Reincarnation In Min Buddhism

In Min Buddhism I’d like to offer an alternative interpretation of ‘reincarnation’.

Most people I’ve met who haven’t studied Buddhism have the following misinterpretation of what ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation’ entails: one moves from physical vessel to physical vessel through a process determined by ones’ ‘karma’. For example, for the sins I have committed in this life, perhaps I shall be reborn as a cockroach.

I have no way of knowing whether that naive literal interpretation is true or not. But I will explain how a more nuanced interpretation can make perfect sense.

My interpretation of it is as follows: since all phenomena I have ever observed are impermanent, then from each moment to moment I am, in fact, a different person than I was before; thus I am ‘reborn’ each moment as an entirely new person; I can affect who I will be reborn as through my karma (literally means ‘action’ in Sanskrit) as each action I take obviously changes my state in the next moment.

This teaching flows quite naturally from the one evident truth and the one essential dogma of Min Buddhism. In my interpretation, the concepts of “hell” and “heaven” realms of traditional Buddhist doctrines are metaphors for psychological states. As poignantly illustrated by Crime & Punishment when one commits murder, then one is reborn into the hell realm of murderers. Not a comfortable place to be. But you may find that if you perform good works, then you are increasingly reborn into heaven realms, and you are increasingly surrounded by beautiful people not unlike angels.

The time for your rebirth is now, and the choice is yours, where will you be reborn?