How Does Reincarnation Work?

A photo by Sebastian Molina M.

“I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”


Sorry to say, I’m probably guilty of a little bit of false advertising with the title.  How your reincarnation works is something you find through the process of meditation, the process of gnosis.  If anyone tries to tell you how it works you might as well be listening to a carnival psychic.

Most of us spend the majority of our adult spiritual lives trying to undo our little share of pain and ignorance given to us in this single lifetime, pain and ignorance which is something we have all inherited in similar measure.  It is the reality of our human world at this point and it is the mud in which a few lotuses will grow.  The lotuses that grow are those that become ‘real boys,’ as in the story of Pinocchio.  Becoming a ‘real boy’ means realizing that up until now we were only a creation acting as if we were a creator.  Becoming a real boy means becoming a real self-aware, self-realized creator.

This may sound elitist and, in fact, it is.  Let me preface it this way… how many people get into Harvard?  How many sperm find the egg?  How many kings of the jungle are there?  How many gold medalist pole vaulters are there?  What percentage of our citizens are the president of the US?  In every single place that we look we see inequality.  It is not true that we are all equal, although, in a way, we are.  We are all equally part of a massive ball of creations with hungry stomachs being born, trying to fill our holes and then dying and being ground up back into a churning sea of being that we can call Samsara.  It might seem like it would be more kind and compassionate not to say this but, in fact, it would be the greater evil not to.

As for me, my heart hurts.  Sometimes it feels like almost nothing but black pain and fear inside.  The level of ignorance, violence and delusional selfishness that we are literally compelled to act out despite all that we are capable of is astonishing.  Each of us plays our small part in the divine drama, believing in the force of conceived character the whole time.  Meanwhile, we and all the living beings of the earth arise and decay in the endless turn of samsaric soil.  You want to know about reincarnation?  Meditate on the transmigration of a fruit fly’s ‘soul.’

But as I said, my heart hurts.  Sometimes the pain and compassion for the seed of our common heart is so great that my shoulders shake with tears.  The flipside of this hopeless misery is like the most fearsome, whip-shaped Goddess of exacting insight, compassion and power who would follow her lost cub into hell and tear the place apart at the speed of a thought.  It is with this heart that I hope to bear what little fruit I can, to protect and perpetuate the Dharma body, the practice body, the wisdom body in any way that I possibly can.

When it comes to reincarnation, the answer is, like everything else, simple but not easy.  If we do not know who we are, that is, we are not self-realized, then there is no one to reincarnate anything.  We have not yet won ‘everlasting’ life, and we will remain fixed to the wheel of samsara, the churning ball of life.  The body we take on will be an inherited bundle of bodies in existence – biological, ancestral, cultural, consciousness, thought, etc. Because we have not stored enough power in the I Am, we can’t yet create and must rely on the wisdom body, protected and perpetuated in the world by Bodhisattvas, to hope to one day win our freedom.

We only can see this through experience, through coming to envelope the entire ‘self’ with which we previously identified and realizing that it was not yet conscious of itself.  The truth is, most of us do not yet know who we are.  We are creations acting like creators.  To become a creator, we need to somehow figure out how we are going to literally become something else.  How each one of us does this is largely an individual matter.

To use another children’s movie, the Lion Man (hara), Tin Man (heart) and Scarecrow (head) had stored their power in the outer world, the Wizard of Oz.  They did not store their power in the ‘I Am’ and needed to skip down the yellow brick road to realize their power lies inside of them and not outside somewhere.  If they forget the lesson again, again they will need to skip down the road.  When we stop storing our power in illusions (i.e. pleasure, vanity, money, status, temporary power) we may store our power in the I Am.  By storing power in the I Am, a greater force is created and a greater force, a creator, may incarnate again.  Whatever was stored only in worldly illusions is scattered at death and thrown again into the fire.  When we awaken to see what we are not, this situation is seen not as conjecture but as an empirical and mathematical certainty.

So if this stirs you or makes you uncomfortable then it has done it’s job.  After all, we call it ‘waking up’ for a reason.  When are you done?  When you know you are done.  If you can’t stay awake through an hour meditation how in the holy fuck do you think you’re going to create a being in the Bardo of Death?  As a final word, I want to stress that no one can do this work for you, no one can save you and no one but you can even know what your salvation means.  If you use anything in the outer world for anything other than a pointer for your inner world then you will never find what you are looking for.  Good luck, practice hard.

3 thoughts on “How Does Reincarnation Work?

  1. when does reincarnation actually start and stop? Is it at the moment when the one hand clapping moment actually takes place and one gets his spirit incarnated? The truth, and a sad one is, that people do not incarnate spirit, but personality substance… Buddha, addressing the four truths is the starting point, he was being hit / struck by an arrow of life. But the road is indeed a long one.

    Liked by 1 person

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