Reincarnation: part two

In our second conversation about reincarnation, we start off discussing the how the current Dalai Lama’s position is predicated on the belief that he is the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama and how his reincarnation and the reincarnation of other Lamas creates a certain amount of consternation for the government of the People’s Republic of China. We don’t dwell there long but instead venture off to hell (and the other realms of rebirth) and use that as way to discuss Buddhist morality and ethics. We also try to answer a listener question about the twelve-fold chain of causation and do our best to explain it in terms of the cycle of rebirth before ending this episode, appropriately enough, on Japanese horror films.

Some of the books and films discussed in this episode include:
the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen
Hajime Nakamura’s book Gotama Buddha
Nobuo Nakagawa’s 1960 classic, Jigoku
Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams

2 thoughts on “Reincarnation: part two”

  1. Great podcast. I am so glad I’ve discovered it. I found it through ‘The Buddha is My DJ’. I agree that the Dalai Lama is a really interesting figure. I’ve been fascinated by Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture for a long time. The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying: “If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation… but it’s going to be mighty hard to disprove reincarnation.” I believe he has also suggested that, should there be a 15th Dalai Lama, he/she may be chosen by election rather than by the divining of Buddhist monks. I am very interested to see what the future holds.
    The idea that Tenzin Gyatso is a fantastic incarnate Avalokiteshvara 14th Dalai Lama and all of that and at the same time say things like “I’m just a simple monk” seems very out there. But, in some of Tibetan philosophy such a thing might not seem that odd when you consider the idea that there are two types of perceiving history and reality. One is outer/ordinary perception (thun mong pai snang ba) and the other is extraordinary/inner (thun mong ma yin pai snang ba). For example, Shakyamuni Buddha, in the ordinary sense, was a prince who was disatisfied with his life and so on, and went seeking and attained inner peace. In the extraordinary sense, he attained Buddhahood many, many lifetimes ago and manifested as Prince Siddhartha to demonstrate and to teach and liberate beings of this world in this time. All strange and interesting stuff.
    Keep up the good work. I look forward to checking out your archives and hearing future podcasts.

  2. Hi Reverend and Scott,
    Yeah, Reincarnation, just like No Self, is another Buddhist concept that’s hard to grasp and i don’t think it will ever be satisfactorily explained to me–but then that’s what makes Buddhism a religion and not just a philosophy or a science. The one thing you emphasized and reminded me of, is the fact that Reincarnation is a bad thing, something that you want to end.
    Thank you,

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