|Let suffering (woe, disappointment, unsatisfactoriness, dukkha) come to an end already!|
|Samsara keeps us cycling through not Six but 31 Planes of Existence.|
|Craving (+ ignorance) gives rise to rebirth.|
Vajrayana Buddhists -- a branch of Mahayana or "Great Vehicle" Buddhism dominant in Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, and some parts of China (where it is called Esoteric Buddhism) -- are heavily influenced by Hinduism and therefore loosely use the term "reincarnation."
It is a deeply misleading term and avoided by more careful Buddhists, who instead use the word "rebirth." Is it a distinction without a difference? Far from it.
|Buddhism A to Z|
|Proof of Heaven (Dr. Eben Alexander)|
So crucial is this unique teaching that one who directly knows and sees this Truth is enlightened and liberated by the experience. This teaching is not something to be argued about but something to be directly experienced. Reasoning and winning a debate does not advance wisdom but only increases knowledge and ego.
But how could there be heavens if there's no reincarnation like Christians teach? Christians teach reincarnation? Yes, but with only two options for rebirth, heaven or hell. Catholics add limbo. Jews and ancient Greeks add Hades, a world of spirits to which everyone goes regardless so live it up now, and many Jews have an affinity for Buddhism because they imagine that the Dharma's concern with NOW means this temporal life and worldly pleasure. The NOW Buddhism means is mystical and always, there being only the now at every moment, not many nows, but just this one now.
The concept can certainly be reasoned out, explained, proved, and made clear with words -- but the heart/mind will resist the conclusion or settle on a misinterpretation according to one's predilection, as stated above. Optimists will misunderstand and think liberation is the promise of "eternal life" (when in fact it is the deathless state), and pessimists will misunderstand and think liberation is the promised of "nothingness" and a peaceful end to the turmoil of life. Again, it cannot be stated too strongly: BOTH are mistaken concepts. And the Buddha went through a great deal of trouble to dissuade disciples from adopting or promoting either view. Both are misrepresentations of the Buddha and the Dharma, and the Noble Sangha (the greater community of enlightened individuals) knows it.
|Anne Frank is now living as Barbro, a non-Jewish European with memory of her past.|
If most monastics cannot grasp the "not self" concept or see this liberating truth directly, and if noble ones still persist in the habit of regarding things as self-and-other, what chance do "ordinary uninstructed worldlings" (putthujanas) have of even getting an intellectual grasp of this core Buddhist teaching? Next to none.
|Do You Believe in Rebirth? (Ven. Dhammananda)|
The reason it is so important, the reason people should care is that it is precisely because of not understanding it -- and in analogous terms not seeing what is there in place of a "self, ego, or soul," namely, Dependent Origination -- that living beings suffer, are bound to the Wheel of Life and Death (samsara), and never understand reality directly (enlightenment).
By knowing and seeing this ultimate Truth (one of the Three Characteristics of Existence), they are freed, all suffering ends irrevocably, and they are no more subject to endless rebirth, a.k.a. "reincarnation."
Is there life after death? A better question would be, Is there life after life? Yes.
So what's wrong with the word "reincarnation"? It is a Christian-Hindu concept, in technical Buddhist terms a "wrong view" (miccha-ditthi) held by most religious traditions. Science traditions tend to hold the opposite wrong view, that of annihilationism or the idea that death spells the end of everything. One neither goes on eternally after death, nor is one annihilated at death. Then what happens? If one understood Dependent Origination one would know and see not only what happens then but what is happening right here right now. It is not that there is no self and one will figure this out at death. It is that there is no self (in an ultimate sense) right now and even at death one will not figure that out and therefore be subject to rebirth.
|Dr. Alexander, Dr. Moody (lifeafterlife.com)|
|Guides for the Grief Stricken|
And most, not even taking up the quest for enlightenment, reduce small to essentially no chance whatsoever. Enlightenment is possible in this very life for most ordinary people of ordinary intelligence, but we are so caught up in our delusions, ambitions, cravings, views, and aversions that LETTING GO is more of a pipe dream than a tangible possibility. And as the world worsens, the chance of even ever hearing such a message as anatta or the contents of this post recede into the horizon like a wise man from the east in a saffron robe walking away in the distance.
|A Western monk, an English-speaking German man named Anton Gueth, once while living in Sri Lanka/India, got interred in a detention camp in Dehradun (Himalayan foothills of India) during WW II. This gave him time to compile a list of Buddhist terms for his own use as he was studying the Dharma. He never intended to write an authoritative dictionary, but that's what it became.|
Re-becoming: punabbhava (literally, "again-becoming" or "renewed existence," is a sutra term for "rebirth," which in later literature is more often called patisandhi. There is no static "being" or "beingness" but only dynamic becoming. The attainment of enlightenment (arahatta), implying the end of all future rebirths, is often expressed in the words:
- Guide to Buddhism A to Z (Ven. Dhammika)
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- There's still a chance to be a pauper and a prisoner! Samsara is a dangerous place full of fearful possibilities, dreadful inevitabilities, and unwanted certainties.
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