The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “AA & Buddhism”
Now why am I worrying about this? Am I thinking that maybe most of you in this room are alcoholics? Yes! Yes, I am. But maybe you don’t drink. Let’s see how that works.
In samsara, we have the same condition. According to the Buddha’s teaching, we are actually taking rebirth again and again and again, unfortunately, not with the prevailing idea that one finds in new age metaphysical thought these days. Most new age metaphysical thought says that we choose our parents and we choose our circumstances and we’re all in a learning situation, and that sort of thing. The Buddha teaches us that, in fact, we experience rebirth due to ego clinging, due to desire. It isn’t like a conscious choice where somewhere up in heaven, wherever that might be, or wherever these little unborn creatures are, we look down, parting the clouds of course, and pick a couple of parents out of the 4.8 billion thinking: ‘Those would be nice,’ or, ‘I think I’d like to beat them up today,’ or whatever our particular situation, ‘I’d like to go hungry so I’ll choose those.’
The Buddha doesn’t indicate to us that that is the way it actually is. The Buddha indicates to us that we experience desire, and that desire is the cause of all suffering; and the suffering takes the form of experiencing rebirth under certain conditions. In effect, it is our addiction to samsara that causes us to be reborn under certain conditions. It is true that we tend to come to parents with whom we have a very strong karma, or previous cause and effect relationship. Vibrationally, the parents will be somewhat like us. Now before you all attack me with clubs and sticks, it’s true. I know that you have spent years and years blaming your parents for everything, and I hate to tell you it’s true. We are like our parents in some way.
Now, it’s true our parents might have beaten us to a bloody pulp, and maybe we don’t do that to our children. And our parents might have been judgers and blamers and things like that or cold people, and perhaps we work very hard not to be like that with our children. But if we are really honest and really look at ourselves, we will find ourselves somewhat, in some way, vibrationally like our parents. You cannot be born of a mother with whom you do not have a common vibration. It simply wouldn’t work. Metaphysically, you would dissolve in the womb. It would never happen in the first place. So there is a likeness there. And there is no point in blaming your parents for what happened to you. The best thing to do is to look at the condition and content of your own mind, and learn something that way.
Now, what has led us to be reborn as we are is a series of cause and effect relationships based on the assumption of self nature as being inherently real. With that assumption, automatically and at the same instance that assumption takes place, we distinguish self from other. In distinguishing self from other, we automatically react toward self, toward other, with attraction, repulsion, or neutrality. Now, neutrality sounds like the best way to go, of course. But in samsara, neutrality comes about after this goes on; which means to say you weigh out attraction, you weigh out repulsion, and somewhere in the middle of it, you’re just like eh, who cares. But it’s still part of the same coin. In a sense, attraction is one side of the coin. Repulsion is the opposite side of the coin. And neutrality may be the coin on its side, if you’ll think of that. But they are part of the same thing. They are reactive.
Since time out of mind, we have always been reacting with attraction, repulsion or neutrality due to attraction and repulsion. And it all has, as its root, one of the three poisons. And that poison is grasping or desire or greediness. Desire. We take rebirth due to ego-clinging. We experience continuum; and you can only experience continuum as a self because self is that which seems to move through linear time, and that is the experience of continuum. That’s what we have. We have that condition and it underlies everything, every internal subtle and gross process, every single one. It is that grasping that causes rebirth. Simply that.
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