Reincarnation And Buddhism

Many westerners like the idea of reincarnation. It makes them feel that their lives have meaning without having to believe that God exists. Yet they often do not realize the implications of endless cycles of reincarnation, devoid of any divine mind behind them.

Paul Williams, professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy and Co-director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol in England, practised Buddhism for decades. After learning far more about the religion than most of its adherents, he entered a time of deep reflection and doubt. These doubts grew and developed to such an extent that, eventually, he decided to convert to Christianity. One of the issues that troubled him so much was the absurdity of life which flowed out of a Buddhist worldview. In the endless cycles of death and rebirth, meaning becomes completely ephemeral. In his post-conversion book, “The Unexpected Way”, he states,

“If Buddhism is right then finally, for almost all of us, our little lives count for virtually nothing. They have scarce meaning and, in the crucible of time, little value beyond themselves.”

He also adds, “…from a Buddhist perspective in the scale of infinite time and infinite rebirths, the significance of each of us as such, as the person we actually are now, converges on nothing. Thus Buddhism for me appeared to be hope-less.”

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