Basically we do not know much about what happens before and after life. Through the Twelve Nidanas, we can understand how we came to and leave this world, which affords us a better idea about the two ends of life. Although we have no clue as to what we were in the previous life, we know there were ignorance and karmic force; neither do we know where we will be in the next life, but there will be birth, old age and death. This much we know for sure.
If we do not wish to continue like this, we will need to stop the chain effect of the Twelve Nidanas. How can we do that? Can burning incense, performing prostrations and reciting mantras stop the interlinking effect? They can perhaps serve as one of the causes and conditions leading to that outcome, but not the key solution. What then is the most effective? Is it to cultivate compassion or to contemplate the impurities of the human body? Unfortunately, neither provides the solution to the task at hand which ultimately can only be dealt with via realization of emptiness. If such realization can be attained, all distant and proximate causes will cease, so will all distant and proximate effects. For example, if the foundation of a high-rise is shaky, the whole building will collapse. Likewise, once ignorance is eradicated, the building of ignorance-based samsara will also collapse.
~ Depicted from Luminous Wisdom Book Series : The Right View - The Twelve Nidanas