Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

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Spiny Norman
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Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:37 am

Is a belief in rebirth necessary for effective practice of the 8-fold path? I don't see that it is but would be interested in your views.

P
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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:49 am

Greetings Porpoise,

So long as practice of the Noble Eightfold Path is done with a view to improving the present and the future, I don't see how it matters quite how that future is categorized or compartmentalized in our minds.

We cannot see through time and see the causes of suffering in the future. We can only see them once they are present.

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: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:00 am

I think that there is more than one way to be dishonest porpoise, and one way is to have an emotional response to a particular teaching because it satisfies some emotional need , to see the world as " fair " for example..and then to make that emotional need the driving force in our practice of the Buddhadhamma...and to suggest that those who do not have that particular need or who have resolved it to some degree must be deficient.
The only thing that we need for practice imo is a recognition that we are suffering here and now, and to see that the Buddha offered a way out of that suffering. Anything else is icing on the cake.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:We cannot see through time and see the causes of suffering in the future. We can only see them once they are present.


Very true. I don't know what will happen next week, let alone in a possible future lifetime. :smile:

P
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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:06 am

PeterB wrote:I think that there is more than one way to be dishonest porpoise, and one way is to have an emotional response to a particular teaching because it satisfies some emotional need....


I'm sorry but you've lost me here. Does this belong in another thread?

P
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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:14 am

No. Just because my reply is not obvious to you doesn't mean that it is not addressing the issue that you raised.
I am saying that frequently a belief or disbelief in rebirth is nothing to do with whether it is necessary to hold a particular position in order to practice successfully.
Its about an emotional need to believe or disbelieve..in whatever.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:11 pm

PeterB wrote:Its about an emotional need to believe or disbelieve..in whatever.


Yes, I'd agree with that. It's the reason we get attached to our views, and the reason these debates can get so heated. It's another reason for practising mindfulness I guess. :smile:

P
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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:15 pm

In my own case I frequently find so porpoise... :smile:

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby fabianfred » Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:10 pm

I would say that karma and rebirth are inextricaly intertwined and hence it is hardly possible to elieve in one without the other.
Understanding that the law of karma is real is surely one of the requirements before attaining to Sotapanna..??
Certainly for myself an understanding that the Buddha practiced the perfections for countless billions of aeons as a Boddhisatva in order to reach buddhahood and bring the truth to many beings, gives me great respect for him, and every Buddha.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:15 pm

I respect that this is your view fabianfred. It is a topic that is aired frequently on this forum as you will discover...and you will find that there are a number of views on the subject.
It might save you time if I suggest that you google the thoughts of Ajahn Buddhadasa on this subject, and also the ideas of Stephen Batchelor.
You may of course disagree with both of them, but they have influenced directly or indirectly many of the members of this forum.
Being acquainted with their thought, if you are not already, will give you a clearer idea where a proportion of members are coming from.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby dhamma_spoon » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:51 pm

fabianfred wrote:I would say that karma and rebirth are inextricaly intertwined and hence it is hardly possible to elieve in one without the other.
Understanding that the law of karma is real is surely one of the requirements before attaining to Sotapanna..??
Certainly for myself an understanding that the Buddha practiced the perfections for countless billions of aeons as a Boddhisatva in order to reach buddhahood and bring the truth to many beings, gives me great respect for him, and every Buddha.


Hello, Fabianfred -

I read your post with friendly appreciation, and reflected upon your very positive attitude.
I think I see a strong saddha (conviction) in the Buddha and his Teachings radiating from it!
In my humble & sincere opinion there is no way a well-instructed Buddhist can develop full understanding of kamma and patisandhi(rebirth-linking) if he or she is not endowed with the Dependent-Origination perspective that spans over the three time periods : past, future, and present.

Tep :stirthepot:
----
A soup spoon does not know the taste of the soup.
A dhamma spoon does not know the taste of the Dhamma!

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby adeh » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:52 pm

It seems that the Buddha himself had no problem with the idea of rebirth. From the Samannaphala Sutta (DN 2):

Recollection of Past Lives

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives (lit: previous homes). He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction and expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he recollects his manifold past lives in their modes and details. Just as if a man were to go from his home village to another village, and then from that village to yet another village, and then from that village back to his home village. The thought would occur to him, 'I went from my home village to that village over there. There I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I went to that village over there, and there I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I came back home.' In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. He recollects his manifold past lives... in their modes and details.

"This, too, great king, is a fruit of the contemplative life, visible here and now, more excellent than the previous ones and more sublime.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:16 pm

Adeh:
Is "previous homes" the same as "past lives?" Do they have the same definition? (Edited)

Edit (to keep with the main topic): In my experience, belief or non-belief in rebirth is not absolutely necessary for practice, since all phenomena can only be experienced in the present moment, and can only be remembered in the present moment. If a future life occurs, it's experienced in the present moment. If a past life occured, it was experienced in the present moment of that time. A previous life is recollected in the present moment.

I myself believe in literal rebirth, but I have never had a personal experience of such. I take it on faith and suttas.

:anjali:
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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby adeh » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:30 pm

That would seem to be a logical conclusion......I doubt that remembering every house you've lived in in this lifetime could be considered a fruit of the ascetic life.....

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Dhammakid » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:40 pm

adeh wrote:That would seem to be a logical conclusion......I doubt that remembering every house you've lived in in this lifetime could be considered a fruit of the ascetic life.....


Hahaha, right right...

Let me clarify. Judging from the many discussions on rebirth on this board, I've learned that people have many different interpretations of particular phrases and terms in suttas. So I was just wondering if "previous homes" had a different meaning than "past lives." That's all.

:anjali:
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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby dude » Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:09 pm

porpoise wrote:Is a belief in rebirth necessary for effective practice of the 8-fold path? I don't see that it is but would be interested in your views.

P



No, but it helps.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby fabianfred » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:30 am

PeterB wrote:I respect that this is your view fabianfred. It is a topic that is aired frequently on this forum as you will discover...and you will find that there are a number of views on the subject.
It might save you time if I suggest that you google the thoughts of Ajahn Buddhadasa on this subject, and also the ideas of Stephen Batchelor.
You may of course disagree with both of them, but they have influenced directly or indirectly many of the members of this forum.
Being acquainted with their thought, if you are not already, will give you a clearer idea where a proportion of members are coming from.

so does that mean I have to stick to the views of the majority of memers and not rock the boat? ...follow the party line...?

My views are obviously a product of my main teachers...equally respected...but maybe not as famous.

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Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:32 am

Greetings Fabian Fred,

fabianfred wrote:so does that mean I have to stick to the views of the majority of memers and not rock the boat? ...follow the party line...?


Not at all. But as Peter says, "Being acquainted with their thought, if you are not already, will give you a clearer idea where a proportion of members are coming from". No more, no less.

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: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:48 am

what do you mean by practice? meditation? chanting? giving food to monks? cause then no you don't need to believe in anything to do those things.
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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: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:49 am

porpoise wrote:Is a belief in rebirth necessary for effective practice of the 8-fold path? I don't see that it is but would be interested in your views.

P


In my opinion It really depends on what you mean by "effective".

For the practice to have a positive effect in your life, here and now, I would say no. By developing the eight aspects of the path you will experience many beneficial effects. For the practice to be fully effective, i.e. allow you to experience Nibbana at a certain level, I believe it is necessary as it fits into the development of Right View, understanding kamma and how beings arise and cease to exist.
With Metta


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