Can anyone explain to me the Buddhist concept of reincarnation?

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Can anyone please explain to me, in layman’s, terms what the Buddhist concept of reincarnation is? Buddhist’s do not believe that there is an actual soul to reincarnate, so I am not sure how the believe in reincarnation. What is Nirvana?

3 Comments

  1. It differs a bit depending on which branch of Buddhism you are talking about.
    The actions that one takes during their lifetime accumulates “karma.”
    Karma may be generalized to be “extra spiritual luggage” that one has to carry around with them. When one is reincarnated they bring along all of the extra luggage that they were carrying at the time of their previous death.
    In some branches, once you have disposed of all of your spiritual luggage, you can attain Nirvana which is a state of non-being.
    In other branches (such as Tibetan Buddhism,) once you have disposed of all of your spiritual luggage, you can come back as a Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is one who has reached ultimate spiritual enlightenment and can choose to become reincarnated for the purpose of assisting others to attain enlightenment.
    If memory serves… a Bodhisattva is not effected by karma.
    The non-being of Nirvana is interpreted by some as oblivion and by others as unity with the Absolute.
    EDIT:
    re: huh?
    While they may not believe is a “soul” they most definitely believe in the “Self.”
    The Self is sometimes called “Atman” (the silent witness.)
    Atman does not have any personalty traits, it does not actively think.
    It is just AWARENESS that observes everything and takes it all in.

  2. Since Buddhists believe that there is no ‘soul’ there is no Self to be reborn. Instead it is viewed more as evolving consciousness reborn dependent upon karmic seeds. One single moment begets another and this momentum does not end with death.
    Nirvana is being free from suffering and the cycle of rebirth, having compassion for all and realizing the emptiness of all phenomena.

  3. I answer this in 2 perspectives based on the theravada tradition. One has to read the Pali Thripitake get the most authentic statements of the Buddha.
    Once The Buddha has argued with a person names Sachchaka to the effect there is no soul. The Buddha told him if there is a soul within the body it should be able to control it when there is pain, or when it is aging. ….
    1. So there is no soul.Buddihism is an ‘ana:thmavada” . [=no soul ] It is not a soul that passes to make another life form but only a process of thought forms that cannot be seen by the senses. There is no soul in the brain but a PROCESS of thoughts. The process of thoughts are caused by ignorance. [avidya:] Ignorance is not ceased at the death. So the process continues This explanation has to be seen in a spiritual level [very minute level more smaller than quantum levels as I think] so we cannot see how it happens. The process creates a similar [not the same] life form somewhere else without the time dimension involved in it. So the person reborn is called “neither the same nor a different one”. It is like saying you are not the same when you were 10 years ago. [though we think so through ignorance]
    You have seen whirlpools in a river, Sometimes a whirlpool vanishes in one place and the same cause makes anther whirlpool to appear in the same river. The cause is the same but the whirlpools are different. Nothing material went from one to the other. It is also like my thoughts are now passed to you without anything being passed in the process of such passing.
    2. Although this is basically how I explain, there are arguments as The Buddha has not mentioned anything about reincarnation. Once he has said, to a person who has insisted on an answer, “Whether there is rebirth or not it is better to do good so that you can be happy in this life. If you do bad you will be unhappy within this life” One has to refer to The Pali Thripitake for a better undersatnding because it is the oldest written form of Buddhism..
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/15717455/Book-Unification-and-Disintegration-RSubasingne-First-Chapter
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/14094820/A-

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