Digest of terms
belief that this life is one of a continuing or endless series of lives, either in this world or some other realm or realms. The belief has been found in numerous religions and cultures throughout history, but today is probably best known in religions of Indian origin (samsara). Some prefer to reserve 'reincarnation' for use in connection with Hinduism, with its belief in an eternal soul, atman, which strives through countless lives to attain ultimate liberation, moksha; and 'rebirth' for use in connection with Buddhism, with its distinctive no-soul doctrine, anatta, according to which a person is constituted by an endless series of momentary rebirths both in this life and in every other, with the aim of ultimate liberation, nirvana/nibbana. However, the distinction remains a fluid one. Evidence for reincarnation is claimed from cases of apparent memories of past lives here on earth, while critics dismiss these as unreliable.