Very seldom do we get the opportunity to read a book of this calibre, stuffed with ‘blue-sky’ thinking, providing even a rational explanation to the most difficult Buddhist doctrine of rebirth. The author has found the explanation by microscopically probing into what the Buddha discovered and revealed to the world in his first sermon. What the Buddha discovered was the observable truth that celestial bodies in the universe and our bodies were moving constantly, at speeds, ‘not too fast and not too slow’, but always hugging a ‘middle ground’, maintaining a ‘universal rhythm’, and that rhythm was replicated in the human being as the ‘middle path.’ It was this ‘middle path’ that the Buddha revealed to the world, in his first sermon, ‘Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Truth’, where he was so bold as to challenge anyone, in the whole wide world, to prove him wrong.
What is most intriguing is that only in the 19th century, did science and human microbiology provide the scientific evidence, to prove what the Buddha discovered more than 2500 years ago, was the incontrovertible truth.
Astronomy and human microbiology confirm that it is impossible to breach either the ‘universal rhythm’ or the ‘middle path’, without serious adverse consequences. This is because each is safeguarded by pre-set constants, i.e. ‘cosmological constants’, safeguarding the ‘universal rhythm’, and the ‘biological constants’, safeguarding the ‘middle path.’
As regards ‘cosmological constants’, we are invited to read the famous book, ‘Just Six Numbers’, by the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, where it is stated that only six numbers keep the universe in its current steady state, and they are so finely calibrated that even a minuscule change in any one of them, would be the end of the universe. The ‘biological constants’ have the same characteristics. They are so fine-tuned that any deviation upward or downward, from the ‘middle path’ (the pre-set constants) would have adverse consequences. For example, our body temperature, breathing, heart-rate and blood pressure are impossible to be breached, beyond their safe limits of deviation, without adverse consequences. To stay in good physical and mental health, the imperative is therefore to follow the ‘middle path.’ Our inability to violate the ‘middle path’ without adverse after-effects - lethal if neglected - is simply astounding, because it is not only true, but self - regulating and readily testable.
The author provides a remarkable explanation to the obvious question, as to what happens when we violate the ‘middle path.’ He says violation of the ‘middle path’ is tantamount to us violating the ‘universal rhythm’, because the ‘biological constants’ are pre-set by the universe and consequently responsible for their preservation at all times. Only intentional actions driven by our minds violate the ‘middle path’, and therefore, whenever that happens, the universe is duty bound to take remedial action - same as how we seek medical help for high blood pressure - to restore the mind’s actions to normalcy. The remedial action the universe initiates, is the deployment of the continuing cycle of life, comprising births, deaths and rebirths, making that mind to be born in different physical bodies, as long as it is necessary to bring that mind’s actions in line with the ‘middle path.’ It is therefore patently obvious that the cycle of human life is only an impersonal process - a natural phenomenon - used by the universe to cleanse the intentional actions of human minds.
A unique thought experiment in reverse engineering, is also proposed as further evidence to prove rebirth, from a scientific perspective. If genetic information encoded in a DNA chromosome in a human cell, manifests a human being, then on the death of that cell, the DNA must have the in-built potential to re-convert itself back into information, to be embedded in a mind wave frequency, with freedom to modulate from one birth to energise a future human embryo. Therefore, information is central to births, deaths and rebirths of humans and for that reason alone, information is given special treatment, devoting one whole chapter. In essence, a human being is nothing but energy of information.
In all fairness, these unique insights deserve special merit and commendation, not least because, they provide meaning to the utterly meaningless and pointless human births, but more importantly they enable us to understand the lives of our fellow human beings, who are born only to suffer, imbued with criminal mind-sets, afflicted with inborn incurable diseases, physical deformities and mental infirmities, who spend their time incarcerated in prisons, mental institutions, house bound or on wheel chairs. The cycle of births, deaths and rebirths, therefore has meaning only to the universe and not to us humans, because it is only an impersonal process. Hemananda, has been churning out support - so far in six books - using various branches of science, especially the Quantum Theory, which gave us the Smartphone, the modern day miracle, to elucidate many a tenet of Buddhist philosophy. Comparison of the Smartphone with the human body in this new book is very revealing, written as a sequel to the author’s previous book, “We are Our Minds not Our Brains - the Buddha Discovered”, which is still occupying the top slot in search engine ‘Google’, since its publication in late 2017.
This book, dealing with many more aspects of the human mind, says that different bodies are manifested by consciousness, a property of fundamental particles, based on the energy of individual karma deposits, only to punish the mind. It provides further evidence that mind and body are two distinct entities, affirmed by the Buddha in his doctrine of ‘dependent origination’ (referred to as the ‘universal formula’ by the author), where there is no mention of human life whatsoever, but only ‘name and form’, simply because it is only an impersonal, time-limited process.
Everyone’s wish is to achieve happiness, and we equate happiness with wealth, because things that make us happy can be bought with money. However, the consensus among social scientists and philosophers is that even Billionaires enjoying health, wealth, power and prestige, are mostly unhappy. So where can we find real happiness? According to the Buddha, happiness can only be found in the human mind, when it is purified by removing negative emotions that defile it. Of course, the Buddha found lasting happiness by going in the opposite direction, giving up everything, his luxurious life-style and going from home to homelessness.
The author is so daring, bold and adventurous to grapple with the subject of Nibbana that many scholars take care to avoid. Nibbana is the highest form of happiness, he says that a human mind can experience, in the here and now, when that mind is completely free from every conceivable negative emotion of greed, hatred and delusion and their derivatives. Intentional actions of such a mind will never violate the ‘middle path’ and consequently will never be reborn in a physical body.
Therefore, to experience the bliss of Nibbana, right now, what you have to do is to extinguish all negative emotions from your mind and having done so, not to allow them to arise in your mind, ever again. This means that Nibbana is not something to be postponed until the next birth, but to be achieved now and to do so, what is required is only a firm commitment, dedication and dogged determination. Is this a very difficult task? Certainly not, and living in this digital age, what needs to be done, is to reduce our wants (of the mind) to the bare minimum, while devoting our sole attention to provide the needs (of the body) which are mandatory. It is difficult to put a value to the subject matter and the way it is scrutinised in this book. Like all his previous books, it is a fine mixture of popular science and Buddhist philosophy.