the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:33 am

manas wrote:Yes, there is more to 'seeing' than it seems.


Apparently a large chunk of the brain is required for processing visual input.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21759233
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:23 pm

There was a pretty good blog post by Ven. Dhammika the other day about rebirth.

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2013/03/t ... birth.html

I like how he presents the Buddhist concepts, issues with references to the Suttas, the Pali, and keeps it short and simple, to the point.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby greggorious » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:24 pm

Ajahn Sumedho seems to have some good thoughts about rebirth. He seems to suggest that there's almost a choice in how we are re-born, we'll likely choose to be reborn in a situation in which we feel will comfortable with, because that is our desire to do so. Our desire is reborn.
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby iforgotmyname » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:02 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:There was a pretty good blog post by Ven. Dhammika the other day about rebirth.

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2013/03/t ... birth.html

I like how he presents the Buddhist concepts, issues with references to the Suttas, the Pali, and keeps it short and simple, to the point.


Thanks for sharing David, it was a simple read. I wish I could find out for myself - that's the only way to cast out any doubts.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby manas » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:20 am

David N. Snyder wrote:There was a pretty good blog post by Ven. Dhammika the other day about rebirth.

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2013/03/t ... birth.html

I like how he presents the Buddhist concepts, issues with references to the Suttas, the Pali, and keeps it short and simple, to the point.


Thanks for that, David. I liked how he answered a "what is it that actually gets reborn?" question, from one of his readers:

Dear Ryan, I and other Buddhists have answered this question many, many times before, but I’m happy to do so again. However, I do find it curious that people think that identity is incompatible with change. Surely it is correct to say that Rome is 2500 years old despite the fact that the city changes every day. We have no problem at looking at a photo of ourselves taken in childhood and saying “That’s me” despite the fact that our size, shape, muscle tone, ideas, opinions, etc have completely changed since the photo was taken. The individual is like a football team founded 75 years ago. During that time hundreds of players have joined the team, played with it for five or ten years, left and been replaced by other players. Even though not one of the original players is still in the team or even alive, it is still valid to say that ‘the team’ exists. Its identity is recognizable despite the continual change. The players are hard, solid entities but what is the team’s identity made up of? Its name, memories of its past achievements, the feelings that the players and the supporters have towards it, its esprit de corps, etc. Individuals are the same. Despite the fact that both body and mind are continually changing, it is still valid to say that the person who is reborn is a continuation of the person who died - not because any unchanging self has passed from one to another but because identity persists in memories, dispositions, traits, mental habits and psychological tendencies.


A good analogy to give, and one that many folks out there might be able to relate with!

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:52 am

It is my OPINION that if one doesn't believe/understand rebirth as literal rebirth, then one doesn't understand the 1st noble truth fully. I further contend that until one has strong faith (or knowledge) in the truth of rebirth, one cannot call themself a Buddhist.

Its integral to the teaching, and if people disbelieve, its only due to skeptical doubt which is one of the samyojanas.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:22 am

I agree partially with your opinion. But I don't think you're quite right about this point:

mogg wrote:if people disbelieve, its only due to skeptical doubt which is one of the samyojanas.


I can say with some confidence that if I have not embraced a belief in rebirth, it is because I have yet to see a compelling reason put forward for believing in it. Not because of "skeptical doubt".

Suppose I were to say to you, "Friend Mogg, there is a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri which is inhabited by Greek and Roman gods, who teleported there during the reign of Constantine the Great. They also brought along all the centaurs and dryads."

Would you believe it? Not unless I offered you a convincing reason. And if I didn't, would your non-belief be due to "skeptical doubt"?

I agree with you, though, that rebirth is an essential Buddhist teaching (regardless of my own relationship to it).
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:55 am

Lazy_eye wrote:I agree partially with your opinion. But I don't think you're quite right about this point:

mogg wrote:if people disbelieve, its only due to skeptical doubt which is one of the samyojanas.


I can say with some confidence that if I have not embraced a belief in rebirth, it is because I have yet to see a compelling reason put forward for believing in it. Not because of "skeptical doubt".

Suppose I were to say to you, "Friend Mogg, there is a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri which is inhabited by Greek and Roman gods, who teleported there during the reign of Constantine the Great. They also brought along all the centaurs and dryads."

Would you believe it? Not unless I offered you a convincing reason. And if I didn't, would your non-belief be due to "skeptical doubt"?

I agree with you, though, that rebirth is an essential Buddhist teaching (regardless of my own relationship to it).

Hi Lazy,

skeptical doubt is lack of knowledge. I doubt the existence of the planet you detailed because I lack the requisite knowledge to form a adequate response.

There is plenty of evidence for rebirth (unlike the example you likened it with) and it is a very logical proposition. IMO it is illogical to disbelieve rebirth based on the data we have available. I make a full disclosure that I have no personal experiential knowledge to base my opinion on, but the circumstantial evidence is strong and it supports my intuition. Added to this, I have the testimony of many people whom I place absolute faith in (including one family member who is also a Professor of medicine) who do claim to have experiential knowledge. To add to this, we have the testimony of the Buddha and all the great arahants. Thats as good as it can get for me. I'm 99% sure that rebirth is real (with the remaining 1% reflecting a lack of direct personal evidence) the same way that I'm 99% sure that Iceland exists, despite having no direct personal experience of its existence.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:35 am

Lazy_eye wrote:I can say with some confidence that if I have not embraced a belief in rebirth, it is because I have yet to see a compelling reason put forward for believing in it. Not because of "skeptical doubt".

Suppose I were to say to you, "Friend Mogg, there is a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri which is inhabited by Greek and Roman gods, who teleported there during the reign of Constantine the Great. They also brought along all the centaurs and dryads."

Would you believe it? Not unless I offered you a convincing reason. And if I didn't, would your non-belief be due to "skeptical doubt"?

I agree with you, though, that rebirth is an essential Buddhist teaching (regardless of my own relationship to it).


There is also no compelling reason to believe humans have free will (there are scientific hypotheses that porpose that we do not have free will) or that we are all essentially equal or that democracy is a good political system.
But we believe in those things anyway - because we find it would be immoral to believe otherwise.


That said, the verb is "believe in" - ie . 'to trust, to have faith in, to find something worthwhile.'
Try to rephrase "Peter believes in rebirth" into "Peter considers the possibility of rebirth" and check if it changes your perception of this issue. "Believe in" and "believe" are pretty loaded verbs.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:07 am

mogg wrote:There is plenty of evidence for rebirth (unlike the example you likened it with) and it is a very logical proposition. IMO it is illogical to disbelieve rebirth based on the data we have available.


Please post it or PM to me. So far I have seen zero evidence.


To me, belief in rebirth is as justifiable as Christian belief in resurrection... I do try my best to believe in rebirth. But I fail...

It is strange how an adult person has difficulty remembering one's own childhood (one's own brain was not fully developed then so it was not as good at storing memories) , and yet we find the idea about memories of past lives (before this brain even existed) to be credible... Yeh, right.

Reincarnation all over again

Last Thursday, ABC repeated its Primetime Thursday Special on Reincarnation, entitled “Back From the Dead”. This told the story of a little boy who appeared to be the reincarnation of an American World War II pilot shot down and killed by the Japanese. It seemed a pretty compelling story. From the ABC Primetime site:

From an early age, James would play with nothing else but planes, his parents say. But when he was 2, they said the planes their son loved began to give him regular nightmares.

"I'd wake him up and he'd be screaming," Andrea told "Primetime Live" co-anchor Chris Cuomo. She said when she asked her son what he was dreaming about, he would say, "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out."
Reality Check (sic)

Andrea says her mom was the first to suggest James was remembering a past life.

At first, Andrea says she was doubtful. James was only watching kids' shows, his parents say, and they weren't watching World War II documentaries or conversing about military history.

But as time went by, Andrea began to wonder what to believe. In one video of James at age 3, he goes over a plane as if he's doing a preflight check.

Another time, Andrea said, she bought him a toy plane, and pointed out what appeared to be a bomb on its underside. She says James corrected her, and told her it was a drop tank. "I'd never heard of a drop tank," she said. "I didn't know what a drop tank was."

(Snip)

Andrea says James told his father he flew a Corsair…

Looks pretty conclusive from the way it was presented on ABC, yes? Actually no. The TV company, looking for ratings rather than the truth, didn’t tell the full story. In particular, they missed this rather important piece of the timeline, as reported by the Pittsburgh Daily Courier:

At 18 months old, his father, Bruce Leininger, took James to the Kavanaugh Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, where the toddler remained transfixed by World War II aircraft.

A few months later, the nightmares began.

(My bold. Note: this information came from the child’s mother.)

According to the ABC special, the child “was only watching kids' shows… and they weren't watching World War II documentaries or conversing about military history”. Really? Yet somehow they forgot to mention the WORLD WAR II AIR MUSEUM he had visited. Sheesh! Don’t you think that revealing this information might have made a slight difference to the story?

It gets worse:

Andrea's mother suggested she look into the work of counselor and therapist Carol Bowman, who believes that the dead sometimes can be reborn.

With guidance from Bowman, they began to encourage James to share his memories — and immediately, Andrea says, the nightmares started to become less frequent. James was also becoming more articulate about his apparent past, she said.

(My bold.)

I’d like to suggest a slightly different version of this story that is entirely consistent with the facts, but doesn’t require us to believe the extraordinary claim of reincarnation.

Corsair1 It starts when this child’s parents take him to a WWII air museum. Now, the article says this was the “Kavanaugh Flight Museum in Dallas”, but I presume it meant to say the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Dallas. And at this place they have on display a WWII Corsair (the plane James will later say he flew). According to the museum’s Corsair web page:

The famous gull-wing design of the F4U Corsair makes the plane one of the most distinctive fighters of World War II

This young boy, not unusually, is excited by the planes, and remembers the name of the distinctive Corsair he saw with the unusual gull-wing, plus many other details, including things his mother didn’t remember, such as these drop fuel tanks that are also displayed at the museum.

Naturally, this small boy was fascinated by warplanes and he remembered obscure details about them that his mother didn’t. Of course, he enjoyed showing off this knowledge to her, later.

However, although he was excited by the planes, the images of WWII battles also frightened him, and they soon began to give him nightmares about being trapped in a plane on fire.

This is when the real problem starts. The child’s grandmother, for no obvious rational reason I can think of, suggests he is remembering a past life. She brings in Carol Bowman (an author of several books on reincarnation), to “affirm” James' nightmares. (Bowman is said to have been influenced by Ian Stevenson – another reincarnation proponent who is known to ask leading questions of young children.) Bowman “encourages” James in his fantasies, also with leading questions. Unsurprisingly, the child cooperates in this fantasy building. After all, they’re telling him he was a real pilot.

The father then starts to research the story, obtaining and reading books on WWII fighter planes. While reading one of these books with his father, the child points to a picture of the distinctive Corsair he remembers from the museum and says, "that was my plane." At some point the child starts drawing pictures of planes, signing them "James 3" (his name is James).

During this time the parents buy him plane toys and read him plane books. From the TV program we know they bought him a toy plane big enough for him to sit in, and every shot showed him in pilot’s goggles or by a plane. Carol Bowman asked him leading questions and encouraged his fantasy at every turn. Being a young child, he loved making up fantasies of being a pilot, to go with the toys he had been given. But they were just stories.

Admittedly there appear to be a couple of inexplicable hits. First, the child said he flew off a boat. When asked the name of the boat he says "Natoma", and when asked the name of someone on the boat, he says "Jack Larson". While flipping through another book on WWII, James points at Iwo Jima and says that's where he got shot down. The father discovers there was a boat called the Natoma Bay, and finds there was only one Corsair pilot from this ship who was shot down at Iwo Jima, and his name was James M. Huston Jr. (So now they have an explanation of the "James 3" he keeps writing on his pictures, since "3rd" would come after "Jr.".) Also, John Larson turns out to be a real person who knew James M. Huston Jr.

But do these few apparent hits really need explaining? First, James is not an unusual name. Little James wrote his name on his pictures as most children would, but the “3” could mean anything (and we have no way of knowing if it was written before or after his father found out about James M. Huston Jr.).
Edited to add:

As pointed out by Tim in the comments below, James had just had his third birthday, so it is hardly surprising that he started to sign his pictures “James 3”; at least, we now have a prosaic explanation for “James 3”. And as another person commented, James the third should be written “James III” not “James 3”. In summary: "James 3" means nothing.

“Natoma” is the name of a ship he could no doubt have seen in one of his father’s books. But “Natoma” is not quite “Natoma Bay” - and did he say “Natoma” or just something similar? We’ll never know. Only “John Larson” can’t be explained easily. But even with this we really don’t know:

If James really said these words
If he was prompted
If he said it after his father had read the name to him, and the father’s timeline is confused
If he said something close that the father mis-remembered later when he read the name John Larson
How many other things the kid said over the course of four plus years that did not match up but that the parents have forgotten

Considering how his mother has apparently “forgotten” about the museum visit that started the whole thing off, I am disinclined to take either of James’ parents’ word for it that the child “remembered” these items exactly as claimed. This is hardly extraordinary evidence for such an extraordinary claim.

Paul Kurtz chairman of the Center for Inquiry and CSICOP, was briefly featured on the program saying he thinks the parents are self-deceived: “They're fascinated by the mysterious and they built up a fairy tale". Yes, that sounds quite possible. Following this, a TV company interested more in ratings than the truth makes a sensationalist program about it, conveniently forgetting to mention the museum trip that actually started the whole thing off. And so another legend is born, to be added to the literature that supposedly shows reincarnation really happens, to be repeated ad nauseam by believers. Yawn.

Edited to add:

According to this source, James Huston was shot down in a FM2 Wildcat, not a Corsair as little James “remembers”:

From July to September of 2000, James began to tell his parents that the plane in his nightmares was shot down by the Japanese after it had taken off from a ship on the water. When James was asked if he knew who the pilot was, he simply replied “James.”

Andrea asked James what type of plane he was flying in his dreams, and he said it was a “Corsair.”

(Snip)

After vigorously checking into the squadron’s aircraft action records, [James’ father] found out that Huston was shot down in a FM2 Wildcat fighter plane – not a Corsair.

(My emphasis.)

Which is the more prosaic explanation:

James Huston was shot down in a Wildcat, and would only have had traumatic memories of being shot down / unable to get out of his Wildcat, yet inexplicably his reincarnated soul remembers being shot down in the Corsair, or
Little James only remembered the distinctive Corsair from the museum, and so only made up stories about the Corsair?

I suggest that people insisting in option 1 above are unnecessarily choosing the less parsimonious explanation.
http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005 ... ion_a.html
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:21 am

Alex123 wrote:
mogg wrote:There is plenty of evidence for rebirth (unlike the example you likened it with) and it is a very logical proposition. IMO it is illogical to disbelieve rebirth based on the data we have available.


Please post it or PM to me. So far I have seen zero evidence.


To me, belief in rebirth is as justifiable as Christian belief in resurrection... I do try my best to believe in rebirth. But I fail...

It is strange how an adult person has difficulty remembering one's own childhood (one's own brain was not fully developed then so it was not as good at storing memories) , and yet we find the idea about memories of past lives (before this brain even existed) to be credible... Yeh, right.


Alex you are confusing the mind with the brain. They are two separate phenomena.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/ ... death/all/

I recommend looking into the work of Prof Jim Tucker, Prof Ian Stevenson, Dr Bruce Greyson, Dr Pim Van Lommel, Sam Parnia, Dr Brian Weiss etc.

Terminal lucidity and other phenomena are also interesting things to investigate.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:38 am

mogg wrote:Alex you are confusing the mind with the brain.


Even if mind is caused by brain, when brain is gone, so is the mind.

mogg wrote: They are two separate phenomena.


Then how do they interact? This is extremely tough question. I can expand on this.


Regarding NDE: The problem is that NONE of those subjects actually died, and were buried in cemetery or cremated. The modern medicine kept them from permanently dying. Their brain was NOT destroyed, buried in the cemetery, etc. They recollected their visions when the brain resumed working.

I'll believe NDE-cases when a dead decaying body is buried in the cemetery, or cremated, and that person comes to the people saying "I am alright!".
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:45 am

Alex123 wrote:
mogg wrote:Alex you are confusing the mind with the brain.


Even if mind is caused by brain, when brain is gone, so is the mind.

mogg wrote: They are two separate phenomena.


Then how do they interact? This is extremely tough question. I can expand on this.


Regarding NDE: The problem is that NONE of those subjects actually died and were buried in cemetery. The modern medicine kept them from permanently dying.
Their brain was NOT destroyed, buried in the cemetery, etc. They recollected their visions when the brain resumed working.

I'll believe NDE-cases when a person is buried in the cemetery and comes to the people saying "I am alright!".

Hi Alex, your assumptions are incorrect. I recommend reading Dr Pim Van Lommel's Lancet paper on NDE.

Mind is NOT caused by the brain. The mind exists independent of the body. There have been NDE cases where the patient's brain was removed from the body.

Regarding rebirth, here is a primer from a Prof of philosophy to get you warmed up:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZhMDU9GcVg
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:54 am

mogg wrote:Mind is NOT caused by the brain. The mind exists independent of the body.


Then how come that when person takes enough alcohol, drugs, or brain is damaged due to disease - the mind ALWAYS changes?

mogg wrote:There have been NDE cases where the patient's brain was removed from the body.


Was the brain put back in? Again, the problem with NDE's is that person has not irreversibly died, the body was not cremated or decayed to dust in the grave.

I would reject "brain -> mind" observation if a person could be fully conscious, be able to think, and fMRI (and similar machines) would show ZERO activity in the brain. Better yet, zero amount of brain tissue.


As for Ian Stevenson research: It is far from a proof, even as he himself admitted. Some cases could be like "James 3", and as most mystical explanation: those kids remembered someone ELSE'S life.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:07 pm

Alex123 wrote:
mogg wrote:Mind is NOT caused by the brain. The mind exists independent of the body.


Then how come that when person takes enough alcohol, drugs, or brain is damaged due to disease - the mind ALWAYS changes?

mogg wrote:There have been NDE cases where the patient's brain was removed from the body.


Was the brain put back in? Again, the problem with NDE's is that person has not irreversibly died, the body was not cremated or decayed to dust in the grave.

I would reject "brain -> mind" observation if a person could be fully conscious, be able to think, and fMRI (and similar machines) would show ZERO activity in the brain. Better yet, zero amount of brain tissue.


As for Ian Stevenson research: It is far from a proof, even as he himself admitted. Some cases could be like "James 3", and as most mystical explanation: those kids remembered someone ELSE'S life.

Alex, yet again you equate brain and mind, they are two separate things. A radio and radio signal are two separate things, yet if I smash the radio, the signal cannot be clearly processed. Its the same as your drug and alcohol example.

There have been hundreds of cases of NDE with zero activity in the brain (fMRI). You are really behind the 8ball with this stuff. Yet again, I encourage you to read Dr Van Lommel's papers or even better, read his book.

I am somewhat lucky in this area as I hail from a big medical family. Many surgeons, anesthetists, and a couple of professors...I have many anecdotes from family members that 100% support the findings of Dr Van Lommel and Sam Parnia and others. I am the only Buddhist in my family, yet almost all of them believe in rebirth.

Stevenson's research is robust, and just another nail in the materialistic coffin. You need to educate yourself more thoroughly before you make a decision. It is my contention that a Buddhist can only go so far on the path without accepting rebirth as a truth.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:42 pm

mogg wrote:Alex, yet again you equate brain and mind, they are two separate things. A radio and radio signal are two separate things, yet if I smash the radio, the signal cannot be clearly processed. Its the same as your drug and alcohol example.


Without radio, one cannot hear the song. So without the brain, there is no consciousness.

A radio and signal are both physical processes. Not so with mind and brain.

Signal has physical origin: Singer sings (physical sound) into a microphone (a physical object), which is connected to other physical devices and which then transmits a physical signal.

Lets say that mind is filled with loving kindness. But the brain gets damaged and produces angry mental states.

What happens? Do we have two entities
1) Mind with loving kindness And 2) brain with anger?

If so, which is the person? Which has final decision? 2nd of course.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:54 pm

Alex123 wrote:
mogg wrote:Alex, yet again you equate brain and mind, they are two separate things. A radio and radio signal are two separate things, yet if I smash the radio, the signal cannot be clearly processed. Its the same as your drug and alcohol example.


Without radio, one cannot hear the song. So without the brain, there is no consciousness.

A radio and signal are both physical processes. Not so with mind and brain.

Signal has physical origin: Singer sings (physical sound) into a microphone (a physical object), which is connected to other physical devices and which then transmits a physical signal.

Lets say that mind is filled with loving kindness. But the brain gets damaged and produces angry mental states.

What happens? Do we have two entities
1) Mind with loving kindness And 2) brain with anger?

If so, which is the person? Which has final decision? 2nd of course.

There's no point arguing with me Alex, I'm putting this stuff here for your benefit. Either investigate the resources I've recommended and come back for an intelligent meaningful discussion or lets end it right here.
Your limited conceptual thinking won't cut it. Investigate deeper.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:03 pm

mogg wrote:
There is plenty of evidence for rebirth (unlike the example you likened it with)...


I can't agree with you there, Mogg. Having participated in Buddhist forums for a number of years and discussed the rebirth issue many times, what has repeatedly struck me is the paucity of evidence. The same handful of examples (Ian Stevenson, the good Dr. Van Lommel) get trotted out over and over again, along with various inconclusive anecdotal or personal stories, and arguments from (religious) authority. If we're really lucky, somebody has just viewed a YouTube video purporting to explain quantum physics, and then we can get that funky Deepak Chopra groove going.

But all of this, really, is grasping at straws. The basic problem is that religious people are looking for science to confirm their pre-existing beliefs. And that quest is inherently screwed. For one thing, scientific findings frequently change. So even if you did find a research paper or case study that seems to support rebirth, what happens next year when that evidence is debunked?

It would be better, I think, if devout Buddhists simply stopped trying to rationalize their beliefs via science and just admitted the beliefs are based on faith in the Buddha or some sort of conversion experience.

Added to this, I have the testimony of many people whom I place absolute faith in (including one family member who is also a Professor of medicine) who do claim to have experiential knowledge.


The problem is that personal testimony, even when it comes from very wonderful and admirable people, is one of the most unreliable forms of evidence there is. Our impressions of what we experienced or saw can be easily distorted by emotions or preconceptions.

People with intelligence and insight can be wrong on some questions. The astronomer Percival Lowell was absolutely 100% convinced that canals existed on Mars. He believed he had seen them himself through the telescope. Are there canals on Mars?

I recommend reading Dr Pim Van Lommel's Lancet paper on NDE.

Mind is NOT caused by the brain. The mind exists independent of the body.


This is where folks start jumping to unsupported conclusions. Neither Van Lommel's paper nor any of the other NDE research shows that "mind exists independently of the body". That's just hype and wishful thinking. What the research shows is that there are things we don't know about the brain and mind, and that there be may shortcomings in our methods of measurement.

Again, there is a persistent problem with how religious people (mis)use this sort of evidence. Typically, it amounts to "Hey! Here is a mysterious phenomenon that scientists can't explain! It must be supernatural!"

But in reality an unexplained phenomenon is just that -- an unexplained phenomenon. It may be possible to explain it some day.

There have been hundreds of cases of NDE with zero activity in the brain (fMRI).


No. This assertion is misleading. The claim being made is that EEG measurements did not record brain activity at the time when the NDEs took place. That does not necessarily mean there was "zero activity in the brain". An EEG will not necessarily record all possible brain activity.

Really, I don't see that much is gained by these selective appeals to science. I have to say that when I first started exploring the topic of rebirth, I was not only open minded but inclined to believe. But after encountering the barrage of pseudoscience and fallacious logic that we usually see in these discussions, I have become less inclined to believe. I'm still open to the possibility, but my view is somewhat influenced by the poor quality of the arguments put forward. I have seen a lot of unconvincing reasons offered, and very little in the way of convincing reasons.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:11 pm

:goodpost:
    "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 mogg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:25 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:snip


Lazy eye I understand your objections and strongly disagree with you. There is an abundance of evidence available that supports rebirth,the fact that you don't understand the science involved is not an indictment of the evidence. The kind of higher brain function that is reported by the NDE data cannot even be remotely explained by our current paradigms. It does however, completely fit in with the Buddhas description of reality, and is consistent with rebirth doctrine.
More importantly, data obtained from meditation can be checked for validity. Its a consistent message that is reported back from advanced meditators.
I don't expect to sway you, nor do I particularly care. You've reached your current (incorrect) worldview based on prior causes and conditions. To rectify the situation will require the requisite causes, which I suspect in your case, will have to involve some personal meditative recollection of past lives.
You may have already seen this video, but its worth watching nonetheless:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_qBIw7qyHU

Keep chipping away.
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