Is rebirth always existed?

I propose a reflection aroused by the fact, widely accepted by biologists, that life on planet Earth isn’t always existed.

Kamma is voluntary action, which produces results in accordance with his moral quality, determining the positivity (divine or human rebirth) or negativity of rebirth (i.g. hellish rebirth). But in the history of the life on Earth faculty of will isn’t always existed: so we have to deduce that even the rebirth determined by kamma isn’t always existed? If so, than isn’t true that saṃsāra is without beginning, for it would have as starting point the moment of arose strong-willed ability in living beings (and not even in all!).

All acts of consciousness require volition. The perception process has volition inseparably bound up within it. The point is to exercise wise attention.

" “Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of wrong view. Which two? The voice of another and inappropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of wrong view.”
“Monks, there are these two conditions for the arising of right view. Which two? The voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view.”

—Anguttara Nikaya 2, 125-6

“The voice of another” includes reading which builds the dhamma knowledge facilitating acts of appropriate attention to be made, and consequently the progressive development of right view (Majjhima Nikaya 117). Appropriate attention develops right view through recognition of the benefits that flow from it.

"The Blessed One said, “Monks, before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: ‘Why don’t I keep dividing my thinking into two sorts?’ So I made thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness one sort, and thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with harmlessness another sort.”

An act of appropriate attention and right effort:

"“As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others… to the affliction of both… it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence.”


"“And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding.”

Majjhima Nikaya 19

1 Like

The Buddha said samsara is without a discernible beginning or first point.

But of course, in Buddhism, the cosmology of the universe goes way back before the Big Bang, with universes expanding and contracting and then expanding again with no discernible beginning.

Sentient beings may not have existed on Earth however many millions/billions of years ago, but according to buddhist cosmology, they did exist prior to that (maybe elsewhere in the universe(?)), and therefore, so did kamma.

Anyway, that’s my understanding:)


Why do you say that faculty of will isn’t always existed? There is will in every living being from smallest of animal to largest of beings. Nobody lives without having will. Take for example there is difference between will of humans and animals, we(as human beings) have many other faculties through which we can modify our will whereas animals do not have such faculties hence they cannot modify their will to live, they are bound to their will till they exhaust their karmic retributions. Craving for existence is what can be called as ‘will’, which is there in every living being.

No I don’t think we can deduce that. It would be wrong deduction. Rebirth is there since beginning less time. It is craving to live and desire to experience various sensations, that is what is existing from beginning less time. Hence for ordinary individual who is not stream-enterer there is infinite past lives and future lives.

Yes samsara is without beginning and end. It is like mathematical formula. As long as three poisons(craving, ill will & hatred) are there samsara is there. These three poisons cause continuous rebirths and sufferings. Now for example …don’t think about yourself, just think about these three poisons, do you think they are with beginning? Answer is that - they are without beginning and without end. We take birth based on these three poisons hence we also have no beginning and no end. Now if we try to destroy these three poisons(which is the purpose of dhamma) then only this beginning less process of rebirth can come to halt/stop.

Sorry, but I don’t see the attinence of your message with my question. Could you explain your think better about it?

Yeah, but if a first point of samsara is untrovauble means that too the process of rebirth is without beginning. But the contemporary science talks of a beginning - relative or absolute is still matter of discussion - of the universe and certainly the life can’t existing from the first time of universe life, for the extreme conditions that characterized it at the start. So, if life don’t exist coextensively to the universe life, there was a long period devoid of rebirth and also when life appeared is the same thing until didn’t arose the faculty of will in living beings.

Good point! But the objection could be: contemporary astronomy tell us that the life in the universe (even admitting his cyclic nature) doesn’t exist from the first moment, so must be existed a relatively long phase in which rebirth was absent. And even when the life arosed, for taking place rebirth process we must wait sentient beings with the faculty of will.

Easy: because, as I said above, life in the universe doesn’t exist from the beginning. It’s a successive development. And the rising of faculty of will is a development still later.

Buddhists generally don’t believe that existence is limited to the physical universe that is the subject of physics. Thus they don’t run into the problem of reconciling rebirth with the apparent fact that this physical universe is likely to be inhospitable to life for most of its existence.

Some physicists don’t believe this is the only universe either (though obviously they’d reject that there are streams of consciousness jumping between physical universes).

1 Like

Yes it is successive development then there is successive regression/deterioration then again successive development then again successive regression/deterioration and this cycle is beginningless and endless. Cause for this is craving, which is given as 2nd noble truth. So till we realise 4 noble truths samsara & suffering continues to exist.

Phase where rebirth was absent yes there is always such phase at the start of world cycle then beings come down from higher form realms in other words because of exhaustion of their kamma they fall in below realms. There is also sutta where lord buddha describes how life on earth originates. In that sutta its stated that higher form realm beings who were luminous started to get attracted to each other’s appearance and hence division of gender started so subsequently it is described how they fall below and below till they reach human realm. So yes every time world cycle starts beings fall down and populate. Also when world cycle ends all humans go in higher form realms and then they live there for unimaginably long time…and till that time there is no rebirth as you stated but as even there life is not permanent, world cycle starts again.

Will to live operates when we are alive. At the start of world cycle beings are in upper form realms and they also have craving/will for existence and because of that only they are existing. Then they die but craving is not ended hence again because of their will to live, they take another birth. Hence will to live exists forever hence there are continuous rebirths.

As someone wrote in answer to you above, this does not take into account multiple universes expanding or contracting with no discernable beginning.

In any case, I don’t really think puzzling out the secrets of the universe will help with the elimination of dukkha, as tempting as it is to think about.

I’m studying philosophy at university, I delight in reflecting profoundly on the questions, even if in the case of buddhist doctrine this would be considered as lokacintā and acinteyya producing ummāda and vighāta. The idea of a multiplicity of universes is clearly stated in the Pali Canon or in later Pali works (such as the Visuddhimagga)? Even accepting this idea, the problem continues to be, because in each universe, singly considered, the rebirth would arising only when life reaches a level of complexity that allows intentional actions. Not to mention how consciousness could pass from one universe to another.

Best of luck with your studies.
Are you located in France?

(If you are able to answer the questions you’ve raised above you might receive the Nobel Prize for physics!)

I thought the claim was simply that a beginning is not discernable - which is not the same as claiming that there is no beginning.

Pragmatism seems key to me also. I don’t recall my first lungful of air, but what’s more useful is what I do with today’s air quota.


Nope, I’m italian and for this I’m excuse for my not very well English. I put effort for solve the question, 'cause I would like Nobel prize! :rofl: But honestly between Nobel prize and Nibbana I would choice the last one.

1 Like

Although this isn’t an official English word, we can deduce it means ‘unable to find’ ?


But there are suttas that seem to say that the samsara is really without beginning: i.g. the Gaddulabaddhasutta, where the Buddha claims “No first point is found of sentient beings roaming and transmigrating, shrouded by ignorance and fettered by craving” (translation by Bhikkhu Sujato). What do you think?

I’m sorry for my bad English. But yes, the meaning is “unable to find”.

1 Like