What use is heavenly rebirth?

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What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun May 16, 2010 6:10 pm

Rebirth in the heavenly realm seems to be a fairly common goal for laypeople, and perhaps even some monastics. It's one of the "six remembrances", for instance. But I'm a little unclear on why anyone would want to strive for this. Conditions in the heavenly realms are said to be very pleasant, but they are not optimal for practicing the dhamma. So wouldn't it make a lot more sense to aim for a human rebirth? (Granted, we don't necessarily have control of this...but I mean in terms of intentions).

For an ordinary layperson, why not seek to produce the kammic conditions that would enable further development of the path in a future (human) life? If you get to heaven, sooner or later you'll use up the merit and fall back into the lower realms, which means you'll have to wait eons until that blind turtle finds its head caught in the yoke again.

What exactly can be accomplished in heaven? Is there something I've missed here?

LE
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Aloka » Sun May 16, 2010 7:23 pm

.

Personally, I interpret the realms as different mental states, rather than as actual physical places.Anything else would be just speculation.



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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Kenshou » Sun May 16, 2010 8:17 pm

Dhamma can probably still be practiced under those circumstances, it's just going to take a good bit of mental fortitude to not get caught up in the fun of it, I suspect. The long lives that such beings apparently have would make a good opportunity for practice and progress, assuming they've got the dedication. I figure that if a stream-enterer is reborn as a deva of some sort, their mind will naturally incline towards dhamma regardless of the pleasures around, though who knows, might take a few aeons to get down to it.
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun May 16, 2010 9:51 pm

Presumably there are realms reserved for those of high accomplishments; didn't Ajahn Mun mention he was visited during meditation by Bhikkhus who lived during the time of the Buddha who dwelt in such a realm?

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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 16, 2010 11:18 pm

Greetings,

If we take the Four Noble Truths as knowledges to be penetrated, we have...

1. Know suffering
2. Know the cause of suffering
3. Know the cessation of suffering
4. Know the path leading to the cessation of suffering

Regardless of how you conceive 'heavenly', #1 & #2, #4 are hard to do because pleasures offset the need, desire and ability to see the causality involved in dukkha. Because of that lack of understanding, #3 becomes harder to achieve too. Heaven is a fools paradise.

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Retro. :)
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 11:32 pm

While the blind turtle coming to the surface analogy is for being born human - being born non-human has no such description - so maybe it is more plentiful and easier. Of the non-human choices - the heavens seem the better alternative than the others...

You grabbed the brass ring and had your chance - let others have an opportunity! If you've missed the grand exit door just grab your piece of silk on the way back around and start the annual rub on the cubic mile of granite until its gone! What's a gazillion aeons or two to ya?

Not all of heaven is a fool's paradise. Where do non-returners go? Why would the Buddha bother going "upstairs" and teaching them if they couldn't benefit? As humans we may have the *best* opportunity - but not the only.

Just gotta get my return ticket punched sotapanna before leaving!

:shrug:
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 16, 2010 11:35 pm

Greetings Anicca,

Anicca wrote:Not all of heaven is a fool's paradise. Where do non-returners go?

Non-returners don't want to go to heaven because they realise it's a fools paradise, yet because they're yet to eradicate all the fetters, they experience heavenly existence... because of their knowledge, they would indeed prefer arahantship and nibbana.

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: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 11:50 pm

retrofuturist wrote:they would indeed prefer arahantship and nibbana


Hi Retro!

And who wouldn't - but come on - how many of us can expect that?

just being realistic - at least from my perspective :smile:

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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Guy » Mon May 17, 2010 12:50 am

Anicca wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:they would indeed prefer arahantship and nibbana


Hi Retro!

And who wouldn't - but come on - how many of us can expect that?

just being realistic - at least from my perspective :smile:

Metta


Don't be so pessimistic! Look how fortunate we are to be born as human beings while the teachings of a Buddha are still available! Surely it is the result of past good kamma that we have made it this far already! So strive onward! You can do it! Gogogogogogo!
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Anicca » Mon May 17, 2010 1:12 am

Guy wrote:Gogogogogogo!


:meditate:
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 17, 2010 2:51 am

Anagamis (non-returners) go to the pure abodes (Suddhāvāsa) and attain enlightenment, nibbana from there.

There are other realms in the 31 planes that are for others who are also with some attainments, especially those proficient in the jhanas. But by far the pure abodes are the best place to go of the 31 planes, because enlightenment is guaranteed from there.
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 17, 2010 2:58 am

They don't seem to me to be anything worth aspiring to.

If I think of going somewhere that I might imagine to be the closest thing to heaven on earth going there with an untrained mind prone to craving aversion and delusion is just going to spoil it isn't it.
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon May 17, 2010 3:23 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Rebirth in the heavenly realm seems to be a fairly common goal for laypeople, and perhaps even some monastics. It's one of the "six remembrances", for instance. But I'm a little unclear on why anyone would want to strive for this. Conditions in the heavenly realms are said to be very pleasant, but they are not optimal for practicing the dhamma. So wouldn't it make a lot more sense to aim for a human rebirth? (Granted, we don't necessarily have control of this...but I mean in terms of intentions).

For an ordinary layperson, why not seek to produce the kammic conditions that would enable further development of the path in a future (human) life? If you get to heaven, sooner or later you'll use up the merit and fall back into the lower realms, which means you'll have to wait eons until that blind turtle finds its head caught in the yoke again.

What exactly can be accomplished in heaven? Is there something I've missed here?

LE


I think that it is not so much that divine rebirth is the goal, but that the various mental training that is required for such rebirth is also very much the same basic requirements that are needed for liberation.

eg. going from the unenlightened city of San Diego to the awakened city of San Francisco, one will probably pass through the Los Angeles area. It is not that LA is the goal, but that simply the direction needed to get to SF from SD leads one through LA.

The trick is not to stop once one gets to the divine rebirth. (Los Angeles = The Divine :P sorry, bad joke!)

If we say "Go to San Francisco!", some people may reply, "But I have neither enough money, or gas!", "Well, then first just get to Los Angeles, and then take it from there!" Sounds like a sensible approach. If one were to answer: "But LA is not my goal, therefore I shall not go there!", they'll probably end up in Tijuana, or something.
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon May 17, 2010 3:26 am

i either heard a talk once or read something by ajahn thanissaro that said you can still practice the dhamma in those realms, well at least in some of them, also you may be born in one where you live such a long time you are around to hear the next Buddha, never know... certainly beats hell
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 17, 2010 3:31 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:eg. going from the unenlightened city of San Diego to the awakened city of San Francisco, one will probably pass through the Los Angeles area. It is not that LA is the goal, but that simply the direction needed to get to SF from SD leads one through LA.
The trick is not to stop once one gets to the divine rebirth. (Los Angeles = The Divine :P sorry, bad joke!)


Actually, a good analogy! As you probably know,
Los Angeles is Spanish for "City of Angels"

And another detour that could happen along the way is Las Vegas. :tongue:
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon May 17, 2010 3:35 am

jcsuperstar wrote:i either heard a talk once or read something by ajahn thanissaro that said you can still practice the dhamma in those realms, well at least in some of them, also you may be born in one where you live such a long time you are around to hear the next Buddha, never know... certainly beats hell


Indeed, it is a common belief that many human Buddhist practitioners who subsequently attain divine rebirth continue to learn the Dhamma whilst in the divine realms. Just look at the Sagatha-vagga in the Samyutta, for instance. Anathapindika is one example.

An interesting point is sometimes made: Non-Buddhists who have divine rebirth often follow up that rebirth with one in the lower realms. Now, this is obviously a huge obstruction. However, Buddhists who attain such rebirth, due to understanding of impermanence, etc., follow up their divine rebirth by being reborn again into the human realm. Is it both of, or perhaps just one, of these two case scenarios which is being rejected in Buddhist teachings?

Although in the system of the "eight obstructions" to the path, "rebirth in the long lived heavenly realms" is one of them, but personally I think that we should not reflect on this straight away. Only once we are actually able to drop away craving for this desire realm, eg. the human realm, should we then work on dropping attachment to the divine realms.

Otherwise, ego being what it is, it is easy to convince ourselves that we don't want divine rebirth (not that we could even make it there if we did, our desires being so strong), but our ego still have us embedded deeply in the mud of desire. It is kind of like the the beggar who sneers at the Ferrari driving millionaire, saying "Huh! The gas must cost a lot of money, who wants it?!" Sour grapes, is the term, I believe.

Particularly those of us who may have (unconscious) tendencies towards Buddhism merely on the grounds that "It is not theistic Christianity". We should be on the alert for such attitudes deep set within our mental stream.
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon May 17, 2010 3:37 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:eg. going from the unenlightened city of San Diego to the awakened city of San Francisco, one will probably pass through the Los Angeles area. It is not that LA is the goal, but that simply the direction needed to get to SF from SD leads one through LA.
The trick is not to stop once one gets to the divine rebirth. (Los Angeles = The Divine :P sorry, bad joke!)


Actually, a good analogy! As you probably know,
Los Angeles is Spanish for "City of Angels"

And another detour that could happen along the way is Las Vegas. :tongue:


Hence my joke! :tongue:

Both Angeles and Vegas have their dangers, but one has to follow one road or another, huh?
Or are you following JC's hint, and suggesting that Vegas is .... um, you know where?! :thinking: haha.
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon May 17, 2010 3:41 am

also and maybe someone can help me find the sutta, couples who practice together can expect to be reborn in the heavens together so a loving Buddhist couple could remain so for many lives a pair of Kalyana Mitta, just something our married Buddhists should think about and rejoice in!
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon May 17, 2010 4:04 am

jcsuperstar wrote:also and maybe someone can help me find the sutta, couples who practice together can expect to be reborn in the heavens together so a loving Buddhist couple could remain so for many lives a pair of Kalyana Mitta, just something our married Buddhists should think about and rejoice in!


The sutta on the mother and father of Nakula.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: What use is heavenly rebirth?

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 17, 2010 4:34 am

Lazy_eye wrote:What exactly can be accomplished in heaven? Is there something I've missed here?


By expansion, what can be said about what can be accomplished in heaven? Does anyone have direct experience, memory, or knowledge of it?

Personally, I can only extrapolate and speculate. Assume an earthly life with an unlimited supply of money plus invincibility, invulnerability and a very long lifespan. Yes, there are a few things I'd imagine would be fun. Like flying my own jet plane, jumping off the Niagara falls, hosting big parties on my yacht, building beautiful villas in different parts of the world, or even explore space with a chartered spacecraft, or read all of the world's classical literature. However, all of these activities are just "elevated" forms of suffering, i.e. activities that normal people do anyhow on smaller levels. Those yacht parties would eventually get boring, the initial thrill of jumping off from the Niagara fall would evaporate, and after building your 10th villa, you would probably have had enough of experimenting with architecture. Craving for more and new experiences would automatically set in. Reading all of the world's classical literature might take a little longer, but I am sure that after a hundred years or so, you hardly discover anything new, just repetitive patterns. Again, craving for more sets in. It's the same old thing that happens right here right now, just on a higher level.

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