Everything I know I learned in Third Grade

I could say that if I were my Third-Grader. Today he visited Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York, with his class. The CYM has a 35 foot tall Buddha statue, surrounded by 10,000 six-inch smaller statues of the Buddha. Or so he tells me. I do know that the 35 foot tall Buddha statue is the biggest Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere. And that is just plain cool.

I asked Adam if he knew what a monk is. He told me he saw one at the Monastery. He wasn’t sure if it was a man or a woman because of the shaved head and the long robes. I clarified for him. He told me about some ritual that the monk performed involving rice and incense. His teacher told him that each lifetime brings you closer and closer to enlightenment, and that in your last life, you will be a monk. Or a nun, I suppose. Like Pema Chodron, I mean.

I asked him if they learned about the Four Noble Truths. Apparently, they did not. Nevertheless, having known Adam since before he was born, I have always suspected that he has been here on earth many times before. He has always had an aura of calm wisdom about him, even as he waited calmly in his little plastic bassinet beside me as the doctors sewed me up after my c-section.

I asked him if he understood why someone would want it to be their last life on earth. He did not. And yet he did not think it odd, as I do.

I have always wanted to come back again. I still do. I am sure that if I do, I will see my husband, because I am quite certain that this is his first time here, at least as a human. You know, with all the suffering that goes along with being human. He struggles with it. As do we all. But with my husband, the struggling is so very palpable. Sometimes I imagine him as a helpless infant, crying for food, for comfort, for love.

My children are 30 years younger than him, roughly. But when I imagine their souls, I see not infants or even children. I imagine that Brian might have been my own father in another life. I feel quite certain that Adam was my son. And I feel quite certain that my children have an innate understanding of things they are too young to articulate.

I wonder if this is just sentimental crap mixed with the ravings of a yoga lunatic. Or if there might be something to this.



7 Responses to Everything I know I learned in Third Grade

  1. Yogamum says:

    I don’t think you’re crazy. I have always felt that my daughter has been here many times before; she often “knows” stuff that she couldn’t possibly know, if that makes any sense. I feel my son and I were in some sort of a contentious relationship in a past life as we have butted heads from day one, but we are progressing and working through it in this life! My husband…I don’t have a theory about him! My dad was a wise soul who had been around many times before, I believe, and I think that’s why it was so (relatively) easy for him to let go of this life, this time around.

  2. DebPC says:

    Ah, I just think you’re crazy. 😉

  3. Carl says:

    The Four Noble Truths aren’t really all that noble. Plus, they could easily be worked into a Single Truth for greater efficiency.

  4. samasthiti says:

    I’d go with the ravings of a yoga lunatic:)

    We visited the temple here in Portland and Aubrey exclaimed after we left “I’M A BUDDHIST!”.
    Um. OK. I haven’t heard much about it since. I am kinda grateful, as I don’t think that becoming a monk and taking yourself out of life to live in a monastery is any thing close to being enlightened.

    And you know, some days I think if this was the last time I have to go around, I’d be totally relieved.
    And then other days I feel like YEA! let this go on forever!

  5. laksmi says:


  6. kimz says:

    When my oldest was a toddler I was reading “Seat of the Soul”. I don’t remember discussing the concepts of the book in front of her and I didn’t talk about them with her.
    One day out of the blue she started telling me how much she loved me and how glad she was that she chose me as her mom. I must have looked shocked or puzzled and she went on to say “You know… how I picked your tummy to grow in”.
    She was so innocent and sincere and said it just like she was saying “I ate pancakes for breakfast” or something… where could that have come from if it wasn’t true?

  7. Yoga Chickie says:

    My old-soul 9-year old used to tell me that he chose me as his mother as well. Now he has no memory of such talk. Or of having such a choice. I like to imagine that babies have infinite wisdom but lack the ability to speak it. And as they (we) grow, the wisdom is lost as the ability to communicate is gained. Youth truly wasted on the young…

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