Are you a traveler? Where are you bound? ~ rebirth part 1

Reincarnation or rebirth is a very important and challenging topic – and not just in Buddhism but for everyone because, just in case it IS true, we’re better off thinking about it than not …

Do you ever ponder your existential predicament (for example at three in the morning when the clouds of distractions temporarily part) – questions like, “Who the heck am I?!”

“Who am I, and where did I come from? What am I doing here? Where am I going? What’s going on?! What does it mean to be alive?” ~ 3am questions

retreatI have found that the only way to address these questions in a way that makes any sense is to contemplate what is our own mind or awareness. Then, at long last, we can start to figure out who we actually are.

Understanding our body, understanding our mortgage, understanding our career, understanding our bank balance, understanding our vacations, understanding our family — these are not who we are. I think we know this at 3 in the morning. We know we are not anything external, we are not anything physical, we are not any fleeting experiences of this life.

If we want to know who we are, we have to understand what our mind is. We have to understand its nature, we have to understand its function, we have to understand that it is a never-ending continuum. Only then will we realize who we are, and that who we are is a traveler.

The Buddhist definition of our mind is, simply put, clarity and cognizing. The nature of the mind is formless or empty of form — it is empty of shape, empty of color, empty of anything tactile, empty of any physical properties. It is utter clarity that has the power to perceive or appear things. The mind has a very important function, which is to cognize, to be aware of everything, to experience, to understand, and to know; and in fact even to create our thoughts, our world, our reality.

Our mind is also a continuum – it is impermanent, changing moment by moment, constantly becoming. It is not a static entity but a functioning thing. At every moment it is changing. It is always clarity, it is always cognizing, but every moment it is a becoming, it is an event.

The substantial cause of mind is mind: nothing physical can give rise to consciousness as they are different entities. Every moment of mind arises from a previous moment of mind and gives rise to the next moment of mind in an uninterrupted flow, a moment by moment transformation.

This is extremely helpful for us to understand rebirth – that our mind is not only formless and utterly unlike the perishing physical body, but also a continuum that never stops. It has actually never started and it will never stop.seeing death as the end of life

Understanding this, we will begin to get a sense of what life actually is, who we actually are. As Buddha Shakyamuni said:

“This world is not our permanent home. We are travelers bound for future lives.”

In the next article on rebirth I describe a Buddhist meditation that helps us get a feel for this.

Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

12 thoughts on “Are you a traveler? Where are you bound? ~ rebirth part 1”

  1. ‘If we want to know who we are, we have to understand what our mind is. We have to understand its nature, we have to understand its function, we have to understand that it is a never-ending continuum. Only then will we realize who we are, and that who we are is a traveler.’

    This is a stunning paragraph. In order for life to make any sense at all we have to understand the continuity of past and future lives. For me now, now that life has shown itself to not make any sense at all, this is what brings me hope and comfort. With an understanding of karma and the nature of our mind we know that future peace and happiness is entirely possible.

    Thank you ❤️

  2. I’m so in-sync with this series. Reading each out loud to my partner as I contemplate and continue to let go of my fear of death, or rather fear of ceasing to exist. Talk about self grasping. However, this is very real for me now. The whole idea of ceasing to exist. Of course I’ve been studying dharma for years now and should know that everything is empty of inherent existence. I always go blank on the emptiness of the body, mind and I. Now, is the time to go deeper. Thank you for your beautiful teachings and enjoyable writing style. See you next time you’re in NY.

  3. How can we be sure the mind isn’t the brain? Many people make the argument that all the functions of that which we call “mind” are in reality electric and chemical functions of the body. How does a good Buddhist debate this view? 🤔

    1. Thank you for your question 🙂 I think I would start by submitting that no one has ever proven that the mind is the brain. And there is that “hard question” — how do we explain the experience of consciousness? There is a bit more about this subject in these two articles and their comments: and

  4. Very helpful and clear explanation of what is the mind,as always is a pleasure to read your articles .
    Thanks so much,keep doing the good work ! 🙂

  5. So beautifully written. Your posts always reflect on what I’m studying, and it is refreshing to read it in different words. Thank you!

  6. L …I love your Kadampa Life and think you are truly a gifted teacher and writer!
    Thank you for all you do! x

  7. Interesting 😉 when your not in your right mind 😉 would you be guided by imprints of past incarnations 😉 ? I find this whole topic fascinating and the fact I have knowledge of imprints which is beautiful even to the point of been blessed 😀

    1. Our imprints of previous actions, or karma, have every bearing on our experiences. Not sure what you mean by “your right mind” in this context though?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: