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When the rebirth-linking consciousness arises in the fetus (I read elsewhere at around 26 weeks), but the fetus dies (somehow) prior to or during birth, is it possible to understand why this kind of existence happened? And could it be a result of previous lifetime good or bad karma?

In this situation, while there are senses, the fetus cannot make any conscious decision or thought processes or have any understandings yet. Of course depending on the situation physical suffering may have occurred.

So I am trying to understand what kind of link this lifetime is, between the previous and next lifetime, and the effect on continuing rebirths.

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is it possible to understand why this kind of existence happened?

not for a worldling

workings of kamma are inexplicable, and are not to be pondered upon lest they cause disquietude and agitation and because such pondering isn't conducive to attainment of nibbana, that's from the Buddha

workings of destiny are yet less explicable, if i may add, because destiny is a combination of personal kamma and fortuity

"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?

"The Buddha-range of the Buddhas is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"The jhana-range of a person in jhana...

"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...

"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.

"These are the four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them."

Acinteyya sutta (AN 4.77)

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Buddhism's version of birth is not coming out from an egg or the birth we recognize.

This is Birth As to Lord Buddha....

  • The necessary conditions for a birth to happen in realms below Deva realms

Joining of parents

A suitable mother

The coming of gandhabba*

(*The materials for a new viññāṇa (consciousness) to be born {not the misunderstood inter-birth being})


  • Consciousness and awareness before birth (coming out to the world).

1:- Some are born into the womb without any awareness of anything, stays in the womb without any awareness and are born to the world without any awareness.

2:- Some are born into the womb with awareness, stays in the womb without any awareness and are born to the world without any awareness.

3:- Some are born into the womb with awareness, stays in the womb with awareness and are born to the world without any awareness.

4:- Some are born into the womb with awareness, stays in the womb with awareness and are born to the world with.

Source :- (Amazing understanding) by Ven. Kiribathgoda Knanananda thero.


  • What is Lord Buddha's definition of birth?

Vibhanga Sutta


  • When does the suffering begin?

Uppada sutta

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It is worth noting, in conjunction with the other answers provided, that the fetus in question is going through karma from it's past lives in a scenario like this.

the fetus cannot make any conscious decision or thought processes or have any understandings yet.

This is true, but karma is not always from this life, karma can manifest in lifetimes after the life it is planted in.

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could it be a result of previous lifetime good or bad karma?

Every thing happening in this universe is not due to Karma. Karma is only one out of five reasons (Five Niyama). more can be found from below link.

The Five Niyamas

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A rebirth is a rebirth and the life-span does not have a restriction, A life can end as soon as it starts or last a hundred years. The last life will end as soon as the being has mastered all states of physical,mental and emotional endurance and acknowledges that it is a everlasting spirit and not nothing eles.

Here is a well described link to the start of consciousness of a being at the beginning stages of life.But the answer to your question is what I stated above.

There are Five levels of self-awareness

http://psychology.emory.edu/cognition/rochat/Five%20levels%20.pdf

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