Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby walkart » Mon Jun 02, 2014 12:48 pm

Because birth is a conditioned selfless phenomena, all conditioned selfless phenomena are impermanent, all what is impermanent is dukkha.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Mon Jun 02, 2014 7:12 pm

Hi Spiny, everyone,

CORRECTION.

The passage translated by Nanananda which I identified as being from SN 12.38 is actually
from SN 12.40.

My apologies for the error, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Virgo » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:38 am

From the Visuddhimagga:

(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/PathofPurification2011.pdf):

Birth itself is suffering:

    XVI
    37.When this being is born in the mother’s womb, he is not born inside a blue or
    red or white lotus, etc., but on the contrary, like a worm in rotting fish, rotting dough,
    cesspools, etc., he is born in the belly in a position that is below the receptacle for
    undigested food (stomach), above the receptacle for digested food (rectum)
    , between
    the belly-lining and the backbone, which is very cramped, quite dark, pervaded by
    very fetid draughts redolent of various smells of ordure, and exception-ally
    loathsome.11 And on being reborn there, for ten months he undergoes excessive
    suffering, being cooked like a pudding in a bag by the heat produced in the mother’s
    womb, and steamed like a dumpling of dough, with no bending, stretching, and so
    on. So this, firstly, is the suffering rooted in the descent into the womb.

and

Before 37 there is 36:

Birth is the beginning of, and leads to much suffering:

    36. Herein, this birth is suffering because it is the basis for the suffering in the
    states of loss as made evident by the Blessed One by means of a simile in the
    Bálapaóðita Sutta (M III 165f.), etc., and for the suffering that arises in the happy
    destinies in the human world and is classed as “rooted in the descent into the
    womb,” and so on. [500]

Of course, the whole section on birth is very useful and should be read by the wise.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:37 am

I recall that at one time a therapy called "rebirthing" was quite popular - I think the idea was to overcome the suppressed or forgotten trauma of one's original birth or something. I never did it so I don't know if it works. ;)
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:48 am

Billy Conolly (A well-known Glaswegian comedian) went through such a process on his travel round the globe.... I don't think he found it very...effective. It caused much mirth, and he found it difficult to take seriously, although he tried.

He is also fond of stripping completely naked - as the day he was born - in remote, almost-inaccessible places, and running around like a wild banshee whooping at the top of his lungs.

A type of 'reverting to early childhood' I guess.....
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:17 pm

Hi everyone,

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the last section of SN 12.40

"But, bhikkhus, when one does not intend, and one does not plan, and one does not have a tendency towards anything, no basis exists for the maintenance of consciousness.
When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is unestablished and does not come to growth, there is no inclination. When there is no inclination, there is no coming and going.
When there is no coming and going, there is no passing away and being reborn.
When there is no passing away and being reborn, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering. 117"

[BB, CDB, page 578, part of SN 12.40 - Volition (3).]

When there is no passing away and being reborn - of what? Of a self.

When there is no moment-by-moment passing away and being reborn of a self, then there is no longer a self.

No self that was born at the start of this life. No self that will die at the end of this life.

No previous lives of that self. No future lives of that self.

So no future birth, aging-and-death of that self.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:40 pm

Hi everyone,

A long thread, perhaps hard to follow for some. What have we learnt?

I think that I see a basic principle of the teachings more clearly than before, it is this:

Present craving results in future suffering. To end the future suffering one must end present craving.

The first noble truth, the truth of suffering, is always about future suffering.

The second truth, the truth of the origination of suffering, speaks of "this craving which results in renewed existence."

Self existence is suffering, So renewed self existence is renewed suffering.

Every noble disciple clearly sees this process, and therefore sees "rebirth" occurring continuously. Stopping it is enlightenment.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Kusala » Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:45 am

Spiny Norman wrote:If we have no memory of being born, then why is it included in descriptions of dukkha?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... ukkha.html


...because birth ultimately ends in death.

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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Wed Jun 04, 2014 1:27 pm

(Is that Freddie Mercury, in the foreground of the adult phase....? :jawdrop: )

:tongue:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:33 pm

vinasp wrote: For the ordinary man "birth" is understood to mean rebirth, which he fears.
For the noble disciple "birth" is the birth or origination of self-view (atta-ditthi).


I still don't think you've presented a coherent argument for this interpretation. In the suttas self-view comes across as a deep-seated underlying tendency, not something which is continually "reborn".
I think you could say that craving is continually "reborn", though it's simpler to say that it continually re-occurs. Also it feels very clumsy to talk about craving "ageing" and "dying", particularly because the aim of practice is for craving to age and die!
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:50 pm

vinasp wrote: Every noble disciple clearly sees this process, and therefore sees "rebirth" occurring continuously. Stopping it is enlightenment.


Have a look at the section on mundane and noble Right View in MN117. The difference here is in the noble disciple's strength of discernment - there is nothing about the noble disciple rejecting mundane Right View or deciding to view rebirth as a metaphor. What's being described here is a progression from mundane to noble right view, they're not mutually exclusive.

"And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view[1] in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:06 pm

It's probably a late section; the format of the two views mimics a distinction in a later Upanisad which depicts two post-death routes for folk (the northern & southern routes per the Prashna Upanisad: one uses merit and leads to the land of the ancestors & rebirth, the other seeks the Soul and immortality).

In the Sutta, however, the householder lifestyle of merit & rebirth is contrasted, not with atta, but anatta and sammaditthi and so forth - a clear massage of a prevailing cultural dichotomy according to Buddhist values.

Alongside other scholars already considering this passage late for various reasons, but especially due to the Prashna U., I'm of a mind to consider that it's a later bit of pedagogical reflection, and worth considering carefully - though, not worth absorbing, since most/all modern cultures don't have this dichotomy as an inherent feature (and, therefore, making a teaching which uses that dichotomy require contextual information not automatically present for us these days).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby chownah » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:13 pm

Spiny Norman,
Can you make an analysis of rebirth taken as a quality as a factor for awakening?
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:05 pm

Hi Spiny,

vinasp wrote:
"For the ordinary man "birth" is understood to mean rebirth, which he fears.
For the noble disciple "birth" is the birth or origination of self-view (atta-ditthi)."

Spiny:-"I still don't think you've presented a coherent argument for this interpretation...."

You are correct. I changed my understanding as the thread progressed and so changed my arguments accordingly. What I would say now is:

"For the ordinary man "birth" is understood to mean literal rebirth, which he fears."

And as for this statement:
"For the noble disciple "birth" is the birth or origination of self-view (atta-ditthi)."

In the original context I was using "birth" in a figurative way to mean the emergence of self-view. But for an adult bhikkhu that would also be in the past and therefore not included in the suffering meant by the first truth.

So, while self-view does emerge, and it's emerging can be called "birth", I do not now think that the noble disciple sees that as part of the suffering meant by the first truth.

Spiny:-"In the suttas self-view comes across as a deep-seated underlying tendency, not something which is continually "reborn"......"

I think you are confusing my earlier and later explanations. I may be partly at fault in this - of course.

There is at least one sutta which says that all views are a constructive activity (sankhara).

My understanding is that "self" is continuously re-created, that is why it persists, and why it seems to be stable.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:14 pm

I am still wondering about this comment and possible discussion based thereon.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:19 pm

Hi Spiny,

Spiny:"Have a look at the section on mundane and noble Right View in MN117.
The difference here is in the noble disciple's strength of discernment"

Discernment is spoken of in the context of "the right view that is noble, without asavas, transcendent ...", for me, this is talking about an Arahant. Perhaps we differ in our interpretation.

Spiny:- there is nothing about the noble disciple rejecting mundane Right View

Of course not. Ordinary right view is what the noble disciple has.

Spiny:- or deciding to view rebirth as a metaphor.

Right view may involve understanding rebirth in a figurative way.

Spiny:-"What's being described here is a progression from mundane to noble right view, they're not mutually exclusive."

That is your interpretation.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby SDC » Thu Jun 05, 2014 5:03 am

I'll bump it up for you, Dave.

Sam Vara wrote:One might pose the same question regarding death: why is it dukkha, given that I'm not experiencing it now? Depending on circumstances, one might ask the same of any other the things which are identified as being dukkha.


Good point, Sam.

Death, like birth, is dukkha because we ARE experiencing it now. We’ll spend far more time experiencing the idea of, the prospect of, the meaning of, and the significance behind our impending death throughout this very life – along with any subsequent anxiety, fear, worry – than we will when it actually happens. These objective perspectives of birth and death as solely the actual event – while quite popular – completely disregard the extremely significant role which birth and death play in the present - as we are relentlessly aware of them as the two principal occurrences which represent the beginning and end of the existence of this SELF; beyond each of which lies a darkness and a nothingness with no end in sight. In comparison, the actual events seem very impersonal and only serve to state the obviousness about them. This knowledge, IMVHO, is borderline intangible when it comes to the pursuit of nibbana in this very life because it does not deal with the pain we are currently in NOW. Like right now as you read this. So why would it be the included in the first noble truth? What noble truth explains my current pain about birth and death?

Yes, Spiny, I know the sutta translations SAY otherwise, but here it just doesn't add up.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:13 am

daverupa wrote:I am still wondering about this comment and possible discussion based thereon.


Yes, that would be interesting. Actually I'm not suggesting that birth is being described only as a purely physical event, what I'm challenging is the idea that birth is being described as a purely psychological event. So I'd suggest the debate here is psycho-physical v. purely psychological, not physical v. psychological.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:17 am

vinasp wrote:Spiny:-"What's being described here is a progression from mundane to noble right view, they're not mutually exclusive."
That is your interpretation.


Clearly a distinction is being made in MN117 between mundane and noble right view, but reading the sutta I don't see any evidence that they are mutually exclusive or that noble right view involves seeing rebirth in a metaphorical way. It looks to me more like a progression from intellectual understanding to direct insight/experience.

Elsewhere in the suttas Right View is described in terms of understanding the meaning of the 4 Noble Truths, but of course that involves understanding the meaning of dukkha ( 1st truth ) and the meaning of DO ( the elaboration of the 2nd truth ). "Birth" is included in both of these.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:22 am

vinasp wrote: My understanding is that "self" is continuously re-created, that is why it persists, and why it seems to be stable.


I still don't see how self-view can be something that is continuously "reborn", since it involves a deep-seated and habitual assumption of identity with the aggregates.

See for example here in MN109:

Saying, "Very good, lord," the monk... asked him a further question: "Lord, how does self-identity view come about?"
"There is the case, monk, where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.
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