Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

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Nirrtix
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Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Nirrtix » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:43 am

I have always been confused with the difference between rebirth and reincarnation. What is the difference?

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cooran
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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by cooran » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:01 am

This article may be of interest:

Reincarnation in Buddhism - What the Buddha didn't Teach
http://buddhism.about.com/od/karmaandre ... nation.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

With metta,
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Nirrtix
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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Nirrtix » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:43 am

I realize rebirth is the Buddhist teaching, reincarnation is from faiths like Hinduism, i am reading the article, but i am curious how they are different.

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:26 am

Hi Nirrtix,

If we take this definition for "reincarnation":
"Reincarnation" normally is understood to be the transmigration of a soul to another body after death. There is no such teaching in Buddhism.
then, as they author says, that's not what is taught in Buddhism.

However, it can be confusing, because some Buddhist teachers do use the word reincarnation as a synonym for rebirth, since in normal English they are synonyms.

The key point is that "the transmigration of a soul to another body after death" is not taught, only that the kamma of this life can have an effect on the next one.

This is an extremely confusing topic. You may find the talks I mentioned here useful:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 51#p325987" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:47 am

Nirrtix wrote:I realize rebirth is the Buddhist teaching, reincarnation is from faiths like Hinduism, i am reading the article, but i am curious how they are different.
Basically reincarnation relies on an atman whereas rebirth doesn't.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Dhammanando » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:07 pm

Nirrtix wrote:I have always been confused with the difference between rebirth and reincarnation. What is the difference?
You will find this to be something of a bone of contention among English-speaking Buddhists. On the one hand there are those (mainly Theravadins) who maintain that there's an important difference in meaning between the two terms and insist that 'rebirth' alone is the correct one. On the other hand there are those (mainly adherents of the Tibetan schools) who maintain that there isn't any difference in meaning and so it doesn't matter which word one uses. Some will even go so far as to claim that 'reincarnation' is the better term, on the grounds of it being the more familiar of the two.

Those who insist on the use of 'rebirth' most commonly object to 'reincarnation' on the grounds that it suggests the idea of a soul that is reborn, which is not how past and future lives are conceived in the Buddha's teaching. Their opponents reply that this argument is weak, for the word 'rebirth' also suggests some sort of egoic entity that persists from one life to the next. The only difference is that if we use 'rebirth' then we are more likely to refer to the egoic entity as a 'person' or with some proper noun, rather than with the word 'soul'. From the point of view of ultimate truth, the sentences, "The person died and was reborn," "Fred died and was reborn," and "The person died and her soul reincarnated" are all equally expressive of falsehoods if they are taken literally. From the point of view of conventional truth, however, what they express differs in phrasing and not in meaning. In my view, this is a sound rebuttal of the argument commonly advanced by those who insist on 'rebirth'.

Having said that, although the common argument for insisting on 'rebirth' is a weak one, there is another (and much better) reason for preferring 'rebirth' to 'reincarnation', namely, that the 'carn' part of reincarnation means 'flesh'. But the Buddha's teaching includes the possibility of rebirth in the Brahma realms, where the matter is unfleshly, and the Arūpa realms, where there is no matter at all. That being so, the word 'reincarnation' is semantically inadequate to encompass the full range of Buddhist afterlife doctrine.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

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Nirrtix
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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Nirrtix » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:55 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Nirrtix wrote:I realize rebirth is the Buddhist teaching, reincarnation is from faiths like Hinduism, i am reading the article, but i am curious how they are different.
Basically reincarnation relies on an atman whereas rebirth doesn't.


Well this is where I get confused if there is no atman (self), why worry about the cycle of rebirth at all? I am confused about this.

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Nirrtix » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:00 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Nirrtix wrote:I have always been confused with the difference between rebirth and reincarnation. What is the difference?
You will find this to be something of a bone of contention among English-speaking Buddhists. On the one hand there are those (mainly Theravadins) who maintain that there's an important difference in meaning between the two terms and insist that 'rebirth' alone is the correct one. On the other hand there are those (mainly adherents of the Tibetan schools) who maintain that there isn't any difference in meaning and so it doesn't matter which word one uses. Some will even go so far as to claim that 'reincarnation' is the better term, on the grounds of it being the more familiar of the two.

Those who insist on the use of 'rebirth' most commonly object to 'reincarnation' on the grounds that it suggests the idea of a soul that is reborn, which is not how past and future lives are conceived in the Buddha's teaching. Their opponents reply that this argument is weak, for the word 'rebirth' also suggests some sort of egoic entity that persists from one life to the next. The only difference is that if we use 'rebirth' then we are more likely to refer to the egoic entity as a 'person' or with some proper noun, rather than with the word 'soul'. From the point of view of ultimate truth, the sentences, "The person died and was reborn," "Fred died and was reborn," and "The person died and her soul reincarnated" are all equally expressive of falsehoods if they are taken literally. From the point of view of conventional truth, however, what they express differs in phrasing and not in meaning. In my view, this is a sound rebuttal of the argument commonly advanced by those who insist on 'rebirth'.

Having said that, although the common argument for insisting on 'rebirth' is a weak one, there is another (and much better) reason for preferring 'rebirth' to 'reincarnation', namely, that the 'carn' part of reincarnation means 'flesh'. But the Buddha's teaching includes the possibility of rebirth in the Brahma realms, where the matter is unfleshly, and the Arūpa realms, where there is no matter at all. That being so, the word 'reincarnation' is semantically inadequate to encompass the full range of Buddhist afterlife doctrine.
That all sounds cool... I had a long questionnaire with a friend on this too. She gave up, but I only understood rebirth as well being born again but only your consciousness passed on, where as in reincarnation subtle pieces of your former selfs passes on (emotions.)

I am still not sure I totally get it all... :weep:

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Anagarika » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:04 pm

Thanks for this explanation, Bhante, the best I've read thus far on the subject.

I've always preferred rebirth as the term of art, rather than reincarnation, if only to create that distinction of how the Canon seems to depict the phenomenon vs how Hinduism or "soul based" traditions see reincarnation, that being that the literal full personality and consciousness entity is reborn into the next womb. Traditional Buddhism seems to have this idea of an almost indefinable consciousness energy that transmigrates from lifetime to lifetime, which seems to vary in its level of personal characteristics of the person that was predeceased, perhaps depending on that person's kamma, and other characteristics. In any case, it is not a personal "soul" in any sense, but something far more nuanced and indefinable. Rebirth seems to capture best the distinction that I feel is important in understanding the Buddha's concept of rebirth.

I hope I haven't mucked up the issue too much; it's early where I am and have only started to drink the first morning coffee...

Question, Bhante: how do you characterize or define that "essence" or energy of consciousness that transmigrates? Is there specific definition in the Canon that can give us a workable way to describe the process of the consciousness leaving the broken apart body that then transmigrates, and the conditions under which this process works?

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Dhammanando » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:57 pm

Anagarika wrote:Question, Bhante: how do you characterize or define that "essence" or energy of consciousness that transmigrates?
In ultimate truth, that is, in terms of dhamma theory, there isn’t one single dhamma existing in this life that will survive into the next life. Rebirth, in other words, is wholly the continuation of a process and not at all the passing on of any kind of essence.

In conventional truth, on the other hand, it doesn’t greatly matter with what terms we characterize it (puggala, jīva, he, she, Fred, etc.), so long as we’re careful to retain the point of doctrine that matters most here, namely, the fact that living beings are the owners and heirs of their kammas.
Anagarika wrote:Is there specific definition in the Canon that can give us a workable way to describe the process of the consciousness leaving the broken apart body that then transmigrates, and the conditions under which this process works?
In the Suttas some indications are given in the Dīgha Nikāya’s Mahānidāna Sutta and Majjhima Nikāya’s Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta. For the detailed treatment of the commentaries, the most accessible source is the “Process-Freed” chapter of the Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha (translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Dr. Rewata Dhamma as Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma).
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:03 pm

Dhammanando wrote:In ultimate truth, that is, in terms of dhamma theory, there isn’t one single dhamma existing in this life that will survive into the next life. Rebirth, in other words, is wholly the continuation of a process and not at all the passing on of any kind of essence.

In conventional truth, on the other hand, it doesn’t greatly matter with what terms we characterize it (puggala, jīva, he, she, Fred, etc.), so long as we’re careful to retain the point of doctrine that matters most here, namely, the fact that living beings are the owners and heirs of their kammas.
:goodpost: :anjali:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Anagarika » Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:56 am

Thanks very much, Bhante, for your response. Excellent. I appreciate the reference to Abhidhammattha-sangaha...I have done almost zero study of Abhidhamma, but see from a short Wiki excerpt that there is an accessible primer for Abhidhamma study that I was completely unaware of. Quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi:

"In nine short chapters occupying about fifty pages in print, the author provides a masterly summary of that abstruse body of Buddhist doctrine called the Abhidhamma. Such is his skill in capturing the essentials of that system, and in arranging them in a format suitable for easy comprehension, that his work has become the standard primer for Abhidhamma studies throughout the Theravada Buddhist countries of South and Southeast Asia."

and a link for anyone else interested : http://www.palikanon.com/english/sangaha/sangaha.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:06 am

Hi Anagarika,

That' is not a something different, is is the previous version by Ven Narada that Bhikku Bodi expanded upon.
There is a freee PDF available of
Bhikkhu Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammatthasangaha of Acariya Anuruddha, Buddhist Publication Society
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=826#p10038

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:49 am

Anagarika wrote:and a link for anyone else interested : http://www.palikanon.com/english/sangaha/sangaha.htm
This is Rev. Nārada's translation, whose accompanying commentary is much inferior to that in the revised Bodhi/Rewata one. I believe there are some online copies of the latter available, but you need to avoid the one put out by Allan Bomhard of the Charleston Buddhist Fellowship as it's full of mistakes.

Edit: This is a free pdf version of a reliable copy, from the link posted earlier by Mike: http://store.pariyatti.org/Comprehensiv ... _4362.html
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

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Re: Rebirth vs Reincarnation...

Post by pegembara » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:59 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Anagarika wrote:Question, Bhante: how do you characterize or define that "essence" or energy of consciousness that transmigrates?
In ultimate truth, that is, in terms of dhamma theory, there isn’t one single dhamma existing in this life that will survive into the next life. Rebirth, in other words, is wholly the continuation of a process and not at all the passing on of any kind of essence.
Then perhaps the term re-birth is a misnomer for there is no re- anything. In the process (without an entity/atta), there is actually no birth and no death. There is only the process and its end.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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