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The Reincarnation Method
Andy Canfield
Information Management Systems
andycanfield@yandex.com

The Reincarnation Method

  • nigamma is the Buddhist doctrine that your choices lead to effects, and those effects lead to other effects, on and on indefinitly. These chains of cause and effect continue onward and outward and ultimately affect every other human being on Earth. For example, suppose I slap your face. You are hurt and you go home and yell at your spouse. Your spouse goes to the store and slaps the clerk. The clerk goes home and yells at her son. The son gets into a fight at school; his playmate kicks him in the shin so his shin hurts.
  • karma is the Buddhist doctrine that some of these chains of cause and effect turn back and affect you. For example, suppose I slap your face. You are hurt and you go home and yell at your spouse. Your spouse goes to the store and slaps the clerk. The clerk sees me on the street and kicks me in the shin so my shin hurts.
  • reincarnation is the Buddhist doctrine that these chains of cause and effect, these karma, will continue to operate after you are dead. You will be born again, and will inherit the karma that you created when you were alive.

Do I believe this? Well, yes and no. Yes, I can understand and agree with nigamma and karma. The choices you make affect others and the effects on them come back to affect you. But the dotrine of reincarnation requires more. Notice that karma says that the nigamma come back to affect you. In order for nigamma to be labelled karma, there has to be some continuing idendity which is "you". In ordinary life your body provindes that identity. If Charlie does something, he creates nigamma. The nigamma of that, the nigamma that affects the body of Charlie, we call "karma". But if Charlie is dead, Charlie has no body, so there is no continuing identity. Charlie's nigamma affects everyone on Earth, but since Charlie is no longer on Earth none of it is "karma".

This, to me, is a basic flaw in Buddhism. The nigamma I create affects everyone, including me. But once I am dead, there is no more "me", and so none of that nigamma can properly be called "karma". So karma can not survive death, and so karma can not gather together into one person and so there can be no reincarnation.

My daughter Alee died when she was 2 1/2 years old. A few years later my daughter Payu was born. One of my ladies, Aw I think it was, believed that Payu is the reincarnation of Alee. Well, I never saw a serial number on Alee's soul, I never saw a serial number on Payu's soul. And considering the number of babies that were born on Earth duing those intervening years, it seems highly unlikely that Alee's karma would be incarnated in Payu. But who am I say?

If there is a monk in the audience who can point out the mistake in my understanding, please do so.

Almost everyone in Thailand is Buddhist. The theory is that, if I am a good person in Thailand, I will be reincarnated as a good person in Thailand, and presumably will be born to a Thai mother and Thai father and be born a Thai citizen. It is a little weird to become a Thai citizen by dying and being reincarnated, but if I can't do it during this lifetime, that is the only remaining possibility.