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Rebirth, reincarnation (skyes): The successive states that are experienced by the flow of consciousness, and which are punctuated by death, bardo, and birth. [MR]

Rebirth [Process] (srid pa)

  • The process of rebirth (Skt. bhava) through which an individual's consciousness migrates into a subsequent life after death is a concept familiar to most ancient Indian philosophical schools of thought. Buddhism also asserts the continuity of consciousness after the physical death of the person. The Buddhist doctrine of rebirth, however, is based on the principal premises of causality, the impact of inherited past actions (Skt. karma), the acceptance of a beginingless continuum of consciousness, and the understanding of quiescence or nirvāṇa as the antithesis to the rebirth process. Mind and body, though inseparable at the subtlest energy level, are distinct and thus possess separate continua during the succesive individual lives of an individual. Although they mutually influence each other, they can never become one another, just as a corn seed cannot produce a rice sprout. It is the impact of inherited past actions which remains as a subtle potential within the mental continuum, which, when activated, causes the bringing together of mind and body, thus constituting a particular rebirth process within cyclic existence. When the potential of these inherited past actions is exhausted, then the separation of the mental continuum from a particular bodily existence takes place, and this is called death. It must be stressed that Buddhism does not accept any notion of an unchanging or eternal soul, which transmigrates from one life to another. Detailed arguments supporting the doctrine of rebirth can be found in Bhavaviveka's Flame of Dialectics (Tarkajvālā), and in the second chapter of Dharmakīrti's Exposition of Valid Cognition (Pramāṇavārttika). GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)