[INDOLOGY] sources for the idea that reincarnation is a semi-random process?

Jeffery Long dharmaprof108 at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 19 20:34:38 UTC 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In addition to the work of Ian Stevenson, mentioned by Gleb Sharygin, I would add the ongoing work of Jim Tucker, Stevenson’s successor at the University of Virginia, who has sought to correct the elements of bias found in Stevenson’s research.

A noteworthy article in this regard, co-authored by Jonathan Edelmann and William Bernet, is “Setting Criteria for Ideal Reincarnation Research” (Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(12), December 2007). (I apologize if this has already been mentioned somewhere in this thread and I failed to notice it.)

All the best,

Dr. Jeffery D. Long
Professor of Religion and Asian Studies
Elizabethtown College
Elizabethtown, PA
Series Editor, Explorations in Indic Traditions: Ethical, Philosophical, and Theological
Lexington Books
“One who makes a habit of prayer and meditation will easily overcome all difficulties and remain calm and unruffled in the midst of the trials of life.”  (Holy Mother Sarada Devi)
“We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.” (Carl Sagan)

> On Nov 19, 2020, at 2:18 PM, Gleb Sharygin via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> "Buddha says that one should not think about the workings of karma(n), because it will drive them insane (because of complexity of the matter)"
> That is, one shouldn't obsessively try to unravel the precise mechanism of the karma(n) operation. In Buddhist teaching one of course should constantly think about their "karman", the actions that they do and the results they inherit.
> чт, 19 нояб. 2020 г. в 20:08, Gleb Sharygin <gleb.sharygin at gmail.com <mailto:gleb.sharygin at gmail.com>>:
>  Dear Dean, you wrote:
> "There might be approaches which could address such issues but most scientists are simply not interested. Many also feel that expressing an interest in this could hurt their scientific career.
> I'd be interested in other's thoughts about this."
> I know two serious attempts at scientific investigation of the matter of reincarnation/rebirth. First is of American (but Canadian-born) Professor of psychiatry Ian Stevenson, who analyzed many cases of remembrance of previous lifes and studied uncanny cases of inborn injuries or birthmarks on those areas of the bodies of supposedly reincarnated person, which were damaged due to their violent death in their "previous life/lives" (accident, murder etc.). Stevenson, being a scientist, tried to apply rigorous scientific methodology in his research, but, as the critics pointed out later, he still could not avoid bias in his research, so most of it is considered to be flawed. 
> A very recent attempt is that of ven. Bhikkhu Anālayo, a key figure in current scholarly research into early Buddhism. In his book "Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research" (2018), which I can highly recommend as an introduction to that area of inquiry, he takes up the research of Stevenson, provides a necessary theoretical background for the study of reincarnation and adds new empirical dimension to it: a philological one (!). He argues that a Sri Lankan boy, who at a very early age "remembered" his previous life as famous ancient Buddhist commentator Buddhaghosa, "remembered" the portions of the ancient Buddhist canon that are unique, having analyzed the tapes of the recitation of the canon by the said boy. 
> Regarding your initial question: as Prof. Rupert Gethin answered above: the Buddhist tradition (at least the Southern one) holds, that rebirth is (or may seem) random from the point of view of an unenlightened person (i.e. including our modern science and philosophy), but strictly determined from the point of view of the Buddha. I may add here that the Buddha says that one should not think about the workings of karma(n), because it will drive them insane (because of complexity of the matter).
> Kind regards,
> Gleb Sharygin
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