Lesson Nine: More Lives Than One

(bhcheah) #1

  1. Difference Between Reincarnation and

The primary difference between reincarnation
and rebirth is the belief in a permanent,
transmigrating soul. The belief of reincarnation
accepts the existence of such a soul whereas
Buddhism denies such an existence.

The belief in an "immortal soul" that is, an
indivisible, eternal and indestructible entity
which has taken up its temporary abodein the
body isan error based on ignorance of the true
nature of being and living beings. Such a
concept arises from the desire for eternal,
personal continued existence and it becomes
one of the ten fetters which hinder the
attainment of salvation.

Man wants to preserve his individuality at any
price. Hence, many religions promise eternal
continued existence of the individuality. Arising
from the desire of continued existence is
suffering and the never-ending struggle for
existence, of which life is full.

What is reborn?

If there is no self how can we speak of our
future lives, or of our future existences, as some
may ask. So long as a person fails to understand
beings as processes and in state of flux, he fails
to understand Anatta (no soul).

What then in us that causes rebirth? Our will to
live (Tanha) and our moral character formed by
past actions (Kamma). These form the core of
our being and create for themselves a new body
which corresponds to their nature after the
disintegration of the present body. This desire
to live, based on ignorance, pervades us all and
forms the creative power which causes our
rebirth and existence.

The only kind of self-identity which connects us
when we were children and what are we now is
the arising and passing away of mind and body
from moment to moment. The rebirth from one
life to another is just the same. The man in this
life and the one in the next is not exactly the
same, and yet it is not altogether another. Both
are in the same unceasing flow of physical and
mental processes. Though there is no soul
passing on, yet there is moral responsibility
linking one life to another just as a man is not
the same as the child he was, yet he is
responsible for whatever he has done in his

A butterfly is not exactly similar to the egg and
caterpillar it grew from, but it is not altogether
different either from the egg emerged the
caterpillar which later transformed into the

Everything is changeable,
Everything appears and disappears;
There is no blissful peace until one passes
beyond the agony of life and death.

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