the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:29 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Both many-lives and present-life arisings abound in the suttas, abhidhamma, and commentary. I don't see it as an either-or thing.


Right. I accept various versions of D.O. as long as they don't contradict other aspects of the Dhamma such as rebirth. There is absolutely no need to limit DO only to one model and exclude others.

DO can be examined in momentary fashion, in three lifetime model, in two lifetime model, in one lifetime model and I've seen interpretations (in abhidharmakosabhasyam) of all 12 factors within one moment of citta. I also believe that DO can be taken as a structural and/or hierarchical principle of conditionality. One interpretation does not have to exclude others. It is not either/or. I take issue only with sticking to only one interpretation of D.O. that supports one's beliefs and refusing to consider other equally valid interpretations of DO. Without rebirth, one could have a quick shortcut to parinibbāna, suicide. But because of rebirth, suicide would not work. So its not the way.


"Deep is this dependent co-arising, and deep its appearance."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:52 pm

Alex123 wrote:Rebirth is the reason why suicide is not a shortcut to parinibbāna.


Actually, the fact that post-death states are (barring psychic power) wholly unknowable is the reason why suicide is not a shortcut. Rebirth may obtain, in which case suicide is simply useless and deluded, or it may not obtain, but in this case annihilation is not the only alternative. Given the numerous ideas and theories about post-death events, choosing one among them as "the case" and then living, or dying, accordingly is simply guesswork. The fact of the matter is that we cannot say we know what happens, and even if we had psychic powers that conveyed information on this front, DN 1 showcases how that can go terribly wrong and lead on to wrong view.

The Dhamma offers a chance to maximize benefit irrespective of what happens after death, thereby rendering such post-death speculation completely irrelevant to practice here and now.
    "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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:00 pm

daverupa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Rebirth is the reason why suicide is not a shortcut to parinibbāna.


Actually, the fact that post-death states are (barring psychic power) wholly unknowable is the reason why suicide is not a shortcut.


If death is not the end, then suicide is not a shortcut. Whether one knows or doesn't know, events occur. I believe that lack of knowledge does not mean that something doesn't occur. Ignorance is no excuse.

daverupa wrote:The Dhamma offers a chance to maximize benefit irrespective of what happens after death, thereby rendering such post-death speculation completely irrelevant to practice here and now.


How many people in the recent times have achieved Arhatship? What are the chances of you and me becoming Arhat in this life?

If there is just one life, then one could in principle reach parinibbāna through suicide much quicker than reaching Arhatship (which is not even guaranteed). Or less extreme version might be to find the right anti-depressant, CBT of some form, and some enjoyable worldly activity to occupy one's mind. This will not work if there is rebirth, though.


With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:15 pm

Alex123 wrote:If death is not the end, then suicide is not a shortcut. Whether one knows or doesn't know, events occur. I believe that lack of knowledge does not mean that something doesn't occur. Ignorance is no excuse.


What do you mean "no excuse"? The fact that humans do not generally know what happens after death should hardly have to be argued, so the fact that suicide is a risky gamble on long odds (on account of the one committing it is assuming that post-death states will be free of dukkha) is simply apparent.

Alex123 wrote:How many people in the recent times have achieved Arhatship? What are the chances of you and me becoming Arhat in this life?


Zero, without the Dhamma.

Alex123 wrote:If there is just one life, then one could in principle reach parinibbāna through suicide, much quicker than reaching Arhatship. Or less extreme version might be to find the right anti-depressant, CBT of some form, and some enjoyable worldly activity to occupy one's mind. This will not work if there is rebirth, though.


It also won't work if Yahweh is going to judge you, or the White Buffalo Woman. What if the Mormons have it right, and you end up in the third level of heaven digging ditches? Rebirth isn't the only game in town, and of all the games in town, every single one is speculative from the perspective of the bulk of humanity. Therefore, using supposed post-death states to inform one's behavior here and now is a ridiculous guessing game.
    "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: the great rebirth debate

Postby cooran » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:31 pm

Hello all,

This might be of interest:

Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Newcomers to Buddhism are usually impressed by the clarity, directness, and earthy practicality of the Dhamma as embodied in such basic teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the threefold training. These teachings, as clear as day-light, are accessible to any serious seeker looking for a way beyond suffering. When, however, these seekers encounter the doctrine of rebirth, they often balk, convinced it just doesn't make sense. At this point, they suspect that the teaching has swerved off course, tumbling from the grand highway of reason into wistfulness and speculation. Even modernist interpreters of Buddhism seem to have trouble taking the rebirth teaching seriously. Some dismiss it as just a piece of cultural baggage, "ancient Indian metaphysics," that the Buddha retained in deference to the world view of his age. Others interpret it as a metaphor for the change of mental states, with the realms of rebirth seen as symbols for psychological archetypes. A few critics even question the authenticity of the texts on rebirth, arguing that they must be interpolations.
A quick glance at the Pali suttas would show that none of these claims has much substance. The teaching of rebirth crops up almost everywhere in the Canon, and is so closely bound to a host of other doctrines that to remove it would virtually reduce the Dhamma to tatters. Moreover, when the suttas speak about rebirth into the five realms — the hells, the animal world, the spirit realm, the human world, and the heavens — they never hint that these terms are meant symbolically. To the contrary, they even say that rebirth occurs "with the breakup of the body, after death," which clearly implies they intend the idea of rebirth to be taken quite literally……………………………………
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html

with karuna
Chris
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:11 pm

daverupa wrote:It also won't work if Yahweh is going to judge you, or the White Buffalo Woman. What if the Mormons have it right, and you end up in the third level of heaven digging ditches? Rebirth isn't the only game in town, and of all the games in town, every single one is speculative from the perspective of the bulk of humanity. Therefore, using supposed post-death states to inform one's behavior here and now is a ridiculous guessing game.


Does anyone who studies the Dhamma and really practices seriously considers the existence of eternal Yahweh who judges people's eternal souls, and the above perspective of the bulk of humanity? Do you really consider Dhamma and its teaching, such as rebirth, to be on par with "perspective of the bulk of humanity"?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:26 pm

Alex123 wrote:Does anyone who studies the Dhamma and really practices, seriously considers the existence of eternal Yahweh who judges people, and the above perspective of the bulk of humanity?


That Yahweh and Brahma are not the same, that they inhabit different and contradictory contexts, is a fact. That for every mystic with experience of one, I can find a mystic with experience of the other, is a fact. That the bulk of humanity has no knowledge of post-death states - this is a fact. Do you deny any of it?

Alex123 wrote:Do you consider Dhamma and its teaching such as rebirth to be on par with "perspective of the bulk of humanity"? Do you believe that sutta's statements on rebirth is equal to the "perspective of the bulk of humanity" that you've made above?


Rebirth, as a view, was around long before the Buddha, so yeah mostly. The brilliance was turning karma into a teaching tool. The Dhamma, however, which can be proven for oneself, unlike speculative metaphysics, is not on such a par, which is of course the point.

I only claim that rebirth is unnecessary, not that it is absent. Is this clear?
    "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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:32 pm

daverupa wrote:That Yahweh and Brahma are not the same, that they inhabit different and contradictory contexts, is a fact.


I've never equated them. Do you believe that Judeo-Christian teaching is as valid as that which is said in the suttas?

daverupa wrote:That for every mystic with experience of one, I can find a mystic with experience of the other, is a fact.

Do you believe that those mystic's experience and wisdom was equal to what is written in the suttas?

daverupa wrote:That the bulk of humanity has no knowledge of post-death states - this is a fact. Do you deny any of it?


Do you go with what the "bulk of humanity" says or what the suttas say?

daverupa wrote:Rebirth, as a view, was around long before the Buddha,


Other views such as: skepticism of Sañjaya Belatthaputta or materialism of Ajita Kesakambalin were also during the time of the Buddha and perhaps before. If He had to borrow other's teaching, He had a wide choice. But I don't believe that the Buddha was saying what He thought other people would like to hear. He taught the Truth.


Daverupa, does the the Buddha's vision of rebirth equal to other teacher's vision of rebirth?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:00 am

Dude, you're changing the goalposts, and it's no use going further.

: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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:20 am

daverupa wrote:Dude, you're changing the goalposts, and it's no use going further.

:heart:


Do you consider suttas (and its teaching on rebirth) to be as valid and on par as what the "bulk of humanity" say?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Prasadachitta » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:46 am

daverupa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:The Dhamma offers a chance to maximize benefit irrespective of what happens after death, thereby rendering such post-death speculation completely irrelevant to practice here and now.


Hello daverupa,

I think I understand what your getting at especially with regard to rebirth acceptance not being a necessary factor for effectively practicing Dhamma. I think its another thing altogether to say that speculation about rebirth is "irrelevant to practice here and now". Contemplating the continuity of factors which support and sustain suffering and how they might keep reforming perpetually without end in sight is traditionally relevant. I certainly find it a relevant and useful perspective to consider thereby helping me to maximize benefit here and now.

Metta

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:01 am

daverupa wrote:

A view on rebirth is not required for practice. A view on rebirth is not required to explain Dhamma.



Well said Dave ! :thumbsup:


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:03 am

daverupa wrote: A view on rebirth is not required to explain Dhamma. . . . Rebirth, as a view, was around long before the Buddha, so yeah mostly. The brilliance was turning karma into a teaching tool. The Dhamma, however, which can be proven for oneself, unlike speculative metaphysics, is not on such a par, which is of course the point.
Reincarnation was only one view among many during the Buddha's tenure. Rebirth, in context of the Dhamma, is unique to the Buddha's teaching and is certainly open to the possibility of being "proven for oneself." Kamma, redefined as cetanā -- volition. will -- by the Buddha, is unique to the Buddha understanding of the ethical basis of conditionality. Acknowledging that rebirth and kamma are part of the Buddha's teaching is not speculation, nor is there any justifiable need to try to explain these away as some sort of figurative teachings.
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: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:19 pm

Neither I would suggest is there any need to promote a shibboleth to separate a perceived " us" from " them ".

As has been pointed out repeatedly, whatever the truth of rebirth, ideas about it do not effect what I do in my vipassana practice.

My own view is that Ajahn Buddhadasa provides the explanation of the Buddhas teachings that makes most sense.
But I am at peace with more literal explanations.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:30 pm

PeterB wrote:My own view is that Ajahn Buddhadasa provides the explanation of the Buddhas teachings that makes most sense.
But I am at peace with more literal explanations.
Buddhadasa present a view, but it is not the view, as some in this thread would have us believe. While one may reasonably take an agnostic point of view concerning rebirth, trying to force the Buddha's teachings into that point of view can only be done as a procrustean exercise.
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: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:11 pm

I find no need for forcing. Since first encountering Ajahn Buddhadasa in Bangkok in 1966 his interpretation of the Buddha's teachings has seemed to me the most coherent and most resonant.

I have no emotional investment in those teachings however...and no wish to change anyone else's view..
I respect the views of those who have come to a different conclusion to mine.


:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:35 pm

PeterB wrote:I find no need for forcing.


Hi Peter,

Quite.

I find no need for a view in either direction and such views have no relevance to my practice either.


kind wishes,

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:36 pm

Akuma wrote:
I really don't see how you come to those odd conclusions and actually I don't understand your post at all.
It seems you think it is more than that, then do you have anything to support your view?
BTW an arahant is not to be measured in terms of birth and death, birth and death do not apply anymore.

If you say "there will be birth again after death" this implies the birth of all sorts of living beings in all sorts of worlds after your death. Since Nirvana is among other things characterized by no-birth your only capability of realizing Nirvana would be for other beings not to be born after you. And your way to do that is to either kill living beings or to not give birth to one yourself. The latter was actually a view proposed by a person on the german forum - he saw the ending of ignorance in the ending of the wish to create more humans.

Hi Akuma,

I still don't understand your line of thought. I think you are approaching this with way to much implied baggage.
As I see it it doesn't imply that at all. "Birth after death" means to me nothing more than "birth after death" (with "birth" and "death" understood as defined by the Buddha) and this actually is my question, why should we take it for more than that?
You're the one implying all this stuff, especially the notion "after YOUR death" which is imo a huge hindrance to understand what I'm trying to point out.

Alex123 wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:What if "rebirth" doesn't mean anything else than there will be birth again after death?
Does the Buddha tell us anywhere that there is more to it?
best wishes, acinteyyo


Is there even a single clear quote about that?


Rebirth is often said after "with the break-up of the body, after death..."
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=41&start=2300#p143597

The "Body" is defined as the physical body that exists for a long time:
"Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The Buddha had so often, and in so many suttas have defined body as literal body that it is very unbelievable to refuse His definition in order to make the body sound like something else, thus refuting what the "with the break-up of the body, after death..." line means.

Most suttas would NOT make sense if we remove the rebirth of the body.

Hi Alex123,

If rebirth just means birth happening after death nothing of the above is refused. Birth and death is to be understood as defined by the Buddha. So what's your point?

I get the feeling I will not be understood. My question is meant to be understood as simple as it is but I guess "rebirth" is already chock-full of views, beliefs and implied notions of what ever and to ignore all that baggage seems to me quite difficult.

Can anybody tell me why "rebirth" should be understood as more than "birth happening again after death"?

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 Alex123 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:05 pm

acinteyyo wrote:Hi Alex123,
If rebirth just means birth happening after death nothing of the above is refused. Birth and death is to be understood as defined by the Buddha. So what's your point?


It is unfortunate that some imply that birth and death are never to be taken as they were defined by the Buddha in the context of D.O and rebirth. Thus they reject the teaching of rebirth.

All I wanted to show was that the suttas are clear about birth, death and rebirth. While I accept momentary teaching of some factors of DO, I don't believe that DO must be limited only to that one scheme. DO is complex and has application in macro and micro scales. One interpretation should not reject the other. IMHO.
One's own preferences should not alter the sutta's message.

With best wishes,
Alex
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:59 pm

Ah, yeah I totally agree. Thanks for clarifying, Alex ;)
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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