When it comes to reincarnation, I can't help but remember a contest that once ran in the magazine, "Psychology Today." Readers were invited to come up with the best scam they could think of (pretty inventive idea, I thought). The winner was someone who imagined a company in -- where else? -- California: Patrons were invited to hand over all their worldly possessions. In return for this, they received a slip of paper with a number on it. After they died and were reincarnated, all they had to do was to present the number in order to get all their worldly possessions back.
This sort of reincarnation strikes me as idiotic. Fun, yes; capable of creating an interesting story, yes; but sensible, no. I love a good story as well as the next person, but stories are stories, so I don't put them on the front burner in my life.
Rebirth is another matter. I am completely untutored when it comes to texts and citations so I hope people will forgive me if I make some mistake. Rebirth to me just means what happens in every moment. Every moment is gone before you can say "death" and reappears before you can say "rebirth." The process is utterly smooth. It requires no wise observations. It is just what happens and fussing around about it is largely a waste of time ... noticing, OK; fussing, a waste of time. Perhaps it is like watching the small waves in a lake or in the ocean bay ... each wave flows seamlessly wherever it is headed. Sometimes it meshes with the wave next door. Sometimes it just seems to go its own way. Either way, it is in motion and changing before anyone can intone the word "change." And when the waves stop -- when what was obvious becomes no longer obvious -- well, who in his right mind would say the waves are somehow missing, that change was somehow missing?
What changes cannot be grasped. Past, present and future cannot be grasped. We're along for the ride, assuming there is some "we" in the situation. We have characteristics just like waves and there is no need to pretend we don't. But pretending we could grasp and hold this wave, define and dissect it ... well it doesn't work very well and it sure uses up a lot of unnecessary energy. What 'was' becomes 'is' without any help from 'me.' Might as well enjoy what we tentatively call the 'rebirth' ride. And if "rebirth" is somehow confusing or annoying, well, forget about it. Rebirth won't mind.