Rebirth can refer to a number of different concepts within spirituality, depending on the school of thought. Hinduism and Buddhism, which both share roots with yogic philosophy, teach about rebirth.
In Hinduism, rebirth, or reincarnation, is a central tenet of the religious teachings. It refers to the idea that the spirit can begin a new life after the death of its physical body, in another body. This may be a human or an animal body.
In Buddhism, rebirth is the idea that when a being dies, this event is the catalyst for the creation of a new aggregation of consciousness. The new being is neither identical nor completely dissimilar to the previous life, but rather they form a continuous stream of consciousness.
Greatly revered across different Buddhist traditions, Kuan Yin is an example of the “sacred feminine”. Also known as Kwan Yin and Guan Yin, Kuan Yin first appeared in Chinese scriptures around 400 CE. She is believed to be the female manifestation of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Depicted as an ethereally lovely Goddess, Kuan Yin is a symbol of unconditional love, kindness, and mercy. She shields and cares for the sick, the unwanted, the unlucky, and the poor. As one who protects women and children, she is also linked to fertility. Followers turn to her in times of need, fear, or misfortune. With just a glance at her graceful countenance, you too may find her to be a source of calm and comfort.
Desapabandha is a Sanskrit word that means “limitation of space.” A Jain code of conduct, desapabandha assists the yogi in realizing and practicing the five mahavratas (“great vows”) in the physical manifestation of their daily lives. The concept of desa in Sanskrit, means “space,” and pabandha means “to be locked.” When the words are combined, the concept of space is given a base in physical reality.
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
Karuna typically translates as “compassion” in English and is a concept used in the spiritual paths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The word comes from the Sanskrit kara, meaning “to do” or “to make,” indicating an action-based form of compassion, rather than the pity or sadness associated with the English word. Karuna is the doing of something to alleviate suffering.
Karuna is a key element of the yogic path, opening the door to the enlightenment and oneness with the universe.
Ishvara is the concept of a higher power, but has different meanings, depending on the various schools of Hinduism. Ishvara is synonymous with Brahman (or Absolute Reality), but can also refer to the Supreme Consciousness or a personal god.
In yoga, many yogis choose their own ishvara to focus on in their practice.
Mindstream is a concept from Buddhist philosophy that refers to the continuity of awareness which carries on from one life to another. This can be viewed as a string of passing moments that happen either in the same lifetime or in the transitional period between one life and another.
An understanding of mindstream can allow a yogi to meditate more deeply and effectively during yoga practice as well as draw upon wisdom from past lives. It is especially important in the practice of Guru yoga, as the practitioner has to unite their mindstream with that of their guru.