To Buddhists, this means that the child regresses back to its former nature in order to ready for a new birth. The Buddhist idea of continuous rebirth is essential to the Japanese Buddhist view of abortion as it provides reconciliation for the killing of the child. Instead of terminating the life of the child, it is permitted to say that the soul of the child remains intact, while the form or body is all that has been terminated. In this way, Japanese women who have abortions are able to Justify their non-Buddhist actions ith the belief that the child will be reborn again.
In Buddhism, life begins at the union of three stages: the sexual union of mother and father, the beginning of the mother’s fertile period, and childbirth itself. 2 Buddhism proclaims that a fetus is not merely a fetus, but is a human that at all stages of development possesses the ability to form emotions”even the fetus is the form of the soul. In addition, the first precept of Buddhism explicitly states, “l will not willingly take the life of another human being” and exemplifies the compassionate nature of Buddhism. This is an obvious contrast between traditional Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism.
By placing the child “on hold” through the use of abortions, Japanese parents often feel continually remorseful because the soul is trapped in samsara. To cope with this, Japanese Buddhists adopted many rituals for the mizuko kuy that arose from conventional Buddhist values. 4 Clergy members provide services on a daily basis and involve the parents and family of the aborted child reciting traditional Mahayana scripture. 5 The ceremonies are imperative as they provide the parents with the pportunity to accrue merit in order to transfer it to their deceased child so that the child may be reborn into the human realm again.
In reciting Buddhist texts, the families of the children are reinforcing their Buddhist morals. While performing something that does not align with conventional Buddhism, the procuring of merit and oration of Buddhist word brings the family closer to the religious beliefs, forcing also serves a purpose in adhering to traditional Buddhism. In addition to reciting orthodox Buddhist scriptures, the publicized ceremony forces those involved to feel guilt as an overarching emotion. The Buddhist community welcomes the feelings of guilt as it signifies one is still mentally intact after a drastic event like an abortion.
William LaFleur argues, “Guilt is a gratifying testimony to the perdurance of a humanizing sensitivity still at the center of the self. “6 The emotion of guilt in Buddhism is taken to be a positive factor in ones self assessment after mizuko kuyo, a reflection of their compassion and humanity. Compassion and humanity are at the forefront of Buddhism and because mizuko kuy