Home Discussion Forum What is the difference between rebirth and reincarnation in Buddhism?

What is the difference between rebirth and reincarnation in Buddhism?


  1. Buddhists generally do not believe in reincarnation since that presupposes the existence of a “soul” (ataman) or some other form of an “eternal self.” The Buddha taught there is no “self” (anatman) that is eternal. This is a fundamental difference between Hinduism, the primary religion of India, and Buddhism. Buddhists may, however, believe in rebirth. The difference between the two may seem confusing since rebirth at first glance appears to imply the existence a soul but the difference is profound.
    Buddhists use fire as an example to illustrate the concept of rebirth. If you transfer the flame from a lighted candle to an unlit candle, the new flame is contingent on the old flame for its existence but they are not the same flame. There is continuity between the two but they are distinct. Reincarnation would mean that the old flame is exactly the same as the new flame. Rebirth recognizes there is a contiguous relationship of one life to the other but each is otherwise distinct.
    The question of rebirth was asked by the Indo-Greek King Milinda in approximately 100 BCE of the Buddhist sage Nagasena.
    King Milinda once asked the Buddhist sage Nagasena: “He who is born, Nagasena, does he remain the same or become another?”
    “Neither the same nor another.”
    “Give me an illustration.”
    “Suppose a man, O king, were to light a lamp, would it burn the night through?”
    “Yes, it might do so.”
    “Now, is it the same flame that burns in the first watch of the night, Sir, and in the second?”
    “Or the same that burns in the second watch and in the third?”
    “Then is there one lamp in the first watch, and another in the second, and another in the third?”
    ‘No. The light comes from the same lamp all the night through.’
    “Just so, O king, is the continuity of a person or thing maintained. One comes into being, another passes away; and the rebirth is, as it were, simultaneous. Thus neither as the same nor as another does a man go on to the last phase of his self-consciousness.”
    ~from “The Questions of King Milinda” translated by T. W. Rhys Davids see http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe35/sbe3505.htm
    May all be at peace.
    Edit: I came upon an excellent site which explains rebirth versus re-incarnation clearly. Please see http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda05.htm

  2. It’s the same. All beings in the three Realms are going through three Realms. In order to break out of three Realms, one has to practice diligently in a Buddhist School.
    Not relating to Buhhdism, Falun Gong is a school in the Buddha Schools. Falun Gong is based upon the universal principals of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.
    Currently the Tibetan Buddhist monks were persecuted. Some of the monks were killed and a few hundreds were imprisoned by the Chinese Communist regime.
    About one hundred million people, mostly in China, were known to practice Falun Gong. Not relating to Buhhdism, Back in 1999, the Chinese Communist regime has started persecuted the practitioners and many of them were murdered in the hospitals for organ harvesting.

  3. Rebirth is the inner spiritual contact contained in ones mind and the other is when you come back to earth you can be anything you like and I am going to be the abominable snowman.

  4. reincarnation: is to be born into next life with the same soul but in different body. Most of the time, you have no memory of the previous life ( some exceptions exist).
    rebirth: usually applied for Buddha and his disciples when they come back to our world to save people. They retain everything ( knowledge, power, memory), except physical body


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