The basic teaching of Buddhism is no self and the buddha developed the concept of ‘rebirth’ as a direct contrast to the concept of reincarnation (which maintains a self). Why, then, is reincarnation associated with Buddhism? Is it because of some of the reincarnation elements that have been incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism from the local religions?
Love Shepherd – many, like you, misperceive some of buddhism’s basic teachings. Buddhism’s concept of rebirth was developed to counter the concept of reincarnation. See the following: “Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a significant conceptual difference between the two” – http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=32877
Q: Does Buddhism teach reincarnation?
A: Reincarnation is not a teaching of the Buddha. In Buddhism the teaching is of rebirth, not of reincarnation.
Q: What is the difference between reincarnation and rebirth?
A: The reincarnation idea is to believe in a soul or a being, separate from the body. At the death of the physical body, this soul is said to move into another state and then enter a womb to be born again.
Rebirth is different and can be explained in this way. Take away the notion of a soul or a being living inside the body; take away all ideas of self existing either inside or outside the body. Also take away notions of past, present and future; in fact take away all notions of time. Now, without reference to time and self, there can be no before or after, no beginning or ending, no birth or death, no coming or going. Yet there is life! Rebirth is the experience of life in the moment, without birth, ….
http://www.answers.com/topic/rebirth-buddhism: From an interior perspective, a person who remembers or imagines a past life is likely to think of it as representing a continuity of existence between lifespans … This perspective is objectionable from the point of view of Buddhist philosophy on two counts. First, because it seems to postulate an enduring, self-existing entity that exists separate from the elements of mind and body, contrary to the Buddhist philosophical position of anÄtman. Second, because it overlooks the characterization of this process as one of constant change, both within and between lives, in which the newly-arising life is conditioned by but in no respect identical to the predecedent life. … Nonetheless, the Buddha is represented using language reflecting the interior perspective in stories about his past …This can be regarded as a concession to the needs of conventional speech.
It’s important to understand that the difference between the rebirth and reincarnation concepts is not some ‘scholarly fine point’; it’s the base of Buddha’s teachings! He taught rebirth as a clear remedy to the problems of reincarnation. Anyone who has studied and practiced Buddhism knows this. Why is there a misperception? Is it because most don’t get their information from basic practice?