How can Buddhists consistently deny an enduring self while also accepting reincarnation?





This question is for Buddhists. From what I understand, Buddhists deny that we have an enduring self on the basis that everything (including ourselves) is in a constant state of change. But on the other hand, Buddhists subscribe to reincarnation, which is determined by karma. How is it possible to be reincarnated if we have no enduring self? If I am not the same person now as I was ten minutes ago, how can I possibly be the same person as somebody in a previous life?


  1. Flesh will die but soul survives – that is the true concept of Buddhism. You will change but your origin will remain the same. Changes occur during the suffering cycle : born – grow up – old – sick – die. When you attain the pure at heart by doing great deed and not committing sin, you will end this cycle and your soul will go to Nirvana. Upon reincarnation, the memory of soul is lost and new memory replaced. The old flesh will die and replace by other flesh. Nothing is enduring except your conscience.

  2. We believe that there’s no INHERENTLY EXISTING SELF, which means that our existence arises due to causes and conditions, is changing and impermanent, but the MIND goes on… even though it’s changing, it’s still a “something” that arises from the moment of mind before it, BUT you are NOT the “same person” as you were in a previous life, totally. You’re a new person with a continuous stream of the mind before.
    Think of this… the river, made of water, is a heap of atoms (hydrogen and oxygen) and other “stuff” we label as “water” and “river”, it changes as it flows, and eventually winds up in a larger body of water, but it’s still WATER, even though it’s no longer RIVER water it’s still WATER.
    Does this clarify a wee bit? Try inserting MIND vs. BODY into this equation, work with it and see what you come up with.

  3. You would not be the same person from life to life, as you are ever changing from past experiences just as you do in this lifetime. The ever changing is as stated in that belief as you learn and grow you are different, some experiences take longer to understand and process, From one life to the next you are allowed to change how you react to certain experiences due to past experiences Same as you do in this lifetime. For instance say someone that is addicted to drugs in this lifetime they may come to a point of recovery in this lifetime but if not they will get the chance to correct it in another. We do not learn anything without repetition as part of the process. We do not just know our ABC’s we learn them. This is the same with life.

  4. that which reincarnates is not the ultimate self. There is an end to the reincarnation cycle once identification with a dualistic self(unique and separate from other things) is transcended.
    Intellectually it may be simple to understand, but experientially it is another story to experience existence nondualistically, which is why both are taught. It’s like a ladder really. At certain stages, the experiential reality is different, and as such, the teachings are catered to these different stages.
    Lotus Land Buddhism actually, is quite similar to Christianity.
    Mahayanna buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Hinyanna buddhism… all of those are primarily focused on qualities of enlightenment (Hinyanna uses the process of negation a lot, and as such, focuses primarily on the quality of enlightenment termed ‘The Void’ while Mahayanna is focused more on the ‘Allness’ or ‘Oneness’ which is inclusive of The Void, and highly aware of Source).
    Lotus land however, is much more lke Christianity, as it is focused on salvation – due to man’s inability to discren reality from perception.
    A very amazing system.

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