cause of birth of new humans

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cause of birth of new humans

Postby salty-J » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:51 am

Buddhaghosa explains in his Visuddhimagga (Path of Purification):
Whosoever has no clear idea about death and does not know that death consists in the dissolution
of the five groups of existence (i.e. form, feeling, perception, mental formations, & consciousness),
he thinks that it is a person, or being, that dies and transmigrates to a new body in a new place.
And whosoever has no clear idea about rebirth, and does not know that rebirth consists in the
arising of the five groups of existence, he thinks that it is a person, or being, that is reborn, or
that the person reappears in a new body. And whosoever has no clear idea about Samsara, the
round of rebirths, he thinks that a real person wanders from this world to another world, comes
from that world to this world, etc. And whosoever has no clear idea about the phenomena of
existence, he thinks that the phenomena are his ego or something appertaining to the ego, or
something permanent, joyful, or pleasant. And whosoever has no clear idea about the conditional
arising of the phenomena of existence, and about the arising of kammic volitions conditioned
through ignorance, he thinks that it is the ego that understands or fails to understand, that acts
or causes to act, that enters into a new existence at rebirth. Or he thinks that the atoms or the
Creator, etc., with the help of the embryonic process, shape the body, provide it with various
faculties; that it is the ego that receives the sensuous impression, that feels, that desires, that
becomes attached, that enters into existence again in another world. Or he thinks that all beings
come to life through fate or chance. A mere phenomenon it is, a conditioned thing, that rises in the
following existence. But not from a previous life does it transmigrate there, and yet it cannot arise
without a previous cause. When this conditionally arisen bodily-mental phenomenon (the fetus) arises,
one says that it has entered into a next existence. However, no being (satta), or life-principle (jiva),
has transmigrated from the previous existence into this existence, and yet this embryo could not
have come into existence without a previous cause. Source: Visuddhimagga (Chap. XVII)
Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficent set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?
"It is what it is." -foreman infamous for throwing wrenches in fits of rage
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:31 am

Hi Salty-J,
salty-J wrote: Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficinet set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?

Sure, if reality is just those physical processes, then that would be sufficient.

If there is more to reality than just those physical processes, which, it seems to me, is what the Buddha taught, then it isn't .

Which version is correct can not, in my opinion, be decided by logic. It's something you have to have enough trust to investigate thoroughly.

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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:31 am

Because Buddhism is not a materialist system, it does not posit that physical causes alone are sufficient for a "living being". Rather, although the sperm and ovum provide the physical basis, what is required is the mental stream of another being (whose former physical body has recently "deceased"), in order to form a "living being". The connection between the mental stream and the particular father and mother, rather than being random, is one of karma. The "living being" who has just deceased has particular habits and forces, ie. their karmic force, and this directs them towards particular parents, whose condition and circumstances most closely reflect the objects of desire (karma) of that deceased being.
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:38 am

Hello Salty-J, all,

Not only Buddhaghosa but, indeed, the Buddha said:
"Bhikkhus, the descent of the embryo takes place through the union of three things.
Here, there is the union of the mother and father, but the mother is not in season, and the gandhabba note 411 is not present - in this case no descent of an embryo takes place.
Here, there is the union of the mother and father, and the mother is in season, but the gandhabba is not present - in this case too no descent of the embryo takes place.
But when there is the union of the mother and father, and the mother is in season, and the gandhabba is present, through the union of these three things the descent of the embryo takes place."

Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta Majjhima Nikaya 38

Note 411: MA: The gandhabba is the being arriving there. It is not someone (i.e. a disembodied spirit) standing nearby watching the future parents having intercourse, but a being driven on by the mechanism of kamma, due to be reborn on that occasion.

The exact import of the word gandhabba in relation to the rebirth process is not explained in the Nikayas, and the word in this sense occurs only here and at 93.18.
Digha Nikaya 15/ii.63 speaks of consciousness as "descending into the mother's womb," this being a condition for rebirth to take place.

Thus we might identify the gandhabba here as the stream of consciousness, conceived more animistically as coming over from the previous exdistence and bringing along its total accumulation of kammic tendencies and personality traits. The fullest study of the concept of the gandhabba is Wijesekera, "Vedic Gandharva and Pali Gandhabba," in Buddhist and Vedic Studies, pp. 191-202.

(The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. A translation of the Majjhima Nikaya by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi. Wisdom Publications. 1995. ISBN 0-86171-072-X )

Hope this helps.

with metta
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:42 am

And one may also wish to notice the proximity of the term in relation to the various terms for various stages of development of a newly conceived being, ie. embryo, fetus, etc. and the term for the womb itself, P: gabbha; S: garbha.
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Salty-J,
salty-J wrote: Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficinet set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?

Sure, if reality is just those physical processes, then that would be sufficient.
If there is more to reality than just those physical processes, which, it seems to me, is what the Buddha taught, then it isn't .


It is self-evident that there are mental, sentient processes. Perhaps it is unsafe to assume that physical and mental processes are really separate and that apparently physical processes have no mental aspect.
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:31 am

Shonin wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Salty-J,
salty-J wrote: Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficinet set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?

Sure, if reality is just those physical processes, then that would be sufficient.
If there is more to reality than just those physical processes, which, it seems to me, is what the Buddha taught, then it isn't .


It is self-evident that there are mental, sentient processes. Perhaps it is unsafe to assume that physical and mental processes are really separate and that apparently physical processes have no mental aspect.


I don't know if Mike's statement implies "separate" at all. The standard position is that the mental is not physical, and the physical is not mental, though there is causal influence either way between the two.
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:49 am

Dear Venerable, Shonin,
Paññāsikhara wrote:I don't know if Mike's statement implies "separate" at all. The standard position is that the mental is not physical, and the physical is not mental, though there is causal influence either way between the two.

Well, yes, I wasn't trying to make a careful statement about the Buddhist position. I was just responding to the original question, which seemed to me to be taking a physicalist/materialist position that physical phenomena are all that there is.

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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:03 am

mikenz66 wrote:Dear Venerable, Shonin,
Paññāsikhara wrote:I don't know if Mike's statement implies "separate" at all. The standard position is that the mental is not physical, and the physical is not mental, though there is causal influence either way between the two.

Well, yes, I wasn't trying to make a careful statement about the Buddhist position. I was just responding to the original question, which seemed to me to be taking a physicalist/materialist position that physical phenomena are all that there is.

Mike


Viz the OP, that too, seemed to me, to be the main problem there.

I think that it is quite possible to do a basic physical & mental processes approach, without falling into the type of absolute dualism that plagued later such explanations of this kind.

As an aside, I find it interesting that the general idea of "like can only come from like" to be a deep but hidden default mode of thinking about causality for a lot of us. eg. that physical things can only come from physical things. In Buddhist terms, this is basically rejected, and it is given that a range of various phenomena can give rise to other quite (qualitatively) different phenomena.

Ok, :focus:
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:52 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:I don't know if Mike's statement implies "separate" at all. The standard position is that the mental is not physical, and the physical is not mental, though there is causal influence either way between the two.


Well if there is a 'causal relationship between the two' then why can't physical events be the condition for mental ones?
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:04 am

Greetings,

Shonin wrote:Well if there is a 'causal relationship between the two' then why can't physical events be the condition for mental ones?


They are. What about nama-rupa?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:19 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Shonin wrote:Well if there is a 'causal relationship between the two' then why can't physical events be the condition for mental ones?


They are. What about nama-rupa?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Sure, as Retro says.

Also, maybe check out the Madhupindika sutta:

Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises [similarly with the rest of the six senses]. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. ...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Just an ex. off the top of my head, plenty more, too. :smile:
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:38 am

Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises [similarly with the rest of the six senses]. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. ...





This is an interesting quote which seems to read that you need the material first and then the immaterial rises out of that, so to speak. If so wouldnt this be similar to Emergentism and so more closely related to materialism?
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby m0rl0ck » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:28 pm

salty-J wrote:Buddhaghosa ....


This Buddhaghosa person has imo fallen victim to wrong view. There is no soul to transmigrate in buddhism. Just because he doesnt call it a soul doesnt mean that he isnt talking about one. You should email your friend buddhaghosa and set him straight. One of the pillars of buddhism is anatta.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:35 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Shonin wrote:Well if there is a 'causal relationship between the two' then why can't physical events be the condition for mental ones?


They are. What about nama-rupa?


What about it? Is this an example of a physical cause for a mental event? If so, then surely the sperm fertilizing the egg IS (potentially at least) a sufficient set of causes and conditions for a human being.
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:44 pm

salty-J wrote:Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficent set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?

the mere material causes and conditions are a sufficent set for the arising of a mere material clump of matter, but as for the clump of matter to become in essence somebody kamma (action) is the crucial factor.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:41 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
salty-J wrote:Why is the sperm fertilizing the egg not a sufficent set of causes and conditions? Why would there have to be kamma involved? Isn't the male and female creatures having sex all the cause necessary, due to the details of reality?

the mere material causes and conditions are a sufficent set for the arising of a mere material clump of matter, but as for the clump of matter to become in essence somebody kamma (action) is the crucial factor.


Hope I don't sound pedantic here, but the teaching of anatta contradicts the notion that we are "in essence somebody". If you are talking about the arising of mental processes then as stated above there seems to be no reason that the dominant conditions for this could be (what we experience as) physical processes.
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:27 pm

Hello Shonin,

Shonin said: the teaching of anatta contradicts the notion that we are "in essence somebody".


Yes, I agree.

"A real, and in the ultimate sense true, understanding of Buddhist karma doctrine is possible only through a deep insight into the impersonality (s. anattā) and conditionality (s. paticcasamuppāda, paccaya) of all phenomena of existence. "Everywhere, in all the forms of existence ... such a one is beholding merely mental and physical phenomena kept going by their being bound up through causes and effects.

"No doer does he see behind the deeds, no recipient apart from the karma-fruit. And with full insight he clearly understands that the wise ones are using merely conventional terms when, with regard to the taking place of any action, they speak of a doer, or when they speak of a receiver of the karma-results at their arising. Therefore the ancient masters have said:

'No doer of the deeds is found,
No one who ever reaps their fruits;
Empty phenomena roll on:
This view alone is right and true.

'And whilst the deeds and their results
Roll on, based on conditions all,
There no beginning can be seen,
Just as it is with seed and tree.' " (Vis.M. XIX)
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/g_m/karma.htm

with metta
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:38 pm

Here's a little thought-experiment:

If (somehow) we entered a global age of enlightenment and people were ending the cycle of rebirth left, right and centre, so that the number of streams of kamma got smaller and smaller until there were only a handful left in the universe. What would happen if an egg and sperm met when there was no kamma available to meet it at that time? Would it be infertile? Surely all the physical factors are present? Or would it result in some sort of mindless automaton? Or what?
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Re: cause of birth of new humans

Postby PeterB » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:48 pm

Shonin wrote:Here's a little thought-experiment:

If (somehow) we entered a global age of enlightenment and people were ending the cycle of rebirth left, right and centre, so that the number of streams of kamma got smaller and smaller until there were only a handful left in the universe. What would happen if an egg and sperm met when there was no kamma available to meet it at that time? Would it be infertile? Surely all the physical factors are present? Or would it result in some sort of mindless automaton? Or what?


Your question certainly exposes a problem with a literalist view of kamma as the Ghost In The Machine.
The idea of any Ghost In The Machine runs counter to the teachings of the Buddha.
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