the great rebirth debate

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Spiny Norman
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:05 pm

clw_uk wrote:It therefore naturally follows that when we dont sucumb to aversion etc, then "I am" does not arise.


You may be right, I'm still trying to work out the meaning of the SN22.81 passage we were looking at ( relevant bit below ). It seems to be saying that the assumption of form being self arises when craving arises, ie identification with the aggregates arises when craving arises - is that your understanding? From a practical point of view it seems a bit chicken and egg because without insight into anatta craving will continue to arise - in other words until the assumption of form being self is seen through, craving will persist.

"There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person....assumes form to be the self. That assumption is a fabrication. Now what is the cause, what is the origination, what is the birth, what is the coming-into-existence of that fabrication? To an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person, touched by that which is felt born of contact with ignorance, craving arises. That fabrication is born of that."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:54 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Dr. Dukkha wrote:"And what is kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is called kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma."

How does following the Noble Eightfold Path generate neither dark nor bright kamma and not bright kamma? What makes it separate?


Do you have a quote reference?

Anguttara nikaya the book of fours sutras 232- 238. :smile:

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:15 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:It therefore naturally follows that when we dont sucumb to aversion etc, then "I am" does not arise.

You may be right, I'm still trying to work out the meaning of the SN22.81 passage we were looking at.


I came across an interesting note by Bhikkhu Bodhi in his SN translation. It's note 63 on page 1057, which refers to SN22.47, a similar passage to SN22.81:

Ignorance is the most fundamental condition underlying this process, and when this is activated by feeling it gives rise to the notion "I am" - a manifestation of craving and conceit. The idea "I am this" arises subsequently when the vacuous "I" is given a content by being identified with one or another of the five aggregates.
This passage presents us with an alternative version of dependent origination, where the "way of regarding things" and notion "I am" belong to the causally active side of the past existence; the five faculties to the resultant side of the present existence; and the recurrance of the notion "I am" to the causal side of the present existence. This in turn will generate renewed existence in the future.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:11 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:It therefore naturally follows that when we dont sucumb to aversion etc, then "I am" does not arise.

You may be right, I'm still trying to work out the meaning of the SN22.81 passage we were looking at.


I came across an interesting note by Bhikkhu Bodhi in his SN translation. It's note 63 on page 1057, which refers to SN22.47, a similar passage to SN22.81:

Ignorance is the most fundamental condition underlying this process, and when this is activated by feeling it gives rise to the notion "I am" - a manifestation of craving and conceit. The idea "I am this" arises subsequently when the vacuous "I" is given a content by being identified with one or another of the five aggregates.
This passage presents us with an alternative version of dependent origination, where the "way of regarding things" and notion "I am" belong to the causally active side of the past existence; the five faculties to the resultant side of the present existence; and the recurrance of the notion "I am" to the causal side of the present existence. This in turn will generate renewed existence in the future.



Which is a nice way to twist the sutta into bhikkhu bodis preferred three life times model. He does it quite often, for example his writings that imply there is "something" beyond death for an arahant, despite no real evidence for that in the suttas.
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:I came across an interesting note by Bhikkhu Bodhi in his SN translation. It's note 63 on page 1057, which refers to SN22.47, a similar passage to SN22.81:

Ignorance is the most fundamental condition underlying this process, and when this is activated by feeling it gives rise to the notion "I am" - a manifestation of craving and conceit. The idea "I am this" arises subsequently when the vacuous "I" is given a content by being identified with one or another of the five aggregates.
This passage presents us with an alternative version of dependent origination, where the "way of regarding things" and notion "I am" belong to the causally active side of the past existence; the five faculties to the resultant side of the present existence; and the recurrance of the notion "I am" to the causal side of the present existence. This in turn will generate renewed existence in the future.



Which is a nice way to twist the sutta into bhikkhu bodis preferred three life times model. He does it quite often, for example his writings that imply there is "something" beyond death for an arahant, despite no real evidence for that in the suttas.


I posted it because it confirms the idea of moment-to-moment rebirth - so I was agreeing with you!

I'm not clear whether the second paragraph is talking about different lifetimes or just about past, present and future. Ignore it if you like.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Kusala » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:38 pm

Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:43 am

kusala wrote:"My Past Life Regression story"


I'm a qualified hypnotherapist and I would never try "past life regression" with other people because cryptomnesia can manifest, family/group memories, a vivid imagination etc.

My former Tibetan Buddhist teacher (rather than strangers on YouTube videos) told me not to practice past life regression because its completely "unreliable." He also told me that even though he was a Tulku (reincarnated teacher) he couldn't remember any past lives.



.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:17 pm

After having followed this debate (and sometimes participated in it) for years, I'm still not clear on why belief in rebirth is considered necessary for awakening. What exactly is its role in bringing this about?

From what I can see, the arguments for rebirth being necessary often hinge on the following:

1. It is included in some (but not all) definitions of Right View.
2. Since the Buddha taught it, not believing it amounts to lack of saddhā, and thus poses a barrier to stream entry since one has not overcome skeptical doubt regarding the Dhamma.

I'll leave it to others to debate the validity of either 1 or 2 -- what I want to know is whether rebirth-belief has a part in the ultimate, liberating insight that Buddhists strive for.

The "three watches of the night" account of the Buddha's awakening seems to suggest that it doesn't, since rebirth is not mentioned in relation to the third watch of the night. We don't say the Buddha reached nibbana during the first or second watch, where rebirth is mentioned explicitly.

Just wondering. I've run into people who claim that one can make a certain amount of progress without accepting rebirth, but will be blocked from higher attainments. But to me the opposite makes more sense: rebirth/kamma are a foundation for sila and a way of approaching causality, but the belief would eventually pose an obstacle as it is a clinging to view. I can see that outright rejection of rebirth would also constitute a clinging to view and thus pose an obstacle, but this is not the same thing as saying that a rebirth belief is needed to become awakened.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:44 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:After having followed this debate (and sometimes participated in it) for years, I'm still not clear on why belief in rebirth is considered necessary for awakening. What exactly is its role in bringing this about?


Because without it, one is simply not motivated enough to practice hard (if effort on the path is required). One's conception of dukkha would only extend to this life, and one would still think within the context of this one life only. Ultimately, for some, worldly matters might override Dhamma. I am being realistic here. It might not be apparent to some people for now, but eventually it will.

Of course, it is great if one can fully practice, to the max, the path without belief in rebirth.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will relentlessly exert ourselves, [thinking,] "Gladly would we let the flesh & blood in our bodies dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if we have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing our persistence."' That's how you should train yourselves."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"And who is the individual who goes against the flow? There is the case where an individual doesn't indulge in sensual passions and doesn't do evil deeds. Even though it may be with pain, even though it may be with sorrow, even though he may be crying, his face in tears, he lives the holy life that is perfect & pure. This is called the individual who goes against the flow.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:52 pm

Alex123 wrote:Because without it, one is simply not motivated enough to practice hard (if effort on the path is required). One's conception of dukkha would only extend to this life, and one would still think within the context of this one life only.


Yes, I have made a similar argument before. But still, it doesn't relate to nibbana per se -- just to the motivation of the practitioner.

Ultimately, for some, worldly matters might override Dhamma. I am being realistic here.


Isn't that true even for many Buddhists who do believe in rebirth? Don't lay Buddhists almost by definition fall into this category?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:55 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Yes, I have made a similar argument before. But still, it doesn't relate to nibbana per se -- just to the motivation of the practitioner.


It relates to the development of the path. I've added two quotes in my above message about the level of motivation


Lazy_eye wrote:Isn't that true even for many Buddhists who do believe in rebirth? Don't lay Buddhists almost by definition fall into this category?


They don't believe it enough. Just saying "I believe" doesn't always mean that deep down in the gut, and they need to fear hell just like you fear jumping into the cage with hungry tigers.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:16 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Yes, I have made a similar argument before. But still, it doesn't relate to nibbana per se -- just to the motivation of the practitioner.

It relates to the development of the path. I've added two quotes in my above message about the level of motivation.


So we can agree, then, that rebirth-belief is not connected with liberating insight, but rather with motivation? And in theory, a sufficiently motivated person could practice fully without that belief?

They don't believe it enough. Just saying "I believe" doesn't always mean that deep down in the gut, and they need to fear hell just like you fear jumping into the cage with hungry tigers.


But they don't need to reach nibbana in order to avoid hell; sotapanna is enough. So again this rebirth question seems to be associated with earlier stages on the path.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:20 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:So we can agree, then, that rebirth-belief is not connected with liberating insight, but rather with motivation? And in theory, a sufficiently motivated person could practice fully without that belief?


I do not know if belief in rebirth is required.
However, I doubt that many people will put in effort if one is agnostic about rebirth.
I do not know how believing "there is no rebirth" will prevent awakening. In suttas this is wrong view. But how that works, I don't know.

Lazy_eye wrote:But they don't need to reach nibbana in order to avoid hell; sotapanna is enough. So again this rebirth question seems to be associated with earlier stages on the path.


It depends on the difficulty of "attaining" sotapatti.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:25 pm

Alex123 wrote:I do not know how believing "there is no rebirth" will prevent awakening. In suttas this is wrong view. But how that works, I don't know.


Right, yeah, I am not referring to outright rejection of a "next life". That would be an obstructive view -- the suttas are clear on this point.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:27 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:But they don't need to reach nibbana in order to avoid hell; sotapanna is enough. So again this rebirth question seems to be associated with earlier stages on the path.

Using this logic, the entire Dhamma teaching is not necessary because the entire "raft of Dhamma" is abandoned in the end. The practice of the Dhamma is associated with all the earlier stages on the path and in the end, it's abandoned because one has reached the far shore.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:39 am

Hi James,
I don't think this follows from what I wrote earlier. I didn't call for throwing out any part of the path; I suggested that rebirth belief is not part of the liberating insights that result in nibbana. It may be beneficial for other reasons, such as generating the motivation to seek nibbana in the first place, but nibbana is not attained through contemplating rebirth; it is attained through other means, which the Buddha has outlined (e.g. Satipatthana).

There are various suttas, notably DN 11, in which the Buddha summarizes different kinds of meditative practices that bring about different results, including past life recollection, mind reading, and the ability to walk through walls. Most of these practices are tangential at best. But one of the meditation practices -- directing attention to the ending of mental formations -- is right on the mark. Thus we can see that although the Dhamma as it has come down to us includes a variety of teachings -- each of which may have its purpose -- not all of these teachings are connected with nibbana.

Likewise, there is the much-discussed MN 117 with its distinction between two kinds of Right View, one leading to acquisitions and the other to release.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:29 am

The day science proves without doubt death is the end , this would be a fatal blow to all religions including buddhism. This scenario ( death is the end ) would make the dharma pretty irrevelant in the long run. The goal of the dharma is to end dukkha but if death is the end, all living beings will end dukkha naturally at death. Maybe science will never find out the answer of what happens to us after death. Maybe scientists will found out someday.( death being the end) That would make the Buddha seriously wrong in this important matter. ( what happens to us after death) The Buddha was seriously deluded when he declared the destinations of beings after death and when he recorded his past lives. Or the Buddha was telling the truth.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:57 am

Lazy_eye wrote:After having followed this debate (and sometimes participated in it) for years, I'm still not clear on why belief in rebirth is considered necessary for awakening. What exactly is its role in bringing this about?

From what I can see, the arguments for rebirth being necessary often hinge on the following:

1. It is included in some (but not all) definitions of Right View.
2. Since the Buddha taught it, not believing it amounts to lack of saddhā, and thus poses a barrier to stream entry since one has not overcome skeptical doubt regarding the Dhamma.

I'll leave it to others to debate the validity of either 1 or 2 -- what I want to know is whether rebirth-belief has a part in the ultimate, liberating insight that Buddhists strive for.

The "three watches of the night" account of the Buddha's awakening seems to suggest that it doesn't, since rebirth is not mentioned in relation to the third watch of the night. We don't say the Buddha reached nibbana during the first or second watch, where rebirth is mentioned explicitly.

Just wondering. I've run into people who claim that one can make a certain amount of progress without accepting rebirth, but will be blocked from higher attainments. But to me the opposite makes more sense: rebirth/kamma are a foundation for sila and a way of approaching causality, but the belief would eventually pose an obstacle as it is a clinging to view. I can see that outright rejection of rebirth would also constitute a clinging to view and thus pose an obstacle, but this is not the same thing as saying that a rebirth belief is needed to become awakened.

According to the sutras the Buddha attained 3 knowledges. In the first watch of the night , he remembered many past lives . In the second watch of the night , he understood how beings are reborn after death according to their actions. This is the second knowledge the Buddha attained. In the last watch of the night the Buddha understood the way leading to the cessation of taints. So yeah rebirth is pretty revelant to understand the buddha's enlightenment.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:10 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Hi James,
I don't think this follows from what I wrote earlier. I didn't call for throwing out any part of the path; I suggested that rebirth belief is not part of the liberating insights that result in nibbana.

Then what do you make of the stock phrase that is often repeated in the suttas about the arahant's knowledge of enlightenment?

Ven. Thanissaro:
MN 86 wrote:He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Angulimala became another one of the arahants.

Ven. Bodhi:
MN 86 wrote:He directly knew: "Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being." And the venerable Angulimāla became on of the arahants.


EDIT: added emphasis to sutta quotes
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:12 am

Nikaya35 wrote:According to the sutras the Buddha attained 3 knowledges. In the first watch of the night , he remembered many past lives . In the second watch of the night , he understood how beings are reborn after death according to their actions. This is the second knowledge the Buddha attained. In the last watch of the night the Buddha understood the way leading to the cessation of taints. So yeah rebirth is pretty revelant to understand the buddha's enlightenment.


Yes, the first two knowledges specifically refer to rebirth and kamma, whereas the third does not. And only the third knowledge actually constitutes the breakthrough that results in nibbana.

There isn't much that is specifically "Buddhist" about the first two knowledges, in any case. Jainism is much older than Buddhism and it also teaches about kamma and transmigration of beings. The third knowledge is what really sets the Buddha apart.


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