King Yama

Anonymous asked May 14, 2015
Hello Bhante, I would like to ask a Dhamma question. Is it true that all human beings after they die they have to face Lord Yama in order to be judged prior to rebirth? In many Buddhist countries, it is believed that all human beings whether they will be born as a deva, human, animal, ghost, etc. they have to face Lord Yama first and judged before they are born into those realms. In Devaduta Sutta, it is said that Lord Yama judges the already dead human being and punishes them. But in Theravada it is said that dead people take rebirth instantly but how can they are judged if they take rebirth instantly?   How am I supposed to understand it Bhante? Thanks for your answer.   Regards, Steve  

1 answer

Dear Steve According to the early teachings of the Buddha recorded in the Pali canon, there is no body who decides or controls rebirth of beings. It is our own mind gets established in other forms due to its craving for self-identity. Craving for existence (Bhava tanha) functions as the main factor for rebirth. However, it is our karma that decides what kind of rebirth we will have. Through our volitional actions, we fashion or shape our consciousness. Depending on what kind of consciousness we fashioned, there will be an appropriate rebirth. What really happens here is that consciousness of unenlightened beings will grasp a form that it can express itself. There is no need for an external judge.   General belief among Buddhists in Chinese cultures that every body has to go through a series of courts before getting rebirth is an adaptation of cultural beliefs of pre-Buddhist China.  What is found in the Devaduta sutta is not about all beings who die but about beings who are already born into hell realm. If we can fashion our consciousness with good deeds without degrading our humanity, our consciousness will get established it a good realm. But the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice is to gradually transcend the craving for self-identity. So that the consciousness will not attach anywhere into any realm.    
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