Enquire: ‘Who am I?’ and you will find the answer. Look at a tree: from one seed arises a huge tree; from it comes numerous seeds, each one of which in its turn grows into a tree. No two fruits are alike. Yet it is one life that throbs in every particle of the tree. So, it is the same Atman everywhere.
All creation is that. There is beauty in the birds and in the animals. They too eat and drink like us, mate and multiply; but there is this difference: we can realize our true nature, the Atman. Having been born as human beings, we must not waste this opportunity. At least for a few seconds every day, we must enquire as to who we are. It is no use taking a return ticket over and over again. From birth to death, and death to birth is samsara. But really we have no birth and death. We must realize that.
— Sri Anandamayi Ma – Ananda Varta
Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale.
From what land do you come, O Swan? to what shore will you fly?
Where would you take your rest, O Swan, and what do you seek?
Even this morning, O Swan, awake, arise, follow me!
There is a land where no doubt nor sorrow have rule: where the terror of Death is no more.
There the woods of spring are a-bloom, and the fragrant scent “He is I” is borne on the wind:
There the bee of the heart is deeply immersed, and desires no other joy.
— Kabir – One Hundred Poems of Kabir (XII – Translated by Rabindranath Tagore)
“Once you have the View, although the delusory perceptions of samsara may arise in your mind, you will be like the sky; when a rainbow appears in front of it, it’s not particularly flattered, and when the clouds appear, it’s not particularly disappointed either. There is a deep sense of contentment. You chuckle from inside as you see the facade of samsara and nirvana; the View will keep you constantly amused, with a little inner smile bubbling away all the time.”
— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (from the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche – p. 170)
Once you have the View, although the delusory perceptions of samsara may arise in your mind, you will be like the sky; when a rainbow appears in front of it, it’s not particularly flattered, and when the clouds appear it’s not particularly disappointed either. There is a deep sense of contentment. You chuckle from inside as you see the facade of samsara and nirvana; the View will keep you constantly amused, with a little inner smile bubbling away all the time.
— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
As we observe nature, we become aware of a cyclic order of existence in the whole universe. One season follows upon the previous season, and night follows day in rhythmic sequence. Could you imagine a night that does not return to day, or a winter that does not become another spring? That would be a horrible thought. The phases of the moon, the cycles of growing plants and trees, the wheeling dance of the stars, all these are clear indications of a universal pattern of cyclic existence in the evolutionary progress of life.
We can observe similar cyclic pattern in our own lives, in the twenty-four hours of each day, periods of rest alternate with periods of activity. The science of medicine tells us that the body has its cycles — the beating of the heart, the growth and renewal of cell life. The brain also functions in rhythms. Psychology tells about cycles of depression followed by periods of exhilaration, cycles of mental activity followed by times of quiet contemplation. Historians and sociologists trace cyclic patterns in world events.
We can reduce this to the question of life and death. Death is always a beginning. The death of the present moment is the birth of the next moment. Isn’t it like this that we perceive time? But in reality the present is the whole of time; in the seed of the present are the past and the future. The present is the eternal, the timeless. So, if we meditate about cyclic existence, rebirth, reincarnation and samsara, the wheel of existences, shouldn’t we first reflect on what is that incarnates, or what is reborn? Shouldn’t we try to understand the essence of what IS, here and now, before trying to understand mere concepts of reincarnation or rebirth and what is being reborn, although always keeping in mind that the moment of death is uncertain and we do not have time to lose? Once we have deeply understood that the present is not a passage to a past that is merely memory or a mirage like future, the present isn’t anymore a becoming, there will be no life and death anymore and we will have a deep understanding of what is that incarnates and of cyclic existence.