the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 7:25 am

nathan wrote: I can't report that believing in right view, by any definition or in any sense, has led to actual right view...
If you do not act upon what you believe, then probably no right view for you.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19024
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Tue May 11, 2010 7:36 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Let me get this straight. You state that because most people are ignorant (of past lifes), they should not consider the reports of those people who are not ignorant? Is this what you are saying? I doubt this is a valid argument. Consider a similar phenomenon: NDEs. Should we ignore NDEs just because we did not personally have one? Or is it a subject worthwhile of study nevertheless? Is personal ignorance ever a reason for NOT studying a subject? Where would that idea lead us?
No that's not what I wrote at all.
nathan wrote:I think it is far more important to get your own evidence.


Unfortunately, your suggestion is a little impractical. We simply don't have the means and the resources to "get our own evidence" for any arbitrary piece of knowledge from quantum physics to reincarnation. It is of course highly beneficial to seek first-hand evidence for any subject matter close to our interest; alas not always possible.
I think it is the only practical suggestion. We can develop the skillful means to get our own evidence and short of direct first hand evidence I always take the view that I have no satisfactory evidence. At the same time, if anyone else feels that secondhand evidence of rebirth is satisfactory for them, I'm not interested in arguing with them about it.
You had the benefit of meditative insight into rebirth (if I interpret your reply correctly). I had the benefit of insight into rebirth through other (involuntary) circumstances in my life. But please consider that not everybody has first-hand experience. My point is that as long as we don't have first-hand knowledge, we need to rely on second-hand knowledge. And since we don't have a choice in that matter, we might as well make sure that our second-hand knowledge has a sound foundation. Empirical research might provide just that.
I think empirical research provides empirical evidence and continue to think that it is misleading to confuse empirical evidence with direct firsthand knowledge.

nathan wrote:While believing in rebirth may constitute right view for some people, believing in things has never contributed to reducing ignorance about anything in my case. [...] I can't report that believing in right view, by any definition or in any sense, has led to actual right view...


You seem to suggest that views are intrinsically ambiguous and unhelpful as long as you haven't verified them personally. You are again distorting my comments to suit an argument that you would like to have with someone. I am not interested in arguing with you or in restating my points.I can disprove this by a simple thought experiment. Consider two people with opposite beliefs. One believes that it will rain in the afternoon and the other believes that it won't rain. The first person carries an umbrella, the second doesn't. In the afternoon it rains. The person who carried an umbrella stays dry; the other one gets wet and catches a cold. Now, which of those beliefs was more useful?

You are right in saying that a belief does not reduce ignorance, even if the belief is true. However, correct belief certainly helps to make correct decisions. The epistemological problem is not belief, but justification, which is basically about the question: How do we distinguish true from false beliefs?

Cheers, Thomas :namaste:

Again, I don't think you've proven anything with this rationale that has any bearing on the comments that I've made. I'm not interested in disputing your enthusiasm for what you call 'empirical evidence', I will leave it to empiricists to do that.
:anjali:
take care
nathan

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}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Tue May 11, 2010 7:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:
nathan wrote: I can't report that believing in right view, by any definition or in any sense, has led to actual right view...
If you do not act upon what you believe, then probably no right view for you.
I can act on the basis of what I know to be right view, having determined that it is undoubtedly right. I find that consistently supportive of right action. I'm simply saying I have no experience with 'right belief', I'm not knocking it. Just because I can walk without crutches doesn't imply that I make a practice of knocking down people who have difficulty doing the same without some kind of supporting device.

That said, I think arguing about these things is not helpful, I've offered some thoughts and that is all I have to say. I will not be responding any further provocations to engage in any kind of argumentation in this thread.
:anjali:
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}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 8:00 am

nathan wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
nathan wrote: I can't report that believing in right view, by any definition or in any sense, has led to actual right view...
If you do not act upon what you believe, then probably no right view for you.
I can act on the basis of what I know to be right view, having determined that it is undoubtedly right. I find that consistently supportive of right action. I'm simply saying I have no experience with 'right belief', I'm not knocking it.
I guess we will never know how you made the jump from belief to what you know to be right view, unless right view just happened to pop up inside inside you without cause or condition. Alas.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19024
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 11, 2010 8:15 am

PeterB wrote:So Pannapetar how have you arrived at your very clear view of Rebirth ? Is it as a direct seeing resulting from meditation practice or is it a shared belief ?


It is primarily the result of personal experience. The first was my journey to Havana, Cuba in the early 90s. I was not only able to learn Spanish to near fluency in six months, but I also knew every building of Havana Vieja, the old part of the city, as well as the citadel and the layout of the streets without ever having been there or having read a city map. It was a very odd experience, especially when entering the plaza de la catedral for the first time, but I did not believe in rebirth at the time and the idea that I might have lived there before did not enter my mind.

The second experience could be called "meditative" although I wasn't practicing meditation. I was simply in a contemplative mood looking through a window at some trees in the garden. The best way I can describe it is "sudden realisation of deathlessness". It was like abruptly looking into another dimension of existence, one that is normally hidden but congruent with the day-to-day perception of reality. In this dimension, everything was interconnected, sentient, and there was no death, only transition. I think Zen types would call this "satori". Regrettably it occurred only once.

Another experience involves communication with recently deceased persons. It certainly sounds like baloney, and I am still skeptical myself, but this happened totally unexpected and uninvited in a state of lucid dreaming. Actually these dream figures communicated with me, asking me questions and it wasn't a very pleasant experience, sort of creepy. One one occasion, I did not even know the person (nor that she had died), but when I told my dream to others I saw their puzzled faces, because the description exactly fitted a recently deceased person.

I am aware that none of this constitutes good evidence for rebirth, but anyway it kept me wondering. Since then I have studied accounts of similar experiences, both published in literature and documentaries, as well as personal experiences from practicing Buddhists. The cases published by Ian Stevenson and Peter Ramster are some of the best empirical evidence for reincarnation that is currently available. Much more compelling than my own experiences. I have also met a number of people who had similar experiences, although in most cases these were difficult to verify. That is the reason why I consider it useful to turn to those studies where verification has been attempted.

Cheers, Thomas
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Tue May 11, 2010 8:32 am

tiltbillings wrote:I guess we will never know how you made the jump from belief to what you know to be right view, unless right view just happened to pop up inside inside you without cause or condition. Alas.
RIght mindfulness and right attention, as I'm sure you know Tilt. That those causes and conditions arose in the complete absence of any corresponding belief supports the inference that they have a basis in the inclinations expressed as an aspect of DO from one life to the next. Apart from that inference you can view it as inexplicable if you prefer or perhaps as the expression of a naturally occurring conditionality that conforms to the Dhamma. I think there is enough of an indication in it to derive the inference but not sufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions.
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}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 8:36 am

So Pennapetar your acceptance of a literal belief in Rebirth is as a result of being able to learn Spanish quickly.
Having what seemed to be understandable to you as memory of an unfamiliar setting.
A peak experience in meditation.
And a feeling that you might be in touch with the dead ?

You do of course realise that each of those experiences are of a kind shared by many who have no belief in Rebirth or indeed of Buddhism ?

You see for me it comes down to what JC Superstar expressed in the original post on this thread.
It may be that a belief in literal post mortem Rebirth is what will kickstart someones practice.
But we cannot make in a credo. A central tenent of a belief system. The Buddhadhamma is not a phenomenon of that order.
We can say that it is a useful or a not useful concept to us as individuals at this time.
We can say that it ties together certain other aspects of the Buddhadhamma in a cohesive way.
But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Pannapetar » Tue May 11, 2010 8:45 am

Aloka wrote:"And how, monks, does one chase after the past?"


It is always amusing to see to where debaters go to evade difficult questions. Turning into a side-road with scripture, aren't we, Aloka? :lol:

nathan wrote:I think empirical research provides empirical evidence and continue to think that it is misleading to confuse empirical evidence with direct firsthand knowledge.


Nobody is confusing empirical research with first-hand knowledge. It has just been stated that the latter is much harder to come by.

nathan wrote:We can develop the skillful means to get our own evidence and short of direct first hand evidence I always take the view that I have no satisfactory evidence.


I dare say that you would take a different approach if you need, say medical advice, rather than philosophical advice. You would probably put your trust into someone with medical experience. Can you say why you favour a different approach in these two cases? You are an "empiricist" when it comes to medicine, are you not?

nathan wrote:You are again distorting my comments to suit an argument that you would like to have with someone.


You say that I am distorting your comments, yet you fail fail to point out wherein exactly this distortion lies. All I am trying to do is clarifying your arguments. It's nothing more than than good old Socratic debate. It's a pity to see you withdrawing so early.

PeterB wrote:So Pennapetar your acceptance of a literal belief in Rebirth is as a result of being able to learn Spanish quickly.


I'd call this an oversimplification. :tongue:

PeterB wrote:You do of course realise that each of those experiences are of a kind shared by many who have no belief in Rebirth or indeed of Buddhism?


Certainly.

PeterB wrote:We can say that it is a useful or a not useful concept to us as individuals at this time.
We can say that it ties together certain other aspects of the Buddhadhamma in a cohesive way.
But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief (or disbelief) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.


Agreed in all points.

Cheers, Thomas
Last edited by Pannapetar on Tue May 11, 2010 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Pannapetar
 
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:05 am
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue May 11, 2010 8:48 am

Greetings,

PeterB wrote:But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.

:spy:

:rofl:

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14609
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue May 11, 2010 8:56 am

But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.



Well said, Peter. :thumbsup:
User avatar
Aloka
 
Posts: 3439
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Tue May 11, 2010 9:41 am

Quite a lot of diverse and contrary thinking can be found under the umbrella of what people might think or believe and while still wishing to call themselves 'buddhists'. As such I have abandoned any interest in calling myself a buddhist and am comfortable with people thinking that I am not one. What is still important to me is saying that I think it is possible to understand clearly for oneself many of the same things that the Buddha spoke about by applying his teachings for ourselves.

Pannapetar, it's true, I'm willing to give up the discussion quite easily as I have already lost interest in it and I don't have anything to add. It is also true, I am not a socratic or interested in socratic debate and incidentally I do not take an empircist approach to my health care nor do I have much confidence in medical doctors in general. Both the demonstrable skills of doctors in general and my confidence in their abilities have been in a consistent state of decline for a very long time.
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}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 9:45 am

PeterB wrote:But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.
And we should be careful not to dismiss those who, for whatever reason, believe in literal rebirth as being uncritical faith driven ignorant Buddhists, or some such dismissive thing.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19024
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 9:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:
PeterB wrote:But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.
And we should be careful not to dismiss those who, for whatever reason, believe in literal rebirth as being uncritical faith driven ignorant Buddhists, or some such dismissive thing.


Surely. I hope I havent appeared to do that.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 9:56 am

PeterB wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
PeterB wrote:But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.
And we should be careful not to dismiss those who, for whatever reason, believe in literal rebirth as being uncritical faith driven ignorant Buddhists, or some such dismissive thing.


Surely. I hope I havent appeared to do that.
No, but it certainly has been done here.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19024
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Tue May 11, 2010 10:01 am

PeterB wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
PeterB wrote:But I think we need to excercise great caution in making a literal belief ( or disbelief ) in Rebirth a criterion in deciding who is or is not a Buddhist.
And we should be careful not to dismiss those who, for whatever reason, believe in literal rebirth as being uncritical faith driven ignorant Buddhists, or some such dismissive thing.


Surely. I hope I havent appeared to do that.



I hope I haven't either. I consider it important to have an open mind and to avoid any kind of fundamentalist views in general. I don't actually hold on to either position.



.
User avatar
Aloka
 
Posts: 3439
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Tue May 11, 2010 10:03 am

Looks like we will just have to keep on a' wearing out those cushions Aloka.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 10:04 am

Aloka wrote:

I hope I haven't either. I consider it important to have an open mind and to avoid any kind of fundamentalist views in general. I don't actually hold either position.
Not to worry.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19024
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nathan » Tue May 11, 2010 10:07 am

While it was not the intent of any of my statements, I apologize if any of my comments were taken to be dismissive of people's beliefs, whatever those beliefs might be.
:anjali:
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}
nathan
 
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 11, 2010 10:09 am

nathan wrote:While it was not the intent of any of my statements, I apologize if any of my comments were taken to be dismissive of people's beliefs, whatever those beliefs might be.
:anjali:
No need to worry. Its has not been you guys.
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
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19024
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Turtle Island

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Tue May 11, 2010 3:47 pm

Not to derail, but I had to laugh at Peter's remark at the tendency of some people defining a person's qualifications for being a card-carrying Buddhist by a specific criterion. In my years of associating with other Buddhists (mostly on-line) and for my own amusement, I began making a list of all the reasons I wasn't a "real" Buddhist. Over the years, this list became quite long. Like 12 step programs, some people seem to find it more diverting to work other's programs than their own. I'll pop back to the sidelines now. :focus:


J
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?
User avatar
BubbaBuddhist
 
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Coyote, Unrul3r and 8 guests