Reincarnation means rebirth into another body/ physical entity. Reincarnation is a prominent belief in Hinduism; its practically the backbone of the religion and it ties are in the doctrine of karma. every action has a consequence/ karmic fruit and it dictates our next resurrection life for instance
- if I was good and helped others in my previous life, I will be happy and possibly wealthy in my next life.
- If I was egotistic and selfish in my previous life, I will be sad and oppressed in my next life- maybe even take the form of an animal.
However, once the atman (essential self which we all have) achieves union with God, then there is no need for the atman to continue in the cycle of rebirth because it has gained moksha (release). The physical body is just a vehicle for the atman, it leaves the body at death and enters another at birth
Buddhism and reincarnation
Just like Hinduism, Buddhists believe in reincarnation and karma. However, they don't believe in the soul/ atman. This is because the soul is an illusion that encourages egotism.
It teaches anatta/ soullessness. karma is possible because it is attracted to the 5 skandhas- sensation, perception, matter, volition and consciousness- all mixed and interwoven to make a person who attracts karma.
It teaches all actions have fruits which dictate the next life, even though there is no soul which karma can attach itself to. BUT THIS RAISES QUESTIONS EG
- what is reborn if there is no soul?
- how can it be said that one person is the reincarnation of another if there is nothing that stays the same from one life to the next
Buddhists answer this by saying the person is neither the same nor different = analogy of candle- lighted candle ignites another candle, the two flames are neither the same nor different, but the energy from one candle ignites the flame for the next.
solid evidence for reincarnation
IAN STEVENSON: in his book twenty suggestive cases of reincarnation, he provides evidence for reincarnation... lol
one example would be Swarnlata a child from India. essentially at the age of three, she was taken to a town called Katni; this town was 170 miles away from her original home and she had never visited Katni until then. On arrival, she pointed to ' her house' and claimed she was a member of the Pathak family. She started performing Bengali songs and dances- despite speaking only Hindi. This whole shabang corresponded closely with the Pathak family- their daughter performed Bengali songs too but she died. Anyways what you really need to know is that this is evidence for reincarnation.
Criticisms of reincarnation
Christians and Muslims argue against reincarnation on the grounds that it contradicts the teachings of the Bibble and Quran. They believe the individual is only given one life that dictates future salvation and condemnation.
Hick: a critic to Stevenson: reincarnation is less likely because many of the cases come from countries where it is already an accepted belief. He claims that the cases in Stevenson's book may be explained by a sensory perception where the deceased leaves behind some kind of psychic traces and that the individual might have some kind of telepathic sensitivity, enabling a memory of the deceased individual. ( yes I know, he must be on crack)
Similarities no matter how close are not the same as identity. Shared memory is not the same as identity too- it is simply impossible for two different individuals to be in anyway the same person because it is a contradiction in terms.