Friday, January 15, 2010

Theory of Reincarnation

Do you believe in reincarnations? You may or you may not. But there is many a evidence which reflects an individual's previous life. Reincarnation is a critical issue in many religions including Buddhism which opines a life consists of the three moments; past, present and future. Of many world religions, the two faiths; Hinduism and Buddhism which were originated at the same land, accept all moments of a life. The most salient feature between the two religions is the theory of Self and Non-self. The former theory is firmly held by Hindus. On the contrary, the second one is decisively accepted by those who regard themselves as Buddhists.

Soul or Self theory is an hypothesis  which proposes the two selves; common and ultimate. They are in technical terms expressed as Jiva-atta and Parama-atta respectively. It is hypothesized, according to Hinduism, that all individual souls come from the Supreme Brahma and they all finally go back to the Origin and  are combined with it. The hypothetical propose provides a further exegesis which explains that as long as an individual soul or self is not combined with its Origin, it has not liberated from the circle of life. According to this theory, the individual soul continuously goes and comes into existence life after life. It applies that the same person without changing its form of self ever exists till the final deliverance,which is a combination with the Brahma, is obtained.

The theory of reincarnation, according to this hypothetical exegesis, resembles to a ring which is made of gold. Although the ring is transformed into a circle shape by having changed its original form, it still is gold. As a result, it it called a 'gold ring'. Due to having firmly held this theory, Hinduism asserts a reincarnation is a form of an individual whose soul endlessly goes and comes life after life. Hinduism subsequently firmly holds the theory of soul/self which distinguishes it from that of Buddhism.

Buddhism, however, contrasts this theory with another by claiming that there is no such a soul which could continuously go around in the endless life-circle. The theory which differs Buddhism from Hinduism is called a 'Non-self'. In accordance with this notion of non-self, a person, whoever it may be, cannot be the same one as in the past life. Similarly, the present individual cannot be the same one in its future life. This opposite idea to that of Hinduism might be considerably complicated to those who have no sufficient Abhidhamic knowledge or meditational experience. Nevertheless, an analogous explanation on the issue may support them with a fair comprehension.

Let's take one example. Suppose it is a loaf of bread which is mainly made from the flour. Although it is true that bread is made from the flour, when it was adequately baked, it cannot be called flour anymore. On the contrary, it purely is a loaf of bread. It is not even expressed as flour bread just as a gold ring. It could be understood  in this case that bread cannot be made without flour, though. It applies that to be a loaf of bread, flour is an inevitable ingredient. Flour is a main cause whereas bread is its effect. It could be, however, denoted that many causes have no more the term of cause when they have become effects. They are relatively depending on each other but they are belonged to respective conditions. Complicated? May be. But just try to understand.

Reincarnation, according to Buddhism, suits this analogy. Buddhism does not deny there are past, present and future lives. It even professes that a life of an individual is related to all three moments. In contrast, however, it rejects only a person's continuous existence all the time. Continuity of something is denied in Buddhism which contrarily asserts a momentariness of existence. Therefore, the salient differentiation between the two faiths in this complicated issue could be assumed that reincarnation is ultimately held in Hinduism while it is, according to Buddhism, a mere conventional silhouette.  

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