How does Buddhism move from the 4 Noble Truths to a "supernatural" belief in reincarnation?

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Well, rez, thanks for the non-answer. I even put ” ” on supernatural for you…

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Andymcj78 (Atheist)

The Buddha was pretty clever- he made sure that no emphasis was put on metaphysics and even told adherents to disbelieve anything they found illogical so Buddhists can skirt around the issue. And they should do- they don’t need to involve themselves in debates about karma and reincarnation because nowhere in Buddhism does it say you have to believe in them. Sure we know about the thumbs down but my answer is correct and disagreeing with reality isn’t going to change facts. Understood? I suspect the Buddha was quite deliberate in removing the emphasis from anything supernatural precisely to ensure that his followers didn’t become bogged down in irrelevant debates that didn’t focus on the moral precepts that are the foundation of his philosophy. He threatened to expel any of his disciples who claimed to perform miracles which gives an insight into his attitudes towards making supernatural claims.


Buddhism and its cosmology,etc coincides almost perfectly with modern ideas promoted within various fields of science

Rez Rostov

Belief in rebirth to Buddhism is not supernatural. It has to do with the continuing stream of consciousness and the fact that one thing causes another.
Many Buddhists who are new to Buddhism can’t accept rebirth right away,
Once one accepts karma and studies the doctrine of Dependant Origination, rebirth seems quite logical, practically a given even. Therefore, once one has studied those doctrines, it’s not that hard to accept.
1) We are speaking in English
2) English was developed alongside Logic, and therefore formed in a way that it expresses logic very easily
3) Logically, if you put forth any view on what happens after you die, your assertion that it is truth is simply wrong, from a logical standpoint, because you haven’t died to find out.
4) The counter-example of someone remembering a past life is logically irrelevant.
Therefore, I have no idea what happens when I die. (In English)
However, I do believe in rebirth. (In practice)
Dependent origination itself has a total of four non-contradictory explanations:
Rebirth belongs to the second and fourth explanations. The fourth is explained in the so called Sutra of the Twelve Parts, which explains dependent origination over three lifetimes i.e. a past life, a present life and future lifetime.
It is like – “if there is no gravity, what happens to apples when they fall out of the tree?”
Dependent upon the last moment of mind,
the successive moment of mind arises.
pratityasamutpada – dependent arising / origination
If one does not uphold the position of dependent origination, that would be taking the extreme view of either eternalism or nihilism

Warrior Poo Flinger

Buddhists don’t believe in reincarnation, for reincarnation to happen one must have an individual soul. Buddhists believe in rebirth. This came about when the Buddha had his epiphany under the Bodhi tree and wrote the Four Noble Truths. He realized that we are all connected when he reached a higher plane of consciousness and became enlightened. He realized that we are all of One Soul, inseparably One, and that our lives are a causal chain of events that does not break at death; death is but another link in the chain, and the chain continues on to our next life and is only ended when we are enlightened; when we achieve moksha. When we achieve moksha, we break that cycle of rebirth, we realize our true nature, that we are indeed of the Self, and that is where we have always truly been. This worldly life is an illusion our bodies tell us through our six senses (the normal five plus thought). When we reach enlightenment and achieve that higher plane of consciousness, we are aware of that One Soul and our real selves, so we do not return to this illusion of the world, we stay in our natural state of Self, where we actually are now.


Hmm… aren’t you smart (non-sarcastic). Buddhism seems rational at times yet so weird at other times. A monk once told me that if you stick to the 4 noble truths and 8-fold path then everything else is a bit like window dressing. I guess when atheists call themselves ‘buddhist’ they’re taking a restrictive view of sticking to the 4-8 issue. He was only referring to gods, but I see that can be applied to anything outside the 4-8 rule.
Most of buddhist literature is to do with rebirths, other realms, gods, karma-transfer between realms and other things that can’t be proven. Much of it is a product of indian society at the time. Buddha said that the essence of all his teachings was just understanding the nature of stuffering and how to overcome it. You don’t need the metaphysical stuff to achieve that I guess.

Upasakha Jason A.R.T.

I don’t know about reincarnation. The Buddha talks extensively about reappearing in this place or that place, this real and that. But as far as an identity or a soul that does the reappearing, he never says a word.
In the Majjhima Nikaya, the Ven. Sariputta talks about the definitions of birth and death according to Buddhist thought: birth being the conglomeration of form, feeling, perception, consciousness, and mental formations; and death being their dissipation. But one can’t point to any of these and say this is me or mine! In addition, you can see that these definitions of birth and death do not strictly apply to living things, but to any conditioned phenomenon or construction.
So the simplest explanation of rebirth; one that is consistent with the Dhamma, one that is subject to investigation, is this: look at the realms of existence as allegories or states of mind. We become consumed with craving and greed–that’s the hungry ghost realm right in this very life. Consumed with anger and hate? That’s hell. Following your instincts and urges blindly? That’s the animal realm. A life blessed with happiness and health? That’s one of the heavenly realms. These realms are states of mind that we can reach at any moment.
The perceptions and mental formations that accompany them dissipate and reaggregate in different forms–death and birth right there that we can see.


Buddhism began as an offshoot or reformation of Hinduism and so carryovers or reinterpretations of Vedantist or Tantric concepts can be found in certain forms of Buddhism. Also (as in Hinduism and most other religions) certain forms of Buddhism are highly intellectual, others are highly moral, devotional, ritualistic, or “religious.” Buddhism as presented to Westerners is also different from Buddhism that a Thai, Taiwanese, or Tibetan peasant is indoctrinated into.
Buddhists (like Hindus) believe in karma, dharma, and rebirth although the definition of these terms is markedly different. Buddhists do not “believe” in a personal self/soul or a Divine Intelligence (ie, “God” or “Godhead”) for that matter (although Hindus believe in Godhead, and define it as the Existence-Consciousness-Experience or the Absolute. Buddhists sometimes derogatorily refer to Hindus as Absolutists. Hindus sometimes derogatorily refer to Buddhists as Nihilists.) If there is no soul, what is reborn? In the Buddhist view, karmic momentum, which is an interdependently arising construct and is what things are is what is perpetuated. That being said, I’ve studied Tibetan Buddhism–in which I made the acquaintance of a few persons who supposedly were the reincarnations of this or that lama or figure-head of days gone by. It’s a belief system and it is sometimes paradoxical or else requires careful semantics to be explained correctly. Terms have different shades of meaning in different spiritual and philosophical systems.

bo k

According to four noble truths, there is a way out of reincarnation.
Otherwise, there is endless reincarnations.
Reincarnations is natural, not supernatural.
It is a contiuation of life in a different body.


Supernatural?? I thought reincarnation was the most natural thing! The wheel turns.


Rebirth- noun 1. A new or second birth: the rebirth of the soul.
2. a renewed existence, activity, or growth; renaissance or revival: the rebirth of conservatism. 3. Reincarnation
Reincarnation- noun: 1. embodiment in a new form (especially the reappearance or a person in another form); 2. A second or new birth; 3. the Hindu or Buddhist doctrine that a person may be reborn successively into one of five classes of living beings (god or human or animal or hungry ghost or denizen of Hell) depending on the person’s own actions; 4. Rebirth of the soul in another body; 5. A reappearance or revitalization in another form; a new embodiment.
It seems to me the definitions of Rebirth and Reincarnation are essential the same. Then why do I keep reading some of these people who swear up and down that these two words are different? Really get on my nerve!!!
Now that we have that straightened, the next question is, is there a soul involve in the process? The answer is simply that is the concept of Christians and God based religions, to Buddhism there is no Soul.
No Soul does not means there is no Consciousness!!!
The soul according to the Christian and other God based religions is very much like a surreal body, very much like us human bodies- yet more perfect and beautiful, and can fly without physical restriction? (see pictures of Angels, and Ascend of Jesus to Heaven, etc…)
But the Buddhist idea of Consciousness is that there is no such things as another types of body, but rather a pure Awareness- can you imagine an intelligent life form without body? That it can be as large as the Universe or as small as sesame seed? And that is the Buddhist idea of Consciousness- this is described in many Mahayana Sutras as well as many Tantras.
You guys are simply too poor read to see texts like these, and you have a chance to read some Hinayana texts and you assume you know everything, give me a break- and find a teacher so you will be given the detail teachings, go beyond the Agama sutras, then you will understand more of the truth.
4 Noble Truths is like ABCs, and since if you don’t know how to read ABCs, then how can you read a whole book of Harry Potter?
Put it simply, you need foundation teachings, before you can be introduced to a more advance stuffs. Buddhism is not just to teach you the 4 Noble Truths; but rather teach you to become Buddha just like Shakyamuni Buddha.
Buddha Spent over 36 years on the subjects of Mahayana teachings, and only spent 12 years to lay the foundation with Hinayana subjects; which should be fairly obvious to everyone what is important, isn’t it?
Since Avatamsaka Sutra and related teachings are incomprehensible to the human masses, therefore the teachings were transmitted to the high level Bodhisattvas and high level heavenly beings. The processes involve more like Ch’an/Zen with mind to mind transmissions.
According to the Historians, the Buddha spend the following time periods to teach the Buddha Dharma, and go from level to level, and finally ended with Ch’an/ Zen (only one student- an Arhat, who received this part of the teachings) and Vajrayana- Secret teachings (were taught in spiritual realm, and then reintroduced through the high level Bodhisattvas to human students again- the teachings are closely related to Avatamsaka Sutra and other non-disclosed Tantras.)
Note: The Avatamsaka period lasted for twenty-one days, the Agama period for twelve years, the Vaipulya period for eight years, the Prajna period for twenty-years, and the Nirvana period for eight years.”
I. The Five Periods are:
Note: The Avatamsaka period lasted for twenty-one days, the Agama period for twelve years, the Vaipulya period for eight years, the Prajna period for twenty-years, and the Nirvana period for eight years.”
1) The period of the Avatamsaka Sutra, which according to tradition was the first sutra Shakyamuni taught after attaining his enlightenment. With this teaching, the Buddha awoke his listeners to the greatness of Buddhism, though it was too profound for most of them to grasp.
2) The period of the Agama sutras. Perceiving that his disciples were not yet ready for the teachings of the Avatamsaka Sutra, Shakyamuni next expounded the Agama sutras as a means to develop it. These teachings reveal the truths of suffering, emptiness, impermanence and Egolessness which free people from the six paths, and correspond to the Theravada teachings.
3) The Vaipulya period, or period of the introductory Mahayana. In this period Shakyamuni refuted his disciples’ attachment to the Lesser Vehicle and directed them toward provisional Mahayana with such teachings as the Maha-Vairocana and Vimalakirti Sutras.
4) The Prajna period, or period of the Wisdom Sutras. In this period Shakyamuni expounded a higher level of provisional Mahayana and refuted his disciples’ attachment to the distinction between Theravada and Mahayana by teaching the doctrine of non-substantiality or Emptiness.
5) The Nirvana period, in which he taught directly from his own enlightenment, fully revealing the truth. The teachings of this period include the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra.

Tommy H

All of the orthodox Buddhist sects/schools share the common belief in karma and reincarnation. The concept of the 4 Noble Truths is preached in certain sect, but not preached as labeled in other sects.
On page #47 in the Zhuan Falun Lecture about Enlightenment:
” … At the same time, while he was in concentration he would strengthen his power of concentration, endure hardships in meditation, and shed his karma. “Wisdom” refers to Enlightenment, and coming to have great wisdom. He would see the Truth of the universe, see the reality of every dimension in the universe, his great divine powers would be majestically displayed, and his Wisdom and Enlightenment would be unlocked, which is also called being “Unlocked.”
Falun Gong was found in 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi in China. About 100 million followers like the practice in over 80 countries worldwide. Falun Gong is an ancient practice for the body, mind, and spirit based upon the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. Falun Gong consists of five sets of powerful exercises.
Falun Gong, Tibetans, other Buddhists, and Daoists have been persecuted in China. The most offensive human right violation is the organ harvesting from the Falun Gong practitioners in China. Can you kindly sign a petition to stop persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, please ?


The four noble truths have rebirth/reincarnation in them.
The fourth truth states that the way out of samsara is to follow the eightfold path, the Buddha stating that the most important of which is right view. This has a non-conceptual element of realisating emptiness, but also a conceptual undertanding of how the empty world actually works. This way the world works should be understood as:
‘There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.’
At the core of the Buddhas teachings there remains the principle of beings being enlessly reborn in samsara. It is completely integral to understanding Buddhism.
I agree with “stbb’s” view on the words rebirth and reincarnation. Either is suitable for use in Buddhist dicussion, especially since there’s axiomatically no belief in a soul within that context.
The notion that the Buddha was a materialist all along but it was polluted by Hinduism and/or people were too stupid and superstitious to understand that the mind was just some physical phenomena that ended at death is ridiculous. As far as Buddhist thought of any school says, as “bo k” mentioned, reincarnation is completely natural, not supernatural.


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