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Reincarnation And Rebirth

Updated on January 18, 2017
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I like to share information that makes life more joyful and meaningful. My main interests are health and general wellness in body and mind.

Are Rebirth And Reincarnation The Same?


Reincarnation And Rebirth

A lot of people mistaken "reincarnation" as similar to "rebirth". There is actually a subtle difference between reincarnation and rebirth. But this article is not about discussing the difference. However, I shall explain a little here. Reincarnation assumes a permanent entity that keeps on being reborn, or to use the more appropriate term "reincarnated". The same unchanging entity (or "soul", if you prefer) exists throughout these reincarnations. The Buddhist concept of "rebirth" assumes the presence of a life-stream consciousness which exists in a flux, always changing. This life-stream consciousness passes through rebirths, not as an exact entity, but as a stream of consciousness.

For the time being just take this topic as regarding rebirth. For those unfamiliar with this Buddhist concept, it is near impossible to comprehend how a life can be "reborn" into so many types of life-forms. How on earth can a human be reborn as a worm, for that matter!? And no way a worm can be reborn as a human! Logically these comments make sense, so long as we maintain a fixed mindset that "rebirth" is utterly nonsense. For those on unfamiliar ground, death would mean the disintegration of this physical body, and the "soul" will go to either heaven or hell. I won't be debating on this assumption. I only wish to share some of my thoughts in the Buddhist perspective about this phenomenon of rebirth. As in all the teachings of the Buddha, you are not required to agree, and can reject if they don't make any sense. Just treat this article as another source of information.

"Rebirth" Explained In Simple Concept.

The Buddhist concept of life is based on a continuous flow of life energy, taking temporary abode in physical forms. This life energy may be termed as the life-stream of consciousness. Take this physical body for example. What we can see is this physical mass of shape, we call a human being. It is more than that. A living body comprises of this physical form and something else, the mind consciousness. It's just like the computer; only when we switch on the current, the computer comes alive. It is this life-stream of consciousness that takes birth in different forms.

Take the example the light bulb. After a period of time, this bulb will eventually blow out. Then we replace it with a new one, and the new bulb lights up. Our life-stream consciousness is like this electric current. In this life-stream consciousness, we have a store-house of all our intentional or volitional actions that we generate during our life-time. In Buddhist parlance, we call these actions our karma (kamma) . This storehouse of kammic energies, both good and bad will determine the type of rebirth that will take place.

Now coming back to the electric bulb. When we fix a 1000-watt bulb, the light will be very bright. But if we fix a 5-watt bulb, the light is fairly dim. This is similar to our storehouse of kammic energy. Our consciousness is like the electric current, which does not change. The manifestation of our consciousness depends on our accumulated kamma or actions, just like the wattage of the bulb. If our kammic storehouse has more wholesome and pure actions, then we will have good rebirths, just like the 1000-watts bulb. If otherwise, with all the bad kammic actions, then we will have bad rebirths, just like the 5-watts bulb!.

Just think about it.

You may like to read my other related article "What is rebirth; what is reincarnation".

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    • Good Guy profile imageAUTHOR

      Justin Choo 

      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Ken Wu,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. This will encourage me to write more.

    • KenWu profile image


      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Good Guy, I just simply love the way you explain thing. Simple, yet hit the point riight. I was too confused regarding rebirt and reincarnation, which I thought both are the same thing. No wonder why those, high ranking tibetan monks and lamas are call reincarnation, which they can be found by their diciples and friends. Just like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness, the Karmapa.


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