This study, focused on the Fayuan zhulin, is a part of a study to clarify the characteristics of Chinese Buddhism. In it I clarify how the Fayuan zhulin systematized the presentation of the idea of rebirth in the six realms. Then I consider how the rebirth theory was received and transformed in China.
The six realms idea was originally a generalized world-system based on the Sumeru model and was part of a karma-driven cycle. But in China, the six realms were regarded as a problem of soul rather than a porblem of karma. The subject of samsara changed from karma to a soul and a soul possesses the same figure and consciousness as individuals possess during their lifetime. Therefore the six realms are not isolated from this world, and a transmigrating soul continues having a relation with living beings.
The outlook on the six realms idea in Chinese Buddhism shows us the transformation from Indian cosmology into the Chinese view that a soul transmigrates and forms the world after death.