nowheat wrote:Would the Buddha ask that people to actively ADOPT rebirth as a view if it wasn't theirs already? When we think a little more deeply about how this fits with the rest of his dhamma, it makes no sense. Nowhere else does he encourage his followers to do something that causes them to cling to self-view; in every instance he is adamant about doing everything in our power to let go of self-view. It made no sense for him to be encouraging people to adopt rebirth as a belief-system when it causes clinging to self, but I had to admit I had no clear evidence that he saw that.
It's important to see this in a historical context. At the time of the Buddha, rebirth/reincarnation was the predominant belief. The belief in an eternal self was likewise predominant and well established. The Buddha challenged the latter (quite outspokenly), but not the former. I think this sends a clear message. And it does not even end there. The entire edifice of Buddhist ontology is build around rebirth, or rather: rebirth is a necessary element of it. The wheel of life, karma, and dependent origination cannot be divorced from it. At the least, these teachings would assume a very different meaning without rebirth.
The "great rebirth" debate would have appeared quite odd and excentric in ancient India. We are having this debate, because this forum is frequented by people with a Western cultural upbringing and this particular culture has an orthodox belief system of its own, which comprises materialism and the idea of mind-brain identity. Many take this for granted, some even believe them to be "scientific facts". I can't stress enough that materialism and mind-brain identity are not scientific facts. It is important to get to the bottom of it, and evaluate whether the current scientific knowledge suffices for these particular conclusions. Upon investigation, it should become obvious to any reasonably talented person that these ideas are likewise nothing but beliefs.
Guido wrote:Is it fitting the Dharma to my preferences? Yes, it is. Is that necessary a bad thing to do?
Well, yes and no. It is a bad thing as far as attempting to bend something to accord with preconceived notions is likely to prevent learning. It is not a bad thing as long as one stays alert and open to the other possibility, namely that rebirth is true. Buddhism is malleable enough to harmonise with different cultures and idea systems. This has been proven over and over in history. The real danger is to adopt a close-minded stance or to attempt to explain the problem away. In my experience, the challenging parts of Buddhism are the ones with the greatest potential for personal progress, intellectually as well as spiritually. But this potential cannot be realised without the pressing desire to find out the truth.