Although Buddha (Siddhartha) taught that humans had no soul, nevertheless he taught that there is a reincarnation. My question is not how these two 'dogmas' are compatible but why he 'needed' reincarnation? His teaching are mostly very simple and not really metaphysical. Was teaching the noble eightfold path not sufficient?

  • Another way to ask this might be, "Why did the Buddha teach that a belief that 'there is no next world' is wrong view?"
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 15:33

3 Answers 3


The Buddha didn't need it so much as he explained that was just how things work. Just as water has the quality that's labeled "wet". Life has a quality (among many) that is labeled Death and Death has the quality labeled rebirth/Life.

Also, reincarnation and rebirth seem to be different in that the former implies a continuous soul and the latter simply the result of conditions.


The Buddha didn't teach reincarnation. The Buddha taught rebirth and you don't have to physically die to experience rebirth.

Maybe this pseudocode will help:

one="The 5 aggregates that includes not-self"


"A day" {


This is day #sumofdays

The 5 aggregates that includes not-self are “reborn” every morning, >bringing the “karmic resultants” of yesterday. As the day unfolds one >makes karma until one eventually “dies” again with one's head on a >pillow.

Goto "A day"


The reason the Buddha taught rebirth was because it is a useful process to understand if we want to find the bugs in our karma.


The Buddha didn't teach reincarnation. The Buddha taught rebirth and physical death is not required to experience rebirth. Every time a mind attaches & clings to something as "I", "me" or "mine" (and also as "you", "him", "her", "us" & "them"), this is "re-birth".

There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form, feeling, perception, fabrication &/or consciousness to be a 'self'. That assumption is a fabrication. Now what is the cause, what is the origination, what is the birth, what is the coming-into-existence of that fabrication? To an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person, touched by that which is felt born of contact with ignorance, craving arises. That fabrication is born of that. And that fabrication is inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen. That craving... That feeling... That contact... That ignorance is inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen.

SN 22.81

As for the mundane (rather than enlightenment) re-birth teachings about good & bad kamma, which most Buddhists infer mean 'reincarnation', the Buddha taught these to promote morality (non-harming), as follows:

And what is the right view with effluents (impurities), siding with merit (morality), resulting in acquisitions (attachment)? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the other world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously born (arisen) beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the other after having directly known & realized it for themselves.

MN 117

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