Here’s what happens when we die, according to Buddhism

If you grew up in the west, you were probably taught that when we die we will either go to heaven or hell. Buddhism, however, offers a different view to what happens after we die.

The Buddhist View of Death

Buddhism says that when we die the mind that has been developed and conditioned for this life re-establishes itself in a new being. The new individual will then grow a new personality that is conditioned by those life circumstances. This process of dying and re-establishing itself continue until one reaches Nirvana – a state of enlightenment that does not desire or crave but simply lives in peace and with love.

How does the mind go from one body to another?

When one is dying, they will lose control of their mental processes. During this time, the actions and habits in their memories are released. Depending on this person’s karma, they will begin to see images, which will either be frightening images, or images of loved ones or scenic beauty. Even though the physical body is weak, they may cry out these visions.

When the body breaks down at the point of death, these energies are released as mental energy. Energy cannot be destroyed and therefore, this energy has to re-establish itself in a new body.

It’s almost like radio waves which are made of energy at different frequencies, which travel through space to be picked up by a suitable receiver.

Is one always reborn as a human being?

According to Buddhism, there are several different realms one can be transported to. Some may be reborn as animals, while others humans. Nothing in the universe is permanent, and therefore this state of existence cannot last forever and rebirth occurs over and over again.

What decides where we will be reborn?

The most important factor, according to Buddhist texts, is karma. Karma is more complex than simply you reap what you sow. There are 11 laws of karma that go through different factors such as your effort, your kindness to others and your intention. Thus, the gentle, loving type of person shall be reborn in a heavenly realm or as a human being in a comfortable environment.


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There may actually be some scientific evidence to support the Buddhism view of death. During the last 30 years parapsychologists have been studying reports that some people have vivid memories of their former lives. Professor Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia’s Department of Psychology has described dozens of cases of this type in his books. He is an accredited scientist whose 25 year study of people who remember former lives is very strong evidence for rebirth.

Check out Ian Stevenson’s book, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect.


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