“What do you think about this concept of reincarnation?”
The little monk is leading a class at Penn State University, where about 60 students have come to see him speak. He smiles at the student who seems interested in the concept of rebirth.
“Oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter much.”
The student tilts his head, pursing his lips and looking skeptical. “I think it matters. I want to know!”
Bhante Sujatha smiles.
“My friend, the reason you want to know about reincarnation is the same reason that people want to know about past lives. Fear. We are afraid of death. We want to know what happens, so we can get ready. But all that will ever happen is contained in the present moment. When you understand this, you will ready for anything, including death. So let’s practice simple meditation and focus on our breath. We can learn about this moment before we move all the way to when you die and even further to when you are born again, okay?”
The class laughs and the little monk smiles as he closes his eyes and listens to the wonderful sound of young people moving around, whispering to each other, getting ready to meditate. He hears cell phones being silenced and the crinkle of winter coats being removed. Clearing his throat, choked with emotion, he begins.
“Slowly close your eyes. Get comfortable. Take three slow breaths, in and out.”
This is his dream, his wish for a lifetime. He is reaching young Americans. He is becoming a refuge for those without shelter and a ship for those with an ocean to cross.