Adam Continuing

vignette by Fred Leeds

“What is your Original Face before your parents were born?”

Here is one of the perennial paradoxes of Zen, which we in the West we may want to examine more simply. Apart from the reflexive actions which bring us physically into being, how do we matter? Does life begin only at birth, the product of parental acts that might be anybody’s?

The question is whether we begin, not merely with physical birth, nor even with physical conception, but with a certain spiritual conception — in the eye-gleam of those parents who, in a sort of trans-generational circle of life, equate to ourselves. This I call Adam continuing: the truly original human being, beyond the accidents of birth and death, whom we share across time. Buddhism speak even, of course, to reincarnation of a kind, but it encourages us to recall the first light of our dignity before we roam into metaphysics.

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