Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:54 am

Rui Sousa wrote:
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.

I see no reason Rui Sousa why in theory all that should not be possible in this lifetime.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:03 am

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.....


You don't know how bad my memory is. :D

P
Well, oi dunno...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:29 am

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...?



All forums need boat-rockers. :smile:

P
Well, oi dunno...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:30 am

Rui Sousa wrote:....I believe it is necessary as it fits into the development of Right View, understanding kamma and how beings arise and cease to exist.


Good point about Right View. I usually think about it in terms of gaining insight into the Four Noble Truths.

P
Well, oi dunno...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2175
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:28 pm

PeterB wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:
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.


I see no reason Rui Sousa why in theory all that should not be possible in this lifetime.


I think it is possible in this lifetime to be released from suffering. And that you can look at dependent origination in one, or three, lifetime frame.

But, in my understanding, to grasp Nibbana all eight aspects of the path have to be developed to a point, I believe understanding how beings arise and fall fits into Right View and its knowledge is necessary for liberation. Also I make a very literal reading of Suttas such as the SN 15.3 Timsa Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn15/sn15.013.than.html:

"The blood you have shed when, being water buffaloes, you had your water buffalo-heads cut off... when, being rams, you had your ram-heads cut off... when, being goats, you had your goat-heads cut off... when, being deer, you had your deer-heads cut off... when, being chickens, you had your chicken-heads cut off... when, being pigs, you had your pig-heads cut off: Long has this been greater than the water in the four great oceans.

"The blood you have shed when, arrested as thieves plundering villages, you had your heads cut off... when, arrested as highway thieves, you had your heads cut off... when, arrested as adulterers, you had your heads cut off: Long has this been greater than the water in the four great oceans.

"Why is that? From an inconceivable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabrications, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words. And while this explanation was being given, the minds of the thirty monks from Pava — through lack of clinging — were released from fermentations.
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:07 pm

I respect your view Rui Sousa, but personally I see no reason to think that believing literally that I have been a water buffalo or deer or whatever would make any difference at all to my actual practice of meditation and so on.
It a striking poetic metaphor however.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3904
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby KonstantKarma » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:12 pm

I personally like to believe in rebirth; probably because I have the desire to have been, and the desire to be again in the future-- even if I say I don't, it's subconsciously there.

The concept of rebirth explains to me the things that "need" answering in the world, such as why some people are born rich, some poor, some healthy, some diseased, etc.; it gives "fairness" and "balance" when we look at a world that seems "not fair" and "not balanced". It answers all the why's.

I like the idea, but as I have no proof of it, it could be a whopping load of horse-shit and when I die, my consciousness may just end there and I may become a big wad of dust. That's okay too, because I won't know a thing.

And then my mother may be right, I may end up burning in hell forever for not worshipping Jesus. :juggling:

I devoted a lot of my thought to Christianity, in my past. For the un-versed in Christianity: We have what's called Pascal's Wager here in the West: Pascal theorized that there are two options; worship Jesus or not. If you do, and it turns out that's the correct answer, you win and gain heaven. If you don't, you burn in hell for eternity. If you do and there's no truth to Christiany, so what, you haven't lost; if you don't, then you still haven't lost. So the best option is to go with Jesus to be on the safe side.

I would wager Pascal's Wager in Buddhism would be better safe than sorry, trust the Dhamma and assume/prepare for the next life, just in case. But I'm not much for Mr. Pascal.

The neat thing about the Dhamma (to me) is that it brings about observable results. If I'm going to practice a religion or philosophy I want to see it giving material/tangible/mental results I can observe. The Dhamma does that. In this lifetime, we see direct results and we see kamma in action. Now whether or not it affects the next life, who knows? I like to think so, but maybe not. If not, who cares? We get results here and now.

I don't think the nonbelief of rebirth is a hindrance to a good buddhist practice. If anything I would consider severe attachment to the belief of rebirth (or the opposite, and severe aversion to the idea) to be a hindrance.
User avatar
KonstantKarma
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Asheville, NC

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:46 pm

The concept of rebirth explains to me the things that "need" answering in the world, such as why some people are born rich, some poor, some healthy, some diseased, etc.; it gives "fairness" and "balance" when we look at a world that seems "not fair" and "not balanced". It answers all the why's.

I like the idea, but as I have no proof of it, it could be a whopping load of horse-shit and when I die, my consciousness may just end there and I may become a big wad of dust. That's okay too, because I won't know a thing.


This type of view is very subtle, and I hate it when I feel like I have to point it out... because I really don't want to sound like a jerk, or a nitpicker. :tongue:

I think it's actually closet nihilism. It's similar to saying that if having only one life is true, then it would make everything pointless... so that is why you believe otherwise. You believe that there are rebirths, because you basically admit that you would be a nihilist otherwise.

So... I think it's always good idea to be careful about kind of what views you have, by analyzing them, such as why you have them, where they come from, etc. This is what makes the Dhamma difficult.

We have what's called Pascal's Wager here in the West: Pascal theorized that there are two options; worship Jesus or not. If you do, and it turns out that's the correct answer, you win and gain heaven. If you don't, you burn in hell for eternity. If you do and there's no truth to Christiany, so what, you haven't lost; if you don't, then you still haven't lost. So the best option is to go with Jesus to be on the safe side.

I would wager Pascal's Wager in Buddhism would be better safe than sorry, trust the Dhamma and assume/prepare for the next life, just in case. But I'm not much for Mr. Pascal.


Pascal's Wager have always struck me as insincere. I don't think it's really a good quality to have (or keep) while practicing the Dhamma. Faith is a good thing... but it depends on what kind it is.
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby KonstantKarma » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:06 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
I like the idea, but as I have no proof of it, it could be a whopping load of horse-shit and when I die, my consciousness may just end there and I may become a big wad of dust. That's okay too, because I won't know a thing.


This type of view is very subtle, and I hate it when I feel like I have to point it out... because I really don't want to sound like a jerk, or a nitpicker. :tongue:

I think it's actually closet nihilism. It's similar to saying that if having only one life is true, then it would make everything pointless... so that is why you believe otherwise. You believe that there are rebirths, because you basically admit that you would be a nihilist otherwise.

So... I think it's always good idea to be careful about kind of what views you have, by analyzing them, such as why you have them, where they come from, etc. This is what makes the Dhamma difficult.


Hi Beeblebrox! Huge Adam's fan by the way. Thanks for your response. I must have come across wrong. I didn't mean to imply that I was a nihilist.

I think that my reason for attempting to practice non-attachment to future lives is my past attachment to them. Growing up in the Christian church (Southern Baptist) my early life focus was simply on heaven and (mostly) hell. Everyone's going to hell. You, and you, and you. Oh yeah and you. And so on. And once I left that, I gravitated into spiritualism, where I focused a lot on past lives, reincarnation, and channeling. Suffice it to say I was wrapped up in the 'spirit world' in terms of other lives for a long time. I was conditioned from childhood to always focus on the afterlife, and mostly ignore this one.

Eventually, I'm reaching (it's always a process) to the point of not focusing so much on other lives, but trying to understand and live in and work from this one. I'm consciously working to not dwell on what may or may not be, and be present.

Damn, that's hard!

We have what's called Pascal's Wager here in the West: Pascal theorized that there are two options; worship Jesus or not. If you do, and it turns out that's the correct answer, you win and gain heaven. If you don't, you burn in hell for eternity. If you do and there's no truth to Christiany, so what, you haven't lost; if you don't, then you still haven't lost. So the best option is to go with Jesus to be on the safe side.

I would wager Pascal's Wager in Buddhism would be better safe than sorry, trust the Dhamma and assume/prepare for the next life, just in case. But I'm not much for Mr. Pascal.


Pascal's Wager have always struck me as insincere. /quote]

Me too. And wouldn't Jesus know? ;)

I don't think it's really a good quality to have (or keep) while practicing the Dhamma. Faith is a good thing... but it depends on what kind it is.


I agree. I just posted for illustrative purposes.

:namaste:
User avatar
KonstantKarma
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Asheville, NC

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby sid » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:35 pm

As far as I understand, rebirth can be thought of as
1) ending of one mental state & the subsequent arising of the next one
or
2) being dead & then born again.
Belief in the 1st type of rebirth is essential for practice, but not the 2nd one.

Regards
-Sid
User avatar
sid
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:58 pm

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:51 pm

KonstantKarma wrote:Hi Beeblebrox! Huge Adam's fan by the way. Thanks for your response. I must have come across wrong. I didn't mean to imply that I was a nihilist.


Hey, nice to meet you. :) No worries, it seems like you've been doing well.

I only posted that because I wrote something similar a couple days ago, and this seemed like a good opportunity for me to put in some more details about it. It was something that occurred to me only recently... so it's still something I've been thinking about. Take care, friend.

:namaste:
User avatar
beeblebrox
 
Posts: 939
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:41 pm

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby KonstantKarma » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:50 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
KonstantKarma wrote:Hi Beeblebrox! Huge Adam's fan by the way. Thanks for your response. I must have come across wrong. I didn't mean to imply that I was a nihilist.


Hey, nice to meet you. :) No worries, it seems like you've been doing well.

I only posted that because I wrote something similar a couple days ago, and this seemed like a good opportunity for me to put in some more details about it. It was something that occurred to me only recently... so it's still something I've been thinking about. Take care, friend.

:namaste:


Thank you! I think "aha" moments are wonderful.

:anjali:
User avatar
KonstantKarma
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Asheville, NC

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby lojong1 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:08 pm

Sloppy wiki research, finger wagging and smirking ahead--do not slow!

One of the three fetters erdicated in a sotapanna is "Skeptical Doubt - Doubt about the Buddha and his teaching is eradicated because the Sotāpanna personally experiences the true nature of reality through insight, and this insight confirms the accuracy of the Buddha’s teaching."

Hopefully the sotapanna can not have unshakable faith in false information. If at this point he KNOWS rebirth is a reality, good for him. It might help with understanding dependent origination a little deeplier.

Anyone below sotapanna should only use weak beliefs as stepping stones to knowledge, then on to the next beliefs and greater faith.
lojong1
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Is a belief in rebirth necessary for practice?

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:26 pm

PeterB wrote:I respect your view Rui Sousa, but personally I see no reason to think that believing literally that I have been a water buffalo or deer or whatever would make any difference at all to my actual practice of meditation and so on.
It a striking poetic metaphor however.


PeterB, I think that is true for many of us. Literal belief in rebirth does not affect our practice that much.

I believed in rebirth before I got in contact with Buddhism, so it was natural to accept it literally. And in my view of things I can't fit in the not-self teaching without considering literal rebirth to explain certain aspects.
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Previous

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 17 guests