the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ajatashatru » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:38 pm

I will get around to reading all 220+ pages of this thread, but let me just say that I think its highly dishonest for someone to claim to be a Buddhist and at the same time reject rebirth. This is the height of hypocrisy because if you believe this, you are by definition a materialist which is anathema to any Buddhist. Therefore if you cannot digest rebirth/kamma, etc. and still find value in say Vipassana, then you are highly influenced or benefited from Buddhism, but by no means do you have the right to call yourself a Buddhist.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:03 pm

but let me just say that I think its highly dishonest for someone to claim to be a Buddhist and at the same time reject rebirth.


No one is rejecting rebirth, the discussion is about how to understand Dependent Origination and if rebirth belief is essential to being a Buddhist or not.

This is the height of hypocrisy because if you believe this, you are by definition a materialist which is anathema to any Buddhist.


Maybe, if anyone here was saying "there is no rebirth"


Saying "I dont know if there is rebirth" and not having a belief in it either way, does not mean you are a materialist


From Ajahn Sumedho, former abbot of amaravati Buddhist monastery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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"


Taken from his book "Dont take your life personally" from the Chapter "Knowing not Knowing"

For myself I dont know if there is rebirth or not, but I would practice Dhamma if there was rebirth or not. This is because I dont see rebirth as being essential to Buddhism

By that I mean that one of Buddhism's strengths is it being true in any situation (rebirth or not) ... Clinging always leads to Dukkha

Therefore if you cannot digest rebirth/kamma, etc. and still find value in say Vipassana, then you are highly influenced or benefited from Buddhism, but by no means do you have the right to call yourself a Buddhist.


One can be a Buddhist and not hold a belief in rebirth and just simply say "I dont know, or care"



I will get around to reading all 220+ pages of this thread,



I think it would be more wise to actually read what people are discussing, before disagreeing with them ... :rolleye:
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:14 pm

I could say likewise is belief in Nibbana essential to practice Buddhism? No, but it sure helps, just like believing in rebirth helps a lot of people practice Buddhism, there's probably little doubt that you are being honest when you say it doesn't matter TO YOU whether you believe in rebirth or not, but to think your own belief is so important that it applies to everyone else, that no one can have a stronger practice because they believe in rebirth, is just going way, way to far......
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 retrofuturist » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:56 pm

Greetings Lyndron,

lyndon taylor wrote:but to think your own belief is so important that it applies to everyone else, that no one can have a stronger practice because they believe in rebirth, is just going way, way to far......

Respectfully, I think you're projecting here.

I've seen Craig's posts over a few years, and this is not what he does.

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 lyndon taylor » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:19 pm

Well speaking for myself, my belief in rebirth is ESSENTIAL to my buddhist practice, maybe I'm the only one, but without a belief in rebirth I doubt I'd be a buddhist and or sober today. The idea that you don't need rebirth to practice some parts of Buddhism is true, but the idea that no one benefits from having a belief in rebirth can not be true, that doesn't mean that everyone benefits from a belief in rebirth, there may be some people who absolutely it would make no difference one way or the other, The point is The Buddha taught rebirth, why would you want to devote so much time and effort on a Buddhist forum to tell people that what the Buddha taught(rebirth) is not important, one way or the other, to believe. If it wasn't important, why did the Buddha bother to teach it??? What possible benefit can you have online convincing people that what the Buddha taught, rebirth, is not important to believe, Better just to make a simple statement, like "I don't understand the Buddha's teaching of rebirth" and leave it at that.
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 Ajatashatru » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:11 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Well speaking for myself, my belief in rebirth is ESSENTIAL to my buddhist practice, maybe I'm the only one, but without a belief in rebirth I doubt I'd be a buddhist and or sober today. The idea that you don't need rebirth to practice some parts of Buddhism is true, but the idea that no one benefits from having a belief in rebirth can not be true, that doesn't mean that everyone benefits from a belief in rebirth, there may be some people who absolutely it would make no difference one way or the other, The point is The Buddha taught rebirth, why would you want to devote so much time and effort on a Buddhist forum to tell people that what the Buddha taught(rebirth) is not important, one way or the other, to believe. If it wasn't important, why did the Buddha bother to teach it??? What possible benefit can you have online convincing people that what the Buddha taught, rebirth, is not important to believe, Better just to make a simple statement, like "I don't understand the Buddha's teaching of rebirth" and leave it at that.


I agree with you wholeheartedly sir. If there is no rebirth and consciousness just ends with termination of brain than what use is Nibbana? What use is escape from Samsara? If one claims to be a Buddhist and does not believe in rebirth then the only practical way to end Dukkha is to kill yourself. I will let the readers be the judge as to how practical/impractical that sounds.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:39 am

Ajatashatru wrote: If there is no rebirth and consciousness just ends with termination of brain than what use is Nibbana? ...


The ending of lobha dosa moha.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sylvester » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:49 am

nowheat wrote:I recall asking you if you saw a common thread -- this seems to suggest that you do. Would you please detail what it is you see as the common thread?


I actually don't see any such thread. Which was the reason why I am trying to coax you to cite the thread, because if the Vedic "view" is the problem that the Buddha was hoping to address vide DA, then what was that view? Given that there are so many views in the attested pre-Buddhist literature, what common denominator underlies those views (be it psychological or doctrinal or whatever), such that the brahmin, on hearing DA, would immediately understand that DA was directed against such-&-such aspect of their prior conditioning?


What do you deem to be the origination of suffering if one has no views of self?


I'm with the RSPCA interpretation of DA. Our poor furry friends undergo the origination of suffering like the infant in MN 64. Anusayas do not require a full-blown view of self to be the condition for suffering to arise.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:20 am

Greetings,

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Ajatashatru wrote: If there is no rebirth and consciousness just ends with termination of brain than what use is Nibbana? ...

The ending of lobha dosa moha.

Yep.... true regardless of precisely what rebirth is, and whether it is so.

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 lyndon taylor » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:24 am

Translation?????
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 chownah » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:03 am

The underlying tendencies of a newborn is an aspect of the Teachings I have not heard of before. I like it. One thing I notice is that the Buddha does not say that the underlying tendencies goes away as the infant matures....or do I miss that...please let me know if he did say it goes away.

Question 1)
Could it be that the underlying tendencies are what gets reborn?

Question 2)
Could it be that the underlying tendencies are conditioned by the DNA of the infant and so it is the DNA that is reborn?...or put another way could it be that the information contained in the DNA is what is reborn?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:10 am

From my understanding, what is reborn is spiritual, not physical in nature, DNA by nature is physical and dies with the body. I wouldn't think what is reborn is even made up of atoms and electrons.
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 Aloka » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:15 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Translation?????


Greed, hatred and delusion


.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:22 am

Thank you Aloka, now it makes sense.
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 nowheat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:55 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
nowheat wrote:My thesis is twofold: that we have misunderstood what the Buddha is doing with his mentions of rebirth because we have not understood the way the Buddha uses language throughout the canon, and that the other reason for the misunderstanding is because we haven't understood what dependent arising is, if it's not endorsing a view of the cosmic order...


I could have missed something, but where have you actually shown a text-critical analysis of 'the way the Buddha uses language', pointing to parallels or 'linguistic echos', as Norman/Gombrich would show, in the Vedas or Upaniṣads, to support your 'thesis'?

Otherwise, you could post here again in this or that thread, today or months later, and the discussion still remains circular.

I'm not sure what you missed, but I must have missed the part where I said something that indicated I believe the Buddha used language in a way that was imitating someone else so that it would have parallels or 'linguistic echoes'. I thought what I'd said was that there wasn't an expectation that teachers would speak in clear and literal ways the way we expect them to -- I'm pretty sure anyone reading the Upanisads would notice this -- but that I suspected that the Buddha was doing things with the structure of his argument that were quite remarkably brilliant, by which I mean using techniques that no one might have thought of. My argument included a point made in passing about Sariputta's moment of understanding -- if one of his most brilliant students didn't get it at first, it wasn't that he was being obvious, or talking just exactly the way everyone else did.

I also thought I'd said, at least once or twice, that what I'm arguing should be clear from the suttas alone. It is an internally consistent way of understanding what's going on that makes the inconsistencies some of us recognize in the traditional view (the "I don't discuss cosmological questions I only speak of dukkha and the cessation of dukkha" accompanied in the suttas by statements that are understood by many to be statements about cosmological questions -- those sorts of failures of logic; the direction to be more concerned with one's own life in the future than with our effect on those whose lives we touch and all life; the nothing-to-be-reborn issues) go away. If my argument is circular it is, I suppose, because it's meant to be self-supported by just the suttas, by understanding what is being said, as well as the way it is said, with the only real outside support coming from seeing how it measures up in practice. In just the same sort of way that the traditional interpretation has its own internal consistency, what I'm suggesting also has internal consistency. If that sort of circularity seems like a failing to you, well, I'm sorry that it does.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:24 am

What does this have to do with 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 nowheat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:30 am

Sylvester wrote:
nowheat wrote:I recall asking you if you saw a common thread -- this seems to suggest that you do. Would you please detail what it is you see as the common thread?

I actually don't see any such thread. Which was the reason why I am trying to coax you to cite the thread, because if the Vedic "view" is the problem that the Buddha was hoping to address vide DA, then what was that view? Given that there are so many views in the attested pre-Buddhist literature, what common denominator underlies those views (be it psychological or doctrinal or whatever), such that the brahmin, on hearing DA, would immediately understand that DA was directed against such-&-such aspect of their prior conditioning?

Well, that maybe explains where we went off the rails -- thanks. I'm not saying that what the Buddha was hoping to address with DA was the Vedic view. What the Buddha addressed with DA was the way *all* views that involve making assumptions about the world and/or the self that aren't well supported in evidence are going to lead us into trouble. Regardless of what era he taught in, and what the belief systems were of people around him, that would still have been the point: how the way we are so sure we know what's going on all the time is at the root of our suffering.

But in his day, the views that caused the most problem were the ones he talks about in DA: the rites-and-rituals and attavada (view of self) sorts of views, and he found a really terrific way to get that point across by using the structure of rituals, and particularly of rituals that modify the self, as the organizing principal of his core lesson. The old suttas in the Sutta Nipata, like the "Quarrels and Disputes" one I mentioned earlier in the thread, indicate that he hadn't always framed DA using the language of the Prajapati myth, and of rituals, and of what happens after the funeral pyre -- though his uses of consciousness and of name and of form indicates to me he was using, fairly early on, themes that are found in the Prajapati myth (whether that's because the Prajapati myth is built on the way folks saw the origins of life even without the myth, or the myth informed the way people looked at Creation, I have not enough knowledge of Vedism to say -- I'm not sure anyone knows -- and I don't think it matters. The classic 12-step DA uses the same way of looking at how we come to be -- it's there, regardless of how it came to be a structure the Buddha would find useful in explaining his point -- his point about *views* -- his *timeless* point about views).


nowheat wrote:What do you deem to be the origination of suffering if one has no views of self?


I'm with the RSPCA interpretation of DA. Our poor furry friends undergo the origination of suffering like the infant in MN 64. Anusayas do not require a full-blown view of self to be the condition for suffering to arise.

Maybe you could give me some examples, because I can't think of any way an animal without self suffers *dukkha*-type suffering.

I almost thought of one, though. I have often thought my shy Doberman experienced something like dukkha. She is always sure that when someone in the house is angry, they are angry at *her*. But I have a few problems with thinking that that is actually what the Buddha is talking about and that it doesn't involve self: she has a sense of self in that she is taking the anger as being directed at her self, and she is reacting to a painful feeling with aversion as she slouches out of sight. But I don't think this is what the Buddha is talking about as the actual origins of dukkha -- it is akin to dukkha; and it works from the same principal (in just the way causation on a cosmic scale is reflected in causation in DA; same mechanism but applied to a narrower set when generating actual dukkha); it is suffering, but it's not dukkha. Dukkha is something curable by knowledge, mindfulness, and effort. She does not have that ability -- and neither does the infant, which I took to be the Buddha's point in MN 64: that being free of dukkha doesn't mean you're liberated -- having no views yet doesn't mean you're awakened: you actually have to be able to be aware of what is going on and make the choices. Prior to growing up enough to meet that sort of criteria, what we experience as pleasure and pain isn't actually involved in dukkha.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:59 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:As for Buddhadasa I dont think he "re-wrote" D.O. but simply explained it as it was, nothing he says goes against Dhamma and everything he says is aimed at non-clinging


I do think the "psychological" or "moment-to-moment" interpretation of DO is a major departure from what's described in the suttas because:

1. The nidanas are redefined, eg birth and death are redefined to be psychological rather than physical events as described in the suttas;
2. Conditionality ( paccaya ) is redefined to have the meaning of the nidanas shaping or influencing each other, rather than the nidanas arising in dependence on each other as described by the suttas. "When this is, that is.........when this arise, that arises";
3. Craving and clinging are redefined as exclusively short-term, rather than long-term, habitual tendencies.

I tend to use "psychological" instead of "moment-to-moment" because I think it captures this interpretation better, ie purely psychological as opposed to the traditional view of DO as a psycho-physical process. And of course we all work with aspects of DO moment-to-moment, the difference is about how many nidanas we consider.


“moment to moment” is the main thrust of DO. When we look at the early sketches in Suttanipāta of what later became DO, we find a pure ethic of liberation to be experienced in the present. This was the intention discussed well before a nidāna of doctrine had developed.


Could you say which early sketches? How do you know they are early? And how do you know they are more authentic than later material?

For me the pivotal point is the way the nidanas are defined, because they give DO it's meaning. The suttas I know of which define the nidanas are MN9, SN12.2 and DN15, and these seem to support the traditional view. Are you saying these 3 suttas are all later additions, and that they are corruptions?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Ajatashatru wrote: If there is no rebirth and consciousness just ends with termination of brain than what use is Nibbana? ...

The ending of lobha dosa moha.

Yep.... true regardless of precisely what rebirth is, and whether it is so.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Sure, that's the old "relevance of rebirth to practice" argument. Clearly some people find the teachings on rebirth and kamma relevant, and some don't.
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:05 am

clw_uk wrote:Please quote where someone has said "there is no rebirth"


A number of people are arguing that rebirth is a metaphor. Though this keeps getting muddled up with the "relevance of rebirth to practice" debate.
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