What is the difference between life after death and reincarnation

Pastoral care in the clinic of the LMU Munich
at the Großhadern location

Reincarnation in Buddhism and Hinduism

(Anselm Grün, Leben aus dem Tod, Münsterschwarzach 1995;)

The Benedictine monk Anselm Grün points out that due to the fact that there is no ultimate certainty of what happens in death, that too Model of reincarnation (as taught by Buddhism and Hinduism) has a certain justification.

Grün sees the reasons why the doctrine of reincarnation has so many followers on the one hand in the lack of illustration with which Christian theology treats the subject, on the other hand in the Refusal to consider something binding and the refusal to accept the uniqueness and finality of life.

In every religion, the idea of ​​life after death is also related to the image of God and man.


I.In Buddhism, reincarnation is a curse and not the goal of our lives. The Buddhist longs for the release from attachment to this world, which is the cause of all evil. Only those who fail to make the leap into nirvana have to go back into the wheel of rebirth. That is why the Buddhists accompany the dying person before his death and for 40 days afterwards so that he can jump into nirvana.

Rebirth For the Buddhist does not mean that this specific person has to start all over again, but that karma this person arrives at the cervix of a woman giving birth. So there is one Effect of the dead on the next born.

So Buddhism knows no personal rebirth, as Rudolf Steiner teaches, but he teaches the effects of human death on those who will be born later. nirvana means that the dying man transforms and redeems a piece of the world for God, karma, that unredeemed, unfinished, and dark things continue to affect the birth of other people.

Also from Christian point of view We are not only responsible for ourselves, but also for the people around us and after us. If our lives are transformed by God's Spirit, then our light will continue to shine even after we die. And vice versa: if we bypass our truth, if we die with repressed problems, will the unfinished business has a negative impact on those to come. Christian theology has that with that Doctrine of Original Sin tried to explain. We are influenced by the sins committed by our fathers. The fate of the living often seems to be determined by the unfinished business of the ancestors. C.G. Young speaks of the collective unconscious, others speak of the curse (cf. Greek myths and legends) that weighs on a gender from the past.The reincarnation model wants to explain why we are influenced by the past.

For Christians However, this is not an absolute necessity, because there is always that too Forgiveness and the new beginning that God gives us. Reincarnation therapy, which takes people back to previous lives, sees green as an escape from present reality.


In Hinduism (in contrast to Buddhism) there is also belief in the personal rebirth of man. What does Hinduism mean by that? Hinduism is fascinated by Thoughts of all-unity. The world is only an appearance. It is only real insofar as it is in the all-one absolute, in the Brahma, partake. The souls that have existed from eternity now go from a decaying body into a new womb and are reborn again.

With this teaching, Hinduism wants to answer the question of just retribution (karma). If a person suffers, it has reasons in his previous existence and this debt has to be paid off.

Christianity gave the liberating answer of Jesus' atoning death to the question of appropriate retribution. Even if the term atonement is burdened for us today, the early Church thus has the eternal one The cycle of guilt and atonement broken.

On the other hand, Hinduism with its doctrine of reincarnation wants to emphasize the priority of the spiritual over the material. (quite platonic) The real thing is the eternal soul, which incarnates again and again. Grün thinks that one can learn from Hinduism the passion for divine purification and transformation. God himself should appear pure in the image of creation and in the image of man.

Overall, however, Grün regards God's effectiveness in reincarnation theory too small and overestimates the will of man, who believes that he is developing ever higher through asceticism and meditation, so that he is transformed into God in death. Besides, the Reincarnation shaped by legal thinkingthat does not conform to the spirit of the gospel.