Rebirth - Bhikkhu Bodhi

The question of human destiny after death is probably one of the most critical questions we can raise. Nowadays it has become fashionable to dismiss this question as unimportant. But if we reflect on the extent to which our views influence our action we will see that it is quite essential to gain some understanding of the complete context in which our lives unfold. Moreover our views on the afterlife will determine what we regard as important in this present life.

Three positions of human destiny after death
There are three possible positions that can be taken on human destiny after death. One position, the outlook of materialism. It simply denies that there is an afterlife. It holds that the human being consists of organic matter. It regards mind as a byproduct of organic matter, and after death, with the break up of the physical body, all consciousness comes to an end and the life process is completely extinguished.

The second alternative is the view held in Western theistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam in their orthodox forms. They believe in an eternal afterlife. According to these religions, we live a single life on earth and after death we live eternally in some state of existence determined by our present beliefs and conduct.

Then there is a third view, a view which prevails in the religions of the East, Hinduism and Buddhism. This is the idea of rebirth. According to this, the present life is only a simple link in a chain of lives that extends back into the past and forward into the future. This chain of lives is called samsara.

Buddhism and Hinduism compared
Rebirth without a "Transmigrating soul"
What continues from one life to another?
Preservation of identity illustrated
Teaching of dependent arising with specific reference to Rebirth
Craving the Seamstress
What is it that causes rebirth in a particular form
Is rebirth scientifically acceptable?