Bangkok Catholic Views on the Buddhist Concepts of Karma and Reincarnation


  • Francis Chan Mahidol University, Thailand


Bangkok Catholic, Buddhist Concepts, Karma, Rebirth


The idea karma, and the ensuing concept of rebirth, is central to Buddhism. It is something taken for granted in Buddhist societies, and scholars have long recognized this. For example, Étienne Lamotte, writing as early as in 1935, said, “The doctrine of the act, karman, is the keystone of the entire Buddhist edifice; the act is the ultimate explanation of existences and of the world.”

For Christianity, on the other hand, no such idea exists. It does not feature in its teachings; neither does it occur in conversations, unless those Christians are influenced by Buddhism, or any other religion or culture that has the idea of karma. What about Christian minorities in predominantly Buddhist societies? They would probably be familiar with the idea of karma. However, being familiar does not amount to accepting it, or believing in it. This article examines the views and attitudes of Bangkok Catholics on the issue of karma and rebirth.

The article will first look into the meaning of karma and its related conception – rebirth – and especially their meanings in Buddhism. Next, it will look into the attitudes of Thai Catholics, a tiny religious minority, toward karma and rebirth. This is done through qualitative interviews with a sample of Thai Catholics living in the Thai capital of Bangkok. Findings from the interviews will then be analyzed in terms of Catholic teachings and the significance of a Catholic minority living within a predominantly Buddhist society.


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How to Cite

Chan, F. (2022). Bangkok Catholic Views on the Buddhist Concepts of Karma and Reincarnation. Journal of International Buddhist Studies, 13(1), 01–10. Retrieved from