Buddhism reincarnation is a fundamental part Buddhism. There are many misunderstandings about reincarnation and what beliefs Buddhism has about it. It is simultaneously a simple and yet very complex idea that is even more simple than the idea of being born again in another body and yet through its very simplicity Buddhism reincarnation is incredibly difficult to understand. Here is a basic breakdown of reincarnation as the Buddhists believe in it.
Buddhism Reincarnation: The Basics
Firstly, the basic idea of reincarnation is that the soul transfers or migrates to another body after death. This process is not instant and can take many years! However, in Buddhism there is no soul, no self and no ego. This is the idea that makes Buddhism reincarnation so difficult to understand. Because there is no self, there is no soul because there is no need for something to continue on after our bodies have passed carrying our memories. These memories end at our death.
However, there is rebirth. Buddhism believes that the self both dies and is renewed every moment. You are not the same person now that you were at the beginning of this article. That person has passed on and the person you are not is not the same person that will finish this article. Your self dies and is reborn with each passing moment.
Can You be Reborn?
How then can you be reborn? You cannot. Buddhism reincarnation is not the idea that you, as you are now, will be reborn again in a different body with a second chance at life. Why? Because who you are now has already changed! This is why Buddhism focuses so strongly on meditation and living in the now, because the now is the only moment that matters. Now is the only moment that is actually real. With this idea of the now, we must also look at karma. Karma is paired with Vipaka and together they are cause and effect. Karma is actions, words, and thoughts that are intentional and born out of free will, not those of fate and destiny as so many believe. Vipaka is the effect of these actions and together they store up energy that can be built up across lifetimes. This is the key to Buddhism reincarnation: Reincarnation is the expiration of karmic energy built up in one lifetime that must be expended before the person can start upon the path to Nirvana.
Buddhism reincarnation is the belief that your conscious, karmic actions in this life, in each of your moments of now, build energy that must then be expended, often over the course of a few lifetimes, before the being can begin to take the path to Nirvana.
The Buddhist Realms
Buddhism believes there are six realms into which a being can be reborn depending on the amount and type of karma accumulated in their past life. There are three good realms that an accumulation of good karma will lead to rebirth in: Deva the realm of the heavenly, Asura the realm of the demi-god, and Manusya the realm of the human. There are also three evil realms where bad accumulated karma can land you: Tiryak the realm of animals, Preta the realm of ghosts, and Naraka the hellish realm.