the great rebirth debate

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jcsuperstar
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the great rebirth debate

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:42 am

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?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:07 am

Greetings JC,

Oh, go on then! :twisted:

I believe the Buddha taught conventional rebirth, but I think it's more important to realise that there's nothing to 're' and nothing to be 'born'. There are the five aggregates, interconnected, and nama-rupa and consciousness have a mutual dependency as explained in suttas such as the wonderful DN 15 - Mahanidana Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html). As I understand it, conventional death is not the end of this process. One moment of consciousness is the condition for the next, and so it is over conventional 'lives'. I also believe that the Buddha was more intent on removing the 'self' or 'atman' from people's perceptions, and thereby removing eternalist and annihilationist views than he was about convincing people about 'rebirth'.

I'll leave it at that for now until we see some other responses to your challenge.

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 Jechbi » Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:19 am

Hi jc,
jcsuperstar wrote: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.

In terms of daily practice, I'm not sure it's important to focus on any particular notion of rebirth at all. It seems to me that rebirth is part of a broader right understanding that forms a foundation for practice, and that likewise grows out of diligent practice, but I'm not sure how far we get by trying to make some concept of "rebirth" fit into a daily practice regimen.

Personally, I find the notion of literal, post-mortem rebirth to be obvious and natural. I have no problem accepting it. But if I'm honest with myself, I have to acknowledge that I'm open to the idea that I might be wrong. I know that I don't fully know. I realize that my notions of rebirth are not fully developed, and that they are subject to change. I realize that in the future, there probably will come a time when I have a greater, deeper understanding of rebirth than I do at this moment. So I try to hang loose about it and not worry too much.

I'm like you in that when it comes to the details, I just don't care that much. I hope that the next lifetime will be an opportunity to provide some benefit to others. But right here and now, the best I can do is make the most of this very life, for the benefit of all.
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:19 pm

retrofuturist wrote:I also believe that the Buddha was more intent on removing the 'self' or 'atman' from people's perceptions, and thereby removing eternalist and annihilationist views than he was about convincing people about 'rebirth'.

I don't think he needed to convince most people about rebirth. Wasn't it the dominant belief at the time? much as annihilation is the dominant belief of our time? Hence back then he was intent on removing eternalist views whereas if he was around today maybe he'd be intent on removing nihilist views. Just my opinion, though.
- Peter

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Will » Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:25 pm

Peter wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I also believe that the Buddha was more intent on removing the 'self' or 'atman' from people's perceptions, and thereby removing eternalist and annihilationist views than he was about convincing people about 'rebirth'.

I don't think he needed to convince most people about rebirth. Wasn't it the dominant belief at the time? much as annihilation is the dominant belief of our time? Hence back then he was intent on removing eternalist views whereas if he was around today maybe he'd be intent on removing nihilist views. Just my opinion, though.


Peter, Your opinion happens to be true & is congenial to my way of thinking.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:17 pm

Greetings Peter,

Peter wrote:I don't think he needed to convince most people about rebirth. Wasn't it the dominant belief at the time?

It's hard to know for sure, but I get the impression more people believed in some kind of rebirth than those who didn't. However, it certainly wasn't an overwhelming majority, or he wouldn't have bothered denoting annihilationist views in the Brahmajala Sutta.

Peter wrote:much as annihilation is the dominant belief of our time?

Yes, but again, not an overwhelming majority. Some people, my wife included, deny any kind of rebirth because they think it doesn't accord with science, when the truth of the matter is that "science" does not know the answer one way or the other and it's very difficult to confirm or deny via scientific method. As I see it, the Buddha effectively sidestepped the whole issue by showing there was no soul to transmigrate, nor was there any soul to be destroyed.

Peter wrote:Hence back then he was intent on removing eternalist views whereas if he was around today maybe he'd be intent on removing nihilist views. Just my opinion, though.

A perfectly good opinion of course, and I think in terms of relativities, you're spot on. That said, if history was anything to go by, his intent would be focused on the teaching of anatta, such that irrespective of the speculative beliefs people held, they'd be on the money in what mattered most.

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 Ben » Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:43 am

My personal opinion is that the Buddha talked about literal rebirth. It accords with my reading of the Suttas and Venerable Bodhi's 'A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma'.
However, I think the real issue is not so much whether rebirth exists or doesn't exist, is what is it that wanders on. And for me, this is the million dollar question. Not only understanding paticcasamuppada, understanding anatta, the process of becoming (and unbecoming) from an intellectual point, but developing naana, (insight/knowledge) with regards to the reality of rebirth and anatta directly through bhavana.
Kind regards

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:05 am

Greetings,

It looks like it's not going to be much of a "debate" until someone arrives discounting any form of post-mortem continuance.

As an aside, sparked by something Ben said, I think it's worthwhile contemplating how one's kamma is carried from our past into the future... putting aside talk of lives for now. How does kamma created ten years ago carry on to today, what mechanism sustains and propels that kamma forward in time so that it can be experienced later as vipaka? When we think in these terms, it's interesting then to ask, would this same mechanism that moves kamma forward in this lifetime be the same mechanism that propels kamma forward to a subsequent bundle of aggregates? This is where I think dependent origination is an excellent expository device... applicable both here-and-now, and post-death.

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)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby stuka » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:15 am

Peter wrote:much as annihilation is the dominant belief of our time? Hence back then he was intent on removing eternalist views whereas if he was around today maybe he'd be intent on removing nihilist views. Just my opinion, though.


(edited to show correct attribution of quote - retro.)

The notion that "annihilationism" or "nihilism" is "the dominant belief at this time" is based upon distorted and self-serving definitions of each of these terms, which are grounded in Mahayana superstition and speculative view. He attacked annihiliationist/nihilist views ("there is no afterlife/moral retrubution, THEREFORE WE CAN DO AS WE PLEASE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE") much more in his time than eternalist speculative views of reincarnation and hindukarma, which he called "right view with effluents (asava: "effluents" = "sewage"). The Buddha kept a healthy agnosticism toward philosophical questions of speculative view, which agnosticism the Mahayana and tibetan religions unfortunately seem to claim to be "nihilism" or "annihiliationism". This is the point at which these religions turn their backs on the Buddha's teachings, and on the Buddha.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby stuka » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:22 am

Ben wrote:My personal opinion is that the Buddha talked about literal rebirth. It accords with my reading of the Suttas and Venerable Bodhi's 'A comprehensive manual of the Abhidhamma'.
However, I think the real issue is not so much whether rebirth exists or doesn't exist, is what is it that wanders on. And for me, this is the million dollar question. Not only understanding paticcasamuppada, understanding anatta, the process of becoming (and unbecoming) from an intellectual point, but developing naana, (insight/knowledge) with regards to the reality of rebirth and anatta directly through bhavana.
Kind regards

Ben



He talked about reincarnation to those who clearly could not accept his own radical teachings. The true issue that he dealt with was human suffering through ignorance. Part of finding that release was ridding oneself off speculative view. The Buddha's teaching of Anatta had nothing to do with pre-Buddha notions of reincarnation. Nor did he teach "rebirth", which was a later post-Buddha attempt to force pre-Buddha reincarnation speculative view into the Buddha's teachings.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:41 am

Greetings,

To see the primary list of 62 wrong views the Buddha did refute see...

DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm

Note that all views concerning post-death were wrong because they posited a soul/atman to pass over (eternalism) or be destroyed (annihilationism).

Where there is no view of self, these wrong speculative views are not held.

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)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby stuka » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:57 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

To see the primary list of 62 wrong views the Buddha did refute see...

DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm

Note that all views concerning post-death were wrong because they posited a soul/atman to pass over (eternalism) or be destroyed (annihilationism).

Where there is no view of self, these wrong speculative views are not held.

Metta,
Retro. :)



Indeed.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jan 03, 2009 8:01 am

Hello Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Where there is no view of self, these wrong speculative views are not held.

By "no view of self," do you mean free from a false view of self in the sense that a Sotapanna is free from this view? Or do you mean something else, such as a philosophical viewpoint that there is no self?

:)
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby stuka » Sat Jan 03, 2009 8:08 am

stuka wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

To see the primary list of 62 wrong views the Buddha did refute see...

DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm

Note that all views concerning post-death were wrong because they posited a soul/atman to pass over (eternalism) or be destroyed (annihilationism).

Where there is no view of self, these wrong speculative views are not held.

Metta,
Retro. :)



Indeed.
It is exactly this point that Mahayanists and adherents of the tibetan religions ignore as they attempt to portray the Buddha's Noble teachings as "Annihilationist". They also attempt to hang the "Nihilist" label on the Buddha's Noble teachings, ignoring that the Buddha taught of consequences to actions, the denial of which was the main thrust and conclusion of the Nihilists' arguments.

Calling the Buddha's Noble teachings "Anihiliationism" and/or "Nihilism" is a straw man argument, for which any rational person could only wonder why one pandering such a fallacy could possibly call oneself "Buddhist".

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 03, 2009 8:11 am

Greetings Jechbi,

I mean that it is not ditthi, view... elimination of wrong views relating to self is imperative in attaining stream-entry.

However, there can still be a habitual tendency to think in terms of "I" etc. in which case that would be conceit (mana), which is only destroyed upon the attainment of arahantship.

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)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby zamis » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:44 pm

Nyanatiloka Mahathera says in "Kamma and Rebirth"
And further I wanted to point out that the kamma-process and rebirth-process may both be made comprehensible only by the assumption of a subconscious stream of life underlying everything in living nature.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanatiloka/wheel394.html#ch2

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Will » Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:20 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

To see the primary list of 62 wrong views the Buddha did refute see...

DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm

Note that all views concerning post-death were wrong because they posited a soul/atman to pass over (eternalism) or be destroyed (annihilationism).

Where there is no view of self, these wrong speculative views are not held.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Yet a right intellectual view of no self does not itself prevent future conventional births again or the operation of kamma/vipaka, correct?
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

Element

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Element » Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:56 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:what's your take?

In terms of practice (rather than sutta interpretation), the view of non-rebirth results in a stronger reliance of refuge in the three characteristics, namely, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & not-self.

For example, the practice of contemplation of death. If one is a non-rebirther, this takes on a different and more powerful significance.

When there is 'no escape', we can fully and powerfully test and apply the higher teachings of the Buddha and gain complete confidence in their efficacy to end dukkha.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:49 pm

Greetings WIll,
Will wrote:Yet a right intellectual view of no self does not itself prevent future conventional births again or the operation of kamma/vipaka, correct?

Even if you "know" that anatta is true (a prerequisite for stream-entry, I believe), it's only the attainment of arahantship which would "prevent future conventional births again or the operation of kamma/vipaka".

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)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Will » Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:29 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings WIll,
Will wrote:Yet a right intellectual view of no self does not itself prevent future conventional births again or the operation of kamma/vipaka, correct?

Even if you "know" that anatta is true (a prerequisite for stream-entry, I believe), it's only the attainment of arahantship which would "prevent future conventional births again or the operation of kamma/vipaka".

Metta,
Retro. :)

I agree.

Therefore this "debate" wastes so much energy by one faction talking about their preferred practice and the other on the fact of Buddha teaching literal rebirth. Not a good basis for debate, if we keep arguing from differing premises. So I am out of it.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta


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