the great rebirth debate

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:59 pm

tiltbillings wrote:You read Pali? If you do, you will know that it is a highly idiomatic language. What do think "paraloka"is an idiom for?


Nope. I have a friend here who reads pali and quite familiar with suttas. What is "paraloka" an idiom for by the way?

tiltbillings wrote:If it is right view, it leadsto nibbana, and and as an unawaened individual "right view is with effluents" is exactly where you start from.


This is one way of looking at it. Anyone can read the sutta and say "No that is right view with effluents. A view which encourage effluents does not lead to dispassion. Therefore the noble right view does not include any such views on other worlds".
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote: This debate is a modern thing, not a traditional thing.

Doesn't make it right just because it is the established view. As I said, once upon a time people thought the world was flat. I am not denying it but pointing out why your argument is not solid.

tiltbillings wrote: You do not have to believe that rebirth is true. That is your choice, but literal rebirth is an integral part of the Buddha's teachings, as the suttas show.


Yea I think it is an integral part. Rebirth sure appears a lot in suttas. Still belief in it is not a necessity to one's practice.

tiltbillings wrote: And being very much within the framework of traditional Buddha-Dhamma, all that stuff is there in the Thai forest tradition. You might want to read the biography of Ajahn Mun sometime. You do not have to believe in those things to practice, but you cannot meaningfully re-frame the teachings to say that those things are not part of the teachings.


I have been following forest tradition teachers for almost a year before moving to Thailand and then to Sri Lanka. Most of these teachers emphasis on the present moment and the current life. Most of them do not give over-emphasis to the rest. Overall message is it is fine to set them aside.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:35 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:There is no possibility of attaining stream entry while holding a wrong view. And denying the existence of the next world is a wrong view.

So what you saying is anyone who doesn't believe in rebirth is unable to attain even stream entry leave aside nibbana. Is that right? Basically, any Buddhist who doesn't believe in rebirth is practicing in vain? So your suggestion is "either believe in it or no nibbana for you". Sounds pretty "Islamic fundie" to me. If Buddha really taught dhamma this way then he would have been not much better than the bible or the Quran. :tongue:

Ñāṇa wrote:the whims of your own head-trip


For someone who is a step ahead in the right view to nibbana, you do throw out an awful lot of personally insulting remarks and ridicule to others opinions don't you think. lolz.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Nyana » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:45 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:There is no possibility of attaining stream entry while holding a wrong view. And denying the existence of the next world is a wrong view.

So what you saying is anyone who doesn't believe in rebirth is unable to attain even stream entry leave aside nibbana. Is that right?

It's what the suttas and every Buddhist tradition says.

There are a couple of ways of working with skepticism about rebirth:

(1) acknowledge that rebirth is an integral part of the teachings while recognizing that the teachings on rebirth don't resonate with oneself at this time and setting them aside so as to practice other aspects of the Buddha's teaching to the best of one's abilities, or

(2) dismiss the teachings on rebirth and attempt to reinterpret the entire Buddhist tradition without reference to it, asserting that the teachings on rebirth are not important.

The first approach is actually recommended to skeptics in the suttas. The second approach is never recommended in the suttas and amounts to trying to remake the Budhadhamma in one's own image.

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:49 pm

There are more than those two ways, Nana. It's disingenuous to call it an either-or dichotomy, attempting to control the course of a discussion with such straw men. Pāṭaliya had a fine time setting it all aside, at the Buddha's recommendation.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Nyana » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:02 pm

daverupa wrote:There are more than those two ways, Nana. It's disingenuous to call it an either-or dichotomy, attempting to control the course of a discussion with such straw men. Pāṭaliya had a fine time setting it all aside, at the Buddha's recommendation.

Setting it aside and engaging in other practices is mentioned in #1 above.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby vinasp » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:06 pm

Hi everyone,

Some argue that we should believe in rebirth because MN 117 explains that right view
includes: 'there is this world and the next world.'

But it is also a part of right view that 'there are spontaneously reborn beings.'

Those who ask us to believe these things have an obligation to explain what they mean by
them.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby suttametta » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:53 pm

No one is asking anyone to believe anything. You don't need to believe in rebirth to one day come to the direct experience of it in the practice of the path. An essential element of the path in fact is to leave opinions aside and neither to accept or reject any opinion. As the mind goes deeper into meditation, naturally one can see past lives and future lives of oneself and others, along with other psychic powers. I'm saying this is a factual event. It doesn't require your belief to be true or untrue. It can be tested for yourself. Or you might meet a teacher with amazing psychic power.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby santa100 » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:06 pm

From Ven. Thanissaro: ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... birth.html )

...nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings [beings born without the need for parents in heaven or hell]; no contemplatives or brahmans who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby vinasp » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:31 pm

Hi everyone,

We also need to pay attention to the meaning of the term 'deva'. Some are making a sharp
distinction between human beings and deva's. But there was no such distinction at the time
that the Discourses were composed. The category of human beings blends into the category
of deva's.

There are three kinds of Deva:

1. Conventional, that is, kings and princes, who are addressed as 'Deva!'.
2. Purified, that is, Buddhas and arahants.
3. Spontaneously born (this includes some human beings).

See: Thus Have I Heard, by Maurice Walshe, introduction page 44.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:57 am

santa100 wrote:From Ven. Thanissaro: ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... birth.html )

...nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings [beings born without the need for parents in heaven or hell]; no contemplatives or brahmans who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves...


Two remarks regarding "no spontaneously reborn beings [beings born without the need for parents in heaven or hell]"

1. Although 'spontaneously born' is the usual meaning of opapaatika, in the context of mundane right view the commentaries understand it to denote rebirth in general, no matter which of the four modes of generation is involved.

2. When opapaatika is used in the sense of 'spontaneously-born', the range of beings thus born is not confined to those in heaven and hell:
"What is spontaneous generation? There are devas and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation. These are the four kinds of generation." (MN.i.73)

Spontaneously-born humans are those that arise at the start of a world-cycle through the decadence and increasingly coarse appetites of the Abhassara Brahmas.

The "beings in the lower worlds" are petas and suchlike.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby santa100 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:25 am

Thank you for the detailed explanation.. :anjali:
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:21 pm

BlueLotus wrote: So, irrespective of what the suttas say of "cessation of suffering", they think the "only way out of suffering" is to end existing. So the whole "cycle of rebirth and samsara" come in to play.


You're correct in saying that some suttas talk about ending suffering here and now, but I wonder whether this is referring to the cessation of mental suffering - as opposed to the cessation of both mental and physical suffering? Maybe looking at the Pali would help to clarify this.

An obvious example is the Arrow Sutta where one is ( still ) struck by the first arrow ( physical pain ) but not by the second arrow ( associated mental pain ). Bearing in mind that in the ancient world being struck by an arrow would have been a traumatic life-threatening injury, analogous to a gun-shot wound today.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby equilibrium » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:49 pm

It must be "mental" as one cannot end suffering by simply ending this very life.....the root cause (mental) has not been resolved.....therefore there will be an effect.....future life of suffering.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:53 pm

There seems to be a wide range of views in debates like this. Is this a fair summary?

1. The Buddha didn't teach rebirth and the realms, it was added in later.
2. The Buddha taught rebirth and the realms, but only as skillful means or metaphor.
3. The Buddha taught rebirth and the realms and intended it literally rather than metaphorically - but these teachings are redundant to Buddhist practice.
4. The Buddha taught rebirth and the realms and intended it literally rather than metaphorically - and these teachings are important for Buddhist practice.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:37 pm

One can say that the rebirth talk in the Nikayas is present, and leave it at that. An opinion on the facticity of the matter, prior to direct knowledge, is simply unwarranted: literal, metaphorical, some of both, neither one... nothing of this sort need be chosen. DN 1 showcases how acceptance of even one's own experience on the matter can lead to wrong view. There, the focus is on the arising of contact in and of itself, rather than on the content of the contact - resultant views are where problems start. Indeed, the hell of six sense contact and the heaven of six sense contact bear this out.

I see that the Buddha taught using rebirth, and taught without using rebirth, depending on the audience. Nana's earlier "recognize they are integral" isn't obvious to me; Pāṭaliya wasn't asked to acquiesce in this way, for example.

But Pāṭaliya also didn't dismiss rebirth as wrong, nor was it suggested that he see it metaphorically - important points, to be sure, since they were possible answers the Buddha could have chosen, yet did not. The perplexing issue was simply set aside with Buddha's Wager; an attested approach which seems wholly sufficient for getting beyond these metaphysical distractions, and back to practical concerns.
Last edited by daverupa on Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:47 pm

daverupa wrote:I see that the Buddha taught using rebirth, and taught without using rebirth, depending on the audience. Nana's earlier "recognize they are integral" isn't obvious to me; Pāṭaliya wasn't asked to acquiesce in this way, for example.

But Pāṭaliya also didn't dismiss rebirth as wrong, nor was it suggested that he see it metaphorically - important points, to be sure, since they were possible answers the Buddha could have chosen, yet did not. The perplexing issue was simply set aside with Buddha's Wager; an attested approach which seems wholly sufficient for getting beyond these metaphysical distractions, and back to practical concerns.

SN 42.13 doesn't exist in isolation, it exists embedded in the rest of the sutta corpus. And in this larger context rebirth is repeatedly affirmed. Moreover, in this larger context the view affirming the next world isn't qualified as a distraction, but as a practical concern.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:54 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:SN 42.13 doesn't exist in isolation, it exists embedded in the rest of the sutta corpus. And in this larger context rebirth is repeatedly affirmed. Moreover, in this larger context the view affirming the next world isn't qualified as a distraction, but as a practical concern.


It's described as effluential, siding with acquisition and becoming, but wholesomely motivating. When that view is part of a listeners' perplexity, the Buddha found other ways of engendering motivation. Once there is motivation, one ought (I paraphrase MN 2) stop thinking about a personal past and future; this is the approach which sides with dispassion and cessation, and which matures in release.

This is the larger context I see in the Nikayas.

---

I said this before, elsewhere, but it might bear repeating here:

Future becoming is not, now, a source of dukkha for me - the only possible contact therefrom is actually via the aggregates which I can imagine now as being in the future, but those images I am to renounce (per SN 22.79 - up to and including aspirations that merit generate a heavenly/superior future becoming). It is only the aggregates which I can recall/imagine in the past, but those I am to be indifferent towards, irrespective of whether they appear to be from an earlier life or not. The present aggregates receive the practice of awareness and mindfulness.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:24 pm

daverupa wrote:It's described as effluential, siding with acquisition and becoming, but wholesomely motivating. When that view is part of a listeners' perplexity, the Buddha found other ways of engendering motivation. Once there is motivation, one ought (I paraphrase MN 2) stop thinking about a personal past and future; this is the approach which sides with dispassion and cessation, and which matures in release.

Not thinking in terms of inappropriate attention and the six views arising therefrom doesn't preclude appropriately considering rebirth through inferential cognition. The former is incompatible with paṭiccasamuppāda, while the latter is entirely consistent with paṭiccasamuppāda where a mental continuum continues until craving and ignorance are eliminated, and is not terminated by physical conditions (e.g. brain death).
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:29 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Not thinking in terms of inappropriate attention and the six views arising therefrom... is incompatible with paṭiccasamuppāda


Do I understand you correctly here? Can you rephrase this?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

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