the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby pink_trike » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:12 am

tiltbillings wrote:
I do not know what the tradition says, or I don't know if rebirth is true?

The Theravadin traditions says there is rebirth, and certainly this is borne out by the texts upon which it is based.

Is rebirth the way the universe actually operates? How one relates to that is certainly a personal issue.


The concept of literal rebirth (taking the teachings at face value) is difficult for many Westerners to accept, and too easy for many Westerners to accept. One might be aversion. One might be grasping - both very personal. Imo, it doesn't need to be a polarized mandatory choice. We can say "I don't know" and practice. Practice reveals how the phenomenal universe operates - by practicing we can observe it and not have to hold any speculative beliefs about it that may feed our delusional tendencies - in either direction.
Last edited by pink_trike on Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:

Is rebirth the way the universe actually operates?



For me that is the core question, always. Thus, any position is speculative, theoretical...
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby pink_trike » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:27 am

christopher::: wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:

Is rebirth the way the universe actually operates?



For me that is the core question, always. Thus, any position is speculative, theoretical...

Yup - even "I don't know" is a speculative mind-position, but it is an open palm speculation, where as the other two choices are a closed fist.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:07 am

christopher::: wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:

Is rebirth the way the universe actually operates?



For me that is the core question, always. Thus, any position is speculative, theoretical...


Except it possible for one to know for oneself.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:24 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Except it possible for one to know for oneself.


Well... I dunno. I believe, but do not believe that I know....
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Individual » Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:54 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:

Is rebirth the way the universe actually operates?



For me that is the core question, always. Thus, any position is speculative, theoretical...


Except it possible for one to know for oneself.

You could spend 30 years meditating and never find conclusive evidence that the visions aren't simply hallucinations.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:01 pm

You could spend 30 years meditating and never find conclusive evidence that the visions aren't simply hallucinations.


Possibly. Certainly we have had here, in DW's short time online, at least one person who imagined himself as awake. There is always that problem, which is why learning to let go is a good thing, and pretty much the basis of the Buddha's 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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:21 pm

I'm going to be open here (risking ridicule and embarrassment) and throw all my cards on the table.

What makes most sense to me is not what most Theravadin or Zen Buddhists believe. I don't push this view on others, and cannot say its true, its just what makes sense, based on my life experiences. I view the Universe as something like a field of Mind or Awareness, potentially. A being is born, Awareness is localized for a short time. Die and your individual Awareness field either merges back into the Source- the larger field of experiential potentiality- or moves on in its individualized state, to a heaven-like dream world or to take another physical body...

Minds become freer over time, if one cultivates good karma, metta, equanimity and dis-identification with personal identity. I guess its kind of a NeoAdvaita view. I don't believe that individual Awareness points are eternal, but do believe that what other religions call the soul are these individual expressions.

The Buddha's teachings of anatta point to the understanding that these individual points are not real, they are like dream bubbles flowing thru time. Eventually we all merge back into the Source. I don't know what the Source is. Some call it God, Dharmakaya, Tao, Great Spirit, Love, Void, Isness, etc... It's empty, but luminious, with Creative Potential...

All this is what makes sense to me, and the only people to whom i speak about this with, regularly, are my sons. We talk about past lives and future lives, about being animals in the past and possibly the future. I once bought a children's book called "The Mountains of Tibet" (based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead) by Mordicai Gerstein which teaches rebirth this way, pretty much.

Here's a picture of the Awareness of the old man in the story looking down on the earth after dieing, to choose his next incarnation.

Image

So, maybe its a NeoTibetan view, or the Tibetan Buddhist view simplified for children?

I dunno...

It could very well just be a fantasy inside my head.

:tongue:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:30 pm

tilt wrote:
[rebirth] is a speculative, unknown view
Except, kamma and paticcasamuppada are “speculative” until one, through own efforts gains insight into them.

Nibbana too is "speculative" in the same way.

christopher wrote:
tilt wrote:Except it possible for one to know for oneself.

Well... I dunno. I believe, but do not believe that I know....

OK, so you don't know for yourself. But can you conclude from this that no one has known for themselves?

Individual wrote:You could spend 30 years meditating and never find conclusive evidence that the visions aren't simply hallucinations.

So you believe. Others, including the Buddha, claim otherwise. I would bet you don't have any conclusive evidence that their claims are simply hallucinations.

Furthermore, if one believes this to be true of rebirth then one must also believe it to be true of nibbana. After all, one can never find conclusive evidence that another has completely ended suffering and the causes of suffering. Thus your position negates the third noble truth. Are you ready to argue that the third noble truth is not really a part of the Buddha's teachings?



Some people here seem to be making the claim:
"If I currently do not know something therefore it cannot possibly be known by me nor anyone else."

That's quite a bold claim. Is this really what you believe? Do you really believe that you currently know everything that can possibly be known? Do you see what a ridiculous stance this is to take? Do you see how fundamentally opposed to the Buddha's teachings this stance is? The most fundamental of all the Buddha's teachings is that suffering arises due to ignorance. The very reason you experience suffering is because you are ignorant of certain things! Realizing this, it should come as no surprise that the Buddha will teach things which we currently have no personal knowledge of - things such as the true extent of suffering, the true causes of suffering, the complete ending of suffering, and the right way to bring suffering to an end.
- Peter

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:07 pm

What makes most sense to me is not what most Theravadin or Zen Buddhists believe.


What makes sense to you is pretty much Hinduism as you frame it. The problem with it, of course, is that it really is nothing more than the self writ big and writ subtle, but a self concept, nonetheless, making it incomplete.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:15 pm

Peter wrote:That's quite a bold claim. Is this really what you believe? Do you really believe that you currently know everything that can possibly be known? Do you see what a ridiculous stance this is to take? Do you see how fundamentally opposed to the Buddha's teachings this stance is? The most fundamental of all the Buddha's teachings is that suffering arises due to ignorance. The very reason you experience suffering is because you are ignorant of certain things! Realizing this, it should come as no surprise that the Buddha will teach things which we currently have no personal knowledge of - things such as the true extent of suffering, the true causes of suffering, the complete ending of suffering, and the right way to bring suffering to an end.


Nicely stated.
I would hesitate to re-interpret the Buddha's teachings with my own personal spin on it.
But now someone will probably jump in and tell me there was never a Gotama Buddha.

:reading:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:16 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christopher :heart:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby christopher::: » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:24 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
What makes most sense to me is not what most Theravadin or Zen Buddhists believe.


What makes sense to you is pretty much Hinduism as you frame it. The problem with it, of course, is that it really is nothing more than the self writ big and writ subtle, but a self concept, nonetheless, making it incomplete.


I spent quite a bit of time over at the grey forum trying to wrap my mind around what people were describing in terms of mindstreams and aggregates being continuous, but it just never felt right in my head. Same happened when i studied Calculus and Advanced Statistics....

:tongue:

How would you explain rebirth to a 3 year old, an 8 year old? I dont deny what the Buddha taught or what many believe here, it just doesnt make sense .... at this point... in conceptual form. I'm still more comfortable with the Hindu model, maybe.

I dont look upon it as absolute truth, its just a mental model, one that works well, symbolically, when i think about my family and talk with my kids. It works very well as a story....

Ngawang Drolma wrote:Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christopher :heart:


As far as i "know" that's all they may very well be.

:namaste:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
What makes most sense to me is not what most Theravadin or Zen Buddhists believe.
What makes sense to you is pretty much Hinduism as you frame it.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. If Hinduism is what you're into then go for it. Just don't confuse yourself and others by calling it Buddhism.

A being is born, Awareness is localized for a short time. Die and your individual Awareness field either merges back into the Source- the larger field of experiential potentiality- or moves on in its individualized state

For what it's worth, this is what I used to believe as well. I think it's a very pretty belief. It has a nice symmetry to it.
- Peter

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:12 pm

christopher::: wrote:
Ngawang Drolma wrote:Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christopher :heart:


As far as i "know" that's all they may very well be.

:namaste:


I think it's cool that you took a risk and shared your understandings :thumbsup:
There are some things that can't be described, discussed, or even realized outside of meditation. So it's not always easy to put words to experiences or ideas. Even discussion of emptiness can only go so far.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 01, 2009 12:42 am

Greetings Chris:::,

Just to give some perspective... as far as sutta records go, the Buddha didn't "rip into" anyone because they disbelieved in rebirth. On the other hand, he had some firm words to say to those who imputed a self into the Dhamma.

MN 38: Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta
http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Mahatanhasankhaya_Sutta

I would strongly recommend reading that and seeing whether what the Buddha teaches in that sutta correlates to your understanding of rebirth. Do you understand it as the Buddha teaches, or do you understand it like Sati, the fisherman's son?

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)


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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 » Fri May 01, 2009 1:14 am

Hi Christopher

christopher::: wrote:How would you explain rebirth to a 3 year old, an 8 year old?


I tried recently following the death of a much loved family pet.
I failed miserably. But I came to the conclusion that apart from giving one a sense that 'life carries on', it is nigh on impossible to transmit the nuances of the rebrith phenomena in a meaningful way to a child. The exchange with my son Quinn and the Buddhism of my eight-year-old is something I have been meaning to devote a thread to. Perhaps this afternoon if I get time.
Metta

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 01, 2009 1:19 am

Greetings,

I've decided that trying to explain rebirth to my five year son would be of no benefit.

Whilst it's an important aspect of the way the Dhamma as a whole hangs together, it's not an important teaching (i.e. something to be practiced) in and of itself.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby pink_trike » Fri May 01, 2009 1:31 am

Christopher::: wrote:How would you explain rebirth to a 3 year old, an 8 year old?


You could teach them to recognize the rising/falling circle of the seasons, and the spectral circle of dawn/day/dusk/night. They don't need concepts to learn about rebirth...they're surrounded by mirrors of it everywhere in the natural world.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby zavk » Fri May 01, 2009 1:53 am

Hi friends,

I don't have anything to add to the debate about rebirth, not least because I lack the expertise. But reading the last few posts about explaining the Dhamma, and particularly rebirth, to children who lack the maturity to understand such concepts....

I cannot help but wonder if perhaps in the larger scheme of things--and despite all our erudite arguments (and indeed, conviction) about rebirth and what not--we are really still babies and immature insofar as the wisdom of Dhamma is immeasurable and infinite?

Metta,
zavk
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