Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Re-incarnate

The idea was planted like a seed. You could say like the lotus seeds of Mark Griffiths' The Lotus Quest, which spring to life hundreds of years later as if they were asleep for just a season. Re-incarnation is real. It is the cycle of life, might even be the only purpose of life.

To the western mind, with its human-centric theology, its me-focused lifestyle and goals, it is hard to grasp the continuum. We are trained to stand outside the stream of life. We feel that observer status denotes intellectual superiority. Not so, the trees tell us. A stand of immortelle or cassia, a pond of lotuses, will grow and flower, fruit and seed. And continue to purify the air, enrich the soil and feed birds and animals, season after season in a continuous cycle. Left to themselves, small fish feed big fish feed bigger fish; plankton becomes whales; jelly fish leatherback turtles.

The word creates the myth - re-incarnation means being made flesh again. But what flesh? Is the only possibility that I become or enter another human body after this body falls away like clay? indeed, matter is constantly being re-used and re-cycled. In death, our atoms do make other creatures, worms, cockroaches, snakes, trees, corbeaux, eagles. In life, imagine all the beings whose flesh become our flesh. Chicken, goat, or cow:  Oops we've just been reincarnate in a Trini child!

Actual re-incarnation is happening here and now, every day. Cells age and die. Flesh falls away and is transformed to other flesh. No atom is lost. Spirit, however, is another dimension entirely. Everywhere and no where, it creates the life we inhabit -  maya (the illusory environment, like a stage set) to atma (spirit, motivator, actor) - and keeps it in balance.

How can we know it? As the scientist has revealed the atom, so the poet reveals the soul.

From Tagore: "The emancipation of our physical nature is in attaining health, of our social being in attaining goodness, and of our self in attaining love."

From Thoreau On Walden Pond: "Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man's features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them."

As manifestations of spirit, we can only know ourselves incarnate, in constant re-incarnation.

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