Tristan Lecomte: another look at reincarnation

- through Francois Leclercq

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Rebirth or reincarnation, that is the question.

“Making offerings to the temple and accumulating good karma prevents you from being reincarnated as an animal,” they say in Thailand. I find it hard to accept the way this idea of ​​reincarnation is presented here.

For a long time I have been trying to understand the meaning of this principle and the difference between Hindu and Buddhist approaches. The Hindus speak of reincarnation to express the fact that an immortal soul transmigrates from life to life, from one body to another, human or animal for example, until final liberation. Buddhists use the term rebirth to mean that upon death, a continuum of consciousness moves from one existence to another, to experience new components of reality, through different bodily and non-corporeal mediums (there are six realms of rebirth in this tradition), until the realization of enlightenment. For them, the world being cyclical, without beginning or end, no immutable entity can exist in itself, and therefore reincarnate. Moreover, this subject is derisory for the practitioner who wishes to devote his time and energy to accomplishing his Buddha nature. In this he follows the attitude of the Buddha who never pronounced on what existed before birth and after death. It is therefore up to each person to discover, for themselves, the answer to this question.

Karma, rebirth, the afterlife, and after?

Inhabited by this inner freedom that the Buddhist quest leaves, I have often questioned Masters on this question. One answered me with another question: "How do you think the reincarnation as presented is really Buddhist? ". Logic shows that this is not consistent. Buddhism does not believe in the existence of a perennial soul, which is why it helps those who follow it to realize that no entity, no “I” has reality. The path leads to freeing oneself from the conditioning of the "me" to emancipate oneself from the cycle of suffering and the "I".

“To explain the universe, you need all the leaves in the forest, but to live your life well, you only need a handful of leaves. »

Methods like meditation teach how to become the neutral, unidentified outer witness of the ego. And thus offers everyone the possibility of realizing “nirvana” each time one extracts oneself from the “me” and the “I”. We taste it as soon as we manage to stop the flow of our own thoughts or when we observe them with kindness, without judgment. The Buddhist teaching focuses on helping us to better live our lives here and in the present moment. Why think about the future and worry about it since it is not there yet? Why dwell in the past which is no more? “To explain the universe, you need all the leaves in the forest, but to live your life well, you only need a handful of leaves,” said the Buddha. Why project ourselves into conjectures about the beyond, which we cannot know, because of our limitations.

It is up to everyone to choose their vision of life. It is this openness that I appreciate in Buddhism, this learning of existence made of questions, the fact that there is not only one truth, that things are more complex than we imagine. and that others are beyond us. And you, what is reincarnation for you?

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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