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September 17

The King Milinda once asked the Buddhist sage Nagasena: “When someone is reborn, is he the same as the one who just died, or is he different?”

Nagasena replied: “He is neither the same nor different. . . . Tell me, if a man were to light a lamp, could it provide light the whole night long?”

“Yes.”

“Is the flame then which burns in the first watch of the night the same as the one that burns in the second . . . or the last?”

“No.”

“Does that mean there is one lamp in the first watch of the night, another in the second, and another in the third?”

“No, it’s because of that one lamp that the light shines all night.”

“Rebirth is much the same: One phenomenon arises and another stops, simultaneously. So the first act of consciousness in the new existence is neither the same as the last act of consciousness in the previous existence, nor is it different.”



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