The Blessed one has never made any statement about the intermediate state (antarabhava). If He had said something about a bhava, He would have stated about punabbhava (a birth in a new existance). Did the Buddha preach a raincarnation? No. What is reincarnation? Reincarnation (Skrt: punarāvṛtti) refers to a concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical form. It is also called rebirth or transmigration. The word punabbhava has a completely diffetent meaning than the word raincarnation. Punabbhava means a birth in a new existance, in endless cycles called saṃsāra. It may also be called as rebirth.
If there is an intermediate state between the two bhavas (states of existance), it leads indirectly believing in a soul which contradicts with basic buddhist prinsiple of anatta (not a soul/not-self).
Rūpaṃ, bhikkhave, aniccaṃ. yadaniccaṃ taṃ dukkhaṃ; yaṃ dukkhaṃ tadanattā; yadanattā taṃ ‘Netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attāti.
Mendicants, form is impermanent. What’s impermanent is suffering. What’s suffering is not-self. And what’s not-self should be truly seen with right understanding like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ (SN 22.12)
tadanattā |taṃ + anattā|
taṃ - that
anattā - (n. and predicative adj.) not a soul, without a soul. Most freq. in combn. with dukkha & anicca
May also be noted as non-self, not-self, etc. (Read also, PTS dictionary, pp 28.)
"na meso attā" would rather be translated as - this is not my soul (skrt: ātman).
Notes: na meso attā > |na eso me attā|
Na - a negator
Eso has base *e; where it means “this”.
Etad (pron. adj.) [Vedic etad, of pron. base *e; see Walde, Lat. Wtb. under equidem] demonstr. pron. “this”, with on the whole the same meaning and function as tad, only more definite and emphatic. Declined like tad.
Me- to me; my; mine;
attā - Attan (m.) & atta (the latter is the form used in compn.) [Vedic ātman] The soul as postulated in the animistic theories held in N India in the 6th and 7th cent. B. C. (PTS Dictionary)
In the Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya sutta, it is stated that a Buddhist monk called Sāti who lived in Buddha’s day also developed this misconception.
Sāti, what is that consciousness?”
“Sir, it is he who speaks and feels and experiences the results of good and bad deeds in all the different realms.”
“Silly man, who on earth have you ever known me to teach in that way? Haven’t I said in many ways that consciousness is dependently originated, since consciousness does not arise without a cause? But still you misrepresent me by your wrong grasp, harm yourself, and make much bad karma. This will be for your lasting harm and suffering.”
If there is a intermediate state, does it subjected to paticcasamuppāda (dependent origination)?
Dependant origination is the principle that explains why there is no soul or self. Ever since, the dependant origination is a continuum of events, there should not be a pause from one life to another. According to commentaries, last thought of current life is called cuti citta (thought of passing away) and the first thought of new life is called patisandhi citta (the thought of reunion).
There are two phrases that represents birth of a being in the Pattichsamuppada discourses,
These texts does not show that the astrel/ mind body of the dead remains elsewhere for a certain time and later conceives in a mothers womb. It is a perversion of the Buddhists’ Patticcasamuppada doctrine to say that the body of the deceased leaves a strange body and floats in the sky. However, if there is a intermediate state, there should be a way to the existance of dependent origination in intermediate state. How to explain this?
As argued in katavattu, there are only three realms to be born, and as long as intermediate state does not belong to any of these realms, there could not be an intermediate state. There are many other arguments in Katavattu.
Evidence for three realms,
Does Kutuhalasala Sutta support the intermediate state?
Vaccha, I declare that there is rebirth for one with fuel [with grasping], not for one without fuel [without grasping]. Vaccha, just as fire burns with fuel, not without fuel, even so, Vaccha, I declare that there is rebirth for one with fuel [with grasping], not for one without fuel [without grasping].’
Vaccha, when a flame is tossed by the wind and goes a long way, I declare that it is fuelled by the air. For, Vaccha, at that time, the air is the fuel.’
When someone who is attached has laid down this body, Vaccha, and has not been reborn in one of the realms, I say they’re fueled by craving. For craving is their fuel then.”
Explaination by Ven. Sujato,
It is not really possible to draw any conclusions about the length of time in the in-between state. While a fire is burning normally, it is sustained by a complex of factors, such as fuel, oxygen, and heat. But when a tongue of flame is momentarily tossed away from the source fire, it can last only a short while, and in that time it is tenuously sustained by the continued supply of oxygen. Similarly in our lives, we are sustained by food, sense stimulus, and so on, but in the in-between, it is only the slender thread of craving that propels us
forward. (REBIRTH AND THE IN-BETWEEN STATE IN EARLY BUDDHISM - Bhikkhu @sujato)
This Sutta doesn’t necessarily mean there is an intermediate state, but the craving (taṇhā) is the fuel.
This idea is backed by AN6.61. Lets accept the fact that there may be an intermediate state, nonetheless, the argument can also be made to the other direction.
Similar to the fire in the sutta, in our lives, we are sustained by food, sense stimulus, and so on, as explained by Ven. Sujato.
Lets asume there is no in-between state,
Saupādānassa khvāhaṃ, vaccha, upapattiṃ paññāpemi no anupādānassa
I declare that there is rebirth for one with fuel [with grasping], not for one without fuel [without grasping].
According to above sentence, rebirth occurs only to a being with grasping/fuel, not for a being without fual (arahant). Therefore, the Blessed One explains what is the driving force of rebirth or saṃsāra.
Simile is used to explain the driving force of rebirth, which is a tongue of flame. When a tongue of flame is tossed away from the source fire, what keeps it alive is a continuous supply of air (oxygen). Similarly craving (tanhā) is the link between one existance to another (upādāna). If the flame was in a vaccum there is no supply of oxygen to the fire, then the flame could be extinguished, similarly, when there is no craving there wont be another birth.
Similar explaination can be found in Majjesutta:
taṇhā sibbinī; taṇhā hi naṃ sibbati tassa tasseva bhavassa abhinibbattiyā.
Craving is the seamstress, for craving weaves one to rebirth in this or that state of existence. (AN 6.61)
Note: Lack of information in EBTs led different buddhist sects and theories to arise. Phenomena such as the mechanism of kamma, memory, origin and existance of life and the universe, etc canot be explained clearly using EBTs. After few centuries of the Buddha’s parinibbāna, some bhikkus created new theories to explain unexplained parts of dhamma where they touched extremes.