Avidyā and moha which can be translated as confusion or ignorance are sources of suffering. The western term for the study of reality and knowledge is called "philosophy" which an be translated from the Greek as "the love of wisdom". Rāga is also a term for attachment which is another source of suffering that is to say Buddhism tells you not to attach yourself to material or mental objects (including Buddhism) otherwise you will suffer and won't attain enlightenment.

If knowledge gives you a deeper understanding of reality and existence and makes you understand other beings and their need to escape suffering and knowledge makes you attain compassion, why would nature be so cruel to remove your memories and wisdom reincarnation after reincarnation to make you step on the same stones again? Christian Gnostics believed that it's because this world is controlled by Satan and only holy knowledge can give you salvation. Is karma (which is a religious belief) the only answer Buddhism has to this matter?

  • I wonder if the analogy between Christianity and Buddhism is misleading here. Christianity claims to answer "why" questions such as why there is death and why there will be a resurrection, and if you don't believe the answers, you aren't considered orthodox. Does Buddhism even claim to explain why death and reincarnation exist?
    – user2189
    Feb 6, 2019 at 15:10
  • @BenCrowell I think you are forgetting that buddhism is not just a philosophy but also a religion. Double check reincarnation, samsara, bardos, in buddhism.
    – user2428
    Feb 6, 2019 at 15:49
  • 1
    What I'm suggesting is that you may be overgeneralizing what "religion" means based on the example of Christianity. There is secular Buddhism, for example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Buddhism . I certainly know Buddhists who don't believe in reincarnation. There are all kinds of common beliefs among Buddhists that are optional or provisional or culture-specific, e.g., the cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism. IIRC the Dalai Lama has made various statements like, "If science someday disproves X, then we should discard X," where X is a common Buddhist belief.
    – user2189
    Feb 6, 2019 at 16:08
  • This question is based on this one thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/5060/… not suitable for this channel.
    – user2428
    Feb 8, 2019 at 22:30

5 Answers 5


why would nature be so cruel

"Cruel" sounds like dukkha -- as if nature were ill-willed and unkind, and we were averse to that.

So I guess that's among the many kinds of view or perception that we should overcome (in order to do away with dukkha), craving things to be other than they are -- though maybe also acknowledge whatever truth there is in it to become dispassionate about whatever is impermanent.

"He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.

to remove your memories and wisdom reincarnation

I suppose you're not supposed to see them as "your" memories and "your" wisdom.

They are memories, perhaps they are wisdom, but they are, "not mine, not me, not my self".

To some extent wisdom isn't removed -- from the world -- by death, in that the Dhamma continues to exist. I think that's similar to the view that there's a dharmakaya.

  • Buddhism most likely comes form Samkhya. In this philosophy material world or prakrti server purusa (spirit) In some Buddhist temple I was said that existence wants you to blossom in the same way a lotus flower blossoms. But I don't think external factors help much for that goal. As far as I know dukha is also produced by Karmic reasons and this seems to be only real official explanation of the religion/philosophy
    – user2428
    Feb 6, 2019 at 10:47
  • I don't understand most of the comment so I'll ignore it. Yes dukkha is important, some suttas end with the Buddha's saying, "Both formerly and now, I teach dukkha and its cessation" as if that's the essential summary. And yes some people or schools try the doctrine as a way to live in the world, with or without becoming a monk.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 12, 2019 at 11:26
  • I think you wrongly assume that meditation and being able to close doors of perception even the idea of the ego is the only goal and only way to achieve enlightenment as opposed to knowledge, ethics or purification of karma doing good actions as explained in the eight-fold path. Buddhism as in Samkhya you are not ultimately responsible for your enlightenment since you don't know your remaining karma and it's not up only to your free-will.
    – user2428
    Feb 12, 2019 at 11:39
  • I think you wrongly assume I don't think I assume that all, so I don't know where that comment came from but perhaps you're "projecting" and don't have a good/accurate model (i.e. Theory of mind).
    – ChrisW
    Feb 12, 2019 at 11:44

maybe my English is not good enough, but I think your question is possibly based on a misconception. "Rebirth" – not re-incarnation as Brian Diaz Flores clarified – ist not a kind of "reset", so that you start as a blank paper again so that

you step on the same stones again?

Which would make Buddhism indeed very sadistic. Due to applying buddhist teachings in your life you will lay good foundations in your mind, which will bear fruits in next life. In fact this is the aim of all Hinayana-Teachings: Personal liberation due to ethical discipline. It's not like having a "memory" as a mental factor. (Remembering past learnings). It's more like a healthy attitude you are strengthen life after life due to collect "merit". So some stones will vanish. (Hopefully)

  • Are you saying that somebody who was a Lama in a previous life can remember the 4 noble truths and the sources of suffering after rebirth or perhaps that rebirth will provide you with a different existence who gives that knowledge to you from birth? where are those steps or bardos defined in Buddhism? I have not found anything similar to that yet.
    – user2428
    Feb 6, 2019 at 11:36
  • @PbxMan I think they're maybe meant to be an apt student, possibly born into a suitable environment. For example when the Dalai Lama is chosen as an infant, he is then trained, and studies e.g. from age 6 until he graduated age 23.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 6, 2019 at 18:15

Nature is not a personal entity, as far as we know. There are laws of nature, and those laws function independently of any moral or axiological (judgements of value) consideration. Reality is what it is, and it does not care about your evaluation of it. It makes no sense to judge it as "fair" or "unfair", mainly because those are subjective concepts.

Kamma is just one of those laws: any action has its consequences -in the mind and in the external world-, and the most important factor, especially when talking about suffering (and its perpetuation and cessation), is intention. (By the way, 'kamma' just means "action", and it is not necessarily a religious or superstitious concept; it depends on your definition and understanding of it).

Think about this situation: one you were a child, you took a lot of decisions and made a lot of choices, and it is likely that most of those choices were made without major consideration or analysis of the potential consequences. And as a product of those decisions, you experimented some of those unreflected consequences, some of them probably until this very day.

Would you say that it is unfair that you "suffer" the consequences of unreflective deeds made by a child years ago, considering that you are not that child anymore?

Consequences, and laws of nature in general, all happen whether you like it or not, and the wisest thing you can do it to understand and accept those unavoidable laws, and learn how to act according to their influence.

Also bear in mind that "rebirth" (and not "reincarnation", because since there is no permanent self/soul, this latter concept is not part of most buddhist doctrines) is a controvertial topic, whether some buddhist like to accept it or not. So not everyone would agree with the idea of something (consciousness, memories, tendencies, etc.) continuing after biological/clinical death.

Kind regards!


why would nature be so cruel to remove your memories and wisdom reincarnation after reincarnation to make you step on the same stones again?

One of the Noble truths is acknowledging that pain or suffering exists rather than denying it so perhaps nature or reality is naturally cruel.

But it's not really reincarnation rather rebirth or re-existence in one of the five realms (hell, the animal realm, realm of ghosts, humans, devas).

Birth as a human is extremely rare the majority of humans most likely came from hellish worlds, the animal realm, or the realm of ghosts prior to this human existence (as implied in the Pansu suttas SN 56.102-113) and don't naturally automatically remember past existences it's only gained through developing one of the six higher knowledges (pubbe-nivāsanussati).

Christian Gnostics believed that it's because this world is controlled by Satan and only holy knowledge can give you salvation. Is karma (which is a religious belief) the only answer Buddhism has to this matter?

The concept of Satan might have originated in Buddhism as Mara the "Evil One" is a central figure in early Buddhism and pre-Buddhists religions seem to not have any Satan figure only post-Buddhist religions like Christianity and Islam which were obviously influenced by Buddhism since Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries all around the world.

Kamma is one explanation but it's also explained in the suttas the nature of things is impermanent and subject to change.

  • I marked this post down. It is full of non-sense. SN 56.47 defines what "human birth" is. It is not something biological. The "human birth", per SN 56.47, is living a morally righteous life; not devouring or exploiting others. Best to read SN 56.47 rather than post non-sense about most humans reincarnated from hell. The suttas do not say this it all. The suttas (eg AN 6.39) say the human state is born from non-greed, non-hatred & non-delusion. Oct 14, 2019 at 10:02
  • The Pansu Suttas say that most humans after death go to hell, the animal realm, or realm of ghosts implying that most new humans came from hellish worlds, the animal realm, or the realm of ghosts...you are atheist pretending to be Buddhist modifying it to fit into your own personal views and biases clinging attached to views so incapable of seeing the truth, why not be Christian it's the nearly same as atheist you can enjoy your stay in hell, the animal realm, or the realm of ghosts after death Oct 14, 2019 at 13:51

why would nature be so cruel to remove your memories and wisdom reincarnation after reincarnation to make you step on the same stones again?

There is no evidence for "reincarnation". Your question is unrelated to "reality". What you have called "ignorance" (of the Four Noble Truths) and "lust" ("raga") are related to reproductive & survival instincts. This things exists because nature creates 'raga"; which is probably related to the energy of chemical reactions & heat that propel physical creation.

The fact that there is no evidence of wisdom passing from life to life is evidence against reincarnation.

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebirth_(Buddhism) does Buddhism allow you to make your own interpretation of it as you see fit?? If so it's way better than I thought. Ref. Needed please
    – user2428
    Feb 6, 2019 at 10:31
  • 2
    Wikipedia does not understand Buddhism. the Buddha never taught reincarnation. this was added in after the Buddha passed away. When the Buddha referred to birth & death, he was referring to the ideas that "I am born" and "I will die" created by the deluded egoistic mind with self. "Birth" and "death" are self-views. This is what is literally explained in the scriptures. Regards Feb 6, 2019 at 13:22
  • This is all wrong...part of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right View which includes the idea of rebirth it's part of very early Buddhism....if you don't believe so then why be Buddhist why not be atheist? Oct 14, 2019 at 3:08
  • Sorry but the Noble Eightfold Path does not include the view of rebirth. You appear to have wrong understanding. In your comment, you appeared to slander both the Dhamma and myself. This is your karma. Oct 14, 2019 at 10:00
  • Right View is part of the Eightfold Path and is defined as "‘There is what is given, sacrificed, and offered; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings spontaneously reborn; there are in the world ascetics and brahmins of right conduct and right practice who, having realized this world and the other world for themselves by direct knowledge, make them known to others.’" (AN 10.211 repeated elsewhere) If after death it's just like sleeping in then why pursue enlightenment? Oct 14, 2019 at 13:48

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