Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Buddhism: A matter of life and death and life

By Ian Nance - posted Monday, 13 February 2012

In Australia, the lifestyle and practice of Buddhism has grown considerably over the last few decades with large numbers of people turning to this holistic blend of philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. Although some may feel that Buddhism is ultimately an Eastern worldview with a sense of mysticism that is nearly impenetrable for a non-Buddhist, this is not necessarily so.

An exploration of Buddhism is both worthwhile and possible, for it is no longer foreign to the West, but is becoming integrated with it. Many consider its qualities such as non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and compassion, admirable. 

Moreover, its views on rebirth and the afterlife determine what is regarded as important in this present life. It’s not bewildering, daunting, or arcane, just practical common-sense.


Master Hsing Yun, in discussing this very important but difficult to affirm topic, points out that when we talk about rebirth, some people laugh at the idea. They consider such belief passé, and obsolete in this technologically advanced modern age. Others may think that the question of rebirth belongs strictly in the arena of religion. After all, the issue of what happens after death seems remote from ordinary everyday living.

Without future lives, existence would be short, and without meaning…the outlook of life would be forlorn and uncertain. When we are going through tough times, we often encourage ourselves by saying, “everything is going to be alright. Just wait and see how I will be doing in ten years.”

With rebirth, human existence has manoeuvring room. With rebirth, unfulfilled wishes can materialise one day. With rebirth, there will always be the next train of life for us to board.

All phenomena in this world, cannot escape the workings of the ‘wheel of rebirth’. The normal life processes of being born and dying are examples of rebirths. Changes in nature are also manifestations of rebirths, such as the change of the four seasons.

There is the time cycle of past, present, and future. There is the cycle of day and night. These are temporal types of rebirths, whereas the change of directions, and movement from one place to another are spatial types.

In short, everything around us is the result of rebirth. The wind blows, and gathers the clouds. Clouds turn into rain, which falls to the ground. That rain evaporates back into the sky, and becomes clouds again. This continuous process of the water cycle is a form of rebirth. Rebirth is not only found in changes in the universe, but is also evident in the many changes which one experiences during one’s lifetime, from birth to death.


According to scientific research, every cell in our body is renewed every seven years. The cellular structure, perception, and cognition of all living creatures, from simple organisms to advanced humans, is constantly moving, changing, living, and dying.

Rebirth is also at work in family relationships. At one time, we are the children of our parents, and yet in another time we become the parents of children. The changes in our economic welfare, and the ups and downs of our emotions, are also examples of rebirth. According to Buddhist teachings, we humans are constantly going through cycles of rebirth, and everything in life is subject to change.

It is just that we refer to the slow and gradual changes as “forming and ceasing”, or “changing and transforming”, and we reserve the term “the cycle of rebirth” to those changes that are rapid and sudden. These cycles are the direct consequences of karma.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

11 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Ian Nance

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Ian Nance
Article Tools
Comment 11 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy