the great rebirth debate

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Spiny Norman
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:39 pm

clw_uk wrote:"being subject to birth" doesn't have to mean future birth, just the hardships that come from being born.


The weakness of this argument is that descriptions of dukkha include all those hardships, as well as birth.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:41 pm

tiltbillings wrote:2500 years after the Buddha's death we now have folks telling us what the Buddha truly taught, and never mind what those poor benighted folks that went before might have said, because they did not have the truly true "experience, reflection, and wisdom."


Yes, and those poor ignorant people in the Buddha's time just weren't as clever as what we are. ;)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dagon » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:49 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:2500 years after the Buddha's death we now have folks telling us what the Buddha truly taught, and never mind what those poor benighted folks that went before might have said, because they did not have the truly true "experience, reflection, and wisdom."


Yes, and those poor ignorant people in the Buddha's time just weren't as clever as what we are. ;)


You are so right they did not even speak English and had to rely on the same language that The Buddha spoke - complete with a knowledge of all of the cultural references.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:50 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:As you have a thousand fold increase in your chance of realizing the dhamma over 1000 lifetimes as you do over one.


True, though I think the suttas give mixed messages on the"timescale" required for reaching Nibbana.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:54 pm

There seems to be quite a few different positions in this debate.
Is this a fair summary of the main ones?

1. The Buddha taught literal rebirth and it's relevant to practice;
2. The Buddha taught literal rebirth but it isn't relevant/necessary to practice;
3. The Buddha taught rebirth as a metaphor;
4. The Buddha didn't teach rebirth atall, these teachings were added in later.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:25 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:There seems to be quite a few different positions in this debate.
Is this a fair summary of the main ones?

1. The Buddha taught literal rebirth and it's relevant to practice;
2. The Buddha taught literal rebirth but it isn't relevant/necessary to practice;
3. The Buddha taught rebirth as a metaphor;
4. The Buddha didn't teach rebirth atall, these teachings were added in later.


I think "literal rebirth" is a strange locution; it's probably better to just say 'rebirth' and let analysis and discussion clarify what that means in terms of the texts and/or the practice. The later "rebirth-as-metaphor" is sufficient to differentiate the two approaches, I think.

It may also pay to note that the first two options aren't clearly exclusive; the earlier discussion centered on whether it was essential, not simply relevant, and this is an important distinction.

Otherwise, those options do seem to encapsulate the general trends.
    "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 lyndon taylor » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:43 pm

I you mean were supposed to let Daverupa decide what literal rebirth means, I think not......
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 daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:37 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:I you mean were supposed to let Daverupa decide what literal rebirth means, I think not......


You may notice that I've said it takes comparison with what the texts say.

Protection of the truth requires us to say what the texts say, but not claim that rebirth is true unless we have abhinna to say so.

The texts showcase that rebirth of a specific sort can be an inferred outcome of paticcasamuppada. The Wager showcases the lack of necessity of a belief about this vis-a-vis a given practice; and this is a stronger approach to some modern dhammduta than a faulty insistence on the general necessity of a belief in rebirth, given the perplexity and outright materialist presumption which abounds these days.

On that note, I must disagree with the idea that rebirth can be wholly removed from the Dhamma (Spiny's #4, above); a certain sort of rebirth is a requisite consequence of the Dhamma, so parsing rebirth out altogether isn't a sustainable project. This point, and the point that rebirth is nevertheless wholly inessential (as already discussed) to ones practice, seem to be getting confused at every turn.
    "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 chownah » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:34 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Chownah, As I don't see you saying anything favourable for rebirth, I hardly think your opinion on what rebirth offers practitioners is of any consequence or relevence.

lyndon taylor,
In my last post I did not give my opinion about what rebirth offers practitioners and I agree with you that if I had given my opinion on that it would have been of no consequence. In fact tilt billings asked me twice to give my opinion on that and I refused both times because for me to give my opinion on what literal rebirth offers to practitioners would be of little to no consequence. I have been asking those who do hold the view of literal rebirth to tell me how it is used in their practice because only people who have that view can speak with any consequence....so we are in agreement on this.

What I did post is the two things which people who do believe in literal rebirth have said that it is relevant to their practice which are, 1) it is a motivator because I want to attain nibanna quickly since I don't want to take the chance of having a painful rebirth and 2) I don't know if I will attain nibanna in this life so I'm glad that rebirth will give me more chances to attain nibanna.

So, I hope you can see that these are not my opinions at all....they are what people who say they believe in literal rebirth have said right here in this topic......you are one of those people!......item number two is YOUR opinion!

How can it be that you think I am giving my opinion when in fact I am giving YOUR opinion? Please give this some consideration.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby boris » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:04 pm

daverupa wrote: and the point that rebirth is nevertheless wholly inessential (as already discussed) to ones practice,

It depends what you practice. With strong sexual desire, why suffer celibacy?

"And what is the taking on of a practice that is painful in the present but yields pleasure in the future? There is the case of a person who is normally strongly passionate by nature and frequently experiences pain & grief born of passion; a person who is normally strongly aversive by nature and frequently experiences pain & grief born of aversion; a person who is normally strongly deluded by nature and frequently experiences pain & grief born of delusion. Even though touched with pain & grief, crying with a tearful face, he lives the holy life that is utterly perfect, surpassingly pure. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the good bourn, the heavenly world. This is called the taking on of a practice that is painful in the present but yields pleasure in the future.


What about adinava sanna? Without rebirth it is rather difficult to practice...

"In the same way, monks, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who hold to a doctrine, a view like this: 'There is no harm in sensual pleasures.' Thus they meet with their downfall through sensual pleasures. They consort with women wanderers who wear their hair coiled in a topknot.

"The thought occurs to them: 'Now what future danger do those [other] brahmans & contemplatives foresee that they teach the relinquishment & analysis of sensual pleasures? It's pleasant, the touch of this woman wanderer's soft, tender, downy arm.'

Thus they meet with their downfall through sensual pleasures. Then, having met with their downfall through sensual pleasures, with the break-up of the body, after death, they go to a bad bourn, destitution, the realm of the hungry shades, hell. There they experience sharp, burning pains. They say: 'This was the future danger concerning sensual pleasures those brahmans & contemplatives foresaw that they spoke of the relinquishment of sensual pleasures and described the full comprehension of sensual pleasures. It's because of sensual pleasures, as a result of sensual pleasures, that we're now experiencing these sharp, burning pains.'

"This is called the taking on of a practice that is pleasant in the present but yields pain in the future.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The man who wants to avoid grotesque collapses should not look for anything to fulfill him in space and time.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:11 pm

boris wrote:...


Yes yes, relevant, possible, potentially supportive - not essential.

Gah.
    "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 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:25 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

That's one way of looking at it. Another is that if your thoughts are off into the future, your mind is not particularly aware of itself in the present.

That said, I'm not here to say rebirth is or isn't true. As I see it, it makes little difference what I think, because what I think/believe/speculate wouldn't change the reality of what will be in relation to "literal post mortem rebirth" anyway.

What I do know is that erroneously perceiving a self and extending this false perception of self backwards and forwards in time is not consistent with "seeing things as they really are", so I endeavour not to do it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
The problem with this argument is that belief in literal rebirth does not make one any more likely to be "erroneously perceiving a self and extending this false perception of self backwards and forwards in time" than one who does not believe in rebirth, and not believing in literal rebirth does make one any less likely to be not "erroneously perceiving a self and extending this false perception of self backwards and forwards in time" than one who does believe in literal rebirth. Quite frankly, the problematic doctrine that would be far more likely to give rise to "erroneously perceiving a self and extending this false perception of self backwards and forwards in time" would be kamma. It would be interesting to see what the Dhamma would look like having kamma relegated to naught more than a metaphorical status.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:28 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:For my self, and almost everyone else, there is no assurance of realizing nibbana, so that being the case, your chances of realizing nibbana sometime in the future go up infinetly if you have rebirth, without rebirth we have a kind of pie in the sky, small chance of realizing nibbana, and little else, so yes I think rebirth is very important to realizing the dhamma.......As you have a thousand fold increase in your chance of realizing the dhamma over 1000 lifetimes as you do over one.
Without literal rebirth what would the actual point of Dhamma practice be? At death, Nibbana or not, nothing.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:47 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Okay, but that does not deny birth, sickness, old-age and death actually happens.

It clarifies the nature of what they actually are, and that they require the erroneous (i.e. avijja) concept of a "self" (which is a thought, i.e. sankhara) existing over time in order to mean anything at all. In the absence of avijja, any reference point to which such terms might have any meaning is transcended.
Interestingly, in Ven Nanananda's writing, he looks to be taking rebirth to be quite literal in his description of the process of rebirth. And I think you are seriously misunderstanding what Ven Nanananda said. I wonder what sort of 'erroneous (i.e. avijja) concept of a "self" (which is a thought, i.e. sankhara) existing over time" the Buddha had when he complained that his back hurt and needed to sit down and rest. The thing is that there needs to be an 'erroneous (i.e. avijja) concept of a "self" (which is a thought, i.e. sankhara) existing over time' for there to be dukkha, but sickness, old age, and death happens, as we saw with the Buddha, whether there is an 'erroneous (i.e. avijja) concept of a "self" (which is a thought, i.e. sankhara) existing over time" or not.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:56 pm

daverupa wrote:
boris wrote:...


Yes yes, relevant, possible, potentially supportive - not essential.

Gah.
What does "gah" mean? Esssential? Non-metaphorical-rebirth, tied directly to paticcasamuppada, was taught by the Buddha. Not essential? Certainly non-metaphorical-rebirth was/is very important in the Buddha's Dhamma.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:59 pm

daverupa wrote: a certain sort of rebirth is a requisite consequence of the Dhamma
What does this interesting, if not purposely vague, locution mean?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote: a certain sort of rebirth is a requisite consequence of the Dhamma
What does this interesting, if not purposely vague, locution mean?


It's bracketing the question of the rebirth-what and the rebirth-how and allowing the rebirth-whether-or-not to be answered in the affirmative without delving into the details of it, as those details are wholly beside the point re: necessity of belief.

Purposeful indeed; keeping this thread on point for more than half a page is like wrangling a chariot yoked to wild mustangs.

daverupa wrote:Gah.


tiltbillings wrote:Non-metaphorical-rebirth, tied directly to paticcasamuppada, was taught by the Buddha... very important in the Buddha's Dhamma.


1. Has every arahant brought sila to fulfillment by development?

2. Has every arahant brought samadhi to fulfillment by development?

3. Has every arahant brought panna to fulfillment by development?

4. Has every arahant seen rebirth for themselves?

---
ANSWER KEY, open to discussion:
1. yes
2. yes
3. yes
4. no
    "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 daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Without literal rebirth what would the actual point of Dhamma practice be? At death, Nibbana or not, nothing.


Unwarranted conclusion, tilt. Without rebirth, there's still no necessary claim of voidness, or nothingness, or annihilation, or even heaven or anything similar. "Rebirth or Bust" is a false dichotomy.

Without rebirth of any kind, one can remain agnostic about such matters - protecting the truth, we might say - and yet practice the Dhamma due to benefits which can be seen here and now.
Last edited by daverupa on Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "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 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:16 pm

daverupa wrote:
4. Has every arahant seen rebirth for themselves?

---
ANSWER KEY, open to discussion:
. . .
4. no
However, given the teachings of the Buddha, this knowledge is quite possible, and for an arahant not be too terribly hard to obtain. But far more interesting here is how do you know if the arahant who has no direct knowledge of rebirth did not find believe in rebirth essential to her practice?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:20 pm

I for one would like to see an extensive list of the teachings of the buddha that are considered inessential, something makes me think inessentialness doesn't just end 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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