the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby Fede » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:09 am

I'm sorry....

But Retro seems to have been re-born as Jen (The elfling in dark Crystal).....

Image

I'm mesmerised by the transformation..... :jawdrop:
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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 Jhana4 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:03 pm

A good point that someone brought up earlier was to ask the question would anyone who did remember a past life be inclined to post about it on this board and in this thread?

If they were, would it be good enough for people?

What if the person didn't do a Dr. Stevenson thing and verify that there was such a person in the past with public records of that person and verify that they wouldn't have come across those records in the course of their daily life?

I've heard that Dr. Stevenson's work is voluminous and dry, but I read this review for an interesting book about Stevenson himself and his last fact finding tour before he retired:

http://beforewisdom.com/blog/books/old-souls/
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One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:12 pm

As significant as Dr. Stevenson's work is, I think it would strengthen the case for rebirth if examples of other research were provided. Excessive reliance on one person's work is a liability -- it suggests non-replicability, anomaly or methodological problems. Theories gain credibility when they are supported by plentiful research conducted by different sources.

Not bashing Stevenson here or those who have mentioned him -- it's just that I suspect he may be hurting the case more than helping. It's come to the point that whenever I see a Buddhist article or discussion of the subject, I already know how the argument will proceed...."Yes, there is scientific evidence for rebirth.... a man named Dr. Ian Stevenson researched hundreds of cases...blah blah...thus rebirth is a valid scientific theory!" Frankly this is about the level of sophistication we find on The 700 Club (this just in! new evidence for Noah's Ark found in Turkey!)

Isn't there something newer/better out there?
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:23 pm

You are absolutely right, but I think Dr. Stevenson's work is the only game in town.

I don't know what the original poster's motivation but my guess would s/he wanted to know if there was any weight to the idea of rebirth. In that regard, Stevenson's work which involved small children with no access to public records probably has more weight that an adult on the internet, who does, making claims.

For the record, I'm an agnostic in regards to rebirth. I would probably be an atheist in regards to rebirth without my association with Buddhism. My view is that there is a "dependent origination" with beliefs. If you have a lot of contact with people or texts who repeat an idea, it comes to seem more reasonable to you independent of evidence.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby pulga » Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:58 pm

It seems to me that a lot of it has to do with personal identity. Am I the same person I was yesterday? And would my memory of yesterday be any more problematic in overcoming my belief in a self than if I experienced a memory of a past life?
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:20 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:It worked for the Buddha.

Without looking up the sutta to confirm, I think it gave him insight into kamma more than it did the three characteristics.
Insight into kamma would certainly entail seeing the interdependent rise and fall of conditioned experience. The question for you is what is the relationship of kamma to paticcasamuppada?

The ability to see past lives was not claimed to be a meditative attainment restricted exclusively to the Buddhasasana.
Yes, but the difference is seeing in the context of vipassana.


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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.

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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:50 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
I'm struggling to see much in the way of advantage. Does it give insight into dukkha, anatta or anicca? If anything, I would have thought it might reinforce the sense of self and "I" to see that "I" existed previously before being "reincarnated" here.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Seeing Dukkha that can last for many lives is one of the advantages of seeing rebirth.


Also, if there was only one life, then there would be a quick way to parinibbāna. There would be no need for hard work...
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Who has verified rebirth personally?

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:48 am

AndrewRayGorman wrote:I have been curious as to if anyone here has attained the 4th jhana state and been able to verify their past lives? The concept of rebirth is one I have yet to accept, if ever, but otherwise I have accepted most of the rest of the dhamma because I have personally found it to be true.

I don't have attained the 4th jhana nor am I able to verify own past lives. But if we're talking about "punabbhava", which I understand as "again becoming" I have verified becoming over and over again personally.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Refugee » Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:33 am

:namaste: More than two thousand years have gone by and there is still no consensus about (post-mortem) rebirth. Will there be consensus about this in our relatively short lifespan? I don't think so! Then, are we wasting our time here? Maybe not; because "the great rebirth debate" may actually be a positive thing, in that, it could point to the futility of seeking answers about rebirth based on intellectual arguments.

Some claim the Buddha taught about rebirth, while others have a different slant on this. Then, again, some claim they acquired experiential knowledge that rebirth actually happens. But, others reject this. There's so much reference to the different suttas and commentaries on both sides, but still no consensus. There's also no guarantee that everything in the suttas is exactly how the Buddha explained it. Some people simply choose to be angostic about it. And, being agnostic about rebirth may not be a problem because the driving force of the Dhamma is simply to know dukkha, its causes, its cessation, and the Way (8FP) to its cessation. Perhaps, knowledge about whether or not there is (post-mortem) rebirth is not essential to the practice of the Buddha-Dhamma. I am not too sure about this, but if it is the case, then beginners who field questions about (post-mortem) rebirth should be advised accordingly. Then, at least, they will put aside this "distraction" and continue with the practice... leaving this debate to more "experienced" practitioners. :tongue:
My practice is simply this: Avoid evil, do good, and purify the mind.
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Rebirth

Postby greggorious » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:03 am

Just a quick question. Does one HAVE to believe in re birth to be a Theravada Buddhist?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:10 am

Greetings Greg,

Understanding what rebirth means probably takes precedence over whether one believes it or not.

So we know what you're considering believing/disbelieving, can you explain to us in your words what you think rebirth is?

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: Rebirth

Postby Nibbida » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Understanding what rebirth means probably takes precedence over whether one believes it or not.


Ooooh. Well said.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby plwk » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:08 am

Thus Have I Heard: The more one practices, the less one need 'beliefs'...
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: Rebirth

Postby Jason » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:48 am

greggorious wrote:Just a quick question. Does one HAVE to believe in re birth to be a Theravada Buddhist?


Nope. If you're interested, though, you can read some of my thoughts about rebirth here.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Rebirth

Postby Digity » Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:11 am

greggorious wrote:Just a quick question. Does one HAVE to believe in re birth to be a Theravada Buddhist?

Buddhism is something that unfolds. It's a gradual process where your understanding deepens. There's no "HAVE TO" to Buddhism. The teachings are guidelines and as you begin to understand the guidelines you see why they're there. Don't blindly believe anything...it has to come to you through understanding.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:17 pm

There is no narrative or story you have to buy into to become a Buddhist- you just have to feel that the Buddha, dhamma and sangha can offer you a refuge, where other teachings cannot.

with metta

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With Metta

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& Upekkha
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Tex » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:17 pm

One of the many great things about Buddhism is that we aren't asked to just believe. Buddhist faith (saddha) is a well-reasoned faith, not a blind leap of faith. We're encouraged to investigate and understand for ourselves, rather than take someone else's (even Buddha's) word for it.

If rebirth (or any other concept we encounter in the Dhamma) seems dubious or doesn't make sense at first glance, it's perfectly fine to put it off to the side and continue studying the parts that do resonate with us. There's nothing forcing us to accept or reject any concept immediately. And sometimes that difficult concept that we put off to the side, neither accepting nor rejecting, becomes much clearer once we understand more about the Dhamma as a whole and we can see that difficult concept in a more complete context.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: Rebirth

Postby alan » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:59 am

Well said, Tex!
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Re: Rebirth

Postby ricketybridge » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:37 pm

I was wondering the same exact thing, but to put it more specifically, is it possible to become a stream-entrant (not just a general Buddhist) without believing in rebirth--or even kamma? The pre-requisites for stream-entry appear to be quite clear: the elimination of three of the ten fetters, which include doubt about the dhamma. Since rebirth and kamma are pretty darn fundamental to the dhamma, I would imagine that most buddhists would say that even if someone were otherwise identical to a stream-entrant in every way in terms of behavior and mental states (I know, you could argue that this would be impossible without believing in dhamma and kamma), just the fact that one of them doesn't believe in kamma and rebirth means that they must not be a stream-entrant. This seems, to me, akin to Christians saying you'll go to hell if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.

This bothers me because I (at least at this point) cannot believe in these things. I'm sorry if this seems blasphemous or disrespectful to anyone, but I'm actually surprised that Buddha believed in these concepts. I know he comes from a different time and culture, but all of his teachings, with the exception of these two things, are completely experiential and provable. He even seems to advocate a sort of scientific method, encouraging people to try the teaching, and to reject it if it doesn't work. Kamma and rebirth, however, are completely, entirely unprovable, and, as with the existence of god, why bother yourself about something that is utterly unknowable and probably made-up? (I know the arguments in favor of kamma and rebirth, so no need to trouble yourself with trying to convince me otherwise.)

I DO, however, believe in those things in a more practical or metaphorical sense: if you don't follow the dhamma, you will be miserable. I've sure experienced that myself. And I see the end of rebirth as the end of the rebirth of desires. Since this is sufficient, to me, to agree with the rest of his teachings, shouldn't it be sufficient for stream-entry?

I feel like some people will feel compelled to answer with "why are you worried about this? You're so far from stream-entry anyway, just do the practice, etc." or "why are you so resistant? Why don't you examine that, etc.", but, to me, these sorts of answers shut down questioning and exploration, and Buddha himself answered questions thoroughly (most of the time), so I would just like to humbly request answers that aren't merely dismissive.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:01 am

ricketybridge wrote:I was wondering the same exact thing, but to put it more specifically, is it possible to become a stream-entrant (not just a general Buddhist) without believing in rebirth--or even kamma? The pre-requisites for stream-entry appear to be quite clear: the elimination of three of the ten fetters, which include doubt about the dhamma. Since rebirth and kamma are pretty darn fundamental to the dhamma, I would imagine that most buddhists would say that even if someone were otherwise identical to a stream-entrant in every way in terms of behavior and mental states (I know, you could argue that this would be impossible without believing in dhamma and kamma), just the fact that one of them doesn't believe in kamma and rebirth means that they must not be a stream-entrant. This seems, to me, akin to Christians saying you'll go to hell if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.
One of the defining characteristics of a sotapanna is unshakable confidence/faith/devotion in the Dhamma. Having said that, that does not equate to blind belief. The confidence comes from the foundation of experiential insight into the nature of mind and matter.

ricketybridge wrote:This bothers me because I (at least at this point) cannot believe in these things. I'm sorry if this seems blasphemous or disrespectful to anyone, but I'm actually surprised that Buddha believed in these concepts. I know he comes from a different time and culture, but all of his teachings, with the exception of these two things, are completely experiential and provable. He even seems to advocate a sort of scientific method, encouraging people to try the teaching, and to reject it if it doesn't work. Kamma and rebirth, however, are completely, entirely unprovable, and, as with the existence of god, why bother yourself about something that is utterly unknowable and probably made-up? (I know the arguments in favor of kamma and rebirth, so no need to trouble yourself with trying to convince me otherwise.)
Then put it to the side.

ricketybridge wrote:I DO, however, believe in those things in a more practical or metaphorical sense: if you don't follow the dhamma, you will be miserable. I've sure experienced that myself.
That is where a lot of people are at.
ricketybridge wrote:And I see the end of rebirth as the end of the rebirth of desires. Since this is sufficient, to me, to agree with the rest of his teachings, shouldn't it be sufficient for stream-entry?
When you become a sotapanna, you will be able to tell us!

ricketybridge wrote:I feel like some people will feel compelled to answer with "why are you worried about this? You're so far from stream-entry anyway, just do the practice, etc." or "why are you so resistant? Why don't you examine that, etc.", but, to me, these sorts of answers shut down questioning and exploration, and Buddha himself answered questions thoroughly (most of the time), so I would just like to humbly request answers that aren't merely dismissive.
Its still a valid response. It may feel like its dismissive but the fact of the matter is that some things aren't knowable at this point of time (or at this point on the path. Use the teachings to help you understand the teachigns and inspire you to practice. But it is the development of one's own insight that will lead to liberation.
kind regards

Ben
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