Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rebirth As Animal

"If you are reincarnated into a cow or other animal, how is it possible to reach nirvana from that state."

My comment:
The Buddhist concept is called "rebirth". "Reincarnation" assumes a sort of a permanent entity that takes birth from one life form to another, while still maintaining all its characteristics. Buddhist concept of rebirth is quite different. The Buddha explained that a physical life form contains 2 main entities: the physical entity and the mind or consciousness. This mind is a stream of consciousness. It is a "stream" in perpetual flux, ever flowing. Just like a stream; we see a stream as a permanent flow of water; but the stream we see now is actually not exactly the same as the one we saw a moment ago. This is because the water that flows is not the same as that was before. It is also like the electric current. The current flows continuously, but the energy of the current is not the same at any point in time. That was why the Buddha described the "rebirth process" as a process that is "not exactly the same, yet not completely different".

As our stream of consciousness has no physical entity or mass, it can attach itself to any physical entity. It can also exist without a physical entity! It is just like the electric current; which can light up a small bulb, as well as operate huge machines. If the current of consciousness is weak because of deposits of evil defilements, it will seek to attach itself to miserable entity like a cow or any other animal. Under this birth, it is virtually impossible for it to attain Nibbana (Pali) or Nirvana (Sanskrit), because it is actually living out the results of its bad actions (kamma) from its previous lives. However, the Law of Kamma (Cause and Effect) is a very equitable Law. Once the being had served its due, this being is elevated to a higher or more fortunate rebirth. Through continuous cultivation of the mind, the being is able to progress towards the ultimate goal of Nibbana.

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