Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Do you believe in an afterlife? Heaven and hell? Or perhaps reincarnation?

Now, I don’t believe in any of those things in the conventional sense, but I do know this to be true---life is without end. As I see it, it’s not a case of whether or not there is life ‘after’ death. It’s a case of---there is only life. Life has no beginning and it has no end. We are ‘in,’ that is, immersed in eternal life now. What is life? Life consists of things living out their livingness from one moment to the next. Forms of life come and go. They wax and wane, and so will we---well, at least the forms of our present self-expression. Life is constant change. It is forever changing its manner and forms of expression, but life never ceases to be---not even for one instant.

I am a liberal minister to people of all faiths---and none. Whenever I am asked to conduct a funeral I almost always include in my oration or invocations the following lines taken from Sir Edwin Arnold’s beautiful version of the Bhagavad-Gita (dubbed The Song Celestial’):

Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever.

On one of my recent trips to Japan I bought in a second-hand bookshop a wonderful anthology of Japanese poetry entitled Modern Japanese Poetry. The funny thing is that this book was published in Australia where I live. Anyway, it’s a great collection of poems. Here’s one of the poems. It’s entitled ‘A Tree,’ and it’s written by Kōra Rumiko and translated by James Kirkup. This poem expresses exactly what I am trying to say, only much more elegantly than I could ever hope to do:

In a tree, there is
a tree still not in existence,
whose crest is even now
trembling in some breeze.

In a blue sky, there is
a blue sky still not in existence,
whose horizon is now being
pierced by a swift bird.

In a body, there is
a body still not in existence,
whose altar is now being
flooded with fresh blood.

In a town, there is
a town still not in existence,
whose main square is now being
swung in my direction.

There is only life. Life cannot other than be. Indeed, life is be-ing-ness itself and we live, move and have our be-ing in that one life. There is life, but there is always more of life yet to express itself and manifest in shape and form. Life is much, much more than the sum total of the multiplicity of its present forms and modes of expression. Not only that, life is ever renewing itself from one moment to the next. In every form of life's self-expression there is always another form of life ‘still not in existence’ but in the process, albeit at or even before its very beginning, of manifesting itself in visible shape and form on this earthly plane.

Now, if some people want to believe that they will live on in consciousness and personality in some ‘place’ or ‘state’ of existence ‘above’ or ‘beyond’ this earthly plane of existence, that is their business. And if others want to believe in rebirth or reincarnation, that too is their business. 

As for me, I am very happy and content in the knowledge and understanding--as opposed to belief--that the one life that is currently expressing and manifesting itself in and as the person that is me will survive the eventual destruction of my body and mind and personality and will express itself in some new form of life. 

That is more than enough for me.

Note. The photos (other than that of the book cover) were taken by the author on trips to Japan and Tasmania, Australia.


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