Buddhists believe in reincarnation. They believe that as a part of the Samsara life-and-death cycle, cats and dogs as well as other animals such as elephants and horses can potentially be reincarnated as humans. This leads some Buddhists to perform full funeral rites for their pets including prayers for forgiveness with the intention of giving them a better chance of returning to this world in a higher form.
As the photograph below shows, despite the beliefs of Buddhists in reincarnation which should stop people abusing animals, it seems not uncommon to abandon cats at Buddhist temples in Thailand for example where, I presume, they are meant to be looked after by the monks. But abandoning cats in this way must go against Buddhist principles and beliefs because it is an abuse of cats and if you abuse cats, you might return in your next life as a mouse, as I mentioned in the title to this page, and eaten.
My friend’s wife is a Thai woman and a Buddhist and she believes that if you harm a cat, you might come back as a mouse and be attacked by a cat. Therefore, she is kind to cats. Although I regret to say that I don’t think that she is and I hope that she does not read this! Anyway, it is not a good reason to be kind cats. We should be kind cats because we want to be kind to cats not because we are coerced into it!
I don’t believe in reincarnation because it can’t be proved scientifically for the simple reason that reincarnation takes place after death and it is impossible to scientifically measure and observe the transmigration of a person’s soul into a new infant or animal to live again after death. It is also impossible to scientifically observe the soul intrinsically. Therefore, there is no scientific proof that reincarnation takes place. All the evidence is based upon the first-hand experiences of people, often children who speak about their experiences in their past lives. Their stories often sound very credible which gives credence to the concept of reincarnation.
I agree that not everything that is true needs to be proved scientifically but in this instance it does if you are a nonbeliever. If you are a believer of reincarnation then nothing that science says will change your mind I suspect.
It is next to impossible to find a scientific paper on reincarnation online. There is one written by Ian Stevenson a devotee of the concept but it can’t be scientific. He wrote Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation which was published in 1974. Leonard Angel examined his claims and published his findings online. His conclusion was that Stevenson’s strongest example of reincarnation which was meant to have been verified by Stevenson, “falls apart under scrutiny as badly as [another example] does”. And because his best example does not stand up to scrutiny the others don’t either.
Dawkins comments on reincarnation enigmatically:
If you are reincarnated but have no memory trace of past life, in what sense was it you?
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) February 7, 2015
Perhaps the best critique of reincarnation is on the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science website. Richard Dawkins is a well-known UK biologist & writer, atheist and critical thinker on the subject of religion. One commenter on his website said something which I think is enlightening: “Don’t you find it suspicious that these Buddhist children recall past lives, though children from other faith systems do not? It’s an amazing coincidence in much the same way that only adherence to the Roman Catholic faith see visions (which look remarkably similar to the religious imagery in their churches). Protestants don’t see visions at all as it is not part of Protestant thinking or traditions. These children have been primed to recall past lives, me thinks.”
Perhaps the truth is that people can say and write anything but you don’t find double-blind studies which show that children can remember facts that they don’t know. The stories fail when they are looked at closely in the same way that paranormal activity does not stand up to really tough analysis and big cat sightings in the British countryside.
Reincarnation is faith-based. You just have to believe it or not. You won’t find detailed scientific evidence to support it and for that reason I don’t believe in it and therefore I don’t believe that if you harm a cat you might return as a mouse but then again, I would never harm a cat because I respect them as sentient beings and I don’t need a believe in reincarnation to make me respect animals.
I believe that reincarnation as a “construct” in the minds of people to help ease the difficulties of coming to terms with death. It makes life easier to deal with. It helps alleviate fear. It allows people a second chance to do things right the second time around. All of this soothes the fevered brow!
Below are some more articles on religion.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.