Some do not believe in reincarnation

QUESTION: Masters, could you tell us why Buddha concluded that “There is no soul. Therefore, there is no transmigration of souls. “And Ramana Maharshi: “Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.” ~Mario, Canada

ANSWER: Part of the problem comparing philosophies from over 2600 years ago is in the semantics. When Buddha lived there was no common written language, so you have long periods of time using oral traditions, translations from various ancient languages, and differing inputs from factions of Buddhism. The only recording today is from the modern-day interpretations, and between sects, you will find some of their principles contradict each other.

Examining various types of Buddhism, you will find belief systems that exist on many different ideations. If you examine their sense of awareness, they all include a sense of the inner essence – a way in which some modern-day religions describe the soul. Just as there are many terms for the originator of all – god, creator, source, divine energy, there are many names for what it was that they created. In Western philosophies most have used the term soul.

Ramana Maharshi spoke of a spirit that transcends the death of the body, and of the eternity of existence. The biggest difficulty with the teachings of which you speak is that they were translated from his native Tamil and Sanskrit, even though he had learned English in his youth. Translations frequently reflect the opinions of the translator and not the intent of the original speaker.

Some of Maharshi’s teachings stated that your goal was enlightenment or awakening, and you never truly lived until you reached that plane. You then had nothing else you had to do, so there was no reason to try again. This is very much like exiting the “wheel of rebirth,” which is at the basis of many Eastern religions.

What is available to read today is someone’s recollection of what they believe was the intention in some remembered words of Buddha and Maharshi. You have to ask yourself: Why is it of importance to you? Do you wish to accept the beliefs of another? Something that you believe worked for them? Or are you seeking something that resonates within you and allows you to create a reality through beliefs that complete your human journey? If any of these ideas fit into your beliefs, accept them until they don’t any longer.