the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby DarkDream » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:20 pm

As I stated in my introduction, I am quite critical about the literal notion of rebirth.

I have written three posts in my blog that I believe provide convincing arguments which show the improbability of the mechanism of literal rebirth:

They can be found here (in three parts):

http://dreamwhitehorses.blogspot.com/2008/11/buddhist-rebirth-refuted-part-1.html
http://dreamwhitehorses.blogspot.com/2008/11/buddhist-rebirth-refuted-part-2.html
http://dreamwhitehorses.blogspot.com/2008/11/buddhist-rebirth-refuted-part-iii.html

The main arguments (summarized) I make against the belief is the following:

1) Consciousness can not exist without a body.
2) Instaneous transfer of karmic energies cannot be guarantee a suitable being-to-be.
3) Difficulty in explaining population explosions.
4) Problem with infinite regress with the gandhabba.
5) Dubious scientific evidence.
6) Questionable value for salvation.

Any constructive comments would be appreciated.

--DarkDream
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:19 pm

DarkDream wrote:3) Difficulty in explaining population explosions.

You are aware that a human is not always reborn as a human, right? One can be reborn as a animal, heavenly being, ghost, or hell being. And beings from these realms can be reborn as any other type of being. So it is no trouble for populations in any one realm to fluctuate.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:47 pm

Go on then, I'll give this one a go.

DarkDream wrote:1) Consciousness can not exist without a body.
2) Instaneous transfer of karmic energies cannot be guarantee a suitable being-to-be.
3) Difficulty in explaining population explosions.
4) Problem with infinite regress with the gandhabba.
5) Dubious scientific evidence.
6) Questionable value for salvation.

1) Firsly, why not? The idea that consciousness is a construct of the brain is an axiom and cannot be proven to be true OR false: correlation is not causation. Also, does punabbhava require consciousness to be detachable? I don't think so.

2) There are many conditions for re-becoming. Kammic continuation is one of them. I think you have this backwards (I may be wrong).

3) Already explained

4) I don't know what ganddhaba is. Sorry.

5) Scientific evidence is predictive and repeatable in nature. I think re-becoming has too many variables. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence though.

6) Could you elaborate? I know I don't want to 'go round again'!!!

NOTE: I'm a rookie upasaka. Go easy on me :)
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby DarkDream » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:23 am

Peter wrote:
DarkDream wrote:3) Difficulty in explaining population explosions.

You are aware that a human is not always reborn as a human, right? One can be reborn as a animal, heavenly being, ghost, or hell being. And beings from these realms can be reborn as any other type of being. So it is no trouble for populations in any one realm to fluctuate.


Peter, thanks for your input.

Yes, if we take the cosmological model seriously, this is correct. Population explosions can be explained by other beings from other realms being reborn in the human realm.

I do recongnize this in my essay (you'll have to read it to gain a more detailed explanation) but is seems to me highly dubious that all of a sudden beings from other realms are dying like crazy to "accomodate" an exploding poplulation. It would seem that any population explosion would be contingent on the "availability" of fluxes of beings from other realms rather than other such factors as increased life expectency, sanitation and so on.

What more is that according to the Buddha a human life is a difficult realm to be born into. So why all of a sudden an explosion in the number of human beings? Is it in this current cosmic age beings in other realms are really either getting their acts together or doing really bad (if you are in a god realm for example)?

Given all the horrible things that goes on in this world with genocide, wars and so on, it seems the human population should go down as beings should be being born in the lower realms.

--DarkDream
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:48 am

DarkDream

I dont believe fully in rebirth but do have some confidence in it, i do however like to keep some healthy skepticism so can appreciate some of your points since some are points i have asked myself

1) Consciousness can not exist without a body.
Correct, the buddha states so himself

2) Instaneous transfer of karmic energies cannot be guarantee a suitable being-to-be.
Why do you think this is? it happens everymoment of this life, kamma leads to a new birth of being in this moment

3) Difficulty in explaining population explosions.
This i feel has already been answered (one reason i have hears is because of widespread destruction of nature so many more animals are dying are more chances of human birth with more humans reproducing, also factor in other possibilites of other life in the universe given the huge scale of planets in the known universe and the traditional realms of devas, hell-beings etc)

4) Problem with infinite regress with the gandhabba.
I to have some problem with this word, however one point was made to me, the fact that buddha made reference of different concepts of the time, in this case it refered to a heavenly being, so he could have used it as a teaching method to explain a new being about to be born

5) Dubious scientific evidence.
This is of course correct, however a lack of evidence doesnt mean its impossible just currently un-testable, the deathless is untestable but still a reality

6) Questionable value for salvation.
Could you elaborate?




may i ask you some answers in turn however?

If the Buddha did not teach rebirth at all how do you account for the widespread use of it in so many parts of the canon?

If there is no dukkha after physical death, you do you think the buddha didnt teach that death was the end of dukkha and instead places so much importance of craving, if this ends at physical death why did he instruct followers who were about to die how to end some if not all craving?


Since i do not think the buddha would lie, why do you think he taught rebirth if he didnt know or care if it happens, there were already people at that time ready to accept non-rebirth (i.e. the followers of the materialist philosophy etc) and the buddha would not add other concepts or teachings that were not part of the Dhamma. He would only change the amount he revealed to each individual need so some would could only accept kamma, others the more advanced teachings on the four noble truths, dependent origination etc


I can understand the arguments that the buddhas teachings refer to rebirth as the birth and death of self identifcation in moments (this is one of my core understandings of his teachings) but there are many suttas where the buddha does say "so and so was reborn here". How do you account for this?
Last edited by clw_uk on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:22 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:00 am

A thread with this title should not even exist here. Mods, change the title, remove the thread or remove Dhamma from the name and call these forums Wheel from now on.

-------------

Short of seeing, knowing, realizing and understanding, directly and precisely, there is only reasoning and faith. So any perceptions, conceptions and everything based on that has not been informed by the most important and only irrefutable kind of knowledge and understanding. Stream entry takes all of this out of the realm of theory. No model, and the three life model is only that, a rough sketch, can come close to the dynamic complexity of the real universe. Be it in the present life, over three lives or over a million lives, the connections between being past, being present and being future are ongoing and continuous. Only the arahant knows and sees things as they are and knows why the cycles of being have fully resolved within. Between the fruit of stream entry and final release it is "entirely obvious" that short of ending the cycles that cause manifest existence, it will continue regardless of the forms it takes. When one sees directly why one exists, one knows that it can not end until the cyclic forces within have been entirely brought to stillness.

Arguments about rebirth, what it is, how it works, why it works and so on take place in complete ignorance of the living evidence within oneself that does not exist at all before this is seen directly for what it is. Noble beings do not question any of this at all. So it is pretty obvious to the Noble beings and to every one else that understands the criteria for real understanding that everyone else is quite clueless about the true basis for all of this. Until it is seen, the best approach is to acknowledge one's ignorance, to admit, to oneself at least, that one is ignorant of the truth of this and to make every effort to establish that truth and no effort to make any determination of any other kind. People can go on and on about this and any number of things forever until then, in fact they do. Do yourself a favor, save yourself the shame and remorse you will feel if and when you do understand for having taken any stance on this and made any claims of any kind regarding the true understanding of dependent origination and rebirth before stream entry. Those who persist in declaring any understanding while still fully in ignorance are not doing themselves or anyone else any favors.

It may be time for us to start holding people to account for all the bs they promote. Time to say, fine, you are quite sure about all this. Now tell us how life is for you as a Noble being on the first, second, third and fourth path. We have many questions for such as you and we can benefit from your direct understanding. If you can not respond from this POV in honesty and in complete conformity to the Dhamma then you are deluding yourself, doing great harm to many others and being entirely disrespectful to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

As disciples of the Buddha, these kinds of efforts to refute His Noble gifts to all beings is the highest form of disrespect a self declared follower could possibly demonstrate. I am going to continue to say so and maybe it is time to start kicking butt and taking names as well. Such people should not be recognized as followers of the BuddhaDhamma, whoever they may be in this world.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:18 am

Hi Nathan

As disciples of the Buddha, these kinds of efforts to refute His Noble gifts to all beings is the highest form of disrespect a self declared follower could possibly demonstrate. I am going to continue to say so and maybe it is time to start kicking butt and taking names as well. Such people should not be recognized as followers of the BuddhaDhamma, whoever they may be in this world.


I dont think this is darkdreams intent, one is allowed to question and discuss the buddhadhamma, the buddha said dont believe it until you know it to be true via investigation as well as other means, otherwise its just blind belief that doesnt get you anywhere

I also dont think that a disbelief in rebirth, if one has a correct understanding of the 4 noble truths and dependent origination, can count as slandering or refuting the Dhamma, it could just mean they dont find it important and are just focusing on nibbana here and now (which is kinda the point)


:anjali:
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:26 am

clw_uk wrote:I dont think this is darkdreams intent, one is allowed to question and discuss the buddhadhamma, the buddha said dont believe it until you know it to be true via investigation as well as other means, otherwise its just blind belief that doesnt get you anywhere

In the Kalama Sutta he said, among other things, see what the wise say about it, and test for yourself whether following the instructions works. He never said "occupy your time over pointless arguments".
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.


I agree with Nathan. If people want to reject rebirth that's OK. Just don't claim that it represents the Buddha's Dhamma.

Metta
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:29 am

Your correct mike he did say that and perhaps thats what darkdream is doing, perhaps as well its not pointless for him

Interesting you should use that sutta since it states

'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.



Notice it says if there is another world, not that there is

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:32 am

clw_uk wrote:Notice it says if there is another world, not that there is

Yes, but there are plenty of other Suttas which continue along the lines "Since there is ...".
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
A2. "Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong speech. Because there actually is the next world, when he is says that 'There is no next world,' he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma. And in that persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, he exalts himself and disparages others. Whatever good habituation he previously had is abandoned, while bad habituation is manifested. And this wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, opposition to the arahants, persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, exaltation of self, & disparagement of others: These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.

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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:34 am

clw_uk wrote:Hi Nathan

As disciples of the Buddha, these kinds of efforts to refute His Noble gifts to all beings is the highest form of disrespect a self declared follower could possibly demonstrate. I am going to continue to say so and maybe it is time to start kicking butt and taking names as well. Such people should not be recognized as followers of the BuddhaDhamma, whoever they may be in this world.


I dont think this is darkdreams intent, one is allowed to question and discuss the buddhadhamma, the buddha said dont believe it until you know it to be true via investigation as well as other means, otherwise its just blind belief that doesnt get you anywhere

I also dont think that a disbelief in rebirth, if one has a correct understanding of the 4 noble truths and dependent origination, can count as slandering or refuting the Dhamma, it could just mean they dont find it important and are just focusing on nibbana here and now (which is kinda the point)


:anjali:
What is internal remains internal what is said and done externally does not. Intentions formed in ignorance and delusion often have little to do with the effects and results. Promotion of ignorance and delusion is just that, in any form.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:34 am

I agree with Nathan. If people want to reject rebirth that's OK. Just don't claim that it represents the Buddha's Dhamma.


If you reject dependent origination and so rebirth in this life,
four noble truths,
anicca, anatta and dukkha

Or if you claim to be a follower of the Buddha but indulge in drink and drugs, tell lies, steal then this is slandering the buddha in my opinion not questioning a doctrine that is about physical death


:anjali:
Last edited by clw_uk on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:38 am

Greetings Nathan,

nathan wrote:A thread with this title should not even exist here. Mods, change the title, remove the thread or remove Dhamma from the name and call these forums Wheel from now on.

A topic like this would not be permitted anywhere on the forum other than in this Dhammic Free-For-All, which has specific guidelines.

Appropriate conduct within the Dhammic free-for-all
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:51 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Nathan,

nathan wrote:A thread with this title should not even exist here. Mods, change the title, remove the thread or remove Dhamma from the name and call these forums Wheel from now on.

A topic like this would not be permitted anywhere on the forum other than in this Dhammic Free-For-All, which has specific guidelines.

Appropriate conduct within the Dhammic free-for-all
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=175

Metta,
Retro. :)
That's fine Retro. I was simply making a point. I suggest another forum area called 'the wheel' where ignorant and useless, circular and baseless argumentation can persist in it's all it's inexhaustible diversity and predictable forms. An area clearly separate from those areas where people who acknowledge their own persisting forms of ignorance and confusion, who do not wish to waste their time with futile endeavors, can focus on what is important in developing real understanding. Then those who wish to waste their own time and that of any others and who can see nothing better to do can do can play out their internal fantasies all they like.
Last edited by nathan on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:52 am

Although I think it is clear that the OP has not refuted rebirth, I have no problem with his posting this thread here. If it makes people upset then they might want to think about why. When a post like this is calmly and kindly refuted then all those who might have had similar thoughts benefit from reading it. No one benefits from an antagonistic response to ignorance.

Metta

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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:56 am

That's fine Retro. I was simply making a point. I suggest another forum area called 'the wheel' where ignorant and useless, circular and baseless argumentation can persist in it's all it's inexhaustible diversity and predictable forms. An area clearly separate from those areas where people who acknowledge their own persisting forms of ignorance and confusion, who do not wish to waste their time with futile endeavors, can focus on what is important in developing real understanding. Then those who wish to waste their own time and that of any others who have nothing better can do can play out their internal fantasies all they like.



For some people questioning rebirth isnt useless, perhaps they just want to understand more? If we dont allow for its occasional discussion with those who need to discuss it then whats the alternative, simply stating "thats how it is and you must accept it"? I dont think anyone here would agree thats the correct behaviour the Buddha would expect from us.

I also feel this area of this site is sufficient for those who wish to discuss such things, other people dont have to get involved in a particular thread if they feel the topic is a waste of time


:focus:

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“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:48 am

Craig:
For some people questioning rebirth isnt useless, perhaps they just want to understand more?


And for some people who want to look at paticcasamuppada in terms of three lives is not useless, perhaps they want to understand more?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:51 am

Also, as far as this thread is concerned, do not feed the bears.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby cooran » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:54 am

And, besides which, if you look at the Board Stats, it's clearly where most people come when on Dhamma Wheel.

The Dhammic Free-for-all and associated sub-forums beats all the other forums and sub-forums here hands down in numbers of Topics and Posts. Can't see the Views - but I'm assuming it wins the Logie in that area as well.

Good thing? Not a good thing? :shrug:

metta
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:58 am

And for some people who want to look at paticcasamuppada in terms of three lives is not useless, perhaps they want to understand more?


lol very good point tilt, well placed comment :lol:

Sadhu


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