It was great to see all of you last night. This week, start noticing poignant moments of joy and/or joy and sadness in your life as you experience your day. Try finding points of stillness in the chaos of the holiday weekend.
Last night, I meant to speak a little bit about rebirth in our tradition of Western Buddhism in California. So, in Theravada Buddhism, as it has panned out here in the West, no one is "forced" to subscribe to the idea of rebirth. In my understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, however, it is necessary to believe in this. I was very much enlightened when I sat several retreats with the Batchelors at Spirit Rock a few years ago. Stephen Batchelor talked to many of us about how through the years, rebirth had been rolled in to Buddhism because this concept was prevalent during the time in which the Buddha lived. Despite its appearance in the Nikayas, the Buddha never personally addressed rebirth himself. In one of the suttas, when asked what happens in the Afterlife, he dismissed the person asking this question and said that it doesn't matter. What matters is suffering and the end of suffering, to be contemplated and practiced in this lifetime. If one thinks about it, this response is very much in keeping with the Buddha's insistence that what he discovered upon his awakening and what he shared with many through his teachings, need to be experienced (and not just believed) in order to know deeply for oneself that such and such is true.
As I personally contemplate my imminent death, I am more and more convinced that rebirth is a possibility. It has evolved within my reflections because my husband and I hope to rediscover one another in another lifetime. It is a method by which to console one another.