There are six realms in Buddhism (mostly Tibetan Buddhism) into which one may be reborn. These are the realms of
- gods (through pride)
- demi-gods (through jealousy)
- humans (through lust)
- animals (through ignorance)
- hungry ghosts (through greed)
- hell-denizens (through hatred)
As you can see, rebirth is not a good thing. Westerners often mistake rebirth to be a positive notion. This partly has to do with shared terminology with Hinduism and Jainism (religions existent at the same time and place as Buddhism), and partly to the lack of any concept that is similar to it in Western cultures.
To be clear,
- the goal of Buddhism is to end rebirth (reincarnation) and
- enlightenment is the state in which all future rebirths have been extinguished.
Reincarnation or rebirth, contrary to popular Western belief, is a negative term in Buddhism. The goal of Buddhism is to end reincarnation, not perpetuate it.
How this misconception arose is various. It could have been from a generalisation from another Eastern religion – Hinduism – in which it sees rebirth as a positive term, where being reborn means to improve to higher states of being until Oneness with God, or moksha. In contrast Buddhism does not aim for oneness but “release”.
To be “reborn” in English also seems to suggest to return anew. This image can be seen in the term “Born-Again Christian”. Whereas no such concept exists at all in Buddhism.
Karma is volitional action caused by intention (cetana). The result of karma is its fruit (karmaphala). Karma are of two types – wholesome (kusala) and unwholesome (akusala). Both of these lead to rebirth (samsara). Wholesome karma leads to a superior rebirth while unwholesome karma leads to an inferior rebirth.
Rebirth does not necessarily pertain to the rebirth of a lifespan. Every moment is a rebirth so long as it is conditioned by an action from an intention. Rebirth is akin to sustainment or continuity. Actions not stemming from an intention are without karma and therefore without fruit. Karma without fruit is therefore desirable in Buddhism.
a small death
It saddens me that people feel they need to hurt others in order for their pain and dissatisfaction to be heard. Whatever the problem may be there should never be any reason why one should take life even if the human condition is seemingly unbearable. Solutions can only be solved as a collective for we share a reality. We are dependent beings in a common environment at a certain time. So your problem is essentially my problem and we should live with this understanding and find solutions together. You, terrorists, are wrong if you believe you are alone in this world. You, America, too are wrong if you think they alone are the problem. So when we “talk with guns” and not words we are not really talking but shouting in pain, shouting in anger. And no one is listening in such an atmosphere.
Prayers go out to those who lost someone.
doesn’t describe you
procession of souls
beyond mountains, seas
sees before again
before next ride
The goal of Buddhism whether Theravada or Mahayana is to end suffering. By doing so one ends rebirth or reincarnation.
Yet in Mahayana Buddhism the ideals of a the Bodhisattva is to delay one’s entry into Nirvana and return or reborn to help save all others.
In this sense Mahayana Buddhism is active and Theravada is passive.
As a Buddhist this is an important question. It is a question which ultimately will determine how you approach the way you live.