the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:31 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Nikaya35 wrote:According to the sutras the Buddha attained 3 knowledges. In the first watch of the night , he remembered many past lives . In the second watch of the night , he understood how beings are reborn after death according to their actions. This is the second knowledge the Buddha attained. In the last watch of the night the Buddha understood the way leading to the cessation of taints. So yeah rebirth is pretty revelant to understand the buddha's enlightenment.


Yes, the first two knowledges specifically refer to rebirth and kamma, whereas the third does not. And only the third knowledge actually constitutes the breakthrough that results in nibbana.

There isn't much that is specifically "Buddhist" about the first two knowledges, in any case. Jainism is much older than Buddhism and it also teaches about kamma and transmigration of beings. The third knowledge is what really sets the Buddha apart.

The third knowledge sets the Buddha's teachings apart but the first 2 knowledges are part of the buddha's enlightenment according to the sutras. I think ignoring the first 2 knowledges of buddha's enlightenment is incorrect. The Buddha claim to have 3 knowledges after all.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:39 am

Mkoll wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Hi James,
I don't think this follows from what I wrote earlier. I didn't call for throwing out any part of the path; I suggested that rebirth belief is not part of the liberating insights that result in nibbana.

Then what do you make of the stock phrase that is often repeated in the suttas about the arahant's knowledge of enlightenment?

Ven. Thanissaro:
MN 86 wrote:He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Angulimala became another one of the arahants.

Ven. Bodhi:
MN 86 wrote:He directly knew: "Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being." And the venerable Angulimāla became on of the arahants.


EDIT: added emphasis to sutta quotes


Birth (jati) in this context doesn't simply refer to physical birth, but rather to the proliferation of mental suffering caused by ignorance and craving. If the stock phrase were to be taken literally, it would mean the Dhamma is concerned primarily with the proliferation of physical bodies, but that's not the case.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby culaavuso » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:40 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Yes, the first two knowledges specifically refer to rebirth and kamma, whereas the third does not. And only the third knowledge actually constitutes the breakthrough that results in nibbana.

There isn't much that is specifically "Buddhist" about the first two knowledges, in any case. Jainism is much older than Buddhism and it also teaches about kamma and transmigration of beings. The third knowledge is what really sets the Buddha apart.


The first two knowledges do not appear to be necessary for release according to the suttas.

SN 12.70: Susīma Sutta wrote:"Is it true, as they say, that you have declared final gnosis in the Blessed One's presence: 'We discern that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world"'?"

"Yes, friend."
...
"Then, having known thus, having seen thus, do you recollect your manifold past lives (lit: previous homes), i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand births, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here'?"

"No, friend."

"Then, having known thus, having seen thus, do you see — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and do you discern how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world'?"

"No, friend."
...
"So just now, friends, didn't you make that declaration without having attained any of these Dhammas?"

"We're released through discernment, friend Susima."


AN 9.44: Paññāvimutta Sutta wrote:"'Released through discernment, released through discernment,' it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released through discernment?"
...
"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment without a sequel."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:50 am

culaavuso wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Yes, the first two knowledges specifically refer to rebirth and kamma, whereas the third does not. And only the third knowledge actually constitutes the breakthrough that results in nibbana.

There isn't much that is specifically "Buddhist" about the first two knowledges, in any case. Jainism is much older than Buddhism and it also teaches about kamma and transmigration of beings. The third knowledge is what really sets the Buddha apart.


The first two knowledges do not appear to be necessary for release according to the suttas.

SN 12.70: Susīma Sutta wrote:"Is it true, as they say, that you have declared final gnosis in the Blessed One's presence: 'We discern that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world"'?"

"Yes, friend."
...
"Then, having known thus, having seen thus, do you recollect your manifold past lives (lit: previous homes), i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand births, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here'?"

"No, friend."

"Then, having known thus, having seen thus, do you see — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away and re-appearing, and do you discern how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world'?"

"No, friend."
...
"So just now, friends, didn't you make that declaration without having attained any of these Dhammas?"

"We're released through discernment, friend Susima."


AN 9.44: Paññāvimutta Sutta wrote:"'Released through discernment, released through discernment,' it is said. To what extent is one described by the Blessed One as released through discernment?"
...
"Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released through discernment without a sequel."

The first two knowledges aren't required for the release from dukkha. I agree. According to the sutras some buddha's arhat disciples can't remember pasts lives and can't see beings getting reborn according to their karma. But this don't change the fact that the Buddha included karma and rebirth as part of his knowledges. The Buddha claimed to have those knowledges.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby culaavuso » Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:57 am

Nikaya35 wrote:The first two knowledges aren't required for the release from dukkha. I agree. According to the sutras some buddha's arhat disciples can't remember pasts lives and can't see beings getting reborn according to their karma. But this don't change the fact that the Buddha included karma and rebirth as part of his knowledges. The Buddha claimed to have those knowledges.


It appears that in the suttas the Buddha not only claimed to have these knowledges, but taught discourses such as MN 135 regarding rebirth and kamma. Given the standards mentioned in SN 56.31, it seems that these teachings are implied to be connected to the goal and leading to unbinding.

SN 56.31: Siṃsapā Sutta wrote:In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:16 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Hi James,
I don't think this follows from what I wrote earlier. I didn't call for throwing out any part of the path; I suggested that rebirth belief is not part of the liberating insights that result in nibbana.

Then what do you make of the stock phrase that is often repeated in the suttas about the arahant's knowledge of enlightenment?

Ven. Thanissaro:
MN 86 wrote:He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Angulimala became another one of the arahants.

Ven. Bodhi:
MN 86 wrote:He directly knew: "Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being." And the venerable Angulimāla became on of the arahants.


EDIT: added emphasis to sutta quotes


Birth (jati) in this context doesn't simply refer to physical birth, but rather to the proliferation of mental suffering caused by ignorance and craving.

That's one interpretation. Another is that it does refer to physical birth. Yet another is that it refers to both. Finally, it could refer to something else entirely.

So do you take all mentions of birth in the suttas to be referring to rebirth of "mental suffering caused by ignorance and craving" rather than physical birth?

Lazy_eye wrote:If the stock phrase were to be taken literally, it would mean the Dhamma is concerned primarily with the proliferation of physical bodies, but that's not the case.

The primary concern of the Dhamma is suffering and its cessation. Rebirth and its consequences are part of suffering. So putting an end to rebirth is part of the primary concern.

~~~

:goodpost: culaavuso, above.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:13 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Ven. Thanissaro:
MN 86 wrote:He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Angulimala became another one of the arahants.

EDIT: added emphasis to sutta quotes


Birth (jati) in this context doesn't simply refer to physical birth, but rather to the proliferation of mental suffering caused by ignorance and craving. If the stock phrase were to be taken literally, it would mean the Dhamma is concerned primarily with the proliferation of physical bodies, but that's not the case.


Actually the use of "birth" is ambiguous here.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:17 am

Mkoll wrote:So do you take all mentions of birth in the suttas to be referring to rebirth of "mental suffering caused by ignorance and craving" rather than physical birth?


There are a few instances where birth is used in the broader sense of origination, but mostly birth is clearly described as a physical event, eg as an aspect of dukkha or as a nidana.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:05 pm

Mkoll wrote:The primary concern of the Dhamma is suffering and its cessation. Rebirth and its consequences are part of suffering. So putting an end to rebirth is part of the primary concern.


I'm not saying one should reject rebirth. I think we can agree this would constitute annihilationism, a wrong view.

But it is difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate rebirth belief without adhering to notions of self. We see that the first and second knowledges are still framed in terms of an "I" that has past lives and beings who reappear in accordance with "their" kamma. I think this is part of the reason why the first and second knowledges are insufficient for awakening. And these first two knowledges are not distinctive to the Buddha in any case -- other sramanas had similar insights. Rebirth and kamma are present in Jainism, which preceded the Buddha by many centuries.

The third knowledge, however, is not framed in terms of a self that either migrates on (eternalism) or perishes (annihilationism). The language used is very different; even Jāti (birth) doesn't refer to any particular person's birth or rebirth (punarbhava).

When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'


We see a similar trajectory in the Brahmajala Sutta, where the Buddha contrasts eternalistic beliefs, which do not lead to nibbana, to the Tathagata's understanding, which does:

"This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: 'These standpoints, thus assumed and thus misapprehended, lead to such a future destination, to such a state in the world beyond.' He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that understanding he does not misapprehend. And because he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the state of perfect peace. Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.


And note here, again, that the transcendent understanding is not defined in relation to kamma and rebirth, but in relation to non-clinging and "the origin and passing away of feelings."

The distinction between knowledge that doesn't lead to Unbinding, and knowledge that does, is also reinforced in the Sabbasava Sutta, which discusses appropriate and inappropriate attention:

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.


The contrast between appropriate and inappropriate attention aligns with the distinction between two kinds of Right View, that which leads to becoming and acquistions, and that which leads to Unbinding. (See opening section of MN 117). "Right view with effluents" is not the appropriate view if one's goal is Unbinding, though it is the appropriate view if one is seeking a favorable rebirth.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:46 pm

Agnostics about karma rebirth can practice the dharma. I don't see the problem with that. I'm also agnostic about the karma and rebirth teachings. To claim karma and rebirth aren't part of the Buddha teachings is another thing. The nikayas contradict this notion. I just decided to put the karma and rebirth teachings aside for a moment but being aware both are part of the dharma.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:14 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Mkoll wrote:The primary concern of the Dhamma is suffering and its cessation. Rebirth and its consequences are part of suffering. So putting an end to rebirth is part of the primary concern.
I'm not saying one should reject rebirth. I think we can agree this would constitute annihilationism, a wrong view.

Then what are you saying one should do? Given your analysis, what is your solution? If one took your analysis to heart, as I assume you do, what do you do differently?

Lazy_eye wrote:But it is difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate rebirth belief without adhering to notions of self.

Only if one requires a rebirth belief be as detailed and perfectly rational as a mathematical proof. One with faith can do so quite readily because they trust the Buddha's teaching on rebirth and not-self. He is the teacher, not I.

Going back to math, it's like I know basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division whereas the Buddha has full knowledge of all the most advanced maths. I'm not going to argue about something he says just because I don't understand it.

Lazy_eye wrote:We see that the first and second knowledges are still framed in terms of an "I" that has past lives and beings who reappear in accordance with "their" kamma. I think this is part of the reason why the first and second knowledges are insufficient for awakening.

That is conventional speech. An "I" is unavoidable in conventional speech, whether stated directly or implied. The Buddha and arahants uses such speech without getting confused by it. Also, everyone including non-returners have a sense of "I" arising from conceit which is only uprooted at arahantship.

Lazy_eye wrote:And these first two knowledges are not distinctive to the Buddha in any case -- other sramanas had similar insights. Rebirth and kamma are present in Jainism, which preceded the Buddha by many centuries.

Without having the knowledge of the Buddha, how do you know they aren't distinctive?

I think the Buddha's knowledge of rebirth and kamma is distinctive from the knowledge of other ascetics. The Buddha got the full picture because he got the full knowledge by going all the way to the end. Other ascetics got very far but they eventually stop, thinking they've arrived at the end when they have not. They may have had partial insight into past lives, kamma, and rebirth, but not the complete insight that the Buddha has. Their vision is blurred, the Buddha's is clear.

Lazy_eye wrote:The third knowledge, however, is not framed in terms of a self that either migrates on (eternalism) or perishes (annihilationism). The language used is very different; even Jāti (birth) doesn't refer to any particular person's birth or rebirth (punarbhava).

When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

There is still plenty of "I" and "mine" in the language here which is of course unavoidable in conventional speech. And the sutta is talking about the insight knowledge of arahantship. That knowledge is something neither you nor I have. We're having a discussion about rebirth. They're two different things.

Lazy_eye wrote:We see a similar trajectory in the Brahmajala Sutta, where the Buddha contrasts eternalistic beliefs, which do not lead to nibbana, to the Tathagata's understanding, which does:

"This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: 'These standpoints, thus assumed and thus misapprehended, lead to such a future destination, to such a state in the world beyond.' He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that understanding he does not misapprehend. And because he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the state of perfect peace. Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.


And note here, again, that the transcendent understanding is not defined in relation to kamma and rebirth, but in relation to non-clinging and "the origin and passing away of feelings."

Again, this is the arahant's insight knowledge, not ours. We're talking about rebirth.

Lazy_eye wrote:The distinction between knowledge that doesn't lead to Unbinding, and knowledge that does, is also reinforced in the Sabbasava Sutta, which discusses appropriate and inappropriate attention:

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.


The contrast between appropriate and inappropriate attention aligns with the distinction between two kinds of Right View, that which leads to becoming and acquistions, and that which leads to Unbinding. (See opening section of MN 117). "Right view with effluents" is not the appropriate view if one's goal is Unbinding, though it is the appropriate view if one is seeking a favorable rebirth.

Unless one is so confident they will realize arahantship in this very life, or at the very least stream-entry, then seeking a favorable rebirth is a prudent thing to do. That way one has the opportunity to cultivate the wholesome in the next life. Where does the Buddha say that one, especially a householder, shouldn't seek a favorable rebirth? In fact, I recall a sutta where he says to "not be afraid of making merit" or something to that effect.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:02 pm

Mkoll,

I see the "conventional speech" explanation as applicable to the third watch of the night, but not to the first two. In the case of the first two, it is not simply a matter of linguistic constraints. What is being described necessarily involves a notion of self.

First watch of the night

I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two... five, ten... fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion: 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.

Second watch of the night

I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech & mind, who reviled noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, & mind, who did not revile noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

In both these cases the object of contemplation (past lives, reappearance in accordance with kamma) is framed in terms of a self or selves: my manifold past lives, their kamma.

The third watch is different. The first person pronoun (I) is used here, because from the standpoint of the Buddha's audience there is still an individual there speaking to them and relating his experiences. But the experiences being related are not based in a notion of self. The Buddha does not say "the cessation of my stress, my fermentation, my becoming," etc. There is a clear change in the syntax: the object of contemplation is no longer attached to a possessive adjective.

Third Watch of the Night

I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

nless one is so confident they will realize arahantship in this very life, or at the very least stream-entry, then seeking a favorable rebirth is a prudent thing to do. That way one has the opportunity to cultivate the wholesome in the next life. Where does the Buddha say that one, especially a householder, shouldn't seek a favorable rebirth? In fact, I recall a sutta where he says to "not be afraid of making merit" or something to that effect.


I don't think I've suggested anywhere that one shouldn't seek a favorable rebirth. Where are you seeing this? I just raised a question about the relevance of rebirth-belief to nibbana.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:12 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:The third watch is different. The first person pronoun (I) is used here, because from the standpoint of the Buddha's audience there is still an individual there speaking to them and relating his experiences. But the experiences being related are not based in a notion of self. The Buddha does not say "the cessation of my stress, my fermentation, my becoming," etc. There is a clear change in the syntax: the object of contemplation is no longer attached to a possessive adjective.


Perhaps I'm missing your point, but first person is used throughout the 3 watches with the exception of the 4 truths, which is a general statement.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:27 pm

Spiny,

Yes, that's right. The point I'm trying to make concerns the object of contemplation.

First watch: I saw my past lives
Second watch: I saw beings pass away and reappear in accordance with their kamma
Third watch: I discerned stress...fermentations...the cessation of stress...the cessation of fermentations

If we look carefully at the third watch passage, we see that at no point is the object construed in language that reflects a concept of self.

The "I" remains in the subject, though ("I discerned"). This looks to be for reasons of linguistic convention; from the standpoint of the audience there is still a "someone" speaking to them. We might note, however, that in numerous other suttas the Buddha refers instead to "the Tathagata" rather than using the first person pronoun.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby culaavuso » Thu Aug 14, 2014 7:46 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:The point I'm trying to make concerns the object of contemplation.

First watch: I saw my past lives
Second watch: I saw beings pass away and reappear in accordance with their kamma
Third watch: I discerned stress...fermentations...the cessation of stress...the cessation of fermentations

If we look carefully at the third watch passage, we see that at no point is the object construed in language that reflects a concept of self.

The "I" remains in the subject, though ("I discerned"). This looks to be for reasons of linguistic convention; from the standpoint of the audience there is still a "someone" speaking to them. We might note, however, that in numerous other suttas the Buddha refers instead to "the Tathagata" rather than using the first person pronoun.


This seems to be an artifact of translation into English. Pāḷi often omits words that would make the English seem awkward if they were omitted. The Pāḷi Iti sākāraṃ sauddesaṃ anekavihitaṃ pubbenivāsaṃ anussarāmi does not contain possessive pronouns. It is common for translators to insert them when translating to English. In this case an awkward word-by-word translation might look something like "Thus with modes, with details, various previous existence I recalled." This parallels the statement from the third watch where a first person verb is used without possessive pronouns. Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu translates this phrase as "Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details." This translation appears to insert a possessive pronoun as a matter of linguistic convention in English, with the apparent side effect of emphasizing a notion of self that is not so emphasized in the original Pāḷi.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:00 pm

Thank you Culaavuso -- that is very interesting indeed!

I wonder if these translation choices have the unintended effect of instilling an eternalistic view of kamma and rebirth among readers.

Or, perhaps in Thanissaro's case, not so unintended -- he has been criticised, fairly or unfairly, for alleged eternalist leanings (See here).
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby culaavuso » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:40 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:I wonder if these translation choices have the unintended effect of instilling an eternalistic view of kamma and rebirth among readers.


This also possibly points to the ways that language itself tends to condition views. It is difficult in English to form sentences without any articles or possessive pronouns, but such a construction seems to be usual in Pāḷi. For comparison, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates the same sentence as "Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives," while Ven. Sister Uppalavaṇṇā translated it as "Thus I recollect the manifold previous births".

The influence of these differences between English and Pāḷi with regard to linguistic relativity can be interesting.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Kusala » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:03 am

Aloka wrote:
kusala wrote:"My Past Life Regression story"


I'm a qualified hypnotherapist and I would never try "past life regression" with other people because cryptomnesia can manifest, family/group memories, a vivid imagination etc.

My former Tibetan Buddhist teacher (rather than strangers on YouTube videos) told me not to practice past life regression because its completely "unreliable." He also told me that even though he was a Tulku (reincarnated teacher) he couldn't remember any past lives.



.


How do you explain this:

"...in England, a 5 year old girl said she could remember her other mother and father and she talked vividly about what sounded like the events in the life of another person. Parapsychologists were called in and asked her hundreds of questions to which she gave answers. She spoke of living in a particular village, in what appeared to be Spain. She gave the name of the village, the name of the street she lived in, her neighbours' names and details about her everyday life there. she also tearfully spoke of how she had been struck by a car and died of her injuries two days later.

When these details were checked, they were found to be accurate. There was a village in Spain with the name the child had given. There was a house of the type she had described in the street she had named. What is more, it was found that a 23 year old woman living in the house had been killed in a car accident five years before.

Now how is it possible for a five year old living in England who had never been to Spain to know all these details? And of course, this is not the only case of this type."


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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Fri Aug 15, 2014 2:29 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Mkoll wrote:nless one is so confident they will realize arahantship in this very life, or at the very least stream-entry, then seeking a favorable rebirth is a prudent thing to do. That way one has the opportunity to cultivate the wholesome in the next life. Where does the Buddha say that one, especially a householder, shouldn't seek a favorable rebirth? In fact, I recall a sutta where he says to "not be afraid of making merit" or something to that effect.


I don't think I've suggested anywhere that one shouldn't seek a favorable rebirth. Where are you seeing this? I just raised a question about the relevance of rebirth-belief to nibbana.

You haven't suggested that and I never said you did.

Concerning the relevance of rebirth-belief to Nibbana, would getting any sort of answer change your present approach? As I asked in my previous post:

Mkoll wrote:Then what are you saying one should do? Given your analysis, what is your solution? If one took your analysis to heart, as I assume you do, what do you do differently?
Peace,
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Aug 16, 2014 1:21 pm

Interesting line of discussion! :coffee:

Since I was a very small child I can recall a longing for the wilderness and for the upper branches of the trees. I can remember as a child when climbing trees, which were plentiful around my home, that I experienced a feeling of being safe, comfortable, at peace, and contented. Of course feelings are not memories, and certainly not confirmation recall of past lives. I often wondered as humans are primates if there was such a thing as a genetic memory, which allowed us at least a rapport with our genetic progenitors.

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I do love bananas, fruit, and nuts. That's probably why I keep coming back to read this thread. :tongue:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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