Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rebirth and Reincarnation 再生と輪廻転生

Every year on my birthday I do two things: to thank my parents to bring me into this world and think about death. (yep, such Buddhist of me! Oh, by the way, the photo above is not me - it's the Dalai Lama and his mother. I found this photo in an 11th-century-monastery in Ladakh.) Birthdays bring me closer to death, and strangely it is not a bad feeling. I'm not saying that I look forward to my death, but I certainly don't want to live forever. I see too much suffering in the world, and the world today is not definitely a place that I wish to come back to. However, as a Buddhist who believes in rebirth, I know that I will have to return, hopefully as in another human form (rather than an animal!)

So what is the difference between rebirth and reincarnation? According to my teacher who's a Tibetan Buddhist monk, here is a simple explanation: In a Buddhist belief when a person dies his/her physical body dies, but his/her mind (consciousness or energy) continues. The mind eventually will have another physical body as another person, but he/she will not have the same characters, emotions or past memories. Reincarnation indicates different physical bodies with eternal souls, and usually Hindus, Jains and some Christians believe in reincarnation. Buddhists do not believe in reincarnation (eternal self), but believe in human consciousness.

However, people who are highly enlightened, such as the Dalai Lamas, are considered special cases. Those people's minds/consciousness are able to choose their rebirth at their death - in other words, they can choose to continue to have the same personalities, characteristics of the previous lives such as memories and ideas. You've lost me already? I know, it's complicated!

So, who cares about this difference? Who really knows the truth anyway, and does it matter?
I don't know the answer. Perhaps it is just a theory - something to debate in a philosophy or dharma class. The important thing is to live your life fully. That means to do what you love, have a passion, make yourself useful to others, be kind, give love, receive love, take what you need, give what you can... just in case that you will have to come back again :)

On my birthday, I truly wish that every single person on Earth will have enough to eat, have a shelter, have the basic human rights, education, good care and lots and lots of love. *Thank You*








  1. お誕生日おめでとうございます。(私の父は3日生まれ、友人は4日生まれなので、理麻さんにも勝手に親近感が沸いてしまいます。:-))今年は震災のことなどもあり、今生きていることについて私も良く考えます。また、私たち人間の欲のために地球上の生物や自然の調和を壊してしまったことについても考えます。思いやりを忘れずに、ほんとうにいつもフルに生きてゆきたいですね。

  2. 絵理さん、コメントありがとうございます!乙女座に囲まれているのですね!笑 本当に人間の行いの結果で地球が、人間にも動物や自然にとっても住みにくい場所になって来ていますよネ、、。美しい星に戻したいものです。


Copyright©Rima Fujita 2009 All rights reserved.