the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:19 pm

nowheat wrote: . The Buddha's methods don't seem to me to be aimed at liberating individuals so much as at reducing suffering in the world for all beings, liberated or not.


...and yet there are verses in the suttas like this one:

One whose mind
is enmeshed in sympathy
for friends & companions,
neglects the true goal.
Seeing this danger in intimacy,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html


.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:14 pm

nowheat wrote:The Buddha's methods don't seem to me to be aimed at liberating individuals so much as at reducing suffering in the world for all beings, liberated or not.


It's both of these things but one clearly takes precedence. Ven. Bodhi has said that he likes to classify the suttas in a threefold way based on how the commentaries classify them.

1) The happiness in the present life
2) The happiness in future lives
3) Liberation

All of the Buddha's teachings point towards #3.

And furthermore, just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma & Vinaya has a single taste: that of release...
Ud 5.5

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:28 pm

nowheat wrote:Have you ever thought about what a selfish attitude the above represents?


Buddha's teaching is to end dukkha. A part of his belief was that death is not automatic end of it because their is rebirth for non-arahants. So to end all dukkha from ever repeating again, one would need to end being born and dying. If there is rebirth, then unfortunately suicide is not the answer.

Also, since dukkha is inherent part of life - we can't make samsara to be totally happy. There is no lasting happiness in existence. Just treating this or that wound.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:45 pm

Alex123 wrote:There is no lasting happiness in existence. Just treating this or that wound.


When the mind is at ease one has less inner conflict and discontent.

.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:01 pm

Aloka wrote:
Alex123 wrote:There is no lasting happiness in existence. Just treating this or that wound.


When the mind is at ease one has less inner conflict and discontent.

.


For me, the best time when I am in deep sleep or totally unconscious. Deep sleep is the least stressful "time" of my miserable life.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:09 am

Alex123 wrote:Also, since dukkha is inherent part of life - we can't make samsara to be totally happy.


Alex123 wrote:Deep sleep is the least stressful "time" of my miserable life.


Hi Alex,

The Buddha never taught that "suffering is an inherent part of life". He taught this:
"Suffering, as a noble truth, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects.
-SN 56.11
There is no mention of "life" which is an abstraction and a convention. The Buddha was very specific about what is suffering.

This Truth is to be known and seen with wisdom by one who attains a supramundane path. There's a gulf of difference between thinking (read: philosophizing) that life is suffering and knowing and seeing with supramundane wisdom that everything that arises is impermanent, suffering, and not-self. Thinking is the conditioned arising of a thought (read: mind-object) that is sensed by the mind and is itself destroyed soon after. This is my understanding as a worldling.

Holding the view that "life is miserable" implies that life is wholly miserable and that nothing brings happiness. However, the Buddha taught that many things in life bring happiness.

There are two kinds of happiness, O monks. The happiness of the home life and the happiness of monkhood. But the happiness of monkhood is the higher of the two.

The happiness of the senses and the happiness of renunciation. But the happiness of renunciation is the higher of the two.

Tainted happiness and taintless happiness. But taintless happiness is the higher of the two.

Carnal and non-carnal happiness—the non-carnal is the higher. Noble and ignoble happiness—the noble is the higher. Bodily and mental happiness—the mental is the higher.
-AN 2:7; selected

Don't torment yourself. Go and enjoy a chocolate milkshake or something! It may be impermanent but it is a form of happiness!

:heart:
Peace,
James
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:31 am

Hello Mkoll, all,

Mkoll wrote:Hi Alex,

The Buddha never taught that "suffering is an inherent part of life". He taught this:
"Suffering, as a noble truth, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects.
-SN 56.11


If we read the above it pretty much covers most events in life, and "five categories of clinging objects." is what we can have most conscious moments.

As for sorrow, I am near tears most of the days now... Craving is cause of suffering. Worldly things of making me feel better are not something that I am happy about doing.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby culaavuso » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:57 am

Alex123 wrote:As for sorrow, I am near tears most of the days now... Craving is cause of suffering. Worldly things of making me feel better are not something that I am happy about doing.


I hope you find a cause for happiness. Things can get better. Here are a few links that I think might be of assistance. If I am misguided in my assessment, I apologize. May you be well.

Befrienders
Life Isn't Just Suffering
Affirming the Truths of the Heart
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

MN 137
MN 137: Salayatana-vibhanga Sutta wrote:By depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation distress, abandon & transcend the six kinds of household distress.
...
By depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation joy, abandon & transcend the six kinds of renunciation distress.


MN 137: Salayatana-vibhanga Sutta wrote:"And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)
...
"And what are the six kinds of household distress? The distress that arises when one regards as a non-acquisition the non-acquisition of forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, connected with worldly baits — or when one recalls the previous non-acquisition of such forms after they have passed, ceased, & changed: That is called household distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: 'O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?' This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:56 am

My main point was that philosophizing is different from knowing and seeing. One is papanca and the other is wisdom. One is to be abandoned and the other is to be pursued.

Alex123 wrote:As for sorrow, I am near tears most of the days now... Craving is cause of suffering. Worldly things of making me feel better are not something that I am happy about doing.

Better some form of happiness than none. If you can't experience the pleasures of renunciation (or the practice of the Path that leads to the pleasures of renunciation) and neither can you experience the pleasures of the senses, then you're stuck in a perpetual limbo. You need something to get up for in the morning, even if it's only halfheartedly.

I hope you find a cause for happiness. Things can get better.


Hear, hear! This is trite and I'm sorry but: things will change, that's guaranteed.

:heart:

PS
A hypothesis is that you've burned yourself out on focusing on the dukkha aspect of existence. Why not try focusing on the impermanence of your conditioned experience as it arises and passes away? After all, the Buddha taught the three marks of existence.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:05 am

Alex123 wrote:
As for sorrow, I am near tears most of the days now... Craving is cause of suffering. Worldly things of making me feel better are not something that I am happy about doing.


Alex, I think maybe you're focussing too much on the idea of "suffering," It doesn't always have to be so heavy and can just be the dissatisfaction we feel when things aren't going our way etc. Accepting impermanence and that life isn't all "a bed of roses" doesn't mean sinking into total despair. Practising and interacting with others/ making friendships away from a computer can help, as well as joining a meditation group or Buddhist centre....and getting involved in a job or voluntary work if you're not already.

Please consider getting some professional help if your depression is unmanageable, Alex . Wishing you well.

With metta,

Aloka
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:36 pm

Thank you very much all for above 3 posts.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Babadhari » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:54 pm

hi alex

states of mind are transitory and impermanent too, while feeling down know that it will change and you will have relief from it.
i got through some troubles that overwhelmed me by letting go of them, so to speak, and acknowledging that they would make me stronger in the longterm. attitudes change over time, relax and be strong friend
metta :namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:48 pm

Aloka wrote:...and yet there are verses in the suttas like this one:

One whose mind
is enmeshed in sympathy
for friends & companions,
neglects the true goal.
Seeing this danger in intimacy,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html

You might have missed the part where he says "for friends & companions"? That's still selfishness at work. He didn't say, "one whose mind is enmeshed in sympathy for all other beings -- one whose mind is engaged in the limitless practice of metta" did he. :smile:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:02 pm

Alex123 wrote:
nowheat wrote:Have you ever thought about what a selfish attitude the above represents?


Buddha's teaching is to end dukkha. A part of his belief was that death is not automatic end of it because their is rebirth for non-arahants. So to end all dukkha from ever repeating again, one would need to end being born and dying. If there is rebirth, then unfortunately suicide is not the answer.

Also, since dukkha is inherent part of life - we can't make samsara to be totally happy. There is no lasting happiness in existence. Just treating this or that wound.

I'm not sure what the above has to do with what I said, that you quoted, Alex. I was saying that the Buddha's methods certainly are aimed at reducing dukkha for all (whether it can end dukkha for all beings is speculative -- obviously we can have no direct evidence of that being possible since it has never happened). I was trying to get you to recognize that thinking that practice was only worthwhile if it would result in the individual's release from the cycle of rebirth was a selfish attitude.

Is it the case that if you were given convincing evidence that each of us only gets one life, you would then no longer be a Buddhist? Do you consider the practices you engage in to not lead to your benefit, and the benefit of those whose lives you touch right here in this life? Have you found no value in them beyond liberation from the cycle of rebirth? Are you saying that you are a Buddhist only because it can improve your chances at a good rebirth?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:17 pm

Alex123 wrote:Deep sleep is the least stressful "time" of my miserable life.

I hope that things get better for you. The above helps me understand some of the reasons you might be interpreting

"Suffering, as a noble truth, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects.


to mean that "life is suffering". And you are not alone in reading it that way, not by a long shot. But as Mkoll/James pointed out, the Buddha never said that all of life is suffering, and he allowed that happiness comes in this very life in many forms (granted: some more noble than others). The Buddha was very careful with the language he used, and so, that he never said "Life is suffering" (nor did he say that one will not be free of suffering until after that last death) is significant.

I would wish for you that you could let go of the belief that there is no escape from suffering in this life, and put your faith in the Buddha when he says that it is possible to be free of it here-and-now:

At Savatthi. "For a monk practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, what accords with the Dhamma is this: that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to form, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to feeling, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to perception, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to fabrications, that he keep cultivating disenchantment with regard to consciousness. As he keeps cultivating disenchantment with regard to form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, he comprehends form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness. As he comprehends form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, he is totally released from form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness. He is totally released from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is totally released, I tell you, from suffering & stress."
-- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.039.than.html


In the above, he carefully uses the present tense: "He *is* totally released, I tell you, from suffering and stress" -- not "he will be, after he dies." He says it is possible, and I am confident that he is right.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:38 pm

.

As I mentioned earlier ..."When the mind is at ease one has less inner conflict and discontent."

Just to add a little, I think that if one does ones best to practice the Dhamma, (including meditation), then hopefully the mind will become peaceful and develop more clarity and awareness. In this way, when one is dying, if there is rebirth one will have a good result - and if there isn't rebirth, one will still have a good result, because clinging will have been pacified, and the mind will have calmly accepted death.

(Not sure if I've worded that very well, I'm multitasking in the middle of cooking an evening meal!)

:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:37 pm

nowheat wrote:
Aloka wrote:...and yet there are verses in the suttas like this one:

One whose mind
is enmeshed in sympathy
for friends & companions,
neglects the true goal.
Seeing this danger in intimacy,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html

You might have missed the part where he says "for friends & companions"? That's still selfishness at work. He didn't say, "one whose mind is enmeshed in sympathy for all other beings -- one whose mind is engaged in the limitless practice of metta " did he. :smile:


The sutta also says:

They are hard to please,
some of those gone forth,
as well as those living the household life.
Shedding concern
for these offspring of others,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros


I think you missed my point, Linda. I don't think its about trying to save all sentient beings, that's a Mahayana concept.

...and if one's mind is always "engaged in the limitless practice of metta" it doesn't mean it's necessarily free from delusion, even though its a positive practice to do.

Anyway -- :focus:

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:32 pm

kitztack wrote:states of mind are transitory and impermanent too, while feeling down know that it will change and you will have relief from it.


Yes. It is kinda interesting that during one day I want to sit in the corner and cry, and in another day (or much later during that day) I feel happy or content.


ANICCA! It too will pass...
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:31 am

Alex123 wrote:
ANICCA! It too will pass...


Yes, there is also a positive aspect to impermanence. I must try to remember that. ;)
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:42 pm

Aloka wrote:I think you missed my point, Linda. I don't think its about trying to save all sentient beings, that's a Mahayana concept.


Seems we get to play "point ping pong", Aloka, because if I missed your point being about "saving all sentient beings" it might be because that wasn't *my* point, and I thought you were addressing what I was saying, not something else.

I said, "Are you thinking that the point of the Buddha's teaching is just to teach each individual that their dukkha is all that matters?"

Are you, then, suggesting that the Buddha is teaching that an individual *should* only care about their own suffering?

I said, "The Buddha's methods don't seem to me to be aimed at liberating individuals so much as at reducing suffering in the world for all beings, liberated or not." You can see, there, can't you, that I wasn't talking about the Mahayana concept of liberating all beings, or even ending all suffering? I had said, "It looks to me as though he is most often talking about how what we do affects others... you might want to notice that the things he's counseling us not to do -- kill, steal, or speak divisively, for example -- are all things that harm others."

Do you, then, disagree that in the lists of "virtuous behavior" acts that will harm others predominate? The only exception I can think of offhand is "wrong view" which might seem internal on the surface, but wrong view leads to all the other bad behaviors -- it is wrong view that is their ultimate cause. So, really, the point of wrong view is really that it leads to bad behavior that harms others.

Aloka wrote:...and if one's mind is always "engaged in the limitless practice of metta" it doesn't mean it's necessarily free from delusion, even though its a positive practice to do.
.

And yet, the Buddha points out that if one was constantly engaged in metta practice, one could not do things that would bring dukkha.

"That disciple of the noble ones — thus devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unbewildered, alert, mindful — keeps pervading the first direction[2] with an awareness imbued with good will, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth. Thus above, below, & all around, everywhere, in its entirety, he keeps pervading the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. He discerns, 'Before, this mind of mine was limited & undeveloped. But now this mind of mine is immeasurable & well developed. And whatever action that was done in a measurable way does not remain there, does not linger there.'

"What do you think, monks: If that youth, from childhood, were to develop the awareness-release through good will, would he do any evil action?"

"No, lord."

"Not doing any evil action, would he touch suffering?"

"No, lord, for when one does no evil action, from where would he touch suffering?"
-- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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