the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:51 pm

Peter wrote:Start by assuming there is something wrong with your own understanding and proceed from there.
"I find the teachings on rebirth lead me away from the present moment. What am I doing wrong or understanding wrong?"

Wow, you can replace "rebirth" with nearly anything in my case and this applies to me! Thanks Peter, very helpful indeed! :)
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:40 pm

DarkDream



You say, "kamma can be instant in this life as well so no reason why it cant after physical death." Well for one thing kamma as I understand it is a primarily a psychological process associated with volition. The generation of kamma seems to be contingent upon an actual individual (specified by the Buddha as the five skhandas) without those in place how can it continue? Maybe the result or vipaka of kamma can exist after death, but how can kamma?


It is psychological and volition your correct, the generation of kamma is not dependent on an individual but on ignorance of the thought of self which leads to intentional action, kamma cant exsist after its done because its volition, it just means intention, all that can come after is a result and as the Buddha said, not all kamma ripens in one life


Maybe you could reference where you got this passage from. Unfortunately, I don't have the context from which theses statements were made. Just reading the passage seems to suggest in a later life, but it seems somewhat ambiguous with "here and now." To me that does not exclude some future date in the present life.


i didnt provide a link because i typed it out from my book as i couldnt find the sutta online, there is a simillar one here if you wish to look and comment, it comes from the same book but the sutta i used was number 13 and this one only goes up to 11, whats you take on this sutta though, i think it would be good to see your view on it


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Also your view on this quote, the buddha here is talking about a person who is an Arahant

He understands : With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here; mere bodily remains will be left



Good point. You are right, as the Buddha neither mentioned a finite or infinite amount of beings I can't exclude the infinite option. However, I do not think this detracts from my argument which points out that population explosions are totally contingent on beings dying enmasse from another world to allow for this to occur. This seems to to go against the common sense reason of population explosions that has to do with better health care, standard of living and so on.


Of course i dont think i can answer you fully, this is going into speculation as there is no real way for me to know and answer you fully


I agree the Buddha taught a literal notion of rebirth in this present life, but I am not so sure if it goes back to the original Buddha himself that it actually continues after death.


I can see how you accept coniditonality, how do you account for this life in conditionality if your physical birth had no cause behind it at all? Why wouldnt it continue? is there something that can stop it? There is death everymoment but that doesnt stop a new birth of self because there is dependent origination. If death was the end of conditionality, the end of dependent origination, then there would have been nibbana years ago for all beings, since the first time the sense of "I" died in this life and death ends conditionality, there would be no more I-making or craving


What I am trying to say is that the term "punabhava" was most likely to have been a term the Buddha used. I think the proper understanding of the term is "becoming." You can read many of the suttas and substitute "rebirth" with "becoming" with a psychological connotation that works fine in lots of cases. However, I don't believe it makes sense in all suttas. In these, I contend were misunderstood, corrupted or made up.


I agree with you here, which is why when the Buddha states for example "i recalled my manifold past lives" that to me this is him stating how he recalls past moments of clinging to aggregates as self, but of course this doesnt have to stop at physical birth either


I would argue that all heaven and hells are only in the mind. Sure it does not prove the non-existence of theses realms but I am very skeptical of their existence due to any lack of evidence and in all human soceities there has been the notions of heaven and hells which smacks somehow an extension of basic human psychology.


Your right there has always been notions of heaven and hell, i think its important to remember that these are just words arent they, just conventions that come from the unenlightened dualistic thinking of the worldly mind, of course yet again no reason to deny their existence after physical death, they exsist in reality right here now dont they


Now this seems to be the whole key right here. Thanks for pointing out this sutta. It appears that all the five skhandas subside and go out. Therefore, the mental formations (which include consciousness) ceases (supporting one of my original points in the blog entry). Now can you point out to me a sutta which explicitly says that it is kamma and not consciousness or any other thing that "in some way conditions a new being"? This is the entire crux right here.


There are many other suttas where the Buddha talks of death like this, as for a sutta about kamma and death


The Great Exposition of Kamma
15. (i) "Now, Ananda, there is the person who has killed living beings here... has had wrong view. And on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in the states of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell.7 But (perhaps) the evil kamma producing his suffering was done by him earlier, or the evil kamma producing his suffering was done by him later, or wrong view was undertaken and completed by him at the time of his death.8 And that was why, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappeared in the states of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell. But since he has killed living beings here... has had wrong view, he will feel the result of that here and now, or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.

16. (ii) "Now there is the person who has killed living beings here... has had wrong view. And on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination, in the heavenly world.9 But (perhaps) the good kamma producing his happiness was done by him earlier, or the good kamma producing his happiness was done by him later, or right view was undertaken and completed by him at the time of his death. And that was why, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappeared in a happy destination, in the heavenly world. But since he has killed living beings here... has had wrong view, he will feel the result of that here and now, or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.10

17. (iii) "Now there is the person who has abstained from killing living beings here... has had right view. And on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination, in the heavenly world.11 But (perhaps) the good kamma producing his happiness was done by him earlier, or the good kamma producing his happiness was done by him later, or right view was undertaken and completed by him at the time of his death. And that was why, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappeared in a happy destination, in the heavenly world. But since he has abstained from killing living beings here... has had right view, he will feel the result of that here and now, or in his next rebirth, or in some subsequent existence.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html



The whole point of my blog entries was exactly to examine the veracity of the idea of "kamma that in some way conditions a new being." I examined it to show the implausability of kamma somehow conditioning other beings to but the whole notion of literal rebirth after death in doubt.


Look at kamma and birth and death in this life would be my advice, a new being arises all the time in this life and is conditioned by kamma, no need for a physical death for this to happen


But from the sutta you just described for me, I am even more doubtful that there can be any kamma that in some way continues. For me kamma (apart from the cosmological references) was described by the Buddha as a psychological process (volition) that seems to me to be a part of the "mental formations." Kamma to me has always been part of a process. By saying that kamma conditions a new being, how does that occur? Is kamma energy, a electro-magnetic wave, a thought?


My understanding is that Kamma creates conditions that allow for other conditions to arise (this is a very rough outline of my understanding).


It appears that by talking of kamma as being able to condition another human being you are inflating kamma from a process into some entity (sounds like a soul). If what you say is correct, then why does kamma not condition beings that are going to be born when we are alive? Why does this work *only* when we die? Can you answer me this question?


It doesnt only work when we are die, it happens in this moment, the thought of "I" or me is born and dies everymoment there is clinging, the new birth of "I" is a new being that is conditioned by kamma (or result of kamma i should say). No need to wait for a physical death this process of birth death and rebirth in line with the conditioning of kamma is happening every moment. Its not a soul or identiy because of anicca and its conditioned so is anatta.

Why doesnt Kamma condition a new being already after physical death? is this your question?

If it is my answer is because the conditions are not yet right for that being to arise, there hasnt been a death, just as in this life there can only arise one sense of "I" in any moment and not two


The reason kamma works when you are alive is that kamma is part of a mental process. Kamma can only exist contingent on a body that has all the five skhandas working. This I can see and verify. It seems to me fundamentally different the continuation of kamma to a different body than the same one that is working.


The ability to perform kamma is dependent on ignorance yes, but the result is not

If the really important thing "is enlightenment in this moment right here" then why do we need to even talk about rebirth after death. Does it not take a person away from looking here and now? I mean if we take what you say seriously couldn't Buddhism survive without belief in rebirth over many lifetimes?


It of course depends on your tradition etc, for example someone who has taken the bodhisattva vow will include rebirth more into their practice since bodhisattvas are about staying in rebirth to help others, I however have less focus or need for rebirth since im concerned with Arahantship in this moment

Does it take a person away from now? depends on the persons understanding, practice etc. If one has full or healthy understanding of anatta, anicca and dukkha as well as Śūnyatā then they can look at rebirth without losing the present moment.



I mean if we take what you say seriously couldn't Buddhism survive without belief in rebirth over many lifetimes


This is a difficult thing to answer since there have been many debates about it, all i can only give you an answer that comes from my own practice and understanding

For me rebirth is a skillfull means, its not something to be grasped at but something that aides one in reaching nibbana. Reguardless of its reality at physical death the Buddha did teach it so it must serve a purpose. I have no real problem with rebirth (only that if it happens and im not an Arahant im stuck with dukkha again lol).

It is interesting to note though that the first three sermons that he delivered to his five companions that were with him during his years of ascetism dont mention rebirth at all, its about the four noble truths, about self view and Anatta and about the middle way etc and this was enough to liberate them, so in my opinion rebirth view is not required for some individuals to reach Arahantship

However rebirth is a reality in this existence isnt it, you dont have to look far for samsara and rebirth because were stuck right in it in this moment, does it end with death? my gut instinct is no because of conditionality and the fact the Buddha stressed so much that the only way to end dukkha was to end craving not death

However i dont accept it out of blind faith, i keep some skepticism to it but i dont let that skepticism distract me from whats really important which is awakening in this moment


If there is rebirth its just the same old dukkha and craving all over again, if not then death is nibbana isnt it, since it would be the end of all dukkha, craving and I-making


Hope that I have helped answer some of your questions, or have i just raised more lol?


:anjali:
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:01 pm

DarkDream wrote:Thanks for responding back and providing a reasoned response that shows that you've read my blog entries. I appreciate that.

I am not trying to be demeaning but what do you mean by, "Physical Death - I've tried it. For all practical intents and purposes consciousness continues to arise and cease without a living body"? Maybe I am misunderstanding something, but are you saying that you have killed yourself and experienced the continuing of your consciousness without your dead body?

Yes I have been physically/clincaly/however you like-fully dead. In this life. Not suicide. Yes. I consider it to be, largely, the same as life. A little different as time goes on. Life and death are not the big issue that people think it is, that is body/form attachment. Same with rebirth ideas which are, however you want to look at it, a conceptual attachment, an attachment to thought forms. They will all have to go. Or on and on it all goes, regardless of when and how you forget, or how much you have forgotten.

nathan wrote:
This from here:
http://www.mettanet.org/english/punabbhava.htm

Saccàni amma buddhavaradesitàni te bahutarà ajànantà
ye abhinandanti bhavagataü pihanti devesu upapattiü.
Devesu ' pi upapatti asassatà bhavagate aniccamhi
na ca santasanti bàlà punappunaü jàyitabbassa. Therãgàthà vv.454-5

Many, O mother, not understanding the teachings of the Noble Buddha, rejoice continuing in Samsàra. They aspire for birth in the heavenly worlds. Birth even in the heavenly worlds is impermanent, for it is still within the ever-changing samsàra. The foolish dread not at being born again again. [ Translated by the author ]


I read the interesting article you gave a link to and it is interesting how the author defines becoming as:

Bhava in Pali in our Buddhist context means " a being's continuance in samsàra through death and birth, over and over again."


Looking at the Pali English Dictionary you get:

Bhava [cp. Sk. bhava, as philosophical term late, but as N. of a deity Vedic; of bhū, see bhavati] "becoming," (form of) rebirth, (state of) existence, a "life."


If you notice the first definition is "becoming." While it may have a notion of rebirth I believe this obscures the important meaning behind the word.

In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha defines bhava in the second noble truth http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html:

And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming (ponobbhavikā) — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure (kama-tanha), craving for becoming(bhava-tanha), craving for non-becoming(vibhava-tanha).


Here "further becoming" is on a psychological basis and is not to be taken as a craving for further rebirth or literally being born again in a cosmological realm. The Buddha is saying that people suffer because they crave becoming something or in a certain way. It is a fundamental truth that human beings want to stand out or continue to be so they can justify and feel their existence. It is a craving in a sense of being permanent.

Fine. Interpret things however you like. Form the view you feel or think is correct. (To all of which I say, so what?) You will have to let go of all of that to see deeper anyways. Raw percipient consciousness holds or contains no conceptual views whatsoever and yet it clings. It clings to any and every object, one after the next, it remains forever ignorant of all things, all the rest of the mind sits on top of that and it is likewise made of mind stuff which is pretty much everywhere and easy to get a hold of and with which consciousness can begin again to make up any sort of being that can be made. Probably why there is a complete break with a previous life for most beings as they compose the next from the raw consciousness quality. That simplest form of consciousness is what clings ongoing. That is the tent maker. The house builder. It needs to see itself for what it is, entirely free from objectification, and let go of itself for cessation. It is all much more than a conceptual problem. When you can drop ALL of the conceptual craving and aversion then you can start to examine being and becoming in the much more full and complete way that it must be investigated to find the path to full release, which is release from this clinging at the root in all and every possible way. So when you have set all concepts aside, all views, you are ready to begin actually seeing as the bhikkhu must see all things, as entirely impersonal. All things are impersonal, and yet they function. Your toaster is not free of samsara either. Fortunately no active or motive consciousness quality is trapped in your toaster. :smile:
nathan wrote:To fully know and understand being and becoming:

A proof of rebirth is unnecessary. A disproof of rebirth is unnecessary. A long period of examination of being and becoming is insufficient. A momentary examination of being and becoming is insufficient. A long period of examination of being and becoming, in the moment, is sufficient.


If like you say, "A long period of examination of being and becoming, in the moment, is sufficient," then why do we need all the talk about literally being reborn in the future and so on if the "moment, is sufficient?" By believing in a literal rebirth in the future, does that not take our focus away from the examination of the moment in this life?

Thanks,

We don't need to think about rebirth in this sense. It makes no difference what we think in ignorance. The Buddha was not ignorant. He reported much of what He could see, much of what He knew. And He kept much to Himself, which I think was very wise, as this whole issue demonstrates. Believing in anything, thinking ABOUT anything, takes your focus away from simple BARE ATTENTION or EXAMINING the nature of being and becoming in the moment; if you are spending all your time toying with concepts instead of examining your body and mind as simply impersonal processes, which will continue on in ignorance, until you know, realize and understand the empty and impersonal nature of all conditions. That is what is important. Whatever else might be known with those faculties is irrelevant to releasing the clinging of consciousness to them and then the release of that consciousness which is full liberation from all of them entirely.
:anjali:
--DarkDream
To use the example of the two monks cited earlier. Both are correct. Rebirth is a very good model for how consciousness operates over the longer time scales of forming one being after another by clinging repeatedly to other consciousness qualities until that little cloud of mindstuff can be employed to form something more tangibly material of whatever sort is within it's means. The capacities and abilities wax and wane over the aeons so many forms of being and becoming are assembled and fall apart. The same goes on in this life, this thought is frequently recollected and remains, that thought is neglected and fades away, this cell is formed and that cell dies. The ongoing microsecond sense that this use of rebirth applies is in terms of that instant of contact between raw consciousness with any object and whatever other object it touches, because that consciousness quality only arises and persists for a flash. Generally this is spoken of as arising and passing or ceasing. The same processes are going on in every phenomenal sense with every other form that the consciousness 'spark' can connect with and identify as 'mine'. Overall there is the assembly of compounded forms which persist in forms of COMPOUNDED CONDITIONALITY and it is in this context that we can speak of dependent origination on so many scales from the micro to the macro.

To say that it is merely some of the conceptual forms which are at the root of the problem betrays a profound ignorance and misses the whole thrust of all of this teaching. So, whenever there is clinging to ideas in some way, that will eventually fall apart in some way as well but it does nothing to penetrate through to understanding "what clings?" and "why?". A correct understanding can treat some forms of delusion or speculation which are kinds of "craving to know" or "aversion to knowing" but it does not get down to the fundamental IGNORANCE which IS raw and unadulterated CONSCIOUSNESS, fundamentally in that momentary sense. It is that ROOT IGNORANCE which must be seen and known, realized, understood, and thereby abandoned.

So both monks are correct in the limited sense that they imply and both are wrong because they are limited senses. The Buddha in speaking of how this is true of all things simply spoke of arising and ceasing. Rebirth is used to speak of the arising and passing of that part of these groups of phenomena which are seen by ignorant beings as beings. Those who see, who, actually see, do not speak of beings at all. But they do speak of all of these processes. The process of assembling a a so called being, the life of that being, the death of that being, is called a person. The ongoing construction of one person after the next in an endless and ignorant sequence is called rebirth. It is what happens, regardless of what we think about it or what we call it.
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 DarkDream » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:19 am

Thanks for taking the time responding back and being patience with my constant probing of questions.

clw_uk wrote:
You say, "kamma can be instant in this life as well so no reason why it cant after physical death." Well for one thing kamma as I understand it is a primarily a psychological process associated with volition. The generation of kamma seems to be contingent upon an actual individual (specified by the Buddha as the five skhandas) without those in place how can it continue? Maybe the result or vipaka of kamma can exist after death, but how can kamma?


It is psychological and volition your correct, the generation of kamma is not dependent on an individual but on ignorance of the thought of self which leads to intentional action, kamma cant exsist after its done because its volition, it just means intention, all that can come after is a result and as the Buddha said, not all kamma ripens in one life


What I am getting that (which I will elaborate more explicitly below) is that if we agree is a psychological process (voiltion) it is dependent on a functioning being has the ability to generate this. I think we agree that kamma is *not* generated with out conditions. The Buddha pointed out that the human being is made out of five skandhas: rupa (form), vedana (feeling), apperception (sanna), mental formations ( sankhara) and consciousness (vinnana). If we agree that kamma is a mental process then it must be dependent on one or multiple of the five khanadas.

The Buddha never said that a dead body generates kamma, we agree? So kamma can only exist if the five khandas are working?

My point is simply this if (like the sutta you point out) on death the five skandhas subside then it logically follows that there can be no creation of kamma. Therefore at death there is no kamma to condition or provide the continuation of that entity.

clw_uk wrote:i didnt provide a link because i typed it out from my book as i couldnt find the sutta online, there is a simillar one here if you wish to look and comment, it comes from the same book but the sutta i used was number 13 and this one only goes up to 11, whats you take on this sutta though, i think it would be good to see your view on it

Sorry, I wasn't trying to be mean. I appreciate all the time you have spent. I was just trying to say that if you can supply the source then it just can make it easier to respond to :)

clw_uk wrote:I can see how you accept coniditonality, how do you account for this life in conditionality if your physical birth had no cause behind it at all? Why wouldnt it continue? is there something that can stop it? There is death everymoment but that doesnt stop a new birth of self because there is dependent origination. If death was the end of conditionality, the end of dependent origination, then there would have been nibbana years ago for all beings, since the first time the sense of "I" died in this life and death ends conditionality, there would be no more I-making or craving


In the later part of my response I will try to put foward a detailed explanation why I have difficulties.

clw_uk wrote:
Now this seems to be the whole key right here. Thanks for pointing out this sutta. It appears that all the five skhandas subside and go out. Therefore, the mental formations (which include consciousness) ceases (supporting one of my original points in the blog entry). Now can you point out to me a sutta which explicitly says that it is kamma and not consciousness or any other thing that "in some way conditions a new being"? This is the entire crux right here.


There are many other suttas where the Buddha talks of death like this, as for a sutta about kamma and death


I don't think I was really very clear. The long passage below I hope to convey better what I am driving at.

clw_uk wrote:Why doesnt Kamma condition a new being already after physical death? is this your question?

If it is my answer is because the conditions are not yet right for that being to arise, there hasnt been a death, just as in this life there can only arise one sense of "I" in any moment and not two

I think the intention behind my question is why when a person is alive generating kamma, it does not go ahead and condition a new being that is going to be born?

Even with your answer, to me it seems a little bit of a stretch. It seems like you are saying that kamma can only influence a new being under two specific conditions: one being dying and the other being-coming-to-be, that is because there can only be one "I". It seems somehow kamma would have to identify the fulfillment of these two conditions.

clw_uk wrote:
The reason kamma works when you are alive is that kamma is part of a mental process. Kamma can only exist contingent on a body that has all the five skhandas working. This I can see and verify. It seems to me fundamentally different the continuation of kamma to a different body than the same one that is working.


The ability to perform kamma is dependent on ignorance yes, but the result is not


I will try my best as possible to lay out what I am getting at. From a conceptual point of view, it seems like a logical conclusion that the rebecoming right now in this life is not really different than a rebecoming into a new being. To me there is a huge "if" here.

First of all if you have entity A which will die and condition entity B -- that is supply some continuity -- B must therefore be dependent on A. Now when I say A and B and am talking about two totally distinct entities in space and in time. I am *not* saying A at a different time. When I say A and B I am using labels for the two entities which are two processes. It just so happens that A as a process is disintegrating, and B as a process is forming.

With literal rebirth over multiple lives, B is in some sense a continuation of A or more succinctly B is dependent on A for its particular existence.

If A is dependent on B, then B must in somesense make contact or transfer something from A in order for the conditioning to occur. If there is a link between the two entities something must go ahead and provide the link between the two.

Now my exact question is what is this link?

My next question is what is this link composed of? Is it energy, is it an electronic wave, a mental thought?

What information does it contain? Does it contain its potential next entity, does it contain all the good and bad actions that former process has done over its lifespan?

How does this link traverse the divides of physical space and time? Does it fly, teleport?

You said it is kamma. Now can you show me a sutta within the four Nikayas that specifically says something along these lines:

When a being dies, at the exact moment of death there is a final volition that is generated as a form of energy which traverses over time and space to integrate intself with an embryo.

I am dubious you can. All the early Buddhist schools had different answers for these questions. The Therevada talks about the transfer of consciousness which instantaneously happens at death, the Sarvastivada talked about the gandharva. My blog posts were trying to show the dubious nature of all these explanations. The point of my blog posts was to show that if the mechanism linking the two entities is doubtful then the whole possibility of literal rebirth after death becomes extremely doubtful.

To be perfectly honest the whole enterprise seems to be extremely speculative. There is no way I know of to verify it for myself which is what the Buddha asked of his followers. As such, I can not in good faith say that literal rebirth after death exists.

With the sutta you mentioned that shows the Buddha talking about all the skandhas falling apart after death, I am even more skeptical that rebirth after death can work.

You mentioned that ignorance conditions kamma, right? Well, ignorance is a mental quality and that degrades at death; therefore no mental formations, no consciousness, to ignorance to kamma. No one can say realistically that a corpse is ignorant.

If kamma is depenedent on mental formations, then that if that degrades so does kamma.

In the final analysis, is not kamma itself a construct, a concept in the mind? How can a construct in the mind effect a physcial living being? It seems no mind, no concept, no kamma, no literal rebirth after death.

Bottom line: literal rebirth after death is a belief. To me it is just speculation. It seems I can't know for myself that it is true. As such I think it is for Buddhism a thing that should be put aside. Unfortunately, I see it as Buddhism's greatest attachment besides trying to sneek back ontology and the answering of metaphysical questions that the Buddha refused to answer.

--DarkDream
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:28 am

Bottom line: literal rebirth after death is a belief. To me it is just speculation. It seems I can't know for myself that it is true. As such I think it is for Buddhism a thing that should be put aside. Unfortunately, I see it as Buddhism's greatest attachment besides trying to sneek back ontology and the answering of metaphysical questions that the Buddha refused to answer.


Then why did the Buddha teach it as if it were true?
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 mikenz66 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:40 am

Dear DD,
tiltbillings wrote:
Bottom line: literal rebirth after death is a belief. To me it is just speculation. It seems I can't know for myself that it is true. As such I think it is for Buddhism a thing that should be put aside. Unfortunately, I see it as Buddhism's greatest attachment besides trying to sneek back ontology and the answering of metaphysical questions that the Buddha refused to answer.


Then why did the Buddha teach it as if it were true?

Most of the important stuff the Buddha taught is just a belief. How can you know that following the Eight-Fold path will actually work? Are you going to put that aside as well?

Metta
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:45 am

Importance of the Doctrine (of Dependent Origination) by Mahāsī Sayādaw

Beyond Reasoning and Speculation

When the Buddha was first considering whether or not to teach, he thought, “This truth that I have realised is very profound. Though it is sublime and conducive to inner peace, it is hard to understand. Since it is subtle and not accessible to mere intellect and logic, it can be realised only by the wise.” Great thinkers from all cultures have thought deeply about freedom from the misery of aging, disease, and death, but such freedom would mean nibbāna, which is beyond the scope of reason and intellect. It can be realised only by practising the right method of insight meditation. Most great thinkers have relied on intellect and logical reasoning to conceive various principles for the well-being of humanity. As these principles are based on speculations, they do not help anyone to attain insight, let alone the supreme goal of nibbāna. Even the lowest stage of insight, namely, analytical knowledge of mind and matter (nāmarūpa-pariccheda-ñāna), cannot be realised intellectually. This insight dawns only when one observes the mental and physical process using the systematic method of mindfulness (satipatthāna), and when, with the development of concentration, one distinguishes between mental and physical phenomena — for example, between the desire to bend the hand and the bent hand, or between the sound and the hearing. Such knowledge is not vague and speculative, but vivid and empirical.
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:14 pm

"As all plants and animals which increase, grow, and prosper, do so with the earth as their basis, just so the yogin, with morality as his support, with morality as basis, develops the five cardinal virtues, i.e. faith, vigour, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom." -Nagasena

http://web.singnet.com.sg/~rjp31831/nagasena.htm#KARMA

I need not consent that anyone must consign or condemn themselves to one or another kind of future being and becoming. Those who do so suffer. I do not wish for the suffering of others. Do any of you wish for me to wish for you to suffer? If not then take care in what you wish for me to likewise "believe" of you or your path or your fate.

It is more consciously up to you to take any given path or to know and understand The Path if you know and understand what you are and if you do not it will be simply your fate. The persistence of clinging is being. The re-arising and ceasing of other conditions are causes for becoming.

"These 24 conditions should be known thoroughly for a detailed understanding of that famous formula of the dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda)."
paccaya
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/n_r/paccaya.htm

In death it may be that the mind will also break up fully very quickly or it may be that the mind will not break up very quickly or at all. One who pays little attention to the mind in this life has less mind to loose and is not as much attached to it. Such a being will loose most of what they are accustomed to cling to on the breakup of the body. One who pays little attention to the body in this life will not loose as much in the breakup of the body but if they pay much attention to the mind will loose much in the breakup of the mind. So the ways in which the mind will breakup, what will breakup and why is all dependent on conditions and qualities.

It may also be that this will simply be the release of that mind into the 'heavenly realms'. This is owing to the conditions developed and nurtured by that mind in this very life and during previous lives. A mind rich in the qualities of the brahma viharas rejoices in this release from the suffering bound up in the body. Such a mind will immediately feel very much more alive than before. A mind impoverished of such qualities which is base and full of craving and aversion will clutch and grasp at whatever it can, often leading it to unfortunate destinations which, in ignorance, it does not and perhaps cannot understand. A wicked mind appears in the hell that suits it and a blessed mind appears in the heaven appropriate to it's qualities. A deluded or confused mind full of ignorance but not so polarized through practice and habit in its moral and ethical aesthetics will grasp at whatever it can and find whichever destination it can, be it in the hell realms, ghost realms, animal realm, human realm or heavenly realms. The Buddha spoke also of those chains of dependent conditions which may rise to a heaven realm and then sink to a hell realm before returning to another more grossly embodied form. There are many possibilities for the path of these karmic processes until the path to liberation is found and then the possibilities are modified by awareness of that path as well.

There are three passages from Venerable Nagasena's answers to King Milinda's questions which may be helpful for further reflection in these regards.

http://web.singnet.com.sg/~rjp31831/nagasena.htm

The Chariot

Personal Identity and Rebirth

Personal Idenitity and Karma
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 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:01 pm

DarkDream


If we agree that kamma is a mental process then it must be dependent on one or multiple of the five khanadas.

The Buddha never said that a dead body generates kamma, we agree? So kamma can only exist if the five khandas are working?

My point is simply this if (like the sutta you point out) on death the five skandhas subside then it logically follows that there can be no creation of kamma. Therefore at death there is no kamma to condition or provide the continuation of that entity.


Kamma is just intention, there can be no creation of kamma without the 5 khandas and ignorance but the result of kamma is not the same as kamma itself, kamma is the intention, then there is a result which is not kamma (does that make sense) in other words the result depends on the kamma not on the khandas


As for the rest Im affraid i cant really give a satisfying answer to your questions, i dont know the ins and outs of kamma and the questions you are now asking go into to much detail, the buddha wasnt concerned with all this, he was only concerned with dukkha and its quenching, all the rest is unimportant since it doesnt lead to this goal

I could go on and just quote scriptures and give you my understandings but this can only lead so far. You seem to have thought about this a lot and may i suggest that this may be the problem. Your approach to understanding the Dhamma comes accross as an intellectual approach, what i mean is you tend to use a lot of thought and logic in trying to understand it, unfourtunately this wont lead you or anyone else anywhere, one can only know the Dhamma through awareness, only through complete mindfullness will one come to and understanding. All thoughts, logic, views and doubt come from ignorance, it comes from delusional bases such as from a self view etc. Thinking, logic and the like will keep you in conditionality and samsara (if you even just take it as one life) and not to the unconditioned

In reguards to the particualar topic of rebirth, can i ask why does it matter so much to you? you seem to have spent a lot of time with it. My advise would be to just let go of rebirth, focus on the dukkha that is here and now, let nibbana here and now be your aim, after that it wont matter if there is rebirth or not.


You said it is kamma. Now can you show me a sutta within the four Nikayas that specifically says something along these lines:

When a being dies, at the exact moment of death there is a final volition that is generated as a form of energy which traverses over time and space to integrate intself with an embryo.



You probably have come accross this sutta before, but i think it address your argument in reguards to rebirth and this particular line of enquiry


Once the Blessed One was staying at Kosambi in the simsapa1 forest. Then, picking up a few simsapa leaves with his hand, he asked the monks, "What do you think, monks: Which are more numerous, the few simsapa leaves in my hand or those overhead in the simsapa forest?"

"The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, lord. Those overhead in the forest are far more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.

"And what have I taught? 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress': This is what I have taught. And why have I taught these things? Because they are connected with the goal, relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. This is why I have taught them.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"



I think the question of the exact mechanism and understanding of kamma and rebirth down to the smallest detail would fit into the things left undeclared


If you find rebirth to speculative then leave it, dont avert from it since this is craving just the same as it is to delight in it, put it to one side and focus on whats important


"All that arises, passes away, and is not self.
There is suffering, it has a begining and an end,
and there is a way out of it.
That is all I teach."



I hope what I have said has been of some help to you


Metta
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“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:04 pm

That was an excellent post, Craig... well said.

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 green » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:23 pm

A Buddhist should NEVER argue about rebirth without discussing Dependent causation - to discuss it without a detailed discussion of this cycle would be like falling into a trap or wrong views.

The Arahant gains the "Tevijja" or three knowledges -- which includes the knowledge of past lives.

:anjali:
Last edited by green on Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:27 pm

Most Arahants could not answer these questions. Most Arahants would likely admonish a follower or disciple for asking these kinds of questions. There is little if anything in these lines of inquiry that will help on the path in any way. That would probably be the main reason that few Arahants could resolve most of these issues with 'answers'. That is not to say that it could not be done.

To give the kind of detailed answers on how kamma functions the Arahant would need to perfect:

CATUPAṬISAMBHIDĀ IN THERAVĀDA BUDDHISM
(THE FOURFOLD ANALYTICAL KNOWLEDGE IN PĀḶI LITERATURE)

"In reviewing the foregoing process of representation, we would have in view the following:

The key word ‘paṭisambhidā’ has a dual connotation. On the one hand, it signifies the analytical nature of the knowledge; and on the other hand, it refers to the knowledge that knows different categories of phenomena, such as the categories of resultant phenomena, categories of causative phenomena, and so on.

Concerning the analytical knowledge of result (atthapaṭisambhidā), it is the knowledge that comprehends analytically the five categories of resultant phenomena, namely, ‘whatever conditionally produced’ (yaṃkiñci paccayasamuppanna), ‘unconditioned state’ (Nibbāna), ‘meaning of the Buddha’s Word’ (bhāsitattha), ‘resultant’ (vipāka) and ‘inoperative’ (kiriya) phenomena. Alternatively, the analytical knowledge of result is the knowledge that comprehends the three categories of resultant phenomena, namely, ‘result being born’ (nibbattetabbo attho), ‘result being attained’ (pattabbo attho) and ‘result being known’ (ñāpetabbo attho).

Similarly, the analytical knowledge of cause (dhammapaṭisambhidā) is the knowledge that comprehends analytically the five categories of causative phenomena, namely, ‘whatever cause that produces result’ (yo koci phalanibbattako hetu) ‘Noble Path’ (Ariyamagga), ‘the Buddha’s Word’ (bhāsita), ‘wholesome phenomena’ (kusala) and ‘unwholesome phenomena’ (akusala). Alternatively, the analytical knowledge of cause is the knowledge that analytically comprehends the three categories of causative phenomena, namely, ‘cause that produces’ (nibbattako hetu), ‘cause that makes known’ (ñāpako hetu) and ‘cause that leads to’ (sampāpako hetu).

Thus, the Commentaries and Sub-commentaries classify those phenomena such as the four noble truths, the dependent origination and so on, which are described in the Canonical Texts, and which are comprehended by the analytical knowledge of result and the analytical knowledge of cause, into different categories belonging to result and cause respectively. Accordingly, there are various kinds of analytical knowledge of result, so are there various kinds of analytical knowledge of cause. Each of them in the same kind may not be the same from the aspect of object, purity and person in whom it arises. For example, the analytical knowledge of cause, which arises taking the Path as object in a Stream-Enterer (Sotāpanna) is not the same as the analytical knowledge of cause, which arises taking the Path as object in a Once-Returner (Sakadāgāmi). This is because the Path in the Stream-Enterer and that in the Once-Returner are diverse. For another example, the analytical knowledge of cause, which arises taking wholesome phenomena in one Non-Returner and the analytical knowledge, which arises taking the same wholesome phenomena in another Non-Returner is not the same. This is because the two kinds of knowledge are different from the aspect of purity or analyticity in different persons.

With respect to the analytical knowledge of language (niruttipaṭisambhidā), it is perhaps the most intricate to explain. The ambiguity lies in the technical term ‘dhammanirutti’, especially ‘dhamma’. The Commentaries and Sub-commentaries comment on this term in an evolutional process. At first, ‘dhammanirutti’ is commented as ‘sabhāvanirutti’ literally translated as ‘natural terminology’, next as ‘aviparītanirutti’ ‘terminology which is not changed’, then as ‘abyabhicārī vohāro’ ‘actual vocabulary’, which is always connected with the understanding of such and such meaning, and then as ‘Māgadhabhāsā’ ‘Māgadha dialect or Pāḷi language’.

Nevertheless, the final generalization of the study has revealed two dimensions of ‘dhammanirutti’. On the one hand, it refers to ‘grammatically correct terminology’; on the other hand, to ‘terminology related to ultimate realities’ in Māgadha dialect. Thus, the analytical knowledge of language has the function to understand the grammatically correct terminology of ultimate realities in Māgadha language, the stereotype of Pāḷi language nowadays. The ultimate realities are nothing but those atthas and dhammas comprehended by the foregoing analytical knowledge of attha and of dhamma respectively. In other words, the analytical knowledge of language knows the grammatically correct terminology of consciousness (citta), mental concomitants (cetasika), material qualities (rūpa) and Nibbāna as the four types of ultimate realities in Buddhism, in Pāḷi language.

Relating to the analytical knowledge of knowledge (paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā), it is the knowledge of the foregoing threefold analytical knowledge—the analytical knowledge of result, of cause and of language. It takes them as objects; and at the same time, it also understands their respective functions.

In conclusion of this thesis, there are three points noteworthy to highlight. Firstly, the fourfold analytical knowledge is distinctive, profound, yet attainable by practising the correct method shown by the Buddha and his distinguished disciples. The Buddha himself and his noble disciples, as recorded in the most authentic Pāḷi Canon, are clearly an embodiment of these kinds of knowledge.

Secondly, the fourfold analytical knowledge, though endowed with various categories, forms an inseparable set of knowledge as the whole. The Buddha and his noble disciples who attain these kinds of knowledge attain them altogether. In other words, the analytical knowledge of cause is related to the analytical knowledge of result and vice versa just like cause to result and word to meaning; likewise, the analytical knowledge of language is related to those of result and cause by means of terminology, expression, explanation and interpretation. The analytical knowledge of knowledge may then be compared to a wise overseer of its preceding ones; it clearly knows them and their functions by the state of non-delusion. Thus, of the fourfold analytical knowledge, it is the analytical knowledge of knowledge that depicts the liberated and enlightened characteristics of Buddhism—non-attachment and non-delusion.

Finally, the path to attaining the fourfold analytical knowledge had been revealed by the Buddha and his Noble Disciples; the rest is on our side. It is our own choice to tread the path, for the Buddha is just the path discoverer. Once, the Master said in the Dhammapada:

"Tumhehi kiccamātappaṃ, akkhātāro Tathāgatā..." [Dhp. 276]

"You yourself should strive to practise;
The Buddhas only teach the way...""

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/catu/catu07.htm

This is what is involved, see the above link for a fuller discussion to understand the nature of this kind of understanding. It may provide much more insight into the difficulties involved in correctly answering such questions.

from:Nibbana as Living Experience / The Buddha and The Arahant
Two Studies from the Pali Canon by Lily de Silva
Some arahants are endowed with the special accomplishment of the fourfold analytical knowledge (pa.tisambhidaa-~naa.na), which qualifies them even more thoroughly for creative work.54 These are spelt out as analytical knowledge of the meaning or goal, profound truth, language or the medium of communication, and originality of expression (attha, dhamma, nirutti, pa.tibhaana). These four special qualifications make arahants experts in communicating to their audience the exact meanings and goals of the profound truths they have discovered, through the medium of refined language, using their own original modes of expression such as eloquent similes, metaphors, etc. Several arahants, both male and female, are recorded as eloquent speakers and erudite exponents of the Dhamma.55 Special mention must be made of the Theragaathaa and Theriigaathaa, which comprise poems of exquisite beauty. They are utterances of monks and nuns embodying their varied experiences. Literary critics rank them among the best lyrics in Indian literature.56 They remain unrivalled in the literary history of the world as creative writing issuing forth from the undefiled purity of the human heart and the nobility of human wisdom. They are ever-fresh fountains of inspiration to the truth-seeker and lasting monuments to the creative genius of the liberated beings.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el407.html

Aside from Sariputta we have further examples:
On the part of the Venerable Maha Kassapa Thera, no arrogance arose in him just by getting the Buddha's robe; he never thought: "Now I have obtained the robe previously used by the Exalted One: I have nothing to strive now for higher Paths and Fruitions." Instead, he made a vow to practise the thirteen austere (dhutanga) practices most willingly as taught by the Buddha. Because he put great efforts in developing the ascetic Dhamma, he remained only for seven days as a worldling and on the eighth day at early dawn attained Arahantship with the fourfold Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida-magga nana).
http://www.triplegem.plus.com/gcobbku3.htm
Last edited by nathan on Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby green » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:33 pm

An Arahant would guide one to the Patitya samutpada in any question related to rebirth. Buddha's Dhamma is well expounded --i.e. well explained.

An Arahant has a job to make sure one gains right view and gains a mastery of the Dhamma.

What Buddha discovered and guides one too is something quite major, to realize what he discovered, one does not say, "Buddha ONLY discovered this path and is ONLY a guide..." as if what was done was "something anyone can do."
:smile:
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby nathan » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:02 am

green wrote:An Arahant would guide one to the Patitya samutpada in any question related to rebirth. Buddha's Dhamma is well expounded --i.e. well explained.

An Arahant has a job to make sure one gains right view and gains a mastery of the Dhamma.

What Buddha discovered and guides one too is something quite major, to realize what he discovered, one does not say, "Buddha ONLY discovered this path and is ONLY a guide..." as if what was done was "something anyone can do."
:smile:
I don't think that is the intended meaning of the words "just the discoverer" used by the Venerable writer of the article on the fourfold analytical knowledge and not what I would mean if using similar terms either.

I am re-posting this because because it was the best post in the thread so far:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Importance of the Doctrine (of Dependent Origination) by Mahāsī Sayādaw

Beyond Reasoning and Speculation

When the Buddha was first considering whether or not to teach, he thought, “This truth that I have realised is very profound. Though it is sublime and conducive to inner peace, it is hard to understand. Since it is subtle and not accessible to mere intellect and logic, it can be realised only by the wise.” Great thinkers from all cultures have thought deeply about freedom from the misery of aging, disease, and death, but such freedom would mean nibbāna, which is beyond the scope of reason and intellect. It can be realised only by practising the right method of insight meditation. Most great thinkers have relied on intellect and logical reasoning to conceive various principles for the well-being of humanity. As these principles are based on speculations, they do not help anyone to attain insight, let alone the supreme goal of nibbāna. Even the lowest stage of insight, namely, analytical knowledge of mind and matter (nāmarūpa-pariccheda-ñāna), cannot be realised intellectually. This insight dawns only when one observes the mental and physical process using the systematic method of mindfulness (satipatthāna), and when, with the development of concentration, one distinguishes between mental and physical phenomena — for example, between the desire to bend the hand and the bent hand, or between the sound and the hearing. Such knowledge is not vague and speculative, but vivid and empirical.
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 appicchato » Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:42 am

mikenz66 wrote:Most of the important stuff the Buddha taught is just a belief.


mmm...not so sure about this one Mike...

How can you know that following the Eight-Fold path will actually work?


Easy, by practicing it... :smile:
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:42 am

Venerable Appicchato is cool. 8-)

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 mikenz66 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:51 am

Greetings Venerable,
appicchato wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Most of the important stuff the Buddha taught is just a belief.

mmm...not so sure about this one Mike...
How can you know that following the Eight-Fold path will actually work?

Easy, by practicing it... :smile:

Perhaps my post was too general or too terse. I could rephrase it:

DarkDream noted that accepting the teachings on rebirth is just a belief. My point was that accepting that the Eight-Fold Path will take me to the advertised goal (Arahantship) is also just a belief. I can have some confidence in that belief because the preliminary steps seem to work as advertised, but I cannot be certain at this point. I can see no logical reason why the teachings on rebirth should be considered less reliable than the teachings on the Eight-Fold Path. Which, I guess, is related to the statement by the Buddha in the Kalama Sutta not to rely on logic...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' 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.


Metta
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:07 am

its not just the 8fp but also the 4 truths that require faith, i mean sure there is suffering, that we can all see but why is there suffering? its quite obvious that many have looked at this problem of suffering and come up with different reasons so why should one automaticly assume the buddha was right? we have to have faith that he was right about the cause of suffering, then we again have to have faith that it can in fact end, that he wasnt just unloading a bunch of BS on us and then at that stage we have to have faith that his path will work and that he wasnt just faking it... buddhism actually takes a lot of faith if you really think about it. it just doesnt ask us to have blind faith like other religions do.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby DarkDream » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Bottom line: literal rebirth after death is a belief. To me it is just speculation. It seems I can't know for myself that it is true. As such I think it is for Buddhism a thing that should be put aside. Unfortunately, I see it as Buddhism's greatest attachment besides trying to sneek back ontology and the answering of metaphysical questions that the Buddha refused to answer.


Then why did the Buddha teach it as if it were true?


This is a very good question. I don't have all the answers but here is my opinion on the matter.

Let us remember that the Pali Canon was not written down hundreds of years after the Buddha. The scriptures were passed orally over hundreds of years. That is not to say that the preservation of the teachings orally was not accurate, but it is not conceivable that corruptions slipped in accidentally. Also even after the scriptures were written down there were alterations, additions and so on. Many scholars talk about different statifications in the canon itself.

There were no audio or video recorders back then so we must remember we have only artifacts of the teachings.

Also another point is that many of the followers maybe still maintained old notions of karma and rebirth which invertedly slipped in. Also it is almost certain the Buddha when talking to people specfically used terms as being born in heaven and so on as a skill in means. For example, a soldier came to the Buddha and asked him if he would go to hell. The Buddha said, yes. Was the Buddha necessarily telling the man there was a literal hell he would go to? I don't think so. He was just using his particular set of beliefs to tell him if he continued this way he would end in a hellish existence in the mind (think of war verterans that come back for example with terrible mental ailments).

As pointed out by Richard Gombrich, there was a great penchant for the early traditions to takie things literally. So when they saw the Buddha talking like that in the suttas, they then did not take the context into account and elevated as a doctrinal position.

If you look at the first sutta of the Digha Nikaya, Brahmajala Sutta, http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm you have the Buddha knocking down all kinds of various metaphysical positions. This was a very celebrated sutta and was specifically mentioned in the history of the early Buddhist Councils. In here you specifcially have the Buddha speaking against all the different doctrines about whether one exists after death or not.

I hope to show in an upcoming blog post that the 10 unanswered questions were altered so that the unanswered question of "Does a tathagata exist after death", was changed from "Does a being (or self) exist after death." My opinion is if someone asked him directly whether a self exists after death he would have maintained a noble silence.

Why? Ultimately to avoid what we have being doing here (I know I'm the chief culprit with this particular thread). We can argue and go in circles but at the end of the day have we at all stepped one step closer to the end of suffering? I also think that the questions of life after death can also be a great source of attachment, and no matter how we explain or phrase it there always seems to be a subtle notion of "self" or me that slips in.

This is my best guess, and I'm going to try to explore it further.

All the best,

--DarkDream
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Re: Buddhist Rebirth Refuted?

Postby DarkDream » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:39 am

mikenz66 wrote:Dear DD,
tiltbillings wrote:
Bottom line: literal rebirth after death is a belief. To me it is just speculation. It seems I can't know for myself that it is true. As such I think it is for Buddhism a thing that should be put aside. Unfortunately, I see it as Buddhism's greatest attachment besides trying to sneek back ontology and the answering of metaphysical questions that the Buddha refused to answer.


Then why did the Buddha teach it as if it were true?

Most of the important stuff the Buddha taught is just a belief. How can you know that following the Eight-Fold path will actually work? Are you going to put that aside as well?

Metta
Mike


I think the Venerable Appicchato answered this one very succinctly but let me just elaborate a little.

I have to disagree with you that the "important stuff the Buddha taught is just a belief." Sure there is a lot of belief stuff in the scriptures, the existence of devas, earthquakes being caused by a Buddha reaching enlightenment, Mount Meru and so on. But the teachings of the Eight-fold path is totally different.

A lovely Pali word is ehipassiko which means "come see." The fundamental difference is you can actually walk the path and "come see" for yourself by experiencing it. Sure at first there is some faith involved, but I don't know if I would use that word. In Pali you have the word "saddha." This is more like confidence. At first you do need to have a little faith or confidence, but that is with anything in life. The fundamental difference with things like devas and things is that it is a faith where you can never have your doubts resolved. That is not like with the other teachings where you can experience it yourself and come to a conclusion.
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