the great rebirth debate

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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:55 pm

The problem with this approach is that even if someone had attained knowledge of previous lives, and said that they had, you would still be doubtful whether they were deluded or their experience was trustworthy.

There is another method to gain confidence in the Buddha's enlightenment, by using logical inference.

Sāriputta's Lion's Roar

Whatever anyone says, or whatever one reads in the Pāli texts or Commentaries, it is still going to be something that will remain beyond one's personal experience until and unless one can attain psychic powers, which by all accounts is very rare these days.

One can visit any hospital or farm to see birth and death taking place on a daily basis. Most of us only rarely see either event happen in front of own eyes. Still, even if one sees birth and death frequently, it takes a leap of faith to make the connection to believe in rebirth.

If you have trouble with the doctrine, then set it aside for now, and focus on what you can know in the present life — the birth and death of your own thoughts, feelings, cravings, fears, etc., and try to understand how the arise and pass away dependent on conditions.
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby daverupa » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:10 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:There is another method to gain confidence in the Buddha's enlightenment, by using logical inference.


:woohoo:

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

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

Postby Fede » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:08 pm

"It should be no more remarkable to be born twice, than it is to be born once".

Voltaire.
I have no proof, no evidence and no mitigating circumstance.
but I'm open to the belief and possibility that I am work in progress, to be continued.

Being open minded, at times, is more of an advantage than being definitive.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby tamdrin » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:31 pm

I don't have any personal knowledge.. But I did have a Lama who told me that I had been his son, and a monk in Tibet in a previous live. The Lama didn't speak english but he kept calling me "my son" "my son".. This was a Lama who had done about 10 + years in retreat so it is possible that he had developed the clarivoyance to have seen directly.
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Nibbida » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:56 am

Jhana4 wrote:I think rebirth is hard to understand because anatta ( the belief of no souls and no substantive selves or essences ) is a very abstract concept and hard to understand.


Yeah, better experienced than understood. ;-)


Liz: Whether rebirth or reincarnation, there is still the idea that something carries over across lifetimes (i.e. karma/kamma). You might check out Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs. He advocates an agnostic approach to this topic, although traditionalists disagree with this. That being said this whole topic would be misunderstood on an experiential level by anyone who has not reached stream-entry, where the person has insight into anatta.
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Vossaga (Element) » Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:58 am

VeganLiz wrote:Reincarnation is something I struggle with. I was talking to my meditation teacher he says that all branches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation in one form or another. While I've really become quite taken with Buddhist teachings and have a fondness for meditation...I cannot understand the concept of reincarnation. This man is a Tibetan Buddhist and I am wondering what is the Theravada position on reincarnation.

Hello Liz

Personally, I have never met a monk in real life, including Tibetan lamas, who insist it is compulsory to believe in rebirth/reincarnation. If we take the time to investigate the Buddhist scriptures, we may gain the impression the teachings about rebirth/reincarnation do not predominate. We may find, in certain scriptures, where the Buddha asserts his "unique" or "special" teachings, he does not mention rebirth/reincarnation at all.

If fact, it can be argued the approach in the scriptures to rebirth/reincarnation is somewhat democratic. For example, there is at least one scripture where the Buddha describes the belief in rebirth as "a safe bet", as having "a second throw of the dice". In other words, if there is rebirth, and, if one abides by the moral precepts, then one can be assured of a good life here & now and a good life after death.
....this venerable person is still praised in the here-&-now by the wise as a person of good habits & right view: one who holds to a doctrine of existence. If there really is a next world, then this venerable person has made a good throw twice, in that he is praised by the wise here-&-now; and in that — with the break-up of the body, after death — he will reappear in the good destination, the heavenly world. Thus this safe-bet teaching, when well grasped & adopted by him, covers both sides and leaves behind the possibility of the unskillful.

Note: In the Buddha's unique or supramundane teachings, it is regarded as "wrong view" to hold to a doctrine of existence.

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

The democratic approach to rebirth is also well shown in the following passage:
Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now:

'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.

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

We can notice in both of these passages, the phrase is used: "If there is...". In other words, the question is left quite open.

Some Theravada Buddhists theorise the rebirth/reincarnation teachings were pre-existing cultural teachings in the Buddha's society and the Buddha taught these because they promote morality or non-harming. Such a view is espoused by the current Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhism, as follows:
... His Holiness’ two books on heaven and hell are truly analytical view on the subject from a Buddhist point of view. As we are so familiar, in religious sphere, the concept of heaven and hell is a very prominent belief. In many cases, it becomes the goal of religious practice itself. On this very subject, His Holiness critically analyses that the very concept and belief of heaven and hell in Buddhism is a cultural influence of indigenous culture and belief. He states: (I quote) ‘the subject of cosmology appeared in Buddhism is clearly can be seen that it is not ‘Buddhist teaching’ at all but an ancient geography. The concept and belief about it was included in Buddhist Canon merely because of strong influence of popular belief of the time. Later Commentaries further explain about heaven and hell in a greater detail distant itself from the original teaching of the Buddha. If Buddhism teaches such belief on heaven and hell it would not be Buddhism at all but an ancient geography. Buddha wouldn’t be the Buddha who delivered the Noble Truth and ‘timeless’ message for mankind.’ (p. 1) (end of the quote) He then shows in his teaching that the concept of heaven and hell in Buddhism are in fact symbolic, representing the quality of mind and spirituality instead. One can be in heaven and hell in this very earth and life. No need to wait until one dies...

http://www.sangharaja.org/en_main.asp

Some Theravada Buddhists theorise rebirth is something that happens to the mind, here and now:
But if you watch the way things operate independently of yourself, you begin to understand that rebirth is nothing more than desire seeking some object to absorb into, which will allow it to arise again. This is the habit of the heedless mind. When you get hungry, because of the way you've been conditioned, you go out and get something to eat. Now that's an actual rebirth: seeking something, being absorbed into that very thing itself. Rebirth is going on throughout the day and night, because when you get tired of being reborn you annihilate yourself in sleep. There's nothing more to it than that. It's what you can see. It's not a theory, but a way of examining and observing kammic actions.

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... .htm#KAMMA AND REBIRTH

Other Theravada Buddhists are somewhat opposed to the rebirth teachings, as follows:
Take the question of whether or not there is rebirth. What is reborn? How is it reborn? What is its kammic inheritance? These questions are not aimed at the extinction of Dukkha. That being so they are not Buddhist teaching and they are not connected with it. They do not lie in the sphere of Buddhism.

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... o_Tree.htm

These Buddhists quoted above may have quite individualist opinions, but it is argueable their views may be supported by some teachings of the Buddha, where he said believing in rebirth accords with morality but not to the realisation of not-self:
And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings;...

Note: In the Buddha's teachings, the goal of enlightenment is the end the "effluents" and "acquisition".

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

This passage is consistent with the first passage quoted, where the Buddha said to believe in rebirth is to hold to a doctrine of existence. The passage also lends support to conjecture that the Buddha used the "throw of the dice similes" because to believe in rebirth may possibly be gambling away one's opportunity for enlightenment. Enlightenment relies on insight into impermanence & not-self.

I recently watched a video of the Dalai Lama, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUaSZ0QFR1Q, where he said what appear to be contradictions in the Buddha's teachings are not actually contradictions. The Dalai Lama simply said what appear to be contradictions are merely different teachings for different people with different dispositions and karmic experiences.

The Dalai Lama's view here seems to be supported by the Theravada scriptures, in the following passage about the teachings of non-attachment:
This sort of talk on the Dhamma, householder, is not given to lay people clad in white. This sort of talk on the Dhamma is given to those gone forth.

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

To end, this matter can certainly cause confusion.

With metta

:smile:

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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Nibbida » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:54 pm

Many good points Vossaga.

I'll add one more thing Liz. The thing I like about Buddhism is that it does not require a person to believe anything, ever. Yes, there is some dogma in some aspects of it, and some people actively pursue it in a seemingly dogmatic way. However, at its core, blind faith in anything is contrary to it's fundamental purpose. It encourages us to investigate for ourselves rather than take anything on authority.

"Experience has residue. This residue is called beliefs. A belief isn't bad, and it is often useful, but it is not real. Buddhism is one kind of residue on our lives. I use Buddhist terms and techniques more than others because it is explicitly set up not just to clean other kinds of residue off our lives, but also to clean itself off our lives."
--Soryu Forall Scott (a Buddhist monk)
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby piotr » Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:40 pm

Hi Vossaga,

Vossaga wrote:Note: In the Buddha's unique or supramundane teachings, it is regarded as "wrong view" to hold to a doctrine of existence.


You've confused “eternalism” (sassatavāda) with “doctrine of existence” (atthikavāda). These two are quite different and only the first is considered to be “distorted view” (micchā-diṭṭhi).
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Will » Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:24 pm

VeganLiz wrote:Reincarnation is something I struggle with. I was talking to my meditation teacher he says that all branches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation in one form or another. While I've really become quite taken with Buddhist teachings and have a fondness for meditation...I cannot understand the concept of reincarnation. This man is a Tibetan Buddhist and I am wondering what is the Theravada position on reincarnation.


Liz,
Your teacher is correct, all schools of Buddhism believe in many lifetimes. Buddha taught that fact.

Pay no mind to the quibble over the terms rebirth vs reincarnation. The main thing is that this particular lifetime is not our first, nor our last.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Aloka » Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:49 pm

.

Some interesting comments here from Ajahn Buddhasasa in 'Anatta and Rebirth'



"What or who is reborn? Forgive us for being forced to use such crude language, but this question is absurd and crazy. In Buddhism, there is no point in asking such a thing. There is no place for it in Buddhism. If you ask what will be reborn next, that's the craziest, most insane question. If right here, right now, there is no soul, person, self, or atta, how could there be some "who" or "someone" that goes and gets reborn?

So there is no way one can ask "who will be reborn?"Therefore, the rebirth of the same person does not occur. But the birth of different things is happening all the time. It happens often and continuously, but there is no rebirth. There is no such thing, in reality, as rebirth or reincarnation. That there is one person, one "I" or "you," getting reborn is what reincarnation is all about. If all is anatta, there is nothing to get reborn.

There is birth, birth, birth, of course. This is obvious. There is birth happening all the time, but it is never the same person being born a second time. Every birth is new. So there is birth, endlessly, constantly, but we will not call it "rebirth" or "reincarnation."

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books7/Buddhadasa_Bhikkhu_Anatta_and_Rebirth.pdf
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby PeterB » Sat Mar 19, 2011 8:49 pm

Will wrote:
VeganLiz wrote:Reincarnation is something I struggle with. I was talking to my meditation teacher he says that all branches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation in one form or another. While I've really become quite taken with Buddhist teachings and have a fondness for meditation...I cannot understand the concept of reincarnation. This man is a Tibetan Buddhist and I am wondering what is the Theravada position on reincarnation.


Liz,
Your teacher is correct, all schools of Buddhism believe in many lifetimes. Buddha taught that fact.

Pay no mind to the quibble over the terms rebirth vs reincarnation. The main thing is that this particular lifetime is not our first, nor our last.

Wrong, no they dont. Wrong, all schools of Buddhism believe no such thing. Wrong , no he didnt, and... speculative.
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:23 pm

Why do people always get reborn into these arguments again and again? Yes he did teach multiple lifetimes, no he didn't.

When a new Buddhist asks a question, they don't need to be greeted with a long debate about this. It is most unbecoming for Buddhists to behave in this way.
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:05 pm

:goodpost:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:27 pm

Hurray, another rebirth debate thread!
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Re: Do all braches of Buddhism believe in reincarnation?

Postby Will » Sun Mar 20, 2011 1:15 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Why do people always get reborn into these arguments again and again? Yes he did teach multiple lifetimes, no he didn't.

When a new Buddhist asks a question, they don't need to be greeted with a long debate about this. It is most unbecoming for Buddhists to behave in this way.


Exactly right. The urge to show off one's intellectual grasp often overrides any understanding of what a simple question requires - a simple answer.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:17 am

Is this thread part of "the great rebirth debate" ... or a separate one? I'm confused.

.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:41 am

Hi Aloka,

It has been assimilated (merged)...

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:58 am

Oh thanks Mike ! Now at last I can indulge in the urge to show off my ''intellectual grasp" !

.............. :rolleye:
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby meindzai » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:55 pm

This may sound backwards, kind of like "If you believe it then you'll see it." But for me the way to "verify" rebirth was to essentially adopt the view of rebirth first, to "try it on for size," if you will, and then watch how the perception of my life was altered as a result. The result was for me, a positive one including more equanimity towards "what happens" as well as more responsibility for what I do now. "What happens" is essentially vipaka - the results of prior actions. Rather than say "why is this happening to me," or "what did I do to deserve this," or "This isn't fair" I can simply (ok not so simply) recognize that it is some sort of vipaka. Not that it's always easy or that I'm a paragon of equanimity or anything.

I haven't verified rebirth in the sense of seeing past lives directly, but I've verified that taking the view of rebirth is an effective life strategy. Having adopted it for a number of years I can't really see how to practice the eightfold path without it.

Anyway, if you want to verify it, just try it on for size for a day or week or so and see what happens. If things don't make more sense to you after that then there's no commitment.

-M
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:07 am

Ah is this thread still going lol :rofl:
“ 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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