Peter wrote:Why would you say that? Have I mentioned a self? Are you of the opinion that unless we append a discussion of anatta to every discussion of rebirth that we are promoting a self? If so, are you saying the Buddha promoted a self to Punna?
I was not critisizing any one on this thread. I merely stated an opinion that rebirth and anatta are so closely linked that for us to discuss one without the other was not effective. It was my opinion as I stated up front. My apologies if I have upset you. It was not my intent.
In answer to your question on anatta, I do not feel that one promotes self if anatta is not discussed, however, I do think it is important when discussing rebirth to also discuss what is reborn. The Buddha often referred to rebirth without discussing anatta but we do not have the benefit of hearing the teaching from the Buddha himself in the context and company he gave it. We only have a remembrance of the teaching which by necessity was filtered through an oral tradition. We also have a responsibility to analyze any teaching for ourselves through our own understanding and to keep analyzing it until we reach full realization.
The following is my personal understanding of rebirth. As I come to grips with the concept of anatta, I realize that whatever illusion of self I possess, that self will end with my death. (As you may know, I have had good reason to contemplate my death.) I at first became distraught at the thought of my "self" ending. Then, I realized that somewhere down the road, some other self could have a chance of enlightenment and with that event all the previous selves, including me, would be remembered. I imagine that it will be much like me remembering a time in my childhood even though that child no longer exists.
With this understanding, I am filled with gratitude for all the selves that had been born before me and whose good actions have enabled me to have such a pleasant and easy life. I also find myself filled with regret, resolve and responsibility toward the self that would follow after me. I regret that I have not been more skillful and that some of my unskillful actions may bear fruit in the life of another. I feel resolve and responsibility to live in a more skillful manner in order to have the possibility that my skillful actions will also bear fruit and perhaps act as a dilution to the unskillful ones.
These thoughts made me read the Metta Sutta in a different light.
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born
May all beings be at ease!
The compassion and loving kindness I feel towards those to-be-born include those selves who will follow me.