the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:31 pm

maitreya31 wrote:
clw_uk wrote:It seems Alex that you have failed to see the danger in sensual pleasure, and in grasping in general

What's your point in this debate ? You are saying that karma and rebirth aren't part of the Buddha teachings according to the sutras ?



Not at all

I am saying that rebirth is not important, since we would have to practice the same even if there was no rebirth

I do say though that d.o. Is in the present moment and that birth in the suttas means birth of the ego

However if that carries on after death I don't know, and as I said it doesn't matter if it does or not


Speaking for myself personally, my practice of Dhamma is not dependent on rebirth but on the experience of dukkha
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby maitreya31 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:32 am

clw_uk wrote:
maitreya31 wrote:
clw_uk wrote:It seems Alex that you have failed to see the danger in sensual pleasure, and in grasping in general

What's your point in this debate ? You are saying that karma and rebirth aren't part of the Buddha teachings according to the sutras ?



Not at all

I am saying that rebirth is not important, since we would have to practice the same even if there was no rebirth

I do say though that d.o. Is in the present moment and that birth in the suttas means birth of the ego

However if that carries on after death I don't know, and as I said it doesn't matter if it does or not


Speaking for myself personally, my practice of Dhamma is not dependent on rebirth but on the experience of dukkha

Well according to the analysis of dependent origination in the Samyutta Nikaya the Buddha says : " What bhikkhus , is aging and death ? The aging of the various beings in the various orders of beings , their growing old , decline of faculties : this is call aging . The passing away of various order of beings from the various orders of beings , their perishing , break up , disappearance ,mortality , death , completion of time , the breakup of the aggregates , the laying down of the carcass : this is call death . " And what , bhikkhus is birth ? The birth of the various beings in to the various orders of beings , their being born , descent [ into the womb ] , production , The manifestation of the aggregates , the obtaining of the sense bases . This is call birth. So birth in DO means literal birth and death in DO means literal death according to the buddha . I agree with you in the practice by the present moment. I see the Alex points and see your points .
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:42 am

Well according to the analysis of dependent origination in the Samyutta Nikaya the Buddha says : " What bhikkhus , is aging and death ? The aging of the various beings in the various orders of beings , their growing old , decline of faculties : this is call aging . The passing away of various order of beings from the various orders of beings , their perishing , break up , disappearance ,mortality , death , completion of time , the breakup of the aggregates , the laying down of the carcass : this is call death . " And what , bhikkhus is birth ? The birth of the various beings in to the various orders of beings , their being born , descent [ into the womb ] , production , The manifestation of the aggregates , the obtaining of the sense bases . This is call birth. So birth in DO means literal birth and death in DO means literal death according to the buddha . I agree with you in the practice by the present moment. I see the Alex points and see your points .


That's fine if that works for you

To me that reads as clinging to things that die

We also have suttas that teach d.o. In the present moment, such as majjhima nikaya 37

He seeing a form with the eye becomes greedy for a pleasant form, or averse to a disagreeable form. Abides with mindfulness of the body not established and with a limited mind. Not knowing the release of mind nor the release through wisdom as it really is, where thoughts of demerit cease completely (*11). He falls to the path of agreeing and disagreeing and feels whatever feeling, pleasant, unpleasant, or neither unpleasant nor pleasant. Delighted and pleased with those feelings he appropriates them. To him delighted, pleased and appropriating those feelings arises interest. That interest for feelings is the holding (* 12) To him holding, there is being, from being arises birth, from birth decay and death, grief, lament, unpleasantness, displeasure and distress, thus arises the complete mass of unpleasantness.


So when there is ignorance, there is craving and clining and the whole mass of suffering


Now that's not to say that there is one life, but it does mean that it doesn't matter if there is one life or millions since this process occurs regardless


Thats why we experience dukkha
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:43 am

Also the "in the womb" is not part of the original text
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby maitreya31 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:52 am

clw_uk wrote:Also the "in the womb" is not part of the original text

It doesnt matter . According to the samyutta nikaya the buddha defined birth and death as a literal events. So DO isn't only about mental suffering . DO is also about physical suffering .
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:54 am

nowheat wrote:Thanks for the clarification, Sylvester. Can you put into plainest English...


Sylvester wrote:...bifurcate contact ... hedonic tone of pleasant, painful or neutral and cetasika for the emotional sequel that are triggered by the corresponding anusaya underlying the hedonic tone. IMO, kāyika feelings arise with resistance contact (paṭighasamphassa) while the cetasika feelings follow on from designation contact (adhivacanasamphassa). Interestingly, the Dharmagupta parallel to DN 15 (DA 13) has 身觸 (bodily contact) and 心觸 (mental contact) where paṭighasamphassa and adhivacanasamphassa are discussed respectively.


<chuckling> I think your idea of "plainest English" and my idea of the same may just be a universe apart.

In DN 15's treatment of these 2 types of contact, we no longer encounter the familiar Upanisadic conception of nāmarūpa as one's appearance and name (that being disposed of in the foetus and womb discussion earlier). Instead, the compound is broken down such that one needs rūpakāya in order to discern paṭighasamphassa in/with reference to the nāmakāya, and vice versa. Nāma and rūpa still retain some connection to its Upanisadic roots, insofar as I think that this bare cognitive and naming sequel analyses still require name for naming to work, and appearance/form to be present in order for the bare cognitive contact to be established. We get a sense of this "naming" function suggested in this passage -

“It was said: ’With mentality-materiality as condition there is consciousness.’ How that is so, Ananda, should be understood in this way: If consciousness were not to gain a footing in mentality-materiality, would an origination of the mass of suffering—of future birth, aging, and death—be discerned?”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“Therefore, Ananda, this is the cause, source, origin, and condition for consciousness, namely, mentality-materiality.

“It is to this extent, Ananda, that one can be born, age, and die, pass away and re-arise, to this extent that there is a pathway for designation, to this extent that there is a pathway for language, to this extent that there is a pathway for description, to this extent that there is a sphere for wisdom, to this extent that the round turns for describing this state of being, that is, when there is mentality-materiality together with consciousness.

per BB


I take the sequence adhivacanapatha, niruttipatha, paññattipatha, and paññāvacara as synonyms or near-synonyms communicating the naming phenomenon. This should tie in with the standard sutta definition of nāma being feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention, where perception perhaps is responsible for the naming dimension of contact.


I agree with you that the Pali list just above represents what "nama" is to the Buddha. One way of putting it would be that it is naming things; I would say it is not really even naming, but defining things (in a particular way, but more on that later).

Then there was this conversation you had with chownah:

chownah wrote:Sylvester,
I read SN36.6 and find no use of the terms designation or resistance contact. Is resistance contact the first arrow, I.e. bodily pain and is designation contact the second arrow I.e. mental pain?


Sylvester wrote:So, yes, you understand me correctly when you summarise as above.


It seems you are agreeing with the Dharmagupta you cited above, and I take this to mean that you're defining *all* bodily contact as something one experiences resistance to, resistance that is described in SN 36.6 as being reacted to with "vanta" (vomiting? -- I take to mean rejecting it "bleagh!" like bad food meeting an empty stomach)?

I ask this in an effort to lead up to answering your original question (I haven't forgotten it, honestly) and I have one more for you: do you find anything about "self" described in SN 36.6? You seem to be emphasizing the kama/sensuality, with your repeated mention of the hedonic, so I'm guessing your understanding is that is what the sutta is addressing is the activation of the senses, and a simple like/dislike of what we feel, and how we react to the unpleasant by running off looking for something nice -- rather than the sutta being about anything more complex than that?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:56 am

maitreya31 wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Also the "in the womb" is not part of the original text

It doesnt matter . According to the samyutta nikaya the buddha defined birth and death as a literal events. So DO isn't only about mental suffering . DO is also about physical suffering .



So you didn't read my post?

As I said the interpretation of birth being birth of identity does not subtract from rebirth

It means that if there is rebirth or not, is of no matter because the practice would be the same regardless

It's only when d.o. Is seen as Rebirth only, does the dhamma become base


Also physical suffering is only suffering if there is clinging, if you don't crave things to be different then feeling is just feeling ... Not dukkha
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:02 am

maitreya31 wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Also the "in the womb" is not part of the original text

It doesnt matter . According to the samyutta nikaya the buddha defined birth and death as a literal events. So DO isn't only about mental suffering . DO is also about physical suffering .



From ajahn sumedho


"With awareness practice, however, one is not being asked to believe in anything or to operate from any theory - or even to regard ones own preferences for the afterlife - but to recognize the way it actually is at this moment.


..."So this helps me to recognize that I don't have to know what happens after physical death, because I cant know, and it doesn't really matter. I am not asking for some kind of affirmation to make me feel better"
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:10 am

Alex123 wrote:For example there is a belief that awakening is not possible in this life as it takes many lives to do that. Looking at amount of awakened monks and or lay people seems to support this... How many Arhats do you know? So if there is one life, you can't even remove most clinging as it can require many lifetimes for some people.

There is, of course, another way of looking at this.

In my understanding, the Buddha sometimes tells us that we end up living in the world we created with our own ways of thinking about the world. Sometimes this might end up looking a little like a self-fulfilling prophecy, which could be what's going on here. So from my point of view (one in which the Buddha taught that clinging to beliefs about rebirth -- whether positive or negative -- is a mistake that will hold one back) the reason we don't have a whole lot of people walking around who are awakened is due, in part, to them believing it takes many lifetimes and that they have many lifetimes in which to make it happen. Not that this makes them lazy or anything like that -- that's not what I'm saying -- but it means they are clinging to beliefs about rebirth, and that is a hindrance.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:12 am

And from huang po and ajahn chah



Huang po - Sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood. By their very seeking they lose it

...

If you students of the Way wish to become Buddhas, you need study no doctrines whatever, but learn only how to avoid seeking for and attaching yourselves to anything


And ajahn chah

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:44 am

clw_uk wrote:

So when there is ignorance, there is craving and clinging and the whole mass of suffering


Now that's not to say that there is one life, but it does mean that it doesn't matter if there is one life or millions since this process occurs regardless


Thats why we experience dukkha



This is from Ajahn Amaro in the book "The Good Heart – HH Dalai Lama Explores the Heart of Christianity and of Humanity" (1994)

“What is reborn ?"

" From the Theravada Buddhist perspective there is no fixed position.
The Buddha described the process of rebirth quite clearly, but he also said that all knowledge is based on personal experience. So when he talks about the idea of death and rebirth in a different realm of existence, this is like a map that he laid out. It is not handed out as something that we as individuals must believe, but more as a pattern that can help describe our experience of reality.

Generally speaking, what is reborn are our habits. That is the essence of it. Whatever the mind holds onto is reborn: what we love, hate, fear, adore, and have opinions about. Our identification with these aspects of the mind has a momentum behind it. Attachment is like a flywheel. Enlightenment is the ending of rebirth, enlightenment is really the natural condition of the mind when its not confused, identified, or caught up with any internal or external object




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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sylvester » Sun Aug 18, 2013 5:48 am

nowheat wrote:<chuckling> I think your idea of "plainest English" and my idea of the same may just be a universe apart.


Occupational hazard, m'dear. I'm one of those who persistently object to the use of Plain English in my profession. I now have to unravel some tax legislation that was carelessly drafted by Plain English advocates who could not see the distinction between an adjectival participle and a prescriptive term.


Then there was this conversation you had with chownah:

chownah wrote:Sylvester,
I read SN36.6 and find no use of the terms designation or resistance contact. Is resistance contact the first arrow, I.e. bodily pain and is designation contact the second arrow I.e. mental pain?


Sylvester wrote:So, yes, you understand me correctly when you summarise as above.


It seems you are agreeing with the Dharmagupta you cited above,


It's too early for me to "agree" with the Dharmaguptaka; I was merely making an observation that DA 13 also bifurcated contact/sparsa into what appears similar to the SN 36.6 model. To agree or to disagree requires a more detailed Textual Criticism analysis to actually pierce behind the Chinese to determine if the 身觸 rendered by Buddhayaśas was with reference to 身 as contact that is pratigha or as kāya in the original Indic. From what I can gather from another Agama (the MA), the pratigha concept (at least when used in the formless attainments formula is denoted by 有對, admittedly a reading already influenced by the Sarva Abhidharma's sapratigha saṃjñā, instead of the sutra's plain pratigha saṃjñā.



... and I take this to mean that you're defining *all* bodily contact as something one experiences resistance to, resistance that is described in SN 36.6 as being reacted to with "vanta" (vomiting? -- I take to mean rejecting it "bleagh!" like bad food meeting an empty stomach)?


I think we need to be careful with the meaning of paṭigha as used in SN 36.6 and DN 15. Paṭigha in SN 36.6 deals with the anusayas, more specifically the latent disposition to aversion (paṭighānusaya). On the other hand, I follow the traditional interpretation of paṭigha in DN 15 and all the arūpa pericopes to actually mean the impact/collision of sense data on its internal sense base. My only caveat being that I reject the Abhidhammic prescription that paṭigha in DN is limited to the 5 "material" sense bases.

So, while SN 36.6 speaks of paṭighavanta (a dvanda adjective, according to Ven Nyanaponika's translation, or an avyayībhāva compound per BB)), that is in the context of what happens when paṭighānusaya underlies (anuseti) with reference to the painful feeling ( yo dukkhāya vedanāya paṭighānusayo so anuseti). DN 15's paṭighasamphassa has nothing to do the aversion or rejection. So, I don't think that "bodily contact" is something to which one reacts with resistance in the SN 36.6 sense.



I ask this in an effort to lead up to answering your original question (I haven't forgotten it, honestly) and I have one more for you: do you find anything about "self" described in SN 36.6? You seem to be emphasizing the kama/sensuality, with your repeated mention of the hedonic,


As I tried explaining in my reply to chownah, it is my belief that the suttas' presentation of hedonic tone is rather different from the Western and Abhidhammic understanding of the same. As per MN 148, the mind is actually capable of experiencing pain and grief disjointed. So, I'm actually rejecting the standard interpretation that kāyika (bodily) feelings are limited to the kāmā. An unpleasant memory or even an unpleasant thought gives rise to pain at mind-contact. Grief, however, is optional, if I understand the anusaya theory correctly.



so I'm guessing your understanding is that is what the sutta is addressing is the activation of the senses, and a simple like/dislike of what we feel, and how we react to the unpleasant by running off looking for something nice -- rather than the sutta being about anything more complex than that?


I think there something more complex in SN 36.6 than just the search for pleasure. See what happens in SN 36.6 when the hedonic tone is neutral feeling (adukkhamasukha vedanā). See what anusaya pertains to that hedonic tone and what other suttas (eg SN 36.7) have to say about this anusaya. Do you see the intersection between this anusaya and the delineation of self mentioned in DN 15? Does the delineation of self in DN 15 fall to be criticised as being identical with MN 64's sakkāya-diṭṭhanusaya?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:02 pm

clw_uk wrote:

But what does that actually feel like to you in practice? What is it that you actually experience being reborn?


Identification, "I am this, this is mine"


I'm still far from clear. Could you give some practical examples of how you experience identification being reborn? I can see it might make sense to talk about desire being continually "reborn", but I don't think that's what you mean?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:09 pm

The more I think about the "skillful means" and "rebirth as metaphor" theories, the less convincing they become.

The Buddha taught a path leading to awakening, "seeing things as they really are", direct insight. And part of that path was Right Speech, ie speech that is honest and helpful.

Given that, is it really credible that the Buddha would have started making stuff up, or not being clear, or fudging the issue on the rebirth question?
Isn't the simpler and more likely explanation for the sutta accounts that the Buddha was speaking honestly and directly from experience?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:16 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Jati means birth, as in "from the mother's womb". Death means the grave or cremation. So birth and death is "from cradle to grave".


Which I don't agree with/ have any use for, and why it's a pointless exercise


The suttas consistently and repeatedly describe birth and death in physical terms, including in the context of DO ( see the nidana definitions in MN9, SN12.2, DN15 etc ).

Why don't you agree with what the suttas say?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 18, 2013 12:31 pm

clw_uk wrote:As I said the interpretation of birth being birth of identity does not subtract from rebirth


But it does fudge the question, and I don't see the Buddha as a teacher who would have fudged this important question.

Either the suttas support the rebirth teachings as metaphorical interpretation, or they don't - and I don't see any evidence that the suttas do support the metaphorical interpretation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:54 pm

If the buddha lied to us about rebirth, what's to say he didn't lie to us about Nibbana. Its a pretty slippery slope when you start believing the buddha just made things up to get his point across. Certainly no account of the Precept of Honesty and not lieing allows for this process you call "skillful means" which by definition are not skillful at all.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:03 pm

If the buddha lied to us about rebirth, what's to say he didn't lie to us about Nibbana



I dont think anyone is saying that he is lying, I'm certainly not


Spiny I will have to reply later
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:23 pm

So you believe the buddha wasn't lieing when he clearly taught literal rebirth???
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:49 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:So you believe the buddha wasn't lieing when he clearly taught literal rebirth???



As I said, if the birth of "I am" carries on after death, I do not know. However it makes no difference if it does or not since we would have to practice the Dhamma the same regardless, Dhamma practice isn't dependent on there being an afterlife.

Now the Buddha is recorded in the suttas teaching folk that they will be reborn after physical death

Why he taught this I don't know, be it objective truth that he knew (and I don't) or as a teaching metaphor to train people in morality, or by just accepting it as a given from doctrines he was aware of ... Or for some other reason.

I don't know which one of those it is, and it doesn't matter really because to me, as I said, the practice stays the same regardless of what happens after death, rebirth or not.


So to summarise, d.o. Happens in the moment (you will find this isn't something new, it's apparently in the commentaries and abhidhamma) and rebirth is not central.
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