Reincarnating as a Pig

This is another of my Japan stories.  I was a foreigner (gaijin) there for seven years.  The story is written from my perspective at that time:

The Story – a new baby

Three weeks earlier my fellow gaijin friend and his wife had their first baby. I was visiting him at his Kyoto sandwich shop to offer congrats and enjoy a Reuben sandwich. My friend and I met each other as actors in a Japanese improv theater group. We were both gaijin who were pretty emerged in Japanese culture — I was practicing medicine in national acupuncture clinics and did Kempo (a Zen martial art) and he had married a Japanese woman and had opened a this local New York sandwich shop in the beautiful city of Kyoto.  Both of us considered ourselves Buddhists, of sorts — each in our own heretical way but he was a bit more orthodox and evangelical than I was.

My friend was proudly showing me a picture of his new cute baby. I smiled and in my preposterous style said, “It is amazing to think that this cute daughter of yours was possibly a toothless, ugly, old woman gagging to death about 10 weeks ago” [alluding to the reincarnation doctrine found in Japanese Buddhist].

My friend looked shocked and a bit angry.  “Ah, come on,” I said, trying to ease him, “let’s say it took her the classic 40 days to reincarnate after dying, add the last 3 weeks and you’ve got 10 weeks since she last died.”  My friend just rolled his eyes and did not respond.

Well, over the years, I have gotten a little better at being careful to guard people’s emotions and to time my philosophical challenges and little better.  That is why I appreciate blogging so much — listeners can turn me off and on whenever they want. 🙂

Pig reincarnation

Reincarnation is not a native concept to Buddhism but snuck back into most popular forms of Buddhism as well as many scholastic forms.  Below is a quote from a main Hindu text and the inspiration for my illustrations and this post.

Those whose conduct here on earth has been good will quickly attain some good birth—birth as a Brahmin [priest], birth as a Kshatriya [prince], or birth as a Vaisya [merchant]. But those whose conduct here has been evil will quickly attain some evil birth – birth as a dog, birth as a pig, or birth as a Chandala [untouchable].
Chandagoya Upanishad Part Five, Chp X vs. 7 (600s BC)

This post came to mind while reading: Why I am a Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism with Red Meat and Whiskey by Stephen Asma (p. 21). The illustrations I have above are meant to make fun of the silly doctrine of being reborn as a “lower” form of life if you are bad — a  pig or a dog.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

3 responses to “Reincarnating as a Pig

  1. Temaskian

    I have a knack for making inappropriate remarks too, So I totally understand. It’s been so nice to be able to say all sorts of inappropriate stuff whenever the call comes. Thank goodness blogs have been invented. People can just “Next!” a few lines into your blog post.

  2. Ed

    Any thoughts on reincarnation in Christianity?

  3. @ Temaskian:
    It is good to know I am not alone.

    @ Ed :
    Type “Christianity Reincarnation” in google and you will get lots of thoughts on that issue. 😉

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