the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:04 pm

I agree with you wholeheartedly sir. If there is no rebirth and consciousness just ends with termination of brain


Which is an unskilful view and a pointless speculation

than what use is Nibbana?


To be free from greed, hatred and delusion ... to be free from Dukkha

Why live a life of Dukkha when you can practice to live one without it, or a reduction in it

What use is escape from Samsara?


To be free from the birth of "I am" and to stop being born into ageing and death

That is to stop identification, that is the stopping of Samsara. The four noble truths speak of the birth of the ego, of the sense of "I am"

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.


Why when you can be free from the want to kill yourself, that is free from the aversion from dukkha


Besides you have one again missed the point, not believing in rebirth doesn't mean believing there is no rebirth
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:35 pm

daverupa wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:Also, with reference to what could be called a DO of the present moment, the Loka Sutta of SN. 12.44 gives us a model for looking at this. Rather than post all that again, look at this discussion here.


You know, I wonder if the idea of The All and how it is created, per that sutta, is being connected in nowheat's thoughts with a description of Purusa/Prajapati as the (ritually-constituted/constructed) All. Maybe this is the comparative bedrock for further unpacking DO as a reworked Vedic precedent?

Yes, thanks. What I see is that usually when the Buddha speaks of the world he's speaking of the self and the world we create in our own minds. I think he riffs off the atman-brahman view quite cleverly. I understand him as talking about self-and-world as well as self-as-world in DA (but he isn't limiting what he's talking about to that view). I see him as using loka (world) in the big four volumes of suttas in a way that is totally consistent with him addressing the atman-brahman view. What he's saying in DA is not separate from the way he uses those concepts in talks scattered all throughout the canon.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:11 pm

lyndon taylor wrote: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......

I definitely do *not* believe that belief in rebirth is essential to no one's practice. It is quite clear to me that an understanding of Buddhism that includes belief either that there is rebirth, or that the Buddha taught rebirth, is very useful to very many people. I suspect that the Buddha recognized that belief in rebirth is actually essential to quite a few people.

While we humans may all be the same in the essentials, we each have such different natures and upbringings, that it shouldn't be surprising that we might actually need to come at an understanding of the dhamma through different approaches. I may be alone in seeing it this way, but this is a small part of what I hear the Buddha saying in the simile of the raft -- that each of us builds our own raft-of-understanding to cross from ignorance to insight into the working of the dhamma, and that none of us should cling to the particular model we built so firmly that we go around wearing it as a hat when we get to the other shore, and insisting that our approach, and *only* our approach is the right one.

I am not suggesting that anyone give up an understanding of the dhamma that they find is moving them forward on the path -- far from it -- nor would I want anyone to try to take away from me my understanding of it (though I am always open to hearing arguments that might show me that I am going completely astray). But the world is quite full of people who teach that the Buddha believed in rebirth, and that if you are to get anywhere on this path, you should believe in it too. It is less full of people who believe the Buddha believed in, or at the very least, taught rebirth, but that you don't need to pay attention to that to find success on the path. As far as I know, I am the only one who sees this differently from both groups. I am the only one who, having dug in to try to determine which of the two folks above had the better understanding of what the man was doing with his use of rebirth in his talks, found the answer to lie in the middle: he found a discussion of karma and rebirth to be useful, but I don't find him trying to convince anyone to believe in it (except in rare texts -- like MN 60 where he states positively that there *is* rebirth and that to believe otherwise is wrong view and to teach otherwise is a bad, bad thing -- smack in the middle of his logical argument that it doesn't matter whether what we believe is the actual Cosmic Order or not, what matters is what we do in this life -- thus breaking up the logic of his argument).

There are those I hang out with who believe that huge portions of the suttas are later corruptions, interference by Brahmin disciples. They dismiss all the talk of karma and rebirth. But I think if we throw out that much of the canon, we miss the point, as well as the richness of the man's style in giving those talks. Karma provides a useful way of understanding the dhamma, as does rebirth. But an understanding of Buddhism isn't limited to understanding it through karma and rebirth.

lyndon, the world is full of people who will support you in your understanding of Buddhism as needing rebirth to be a part of it. And just as I would not take that away from anyone because I recognize that different people need to see it in ways different from how I do, I would hope you would practice compassion and allow room for others to see it differently than you do. Some of us require direct evidence for us to develop belief in something -- not taking anyone else's word but our own (though having a second opinion from "the wise" is of course useful) -- and for folks like that, being told that, for the Buddha's system to work, one *must* come to believe in rebirth will prevent them from stepping inside. If what I have found in the suttas is both consistent with what is the core of the Buddha's teaching, and doesn't have a belief-in-rebirth requirement, it might be useful to those who don't have the ability or willingness, due to whatever causes are in their background, to make leaps of faith.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:19 pm

nowheat wrote:What I see is that usually when the Buddha speaks of the world he's speaking of the self and the world we create in our own minds.


Ajahn Buddadhasa spoke about "the world" in "Two Kinds of Language"

"Now we shall say something about the word "world" (loka). In everyday language, the word "world" refers to the Earth, this physical world, flat or round or however you conceive it. The "world" as the physical Earth is everyday language. In Dhamma language, however, the word "world" refers to worldly (lokiya) mental states, the worldly stages in the scale of mental development - that is to say, dukkha. The condition that is impermanent, changing, unsatisfactory - this is the worldly condition of the mind. And this is what is meant by the "world" in Dhamma language. Hence it is said that the world is dukkha, dukkha is the world. When the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truth (ariya-sacca), he sometimes used the term "world" and sometimes the term "dukkha" They are one and the same. For instance, he spoke of:

- the world;
- the cause of the arising of the world;
- the extinction of the world;
- the path that brings about the extinction of the world.

What he meant was:
- dukkha;
- the cause of dukkha;
- the extinction of dukkha;
- the path that brings about the extinction of dukkha.

So in the language of the Buddha, the language of Dhamma, the word "world" refers to dukkha; suffering and the world are one and the same.

Taken another way, the word "world" refers to things that are low, shallow, not profound, and fall short of their highest potential. For instance, we speak of such and such a thing as worldly, meaning that it is not Dhamma. This is another meaning of the word "world" in Dhamma language. "World" does not always refer simply to this Earth, as in everyday language.

http://www.buddhadasa.com/naturaltruth/twolanguage2.html



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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:23 pm

My primary argument is that he isn't being literal. I saw this long before I saw any connection to the Vedas. I was not the first to see this -- many others have seen it that way, including Buddhadasa, right? I believe that Craig was arguing the metaphorical nature of the teachings on rebirth long before I arrived at this forum, and he wasn't couching it in terms of the Vedic connections -- he still doesn't, as far as I can see.



I do say the Buddha was being literal, by that I mean the birth of "I am" as a hungry ghost isnt a metaphor, its an actual process that results in an actual being

They are the heroin addicts of this world, for example



From the reading of the Suttas Buddha does teach some people, usually village folk from what I can see (although not always), that after death they, which in his terms means "I am" arising due to clinging, will arise and so "I" will arise after the death of the body and experience the results of Kamma, just as "I" do in this life

Now the reasons for teaching this I dont know, be it because the Buddha simply accepted it as a logical extension of what will happen, contrasted against the backdrop of the metaphysical speculations of his day

Or because he actually seen and knew it, or because it taught people morality and helped some to step onto his path for overcoming dukkha here and now

Or for some other reason

I can speculate and speculate and probably never know, but as I said before it doesnt matter because if "I" arises after physical death or not, "I" still arises in this very moment due to clinging, which causes dukkha, and the escape from it is in this very moment as well


To put it simply, If I knew that physical death was the end, I would still practice the same as if it wasn't and the process continues


Besides this life or the next, its all not-mine ;)


From what I have read Buddhadasa taught the same (would it shock you to know he does say that "I am" happens after death if there is still ignorance ;))


The main point of contention is that people with a rebirth belief see the psychological teaching of D.O. as undermining rebirth and going against the Suttas. I just don't see how it does though.



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Last edited by clw_uk on Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:32 pm

My main issue is when people take the view that one must have a view of rebirth to be a Buddhist, or that the four noble truths and D.O. describe a purely 3 lifetime model


This is not true, one can be a Buddhist and neither affirm nor deny rebirth and D.O./4 noble truths can be used in the context of mind moments ... not lifetimes

However I will say that problems occur if someone holds a view of annihilation or eternal life
Last edited by clw_uk on Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:35 pm

that each of us builds our own raft-of-understanding to cross from ignorance to insight into the working of the dhamma, and that none of us should cling to the particular model we built so firmly that we go around wearing it as a hat when we get to the other shore, and insisting that our approach, and *only* our approach is the right one.


I agree but some rafts are better constructed than others

For example the raft's of Stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Secular Humanism, Vedanta or Islam, will only get you so far :tantrum:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:42 pm

Aloka wrote:Ajahn Buddadhasa spoke about "the world" in "Two Kinds of Language"

"Now we shall say something about the word "world" (loka). ...

- the world;
- the cause of the arising of the world;
- the extinction of the world;
- the path that brings about the extinction of the world.

What he meant was:
- dukkha;
- the cause of dukkha;
- the extinction of dukkha;
- the path that brings about the extinction of dukkha.

So in the language of the Buddha, the language of Dhamma, the word "world" refers to dukkha; suffering and the world are one and the same.

Taken another way, the word "world" refers to things that are low, shallow, not profound, and fall short of their highest potential. For instance, we speak of such and such a thing as worldly, meaning that it is not Dhamma. This is another meaning of the word "world" in Dhamma language. "World" does not always refer simply to this Earth, as in everyday language.

http://www.buddhadasa.com/naturaltruth/twolanguage2.html




Nice, Aloka, thanks. I think the Buddha was using loka in a way that meant it to be understood on all those levels pretty much simultaneously, although, in general, the one thing he doesn't seem to mean is for us to take it literally. I'd add in "the world" as meaning "people", too. An example would be:

SN 12.65 "The City" http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Dwelling at Savatthi... "Monks, before my Awakening, when I was just an unawakened Bodhisatta, the realization came to me: 'How this world has fallen on difficulty! It is born, it ages, it dies, it falls away & rearises, but it does not discern the escape from this stress, from this aging & death. O when will it discern the escape from this stress, from this aging & death?'


It's another instance where I find he is making a pronouncement that would make people stop and think, "Hmmm. Do we see the world being born, aging, and dying? I haven't seen this... I wonder what he really means... Maybe 'people' are born, age, die? I'll work with that as a first theory of what he's talking about..."

To Buddhadasa's rendition I would add: understanding anatta, the cause of anatta, the cessation of anatta, the path to the cessation of anatta (where anatta is substituted for "the self" and actually means "what we mistake for a lasting self") because the world is equated with the self which the Buddha is saying isn't there, and we need to see that, we need to get to the end of anatta. And anatta = dukkha, too, in a way. (It all fits together!)


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:44 pm

And anatta = dukkha, too, in a way. (It all fits together!)



How does anatta = Dukkha?

Not understanding Anatta = Dukkha, but not giving rise to "I" and understanding Anatta = Nibbana
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:45 pm

clw_uk wrote:I agree but some rafts are better constructed than others

For example the raft's of Stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Secular Humanism, Vedanta or Islam, will only get you so far :tantrum:

Oh yes, and given the context of the raft speech, the Buddha was clearly saying that even when it came to his dhamma, there is such a thing as a badly constructed raft -- he speaks of that in the sutta as adhamma, doesn't he, as what is clearly not dhamma.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:58 pm

nowheat wrote:To Buddhadasa's rendition I would add: understanding anatta, the cause of anatta, the cessation of anatta, the path to the cessation of anatta (where anatta is substituted for "the self" and actually means "what we mistake for a lasting self") because the world is equated with the self which the Buddha is saying isn't there, and we need to see that, we need to get to the end of anatta. And anatta = dukkha, too, in a way. (It all fits together!)


To me, anatta=emptiness=nibbana
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:06 pm

Aloka wrote:
nowheat wrote:To Buddhadasa's rendition I would add: understanding anatta, the cause of anatta, the cessation of anatta, the path to the cessation of anatta (where anatta is substituted for "the self" and actually means "what we mistake for a lasting self") because the world is equated with the self which the Buddha is saying isn't there, and we need to see that, we need to get to the end of anatta. And anatta = dukkha, too, in a way. (It all fits together!)


To me, anatta=emptiness=nibbana



Exactly, emptiness of self = no possession of that which dies, and so no dukkha


"'It's with possessiveness, friend Ananda, that there is "I am," not without possessiveness. And through possessiveness of what is there "I am," not without possessiveness? Through possessiveness of form there is "I am," not without possessiveness. Through possessiveness of feeling... perception... fabrications... Through possessiveness of consciousness there is "I am," not without possessiveness.

"'Just as if a young woman — or a man — youthful, fond of adornment, contemplating the image of her face in a mirror, pure & bright, or in a bowl of clear water, would look with possessiveness, not without possessiveness. In the same way, through possessiveness of form there is "I am," not without possessiveness. Through possessiveness of feeling... perception... fabrications... Through possessiveness of consciousness there is "I am," not without possessiveness.

"'What do you think, friend Ananda — Is form constant or inconstant?'

"'Inconstant, friend.'

"'And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?'

"'Stressful, friend.'

"'And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: "This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am"?'

"'No, friend.'



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

Postby nowheat » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:26 am

clw_uk wrote:
And anatta = dukkha, too, in a way. (It all fits together!)



How does anatta = Dukkha?

Not understanding Anatta = Dukkha, but not giving rise to "I" and understanding Anatta = Nibbana


Did you agree with Buddhadasa's analysis?

"Now we shall say something about the word "world" (loka). ...

- the world;
- the cause of the arising of the world;
- the extinction of the world;
- the path that brings about the extinction of the world.

What he meant was:
- dukkha;
- the cause of dukkha;
- the extinction of dukkha;
- the path that brings about the extinction of dukkha.

So in the language of the Buddha, the language of Dhamma, the word "world" refers to dukkha; suffering and the world are one and the same.


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:29 am

nowheat wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
And anatta = dukkha, too, in a way. (It all fits together!)



How does anatta = Dukkha?

Not understanding Anatta = Dukkha, but not giving rise to "I" and understanding Anatta = Nibbana


Did you agree with Buddhadasa's analysis?

"Now we shall say something about the word "world" (loka). ...

- the world;
- the cause of the arising of the world;
- the extinction of the world;
- the path that brings about the extinction of the world.

What he meant was:
- dukkha;
- the cause of dukkha;
- the extinction of dukkha;
- the path that brings about the extinction of dukkha.

So in the language of the Buddha, the language of Dhamma, the word "world" refers to dukkha; suffering and the world are one and the same.


:namaste:




In terms of ego, yes

That is "my world" instead of the world as it is


When things are experienced as they are, there is no hell being or human ... Just pure awareness ... Buddha


Then there is no world of human, hell being or deva etc
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:34 am

And you didn't answer how anatta = dukkha :)



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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 24, 2013 12:48 am

nowheat wrote:
clw_uk wrote:I agree but some rafts are better constructed than others

For example the raft's of Stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Secular Humanism, Vedanta or Islam, will only get you so far :tantrum:

Oh yes, and given the context of the raft speech, the Buddha was clearly saying that even when it came to his dhamma, there is such a thing as a badly constructed raft -- he speaks of that in the sutta as adhamma, doesn't he, as what is clearly not dhamma.

:namaste:



I agree

Buddhadhamma becomes Adhamma when we take concepts as credo


For example, simply believing in anicca instead of using it


So this would extend to using Dhamma as a philosophical tool to use for arguments (credo) instead of using it for insight (Buddhadhamma), which leads to freedom from dukkha ... The raft properly used
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:45 am

clw_uk wrote:So this would extend to using Dhamma as a philosophical tool to use for arguments (credo) instead of using it for insight (Buddhadhamma), which leads to freedom from dukkha ... The raft properly used


Something pertinent in this respect:

ancientbuddhism wrote:...The Theory of ‘Dependent Origination’ in its Incipient Stage, by Hajime Nakamura.


In the Twelve Link theory the transient aspects of human existence are comprehended as 'birth' (jäti) and 'ageing and death' (jarämarana). This gives us the impression of being contemplative and resignative, fit for monastic life. On the other hand, to comprehend our human existence as 'strifes, disputes, lamentations, sorrows, envy, arrogance, conceits and slandering' is quite based upon human actuality. Wording is alive. We can feel body smell of human beings. It means that Buddhism originally started from reflection upon actual human existence.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:40 am

clw_uk/Craig wrote:So ok yeah, there is literal rebirth in the Suttas
In the suttas, tied directly to the Four Noble Truths and conditioned co-production, as has been clearly shown above using a number of sutta texts.

Craig wrote: From what I have read Buddhadasa taught the same (would it shock you to know he does say that "I am" happens after death if there is still ignorance)
That was already clearly established above that Buddhadasa did only not deny post mortem rebirth, but accepted it.

Craig inaccurately wrote:The main point of contention is that people with a rebirth belief see the psychological teaching of D.O. as undermining rebirth and going against the Suttas. I just don't see how it does though.
It would seem, rather, that the psychologicalists often obstinately deny any actual utility to the idea of literal rebirth, setting up a stawman argument in regards to literal rebirth, as we can see with Craig’s numerous missives above.

Craig wrote: My main issue is when people take the view that one must have a view of rebirth to be a Buddhist, or that the four noble truths and D.O. describe a purely 3 lifetime model.
Those who hold that the Buddha did, in fact, teach literal rebirth have been a great deal more flexible on this point than have the psychologicalists in their attempted dismissal of the literalist position.

Craig wrote: So this would extend to using Dhamma as a philosophical tool to use for arguments (credo) instead of using it for insight (Buddhadhamma), which leads to freedom from dukkha ... The raft properly used
The psychologicalist point of view can, just as easily as the literalist position, be abused by becoming a “credo,” as Craig has shown.

In reading through this latest round of exchanges, it is interesting to see that 2500 plus years after the death of the Buddha that, at long last, someone, who does not read Sanskrit, Classical or Vedic, nor reads Pali, nor has shown any evidence of looking at the corresponding Agama literature, someone seems not to understand at all what text critical methodology is, someone is going to set us straight, finally, as to what the Buddha actually, really, and truly meant, and that the Buddha taught using a twilight language, sāṃdhyābhāṣā, not meaning literally what he said, which becomes, of course, an all too easy trope for dismissing what one wants to dismiss.
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 nowheat » Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:01 am

clw_uk wrote:how does anatta = Dukkha?

Not understanding Anatta = Dukkha, but not giving rise to "I" and understanding Anatta = Nibbana


nowheat wrote:Did you agree with Buddhadasa's analysis?


"Now we shall say something about the word "world" (loka). ...

- the world;
- the cause of the arising of the world;
- the extinction of the world;
- the path that brings about the extinction of the world.

What he meant was:
- dukkha;
- the cause of dukkha;
- the extinction of dukkha;
- the path that brings about the extinction of dukkha.

So in the language of the Buddha, the language of Dhamma, the word "world" refers to dukkha; suffering and the world are one and the same.

clw_uk wrote:In terms of ego, yes

That is "my world" instead of the world as it is


When things are experienced as they are, there is no hell being or human ... Just pure awareness ... Buddha


Then there is no world of human, hell being or deva etc

And you didn't answer how anatta = dukkha :)

That's because I wanted to know if you were disagreeing with the first premise (loka = dukkha) before I tried explaining the second -- basically I was making sure I understood your question.

Again, I may be the only human being on the planet who does this but I see anatta as a positive, not just a negation. I understand that most people read it as saying "no self" as in the sentence "There is no self," or as "not self" in the sentence "What you think is self is not self." In either case, it is a statement negating a perceived existence.

I read it that way too, but I also read it as making a statement about what is. So the sentence "Your perception that consciousness is the self is mistaken, it is not self" can be read as above -- as a negation, but I tend to read it as a positive statement that says that the perception has an existence -- it's just not a changeless, separate, eternal existence -- and the existence of that perception "I have a self" is a construct I call "the not-self" aka "anatta". I consider the construction we build in our minds that the ignorant tend to call "self", a "not-self", and consider it to be every bit as real as dukkha. Which is to say that we create dukkha, just as we create a mental construct that we think of as self. Dukkha is created out of the creation of what passes for a self.

If that comes out as gibberish to you, I won't be surprised. The mental gymnastics this brain of mine can perform are quite frighteningly twisted sometimes. :jumping:

I believe what I am doing in naming "what arises" (aka "what is reborn") in this process as anatta is what the Buddha did with the use of his word "being". So anatta = a being. Would you agree that a being = dukkha?


:namaste:
nowheat
 
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:In reading through this latest round of exchanges, it is interesting to see that 2500 plus years after the death of the Buddha that, at long last, someone, who does not read Sanskrit, Classical or Vedic, nor reads Pali, nor has shown any evidence of looking at the corresponding Agama literature, someone seems not to understand at all what text critical methodology is, someone is going to set us straight, finally, as to what the Buddha actually, really, and truly meant, and that the Buddha taught using a twilight language, sāṃdhyābhāṣā, not meaning literally what he said, which becomes, of course, an all too easy trope for dismissing what one wants to dismiss.

Step up, tilt. Attack the ideas, not the authority of the person offering 'em.

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nowheat
 
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