The problem that Buddha was trying to solve by finding Nirvana, Karen Armstrong writes in her history, was not the problem of rebirth, rather it was the problem of redeath.
In a culture where death was early, messy and very visible, it was clear that a new incarnation did not only mean a new life, it also meant a new death, and that was horror.
I understand the challenge of rebirth, of transcending and becoming new again and again.
But do you understand the challenge of redeath, having to die over and over again?
I went through my history with TBB last week. Her take away was clear: “Too much damage.”
Both she and I have learned the price of living with a strong vision. When we challenge others, they often find power by casting us as the abuser and casting themselves as the victim. We are the porcupines whose barbs pierce and reveal, so we need to be removed, isolated and stigmatized to keep us away from their tender rationalizations.
People often tell us to “just be ourselves,” but for someone who is routinely slaughtered because who they are challenges the status quo, well, that injunction is ludicrous. Is there any wonder we feel aligned with those transpeople who have been killed?
The question isn’t how many times we can be reborn, the question is how many times we can be redead and still claim life.
The Buddha wanted nirvana, to be released from the cycle of life and death, beyond suffering, desire and self, because continuous redeath was just too horrible to endure.
It just causes too much damage.