This question made me want to explain my belief / theory of rebirth.

Does anyone ever at all even somewhat suggest that when we are "reborn" we do not inhabit the new birth in the sense of controlling or willing its actions. That (in a way UNLIKE being "reborn" into our future selves before death) people can only ever be responsible for e.g. their enlightenment - in this life?

Or is there not such a profound difference between life now (- and just now) opposed to life after death ?

  • sort of: a new life arises but it becomes [bhava] it isn't formed [sankhara] ???
    – user2512
    Mar 11, 2015 at 15:52
  • Hard to tell what question is being asked here. This feels a lot like, "Here is my opinion, do you agree?"
    – Anthony
    Mar 12, 2015 at 3:05
  • @Anthony hey sorry, you're pretty much right... sorry Anthony
    – user2512
    Mar 14, 2015 at 1:34
  • I'm not sure how other people attempted to answer this question. I cannot understand it. Could you rephrase in simpler language?
    – Jayarava
    Aug 17, 2015 at 10:19

2 Answers 2


Not according to U Dhammaratana's commentary on the Visuddhimaga... There it is said:

It could be said that they [kamma-bhava and sankhara] are two different ways of sayin the same thing

Kamma-bhava is what recreates the next rebirth. Sankhara is kamma-bhava considered without the "associated mental states".

I think I see no way round this, besides questioning Buddhaghosa or the accuracy of the commentary. Unless sankhara is empty in a different way to kamma-bhava :/

  • Isn't emptiness a Mahayana doctrine? If I understand correctly, Buddhaghosa lived and wrote entirely in a Theravada context.
    – Anthony
    Mar 12, 2015 at 3:06

When 'jati' ('birth') occurs via Dependent Origination, the 'will' (intention -cetana) is a contributory condition but not 'control'. That the (ignorant) 'will' generates 'birth' is due to 'ignorance' (avicca) therefore, when ignorance is functioning, 'control' cannot exist.

Therefore, it is correct to suggest that when there is 'birth' ('jati') or 'new birth', there is no sense of controlling actions. People can only ever be responsible for their enlightenment because their unwholesome actions are always controlled & created by ignorance (rather than by their 'self').

This is why enlightenment generates metta, equinimity & forgiveness.

You must log in to answer this question.