the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby 5heaps » Tue May 07, 2013 2:29 am

Ben wrote:
Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka


Excellent post, Aloka.

is it? it doesnt even fit the minimum definition of buddhist refuge, which is concern for future lives

part of buddhism is studying the reasonings for rebirth and observing the nature of the mind. one does not use the excuse of speculation to excuse oneself from proper investigation. when someone says that talking about past and future lives is speculation, this is a nihilistic assertion.

retrofuturist wrote:Understanding the arising of sankharas, and their qualitative nature (as explained by the roots of greed/aversion/delusion & non-greed/non-aversion/non-delusion - i.e. kamma), and the resultant experience of nama-rupa (as explained from vinnana/nama-rupa onwards in paticcasamuppada, which could alternatively be thought of as sabba or loka) is sufficient for me to know the appropriate way to respond to situations in life.

fair enough. i guess i wonder how a thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind could possibly lead one to not understand the reality of past and future lives.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 3:06 am

Greetings 5heaps,

5heaps wrote:i guess i wonder how a thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind could possibly lead one to not understand the reality of past and future lives.

As I understand it, all arahants have (as you call it) "a thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind"... yet not all arahants have the ability to see "past and future lives" - this is one of the optional "higher knowledges". Thus, for those who can't see these for themselves, their existence (or otherwise) remains a "view" or a "belief". However, that limitation does not prevent the "thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind" which is required to bring an end to dukkha.

Ergo, direct knowledge of "the reality of past and future lives" is not essential to this pursuit.

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby 5heaps » Tue May 07, 2013 3:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:However, that limitation does not prevent the "thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind" which is required to bring an end to dukkha. Ergo, direct knowledge of "the reality of past and future lives" is not essential to this pursuit.

what youre talking about refers to the fact that they do not have direct perception granted by the higher knowledges, which can happen in unfortunate circumstances to an arhat that is an especially dull savaka. although they lack access to that they by definition know of past and future lives by virtue of having realizing the 3rd path. they have traversed the truth of cessation and understand its meaning completely, meaning they know they have been released from the suffering of endlessly taking on new bodies and undergoing birth (which is itself included as part of the truth of suffering, which they also realize directly). at that time, long before becoming arhats, they also realize that their release is guaranteed within a limited period of time, since the causes for suffering have been located and counteracted.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 4:03 am

Greetings 5heaps,

5heaps wrote:what youre talking about refers to the fact that they do not have direct perception granted by the higher knowledges, which can happen in unfortunate circumstances to an arhat that is an especially dull savaka.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be too inclined to call any sekha "especially dull", especially not an arahant! You might want to consider your refuges.

5heaps wrote:although they lack access to that they by definition know of past and future lives by virtue of having realizing the 3rd path.

Do they? I thought they say, "jati is ended". What "jati" actually signifies (e.g. "ontological birth of a being" versus "phenomenological experience of identification" or somewhere inbetween) is not a matter of general consensus amongst Theravada Buddhists...

5heaps wrote:they have traversed the truth of cessation and understand its meaning completely, meaning they know they have been released from the suffering of endlessly taking on new bodies and undergoing birth (which is itself included as part of the truth of suffering, which they also realize directly). at that time, long before becoming arhats, they also realize that their release is guaranteed within a limited period of time, since the causes for suffering have been located and counteracted.

... yet since you clearly understand it in the sense of the "ontological birth of a being" as per the classical three-lifetime model of paticcasamuppada, it is as if we are speaking two separate languages. To that end I invite you either to mutually accept this divide, or to study non-time-delineated models of dependent origination, as articulated well by the likes of venerables Nanananda, Nanavira, Buddhadasa et.al.

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ben » Tue May 07, 2013 4:34 am

5heaps wrote:
Ben wrote:
Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka


Excellent post, Aloka.

is it?

Yes, it is.
Taking refuge in the triple gem isn''t about blindly accepting doctrine.
Belief in rebirth is as much a wrong view as disbelief in rebirth.
Until we develop knowledge via penetrative insight, then any discussion of what occurs beyond death is essentially speculation.
Aloka's post above is in keeping with the Buddha's own teaching on rebirth to worldlings. See the Apanaka Sutta.
kind regards,

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue May 07, 2013 4:43 am

5heaps wrote:
Ben wrote:
Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka


Excellent post, Aloka.


is it? it doesnt even fit the minimum definition of buddhist refuge, which is concern for future lives

part of buddhism is studying the reasonings for rebirth and observing the nature of the mind. one does not use the excuse of speculation to excuse oneself from proper investigation. when someone says that talking about past and future lives is speculation, this is a nihilistic assertion.



Hi 5heaps,

I've already discussed my viewpoint and practice with a highly respected Theravada teacher and he was very encouraging.

He certainly didn't tell me I wasn't fitting in with refuge, nor did he accuse me being nihilistic.
:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Tue May 07, 2013 4:44 am

Ben wrote:Taking refuge in the triple gem isn''t about blindly accepting doctrine.

Developing faith based upon the Buddha's teaching isn't blind.

Ben wrote:Belief in rebirth is as much a wrong view as disbelief in rebirth.

No it isn't.

Ben wrote:Until we develop knowledge via penetrative insight, then any discussion of what occurs beyond death is essentially speculation.

Discussing the Buddha's dhamma isn't speculation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 4:54 am

Greetings,

Ben wrote:Belief in rebirth is as much a wrong view as disbelief in rebirth.

Ñāṇa wrote:No it isn't.

MN 117 wrote:"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; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.
...
And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view.

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Tue May 07, 2013 5:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:
5heaps wrote:although they lack access to that they by definition know of past and future lives by virtue of having realizing the 3rd path.

Do they? I thought they say, "jati is ended". What "jati" actually signifies (e.g. "ontological birth of a being" versus "phenomenological experience of identification" or somewhere inbetween) is not a matter of general consensus amongst Theravada Buddhists...


It is not a matter of general consensus, of course. But I find it straightforward to see that by "jati" the suttas mean literal rebirth (birth as a baby, grow old, die, again birth, and so on). We may want the suttas not to be talking about literal birth (and all those supernatural things like different planes of existences, and siddhis etc.), but they do -- and they do so very very clearly.

Now the real question in my opinion is, what does this "literal rebirth" signify? As you stated above, is it "ontological birth of a being" or "phenomenological experience of identification" or somewhere inbetween? I think that it is both, otherwise the Buddha's teachings as presented in the suttas do not make sense to me. What we call "ontological birth" too is actually phenomenological; there is no such thing as "merely ontological birth". Of course, for one who can see past lives, this process of rebirth is just an appearance (or experience of the appearance) which appears as real as long as it lasts (ie, as long as one is fettered).

(The hardest thing to resolve (in Buddhist discussions) is the boundary between reality and illusion. Illusion is reality (while the experiences last), and any relative reality is an illusion.)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue May 07, 2013 5:04 am

5heaps wrote:when someone says that talking about past and future lives is speculation, this is a nihilistic assertion.


Yet the Buddha said :


This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.002.than.html
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Tue May 07, 2013 5:12 am

Aloka wrote:
This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.002.than.html

Such attention (about oneself, one's past/future) is certainly inappropriate, since the Buddha said so. Attention is worth directing towards direct experiences of the moment, or towards pondering the Buddha's words.
But the belief (intuitively or by experience) in rebirth is not inappropriate. These two (attention and belief) are different things.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 5:14 am

Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:It is not a matter of general consensus, of course. But I find it straightforward....

You're welcome to see things that way, and I'm disinclined to argue with you even though I do not concur.

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Tue May 07, 2013 5:18 am

Hello Retro,

I am here to learn and change my wrong views, and I am also disinclined to argue just for the sake of argument :). But I would be grateful if you could point out what things seem to be wrong in my understanding.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 5:23 am

Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:I am here to learn and change my wrong views, and I am also disinclined to argue just for the sake of argument :). I would be grateful if you could point out what things seem to be wrong in my understanding.

I'm not saying they are factually wrong... I'm just disinclined to absorb ontological propositions that step outside of the all (sabba) of experience, as designated in detail by (non-time-delimited) paticcasamuppada. :)

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Tue May 07, 2013 5:32 am

Greetings Retro,

So, in your opinion, the "literal birth" is outside of all of experience? To me it is well within the all of experiences (if there is any experience of rebirth -- even the experiences such as beliefs, reading and pondering the Buddha's words about rebirth). It is probable that the experience (or belief, or knowledge) of rebirth does not appear now, but it is quite probable that it may appear later. Such experience is a (result of) fabrication, and is potent of being fabricated when the conditions are fulfilled. Not experiencing now does not imply that the Buddha did not teach "literal rebirth".
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 5:38 am

Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:So, in your opinion, the "literal birth" is outside of all of experience? To me it is well within the all of experiences (if there is any experience of rebirth -- even the experiences such as beliefs, reading and pondering the Buddha's words about rebirth).

Presently I assume it's in your loka only in the realm of "ideas and intellect" (i.e. as thoughts and concepts about it - i.e. the cognized)... that's the only loka that matters.

Then, SamKR, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, SamKR, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of dukkha.

When there is no you, there is no jati.

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue May 07, 2013 5:39 am

SamKR wrote:
Aloka wrote:
This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.002.than.html

Such attention (about oneself, one's past/future) is certainly inappropriate, since the Buddha said so. Attention is worth directing towards direct experiences of the moment, or towards pondering the Buddha's words.
But the belief (intuitively or by experience) in rebirth is not inappropriate. These two (attention and belief) are different things.


If (for myself) an unverified "belief" and speculative thoughts about it aren't relevant to my daily life and practice, then I set it aside as mentioned earlier.

When I meditate, where is "belief" ?


The Blessed One said:

You shouldn't chase after the past
or place expectations on the future.
What is past is left behind.
The future is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
you clearly see right there right there.

Not taken in,unshaken,
that's how you develop the heart.
Ardently doing what should be done today,
for — who knows? — tomorrow death.
There is no bargaining with Mortality & his mighty horde.

Whoever lives thus ardently,
relentlessly both day & night,
has truly had an auspicious day:
so says the Peaceful Sage.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.131.than.html


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Tue May 07, 2013 5:46 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:So, in your opinion, the "literal birth" is outside of all of experience? To me it is well within the all of experiences (if there is any experience of rebirth -- even the experiences such as beliefs, reading and pondering the Buddha's words about rebirth).

Presently I assume it's in your loka only in the realm of "ideas and intellect" (i.e. as thoughts and concepts about it - i.e. the cognized)... that's the only loka that matters.

Then, SamKR, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, SamKR, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of dukkha.

That's True. Thanks for reminding. In the context of this topic, our training is: in reference to the assumptions/ideas/understanding/experiences about rebirth, only the assumptions/ideas/understanding/experiences about rebirth -- whatever they are.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 07, 2013 6:13 am

Greetings Sam,

SamKR wrote:That's True. Thanks for reminding. In the context of this topic, our training is: in reference to the assumptions/ideas/understanding/experiences about rebirth, only the assumptions/ideas/understanding/experiences about rebirth -- whatever they are.

Yep. As per SN 55.3, you should further develop six qualities conducive to clear knowing. Remain focused on inconstancy in all fabrications, percipient of stress in what is inconstant, percipient of not-self in what is stressful, percipient of abandoning, percipient of dispassion, percipient of cessation. That's how you should train yourself.

The acquisition of ontological views is inconsistent with this training in my opinion, as such views entail being not-pericipient of these aforementioned qualities.

But that's just me...

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Tue May 07, 2013 6:14 am

Aloka wrote:
If (for myself) an unverified "belief" and speculative thoughts about it aren't relevant to my daily life and practice, then I set it aside as mentioned earlier.

Right. I understand that many Buddhists find it useful to set the ideas of rebirth aside, and that's perfectly alright. But for many others (myself included) faith/understanding of "literal rebirth" as taught by the Buddha is an important part of Dhamma.
My only disagreement is to the wholesale dismissal of "literal rebirth", or the idea that the Buddha did not teach this, or the idea that it is not useful.

Aloka wrote:When I meditate, where is "belief" ?

Well, personally I find that most of the practice of meditation is based on "beliefs" and perceptions -- which is alright.
Belief, in itself, is not bad. Those beliefs/faiths that do not lead to liberation could be bad. If for someone, the Buddha's teachings in "literal rebirth" are helping towards the goal of liberation, then such belief/faith is not wrong. And, we should not dissuade people from believing in "literal rebirth".
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