the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:
chownah wrote:I guess that the concept of rebirth long predates the Buddha. So, I'm wondering why was rebirth (evidentially) such a popular idea long before the Buddha......
Metempsychosis was one among a number of after death options, and not necessarily the dominant one before the Buddha.

To avoid overloading google; metempsychosis is transmigration (of souls).

From this post I take that perhaps my question is better phrased as:
....................
I guess that the question about after death experience long predates the Buddha. Also, I guess that all of the concepts from before the Buddha were wrong as judged from a Buddhist standpoint. So, I'm wondering why was the question about after death experience (evidentially) such a popular idea long before the Buddha......and why did so many different views (wrong views from a buddhist standpoint) come about and how was it that they were even before the Buddha so hotly debated?

In other words, leaving Buddhism and the Buddha aside, what is it about after death experience that made it such a common and diverse group of beliefs? I have some ideas on this of an obvious sort but I''m wondering what things others can come up with......if there is any interest.
.......................
I guess then that it is easily seen that people fear death so they think about it as an inevitable evil or they might be looking for a way out of it. Rebirth, (or transmigration if you prefer) becomes the way out it..... Since the priests or ascetics who offered this way out of the inevitable evil of death would certainly find an audience and in that audience would be many people frantically desperate to believe I guess. Also, these transmigration theories are (in spite of them being wrong view from a Buddhist perspective) very believable even though they were not factual (from our Buddhist perspective).....am this popularity was easily maintained because these transmigration theories are for most people not falsifiable.......they were all false but they dealt with a topic in a way that could not be proven wrong......and people (as can be seen even today) are easily led by false logic and fallacious arguments.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:35 am

What I don't get is the need that some people have to "remove" or marginalise the teachings on rebirth on kamma. I get the impression this is sometimes based more on aversion to these teachings, rather than on an objective appraisal of the suttas.


Quite possibly

However it can also seem like some people need rebirth to be true
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:35 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: I get the impression this is sometimes based more on aversion to these teachings, rather than on an objective appraisal of the suttas.
I don't know, and I'd hate to think so, but it kind of comes across that way.


I mean if one doesn't have a problem with the idea of ( literal ) rebirth, then presumably there would be no need to reject or marginalise it.



I agree :)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:Not vey exciting? Huh?

Correct, certainly nothing that warrants paṭigha (i.e. resistance, striking against, the "fifth fetter")
Yes, that is true. It is interesting watching the resistance here to rebirth as taught by Buddha in the suttas. It was also quite good to see in the sermon Ven Nanananda talk in some detail about literal rebirth and how it functions.



I dont see much resistance, just a lot of "don't know, not personally relevant"
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:50 am

You know what really disgusts me is people who have to believe in gravity, like its really going to make any difference, I mean gravity is totally inessential, and unimportant to practise.........

On a more serious note, the buddha wasn't just making up a theory, rebirth to fit into his ideas, he was supposedly describing what he saw and carefully explaining it to us, which would put him clearly head and tails above the rebirth deniers, who haven't seen anything and have no idea what happens to them when they die, they just want us to dwell in their theories of what their imperfect mind tells them might happen, well give it a rest, you're not buddha's and to think your ideas are equally valid is just a joke......
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 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:16 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:You know what really disgusts me is people who have to believe in gravity, like its really going to make any difference, I mean gravity is totally inessential, and unimportant to practise.........

On a more serious note, the buddha wasn't just making up a theory, rebirth to fit into his ideas, he was supposedly describing what he saw and carefully explaining it to us, which would put him clearly head and tails above the rebirth deniers, who haven't seen anything and have no idea what happens to them when they die, they just want us to dwell in their theories of what their imperfect mind tells them might happen, well give it a rest, you're not buddha's and to think your ideas are equally valid is just a joke......



I'm confused, where are these imperfect rebirth deniers, lyndon ? (Isn't denier something connected to ladies tights ?)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:36 pm

chownah wrote:I guess that the concept of rebirth long predates the Buddha. Also, I guess that all of the concepts from before the Buddha were wrong as judged from a Buddhist standpoint. So, I'm wondering why was rebirth (evidentially) such a popular idea long before the Buddha......and why did so many different views (wrong views from a buddhist standpoint) come about and how was it that they were even before the Buddha so hotly debated?

In other words, leaving Buddhism and the Buddha aside, what is it about rebirth that made it such a common and diverse group of beliefs? I have some ideas on this of an obvious sort but I''m wondering what things others can come up with......if there is any interest.
chownah

The suttas describe experiences of previous lives by non-Buddhist contemplatives. So the Buddha was probably not the first to directly see prior lives through meditation.

See for example
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:02 pm

Aloka wrote:
nowheat wrote: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.


Does this have any connection to the "saving all sentient beings" of Mahayana/Vajrayana ?

From AN 10.95:

"And, Master Gotama, when having directly known it, you teach the Dhamma to your disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, will all the cosmos be led [to release], or a half of it, or a third?"

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.095.than.html

It can if you particularly want it to, but it isn't what I am saying. My point is entirely contained in the way we can observe that when the Buddha talks about morality / sila / the things that we do that generate merit and demerit, the examples he gives are all things that affect others.

Is your interpretation of the sutta above that because the Buddha was silent on the numbers, he didn't care for the reduction of dukkha in anything but each individual?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:19 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote: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.
So you repeatedly say. Now it is time actually make a clear, concise carefully cited point by point demonstration of your claim.

I love that you state this as if it is something that should be easy to do -- as if I'm not taking action because my point is not in any way demonstrable, rather than acknowledging that nothing to do with Buddhism is stated in a way that is clear and concise, or we wouldn't have 40-odd years worth of the Buddha's talks and all be here still debating what it means. One of the greatest teachers in the world wasn't able to be perfectly clear and concise in his own time -- look at all the times he gets exasperated with someone for completely misunderstanding him -- but you seem to expect it of me. It would be flattering if I didn't think you were actually saying "You can't do it." And for many reasons, I expect I can't. Not the least of which is that you are setting me a task that is in direct conflict with what I am saying is going on in the suttas.

You have the easier side of the bargain -- you're a literalist. "It says what it says, it's all surface, no deeper than that." What I am saying is "it is subtle and complex, and by the nature of the situation, what is being said has to be readable both ways or it wouldn't be there." It seems to me that means that no matter how much I show or how efficiently I might show it, if the mind receiving it isn't truly interested in seeing it, it won't, especially if these ideas encounter someone who adores the literal.

I will do what I can, tilt, when I can. In the meantime I will speak in generalities without taking the time to provide suitable supporting evidence, just as you do. The generalities, in this case, are the heart of the matter -- seeing from a large perspective rather than expecting to find "clear, concise" evidence which would contradict my premise from the start.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:33 pm

nowheat wrote:Is your interpretation of the sutta above that because the Buddha was silent on the numbers, he didn't care for the reduction of dukkha in anything but each individual?



No, I thought it might mean that the possibility of all beings being released (or "saved") was an unconjecturable, similar to "The precise working out of the results of kamma " in AN 4.77.

So therefore the following argument would also be unconjecturable :

nowheat wrote: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.


.
Last edited by Aloka on Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:48 pm

If we are to take the Buddha at face value, as a superior being that saw things other people don't, rebirth was NOT a concept or a belief, but simply reality as real a phenomenon as gravity, It is a very important phenomenon to be aware of, as the Buddha taught, because without being aware of rebirth its very easy to fall into nihilism and materialism, just witness the modern state. To say that rebirth is inessential to practise is missing the whole point, perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in Buddhism today is people no longer take seriously rebirth, or the Buddha, for that matter. Likewise probably on of the biggest reasons for the decline in Christianity is people no longer take seriously the prospect of being reborn in Heaven or Hell, it has very real consequences as to how seriously the average person takes the religious path IMHO
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 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:49 pm

Aloka wrote:
nowheat wrote:Is your interpretation of the sutta above that because the Buddha was silent on the numbers, he didn't care for the reduction of dukkha in anything but each individual?


No, I thought it might mean that the possibility of all beings being released (or "saved") was an unconjecturable, similar to "The precise working out of the results of kamma " in AN 4.77.

I agree, it's an imponderable.

I see the Buddha as a realist. He's not going to speculate on whether it's possible or not to actually liberate all beings, and he's certainly not going to pretend to compute numbers.

Perhaps the most useful thing is to set a goal and work towards it: so I can't prove there is such a thing as Nibbana? True, I can't prove it, or prove that practice brings me there. But I can see evidence in my own life -- as is being discussed elsewhere in this thread -- that I am heading in that direction. It's the same situation with aiming for the liberation of all beings. Set the goal, notice progress being made, however slow, and keep working towards it, studying and practicing for greater efficiency over time, but without clinging to the goals -- there is no *need* to get there, just the aim.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:54 pm

nowheat wrote:I agree, it's an imponderable.


Yes. (I added an extra bit to my post while you were writing yours)

.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:12 pm

It is a very important phenomenon to be aware of, as the Buddha taught, because without being aware of rebirth its very easy to fall into nihilism and materialism


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:16 pm

To say that rebirth is inessential to practise is missing the whole point, perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in Buddhism today is people no longer take seriously rebirth, or the Buddha, for that matter. Likewise probably on of the biggest reasons for the decline in Christianity is people no longer take seriously the prospect of being reborn in Heaven or Hell, it has very real consequences as to how seriously the average person takes the religious path IMHO


Are they declining?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:20 pm

. To say that rebirth is inessential to practise is missing the whole point,


I fail to see a point?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:31 pm

nowheat wrote:
Aloka wrote:
nowheat wrote:Is your interpretation of the sutta above that because the Buddha was silent on the numbers, he didn't care for the reduction of dukkha in anything but each individual?


No, I thought it might mean that the possibility of all beings being released (or "saved") was an unconjecturable, similar to "The precise working out of the results of kamma " in AN 4.77.

I agree, it's an imponderable.

I see the Buddha as a realist. He's not going to speculate on whether it's possible or not to actually liberate all beings, and he's certainly not going to pretend to compute numbers.

Perhaps the most useful thing is to set a goal and work towards it: so I can't prove there is such a thing as Nibbana? True, I can't prove it, or prove that practice brings me there. But I can see evidence in my own life -- as is being discussed elsewhere in this thread -- that I am heading in that direction. It's the same situation with aiming for the liberation of all beings. Set the goal, notice progress being made, however slow, and keep working towards it, studying and practicing for greater efficiency over time, but without clinging to the goals -- there is no *need* to get there, just the aim.

:namaste:

Wouldn't an animal need to be REBORN as a human to be liberated?.........oooooops........there is that rebirth thing again.

Given that all the beings in the world as taken from the buddha's perspective would be all the beings you experience which in turn would be all the external selves you mentally construct then it seems to liberate all of them they would have to undergo no further births.......for me this means stop fabricating selves for them.........(just one way to look at it)

Or, What better way to do the most toward universal liberation than to liberate one's self? Even though I am not liberated I do firmly believe that my attempts at working toward that goal are what has contributed the most toward development of compassion for all life.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:44 pm

To say that rebirth is inessential to practise is missing the whole point, perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in Buddhism today is people no longer take seriously rebirth, or the Buddha, for that matter. Likewise probably on of the biggest reasons for the decline in Christianity is people no longer take seriously the prospect of being reborn in Heaven or Hell, it has very real consequences as to how seriously the average person takes the religious path IMHO


I live in Thailand. From what I have seen most of the people here believe in literal rebirth. Your idea that most people don't take rebirth seriously is very seriously mistaken. I think you got this mistaken idea because you really have only experienced a tiny tiny tiny tiny slice of a sliver of all the Buddhists in the world. Around here the idea of rebirth shows no sign of declining. Around here the same people who seriously believe in rebirth are often drunk regularly....not everyone but the vast majority would be thought of by many as being alcoholics.....many drink every day and to the extent of impairment at least once a week and during festivals they will be intoxicated at least once a day for several days in a row.

I'm posting this in that I think you would benefit from a broader perspective as to what Buddhism is like.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:58 pm

So you're saying there is no decline in buddhism in Thailand, and all those articles to that effect are just made up????
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 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:21 pm

Aloka wrote:
nowheat wrote:I agree, it's an imponderable.


Yes. (I added an extra bit to my post while you were writing yours)


and this is what you added, right?

So therefore the following argument would also be unconjecturable :

nowheat wrote: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.

You can probably see, from what I've said a bit earlier, that my answer is that what is imponderable is whether or not one can succeed in liberating X percentage of the world -- it would just be silly to give a number as if one knows what the outcome will be -- so of course it is imponderable.

This is different from saying that the teachings are not directed toward that end. It's not imponderable because it's not a worthwhile goal -- it's a worthwhile goal even if not achievable, because the process of heading toward that goal provides benefits for everyone, whether the ultimate goal is ever achieved or not. Plus, what's going on with each individual is inexorably intertwined with what is going on with everyone else, because it's process, not separate beings. But the focus of practice, in the long run, isn't "my suffering" -- the point is really the effect I have on the rest of the world. What I do is *much* *much* larger than the effect it has on *me*. Focus on rebirth doesn't teach that, focus on rebirth teaches that it's about *this one stream of existence* -- I should be concerned with *my* future, not with yours, not the with the effect I have on you and everyone else like you whose lives touch mine? I need to be thinking about getting merit for *me*. Even if I give away my merit to you, I'm doing it because it gets double merit for *me*. The emphasis is just ever-so-slightly in the wrong place.

What I see is that the Buddha recognized this. He set out to cure the suffering for the world, not for one individual. How could he be asking us to focus on one individual, when he says we aren't individuals -- we are not separate.

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