Do Buddhists Believe In Reincarnation?

The concept of reincarnation and its possibilities have fascinated many for centuries, whether because of their faith or because of their natural curiosity.

Reincarnation has often been associated with Buddhism, but do Buddhists believe in reincarnation?

No, Buddhists don’t actually believe in the commonly understood form of reincarnation, where when you die, you come back as a new person, an animal, or another life form. But they do believe in rebirth.

It’s possible that Buddhism has been mistaken for Hinduism in that regard.

Buddhism does, however, have a belief in rebirth, which is not quite the same as reincarnation despite its similar terminology. 

Even if there is no potential for reincarnation in the Buddhist faith, it doesn’t mean that the trajectory of a person’s life doesn’t impact them in death. 

Buddhism | Reincarnation

Reincarnation is not part of Buddhist teaching, as it doesn’t quite fit in with their teachings around what it is to be alive.

This is because Buddhism doesn’t believe in the existence of the soul in the same way as other faiths do.

As such, a soul can’t possibly go from one vessel – or body – to another. 

What Is The Buddhist Teaching Of Rebirth?

While the term rebirth seems synonymous with reincarnation, it actually has a completely different meaning to Buddhism.

Rebirth is a core belief of Buddhism that regards humans as beings that are constantly reborn in each moment of life. 

Buddhism believes that people are always changing, and this change can be something we consciously or unconsciously understand.

Furthermore, Buddhism teaches that when a person is able to accept that they are always changing and that life ultimately leads to death, they will get closer to life without suffering. 

Where this teaching mimics reincarnation is that it’s believed in Buddhism that when a person’s physical body ceases to be alive, their energy could end up sticking around on earth.

It could even end up becoming a part of a new life. 

Reincarnation vs. Rebirth

Where the concept of rebirth differs from reincarnation is that there’s no shifting of souls.

Additionally, it’s not believed that one person’s energy going from one body to another, results in a person being reborn.

It just simply means that a person’s energy contributes to a new life. There is no continuation of a person from one body to the next. 

When a person’s energy is reborn, it may not end up being a part of this realm.

Buddhism believes in different realms, and life on earth is only one of them.

Not all realms are good either, so one could end up being reborn into a less-than-ideal realm. 

As evidence, the concept of rebirth is a fairly abstract one that requires Buddhists to meditate quite heavily and frequently to be able to understand and accept it. 

How Does Karma Relate To Rebirth?

Many people associate the concept of karma with reincarnation, believing that if you’re good in life, you’ll come back as something worthy of those good deeds.

As such, if you’re bad in life, you might come back as a pest. While karma is a core belief in Buddhism, there’s more to the belief of karma that people understand. 

In fact, karma in relation to Buddhism simply means that the actions and the thoughts we may do and how they are motivated matter.

Each of these decisions we make feeds into karma.

As such, if your thoughts and your actions are motivated by good things like compassion, love, and humility, you’re creating good karma. 

As a result, the karma you create could end up determining the trajectory of your rebirth.

If you want your energy to exist in one of the good realms that are peaceful and tranquil, you’ll want to live your life according to positive Buddhist tenets like kindness and humility. 

Final Thoughts 

Reincarnation is not a belief that Buddhists hold, though some of their beliefs are similar to the commonly held belief about what reincarnation is.

Buddhism doesn’t deal with absolutes or concrete concepts, which can make it difficult to understand. However, this is also what draws many to Buddhism. 

One can say that a universal lesson all can learn from both reincarnation and rebirth is that being a good person in life is always a good idea.