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Home Teachings Rebirth An Explanation of Rebirth - A Precious Human Rebirth

An Explanation of Rebirth - A Precious Human Rebirth

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Article Index
An Explanation of Rebirth
A Precious Human Rebirth
Rebirth is NOT Reincarnation
Debate of King Milinda
Putting an End to Rebirth
All Pages

A Precious Human Rebirth

The various realms of existence are completely open to most living beings. Human beings or deities can be reborn as animals. Animals can occasionally be reborn as human beings or deities. For most human beings, there is little likelihood that they will be reborn in the human realm again after death. The last thought-moment is the deciding factor. Only those who have realised nibbāna are assured of rebirth in the higher realms of existence. Most human beings and deities are facing downwards, since the foolish majority are much more inclined to indulge in sensual pleasures than to do wholesome deeds. Being reborn in higher realms is rarer still for animals since they live by primitive instincts, which means lustful, aggressive, and deluded kamma. Some pets may live a life of luxury, enjoying the company of compassionate and intelligent human beings, but how can they donate things to others, study religion, or practise meditation?

The human realm is therefore a very precious opportunity to make wholesome kamma, which most people squander due to their lack of insight. To meet the Buddha's teachings is even rarer than to gain human rebirth, but many born in Buddhist countries pay little heed to the teachings of pious and learned monks. Among those who practise the Dhamma sincerely, most do not have sufficient confidence, effort, mindfulness, concentration, or wisdom to gain liberation in this very life. Most good Buddhists are self-satisfied with doing pious deeds, since they lack a deep and thorough knowledge of the scriptures. The executioner taught by Venerable Sariputta was more spiritually advanced than many Buddhists of today. He was very fortunate to meet an excellent teacher like Venerable Sariputta, but also wise enough to realise his own faults.

If one reflects wisely on the undeniable facts of birth and death, one should realise that rebirth will follow death, as surely as Monday morning follows the weekend. Moreover, one will realise that one is powerless to choose one's next existence, unless one has gained complete mastery over one's mind. Most people cannot even avoid getting angry when criticised, abused, or frustrated. How could they avoid falling into hell if the memory of some bad kamma they have done comes to their mind on their deathbed? If we have done too few wholesome kammas and too many unwholesome ones, we will panic when confronted by death, and unwholesome kammas will gain the upper hand. So we should perform the ten wholesome kammas diligently.

What are the ten wholesome kammas? Generosity, morality, mental development (study and meditation), reverence, service, sharing of merit, rejoicing in others' merit, listening to (or studying) the Dhamma, teaching the Dhamma, straightening wrong views (by questioning learned monks or studying good Dhamma books).

We should avoid the ten unwholesome kammas too: killing living beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, abusive speech, slander, idle chatter, covetousness, ill-will, and wrong view.

Last, but not least, we should purify the mind through meditation until supramundane right view is gained on the realisation of nibbāna. Only this can ensure that one does not fall into the lower realms after death. The mind is crucial, it leads our speech and actions. If we hold wrong views, all our thoughts, speech, and actions will be wrong. So gaining right view is of the utmost importance.

 



 

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" "All conditioned phenomena are dukkha"; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity. "

The Dhammapada


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