the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 12, 2013 12:48 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, why not suicide?


I don't want to hurt my parents. Self preservation instincts are still strong. I am a coward, for now.
In other words, Dhamma practice does not really amount to much. We are all just worm food in the making,
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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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 Lazy_eye » Sun May 12, 2013 2:29 pm

I'd say that from a materialist/annihilationist point of view many Dhamma teachings and practices would still have relevance, but the soteriology would have to be junked because of its redundancy (i.e. we will get there one way or another anyway).

If there's no next life then the focus turns to how best to live this life, and to our collective intellectual and spiritual/psychological well-being. Humanity after all is "reborn", whether or not individuals are.

But again, Theravada's soteriology would not really be suitable here. Some Mahayana notions ("engaged" or "humanistic Buddhism", for instance) might be a better fit.

Science may someday enable us to separate consciousness from the "natural" physical body and even attain immortality; meanwhile, if a physicalist/rationalist view is correct, it should theoretically be possible to identify how to maximize happiness and reduce suffering.

None of this is really new. The existentialists discussed the problems raised by the apparent end of religion, while writers like Huxley raised the possibility of engineered happiness.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Sun May 12, 2013 2:48 pm

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:It still shows that consciousness somehow depends on the brain. Death is total 'shut off'.
The last word is parinibbāna.

And all people automatically become enlightened upon death?

End of consciousness, end of craving, end of dukkha

You're crossbreeding Buddhism and Western science. You get a mutt, or Frankenstein, or whatever - it's some monster anyway.

IOW, mixing terms or the meanings of a term from different areas of expertise leads to conclusions that may seem plausible, or desirable (!) - but neither area of expertise can verify them or authorize them. So you can't be sure about the conclusions you get that way.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Sun May 12, 2013 3:05 pm

From a productivity blog:

Real achievement, as it turns out, almost never comes from a big break that comes out of nowhere. There is almost always a long history of consistent action that builds, over time, to the state where they finally tip into real fame in their field. People who are constantly looking for an angle to induce a premature break — attempting to sidestep the years of consistent action — never find what they seek.

http://calnewport.com/blog/2009/01/25/t ... big-break/


I think that's relevant in many areas of one's life.

"If I'd just figure out this philosophical problem, then everything would be fine."
"If I'd just meet the right person who would tell me the right thing, then everything would be fine."

If only, if just ... just this one thing, and then everything would work out ...


In a calmer hour, one realizes how empty and misleading such wishful thinking is.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 12, 2013 4:23 pm

tiltbillings wrote:In other words, Dhamma practice does not really amount to much. We are all just worm food in the making,


It does help to alleviate suffering of this life without having to commit suicide.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 12:13 am

I have this view about rebirth that seems imposible to contradict. I would be very happy if somebody could contradict this or find a flaw in it or at least sweeten it up a little because it scares me. It is a post of mine in another topic about hell:

There is no effect without cause. You were born here and exist for a reason and until that reason will disappear you will continue to be born and exist. When that reason will disappear you will not exist anymore and will enter nirvana. If you think that you were born here and exist without a reason then that implies that you could be born and exist in hell for 92834234 trillions of years without a reason or if hell seems too far fetched for you consider africa or having major depression etc.

Having thus accepting that we will continue to be born and exist in the future because we have not destroyed the cause for been born and existing here right now that implies that we could be born and exist in an innumerable states of existence, both good and bad, with access to dhamma or without, long or short. These innumerable states of existence were classified by buddhist in 6 realms but not all beings in a realm are the same, look how big the variance of happiness/sadness can be here on earth from one being to another. The extent to how bad or how good a state of existence can be is hard for us to imagine but we can resonably assume that it can be worse or better than here on earth and seen how bad some lifes can be here on earth is enough to scare anybody.

If hell seems to far fetched consider a place where your dopamine and serotonine levels are lower than in a person having major depression, that won't seem so far fetched as beings freezing with their organs out of their bodies.
Also consider that any bad deed has a limited effect so been sent to hell for eternity would mean an infinite punishment for a finite cause. That implies that been sent to an eternal heaven or human realm etc. is also impossible.

The idea scares me very much too and budhism is way more pessimistic (and realistic) than the other religions but ignoring the posibility of been born and existing in "hell" won't make it disappear. Becoming a sotopana will

PS: Our happiness is given ultimatly by the levels of some substances in our brain so hell could be a place where beings have low levels of those substances in their brains. For the same reason we have this complex external environment that rises and lowers those substances here on earth (a nice car, a wife etc.) we could have a complex environment that rises and lowers those substances in other forms of existence too, for example lying in freezing tempreture with your organs out of your body. We are not balls of light that are happy/sad here on earth so a complex environment that makes us be happy/sad should also exist in other realms of existence.


Maybe buddha exagerated on the little statistics he gave about the chances of been born a human, the lenght of time spent in heaven/hell or maybe he didn't. Still, the logic remains the same.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon May 13, 2013 12:34 am

dxm_dxm wrote:There is no effect without cause.


Correct. When my father and mother did it, there was conception caused by that. Then, the baby was born that had consciousness and name "Alex". The mind of Alex was developing and maturing partially due to physical development of the growing brain (the other parts are social and private learning). When the brain stops functioning, so will the consciousness. Cause and effect. Similar consciousness would require similar brain with similar functioning. If the cause is gone, so is effect. It would be strange to have effect (consciousness) without its necessary cause (the brain).

When my brain function was impaired due to anesthesia, so was consciousness. When brain resumed functioning, so did the consciousness. Death is even more "impaired" state and also it is the final end of the brain and its function. I had no experience of rebirth into this life, and no results from previous lives that would suggest so. So experientially I have no proof, and inference makes rebirth seem implausible due to causality of mind from this brain.

Lazy_eye wrote:Science may someday enable us to separate consciousness from the "natural" physical body and even attain immortality;


That is, if consciousness is something that can be separated from the brain. The two phenomena do not have to be identical to be inseparable. Water cannot be separated from oxygen or hydrogen that make it up, same can be here. Even if consciousness is not the brain (water is not gas), it can still depend on it. So without the brain, there is no consciousness - even if other conditions (except this one) are met.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 1:02 am

I laugh so much when I hear the argument "because 2 persons had sex" that is the cause

That implies that after you die 2 persons could have sex in hell and the little hell boy could be named alex and his brain would develop and have a counciousness and he could live there in hell for trillions of years.

Witch bring us back to where we started. We are not discussing what the cause is, that is another discussion but we can agree that there was a cause.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 1:21 am

If you even dare think an effect without a cause could exist that blows away the fundament of all science. The implications are that we could be here because a giant pizza created us and that after you die you could be born in hell for trillions of years without a cause. A monkey typing for infinity at a computer has a 100% chance of writing a shekspeare drama one day so that blows out the posible argument for "it is improbable that the exact same structure of atoms, energy etc. that creates your conciosness here could ever create the same conciousness randomly in hell. Luky no effect without a cause has yet been observed by humans.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 1:24 am

dxm_dxm wrote:I laugh so much when I hear the argument "because 2 persons had sex" that is the cause

That implies that after you die 2 persons could have sex in hell and the little hell boy could be named alex and his brain would develop and have a counciousness and he could live there in hell for trillions of years.

Witch bring us back to where we started. We are not discussing what the cause is, that is another discussion but we can agree that there was a cause.


I don't quite follow your train of thought. How does biological reproduction on earth imply anything at all about hell?

Also, nobody is disputing that effects have causes. But the causes do not have to be supernatural, as you seem to think.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 1:29 am

Who says biological reproduction can not be posible in "hell" ? What makes you think biological reproduction is the only way a conciousness been could be bring into existence?

What makes you think biological reproduction could not bring into existence a being that has lower dopamine, serotonine etc. levels that a person with major depression has ? (thus existing in hell, with fire and etc. or without)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 1:34 am

dxm_dxm wrote:Who says biological reproduction can not be posible in "hell" ?


Maybe it is possible. Did anyone dispute this? I don't see the relevance to the question being discussed here.

What makes you think biological reproduction is the only way a conciousness been could be bring into existence?


I don't necessarily think that. But what makes you think some other supernatural explanation is needed?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 1:47 am

I do not think a supernatural explanation is needed but I think an explanation is needed because there is no effect without a cause. Whatever that explanation may be, do you agree that because of the cause you were born here and exist you will continue to be born an exist until that cause disappears ? Meaning you will continue to exist whatever the cause that bring you to existence now is will be destroyed ?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 2:07 am

dxm_dxm wrote:I do not think a supernatural explanation is needed but I think an explanation is needed because there is no effect without a cause. Whatever that explanation may be, do you agree that because of the cause you were born here and exist you will continue to be born an exist until that cause disappears ? Meaning you will continue to exist whatever the cause that bring you to existence now is will be destroyed ?


I would say that this somewhat illusory experience of "existing" or "being" depends on requisite conditions, yes.

But again, I'm not sure anyone in this discussion (at least in the last few pages) is disputing that effects require causes.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 2:21 am

So if you exist now because of a cause, and that cause is not destroyed so you will exist in the future that suggest rebirth to be the only logical answer. The implication of you existing is that you will continue to exist in better or worse conditions than you are now, the extent of witch we can only imagine or maybe we are not even able to imagine how bad and good the other conditions of existence could be. There are conditions of existing so bad even here on earth that would scare anybody into wanting not to exist in the future and so vanish into nirvana. If you continue to exist, inevitably you will exist in bad states of existence too.


If your question is why would be karma responsible for the conditions we are and will experience there is no intelectual answer to prove that. If there would be such a thing, nobody would be a bad person here on earth. It is one of the few things in budhism that are not intelectualy proven and can never be. It is like string theory, you can never prove it or disprove it. Budha said that the answer to this question can only be find by meditating and finding for yourself if it is true/false. This is the nice thing in budhism, it does not require you to belive anything and just teaches the method to find the answers by yourself, otherwise the answers are useless or even imposible to find. (using intelectual thinking).
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 2:31 am

dxm_dxm wrote:So if you exist now because of a cause, and that cause is not destroyed so you will exist in the future that suggest rebirth to be the only logical answer.


If the cause is not physical in nature, then yes, rebirth is a logical possibility. Other possibilities include "eternal life in Heaven/Hell", as monotheistic religions believe.

But this is not getting us anywhere. Because it just amounts to saying:

"if death is not the end of life, then there is an afterlife".

In other words, a circular argument.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 3:28 am

If the cause is not physical in nature, then yes, rebirth is a logical possibility. Other possibilities include "eternal life in Heaven/Hell", as monotheistic religions believe.

Whether or not they are physical in nature does not matter, you will continue to exist because of the same cause you are existing now. I told you what the implications are of considering the only cause of existing is 2 persons having sex. The probability of an eternal life in heaven or hell does not exist because of the second scientific and budhist observation witch is that everything is impermanent. Also, there could not exist a reason for witch somebody could exist for eternity in a good or bad state in the context of morality witch all religions imply. Any bad deed has a limited effect and can not be punished with unlimited punishment, same aplly for good deeds. More scientifically speaking any action has a limited effect so it can not produce an infinite effect. An infinite effect requaires an infinite cause.

if death is not the end of life, then there is an afterlife".

It is a circular argument if you argument it by saying "there is an afterlife so death is not the end". If you argument it by proving logically that death is not the end, then the fact that there is an afterlife is just a logical conclusion.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 4:06 am

If you argument it by proving logically that death is not the end, then the fact that there is an afterlife is just a logical conclusion.


Sure. So how do you prove logically that death is not the end?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dxm_dxm » Mon May 13, 2013 12:25 pm

Because every effect has a cause, there is a cause for you existing. Until that cause will be destroyed you will continue to exist even if not in the same physical body you have now. If you say the only cause for you existing is 2 persons having sex then after you die 2 persons could have sex in hell and the building of atoms and etc. that creates you now will ramdomly assemble somewere and make you exist there, and this "there" could be hell and you could exist there for trilions of years if the only reason for your existance is a random biological proces. It seems counter intuitive to me. It would be so nice if we would disappear after, that would solve all the budhist are striving to achive but been here because of a cause and that cause not been destroyed there is imposible to stop existing as long as the cause that made you exist does not disappear. In budhism there is no soul, the human is a complex sistem of electrons, fotons etc. that creates the ilusion of you and until the reason for the existance of such a sistem is not destroyed it will asemble somewere else. The new asembeled sistem is not the same nor is it different from the one preceeding it, it is like a flame of a candle light up by the flame of another candle. It is not the same flame but nor is it different.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 1:17 pm

dxm_dxm wrote:Because every effect has a cause, there is a cause for you existing. Until that cause will be destroyed you will continue to exist even if not in the same physical body you have now.


But some people would say the cause is entirely physical. "You" exist because of the reproductive process, which results in an embryo that develops a brain, which sustains consciousness. When the brain dies, the cause is destroyed and thus you no longer exist.

Can you refute this explanation?

If you say the only cause for you existing is 2 persons having sex then after you die 2 persons could have sex in hell and the building of atoms and etc. that creates you now will ramdomly assemble somewere and make you exist there, and this "there" could be hell and you could exist there for trilions of years if the only reason for your existance is a random biological proces.


I still don't understand what you are trying to demonstrate here. Yes, if hell exists, then maybe people can have sex in it. And maybe they will give birth to hell babies. So what?

It seems counter intuitive to me.


Ok. But that doesn't prove much. Many aspects of the universe seem counterintuitive. For example, ancient people thought it was counterintuitive to believe that the earth revolved around the sun. Many people thought it was counterintuitive to think the earth was round. Several notable plane crashes (Air France 447, for example) resulted from pilots relying on intuition instead of on their instruments and training.

Intuition is an unreliable guide to reality.

It would be so nice if we would disappear after, that would solve all the budhist are striving to achive but been here because of a cause and that cause not been destroyed there is imposible to stop existing as long as the cause that made you exist does not disappear. In budhism there is no soul, the human is a complex sistem of electrons, fotons etc. that creates the ilusion of you and until the reason for the existance of such a sistem is not destroyed it will asemble somewere else. The new asembeled sistem is not the same nor is it different from the one preceeding it, it is like a flame of a candle light up by the flame of another candle. It is not the same flame but nor is it different.


Ok, this is a nice summary of some Buddhist doctrines, but it still isn't proving anything.

I sympathize with your wish to come up with a logical proof of rebirth, and am interested in the arguments that could be put forward. But to me, it sounds like you are trying to use the conclusion to support the premise. As I said before, a circular argument. You first need to establish that consciousness has a non-biological cause.
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