

In whyche the Bloggiste sheweth forth three Hesytatyons

A couple people have asked me what I mean when I say I don't particularly believe in reincarnation. I've been hesitating to explain it, for several reasons. One is that my opinions are somewhat heterodox, and I do not have any desire to innovate, or challenge doctrine: I hold the opinions I do because they allow me to go on practicing, not because I think they're better than received Buddhist opinion. Coming from a devoutly athiest background, I find the notion of an afterlife difficult to digest, and I've cobbled together a way of coping with that, a provisional way of making sense of the teachings on reincarnation. This has nothing to do with the intrinsic probability of reincarnation, and everything to do with making accomodations for the prejudices of my upbringing. I would never try to argue anyone out of a belief in reincarnation. I just offer this to those who are interested in Buddhism but who, like me, have long believed that consciousness grows slowly in an infant as "an emergent property of the brain" and stops abruptly at death.

My second hesitation is a local and personal one. My ideas about this have been deeply influenced by Michael's, and this creates two contending (but not mutually exclusive) difficulties -- either that i might appear to be claiming Michael's thoughts as my own, strutting in borrowed feathers, or that I might appear to be foisting my own ideas and heterodoxy on Michael. Both possibilities distress me, thought I can't imagine Michael would care a bean about either one.

I hesitate, third, because whenever I try to explain it, I find I have to explain other things first -- it's part of a network of interlocked ideas -- and I don't think I can roll it out properly in a single blog entry. Other Buddhist ideas, or Michael-isms (I'm not always very good at telling the difference) are involved. And yet a blog entry should be short. I know I tend to drift away after five hundred words or so, and don't see why my readers would be any different.

Heere endeth the manuscrypte, in seemynge shortliche ybrooken off. Beliche for to bee resumyd att a layter time

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