HomeDiscussion ForumHow can some Buddhists not believe in reincarnation when reincarnation is the...

How can some Buddhists not believe in reincarnation when reincarnation is the pillar of Buddhism?

Any Buddhist who claims they don’t believe in reincarnation is not practicing it the way it’s been practice in Asia for 2500 years..


  1. I don’t know any Buddhists who do not believe in reincarnation.
    I agree, though, Buddhism is not big on asinine religious dogma, so each person can follow their own path.

  2. Some Buddhists actually believe that they shouldn’t cling to even the doctrine of reincarnation. Zen Buddhists are big on this type of meta-thought.

  3. Perhaps they are heeding the words of Buddha
    “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

  4. Well in buddhism your goal is to not be reincarnated, but they believe in reincarnation. If i’m thinking right I think you are asking why buddhists look forward to reincarnation. Well, buddhists don’t exactly practice their religion correctly sort of like christians don’t practice their religion right. In Buddhism your goal is supposed to be, ultimately, to not be reincarnated. Yes, buddha said we all have our own path so essentially it is ok to want reincarnation but I feel that buddha only agreed with that idea because he felt deep inside eventually down their path they would realize true happiness is only found when you are not reincarnated because everything is an illusion and happiness can only be found within ones self. Buddha felt that our requirement to have material things to be happy was a self deception. Buddha felt that “things” don’t make us happy, but we make our selves, subconsciously, happy when we attain them. Because we feel happy when we have objects that points to the idea that the root of happiness is in a persons mind and that they can meditate on that feeling to feel happiness without needing any material objects to trigger that feeling. Once we are aware that we can trigger our own happiness we can let go of the material universe. Like I said it isn’t that “objects make us happy” but that “we are happy as the result of objects”. Buddha felt that because of this material had no real tie to happiness and that happiness can not be found in objects, and the idea that we can is just a self deception. So Buddhas main concentration was taking control of ones self and instead of letting objects control our happiness we control our own happiness. It is said that once you can tap into this energy within ourselves we won’t need material objects to tie our happiness to. Reincarnation is the pillar of Hinduism though. Buddhism is supposed to be about finding that separation from mind and matter. Most common day people do not practice buddhism the way Buddha intended. They still tie their happiness to material things and that is why they desire reincarnation. Buddha believes that they will actually just be chasing themselves from one life to another. For example, people see others doing things and they are happy so they do them and do not find happiness in them. It is because what people don’t realize is that happiness is self emulated. When you chase material things to find happiness all you are really doing is chasing yourself. Because happiness is rooted within our self.

  5. Jack, you continue to persist on this question apparently without listening to the answers.
    You surely realize that theological Buddhism (like theological Catholicism) is different than the popular form it takes. Buddha was asked about the soul; he refused to comment. He then tried to explain how one life leads to another as if one fire was lit from another – clearly not the same fire, but clearly also quite similar. He also refused to comment on the existence of deities, yet popular Buddhism has many of these. And, as you well know, people don’t always practice what they preach.

  6. Why an individual won’t accept rebirth or any “esoteric” values is the same as why some buddhists won’t give up meat.
    They just don’t understand it yet or they are just unable to accept it yet. A kindergartener would be completely overwhelmed if you tried to teach him calculus. Not everyone is at the same level and ready to accept just any ideals or notions. In fact, even an arhat that chooses to remain as an arhat, would utterly think the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were nuts to tell them to keep cultivating when they don’t really need to. These arhats and Pratyeka Buddhas choose to stay where they are because they’ve ended the cycle of rebirth and suffering. They don’t feel the need to continue on and become full-fledged buddhas. The buddhas and bodhisattvas tell them, “This isn’t the end… there’s still more to go to become fully enlightened.” The arhats think it mad and THAT’S WHY these kinds of arhats don’t budge. They can’t accept what the Buddha is telling them. And they are extremely enlightened! Inconceivably greater than we are!
    So when even a buddhist cannot accept rebirth, it’s nothing strange. Even the arhats have contact with buddhas and bodhisattvas directly, and sit within the assembly of buddhas and bodhisattvas… and EVEN MANY OF THEM cannot accept everything that the buddha says just yet. To them it’s,…”THE CYCLE IS OVER! I’M RETIRED! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’M DONE CULTIVATING!”
    Also consider certain sutras in which the buddha spoke ONLY to bodhisattvas and higher. The Buddha knew that this extremely high level of knowledge would fall on deaf ears for anyone else because anyone lower in enlightenment don’t have the high level of wisdom and understanding and experience that is absolutely necessary to understand these particular sutras. The lowest level bodhisattvas could only glimpse the meaning of this sutra. The midlevel bodhisattvas would kind of get it, grasp it sort of, and gain a greater encouragement and experience for continuing their cultivation. the highest level bodhisattvas that are so close to becoming buddhas will immediately grasp the meaning of the sutra and immediately come to full and equal enlightenment of buddhahood.
    There are novice buddhists that don’t yet have the long-enough-time of studies and experience to accept/understand rebirth. There are buddhists that don’t understand karma either and still eat meat.
    If we all were at the same level and all notions of buddha dharma can be accepted immediately, then we all would not be here and we all would have become buddhas in many many mahakalpas ago. So just be patient with people.

  7. Actually Jack, according to the teachings of the Buddha, the Hindu notion of reincarnation, that is the shedding one human body and the immutable self being reincarnated into a new body but containing the same self is wrong. The fundamental core teachings of Buddhism revolve around rebirth. There is a significant difference. The Buddha taught two core principles that differentiated Buddhist reincarnation from rebirth. 1) Anatta (anatman) or “not-self” or the absence of limiting self-identity in people and things. 2) Anicca (anitya) or Impermanence. Without a permanent self, there can be no reincarnation. Rebirth on the other hand is different. Buddhism teaches that Vijnana, or consciousness, is like the flame of a candle. While it may appear to be one flame without end on a candle, the truth is that the flame is always changing as the gasses of the candles fuel burn away. The same is true with us. Our “consciousness” is made up of all our skandhas (aggregates[form, sensation, perception, mental formation and consciousness]) A change in one causes a change in all. NONE of these are unchanging. When the body dies, the skandhas break apart and are reused. Form sensation, perception mental formations are all gone, what consciousness is there? Just as the body fades into water and dust to be reused by other living things our consciousness goes it own way either to the higher realms, the lower realms or we return as a human…and when we attain enlightenment, then we leave it all behind and achieve nirvana. First as a living breathing being and then as a Buddha or bodhisattva. However, it is perfectly clear that Mr. Jack does not die and come back and Mr. Jack 2.0. Once the body is dead, that which made the person Mr. Jack is no more and he is gone forever…but the consciousness that was Mr. Jack…that was 1/5 if Mr. Jack moves on. Just as the flesh rejoins the Earth the consciousness goes on to form a new being. Reincarnation is the rebirth of the self in a new body. Rebirth is the continuation of the Vijnana (consciousness) to a new form. And while the difference may seem minute, the significance to Buddhism is enormous.
    Or so are the teachings of the Mahayana schools of Buddhism.
    (Now keep in mind, that often, a Bodhisattva who chooses to be reborn in the realm of humans is sometimes referred to as being ‘reincarnated’ in the English language, but that is still not accurate since even a Buddha has no self and thus there is no ‘self’ to be reincarnated.)
    I hope this helps.


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