the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:40 pm

clw_uk wrote:
But you are simply missing the point that I am making which is that if there is only this life and that is it, the point of practicing the Dhamma is greatly diminished. The Dhamma becomes naught more than something like the Buddhist derived mindfulness therapies that are out there, which are not bad things, and can help someone lead a better life, but something fundamental is lost. While you can argue that belief in literal rebirth is not necessary to do the practices, which I think is true, something fundamental to the Buddha's Dhamma is lost.



If there was only one life, I dont see how something "fundamental" is lost. Clinging would still cause dukkha and there would still be ageing and death to be free from.

But none of us know either way how many lives there are, so someone can just say "I dont know" and get on with the practice regardless.

Obviously rebirth is important to some peoples practice and to others it isnt, We could just leave it there.
Literal rebirth was important enough for the Buddha, but if there is only one life, you are not going to become free from sickness, aging, and death.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:42 pm

clw_uk wrote:
For me the inclusion of birth in dependent origination argues strongly against a one lifetime interpretation.


Not that anyone is advocating one life, but even if there was birth would still mean the same thing

Being born is to be subject to death, unless there is non-identification with that which dies
There is something other than what dies?
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:45 pm

Literal rebirth was important enough for the Buddha, but if there is only one life, you are not going to become free from sickness, aging, and death.


Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, I can't tell from the suttas. Even if it was important to him that's besides the point, since I said we (or at least I) don't know and it doesn't matter to me either way. Obviously it matters to some, which is fine.


And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:56 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote:The first part is your point, the second part is my point. They co-exist quite well.
Sure. Actually, you make my point here.


Actually, both points are made here.
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3705
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Kamma is "entirely visible in the here-and-now?" Not according to the Buddha (A ii 80 ).

"The results of kamma are inconceivable..."? That quote? Is there no difference in your mind between conception and visibility? I am saying that the results of our actions all fall within the here-and-now, not that the intricacies of their working are obvious to everyone who acts.
You were less than clear as to what you meant, and now you are less than clear as to what you mean. You are the one that said "entirely visible in the here-and-now," but now you are saying that all that mean is that "the results of our actions all fall within the here-and-now." So, "the results of our actions all fall within the here-and-now" means "entirely visible in the here-and-now" What are you talking about here?

The results are visible -- generally speaking they are felt more than seen -- but that doesn't not mean they are recognized for what they are. But then, I suppose when I said "visible in the here-and-now" I was using what you would call "metaphors" whereas I would say I was just speaking the way people do. I have heard it argued, with good reason, that all language is, at base, metaphorical.
This does not help.

With your tendency toward reading things literally, I am not surprised that you took it the way you did.
Now you are blaming me for not understanding your less entirely visible writing.

Who said anything about blame? Oh wait.. you did.

I see communication between two people as a process. All we can do is our best. I should have recognized that someone who is talking about reading texts literally could take my wording the way you did. If you feel like placing blame, you can blame me, and I will accept full responsibility.

I will try to state what I was saying, in order to avoid secondary and tertiary levels of discussion of the language I did use and how we misunderstood each other.

So when I said:

What's being described is, to my way of thinking, a phenomenon that is entirely visible in the here-and-now. It is a phenomenon that drives something other than literal rebirth so I guess, while still trying to fit within the category I'd be assigned to, I would say that kamma's relationship to rebirth is metaphorical, not kamma itself.


I was saying that kamma can be understood without rebirth to be discussing kamma that is, from a theoretical God's perspective, the effects of actions that the perpetrators of those actions experience, that are generally described as kamma or the results of kamma, that are entirely visible (to the theoretical God) during those perps' same lifetimes.

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:I would say that kamma's relationship to rebirth is metaphorical, not kamma itself
tiltbillings wrote:One does not have to tie kamma to rebirth to make the point.
nowheat wrote:We agree that kamma does not have to tie to rebirth to make a point.
And you do not address the point.

I haven't? I thought I had. Apparently I failed to understand your point.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:59 pm

daverupa wrote:
You may think that something fundamental gets lost, but what is lost when someone says they honestly have no evidence one way or the other and they'd rather just get back to satisampajanna?
You and I are probably not too far apart here, given your above statement that one cannot meaningfully expunge literal rebirth from the suttas, or successfully reinterpret rebirth in the suttas into a solely metaphorical thing. I think one can say: "This is what the Buddha taught, this sweeping ethical panorama. I can be open-minded in regard to it, but I don't know. I do find, however, that the much of the doctrine and practice are efficacious. I will do the practice, and worry so much about that which I do not know, and I'll see."

Something along that line makes sense. What I am arguing against are those who want to expunge literal rebirth from the suttas, leaving us with some sort of metaphorical rebirth. That, in my opinion, does such an injustice to the suttas, and is unnecessary.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:02 pm

nowheat wrote: . . .
Oh, well.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:02 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote:The first part is your point, the second part is my point. They co-exist quite well.
Sure. Actually, you make my point here.


Actually, both points are made here.
Okay.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:05 pm

clw_uk wrote:
And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
The Buddha got sick, complained of back pain, needing to rest, and he died, but, if we take his teachings seriously, he was freed from birth, which means no more aging, sickness and death.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:06 pm

clw_uk wrote:
And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
The Buddha, got old, got sick, complained of back pain, needing to rest, and he died, but, if we take his teachings seriously, he was freed from further re-birth, which means no more aging, sickness and death.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:07 pm

clw_uk wrote:Maybe it [literal rebirth]was, maybe it wasn't, I can't tell from the suttas. Even if it was important to him that's besides the point, since I said we (or at least I) don't know and it doesn't matter to me either way.

retrofuturist wrote: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.

The problem with these arguments that label anything not visible right now as "speculative" is that the argument applies just as much to the belief that nibbana is possible, which is something that none (or only a few) of us have any experience with in the here and now. It is, at best, something that we anticipate will happen sometime in the future.

Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation;
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Or Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:
Those by whom this has not been known, seen, understood, realized, and contacted with wisdom—they would have to go by faith in others about this: that the faculty of faith … the faculty of wisdom, when developed and cultivated, has the Deathless as its ground, the Deathless as its destination, the Deathless as its final goal.


:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 9612
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:16 pm

The problem with these arguments that label anything not visible right now as "speculative" is that the argument applies just as much to the belief that nibbana is possible, which is something that none (or only a few) of us have any experience with in the here and now. It is, at best, something that we anticipate will happen sometime in the future.


It is pointless speculation (for me) but not for everyone. However confidence in Nibbana is essential, since there is no point in practicing if it wasn't achievable. However more and more confidence it gained in the reality of Nibbana, the more I experience the peace of letting go. However in terms of if there is the continuance of "I am" after death, this has stayed the same as when I first began ... I don't know.
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:20 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
The Buddha got sick, complained of back pain, needing to rest, and he died, but, if we take his teachings seriously, he was freed from birth, which means no more aging, sickness and death.



But at the same time was free from dukkha, not reckoned in terms of the aggregates and so not reckoned in terms of that which ages and dies.


There was no him there to die
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:That's true, tilt. *It wasn't supposed to be an argument against the notion of rebirth.* It was an argument that the dhamma is not bankrupt without belief in rebirth.
Maybe, but the fact of the matter is that the Buddha did teach literal rebirth. What you are offering here is a personal, an individual, accounting of how you have tried to cope with that fact, which is not without interest.

Thanks for the interest, however, what I am offering here is not a way of coping with "the fact" that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, what I am offering is an understanding of the suttas that has its own internal consistency that is measured against what is visible here and now, rather than on speculative views. Even more critical is that I am arguing that the Buddha's point was to end not just his suffering, but the suffering of *all of us*, not just the individual's, but the world's. And that a practice that has its emphasis in rebirth puts unhelpful focus on *my suffering* and *my future* rather than on what was -- it seems clear to me -- his major point: the suffering of all beings, and the solution to the problem being to reduce concern with one's own self and one's own future, not to increase focus on it.

Do you disagree that his concern was firstly for the world, and secondarily on individuals, as it would have to be because they compose the world? Do you see his teachings as only about how to reduce dukkha for oneself, or don't you find -- as I do -- that the talk of morality has as a pivot point what effect our behavior has on others -- so that we should be concerned not so much with our own suffering but what we cause others? Should our concern with our behavior be significant largely because of merit and our future rebirths? Or are we aiming to understand it -- aside from selfish goals about future rebirth -- through its impact on others? If you find that to be important, can you address my doubts about how helpful rebirth is to a goal of putting the emphasis on the world's suffering, rather than one's own?

Or if I am doing what we humans seem to do so well -- asking questions that are logical within my paradigm but aren't even valid questions within yours -- please show me how the pieces fit in yours.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:25 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
The Buddha got sick, complained of back pain, needing to rest, and he died, but, if we take his teachings seriously, he was freed from birth, which means no more aging, sickness and death.

I believe you two have two different definitions of "free from" and you could keep arguing until The Rapture if you don't understand that.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:27 pm

The “One Who Knows" clearly knows that all conditioned phenomena are unsubstantial. So this "One Who Knows" does not become happy or sad, for it does not follow changing conditions. To become glad, is to be born; to become dejected, is to die. Having died, we are born again; having been born, we die again. This birth and death from one moment to the next is the endless spinningwheelofsam ̇samsara



[i]
"Hey, listen! There’s no one here, just this! No owner, no one to be old, to be young, to be good or bad, weak or strong. Just this, that’s all – just various elements of nature going their own way, all empty. No one born and no one to die! Those who speak of birth and death are speaking the language of ignorant children. In he language of the heart, of Dhamma, there are no such things as birth and death."
[i]


Taken from "no ajahn chah"


I see nothing wrong in understanding the Dhamma in this way


Oh and before anyone says it, I know ajahn chah taught literal rebirth ;)
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:28 pm

clw_uk wrote:
The problem with these arguments that label anything not visible right now as "speculative" is that the argument applies just as much to the belief that nibbana is possible, which is something that none (or only a few) of us have any experience with in the here and now. It is, at best, something that we anticipate will happen sometime in the future.


It is pointless speculation (for me) but not for everyone. However confidence in Nibbana is essential, since there is no point in practicing if it wasn't achievable. However more and more confidence it gained in the reality of Nibbana, the more I experience the peace of letting go. However in terms of if there is the continuance of "I am" after death, this has stayed the same as when I first began ... I don't know.

Of course, but my point is that for us nibbana is speculative, taken on faith, and that may happen sometime in the future.

It is for this reason that I judge arguments that use labels such as "speculative", "not visible in the here and now", and so on to dismiss some aspect of the Dhamma to be rather unconvincing.

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 9612
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:29 pm

clw_uk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
The Buddha got sick, complained of back pain, needing to rest, and he died, but, if we take his teachings seriously, he was freed from birth, which means no more aging, sickness and death.



But at the same time was free from dukkha, not reckoned in terms of the aggregates and so not reckoned in terms of that which ages and dies.


There was no him there to die
And there was no him, with the death of the body, to be reborn, get old, get sick, and die again. If there is only one life, death would be the same from the mass murderer as it would be for the awakened person.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:30 pm

clw_uk wrote:The “One Who Knows" clearly knows that all conditioned phenomena are unsubstantial. So this "One Who Knows" does not become happy or sad, for it does not follow changing conditions. To become glad, is to be born; to become dejected, is to die. Having died, we are born again; having been born, we die again. This birth and death from one moment to the next is the endless spinningwheelofsam ̇samsara



[i]
"Hey, listen! There’s no one here, just this! No owner, no one to be old, to be young, to be good or bad, weak or strong. Just this, that’s all – just various elements of nature going their own way, all empty. No one born and no one to die! Those who speak of birth and death are speaking the language of ignorant children. In he language of the heart, of Dhamma, there are no such things as birth and death."
[i]


Taken from "no ajahn chah"


I see nothing wrong in understanding the Dhamma in this way


Oh and before anyone says it, I know ajahn chah taught literal rebirth
Which make Ajahn Chah smarter than those who want to turn rebirth into a metaphorical thingie.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:31 pm

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
And how do you know I won't be free from sickness and death (if there is one life)?
The Buddha got sick, complained of back pain, needing to rest, and he died, but, if we take his teachings seriously, he was freed from birth, which means no more aging, sickness and death.

I believe you two have two different definitions of "free from" and you could keep arguing until The Rapture if you don't understand that.

:namaste:
Already dealt with.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 18355
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Lazy_eye, waterchan and 6 guests