Dhamma Letter No. 36

Rebirth in the four forms


Rebirth in four forms

The Buddha described four forms of rebirth.

1. Birth from an egg (Pali: Aṇḍaja; 卵生)—like a bird, fish, or reptile.

2. Birth from a womb (Pali: Jalābuja; 胎生)—like most mammals, including humans.

3. Birth from moisture (Pali: Saṃsedaja; 濕生)— like maggots appearing in rotting flesh, born from animals whose eggs are microscopic.

4. Birth from transformation (Pali: Opapatika; 化生)—like deities and hell-born beings who materialize in that realm miraculously.

Birth (Jāti) is the eleventh link of the twelve-link chain of the paṭiccasamuppāda ("dependent arising" or "dependent origination"), where birth can refer both to rebirth (in terms of the next life) and to the arising of mental phenomena moment to moment (in terms of the ongoing principle of cause and effect).

When the term “birth” points to rebirth, it means it is conditioned by becoming some thing (bhava), and necessarily gives rise to old age and death (jarāmaraṇa) in a living being.  In the Abhidhamma, however, birth is treated as the arising of mental phenomena moment to moment.

In Majjima Nikaya 129, the Buddha used the discourse ‘Fools and Wise Men’ to explain how human beings die and are reborn. (For more understanding, please read Dhamma Letter No. 33 )

He said a fool has 3 characteristics:

Here a fool is one who thinks bad thoughts, speaks bad words, and does bad deeds.” He described the suffering in the realms of animal and hell beings into which a fool is reborn as a result of his evil deeds, and he used a variety of similes to aptly depict the horrors of the hells and the pitiful state of the animal realm. 

The Buddha said a wise man also has 3 characteristics:

“Here a wise man is one who thinks good thoughts, speaks good words, and does good deeds. A wise man who has given himself over to good conduct of body, speech, and mind, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappears in a happy destination, even in heaven.”

May you all cultivate good thoughts, good words, and good deeds for your long-lasting benefit hereafter!

May all beings be happy and well!

With Metta,

Ayyā Kosallā & Mahāpajāpatī Bhikkhunī Sangha


If you have any questions related to dhamma & meditation, please feel free to ask. You can reach Ayya Kosalla directly at Bhikkhuni.Kosalla@gmail.com . 

법에 대한 질문이 있으신 분은 위의 이메일 주소로 질문을 남겨주세요.

The Korean Dhamma Letter is here담마레터

Mahapajapati Monastery www.mahapajapati.org

For monastery updates, please see Mahapajapati’s Facebook.


Donate to Mahapajapati

Buddha Sāsanaṁ Ciraṁ Tiṭṭhatu! 
May the Buddha’s teachings last a long time!

​Bhavatu Sabba Sotiṁ ca Maṅgalaṁ ca!!  
May everyone be led on the path of peace and blessing!!

Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu !