Every birth is conditioned by a past good or bad karma (action) which predominates at the moment of death. Our forms are only the outward manifestation of the invisible karmaic force, and this force carries with it all our characteristics which usually lie latent, but may rise to the surface at unexpected moments. The death of a person is merely the temporary end of a temporary phenomenon, the present from perishing and another taking its place in accordance with the thought that was most powerful at the death moment.
Although the organic life ceases, the force which hitherto actuated it is not destroyed; just as electric light is only the outward visible manifestation of invisible electric energy, even so are we only the outward manifestation of invisible karmaic energy. When the electric light bulb breaks, the light is extinguished but the current remains, and light again becomes manifest upon concurrence with another suitable bulb. In the same way the karmaic force remains entirely undisturbed by the disintegration of the physical vehicle.
According to Buddhism the continuity of flux at death is unbroken in point of time, and there is no breach in the stream of consciousness. The only difference between the passing of one thought moment to another, and of the dying thought moment to the rebirth consciousness, is that in the former case the change is invisible and in the latter case a marked perceptible death is visible.
Rebirth is instantaneous. You may ask, “Is the place always ready to receive this rebirth?” The answer is that in the same way as a point in the ground is always ready to receive the falling stone, so there is always an appropriate place to receive the rebirth which is conditioned by kamma.
The true Buddhist regards death as a momentary incident between one life and its successor, and views its approach with calmness. His only concern is that his future should be such that the conditions of that life may provide him with better opportunities for perfecting himself. Holding, as he does, the great doctrine of karma, he perceives that it is within his power to alter or modify the quality of the life force that continues in the next birth, and that his future environment will depend entirely on what he does now, his behavior in this as well as in his previous lives.