Is There Buddhism Without Rebirth?
On July 19, 2015, at the invitation of UC Berkeley Center for Buddhist Studies in partnership with Khyentse Foundation and Siddhartha’s Intent Western Door, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche gave a talk entitled, “Is There Buddhism Without Rebirth?” on the UC Berkeley campus.
These days, many westerners view reincarnation as irrelevant to their engagement in Buddhism. Yet, for centuries, Buddhist texts have been filled with warnings about those who deny the existence of rebirth and the ethical ramifications of such views. How are we to understand such warnings? And if we discard what many consider to be “cultural trappings” to what is essential about Buddhism, what is left of a religion that teaches the lack of any independent existence?
In this talk, Rinpoche specifically addresses those Buddhists with materialistic, Abrahamic, or Brahmanic tendencies. Using the framework of relative truth and ultimate truth, Rinpoche expounds on how reincarnation fits the definition of valid relative truth, being usable on the relative level. Rinpoche also goes into detail about how, through Buddhist study, objects can be validated. Also covered in this talk are: the main purpose of Buddhist teachings, concepts of direct teaching vs. expositional teaching, and union of relative truth and ultimate truth.