Friday, August 10, 2012

Life after death (Part 1 of 2)

Question: (Unedited)
Hello justinchoo!
Can we say that Buddhism is an atheistic religion?
Why do Buddhists do not believe in afterlife? I think it would be hard for me not to believe in afterlife. I think it would be very unjust if there were no life after death.
Just imagine two people getting born at the same time. One is born into a very rich family and leads a happy life, is healthy and so on. The other one is born sick, paralysed, poor and has to live like this to the end of his days. They both die at the same time. If there is no afterlife then it would be very unjust, their lives would be unjust, and I believe that justice exists if not here than somewhere else.
What's Buddhist view on after life?
Thank You


My comment:
Hi L,

Welcome back if you are the same Luke.  However,if you are the same Luke, I would be surprised if you still ask such questions.

If "atheistic" means the rejection of the belief in an all-powerful God, then Buddhism is an atheistic religion.

I think you are referring to the Christian concept of "afterlife" where one goes to eternal heaven or eternal hell.  Buddhism does not subscribe to such "eternal" places as they view even heavens and hells as not eternal.  Anyone reborn in heaven or hell will eventually die and reborn again in another realm of existence.  Buddhists believe in life after death.  The concept of rebirth explains clearly that this is not our first liives nor our last.  We have been through the cycles of births and deaths since time immemorial.  Two people born with different conditions clearly confirm the concepts of kamma and rebirth.  Because one had enough accumulation of good actions (kamma) in his previous life, one is born healthy and happy.  Whereas the other had committed bad actions during his past life, he is born crippled to suffer.  The law of cause and effect is amoral and works like clockwork.  Just like gravity, there is no escape from its pull.  I agree with you that it is very unjust if there is no life after death.  It would also be unjust if there is only one afterlife and only two places to go, heaven or hell.  How could our lives be so clearcut that we either have to go to hell or heaven?  Are we so pure that we will go to heaven to enjoy ourselves forever?  Or are we so evil that we have to be condemned to eternal hell?  All of us have both good and bad qualities.  As such if there is only one heaven and one hell, there will be great problem in selection.

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