Tonight I took on a question that left me feeling more at ease with the idea of reincarnation than I’ve ever been.
I asked myself, if I had been Buddha in a previous life, how would I feel upon suddenly remembering that?
And my first thought was that if Buddha reincarnated at all, then he failed, miserably. After all, his stated goal was to escape from suffering by acknowledging one’s true nature and escaping after death into a state of complete singularity with the universe. To be reincarnated again and again for what would have to be thousands of years by now, would be the exact opposite of what he sought to do.
My second thought was that another chance to see the matter from a new perspective is always a good thing, and that, though even Buddha could be wrong, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
We have been sages before and forgotten ourselves; even a most sublime son among philosophers could do the same. And that is what makes us all equal and grand and full of un-tapped potential; we don’t know the strength of our own souls. A Buddha one day, an ox-herder the next. Back up through the Ten Bulls again, to rebuild the house one level at a time. But there is beauty even in that because what we build the next time is even greater than what we built the first time.
Then I had this incredible flash: perhaps enlightenment is not a fixed point but an ever-extending thread of Gnosis back, by and by, to the true nature of things. Perhaps Buddha’s insights were only a way station onto something deeper, and that Buddha could reincarnate having still succeeded in advancing the human spirit.
Say for example that the early observation by Hermes Trismegistos that “that which is above is that which is below” was merely an early breakthrough. When this truth became apparent to those who heard it and meditated upon it, they were ready for greater revelations. So too with every other point about the universe that has been understood to be true. As the human spirit accepts new ideas, it develops a tolerance for newer, bolder ideas and is forever forging into previously-inaccessible reaches of Gnosis.
I must stress that I do not believe and am not seriously suggesting that I was Buddha and failed to achieve ultimate enlightenment; only that I feel that I have reached a point where I’m so accustomed to weirdness that it just wouldn’t bother me if I was. There’d be fuck all I could do about it, except smile, laugh, and say “Well, the joke really was on me” before simply trying in earnest to live mindfully and compassionately. The wheel turns as always, and all is well.