In four chapters, the book leads readers through:
the presentation of rebirth in the earliest Buddhist sources and the way it relates to core doctrine,
the debates about rebirth throughout Buddhist history and up to modern times, including the role of confirmation bias in the evaluation of evidence,
the current research on rebirth, including near-death experiences, past-life regression, and childhood recollection of previous lives,
and an examination of a particular case of xenoglossy, the ability to speak languages one has not been taught. As a very young boy, the Sri Lankan Dhammaruwan would chant Pāli-language scriptures that he had not apparently learned in his present life.
Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research brings together the many strands of the debate on rebirth in one place, making it both comprehensive and compact. It is not a polemic but an interrogation of the evidence, inviting readers to draw their own conclusions.
“From his unique perspective as an academic scholar and a monastic, Bhikkhu Anālayo provides a thorough explanation of the early Buddhist doctrine of rebirth and the debates about it in ancient India and early imperial China, as well as a judicious analysis of various phenomena that some people have taken to be evidence for rebirth. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in these fascinating topics.”
—Evan Thompson, author of Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy