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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 111 What happens when we die? This question has vexed us humans for as long as we’ve been able to conceive of a future. Opinions abound. The materialist believes noth- ing happens; everything simply ends. The eternalist believes we will all have everlasting existence in either eternal joy or misery. The agnostic says we can’t know, so it’s not worth thinking about. Some Buddhists believe we will be reborn, and that the circumstances of one’s rebirth are influenced by past actions. These stances are often strongly held even though, if pressed, those who hold them will admit they don’t actually know. In Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research, Bhik- khu Analayo, author of the highly regarded book Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization, approaches this question from multiple perspectives, examining the tenet of rebirth through early discourses of the Buddha, historical debates, accounts of near-death experiences, and modern research. Although Ana- layo is a deeply committed practitioner and scholar in the tra- dition of early Buddhism, this is no polemical tract. He writes early on that, while he is sympathetic to the idea of rebirth, “for me personally rebirth is not a crucial issue.” Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research By Bhikkhu Analayo Wisdom Publications, 2018 304 pages; $29.95 The Case for Rebirth REVIEW GUY ARMSTRONG photo Jessica May Rita Kohut