Explore reincarnation with Ethan Nichtern in this philosophically charged episode of The Road Home Podcast!
The Division of Secular and Religious Truths
We kick this podcast off by examining the categories Buddhism falls into. Buddhism may be considered a religion by some, but it is also a philosophy composed of ethical and psychological principles that could be practiced by any religion. Typically, a religion is qualified as religious because it is faith-based and has an unverified origin story about humankind. Most other religions do fit that mold, but Buddhism does not have a faith-based creator narrative. The teachings of Buddhism do definitely have a ritualistic, ceremonial component. This discussion challenges our idea of what religion really is and what can be seen as ritualistic.
“From this standpoint, religion is sort of a dance of ceremony that gives one’s life meaning, symbolism, community, and care for the larger picture. If this is our definition of religion, then I am much more interested in Buddhism as a religion.” – Ethan Nichtern
Consciousness Beyond Death (26:07)
Ethan describes two hypotheses about reincarnation. One is that reincarnation exists. This does not mean that reincarnation is a definitive state. Rather, it means that the death of the body is not the total end of the impressions that made up consciousness. The other hypothesis is the scientific, materialistic view that there is no consciousness. Essentially, this means that life begins and ends in this one lifetime. There is no way to scientifically test the theory that consciousness ends since we can only measure the physical body. Yet, there is evidence that most things are not finite when we explore the world.
“Consciousness is bigger than just this one finite lifetime in this biochemical human body.” – Ethan Nichtern
Check out Ram Dass’ views on Reincarnation in Ep. 62 of Here and Now
Liberation and Multiple Life Times (47:33)
Our path is actually quite long when we think about reincarnation or multiple lifetimes. For example, it may take a while for one to soften their heart if someone hurt them. It could take 15 years to forgive and release anger. This sounds awfully long and some may wonder if it is worth the effort to transform our negative feelings. However, in the grand scheme of reincarnation, 15 years may not be long at all. The bodhisattva aspiration is to be present for oneself and others for many future lifetimes. If you liberate yourself even after years of difficulty, you have still shifted your consciousness. You have done great work even if it feels very subtle.
“I think there is a lot of forgiveness and a lot of real validation in the view of multiple lifetimes.” – Ethan Nichtern