the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 04, 2010 9:16 am

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.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby notself » Fri May 07, 2010 6:20 am

I have been away for a while and haven't read the entire thread. I would like opinions on what is reborn. Is it consciousness? Is it a process? Is it phenomnena arising and falling away? Where is the self in all of this. As in "He will be born in the animal realm." Thoughts?
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 07, 2010 6:22 am

notself wrote:I have been away for a while and haven't read the entire thread. I would like opinions on what is reborn. Is it consciousness? Is it a process? Is it phenomnena arising and falling away? Where is the self in all of this. As in "He will be born in the animal realm." Thoughts?

Trungpa said in answer to such a question, and he should know, "It is our bad habits."
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
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 07, 2010 6:32 am

Greetings notself,

notself wrote:I have been away for a while and haven't read the entire thread. I would like opinions on what is reborn. Is it consciousness? Is it a process? Is it phenomnena arising and falling away? Where is the self in all of this. As in "He will be born in the animal realm." Thoughts?

For starters, I'd recommend this sutta...

MN 38: Mahātanhāsankhaya Sutta
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... _Sutta.htm

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Fri May 07, 2010 7:05 am

tiltbillings wrote:
notself wrote:I have been away for a while and haven't read the entire thread. I would like opinions on what is reborn. Is it consciousness? Is it a process? Is it phenomnena arising and falling away? Where is the self in all of this. As in "He will be born in the animal realm." Thoughts?


Trungpa said in answer to such a question, and he should know, "It is our bad habits."



Our bad habits and unskilful behaviour can result in us being born right now into the state of ignorance represented by the animal realm.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Fri May 07, 2010 7:22 am

retrofuturist wrote:]MN 38: Mahātanhāsankhaya Sutta


That must be a famous one, since even I have read it. Poor Sati fisherman son gets a mighty rebuke from the Buddha. "Misguided man", "pernicious view", "injure himself", "demerit". :guns: Sounds like he was pretty serious about anatta.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 07, 2010 8:25 am

Greetings,

Pannapetar wrote:Poor Sati fisherman son gets a mighty rebuke from the Buddha. "Misguided man", "pernicious view", "injure himself", "demerit". :guns: Sounds like he was pretty serious about anatta.

Rightly so too... I wonder what he'd make of Ajahn Sucitto's Ground of Being?

:juggling:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Shonin » Fri May 07, 2010 8:43 am

tiltbillings wrote:
notself wrote:I have been away for a while and haven't read the entire thread. I would like opinions on what is reborn. Is it consciousness? Is it a process? Is it phenomnena arising and falling away? Where is the self in all of this. As in "He will be born in the animal realm." Thoughts?

Trungpa said in answer to such a question, and he should know, "It is our bad habits."


Our bad habits are reborn in the lives of animals? Poor animals! As if we didn't harm them enough! :stirthepot:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Fri May 07, 2010 9:45 am

Habits do not somehow become incorporated into the lives of sentient beings, human or other animal...rather habits are to some degree those lives. They are not an add-on. Habits are both the cause and effect of birth, whether literal or metaphorical.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Shonin » Fri May 07, 2010 10:43 am

Why (concern for animal welfare aside) should we care whether our bad habits 'become' or cause the lives of animals?

Not disposing of rubbish properly (another bad habit! ha!) is a condition for the lives of a greater number of rats and other vermin. This can be a problem, but for a different reason. Keeping our rivers clean (a good habit this time) is a condition for the lives of fish and other marine organisms. Yet this is not a problem as we don't project our sense of future self-identity into those fish, we see them as 'other'.

Interesting eh?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Fri May 07, 2010 11:32 am

There are those on this message board,quite a number actually Shonin, that favour a literal reading of the possibility of rebirth into the animal realms.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Shonin » Fri May 07, 2010 11:39 am

Yes, I do realise that of course - it's a Buddhist forum right?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby notself » Fri May 07, 2010 3:19 pm

All of the suttas I have read talk about rebirth but do not say what is the vehicle for kamma to pass from one life to the next or the operation of kamma itself. I realize this last part about how kamma operates is so complex as to leave one crazy to think of it but I am interested in what other posters think about what is reborn.

According to the sutta just posted, it is not consciousness. Anatta says it is not self which means "we" are not reborn in spite of the number of suttas that declare "so and so will be reborn in the animal realm for doing such and such." I would like everyones opinions on what or who is reborn.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Fri May 07, 2010 3:37 pm

Ok... Its a metaphor. Therefore the question becomes how do we unpack the metaphor ?
Some people find that Buddhadasa helps in this regard. Some dont.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby notself » Fri May 07, 2010 4:04 pm

I think the metaphor is easily unpacked in this life. We are neither the same as the child was born, nor are we different than the child that was born. It gets tricky when one goes past this life. I think the tricky part gets less tricky when one separates the rebirth concept into two parts. The first conventional concept of rebirth is that "mine" will be reborn. My kamma continues to the next rebirth. This personalizes rebirth and makes it "me, my, mine". It personalizes action. What is the mechanism by which personal kamma flows from one birth to another? Some may say that it is "the ground of being". Does this make the "ground of being" = soul?
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Fri May 07, 2010 4:11 pm

Well you did ask for views.. :smile: I dont think that we can or need think beyond this life. I think the idea of anything passing from one life to another is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of time, and of dependant arising. I would recommend a persusal of the works of Ajahn Buddhadasa for anyone unfamiliar with them.
Other and more literal models are available.....
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby notself » Fri May 07, 2010 6:29 pm

PeterB,

I am not interested in references. I am interested in what other members think. I am interested in personal opinion based on an individual thought process and conclusion (however tentative) on what is reborn.

Do you not have any of your own thoughts on the subject?
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Fri May 07, 2010 7:42 pm

I would recommend a persusal of the works of Ajahn Buddhadasa for anyone unfamiliar with them.



I'll definately second that, Peter.


.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby notself » Fri May 07, 2010 8:42 pm

I will just back out of this thread if no one wants to discuss what is reborn in his own words but only wants to refer to the teachings and commentaries.
What a shame since we are in the Dhammic free-for-all forum.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby acinteyyo » Fri May 07, 2010 8:54 pm

notself wrote:I will just back out of this thread if no one wants to discuss what is reborn in his own words but only wants to refer to the teachings and commentaries.
What a shame since we are in the Dhammic free-for-all forum.

it is inappropriate to ask "what is reborn" it's the same thing like "who". you try to ask for any kind of "self", this is the wrong way my friend. it won't lead you to the end of suffering, in fact it'll lead you just to more confusion.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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