|Why does this keep happening again and again?|
But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer to "What are we doing?" not the question, "Where are we?"
Instead of a place (or proper noun), like so many things in Buddhism, it's a process. It is the tendency to keep wandering even co-creating worlds and moving into them. As one world or process falls apart, as is its nature, we incessantly create and cycle to another one.
At the same time, we bump into others who are co-creating their own processes, their own realities as well.
The worlds we create keep caving in, killing us and others. Moving on requires effort: not only the pains and risks of again-becoming, taking rebirth, but also the hard knocks -- mental and physical -- that come from going through childhood into adulthood, over and over again.
|Rebirth is the cause of redeath ad nauseum.|
|Another world, another world, another world...|
More typically, it causes harm to at least one side of the relationship, often to both.
When we think of all the suffering that goes into keeping just one person clothed, fed, sheltered, and healthy -- the suffering both for those who provide as well as those who have to labor or die in their production -- we see how exploitative even the most rudimentary process of process-building can be.
This is why the Buddha tried to find the way to bring about the end of this "samsara-ing." Once he had found it, he made it known to others. And when they followed it, they brought about the end of all suffering.
Because "samsara-ing" is something each of us does, each of us is creating the suffering we experience. This is good news because we ourselves have the power to stop for ourselves alone. If samsara were an actual place, it might seem selfish for one person to escape and leave others behind.
But when we realize that it's a process not a place, it is clear that there is no selfishness involved. It is unselfish to renounce and bring all forms of suffering -- ours and others -- to a final end.
It is like giving up an addiction or an abusive habit. When we learn the skill necessary to stop creating our own and others suffering, we can share such skill with others who may want to bring their pain to a final end as well. At the same time we never have to feed off others, so we are lightening the load others pull as well.
|Samsara is like a ceaselessly stirring ocean.|
But the passages where the Buddha makes this comparison often end with a paradox. The further shore has no "here," no "there," no "in between." From this perspective it is obvious that samsara's parameters of space and time were not the pre-existing context into which we wandered. They were the result of our continued wandering.
For someone addicted to reality-building, the lack of familiar parameters may sound unsettling. But if we are tired of wandering -- blinded by confusion/ignorance, frustrated by not getting what we want, and incessantly driven on by craving -- we are producing incessant and unnecessary suffering, we might want to experience such bliss and freedom.
After all, we could always resume building if the lack of a "here" or a "there" turns out to be dull. Of those who have learned how to break the habit of suffering, no one has ever been tempted to samsara again.