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 PeterB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:47 am

There is a parallel in Ajahn Chah JC...some people love to quote him apparently dismissing Sutta study and the like. But he knew enormous amounts of Sutta and commentary by heart...

The great teachers adjust what they are saying to the needs of the listeners.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby EricJ » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:56 am

Sunrise wrote: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.
He detailed how these views arise, and, in doing so, he seems to specifically refer to rebirth as if it is a given. Many of these views arise based on the ability to recall rebirths and the process by which people stumble in to these views based on their ability to recall past lives is described in detail. If "questions of rebirth are irrelevant" I don't see why the Buddha would have gone in to such detail describing the experience of past life recollection and how some people, based on misapprehension of the way things are, come to wrong conclusions based on such experiences.

As to the veracity of whether these people were actually recalling past lives, I would merely mention that the Buddha himself refers to his own ability to recall past lives in various suttas.

Sunrise wrote: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.
I haven't claimed that kamma is a system which "punishes" or "rewards," (the Buddha warns against this type of fatalism in the Devadaha Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya) nor was I asking anyone to speculate about the mechanism of kamma. My rhetorical question merely brought to light the implication of actively taking a view against rebirth. There is fruition of kamma. Until one is enlightened, one continues to create kammic tendencies which may come to fruition in the present or far in the future. If there is some kammic tendency which has not come to fruition or been "reversed" by a counteracting action and the inheritor of kamma dies and there is no continued birth/aging/death process, the implication would be that the effect of this kamma would not come to fruition. Thus, explicit denial of rebirth carries denial of kammic fruition.


Sunrise wrote: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.
Well, sure. I'm talking about an explicit rejection, either outwardly or within the confines of one's own mind. Rebirth is a truth which is experientially known at a certain level of meditation, from what I know based on my reading of the suttas and discussions on this board. However, I don't think that it is "unskillful" to take the Buddha at face value whenever he speaks of rebirth in the literal sense of a process by which ignorant, aggregated "beings," [quotation to emphasize that I am not claiming that there is a self or soul or eternal substance being the aggregates] bound to kamma, are born, age and die only to give rise to more ignorant, aggregated "beings" who are born, age and die, ad infinitum until enlightenment, the ending of kamma. And I would contend that the suttas are rife with examples of the Buddha speaking about this process in distinctly non-metaphorical terms. For instance, quoting the Saleyyaka Sutta, it seems rather odd for the Buddha to group "the other world and mother and father and spontaneously (born) beings" together if he is not describing a literal process of rebirth. Or, language in the Kutuhalasala Sutta:

Kutuhalasala Sutta wrote:This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Gotama the contemplative does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." Instead, he describes him
thus: "He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress."'

So I was simply befuddled. I was uncertain: How is the teaching of Gotama the contemplative to be understood?"

"Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance."

"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."


That is the nature of faith in Buddhism. We take refuge in the Buddha and the truth of his teaches, practice based on what the Buddha claims is true and fruitful, experience the results of his teachings, and then accept the truth of his teachings based on direct experiential understanding. In the case of rebirth, this would occur whenever one gains the ability to recall past lives (fourth jhana, I hear?), or cultivates insight to a certain point, or verifies other teachings of the Buddha experientially to the point where you don't lack faith in his other teachings, or attains sotapatti (thereby eliminating doubt). Verifying the Dhamma in the here and now doesn't mean that, at any given point town, we can directly experience a certain aspect of the Dhamma. Verification takes mental cultivation over time.

Regards,
Eric
Last edited by EricJ on Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 PeterB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:13 am

And in the meantime ....the cushion is over there. And the off switch to the PC is over here...
There is actually only ONE way to knew the truth of the matter.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Nyana » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:05 am

PeterB wrote:And in the meantime ....the cushion is over there. And the off switch to the PC is over here...
There is actually only ONE way to knew the truth of the matter.

Indeed. And if we ever need a bit of help motivating us to get to the cushion and remain there, the sutta-s offer us some skillful contemplations and themes for reflection:

    There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?

    'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.' This is the second fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.' This is the third fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.' This is the fourth fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' This is the fifth fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

    These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. [AN 5.57]


    When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. "Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for a day & night... for a day... for the interval that it takes to eat a meal... for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

    "But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, 'O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food... for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal' — they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents. [AN 6.19]


    This Dhamma is for one who wants little, not for one who wants much.

    This Dhamma is for the contented, not for the discontented.

    This Dhamma is for the secluded, not for one fond of society.

    This Dhamma is for the energetic, not for the lazy.

    This Dhamma is for the mindful, not for the unmindful.

    This Dhamma is for the composed, not for the uncomposed.

    This Dhamma is for the wise, not for the unwise.

    This Dhamma is for one who is free from impediments, not for one who delights in impediments. [AN 8.30]

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:14 am

As I said Ajhan Buddhadasa is not explicitly denying or accepting PMR. From what I have read of him so far, all he seems to say is "it is irrelevant. Focus on the here and now"
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby pariyatti » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:29 am

Nana, are you Geoff, as in Thanissarro Bhikkhu? If so, I sat with you at InsightMeditationCenter, Redwood City :bow:
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Nyana » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:43 am

pariyatti wrote:Nana, are you Geoff, as in Thanissarro Bhikkhu? If so, I sat with you at InsightMeditationCenter, Redwood City

Hi Pariyatti,

No, different Geoff.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:09 pm

EricJ wrote:He detailed how these views arise, and, in doing so, he seems to specifically refer to rebirth as if it is a given.


Or maybe it is given as if "they say this happens" not as "I know this happens".

EricJ wrote:Many of these views arise based on the ability to recall rebirths and the process by which people stumble in to these views based on their ability to recall past lives is described in detail. If "questions of rebirth are irrelevant" I don't see why the Buddha would have gone in to such detail describing the experience of past life recollection and how some people, based on misapprehension of the way things are, come to wrong conclusions based on such experiences.


Maybe people do recall past lives during meditation. Or maybe they just go through mental perceptions during meditation which seem like real. Whoever knows these things for sure?

Susima sutta explicitly says that such realizations are not relevant to Nibbana.

EricJ wrote:As to the veracity of whether these people were actually recalling past lives, I would merely mention that the Buddha himself refers to his own ability to recall past lives in various suttas.


I am actually not completely convinced that the Buddha taught rebirth for any other purpose than for morality. He taught it in different ways to different audiences. There are also many ways to look at his recollections of past dwellings. If you feel that as valid evidence that rebirth exists please go ahead.

EricJ wrote: There is fruition of kamma. Until one is enlightened, one continues to create kammic tendencies which may come to fruition in the present or far in the future. If there is some kammic tendency which has not come to fruition or been "reversed" by a counteracting action and the inheritor of kamma dies and there is no continued birth/aging/death process, the implication would be that the effect of this kamma would not come to fruition. Thus, explicit denial of rebirth carries denial of kammic fruition.


Isn't this speculation about kamma? I do not see kamma like this (over many lifetimes). I see it moment to moment as that's the way it is verifiable. You will see the results of the way you direct your mind in this very moment or at a later time within this lifetime. For example, if i scold someone I will feel upset or angry or bad mental state now or later, in a few hours or in a few days or in a few years. In a few lifetimes? Well I don't know about that simply because I have no means to verify that. So I'll leave it and deal with this life.


EricJ wrote:Rebirth is a truth which is experientially known at a certain level of meditation


I think it is fine not to jump to conclusions until you have such a realization yourself.

EricJ wrote:rebirth in the literal sense of a process by which ignorant, aggregated "beings," bound to kamma, are born, age and die only to give rise to more ignorant, aggregated "beings" who are born, age and die, ad infinitum until enlightenment, the ending of kamma.


Trust me, if you can explain to me how rebirth happens without indirectly implying the notion of a self in the process I would gladly accept it. Where does it say in the suttas that the aggregates are reborn?

Kutuhalasala Sutta wrote:
"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body



The text in bold sounds like there is something that leaves one body and goes to another body in everyday language right? What is this something? Consciousness?

Bhikku Buddhadasa explains this as the state where a "self view" has not arisen in the mind. Not as a state where a dead being waits for another birth. It is a state we all go through everyday thus directly verifiable

Code: Select all
We are sentient beings that are “born” and in a “state of seeking birth” at any day. The function of the Four Foods is to continue nourishing the “state of seeking birth,” but their special effect is continually sustaining those that are already “born” (sentient beings that are born).

This example allows everyone to understand that there are two interpretations of the “born” according to everyday language and the Dhamma language. The important thing is for everyone to know which interpretation directly benefits the cultivation of the Buddha Dharma. Only the interpretation according to the Dhamma language can benefit one's cultivation.

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books6/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Paticcasamuppada.htm


EricJ wrote:That is the nature of faith in Buddhism. We take refuge in the Buddha and the truth of his teaches, practice based on what the Buddha claims is true and fruitful, experience the results of his teachings, and then accept the truth of his teachings based on direct experiential understanding. In the case of rebirth, this would occur whenever one gains the ability to recall past lives (fourth jhana, I hear?)


Hold on there. Such realizations are not part of enlightenment jhanas according to the susima sutta. So it is unlikely that you will see your past lives before you become enlightened.

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

Postby Vepacitta » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:33 pm

PeterB wrote:And in the meantime ....the cushion is over there. And the off switch to the PC is over here...
There is actually only ONE way to knew the truth of the matter.



Exactemundo! You can t-a-l-k about this stuff until you're blue in the face and you won't get an answer.

(Actually, and i'm a crappy meditator, even if you just really really think and ponder about this stuff, you can get a better handle on it. But it's not a discoursive, reductive type of thinking - it's more of a contemplative type of thinking. That's how I study the suttas - I read and re-read paragraphs, sentences, fragments, even, until a dawning hits me. But it's not an argumentation, it's more like contemplative thought.)

However, I believe (snark) that the Buddha was right, there's only so far you can hammer out my reasoning. And I believe this due to my own experience of the limitations of typical thinking, contemplative thinking and actual meditative experience - even though I'm a crappy meditator.

It's an experiential teaching and (not to be to zen about anything) you have to be careful not to mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.

(I'm really not a zen fan - but I'm not too proud to use something when it's apt)

Cheers,

Trotsky a/k/a Vepacitta
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:51 pm

PeterB wrote:And in the meantime ....the cushion is over there. And the off switch to the PC is over here...


But you are still here? :rofl:
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Annapurna » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:31 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Annapurna wrote:waht is a no brainer?

I think it could be argued that rebirth is not tenable without the existence of multiple planes.


We can prove 2.

Animals and humans.

Unless people want to argue we are animals.

But then you can also say animals are human.


You're right Anna, but that only partly solves the problem. How do we explain the proliferation of species? And what about the triple realm of desire, form, formlessness?

One world is enough for all of us
One world is enough for all of us
One world is enough for all of us


(sorry, couldn't resist...)



How do we explain the proliferation of species?


Don't know if it makes sense to others, but to me it makes sense,- the different species are a mirror of very yindividual kamma.

Even within one species, you have different kamma, a mirror of what was brought into this life, what arises here. A mirror of the last life/s.
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby octathlon » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:56 pm

Sunrise wrote:
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:

Will do, thanks!
:anjali:
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby EricJ » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:28 pm

Sunrise wrote:Or maybe it is given as if "they say this happens" not as "I know this happens".

"I am actually not completely convinced that the Buddha taught rebirth for any other purpose than for morality. He taught it in different ways to different audiences. There are also many ways to look at his recollections of past dwellings. If you feel that as valid evidence that rebirth exists please go ahead."
I put these posts together because all of them really point to the same thing which prevents this discussion from being fruitful. The words of the suttas are right there. I really have no authority or enough knowledge of these things to say that your interpretations or those Bhikkhu Buddhadasa are wrong, and I probably wouldn't even if I did. Personally, I prefer to assume that the Buddha would not have used language which would cause his disciples to accept certain beliefs if those beliefs were not true. I prefer to think that the Buddha would not have presented fictitious tales as truth, which is another implication of an explicit rejection of literal rebirth as taught by the Buddha (in that there are various suttas in which the Buddha mentions his own past lives in detail or refers to the spontaneous birth of a new "being" (again, no self, soul, eternal substance) following the death of a person.) I prefer to think that the Buddha taught in a clear and direct manner.

Sunrise wrote:Susima sutta explicitly says that such realizations are not relevant to Nibbana.
Have I, at any point, said that anussati (past life recollection) is a crucial step in attaining Nibbana? No. My only claim with respect to these realizations has been that they are a means for verifying rebirth experientially. Susima's mistake lies in his conflating the insight attainments which lead to Nibbana with iddhis and mental abilities which can be developed by any person who cultivates states of highly refined concentration. The insights which lead to Nibbana are unique to the Buddha's dispensation. Concentration practice and anussati are not. But that certainly shouldn't suggest that it is unskillful to cultivate the latter attainments. The Buddha himself did so. Many of his disciples did so. As you can see in the sutta I have posted at the end of this response, these cultivations are praised. The error comes whenever people make them the basis of the path or falsely take them as the fruition of the path.

Sunrise wrote:Isn't this speculation about kamma? I do not see kamma like this (over many lifetimes). I see it moment to moment as that's the way it is verifiable. You will see the results of the way you direct your mind in this very moment or at a later time within this lifetime. For example, if i scold someone I will feel upset or angry or bad mental state now or later, in a few hours or in a few days or in a few years. In a few lifetimes? Well I don't know about that simply because I have no means to verify that. So I'll leave it and deal with this life.
No more speculative than the suttas. I haven't made a claim about kamma which is out of line with the suttas.

And that is an admirable way of practicing, and I don't want you to think that I am criticizing you for practicing this way. I also practice here and now, and I expect to verify the Dhamma based on experiential understanding. I don't sit down on the cushion and think about the mechanism of rebirth. I sit down and watch my breath. I just lack a strong skepticism concerning what the Buddha says about rebirth in the suttas.

Sunrise wrote:Trust me, if you can explain to me how rebirth happens without indirectly implying the notion of a self in the process I would gladly accept it. Where does it say in the suttas that the aggregates are reborn?
Again, you are reading in to my post and implying that I have claimed things I have not claimed. I haven't said, at any point, that the aggregates "transmigrate" or that there is a single set of aggregates across births which arise again and again. Rather, whenever the conditions are there (like ignorance), not-self aggregates dependently arise and, based on ignorance, self-view is created within the confines of the aggregates. That is what I meant by "aggregated being" and why I put "being" in quotation marks and added a "not-self caveat" in parentheses. My use of the word "being" is conventional and due to the limitations of the English language, which tends towards self view and subject-object. Any attempt to read a self in to a selfless coalescence of fluxating causes and conditions is based in ignorance and latent self-view.

Others have done a much better job of explaining how rebirth does not imply the notion of self. The typical simile is that rebirth is like using a burning candle to light another candle which is used to light another candle separately. The flame on the newly lit candle is not the same as the previous candle (no eternal , unchanging substance.) Rather, a multiplicity of conditions comes together and the result is a lit candle, which constantly changes throughout its duration. It's not the same from moment to moment (anicca, or "micro-rebirth" to describe Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's and your interpretation of rebirth). The fuel is craving and ignorance of the way things are. The "hand" which picks up the candle and lights the next candle is kamma.

Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html
An Explanation of Rebirth by Bhikkhu Pesala
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Reb ... birth.html

Sunrise wrote:The text in bold sounds like there is something that leaves one body and goes to another body in everyday language right? What is this something? Consciousness?
No, because consciousness is an impermanent aggregate which arises in contact with a sense object and sense base. There is no "transmigration" of consciousness, as I've all ready said. As to what "this something" is, I am not going to speculate about what it could be. I think that explicit rejection of rebirth can arise from the speculations just as easily as incorrect interpretation of these views (such as imposing self on rebirth process), in that people can speculate about what these terms used by the Buddha mean, come to think that they refer to a soul or permanent substance, and explicitly reject rebirth based on their own erroneous interpretations of the Buddhavacana.

I merely posted the sutta as an example of language which clearly refers to literal rebirth. I notice that you and Bhikkhu Buddhadasa haven't addressed the implication of the phrase "sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body." Nor have you responded to the implications of that phrase of the Saleyyaka Sutta which I quoted in my previous post. You have implied that you are indifferent to rebirth, but at this point, you seem to be coming with reasons for rejecting the concept.

Sunrise wrote:Hold on there. Such realizations are not part of enlightenment jhanas according to the susima sutta. So it is unlikely that you will see your past lives before you become enlightened.
I'm not sure what you mean by "enlightenment jhanas," but if you are claiming that the cultivation of the fourth jhana is not the means by which a person can attain anussati, this is simply incorrect based on the suttic descriptions of jhana.
Lohicca Sutta wrote:"And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness. When a disciple of a teacher attains this sort of grand distinction, Lohicca, that is a teacher not worthy of criticism in the world, and if anyone were to criticize this sort of teacher, the criticism would be false, unfactual, unrighteous, & blameworthy..."

[explication of various attainments and insights after attaining jhana, all beginning with the refrain "with his mind thus concentrated, purified, & bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability..." in reference to the explication of the jhana factors which occur immediately preceeding the explication of anussati and other attainments and iddhis"]

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, & bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, he directs & inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives (lit: previous homes). He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he recollects his manifold past lives in their modes & details. Just as if a man were to go from his home village to another village, and then from that village to yet another village, and then from that village back to his home village. The thought would occur to him, 'I went from my home village to that village over there. There I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I went to that village over there, and there I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I came back home.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, & bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability — the monk directs & inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. He recollects his manifold past lives... in their modes & details. When a disciple of a teacher attains this sort of grand distinction, Lohicca, that is a teacher not worthy of criticism in the world, and if anyone were to criticize this sort of teacher, the criticism would be false, unfactual, unrighteous, & blameworthy.
These realizations may not be the insights which lead to Nibbana, but that certainly doesn't mean that one can't simultaneously cultivate liberating vipassana AND samatha up to a level of concentration which allows one to recall past lives. The Buddha cultivated both.


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.
- Snp. 1.3
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:55 pm

EricJ wrote:Personally, I prefer to assume that the Buddha would not have used language which would cause his disciples to accept certain beliefs if those beliefs were not true. I prefer to think that the Buddha would not have presented fictitious tales as truth


Personally I think the Buddha taught rebirth for morality mostly for the people who already believed in it and there are places that he has talked about it as subjective reasoning not as an ultimate truth. For example:

In MN 68 he seems to have said that he talked about it not to deceive people or for personal gains:

Anuruddha, the Thus Gone One advises the disciples, do not waste time, before you die be born, in something higher. Telling them one is born there, another there, not to deceive people, not for prattling, not for gain honour or fame and not thinking may the people know me thus. Yet, there are Anuruddha, sons of clansmen who are born in faith and are pleased hearing it they would arouse interest and direct their minds to that effect. It would be for their good for a long time.

MN 68


In kalama sutta he has taken a more democratic stance in order to address all audiences:

Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.' This is the first solace found by him.

Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace found by him


In MN 117 he seems to have said it is the right view for morality but not the noble right view:

"And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents [asava], siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right view, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results 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. ...

' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.....


Nonetheless you can always interpret these suttas to mean that the Buddha taught rebirth clearly and directly and thereby believe in it. If you think this faith helps your practice and that you will realize this knowledge some day and thereby your faith will be verified one day who am I to say otherwise.

Personally I think "undecided or better still irrelevant" is the best position to take.

EricJ wrote:Have I, at any point, said that anussati (past life recollection) is a crucial step in attaining Nibbana? No.


Oh sorry I guess I must have misread you because you said:

Code: Select all
If "questions of rebirth are irrelevant" I don't see why the Buddha would have gone in to such detail describing the experience of past life recollection and how some people, based on misapprehension of the way things are, come to wrong conclusions based on such experiences.


So I must have figured you imply that this faith is in any way relevant to Nibbana.

EricJ wrote:
My only claim with respect to these realizations has been that they are a means for verifying rebirth experientially.


How? Please provide me the instructions

EricJ wrote:Susima's mistake lies in his conflating the insight attainments which lead to Nibbana with iddhis and mental abilities which can be developed by any person who cultivates states of highly refined concentration.


Yes, I agree that the Susima sutta states that there so called "iddhis" are irrelevant to relinquishment and Nibbana. But as you say it does not explicitly deny such iddhis are impossible, just irrelevant. If it is relevant then all arahaths should gain such insights but there are some who don't so "iddhis" are not relevant to Nibbana

EricJ wrote:I don't sit down on the cushion and think about the mechanism of rebirth. I sit down and watch my breath. I just lack a strong skepticism concerning what the Buddha says about rebirth in the suttas.


I don't stand up and think of it either :tongue:

EricJ wrote:Others have done a much better job of explaining how rebirth does not imply the notion of self. The typical simile is that rebirth is like using a burning candle


OK so please explain it without using candles. When we die, there can be a continuation such as ....? What conditions cause what to be another "being" in another body? I am genuinely interested in your explanation

EricJ wrote:No, because consciousness is an impermanent aggregate which arises in contact with a sense object and sense base. There is no "transmigration" of consciousness, as I've all ready said. As to what "this something" is, I am not going to speculate about what it could be. I think that explicit rejection of rebirth can arise from the speculations just as easily as incorrect interpretation of these views


Noone is rejecting it. I am merely asking the guys who believe in it to kindly give me (the ignorant non-believer) some explanation. That's all :D

So how can you explain a continuation like when I die by body obviously decays but something continues. This is not a "thing" as you say but mere conditioned result? So what are these conditions and what are the results etc? I'm all ears.
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby EricJ » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:04 am

Sunrise wrote:Personally I think the Buddha taught rebirth for morality mostly for the people who already believed in it and there are places that he has talked about it as subjective reasoning not as an ultimate truth. For example:

In MN 68 he seems to have said that he talked about it not to deceive people or for personal gains
I cannot help but that that you have misread the meaning of the sutta, probably due to the fact that the Buddha uses the word "birth." You quote one passage of that sutta which uses the word "birth" and completely remove it from the context it occurs, namely, that the Buddha is telling his disciples about the ariya attainments ['be born in something higher' in this life] of disciples and also telling them why he feels the need to describe the accomplishments of his disciples to others.

Nalakapana Sutta, MN 68 wrote:Anuruddha, the Thus Gone One tells the disciples, without wasting time before you die, be born in something higher. Telling them one is born there, another there. Not to deceive people, not for prattling, and not for gain honour or fame and not thinking may the people know me thus. Yet, Anuruddha, there are sons of clansmen who are born in faith and are pleased, to hear it. Hearing it they would arouse interest and direct their minds to that and it would be for their good for a long time.

Here, Anuruddha, a bhikkhu hears, the venerable bhikkhu of this name has passed away, and the Blessed One has declared that he is enlightened. Now this venerable bhikkhu happens to be a person seen by that bhikkhu, or not seen by him. He hears, these were the virtues of the venerable bhikkhu, these, his thoughts, such his wisdom, he developed these abidings and was released. So this bhikkhu recollects that faith, those virtues, his learnedness, benevolence and wisdom and directs his mind to it. Anuruddha, in this manner too there is a pleasant abiding to a bhikkhu.
The sutta opens with recognition of the fact that the Buddha encourages his disciples to "be born in something higher." It's significant that he encourages them to do this before they die, which is a condition for rebirth. "Born of something higher" refers to ariyan attainments, which we can see in the rest of the sutta since this is what the Buddha offers as an example of "being born of something higher." "Not to deceive...not for prattling...not for gaining honor or fame...not thinking may the people know me thus" means that the Buddha does not mention the ariyan accomplishments of his disciples for his own personal gain or to brag.

The bolded, italicized part is indicative of the structure of this sutta, in which the Buddha describes the four stages of ariyan attainment, why he tells those on the path to attainment about these stages, and the result of telling people about these attainments. Namely, the arousal of interest, faith and direction on the path.

At no point, in this entire sutta (aside from describing the amount of times sotapanni, sakadagami, and anagami will be reborn) does the Buddha mention his rebirth teaching and the reasoning behind it.

Sunshine wrote:In MN 117 he seems to have said it is the right view for morality but not the noble right view...
The difference between these two forms of "right view" has less to do with one view being more "right" than the other (although, enlightened view is obviously transcendent and ultimate) than the state of the "person" who holds right view. "Right view without effluents" refers to the transcendent, liberating insight of the enlightened which results in a "falling away" [in the sense that the nibbanized are not samsaric] of the world as it is ignorantly 'known' to the unenlightened. Enlightenment, being the end of ignorance, leads to the cessation of consciousness, namarupa, the six sense spheres, all the way through every other link in the chain of dependent origination. This right view only occurs in one who has gained liberation. Right view without effluents is a fruition of the path. Right view with effluents is a an aspect of the Eightfold Path to awakening. It is a fundamentally different mode of 'experience.' How can an arahant/Buddha have 'right view' [with effluents] of something which is not perceived in enlightenment? I have a few excerpts which sum this up much better than I could.

http://emptyuniverse.110mb.com, Nibbana and the Cessation of Mental Effluents (Asava) wrote:It's important to emphasize that when we speak of the 'unconditioned,' it's not just in regard to phenomena being ultimately empty. For emptiness to have any soteriological value, the unconditioned must also include realizing emptiness experientially. It's this gnosis (nana) that is liberational. It's liberational because it brings to an end the cognitive and affective effluents that bind us to ongoing samsaric suffering. These mental effluents are: the outflows of sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance itself. They are termed 'effluents' because they 'flow' out of the habitual, deluded mind, creating the metaphoric 'flood' of samsaric birth and death.

And so it's in this soteriological context that Nibbana is said to be the 'supreme emptiness,' because as transcendent gnosis it is empty of these very effluents. This liberation is beautifully and profoundly described in the Dhammapada, verse 93:

Effluents ended, independent of nutriment, their pasture — emptiness & freedom without sign: their trail, like that of birds through space, can't be traced.

Cetana Sutta, SN 12.38 wrote:When one doesn't intend, arrange, or obsess [about anything], there is no support for the stationing of consciousness. There being no support, there is no establishing of consciousness. When that consciousness doesn't land & grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=5339&start=40#p83568, Nana quoting Ven. Nanananda's Nibbana Sermons wrote:What actually happens in the attainment to the fruit of arahant-hood? The worldling discerns the world around him with the help of six narrow beams of light, namely the six sense-bases. When the superior lustre of wisdom arises, those six sense-bases go down. This cessation of the six sense bases could also be referred to as the cessation of name-and-form, nāmarūpanirodha, or the cessation of consciousness, viññāṇanirodha.

The cessation of the six sense-bases does not mean that one does not see anything. What one sees then is voidness. It is an in-‘sight’. He gives expression to it with the words suñño loko, “void is the world.” What it means is that all the sense objects, which the worldling grasps as real and truly existing, get penetrated through with wisdom and become non-manifest.....
"All the sense objects" would be the totality of samsara, 'the All' which includes beings. Note the phrase "become non-manifest." The perception of the rebirth of beings becomes non-manifest in "right view without effluents." This is the right view of Buddhas and arahants. This does not mean that unenlightened beings, based on ignorant cognition, are not undergoing a mind-created samsaric process.

Samsara is not "there" for the nibbanized ("theie trail...can't be traced"). How can the nibbanized have "right view" of something 'they' aren't even 'viewing?' However, "right view with effluents" leads up to the liberating "right view without effluents." Soteriologically, "right view with effluents" is just as important as "right view without effluents" in that we cannot hope to achieve the latter without practicing the former.

However, for the unenlightened, as a basic fact of [conventional, samsaric] experience there is "this world and the next world." With ignorance as the foundation, beings arise and experience samsara. "All that we are is the result of what we have thought." While we are unenlightened, we must cultivate right view of samsaric existence as it occurs to the ignorant mind, as opposed to the wrong views which we habitually superimpose on samsara (arbitrary notions of pleasure/ease/satisfaction, permanence, and self). Part of this right view, as you must have seen in the Maha-cattarisaka Sutta, is "this world and the next world" and "mother, father, and spontaneously reborn beings."

Sunshine wrote:Oh sorry I guess I must have misread you because you said: So I must have figured you imply that this faith is in any way relevant to Nibbana.
First of all, you are conflating two different things. Your post which garnered my response ("Have I at any point said that anussati is a crucial step in attaining Nibbana?") was "Susima sutta explicitly says that such realizations are not relevant to Nibbana." I agree that anussati is not a necessity for nibbanizing. However, right view, including "this world and the other world" and "mother, father, and spontaneously reborn beings" is absolutely relevant to the fruition of the path. That is the gist of my post which you just offered in your rebuttal to my claim that I have not "at any point said that anussati is a crucial step in attaining Nibbana."

Sunshine wrote:How? Please provide me the instructions
I have all ready given you a sutta which details how to develop anussati. It suggests cultivating the jhanas and directing your mind to the recollection of past lives. Or you could cultivate sila, samadhi and panna until sotapatti, whenever doubt ceases. Or you could cultivate the path factors until you are enlightened.

Sunshine wrote:OK so please explain it without using candles. When we die, there can be a continuation such as ....? What conditions cause what to be another "being" in another body? I am genuinely interested in your explanation
There is no "continuation." That would imply that there is a permanent, underlying factor which continues. Rather, conditions and causes (like ignorance, latent kamma, the union of a mother and father, the four nutriments, the "gandhabba") coalesce and an aggregated "being" (anicca, anatta, constantly subject to change, never the same from moment to moment) is the result. Rebirth is just another link in the samsaric matrix of shifting causes and conditions which ignorant beings create.

Rejection of the idea that there is some sort of kammic 'connection' between the arising of one 'being' and the arising of 'another being' (rebirth) seems to be based on the erroneous notion that rebirth implies that there is something which "possesses" kamma. This is incorrect. This would be self-view. Rather, kamma is everything we ignorantly take to be "us." There is thinking but no thinker, hearing but no hearer, intentional action but no active agent, ad infinitum. I tend to think of kamma as 'input' in to samsaric existence.. ("all that we are is the result of what we have thought"). 'We' [and samsara, 'the All'] are conascent with and the output of kamma (in the sense that we take a selfless process of action, causes and conditions to be self, performed by self, cognized/experienced by self, or independent of an assumed self). Samsara is the output of kamma and ignorance. Rebirth is a coalescence of kammic input [past action, present action (craving, ignorance..), actions of others (sexual reproduction)] which is based in beginningless ignorance. The implication of rebirth rejection is that ignorance has a beginning, as well as an end independent of Nibbana. This is false.

Anguttara Nikaya 10.61-62 wrote:"A first beginning of ignorance cannot be conceived, (of which it can be said), 'Before that, there was no ignorance and it came to be after that.' Though this is so, monks, yet a specific condition of ignorance can be conceived. Ignorance, too, has its nutriment, I declare; and it is not without a nutriment. And what is the nutriment of ignorance? 'The five hindrances,'[61] should be the answer.

"A first beginning of the craving of existence cannot be conceived, (of which it can be said), 'Before that, there was no craving for existence and it came to be after that.' Though this is so, monks, yet a specific condition for craving for existence can be conceived. Craving for existence, too, has its nutriment, I declare; and it is not without a nutriment. And what is the nutriment of craving for existence? 'Ignorance,' should be the answer. But ignorance, too, has its nutriment; it is not without a nutriment. And what is the nutriment of ignorance? 'The five hindrances,' should be the answer.


Sunshine wrote:Noone is rejecting it. I am merely asking the guys who believe in it to kindly give me (the ignorant non-believer) some explanation. That's all :D

So how can you explain a continuation like when I die by body obviously decays but something continues. This is not a "thing" as you say but mere conditioned result? So what are these conditions and what are the results etc? I'm all ears.
See my post above. There is nothing which 'continues.' I am not going to give you an explanation because the Buddha discouraged his disciples from trying to understand the specific, mechanical details of kamma/rebirth (apart from what he had all ready explained to them). You are the one who has implied that rebirth, to be true, must require some continuity of previous aggregates or a permanent substance which possesses kamma or exists independently of the fluxating causes and conditions which make up samsaric existence, not me. I am not going to answer a question based on a fundamentally mistaken proposition.

Also, I have no intention in engaging in this discussion any longer.


Regards,
Eric
Last edited by EricJ on Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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.
- Snp. 1.3
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:27 am

PeterB wrote:There is a parallel in Ajahn Chah JC...some people love to quote him apparently dismissing Sutta study and the like. But he knew enormous amounts of Sutta and commentary by heart...

The great teachers adjust what they are saying to the needs of the listeners.

Yes, in cringe when people wheel out Ajahn Chah one-liners. The one-liners are so context-dependent. Quotes like: "Don't read books! Read your own heart instead", are rather meaningless without the context of who he was talking to or about.
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Training_Heart1_2.php
As far as we should be concerned about the ancient monks' tradition, a monk should spend at least five years with his teacher. Some days you should avoid speaking to anyone. Don't allow yourself to speak or talk very much. Don't read books! Read your own heart instead. Take Wat Pah Pong for example. These days many university graduates are coming to ordain. I try to stop them from spending their time reading books about Dhamma, because these people are always reading books. They have so many opportunities for reading books, but opportunities for reading their own hearts are rare. So, when they come to ordain for three months following the Thai custom, we try to get them to close their books and manuals. While they are ordained they have this splendid opportunity to read their own hearts.

And, like Ajahn Buddhadasa, Ajahn Chah also talks about literal rebirth at times...
http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Knowing_World1.php
Know all things that appear. Do they cause us to suffer? Do we form attachment to them? Such as the teaching that birth is suffering: it doesn't only mean dying from this life and taking rebirth in the next life. That's so far away. The suffering of birth happens right now. It's said that becoming is the cause of birth. What is this ''becoming''? Anything that we attach to and put meaning on is becoming. Whenever we see anything as self or other or belonging to ourselves, without wise discernment to know that such is only a convention, that is all becoming. Whenever we hold on to something as us or ours and it then undergoes change, the mind is shaken by that. It is shaken with a positive or negative reaction. That sense of self experiencing happiness or unhappiness is birth. When there is birth, it brings suffering along with it. Aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering.

Mike
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:15 am

Thanks Mike. This is From No Ajahn Chah:

You’d think that people could appreciate what it would be like to live in a person’s belly. How uncomfortable that would be! Just look at how merely staying in a hut for only one day is already hard to take. You shut all the doors and windows and you’re suffocating already. How would it be to live in a person’s belly for nine months? Yet you want to stick your head right in there, to put your neck in the noose once again.


If you’re afraid of illness, if you are afraid of death, they you should contemplate where they come from. Where do they come from? They arise from birth. So, don’t be sad when someone dies - it’s just nature, and his suffering in this life is over. If you want to be sad, be sad when people are born: "Oh, no, they’ve come again. They’re going to suffer and die again!"


Why are we born? We are born so that we will not have to be born again.


http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/No_A ... eflections

:anjali:
Last edited by bodom on Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:18 am

And here he refers to moment to moment rebirth:

The "One Who Knows" clearly knows that all conditioned phenomena are unsubstantial. So this "One Who Knows" does not become happy or sad, for it does not follow changing conditions. To become glad, is to be born; to become dejected, is to die. Having died, we are born again; having been born, we die again. This birth and death from one moment to the next is the endless spinning wheel of samsara.


There is room for both literal and moment to moment rebirth in practice.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby Sunrise » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:29 am

EricJ wrote:I cannot help but that that you have misread the meaning of the sutta


Birth has several different meanings as I see it. So yes, suttas can be interpreted accordingly. I don't have time to go into details about this right now but even if I had, there would be little point in it :smile:

EricJ wrote: This right view only occurs in one who has gained liberation. Right view without effluents is a fruition of the path. Right view with effluents is a an aspect of the Eightfold Path to awakening.


Once again, as I see it, belief in rebirth is termed in the sutta as a "right view with effluents" and certainly is not an essential faith for Nibbana. I don''t understand how you came to the conclusion that noble right view only occures to enlightened beings and everyone else has right view with asava. :rolleye: But yeah, for an argument, you can interpret it that way too.

As I see it, belief in rebirth is "not a factor of the path to cessation" but it is right view for morality.

EricJ wrote:
The cessation of the six sense-bases does not mean that one does not see anything. What one sees then is voidness. It is an in-‘sight’. He gives expression to it with the words suñño loko, “void is the world.”


The term void in Buddhism means void of self or things belonging to self. It makes no sense to me to just say "void is the world".

EricJ wrote:
Samsara is not "there" for the nibbanized ("theie trail...can't be traced"). How can the nibbanized have "right view" of something 'they' aren't even 'viewing?' However, "right view with effluents" leads up to the liberating "right view without effluents." Soteriologically, "right view with effluents" is just as important as "right view without effluents" in that we cannot hope to achieve the latter without practicing the former.


Sounds like an entangled ball of wool to me. First you asked how the "nibbanized" have "right view" of something 'they' aren't even 'viewing' and then you say "right view with effluents" leads up to the liberating "right view without effluents."

Why do you need right view with effluents for Nibbana? You can practice morality whether there is kamma or not, whether there is rebirth or not. I would be a good person (a person abiding by the five precepts) even if I am born again or not, even if there is good bad kamma or not. I am practicing to abandon the "self view" arising in my mind and rebirth fantasies have very little significance in my practice if at all.

EricJ wrote:
such realizations are not relevant to Nibbana." I agree that anussati is not a necessity for nibbanizing. However, right view, including "this world and the other world" and "mother, father, and spontaneously reborn beings" is absolutely relevant to the fruition of the path.


No they are not. They are relevant for morality and the mundane cultivation. Dhana (charity) and sila (moral conduct) are just preparatory stages for Bhavana (meditation and Buddhist cultivation). They are meant to prepare the mind for "letting go". You can practice charity and moral conduct without any beliefs in life after death. As I said before, I will follow a moral conduct and practice giving even if there is rebirth or not; even if there is good and bad kamma or not. That's letting go.


EricJ wrote: I have all ready given you a sutta which details how to develop anussati. It suggests cultivating the jhanas and directing your mind to the recollection of past lives. Or you could cultivate sila, samadhi and panna until sotapatti, whenever doubt ceases. Or you could cultivate the path factors until you are enlightened.


But as per Susima sutta, not all enlightened beings have these insights into past lives.

EricJ wrote:There is no "continuation." That would imply that there is a permanent, underlying factor which continues. Rather, conditions and causes (like ignorance, latent kamma, the union of a mother and father, the four nutriments, the "gandhabba") coalesce and an aggregated "being" (anicca, anatta, constantly subject to change, never the same from moment to moment) is the result. Rebirth is just another link in the samsaric matrix of shifting causes and conditions which ignorant beings create.


This statement is easy to make but harder to explain. As you can see, you have not even attempted to describe in understandable form how it happens. Basically you are claiming that "rebirth is just another link in the samsaric matrix" but no explanation what happens when I die. A "being" dies. Then there is another body and mind process formed based on kamma? Is that what you are saying?

EricJ wrote:Rather, kamma is everything we ignorantly take to be "us."


Ignorance is not realizing anicca, dukkha and anatta (not self). And you say kamma is everything we take to be "us". Taking the five aggregates as me and mine is ignorance. Are you implying kamma is ignorance? :)

EricJ wrote:There is thinking but no thinker, hearing but no hearer, intentional action but no active agent, ad infinitum.


Ok, so we all know this part

EricJ wrote:I tend to think of kamma as 'input' in to samsaric existence.. ("all that we are is the result of what we have thought"). 'We' [and samsara, 'the All'] are conascent with and the output of kamma (in the sense that we take a selfless process of action, causes and conditions to be self, performed by self, cognized/experienced by self, or independent of an assumed self). Samsara is the output of kamma and ignorance. Rebirth is a coalescence of kammic input [past action, present action (craving, ignorance..), actions of others (sexual reproduction)] which is based in beginningless ignorance.


Kamma is input to samsara? Could you leave all this explanations and simply explain to me this. Mr. X dies today. His body remains and decays. Several years after there is a Mr. Y in so and so country and you think he is the rebirth of Mr. X. Please explain the link between X and Y. (without using candles please)

EricJ wrote:The implication of rebirth rejection is that ignorance has a beginning, as well as an end independent of Nibbana. This is false.


First of all, I am not rejecting it. But I simply cannot explain it. Therefore I have decided to say "I don't know" rather than blindly believe it. It is not relevant to my practice after all.

EricJ wrote:fluxating causes and conditions which make up samsaric existence


All is fine, until you try to explain further how these "fluxating causes and conditions" flux after the death of Mr. X. When someone dies the rupa aggregate decays. The rest of the aggregates flux as per kamma?

I referred to the two links which you say explain "rebirth without notions of self" and they severely lack any considerable explanation apart from something to the effect that "it happens. The buddha said it happens but don't ask how it happens... it just happens".
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Re: I Believe in Literal Rebirth - Poll

Postby PeterB » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:17 pm

One of the wisest remarks I have read on the topic comes from the identical poll on ZFI, where Clyde said " discussions of this topic tend to increase suffering " or words to that effect.
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