Excerpt from: K Sri Dhammananda's "Do you believe in Rebirth"
The craving to unravel Rebirth among various communities
Buddhism regards the doctrine of Rebirth not as a mere theory but as a verifiable fact. The belief in rebirth forms a fundamental tenet of Buddhism. However, the belief in rebirth is not confined to Buddhists and Asia; it is also found in other countries, in other religions, and even among free thinkers.
Pythagoras and Plato could remember their previous lives. According to Plato, man can be reborn only up to 10 times. Plato also believed in the possibility of rebirth in animal kingdom.
Among the ancient people in Egypt and China, a common belief was that only well known personalities like emperors and kings have rebirths.
A well known Christian authority name Origen, who lived during 185 to 254 A.D., believed in rebirth. According to him, there is no eternal suffering in hell.
Gorana Bruno, who lived in the sixteenth century, believed that the soul of every man and animal transmigrates from one being to another.
In 1788, a well known philosopher, Kant, criticized eternal punishment. Kant also believed in the possibility of rebirth in other celestial bodies.
Schopenhauer (1788-1860), another great philosopher said that where the will to live existed, there must be of necessity life.
The Buddha explained this ‘will do exist’ as the craving for existence.
Read about the real rebirth cases from India and Sri Lanka
So what exactly causes rebirth?
The teachings of Buddha who died around 483 BCE was recorded and explains that “when the physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which some people call another life.” The westerners recognized this theory only after 2000 years later where science begins to revolutionize the world and that is, in westerner scientific point of view, one of the most fundamental laws of nature, the first law of thermodynamics, states that the energy of a system can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. Buddhism terms this state of energy as the Kammic force. This force will manifest itself in the form of human being or in the form of animal. The Kammic force is inclusive of craving, desire, volition and thirst to live and these forces does not end with the non-functioning of the body but continues to manifest itself in another form, with the co operation of existing cosmic energies, producing re-existence which is rebirth. So are you one of the believers??