I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

I Believe in Literal Rebirth

Yes
43
57%
No
7
9%
Indifferent
8
11%
Undecided
10
13%
Meaning of Topic Unclear
7
9%
 
Total votes : 75

Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby octathlon » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:37 pm

octathlon wrote:"Anatta and Rebirth". :sage:

:twothumbsup:

I enjoyed this, will keep reading more of his stuff. Actually I realized that I have already read something of his-- I have his "Anapanasati" on my computer but only read it up through the description of the first tetrad. Stopped there feeling I wasn't ready to read further than that yet.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Vepacitta » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:44 pm

5heaps wrote:
Vepacitta wrote:Perhaps to discuss 'literal' rebirths is sort of besides the point that the Buddha was aiming at - it just leads down to 'self' - I, me and mine making.

talking about rebirth is as important as talking about anatta. one is the cause and effect of persons, the other is the ultimate truth of persons - theyre inseparable. that people cant even use words without affirming atta to some degree is... your problem.


Actually, I don't get bent out of shape about it - it doesn't bother me. I understand that they are doing their very best to speak about something ineffable, that is something to be known experientially. So, when someone says "a stream of consciousness" or "a continuum" - I understand what they're getting at - they are trying to avoid 'self". And not to toot my own horn, but I think my twist on it "tendencies carrying on - subject to rebirth" is pretty good.

BUT - in my opinion - whenever you try and speak about this in the positivist manner - you end up 'talking around self' - even though you don't mean to. I posted this above to Kenshou, I believe. There's the danger of getting into the concept of self. Hence the Buddha avoided it. :soap:

But it doesn't bother me - I just realise the limitations of language. If we could all do the vulcan mind meld this would be a LOT easier. (Where's that Spock smiley?)

And I can't believe noone laughed at my Trotsky post! C'mon folks - it's called humour - latest thing from Europe - try some! :D

:anjali:

Sun shiny here on Mt Meru today,

V.

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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Vepacitta » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:53 pm

Annapurna wrote:But then you can also say animals are human.



I've always said that animals are people with fur and fangs. You should talk with my cat someday! :D

He's with me right now at the computer - very curious as to what is going on.

V.

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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby EricJ » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:04 am

retrofuturist wrote:Another thing I forgot to mention (possibly because I hadn't finished my morning coffee :tongue: ) was that in the Brahmajala Sutta, 62 wrong views are enumerated and none of them are explicitly about "literal rebirth"-denial or "literal rebirth"-acceptance... they focus instead on variations of the wrong views of annihilationism (atman exists and is destroyed) or eternalism (atman exists and continues). Wrong view therefore pertaining primarily to any variety of atman-belief that does not recognise the truth of anatta.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Hi, Retro.

I read the Brahmajala Sutta today after reading your post. I would agree that that particular sutta focuses on wrong views which arise whenever the mind is set upon eternalistic or annhilationist views (and, in a wider sense, self-view), but, based on my readings of other suttas, I don't think that this is the sum total of wrong view. Rather, I think that the Brahmajala Sutta focuses on a specific category of wrong view: wrong view when associated with self-view, and, in the case of eternalism and semi-eternalism, denial of anicca.

Even in the Brahmajala Sutta (which lacks a specific identification of disbelief in rebirth with wrong view), however, the Buddha seems to assume the existence of and belief in rebirth. He doesn't deny that the yogins who hold wrong view have entered in to highly refined states of concentration which allow them to recall past lives. Rather, the wrong view arises from a wrong interpretation of a truth, which can be verified through bhavana and interpreted correctly through understanding of the Buddha's teaching and insight in to the way things are.

Saleyyaka Sutta, MN 41 wrote:And how are there three kinds of mental conduct not in accordance with the Dhamma, unrighteous conduct? Here someone is covetous: he is a coveter of another's chattels and property thus: 'Oh, that what is another's were mine!' Or he has a mind of ill-will, with the intention of a mind affected by hate thus: 'May these beings be slain and slaughtered, may they be cut off, perish, or be annihilated!' Or he has wrong view, distorted vision, thus: 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed, no fruit and ripening of good and bad kammas, no this world, no other world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously (born) beings, no good and virtuous monks and brahmans that have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.' That is how there are three kinds of mental conduct not in accordance with the Dhamma, unrighteous conduct...

And how are there three kinds of mental conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct...He has right view, undistorted vision, thus: 'There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed, and there is fruit and ripening of good and bad kammas, and there is this world and the other world and mother and father and spontaneously (born) beings, and good and virtuous monks and brahmans that have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declared this world and the other world.' That is how there are three kinds of mental conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.
Rejection of the concept of rebirth gives rise to a number of wrong views. For instance, it leads to the implication that there is no ripening of kamma. If, at death, there is no rebirth then how can the kamma that was created in the last moments of a person's life ripen? Furthermore, as Geoff has mentioned, what is the point in carrying on with a path which is essentially concerned with enlightened emancipation from dukkha, whenever one can merely die and be freed from suffering? How can a person "abandon" birth, aging and death (a common refrain throughout the suttas) without the notion of a continued process of birth, aging and death associated with kamma?

Practicing for the satisfaction of the here and now is fine and certainly an indispensible part of the path, but let's not forget that the Buddha taught us to dwell in the here and now as part of a path (which includes development of Right View) culminating in Unbinding.

Mula Sutta, AN 3.69 wrote:In the same way, in a person like this, evil, unskillful qualities born of greed... born of aversion... born of delusion have been abandoned, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. He dwells in ease right in the here-&-now — feeling unthreatened, placid, unfeverish — and is unbound right in the here-&-now.



Regards,
Eric
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:32 am

octathlon wrote:
octathlon wrote:"Anatta and Rebirth". :sage:

:twothumbsup:

I enjoyed this, will keep reading more of his stuff. Actually I realized that I have already read something of his-- I have his "Anapanasati" on my computer but only read it up through the description of the first tetrad. Stopped there feeling I wasn't ready to read further than that yet.


Hey Octathlon, this is just a suggestion, maybe you should read the heart-wood next: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm

extremely good read.

:namaste:
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:37 am

Sunrise wrote:Hey Octathlon, this is just a suggestion, maybe you should read the heart-wood next: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm

extremely good read.

Yes, it's a very good book which, as far as I can tell, doesn't deny rebirth...

Mike
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:55 am

I know the question is not directed at me but I felt like answering. Please ignore this if you are not interested :)

EricJ wrote:
Even in the Brahmajala Sutta (which lacks a specific identification of disbelief in rebirth with wrong view), however, the Buddha seems to assume the existence of and belief in rebirth. He doesn't deny that the yogins who hold wrong view have entered in to highly refined states of concentration which allow them to recall past lives.


He does not explicitly reject comments on it because that's not the point of the discussion. The point of the sutta is that such realizations (either eternalist or nihilist) have an underlying sense of self in them which is wrong view. Remove that and questions of rebirth will be irrelevant. The Buddha said "the eternalist assumes something is born again and again and the nihilist assumes something is annihilated." What the Buddha says is that there is no something. Thus questions of rebirth are irrelevant.

As for the meditative realizations of the brhmins , whoever knows their credibility?

EricJ wrote:Rejection of the concept of rebirth gives rise to a number of wrong views.


Rejection is not the same as indifference


EricJ wrote:For instance, it leads to the implication that there is no ripening of kamma. If, at death, there is no rebirth then how can the kamma that was created in the last moments of a person's life ripen?


Kamma and it's effects should not be speculated like "all bad/good deeds of this life should be punished/rewarded or returned. So if it didn't happen in this life it should happen in the next life" etc. This is unskillful and the Buddha himself advised against it.


EricJ wrote:Furthermore, as Geoff has mentioned, what is the point in carrying on with a path which is essentially concerned with enlightened emancipation from dukkha, whenever one can merely die and be freed from suffering?


You can practice for the here and now and leave rebirth aside as undecided right? It is unskillful for complete relinquishment to "believe" in a life after death.

EricJ wrote:How can a person "abandon" birth, aging and death (a common refrain throughout the suttas) without the notion of a continued process of birth


Then again this "common refrain throughout the suttas" which appears as birth and death can be seen as mental birth-death and thus applicable and verifiable for the here and now. Dhamma is "sandhittika": to be seen here and now
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:59 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sunrise wrote:Hey Octathlon, this is just a suggestion, maybe you should read the heart-wood next: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm

extremely good read.

Yes, it's a very good book which, as far as I can tell, doesn't deny rebirth...

Mike


As far as I know, Bhikku Buddhadasa did not deny or accept anything that he could not verify for himself and know for sure. Personally I think that is the best standpoint to take. His view on rebirth is: "irrelevant" to the super-mundane Dhamma.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sunrise wrote:Hey Octathlon, this is just a suggestion, maybe you should read the heart-wood next: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm
extremely good read.

Yes, it's a very good book which, as far as I can tell, doesn't deny rebirth...

Mike

Interestingly, the link above to The Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree seems to have a different feel in some passages.

From Pages 101-102 of the Wisdom edition.
There is a final pair to consider - birth and non-birth. We must reflect and investigate carefully that both birth and non-birth are too much trouble, for neither is void and free. If we cling to not being born this clinging too is non-void (sunna). This part, concerning birth and non-birth, the final pair, is the hardest to understand and the hardest to practice. We must want neither birth nor non-birth. Through not grasping at or clinging to either of them, there is voidness. Having spoken continually about having an being, of not-having and not-being, we come to birth and non-birth. Almost immediately, we grasp at non-birth. Thus, at the final stage, our practice must advance to the point where our knowledge of non-birth dissolves without becoming an object of grasping and clinging. Then, there appears true sunnata, in which there is neither birth nor non-birth, in other words, trued no-birth, the remainderless quenching.

This manner of speaking may seem to be quibbling or wrestling back and forth, but the meaning is unequivocal. There is a definite difference between true and false non-birth. S o don't cling to the idea that nibbana is non-birth and is wonderful and amazing in this way and that. And don't attach to the cycles of birth and death (vattasamsara) as a plethora of fun-filled births. There must be no grasping at or clinging to either side for there to be sunnata and genuine non-birth. The practise during ordinary times must continually be of this nature.

He goes on to discuss practising at the moment of death,which is in the link. In the book it's P 104:
The Last Chance

The third occasion for practice is the moment when the mind quenches. The body will break up and die; how can we practice sunnata at that time? In this situation we must depend on having taken "remainderless quenching" as our basic principle throughout life.
...
Regularly contemplate that being a person is no fun, being a deval is no fun, being a father ...
Then, the mind will hold no hope of having or being anything at all. One could say "all hope has been given up".

He goes on to give several pages of advice of how to realise nibbana at the moment of death, with a simile of jumping off a ladder.

:anjali:
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:30 am

What is the "feel" you get? The passage your quoted itself says that BB is not explicitly denying or accepting rebirth; he is just saying it is irrelevant.

Code: Select all
There must be no grasping at or clinging to either side for there to be sunnata and genuine non-birth. (he implies mental birth here) The practise during ordinary times must continually be of this nature


However, I suggest reading the whole thing. I read this long time back and I have no time going though the text again
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:39 am

Well, I recall reading "Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree" about three or four years ago, at a time that I had no idea that Ajahn Buddhadasa was considered a champion of "rebirth is not important/doesn't happen".

To me he seemed to be clearly talking about rounds of rebirth (which, of course, seemed normal for a Bhikkhu). And that's just how it appears to me now, in both the section I quoted, and in the fact that he has an entire chapter on how to become an arahant at the moment of death, which would seem a little pointless if death was simply annihilation. Morphine would be a much easier solution in that case...

Anyway, my impression that his teaching is very deep and penetrating hasn't changed.

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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:41 am

Sheesh Mike, I cannot believe you read BB and doesn't know he refers to birth and death as a mental process :juggling:
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:43 am

Have you read this by any chance:
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... nguage.htm

Two kinds of language by BB:

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 Now, going a little higher, we come to the word "birth" (ja.gif (845 bytes)ti). In everyday language, the word "birth" refers to physically coming into the world from the mother's womb. A person is the born physically only once. Having been born, one lives in the world until one dies and enters the coffin. Physical birth  happens to each of us only once. This birth from the mother's womb is what is meant by "birth" in everyday language.

In Dhamma language, the word "birth" refers to the birth of the idea "I" or "ego" that arises in the mind throughout each day. In this sense, the ordinary person is born very often, time and time again; a more developed person is born less frequently; a person well advanced in practice (ariyan, noble one) is born less frequently still, and ultimately ceases being born altogether. Each arising in the mind of "I"  in one form or another is called a "birth". Thus, birth can take place many times over in a single day.   As soon as one starts thinking like an animal, one is born as an animal in that same moment. To think like a human being is to be born a human being. To think like a celestial being is to be born a celestial being. Life, the individual, pleasure and pain, and the rest-all these were identified by the Buddha as simply momentary states of consciousness. So the word "birth" means in Dhamma language the arising of the idea of "I" or "me," and not, as in everyday language, physical birth from the mother's womb.

The word "birth'' is very common in the Buddha's discourses. When he was speaking of everyday things, he used the word "birth" with its everyday meaning. But when he was expounding Higher Dhamma-for instance, when discussing conditioned arising (paticca-samuppa.gif (845 bytes)da)Ðhe used the word "birth" (ja.gif (845 bytes)ti) with the meaning it has in Dhamma language. In his description of conditioned arising, he wasn't talking about physical birth. He was talking about the birth of attachment to ideas of "me" and "mine," "myself" and "my own".
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:45 am

mikenz66 wrote: I had no idea that Ajahn Buddhadasa was considered a champion of "rebirth is not important/doesn't happen".



He is not saying it doesn't happen. He says it is irrelevant

Code: Select all
Therefore, there being no one born here, there is no one who dies and is reborn. So, the whole Question of rebirth is utterly foolish and nothing to do with Buddhism at all.


By Bhikku Buddhadasa
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:47 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sunrise wrote:Hey Octathlon, this is just a suggestion, maybe you should read the heart-wood next: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm

extremely good read.

Yes, it's a very good book which, as far as I can tell, doesn't deny rebirth...

Mike

if you read enough Buddhadasa, and I've read quite a lot, you'll see him refer to rebirth in a literal sense.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:14 am

Sunrise wrote:Sheesh Mike, I cannot believe you read BB and doesn't know he refers to birth and death as a mental process :juggling:

Well, as JC's post illustrates, I'm not the only one who sees his teaching as multi-faceted.

From my point of view, I don't see how you can read the last few chapters of Heartwood of Bodhi Tree and not see references to a literal samsara.

Of course, I don't claim that my view is right, and all others are wrong. And I'm not actually clear exactly what my view is. I'm still working on trying to understand the Dhamma with an open mind...

Mike
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:21 am

Me too Mike. I think that a big part pf what Buddhadasa is saying is...." dont be too quick to seek consolation in belief. Do the work on the cushion. Let the truth of things come to meet you. As soon as you rush after them they retreat and one is tempted to make cases beyond a strict adherence to self honesty."
We can trust the Buddha, but we need to know what he knew, as Genkaku always says.
Not believe we know what he knew.
What he knew is beyond logic and deduction. And beyond what we want to be true. Or fear might be true.
Even the most profound of Suttas in the end is a means a road map. Not the thing in itself. That has to found on the cushion.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:25 am

Thanks Peter,

By the way, newer members may not have seen the posts by (formerly Venerable) Santikaro here:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1758&start=260#p24562
Here is just one of the posts:
Santikaro wrote:
Ben wrote:I actually think whether one person believes rebirth is literal (as I do) or whether someone doesn't - is irrelevant. Practice is the engine that generates wisdom.


For what it's worth, Ajahn Buddhadasa was not all that into denying 'literal rebirth.' There were times he provocatively seemed to do so but that is not his main issue by any means. Yes, he got into it at times, as much to challenge pervasive stuck-in-the-mud dogmatism as the specific issue. And there were plenty of times he talked in conventional/literal rebirth terms. As someone pointed out a couple days ago, most of his teachings were in Thai and for Thai audiences. And he was often being roundly abused by the "conservatives" in Siam. Actually most of the debate was driven by the vociferous defenders of literal rebirth who took Tan Ajahn's emphasis on 'ego rebirth' as an attack on their beliefs & the tradition as they understood it. Their dogmatism was (still is?) somewhat like that of the NRA (Natl Rifle Assoc) in the USA who oppose even the most innocuous & sane forms of gun control because they fear it is a slippery slope to the "government taking our guns away."

It would be interesting if, perhaps, in the West it's the rebirth deniers who are more dogmatic & polarizing. I don't know if that's the case. Maybe it's both sides. That may say more about Buddhism in the West or Western/Modern educated Buddhists in Asia than it does about Buddhism of the Suttas and Commentaries.

Btw, recent research on fundamentalism is pretty clear in pointing out how Biblical & other textual literalism are modern phenomena. We moderns may read early Buddhist texts more literally than the compilers, such as Ven Buddhaghosa, intended. That may be hard to prove, of course. But it's possible. Or are we really supposed to believe that the Buddha literally made heads split open?

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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:27 am

Excellent post...
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:33 am

LP Buddhadasa seems to have 2 faces, a western one and a Thai one. I've seen on this board and others claims that LP Buddhadasa never had any disciples like say, ajahn chah or ajaan mun, who carried one his "lineage" and this is true, if you're talking about western students. however there are Thai monks that were his students and who continue to teach in a "lineage" descended from him, one of my main ajahns is from this line. and coincidentally an older student of LP Buddhadasa is spending vassa in Fairbanks alone right now (a Thai family brought him up, i wish i could meet him, visit with him, but that's too far away and he's alone for the retreat.). so what one gets is a Thai version of LP Buddhadasa which is pretty mainstream (yet had its controversial moments) and a secularized western version of his teachings as well, especially if you're reading the santikaro translations. remember this is a man who has a room of texts in Thai, it would be not only a shame but odd if he was a one trick pony.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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