the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby acinteyyo » Sat May 08, 2010 10:04 am

notself wrote:As I said in that thread, to discuss rebirth without discussing what is reborn is a futile exercise.

Ah, okay I now understood your intentions. But I have to say I disagree with what you say here.
In my eyes it's a futile exercise to discuss rebirth with discussing what is reborn. Such a question must not be accepted. As long one accepts such a question, even if one's intention is, to disclose the problems of thinking in terms of self and speculating what is reborn, it will be confusing. One has to put it straight, that such a question is inappropriate and has to be dismissed. This gets straight to the root of the problem and shakes to the core of self-view, which enables one to realize insight into the truth of anatta, avoiding wild speculations which would only lead to more and more confusion.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 12:58 pm

Greetings Aloka,

Aloka wrote:Any views relating to rebirth are always going to be conceptual speculation (other than in a verifiable sense relating to the changes in our day to day lives) - and for me personally they aren't relevant to the practice in the here and now.

That's how I see it too. I'll take the Buddha at his word (since the rest of his words are so good) but whether or not it's the case, my beliefs about it will not change what will be. Knowing a little about your previous adventures in Buddhism, it must be a relief of sorts for you not to be so heavily invested in the notion of rebirth. I hope it is like a breath of fresh air (much like your avatar).

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 BubbaBuddhist » Sat May 08, 2010 6:08 pm

Seems to me the problem is very simple. We spend a lot of time trying to eradicate self-view with the very process that is involved in "I-creation" in the first place--the functional creation of the skhandas that holds it all together. Which only reinforces self-view, which makes it impossible to "see" rebirth process, etc.

Which is why, I think, Buddha advised us to set it aside and gave us instead other things to work on, such as the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. While we work on this course we hopefully develop the insight and clarity as a byproduct. There's no Ninth Path which says "drive yourself crazy trying to figure out self view and rebirth." I think there used to be but the Second Council removed it by Ashoka's command. :tongue:

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sat May 08, 2010 8:23 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Aloka,

Aloka wrote:Any views relating to rebirth are always going to be conceptual speculation (other than in a verifiable sense relating to the changes in our day to day lives) - and for me personally they aren't relevant to the practice in the here and now.

That's how I see it too. I'll take the Buddha at his word (since the rest of his words are so good) but whether or not it's the case, my beliefs about it will not change what will be. Knowing a little about your previous adventures in Buddhism, it must be a relief of sorts for you not to be so heavily invested in the notion of rebirth. I hope it is like a breath of fresh air (much like your avatar).

Metta,
Retro. :)



Retro my friend, its such a relief and the air is so fresh its as if I've been reborn ! :twothumbsup:

.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Sun May 09, 2010 10:14 am

I know the feeling Aloka.. :thumbsup:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 10, 2010 3:31 am

Aloka wrote:Any views relating to rebirth are always going to be conceptual speculation...


Are they?

I think this can hardly be called speculation neither can this or this or this or this...

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Shonin » Mon May 10, 2010 7:35 am

Are you suggesting that this constitutes 'proof' of reincarnation or rebirth? It looks very speculative to me. There are many possible explanations for this kind of material.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Mon May 10, 2010 7:49 am

Shonin wrote:Are you suggesting that this constitutes 'proof' of reincarnation or rebirth? It looks very speculative to me. There are many possible explanations for this kind of material.

Most of which explanation, following Ockhams Razor, are much more feasible than folkloric anectodotal accounts of "Reincarnation".
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Shonin » Mon May 10, 2010 7:59 am

Yes, it's a similar sort of level of evidence that we have for alien abduction, the Loch Ness Monster etc
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Mon May 10, 2010 10:07 am

I see 'the great rebirth debate' thread more often than not on the home page listed with the others that have the most recent post. It is a long thread which could potentially give casual readers of forums like these the impression that the subject is of paramount interest or importance to people.

I'll state up front that I haven't read much of the thread because the subject generally fails to hold my interest and attention. It is an interesting subject in itself but what everyone actually knows about it is so little that it doesn't take much time at all to exhaust my interest.

I can approach the subject in another way. If I ask myself the question, "Would the verifiable existence or non-existence of re-birth (in any sense or by any definition of a multi-lifetime series of related processes) have an impact on my interest in the Buddha's teachings on the whole and if so what would that be?"

In overall terms, no. It would really make no difference to my interest in the Buddha's teachings and the ways in which I apply these to my life if rebirth were somehow demonstrably and repeatedly proved to be either true or false.

Similarly, the present state of affairs, wherein there is no demonstrable evidence one way or the other, a state of affairs where ignorance is the predominant feature, has no significant impact on either my interest in or understanding of the Buddha's teachings.

On the other hand the subject of ignorance, such as the ignorance which is the most obvious quality present in the body of available insight into this area, is itself something quite supportive of my interest in the Buddha's teachings. I very much like the Buddha's strong emphasis of the role of ignorance in all of our lives both as individuals and as members of the community of living beings in the world. His continued pointing out of ignorance, his calling our attention to the role it plays in our lives and thoughts seems to me to be one of the things that is very obviously wise about him.

As opposed to providing us with all kinds of comfortable explanations to placate us the Buddha frequently focuses our attention on things that screw with our comfort zones. Emphasizing subjects like suffering, desire and ignorance go directly to the parts of living and thinking that make it hard to get comfortable at all. Then we're supposed to sit quietly and work to achieve some kind of peace and freedom? Yes I think so, I think actually confronting some of the most difficult things in life and continuing to work at coming to terms with them do lead to an increasing breadth and depth of peace and freedom for me.

Dealing with the reality of being ignorant about a colossal amount of things, not just ignorance about less obvious things like rebirth but many, many things, has been and is a beneficial thing to do. Dealing with the desires that come from wanting to know the incalculable number of things that I don't know and the suffering that comes from not knowing those things has also been and is a beneficial thing to do. The Buddha's teachings have been great for working at these things in these kinds of ways. Not by providing some kind of pat answer to arguments over the veracity of some seemingly odd bit of one doctrine or another but by providing real ways of approaching the things that I actually do care about, things like ignorance, desires and suffering.

More than any other sources in my life the Buddha's teachings have helped and continue to assist me with both embracing and letting go of 'me' in a great many senses of the term, in the senses of it that I actually encounter it in my life, feelings and thoughts. I find the teachings about ignorance, desire and suffering, all together, very helpful in this way. I would continue to have this interest in and relationship with the Buddha's teachings regardless of what might be known or said about things like rebirth or other subjects, subjects which lend themselves to nurturing various kinds of sectarian argumentation by the taking up of contrary views. Typically, the more that a buddhist or dhamma subject lends itself to opposing views and arguments, the less significance it actually has in regards to my ongoing interest in the Buddha's teachings and how I make use of them in my life.

I could take another approach to what I have been saying, because none of it has been about rebirth, and start another thread. A subject that would actually be very central to my interest in the teachings and the way that I practice them, a subject like 'ignorance' for instance would probably never generate the kind of interest, investment and involvement that a controversial subject like this one continually draws. Probably a thousand pages could be posted on the subject of ignorance without exhausting the interesting things that could be said about the subject…

Ok, I talked myself into it. I'll start a thread on it. I'm curious to see how much interest the general subject of ignorance generates as opposed to the subject of rebirth. For me a subject like ignorance is central to how I understand and apply the teachings and practice. I am far more interested in the subject, have given it far more attention and am much more interested in what other people may think about it or understand about it.

link

the great ignorance debate
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4317
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 10, 2010 11:11 am

Shonin wrote:Are you suggesting that this constitutes 'proof' of reincarnation or rebirth? It looks very speculative to me. There are many possible explanations for this kind of material.


It is not "proof" for reincarnation ore rebirth, but I would say it is pretty strong evidence suggesting that reincarnation does take place. I am aware of all the alternative explanations and so are the researchers who have investigated this. Ian Stevenson, who was mentioned first, has in fact created a methodology to filter out those cases where alternative explanations are plausible.

Reincarnation research cannot really be compared with Nessie, UFOs, or alien abduction and lumping it together with these phenomena is not very reasonable. Reincarnation research and PLE (past live experiences) are in the same category like NDEs and OBEs, although the former are much rarer. These phenomena do occur and they are currently not explainable by science.

PeterB wrote:Most of which explanation, following Ockhams Razor, are much more feasible than folkloric anectodotal accounts of "Reincarnation".


Perhaps you need to reread Occam's Razor. The principle of Occam's razor says entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, which means: given a number of alternative explanations, it is rational to assume the simplest one. The simplest explanation for these cases is reincarnation. The alternative explanation is conspiracy of the researchers with their subjects to fakes such cases, elaborate and cunning preparation, lengthy and costly acquisition of minute detail information, and complicity without gaps.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Mon May 10, 2010 11:17 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Shonin wrote:Are you suggesting that this constitutes 'proof' of reincarnation or rebirth? It looks very speculative to me. There are many possible explanations for this kind of material.


It is not "proof" for reincarnation ore rebirth, but I would say it is pretty strong evidence suggesting that reincarnation does take place. I am aware of all the alternative explanations and so are the researchers who have investigated this. Ian Stevenson, who was mentioned first, has in fact created a methodology to filter out those cases where alternative explanations are plausible.

Reincarnation research cannot really be compared with Nessie, UFOs, or alien abduction and lumping it together with these phenomena is not very reasonable. Reincarnation research and PLE (past live experiences) are in the same category like NDEs and OBEs, although the former are much rarer. These phenomena do occur and they are currently not explainable by science.

PeterB wrote:Most of which explanation, following Ockhams Razor, are much more feasible than folkloric anectodotal accounts of "Reincarnation".


Perhaps you need to reread Occam's Razor. The principle of Occam's razor says entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, which means: given a number of alternative explanations, it is rational to assume the simplest one. The simplest explanation for these cases is reincarnation. The alternative explanation is conspiracy of the researchers with their subjects to fakes such cases, elaborate and cunning preparation, lengthy and costly acquisition of minute detail information, and complicity without gaps.

Cheers, Thomas

Utter nonsense. :rofl:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Mon May 10, 2010 11:26 am

Simply put, evidence, be it personal experience or case studies of various kinds is relatively negligible when you contrast it with the overwhelming predominance of ignorance in regard to the subject. I'm not arguing that there is no evidence or that there are no people with compelling personal insights into the subject, I'm simply pointing out that ignorance about it one way or the other is by far the most common evidence. In other words it is the evidence of a prevailing ignorance that is compelling. The widespread and common presence of ignorance is a more significant aspect of this kind of debate that I think is obscured by arguing the relatively insignificant evidence of anything else that might be demonstrated by anecdotal evidence about rebirth.

I say this because the general circumstances reflect my individual circumstances. While I have occasionally had insights into rebirth as something that plays a role in my actual life in general I am completely ignorant of the effects that past lives might be having on my life at present. So this leads me to conclude that the important thing to be aware of is not past lives or future life but the ignorance that exists in the present life.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Mon May 10, 2010 11:38 am

Quite so Nathan. I have seen lots of rebirth threads in several forae. They all follow the same course.
The discussion or rather the arguement becomes the point....dodgy science is contrasted to literalist quotes from the Canon.
Lots of heat is generated, but little light.
People argue against their own pov on other threads because of the exitement of the chase.
People storm off...only to come back armed with a new folio of speculative opinions.

And NOTHING gets resolved. Eventually the thread is closed. Only to be reborn a few weeks later.. :smile:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 10, 2010 12:01 pm

PeterB wrote:Utter nonsense. :rofl:


This type of answer is basically a rejection of debate, which I must accept. It is the perfect mirror image of superstitious animism which is common in many Buddhist countries. Both points of view are basically impenetrable to reason.

nathan wrote:I'm not arguing that there is no evidence or that there are no people with compelling personal insights into the subject, I'm simply pointing out that ignorance about it one way or the other is by far the most common evidence.


Yes, we get the point. There are limits to what we can know. However, you must acknowledge that these limits can be pushed. Furthermore, there are collective ways of pushing such limits (i.e. science) and individual ways (e.g. dhamma practice). Ultimately, dhamma practice is meant to reduce ignorance.

Contrary to PeterB, I believe that debate does not merely exist for the purpose of crosstalk, but that it DOES have the capacity to provide new insights, fresh points of views, and new impulses, if only occasionally, for the simple reason that our collective experience and intelligence is greater than our individual experience and intelligence. But one has to be open-minded for that.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Mon May 10, 2010 12:09 pm

Yes Pannapetar it is a rejection of debate...or rather the gameplay ( In Berne's sense ) that passes for debate on Buddhist websites when this particular topic rears its head...Reason.whether penetrable or not has nothing to do with it. :lol:
The Buddha himself would not be drawn on such issues. Possibly because he was more interested in ending suffering than in debating that which only be approached experientially rather than through finding an acceptable verbal formula.

But dont mind me...debate away.. :popcorn:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Mon May 10, 2010 12:13 pm

Pannapetar wrote:
Yes, we get the point. There are limits to what we can know. However, you must acknowledge that these limits can be pushed. Furthermore, there are collective ways of pushing such limits (i.e. science) and individual ways (e.g. dhamma practice). Ultimately, dhamma practice is meant to reduce ignorance.
My point is, more specifically, that there are no apparent limits to what we don't know. As such the admission that there are limits to what we know minimizes what appears to be the more significant facts of those considerable unknowns. I do agree that study and practice of the dhamma can do something to reduce that ignorance in some significant ways.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 10, 2010 12:25 pm

PeterB wrote:Yes Pannapetar it is a rejection of debate...or rather the gameplay ( In Berne's sense ) that passes for debate on Buddhist websites when this particular topic rears its head...Reason.whether penetrable or not has nothing to do with it. :lol:


In this case I am wondering why you chose to answer at all. What is the point of posting priceless phrases when you are not willing to enter the debate? With "entering" the debate, I mean addressing the individual cases shown in the mentioned video clips, discuss the existing studies, and so on...

I am aware that people have their opinions and that it pains them to question the same. However, I don't see much value in merely stating them. What is possibly gained by saying "I am of this and that opinion and everything else is utter nonsense"? If you do not engage in debate to support your views, it is better not to state them.

PeterB wrote:The Buddha himself would not be drawn on such issues.


Now you are speaking for the Buddha?

I am afraid neither you nor I can possibly know what the Buddha would be drawn into. And for this reason, we have to use our own judgement and intelligence.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Mon May 10, 2010 12:32 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:i guess someone needs to get this ball rolling :twisted:

personally i believe in literal rebirth. it's just i don't care that much about it. and i don't think it's a necessity. i feel the non literal moment to moment view of rebirth is far more important to focus on in terms of one's daily practice.

what's your take?

This is the op . I posted to support its general thrust.
The debate about the nature of rebirth took the thread away from the posters intent...which was " to focus ...on ones daily practice " instead of engaging in speculation and proliferation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Mon May 10, 2010 12:44 pm

Pannapetar wrote: With "entering" the debate, I mean addressing the individual cases shown in the mentioned video clips, discuss the existing studies, and so on...
I'm willing to participate in the thread in the way that it seems interesting to me at the moment and that continues to be stressing the significance of the predominance of most people not knowing, to the extent that the whole idea of past life seems unreal to most people. Anecdotal accounts of past lives, even if everyone had such things to say, would not do anything to reduce my own ignorance about the nature of rebirth if I continue to have no insight into it of my own. In the same way, to the extent that I have my own insights into rebirth, my insights play no role in reducing ignorance about it for anyone else. I don't see any evidence of debating other people's accounts of past lives ever having any effect on anyone's ignorance about rebirth.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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