Fritz Agency
Published by
Wisdom Publications (April 2018)
Current material
Religion & beliefs


by Analayo, Bhikkhu

Join a rigorous scholar and Buddhist monk on a brisk tour of rebirth from ancient doctrine to contemporary debates.

German Buddhist monk and university professor Bhikkhu Analayo had not given much attention to the topic of rebirth before some friends asked him to explore the treatment of the issue in early Buddhist texts. This succinct volume presents his findings, approaching the topic from four directions. The first chapter examines the doctrine of rebirth as it is presented in the earliest Buddhist sources and the way it relates to core doctrinal principles. The second chapter reviews debates about rebirth throughout Buddhist history and up to modern times, noting the role of confirmation bias in evaluation of evidence. Chapter 3 reviews the merits of current research on rebirth, including near-death experience, past-life regression, and children who recall previous lives. The chapter concludes with an examination of xenoglossy, the ability to speak languages one has not learned previously, and chapter 4 examines the particular case of Dhammaruwan, a Sri Lankan boy who chants Pali texts that he does not appear to have learned in his present life. Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research brings together the many strands of the debate on rebirth in one place, making it both comprehensive and compact. It is not a polemic but an interrogation of the evidence, and it leaves readers to come to their own conclusions.

Bhikkhu Analayo was born in 1962 in Germany and ordained in 1995 in Sri Lanka, where he completed a PhD on the Satipatthana-sutta in 2000. He next completed a habilitation research in Germany in 2007, in which he compared the Majjhima-nikaya discourses with their Chinese, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, and Tibetan counterparts. At present Bhikkhu Analayo is a professor of Buddhist Studies; his main research area is early Buddhism, with a particular focus on the topics of the Chinese Agamas, Buddhist meditation, and women in Buddhism. Besides his academic pursuits, he regularly teaches meditation. He presently resides at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts, where he spends most of his time in silent meditation retreat.

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