Buddhism and reincarnation

Buddhism too believes in reincarnation, although it differs significantly from the Hindu concept.  Whereas Hindus believe that their soul is ‘unchanging’, Buddhists believe that everything changes all the time, except for the law by which this change occurs.

In other words, Hinduism believes that there is a ‘self’, ‘ego’ or ‘identity’ which moves from one body to another, whereas Buddhism believes that the components of the body including one’s personality are subject to dissolution from moment to moment.

Put differently, Buddhism holds that what is conceived as identity or self changes from moment to moment and something that always changes cannot have a ‘fixed personality’ which transmigrates from one body to another.

What transmigrates is the moment which gives rise to the next moment, just like the flame of one dying candle lights the next candle thus leaving the old candle behind. Consequently, Buddhism believes that we are a constantly evolving consciousness which evolves within one’s current lifetime and continues to evolve when reborn. Death just interrupts this stream of consciousness for the purpose of recharging our ‘energy’ for yet another lifetime.

Daisaku Ikeda explains: Consider birth and death in terms of space. Galaxies wax and wane in size as stars within them are born and perish. In the existence of each star are the births and deaths of myriad living beings, as well as the appearance and disappearance of mountains, rivers and valleys.

What about our own lifetime? We do not maintain the same matter we were born with from beginning to end. Most of our body cells continually die, to be replaced by new ones. Their births and deaths — metabolism — keep the body constantly provided with fresh life force and enable it to live on.

Life and death coexist in our bodies. Fingernails and hair are “lifeless,” insentient things, but they originate from living material. They move from a living to a dead state in a smooth, unruffled change, followed by new fingernails and hair. The births and deaths of these and other parts of the body all combine to form a greater life. Thus life is neither a single-unit entity nor a mere assembly of parts that work independently of each other. It is something that consists of multiple components functioning in perfect unity, smaller lives combining to form a greater life. Tiny streams of births and deaths flow into broader rivers of births and deaths, which in turn pour into the vast ocean of cosmic life. The mystic nature of life is truly incredible in its working.

Buddhism believes that our energy is eternal and indestructible, but our ego and identity is in constant flux, yet this is difficult for us to see. For those of us who are preoccupied with our daily lives it may be a big ask to believe in a concept that concerns itself with the transmigration of focused energy from one bodily entity to another.

Nevertheless from a scientific point of view this appears to be the concept that makes most sense. We discussed earlier that energy cannot be destroyed, it can only be transformed. Technically speaking, when we really think about it, we have always transformed our energy throughout our existence. We must admit that we look now very differently from when we were an infant and when we look into the future our prospects to stop the ‘change’ process are rather bleak. All along the process of ‘aging’ our thoughts and emotions have changed, yet, we retained our entity throughout all these years. It shows that life is truly dynamic.

In fact many of us who have made some significant changes will find it hard to believe that we did some very ‘stupid’ things in the past. In that case we may even find it hard to recognize the kind of personality we had ‘back then’.  Looking back at our lives from the vantage point of hindsight is always easy because we know what to expect. Looking forward is always hard because we don’t know what’s in store.

Nevertheless we were that same entity back then and we will be that same entity when we reached some other point in the future. Therefore we could say that we are indeed something that can only be described as fleeting and dynamic, yet at this very moment we have the illusion of an internal identity that seems to be fixed.

So, why is it so hard for us to believe that we may inhabit a differently looking body in future or that the energy we once were scatters and then finds an opportunity to manifest once again in physical form?

The venerable Vasubandhu (a Buddhist monk from the 5th century AD) is quoted saying: “At death the body is separated into two, the ‘seen’ body and the ‘unseen’ body. This unseen body is called sai-shin which means ‘very small body’ which cannot be seen by the physical eye. It is so small that it can move through any physical matter. The eyes, ears, nose and tongue keep perfect sense, not as a body, but as an ability. This small body is able to float and fly any distance instantly. Every life in this condition has the potential to be born again, but it cannot be born when and where it likes, it is decided by what the person did while s/he was alive. S/he is born in a situation or place which is most suitable for the causes s/he made. At the moment the female egg is fertilized by the male, if it is suitable for someone’s new life, this very small body arrives there instantly, and a new physical form starts. When the physical body dies, it is impossible to either change the good or bad effects contained within its life. For some it will be a very long time. It is all decided by what that person did during his life”

These are some very insightful words indeed. It is almost hard to believe that Buddhist practitioners 1500 years ago should have had such a comprehensive understanding of life. Taking the above views into consideration, one is led to believe that there is something that quite rightly could be called a ‘consistent entity’.

In fact, if one would dismiss such concept accountability for one’s actions beyond the ‘here and now’ would be ‘out the window’ (to use a more contemporary expression) and the mystic law as well as the law of cause and effect would be a seriously challenged concept.

However, when we come to look around ourselves and consider the evidence we find in our own lives, we would probably find it extremely hard to deny its existence.

Where do we go when we are dead?

So, the question is, where do we go when we are dead according to Buddhism? We hear a lot about how we get absorbed into the ‘greater life of the universe’, but what does this actually mean? There is no doubt that our bodies that consist to approximately 70% water, some calcium and a host of other minerals and metals will become available again to other life forms. This disintegration process is part of the cycle of life and we all know this fact is hard to deny.

However, many of us feel very much attached to our bodies and find the imagination unbearable that we will eventually be devoured by worms, bacteria and the multitude of other creatures that do the job of rendering what we have taken from the earth, back to the earth.

Yet, this is the recycling process of life and we are part of it no matter how hard we want to beautify our thoughts around it, our bodies will disintegrate and in the process will be rather unpleasant in appearance and have bad associated odors.

Death is always a shock to the system and it is especially shocking for those who have not developed a coping ‘strategy’ when eventually confronted with it. And happen it will – it is only a matter of time, but we all seem to think that for some miraculous reason we are somehow exempt. It is somewhat incomprehensible that it could be me who’s next. Other people die, but not me!

However, no matter how much we want to put our heads in the sand, trying to pretend that there is no ‘elephant’ in the room, the experience of parting from loved ones and from our own bodily existence will certainly occur, sooner or later.

So, the question the ego really wants to have answered is where does that other part of us go – the energy that is so aptly described by Buddhists as ‘life force’?

If we take into consideration what Buddhists describe as the function of the ‘8th consciousness’ or karma consciousness , and what Karl Jung describes as the ‘collective unconsciousness’, then that will provide a somewhat reasonable explanation.

Jung was convinced that our consciousness and that of everything and everyone else is collected and ‘stored’. Similarly, Buddhists believe that the karma consciousness stores all our actions in ‘real time’.

Taking this point of view, it would mean that once we are departed, our ‘mental’ energy that represents all our thoughts, words, deeds and actions are stored in this consciousness and this is where it remains until ‘reentry’ into the physical world. In other words, we are an ‘action potential’ but have no means to alter the essence of our lives, if we believe Vasubandhu and Ikeda, as we need to be within a physical body to effectively influence the world of ‘matter’.

It is like having a dream when asleep. We have some kind of an idea that it is us who is having the dream, and we experience all sorts of fleeting thoughts and feelings, but we are unable to change anything at all in the physical world while we are sleeping.

No matter what we might dream, the problem we went to bed with the night before is still the same problem in the morning when we get up. Only when we take action in the world of ‘matter’ changes our experience of life.

So we could say that when we are dead our consciousness is in a dreamlike state. The Australian Aboriginals too have in fact often referred to ‘the dreaming’ as a ‘spirit world’ to which the ancestors would go after departing from their physical body.

Hence, there is a common understanding between Buddhism, Psychology and some earlier belief systems.

For instance, ancestor worship was all about ‘accessing’ the ‘spirits’ of our forefathers. Mediums that would use trance induced states would be able to be ‘in touch’ with the spirits and transfer their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. Ancestor worship was a common practice to early cultures worldwide. From a Buddhist perspective these worshippers just didn’t know what exactly they were ‘tapping into’ when they practiced their philosophy.

Talking to the dead- psychic abilities and the likely consequences

Hence, taking Jung’s theory as well as the Buddhist assumption of a karma ‘storehouse’ as confirmed, it would be unsurprising that back in ancient times, or now, people who claim to have access to this consciousness – so called mediums of the likes of John Edwards, may indeed connect with this energy, and it is therefore plausible that they are able to identify what a deceased entity has contributed to this pool of energy.

The sightings of ‘ghosts’ may also fall into a similar energy realm, whereby a sensitive person may indeed ‘pick up’ the energy of an event or entity that has occurred in the past.

We all have the ability to be ‘intuitive’ which could be defined as an instinctive knowing. There seems to be no doubt that some may have developed this to a level where these energies are more easily perceived.

However, Buddhism also explicitly warns that engaging in these kind of ‘psychic’ activities without actually understanding the true factors behind it calling in ‘ancestors’ or ‘ghosts’ can be confusing and therefore outright dangerous to an impressionable person.

Such person could come to the ‘wrong’ conclusion. For instance it is very fashionable these days to get advice from ‘psychics’ or mediums appearing to access a ‘greater power’ for the purpose of telling an obviously insecure and impressionable client what the future holds.

First of all we know now that the ‘halo effect’ described in an earlier chapter produces self fulfilling prophecies. Therefore, it is only too likely that a person having been told what the future holds will in fact create what has been foretold.

This will be especially so when the person has been in touch with a ‘real’ psychic, someone who had indeed the power to consciously access the collective unconsciousness or karma consciousness and has therefore been able to tell his client a few things that were recognized as ‘absolutely’ true.

In such case the belief of the client that the suggestions by the psychic about the future are indeed real, the faith thus generated will ensure that the self fulfilling prophecy is about to be fulfilled with an even greater thrust.

Unfortunately with each and every visit to the ‘psychic’ the person’s dependency increases and so does the decline of confidence in his or her own ability to make independent decisions. It is a game of cat and mouse and leads into mental despair sooner or later.

The irony is that the psychic thus reinforced by the client as being ‘superhuman’ also believes s/he is something truly special and therefore comes to be just as blind to what truly happens as the one he is trying to help. The Buddha’s warnings are best illustrated by the following story:

‘Once a man named Kevatta went up to the Buddha, paid homage, and said, “Lord, Nalanda is a successful city. The people living in Nalanda are prosperous, and they have confidence in the Blessed One.  Lord, it would be good if the Blessed One appointed a monk to work a marvel of supernormal power, so that the people of Nalanda might become much more confident in the Blessed One.”

The Buddha replied, “Kevatta, I do not teach the Law to monks in that way”.  The Buddha gave the same reply when the question was put to him the second and third time. After the third question, the Buddha replied that there were three kinds of supernormal levels:

1. The marvel of supernormal power to appear as many persons, to pass through walls, to fly through the air, walk on water. All these are physical actions the ordinary people cannot perform.
2. The supernormal power to read other people’s minds
3. The supernormal power to be able to guide people according to their mental development, for their own good, using suitable methods that fit these people.

He taught that a monk who displays the first two supernormal powers for their own sake in order to impress people, is no different from the performance of a shaman or a magician.  The Buddha said that a monk who practices such worldly miracles is a source of shame, humiliation and disgust. This is because such actions may impress and win converts and followers, but they do not help them put an end to their suffering.

The third kind of supernormal power which the Buddha calls “the miracle of instruction” helps people to get rid of suffering. This is the only supernormal power that is fit to be practiced and is encouraged and praised by the Buddha.

“Furthermore, there is the case where a Tathagata appears in the world, worthy and rightly self-awakened. He teaches the Dhamma admirable in its beginning, admirable in its middle, admirable in its end. He proclaims the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely perfect, surpassingly pure. ~ Kevatta Sutta”

Another story illustrates the Buddha’s attitude towards miraculous powers. One day the Buddha met an ascetic who sat by the bank of a river. This ascetic had practised austerities for 25 years. The Buddha asked him what he had received for all his labour. The ascetic proudly replied that, finally, he could cross the river by walking on the water. The Buddha pointed out that this gain was insignificant for all the years of labour, since he could cross the river using a ferry for one penny!

When the uneducated, the unsophisticated and the naive see the performance of miracles, their faith and incredulity deepens. The converts who are attracted to a religion through witnessing these powers embrace a faith, not because they realize the truth or gain in wisdom, but because they are either frightened or impressed by matters they do not understand.  In contrast, the Buddha appealed to the reasoning power of people to consider his teachings.

It is possible and even quite common for a person to gain psychic abilities without gaining any wisdom. The Buddha teaches that if we first gain spiritual power, then we can easily develop the miraculous or psychic powers too. But if we develop psychic abilities without spiritual development, then we are in danger.  Because of man’s ego it is easy for him to misuse this power for worldly gain, to impress others and for other selfish purposes. Indeed, many people who have obtained some psychic abilities have merely succumbed to their ego and vanity’ (pj pilgrim, 2005).

This is why Nichiren was convinced that practicing enlightenment through the teachings of the lotus sutra holds the key that will deliver practitioners from the confusion of such nature.

Is the concept of time inconsequential in death?

However, returning back to the subject of life after death, many people concerned with matters of death are also very much concerned with the ‘time question’. In other words, besides the question of ‘what kind of a place will I inhabit after dying’, the next most pressing question would be ‘for how long will I be gone?’

Besides that the ‘I’ in terms of individuality seems to be a questionable interpretation of how we come to experience life after death, just as much as ‘I’ seems to be somewhat fleeting when asleep, or when we experience ourselves as an infant, there is nevertheless some possible interpretations of what happens if we take the teachings of the lotus sutra into consideration.

As Nagarjuna mentions – “For some it will be a very long time. It is all decided by what that person did during his life”.

As death is considered a state of ‘non substantiality’, and as such in light of the space/time paradigm that was explained earlier in conjunction with the Einstein’s ‘Big Bang’ theory, it could be argued that neither time nor space ‘matters’ in death. To highlight this further; a state that is perhaps a little (or a lot?) like death is ‘sleep’. Time and space is completely irrelevant when we lay our bodies to rest because we are switching our senses ‘off’ that would normally be concerned with judging where we are in space and time – the eyes judge distance and appearance, the ears do something similar, and so do our touch, smell and hearing sensors. However, they are all dependant on stimuli that comes from the ‘material’ world.

This is perhaps best explained by the following metaphor. When we go to bed, close our eyes, fall asleep, open our eyes, we will find that as if someone has used a magic wand, 6 to 8 hours have passed in the blink of an eye. We could argue therefore that the duration of our conscious ‘absence’ (sleep) is immeasurable. We only become aware of the time that has passed when we look at the alarm clock positioned next to us.

However, if we would have been awake during the same ‘time’ and had completed an endless amount of tasks, this time would have appeared as ‘long’. This is proof that time is entirely ‘perceptional’. Consequently, if one is to die, we could argue that we are ‘reborn’ in the very next instance as time during death does not exist in the conventional sense. In other words, we are HERE in one way or the other all the TIME!

Perhaps the whole death paradigm is best summoned up by Daisaku Ikeda’s explanation of the subject matter when elaborating on a letter written by Nichiren Daishonin in 1272.  In this letter a priest from the Tendai Buddhist school approached Nichiren Daishonin and asked him to explain the ‘ultimate law of life’ and the question of life and death.

He explains that life and death are the two phases that all living beings must pass through. In fact, living beings can ‘exist’ only in the state of life or death.  Whereas the ordinary person can see his or her life only as it begins with birth and ends with death, the Buddhist perspective goes far beyond this rather limited view.  It sees life as a changeless entity that exists eternally, where at times it appears in the manifest phase called life, and at other times in the latent phase called death.

So, what is the Buddhist view of the two phases of life and death? The 16th chapter of the

Lotus Sutra describes what Shakyamuni thought about living and dying:

“The Buddha perceives the true aspect of the threefold world (desire, form and formlessness) exactly as it is. There is no ebb or flow of birth and death, and there is no existing in this world and later entering extinction (i.e. death). It is neither substantial nor empty, neither consistent nor diverse. Nor is it what those who dwell in the threefold world perceive it to be. All such things a Buddha sees clearly and without error.

“Because living beings have different natures, different desires, different actions, and different ways of thinking and making distinctions, and because I want to enable them to put down good roots, I employ a variety of causes and conditions, similes, parables, and phrases and preach different doctrines. This, the Buddha’s work, I have never for a moment neglected.

“Thus, since I attained Buddhahood, an extremely long period of time has passed. My life span is an immeasurable number of years, and during that time I have constantly abided here without ever entering extinction (dying). Good men, originally I practiced the bodhisattva way, and the life span that I acquired then has yet to come to an end but will last twice the number of years that have already passed. Now, however, although in fact I do not actually enter extinction, I announce that I am going to adopt the course of extinction. This is an expedient means which the Buddha uses to teach and convert living beings.

“Why do I do this?

“Because if the Buddha remains in the world for a long time, those persons with shallow virtue will fail to plant good roots but, living in poverty and lowliness, will become attached to the five desires (riches, sex, food and drink, reputation, and sleep) and be caught in the net of deluded thoughts and imaginings. If they see that the Buddha is constantly in the world and never enters extinction, they will grow arrogant and selfish, or become discouraged and neglectful. They will fail to realize how difficult it is to encounter the Buddha and will not approach him with a respectful and reverent mind.

Shakyamuni thus denies that there is an ‘ebb and flow of life’ – i.e. there is no such thing than birth and then death, only eternal life.

Nichiren Daishonin says that we should instead regard birth and death — the ebb and flow — as essential phases of the ultimate entity of life.

However, both believe that no matter what happens, the ultimate entity of our life remains unchanged, as it keeps repeating the endless cycle of birth and death. In other words, life and death are one and the same – they are both the ultimate entity of life which is ‘active’ when ‘alive’ and ‘latent’ when ‘dead’ until a cause brings it into ‘active’ once again.

Daisaku Ikeda states:

“What allows life to continue is the mystic energy accumulated in its latent state. When the latent form is aroused by some external influence, it becomes manifest once again, giving full expression to its individuality.  Eventually, it quietly recedes into the state of death. However, during this latent state, that being stores up fresh energy in preparation for its coming rebirth”

“Life is like the explosion and combustion of a force stored up during its rest period. When it has completed its lifetime, it passes away, merging into the universe. During this latent state it refuels itself with cosmic force, awaiting the time when it can spring to life once again”.

This is a macroscopic view of life, seen in terms of one lifetime within the eternity of past, present and future. We must also look at life microscopically, seeing the births and deaths that occur within each of us at every passing moment. A lifetime is made up of the repetition of this process, for births and deaths of smaller lives combine to ensure the continuation of a greater life”

As I use hypnotherapy extensively in my practice with clients, I come across some evidence for this. Although I am myself rather critically inclined when it comes to matters of the ‘unseen’ and the probability that some people ‘imagine’ things rather than having in fact experienced them, it does not explain the frequency with which some of my clients have ‘unintended’ past life regressions during therapy.

This seems to happen to people who don’t even have the religious denomination that would provide the framework for such thinking.

The process of regression during therapy usually requires a client to connect with the initial sensitizing event believed to be the cause for some of his or her currently experienced troubles.

Due to the risk of ‘false memory creation’ clients are guided through a process that excludes the use of leading questions.

The aim is to get to a particular childhood issue that may have caused a certain undesired thought pattern which has ultimately manifested and created all subsequent experiences and reinforced beliefs. This usually happens early in life, typically before the age of 6 or 7.

However, when guiding clients ‘back’, they often go way beyond birth and find themselves in another time under conditions that were somewhat similar to their present problems. They may have been of a different gender or felt that they are of different race, or built, either way, they are always quite amazed that there was a part of themselves that they were utterly unaware of.

There is some scientific literature that aims to prove that reincarnation is in fact a reality. However, as one might imagine researching matters that involve the unseen, such claims are often difficult to confirm. Nevertheless, there are a number of scientists that have made an attempt to prove the theory with interesting results.

Scientific research into reincarnation

For instance the famous English biologist Thomas Huxley found the idea of reincarnation plausible and discussed the subject at length in his book Evolution and Ethics and other Essays.

However, by far the most comprehensive scientific work in the field has been undertaken by psychiatrist Professor Ian Stevenson from the University of Virginia.   He published a detailed collection of personal reports in books such as “Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation” and “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks” and “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies”.

Using strict scientific methods, Professor Stevenson devoted over 40 years to the study of children who could remember a past life.  Using both, children from Asia and from Europe his methods ruled out all possible “normal” explanations of a child’s past life memories. He would laboriously identify the closer circumstances of the deceased person that the child would claim as having been in a previous lifetime. He would then verify the facts and publish the results in peer reviewed papers. He took a special interest into abnormalities such as birthmarks, scars, and birth defects and was in many instances able to relate these defects back to the person who was deceased.

For example Professor Stevenson writes:

A boy in Beirut spoke of being a 25-year-old mechanic, thrown to his death from a speeding car on a beach road. According to multiple witnesses, the boy provided the name of the driver, the exact location of the crash, the names of the mechanic’s sisters and parents and cousins, and the people he went hunting with – all of which turned out to match the life of a man who had died several years before the boy was born, and who had no apparent connection to the boy’s family.

Another prominent researcher into reincarnation is the American psychiatrist Brian Weiss. Initially a ‘non believer’ in past lives Weiss came across a patient by the name of Catherine in the 1980’s. During regression hypnosis Catherine began discussing a past life which he was able to confirm through some research into public records. Thus convinced that this was indeed plausible, he has regressed more than 4000 patients since. Weiss is a great advocate for using hypnotic regressions to alleviate present life problems as he believes that many present life phobias and illnesses are connected to past life experiences.

Like Stevenson and Weiss, there are a multitude of people from the scientific community who have aimed to highlight that the reincarnation phenomena does indeed exist just as there are at least the same number who claim that the evidence is just not sufficient to substantiate these claims.

Either way, the idea of reincarnation forms the conceptual basis of Buddhism.  Assuming that reincarnation may indeed be a reality, the question then remains what is the purpose of living lifetime after lifetime? In other words, what is that we need to learn, do or understand while we are in a body wandering the earth? What is this conflict between matter and antimatter all about?

Buddhism states that we should enjoy our lives. However, it also says that this joy can only be experienced in all its glory through enlightenment.

When we are not enlightened to our true nature, life becomes a real rollercoaster ride and the kind of identity or perception of ego that we have when unenlightened ensures that we go through life with real sorrow and indeed hopelessness. Without enlightenment we perceive ourselves as beings of temporary existence.  Dasisaku Ikeda elaborates further by saying that a life lived out of step with enlightenment as defined by Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo must go through a cycle of birth and death burdened by a limiting destiny.  In other words, if we don’t know what we are all about we will always have the impression that we are ‘final’, i.e. from one point to another and thus put limits in place that will prevent us from allowing our energy to express itself fully.

Only when we are enlightened can we be truly limitless. We all know what it means to limit our life.  So, let’s think about a person that has a rather limited view of life, someone who would think that it is all over when he or she is dead. There really is not much of a future at all and this will ultimately show in a person’s attitude.

For example, let’s assume such person is of an advanced age and it so happens that there is something new to learn, like a degree at university. I think we could all agree that the lack of faith in the future would mean that some people would be less motivated to exert their energy 100% as there really is nothing to gain anyway. Wouldn’t such person ask “what’s the point when I have to die soon anyway?”

The practicing ND Buddhist on the other hand will simply say “I give it my best shot to the last breath, because I have an eternal future!” Having a future means having hope. Having hope means having limitless motivation and energy for as long as there is life.  This attitude makes already all the difference.

Daisaku Ikeda writes:

The state of mind with which we meet our death will greatly influence the course of our lives over eternity. Granted if one is unconcerned how one dies, or if one dismisses any connection between this existence and the next, then there isn’t any need to practice the Daishonin’s Buddhism. But the truth is that life is eternal, that our existence continues even after we die. Moreover, during the latent stage of death before rebirth, we cannot change the essence of our lives, we cannot carry out Buddhist practice. Only while we are alive as human beings can we practice Buddhism.

Using the example of sleep and being awake here we could say that while we are awake we can take action in the physical world. This will bring some real changes. However, when we are asleep, it doesn’t matter how much we may dream about change, it remains nothing but a dream that finds no expression in the ‘real’ world. When we wake up in the morning we will have to deal with the things we have left unfinished before we went to sleep.

Now, what has all this to do with the concept of conflict resolution? Well…, if one considers that we are indeed all one (from the same source – the ONE), and only perceptional separated; that we are actually all just here, friend or foe, to motivate our expansion and experiences to new heights, then we can truly say that Buddha (God…etc) is always here, never dying, teaching the law to those (parts of ITSELF) who want to hear it (lotus sutra).

Thus there really is no such thing as ‘evil’ in a deeper sense as it is necessary to motivate good – thus, can we still judge it as ‘evil’? – The Buddha called the evil Devadatta (the cousin who betrayed and even tried to do away with him) a good ‘friend’ because he could see the necessity for his actions to prove the truth of Buddhism. If this philosophical ‘tack’ is indeed correct, we could say that everything is an act of ‘self love’, even though it does not necessarily appear that way (at least not to the deluded).

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