The Danger of Rebirth

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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:12 pm

I will say it again: The three lives teaching teaches its happening right now. It also teaches that it happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future. But there is nothing about this teaching which moves one's practice out of the here and now. That would be impossible. Practice can only happen in the here and now.

Ignorance and formations have arisen in the past... and they also arise in the present and will arise in the future.
Feelings and clinging arise in the present... and they also have arisen in the past and will arise in the future.

In fact, these two lines are really just two different ways of saying the same thing.

Why did I only focus on those bits? Because those bits represent causes. They are the bits where our practice must focus. We can't do anything about results (other than understand how they came to arise) but we can do something about causes. Seeing feelings as just feelings, seeing all phenomena as annica/dukkha/anatta, leads to the eradication of ignorance. With no ignorance there can be no craving. With no craving there can be no karmic formations.


Then is seems we disagree on dependent origination perhaps its just best to leave it, both sides have been put forward any more discussion would be circular



No, I do not think so. When one damages something and others have to step in to make repairs... it is good that the repairs were done but it would have been better still if the damage was not done in the first place. When one slanders the Dhamma in a public forum it does much harm to many people. Saying "Buddhists for centuries have gotten the teachings wrong and only I have got it right" is no where near as healthy as saying "I do not understand this teaching which has endured for centuries. Can someone explain it to me?" That is a healthy way to inquire.


You are right, to state "I understand it and you dont" is arogant and i did come accross that way although that wasnt my intention, i probably should have started questions better

Saying there is no rebirth i feel is not slandering the dhamma, this is the basic point that i was trying to express

the buddha stated his dhamma would only last 500 years did he not?

I feel it was good debate since very relevant points were raised on both sides
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:22 pm

To illustrate my point...

Once I came across a teaching about rain gods. I was totally baffled as to what this teaching had to do with the suffering and the ending of suffering. But instead of saying "This obviously can't be a teaching of the Buddha; it must have been added later" or saying "The Buddha taught this but only to stupid people" I asked a knowledgeable teacher "I do not see how this teaching fits in with the rest of the teachings; can you explain it to me?" And guess what? He explained it to me and now I understand. And I did it without slandering the Buddha (calling him a liar or a trickster), the Dhamma (by saying some bits were worthless) or the Sangha (by saying unscrupulous monks changed the teachings). I did it without causing anyone to doubt or lose faith. I did it without causing arguments or insults or divisions.

I think questions are wonderful, but I think there are better and worse ways to ask questions.



Without challenges to ones view and understanding how does one grow in understanding? To have someone raise a point that is contary to your own and to engage in debate is a good way to test ones understanding of things, how else do you know if they are true or not without testing them? debate is one of these ways

I have no teacher so i can only do it through these means

I never said the buddha was a liar, trickster or anything of the kind, those are your misunderstandings of what i was/am trying to say, maybe from my mistake in how i was putting it forward

Did you just accept what he said because he said it or did you take what he said and challenge it and so investigated it?

Your right, questions are wonderful, which is why i dont blindly accept rebirth i only have confidence with some skepticism. The buddha taught that blind belief wont get you anywhere at all, i feel this also applies to rebirth

I dont see how i have caused anyone to loss faith at all, since both sides have been voiced with evidence on both sides, this allows people to look at different angles and so test their faith/understanding which leads only to a strengthening of that faith and understanding. The main point about this has been interpretations, not the teachings themselves
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:54 pm

clw_uk wrote:
TD = If there is no rebirth, what happens after death for the un-enlightened?


There are two posibilities, either dukkha will be allowed to rise again or its nibbana

This discussion appears to be winding down, but before it closes, I just realized my question wasn't answered.

Where / when / how is dukkha allowed to rise again? (assuming there is no rebirth)
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:14 pm

This discussion appears to be winding down, but before it closes, I just realized my question wasn't answered.

Where / when / how is dukkha allowed to rise again? (assuming there is no rebirth



Well if there is no rebirth at all, no arising of new aggregates then it doesnt rise again and rupa death would be the end of all dukkha forever and so nibbana and the buddha teachings were just concerned with just this life and how to help beings in this existence.

This of course is the main thorn in the side of anyone who argues for complete non-existence of rebirth (something which im not doing) because if this is true then why didnt the buddha

A) Teach suicide since death would be nibbana and so would be freedom from all dukkha forever
B) Just teach basic morality and coping techniques (things that dont require so much time and effort) so something in line with what a Pratyekabuddha might teach others (since if they teach its only morality and not for nibbana)
C) Why did he Teach Rebirth at all

Of course A could be answered by saying that the buddha wasnt concerned with notions of after life and he was just teaching so people end dukkha in this exsistence reguardless of what happens after ***

However as we know the buddha set forth a training based on his insights that was time consuming, most cases needing a dedication of entire life , he didnt teach people that rupa death was nibbana, he said the ending of all craving was the only thing that could stop all dukkha and I-making

As for C one cant say its a cultural addition from the brahmins since there is evidence the brahmin religion wasnt established in kapilvastu during buddhas time and there are enough suttas throughout the cannon to be pretty sure that he did teach it. This then leads one onto the conclusion that the buddha was lying or just pandering to peoples beliefs to get them to believe his own teachings, this i feel falls down since the buddha stressed the need to tell truth at all times and the evil of deceiving people. Also there were already followers of other sects that didnt include rebirth (i.e. the annihilationists etc) so if rebirth wasnt part of his teaching then he wouldnt have needed to teach it since others at the time were already following teachings that didnt have rebirth

(*** i added this just as a note that of course the buddhas teachings are always concerned with the here and now with or withour rebirth because there is dukkha here and now)

Just to state once again since there seems to be a tendency for be to be taken as a rebirth denier, i am not i have confidence but some skepticism which is in line with the buddhas teachings

Does that answer your question?

Metta
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:15 pm

clw_uk wrote: experience? Perception percieves, consciousness cognizes and so is aware, feeling feels, as buddha said, when there is painful feeling, its just painful feeling


Is there an experience of perception perceiving, or consciousness cognizing, or sensation sensing?

clw_uk wrote:This is why there is birth and death constantly and not when refering to the end of the body.....

To dislike red cars is still craving and your right there is succession of events, this is conditionality.....


If birth and death is constant how is there a succession of events?

Coming forth is different from ending because it is the birth of something new, ending is the expiring


It sounds to me like birth and death as you describe them are the same thing. Isnt every instance of coming forth also simultaneous expiring.


If death didnt lead to birth then there would have been nibbana years ago



Nibbana is the end of all I-making and so the end of sense of self. If after the first time my sense of self or view of "I" died and that was the end of conditionality then there would be no more I-making and so it would be nibbana, the first time in this exisistence when my sense of self died for the first time was obviously as a child or younger. However because of dependent origination which is occuring in moments the death of "I" is not the end, since dependent origination has not been stopped a sense of self or "I" will be born again, therefore there can be birth after a death

So if death didnt lead to birth there would be no death?

Metta

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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:21 pm

clw_uk wrote:Does that answer your question?

Yes, thank you. You do not deny rebirth, but apparently just don't focus on it, no problem or disagreement there.

Barring nibbana, dukkha arises again . . . in samsara.
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:24 pm

Yes, thank you. You do not deny rebirth, but apparently just don't focus on it, no problem or disagreement there.

Barring nibbana, dukkha arises again . . . in samsara.


Correct, i only focus on samsara in this moment, dependent origination in this momen and dukkha and craving that is here right now in this moment, past or future lives would be just more of the same so i dont see the importance in them anymore

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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:10 pm

David:
Barring nibbana, dukkha arises again . . . in samsara.


A rose by any other name....

Mostly what we have been dealing with here in this thread is a strongly differing of opinion about the use of language, one which seems to suggest a highly inflexible insistence that language must be used in one way only versus the other which looks to be far consistent with the Buddha's skillful, adaptive use of language, understanding context and recognizing that mundane expressions of the teachings are not less true for being "mundane."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:13 pm

Is there an experience of perception perceiving, or consciousness cognizing, or sensation sensing?


There is no experiencer of perception, only perception. It only becomes "my" perception when its grasped at.



If birth and death is constant how is there a succession of events?


Because of dependent origination there is continuous birth and death in moments, its because of birth via of dependent origination and death because of dependent origination there is succession because if there was no death there would be no new birth of "I" and so no succession and so eternalsim, this is an error since conditionality cant have eternalism


It sounds to me like birth and death as you describe them are the same thing. Isnt every instance of coming forth also simultaneous expiring.


Coming forth of something new, expiring of something gone. In one moment there is clinging to feeling as "I", this is birth. When that feeling ceases so does the "I" so it has died, that sense of "I" that came from clinging to it. In the next moment there is clinging to perception as "I" so this is the new birth.


So if death didnt lead to birth there would be no death?


Death allows for birth because dependent origination is there. If death was the end of conditionality, there would be the end of all I-making since a new "I" wont arise and so there would be freedom of dukkha, the deathless

There is clinging to feelings and the sense of "I" is then born. That sense of "I" then dies when that clinging to feeling ends. If death was the end of conditionality, so the end of all I-making, then this would be the deathless as it would be the end of all I-making. However this is not tenable because of the exsistence of dependent origination. Only ending craving can end birth and death, not death itself and not any kind of birth


Whenever we speak of birth and death, in reality we are just talking about the birth and death of clinging/craving
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:32 pm

Craig:
Whenever we speak of birth and death, in reality we are just talking about the birth and death of clinging/craving


That is not an accurate statement, at all. When you talk about birth and death, you may mean that, but when I speak about birth and death, I very likely, consistent with the Buddha's teachings, may have far broader context in mind. You will get into far less trouble here if you try not to generalize to everyone from your very particular point view, which, with good reason, is clearly not shared by most here. Basically, do NOT tell us what we think or mean when we say something, especially when we have been telling you we do not necessarily accept your very particular meaning of things and that we are not saying what you are saying we are saying. Do you understand this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:45 pm

That is not an accurate statement, at all. When you talk about birth and death, you may mean that, but when I speak about birth and death, I very likely, consistent with the Buddha's teachings, may have far broader context in mind. You will get into far less trouble here if you try not to generalize to everyone from your very particular point view, which, with good reason, is clearly not shared by most here. Basically, do NOT tell us what we think or mean when wee say something, especially when we have been telling you we do not necessarily accept your very particular meaning of things and that we are not saying what you are saying we are saying. Do you understand this?



Very well if you feel that way i will withdraw that statement but shall leave it in for consistency in reading the thread


For future reference when i speak of birth and death im speaking in terms of birth and death of the illusion of self, not physical death



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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:48 pm

Craig:
Very well if you feel that way i will withdraw that statement but shall leave it in for consistency in reading the thread


I feel that way? Having read through this thread, I suspect most who have posted here feel that way, which is why you gotten so much resistance to your postings here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:52 pm

Very well if you feel that way i will withdraw that statement but shall leave it in for consistency in reading the thread

I feel that way? Having read through this thread, I suspect most who have posted here feel that way, which is why you gotten so much resistance to your postings here.



Very well, i will amend it


if you all feel that way i will withdraw that statement but shall leave it in for consistency in reading the thread


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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:56 pm

Craig:
if you all feel that way i will withdraw that statement but shall leave it in for consistency in reading the thread


It is not a matter of withdrawing the statement; it is a matter of understanding the complaint about it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:58 pm

if you all feel that way i will withdraw that statement but shall leave it in for consistency in reading the thread

It is not a matter of withdrawing the statement; it is a matter of understanding the complaint about it.


Well i feel it would need withdrawing since it is an error to say all here have this view and yes i will be more mindful of this in the future


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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:13 pm

clw_uk wrote:If there is rebirth is it the same rupa?

Already now from moment to moment is it the same rupa? No, and yet you think that at some point the not-same-river-twice, which exists, ceases forever being the not-same-river-twice. But you're not an annihilationist.
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:49 pm

Already now from moment to moment is it the same rupa? No, and yet you think that at some point the not-same-river-twice, which exists, ceases forever being the not-same-river-twice. But you're not an annihilationist.


To state again, an annihilationist is someone who holds there is a self to be annihilated. Each of the aggregates rise and cease every moment throughout life without the same one rising again, call it ceasing, annihilation its up to you they are just words

If one doesnt hold a feeling to be self for example, one can say its annihilated once it ends since its just a word, theres no self view involved with it


This is why i hold the words birth and death to just be conventional terms for the arising and ceasing of craving/clinging
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:12 pm

Hello all,

Somewhere - way back in the mists of posts and counter-posts - there was mention of the The Distribution of the Twelve Factors of Dependent Arising into Three Lives. Here is an excerpt written by Bhikkhu Bodhi explaining the use of this expository device:

(from Introduction to The Great Discourse on Causation - The Mahanidana Sutta and Its Commentaries ~ translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi. ISBN 955-24-0117-8 1995 BPS Kandy, Sri Lanka.)

Introduction pp. 1-5 Dependent Arising:

In the Theravada Buddhist tradition the Mahanidana Sutta is regarded as one of the profoundest discourses spoken by the Buddha. Its principal theme is paticcasamuppada, "dependent arising," and that immediately alerts us to its importance. For the Pali Canon makes it quite plain that dependent arising is not merely one strand of the doctrine among others, but the radical insight at the heart of the Buddha's teaching, the insight from which everything else unfolds. For the Buddha himself, during his period of struggle for enlightenment, dependent arising came as the astonishing, eye-opening discovery that ended his groping in the dark: "' Arising, arising' - thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and light" (S.XII,65; ii,105). A series of suttas shows the same discovery to be the essence of each Buddha's attainment of enlightenment (S.XIII,4-10). Once enlightened, the mission of a Tathagata, a Perfect One, is to proclaim dependent arising to the world (S.XII,20; ii, 25-26). So often does the Buddha do this, in discourse after discourse, that dependent arising soon becomes regarded as the quintessence of his teaching. When the arahat Assaji was asked to state the Master's message as concisely as possible, he said it was the doctrine that phenomena arise and cease through causes (Vin. i, 40). With a single sentence the Buddha dispels all doubt about the correctness of this summary: "He who sees dependent arising sees the Dhamma, he who sees the Dhamma sees dependent arising" (M.28; i,191).

The reason dependent arising is assigned so much weight lies in two essential contributions it makes to the teaching. First, it provides the teaching with its primary ontological principle, its key for understanding the nature of being. Second, it provides the framework that guides its programme for deliverance, a causal account of the origination and cessation of suffering. These two contributions, though separable in thought, come together in the thesis that makes the Buddha's teaching a "doctrine of awakening": that suffering ultimately arises due to ignorance about the nature of being and ceases through wisdom, direct understanding of the nature of being.

The ontological principle contributed by dependent arising is, as its name suggests, the arising of phenomena in dependence on conditions. At a stroke this principle disposes of the notion of static self-contained entities and shows that the "texture" of being is through and through relational. Whatever comes into being originates through conditions, stands with the support of conditions, and ceases when its conditions cease. But dependent arising teaches something more rigorous than a simple assertion of general conditionality. What it teaches is specific conditionality (iddapaccayata), the arising of phenomena in dependence on specific conditions. This is an important point often overlooked in standard accounts of the doctrine. Specific conditionality correlates phenomena in so far as they belong to types. It holds that phenomena of a given type originate only through the conditions appropriate to that type, never in the absence of those conditions, never through the conditions appropriate to some other type. Thus dependent arising, as a teaching of specific conditionality, deals primarily with structures. It treats phenomena, not in terms of their isolated connections, but in terms of their patterns - recurrent patterns that exhibit the invariableness of law:

"Bhikkhus, what is dependent arising? "With birth as condition aging and death come to be" - whether Tathagatas arise or not, that element stands, that structuredness of phenomena, that fixed determination of phenomena, specific conditionality. That a Tathagata awakens to and comprehends. Having awakened to it and comprehended it, he explains it, and clarifies it, saying: "See, bhikkhus, with birth as condition aging and death come to be." The reality in that, the undelusiveness, invariability, specific conditionality - this, bhikkhus, is called dependent arising. (S.XII,20; ii,25-6)

The basic formula for dependent arising appears in the suttas countless times: "When there is this, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises. When this is absent, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases." [1] This gives the principle in the abstract, stripped of any reference to a content. But the Buddha is not interest in abstract formulas devoid of content; for him content is all-important. His teaching is concerned with a problem - the problem of suffering (dukkha) - and with the task of bringing suffering to an end. Dependent arising is introducted because it is relevant to those concerns, indeed no merely relevant but indispensable. It defines the framework needed to understand the problem and also indicates the approach that must be taken if that problem is to be resolved.

The suffering with which the Buddha's teaching is concerned has a far deeper meaning than personal unhappiness, discontent, or psychological stress. It includes these, but it goes beyond. The problem in its fullest measure is existential suffering, the suffering of bondage to the round of repeated birth and death. The round, the Buddha teaches, has been turning without beginning, and as long as it turns it inevitably brings "aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair." To gain deliverance from suffering, therefore, requires more than relief from its transient individual manifestations. It requires nothing short of total liberation from the round.

In order to end the round, the conditions that sustain it have to be eliminated; and to eliminate them it is necessary to know what they are, how they hold together, and what must be done to extinguish their causal force. Though the round has no first point,k no cause outside itself, it does have a distinct generative structure, a set of conditions internal to itself which keeps it in motion. The teaching of dependent arising discloses this set of conditions. It lays them out in an interlocking sequence which makes it clear how existence repeatedly renews itself from within and how it will continue into the future through the continued activation of these causes. Most importantly, however, dependent arising shows that the round can be stopped. It traces the sequence of conditions to its most fundamental factors. Then it points out that these can be eliminated and that with their elimination the round of births and its attendant suffering are brought to a halt.

As an account of the causal structure of the round, dependent arising appears in the suttas in diverse formulations. The fullest and most common contains twelve factors. The formula has two sides. One shows the sequence of origination, the other the sequence of cessation.

Bhikkhus, what is dependent arising? With ignorance as condition volitional formations come to be; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, mentality-materiality; with mentality-materiality as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition,feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this entire mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called dependent arising.

But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance volitional formations cease; with the cessation of volitional formations consciousness ceases; with the cessation of consciousness mentality-materiality ceases; with the cessation of mentality-materiality the six sense bases cease; with the cessation of the six sense bases contact ceases; with the cessation of contact feeling ceases; with the cessation of feeling craving ceases; with the cessation of craving clinging ceases; with the cessation of clinging existence ceases; with the cessation of existence birth ceases; with the cessation of birth, aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering. (S.XII; ii,1-2) [2]

The prevailing interpretation regards the series as spanning three successive lives, the twelve factors representing the causal and resultant phases of these lives alternated to show the round's inherent capacity for self-regeneration. Thus ignorance and volitional formations represent the causal phase of the previous life which brought about existence in the present; the five factors from consciousness through feeling are their fruit, the resultant phase of the present life. Craving, clinging, and existence represent renewed causal activity in the present life; birth and aging and death sum up the resultant phase of the future life.

At the risk of oversimplification the sequence can be briefly explained as follows. Due to ignorance - formally defined as non-knowledge of the Four Noble Truths - a person engages in ethically motivated action, which may be wholesome or unwholesome, bodily, verbal, or mental. These actions, referred to here as volitional formations, constitute kamma. At the time of rebirth kamma conditions the re-arising of consciousness, which comes into being bringing along its psychophysical adjuncts, "mentality-materiality" (nama-rupa_. In dependence on the psycho-physical adjuncts, the six sense bases develop - the five outer senses and the mind-base. Through these, contact takes place between consciousness and its objects, and contact in turn conditions feeling. In response to feeling craving springs up, and if it grows firm, leads into clinging. Driven by clinging actions are performed with the potency to generate new existence. These actions, kamma backed by craving, eventually bring a new existence: birth followed by aging and death.

To prevent misunderstanding it has to be stressed that the distribution of the twelve factors into three lives is an expository device employed for the purpose of exhibiting the inner dynamics of the round. It should not be read as implying hard and fast divisions, for in lived experience the factors are always intertwined. The past causes include craving, clinging, and existence, the present ones ignorance and volitional formations; the present resultants begining with birth and end in death, and future birth and death will be incurred by the same resultants. Moreover, the present resultant and causal phases should be be seen as temporally segregated from each other, as if assigned to different periods of life. Rather, through the entire course of life, they succeed one another with incredible rapidity in an alternating sequence of result and response. A past kamma ripens in present results; these trigger off new action; the action is followed by more results; and these are again followed by still more action. So it has gone on through time without beginning, and so it continues.

From this it is clear that dependent arising does not describe a set of causes somehow underlying experience, mysteriously hidden out of view. What it describes is the fundamental pattern of experience as such when enveloped by ignorance as to the basic truths about itself. This pattern is always present, always potentially accessible to our awareness, only without the guidance of the Buddha's teaching it will not be properly attended to, and thus will not be seen for what it is. It takes a Buddha to point out the startling truth that the basic pattern of experience is itself the source of our bondage, "the origin of this entire mass of suffering."

metta
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:20 pm

Just to balance from the above post I have just discovered quite a good article by Ajahn Sumedho, it discusses the treatment of dependent origination in the moments and the practicality of it. Feel it is good since most teachings on dependent origination as moment arising that i have come accross comes from Buddhadasa so thought it would be good to show a teaching on it thats not from him

MOMENTARY ARISING

In Ajahn Buddhadasa's book on Dependent Origination, he emphasises that his approach has been on the paticcasamuppada as working in the moment rather than in terms of past present and future lives. When you contemplate, when you practise, you realise that that is the only way it could ever be. This is because we are working with the mind itself. Even when we are considering the birth of a human body, we are not commenting on the birth of our own bodies, but recognising mentally that these bodies were born. Then, in reflection we are noting that mental consciousness arises and ceases. So that whole sequence of Dependent Origination arises and ceases in a moment. The arising and the cessation from avijja is momentary, it is not a kind of permanent avijja. It would be a mistaken view to assume that everything began with avijja and sometime in the future it would all cease.

Avijja means in this sense 'not understanding the Four Noble Truths'. When there is understanding of Suffering, Origin, Cessation and Path, then things are no longer affected by avijja. When we see with vijja then the perceptions are conventional reality, no longer 'me' and 'mine.' For example, when there is vijja then I can say 'I am Ajahn Sumedho' - that is a conventional reality, still a perception but it is no longer viewed from avijja, it's merely a convention we use. There's nothing more to it than that. It is as it is.

When we get to cessation of ignorance then at that moment all the rest of the sequence ceases. It is not like one ceases then another ceases. When there is vijja then the suffering ceases. In any moment when there is true mindfulness and wisdom there is no suffering. The suffering has ceased. Now when you contemplate the cessation of desire, cessation of grasping (upadana), there is the cessation of becoming, cessation of rebirth and suffering. When things cease, when everything ceases then there's peace isn't there? There is knowing, serenity, emptiness, not-self. These are the words, the concepts describing cessation.

When I practise in this way, I find it is very difficult to find any suffering. I realise there isn't any suffering except in a heedless moment when one gets carried away with something. So because of heedlessness and lack of attention and forgetting then we get caught in habitual (kammic) mind stuff. But when we realise we have been heedless we can let it cease, we can let go. There is the letting go, the abiding in emptiness. No longer are there the strong impulses to grasp; the fascination and the glamour of the sensory world has been penetrated. No longer is there anything to grasp. One can still experience and see the way things are without grasping it. There's nobody grasping anything, but there can still be feeling and seeing and hearing, taste and touch. It is no longer created into a person ... 'me and mine'.

For me the important insight is just how momentary consciousness is. The tendency is to perceive consciousness as a long-term thing, as being awake and being conscious as permanent state of being rather than a moment. And yet viññana is always described as a moment, a flashing moment, an instant. So rather than assume that avijja is a continuous process from the birth out of our bodies, we can see that at any moment there can be vijja and the whole thing just ceases. The cessation of that whole mass of suffering can be realised. It's gone! Where is it?

To practise this way is to keep examining things so that everything is seen exactly for what it is. Everything is only what it is in the moment. When we see that beauty is just beauty in the moment. Ugliness is just that in the moment. There is no attempt to solidify that or prolong that in any way because things are just what they are. One is increasingly aware of the formless or nebulous as just what it is rather than something that is overlooked, dismissed or misinterpreted.

The problem of perception is that it tends to limit us to just being conscious of certain points. We tend to be conscious in certain designated points and the natural change and flux and flow is not really noticed. One is only conscious at the A, B, C, D, E, F, G - the points between A and B are never really noticed because one is only really conscious at the designated points of perception. That is why when the mind is opened with vijja and is receptive, then Dhamma reveals itself, there is a kind of revelation. The empty mind in the state of wonder allows truth to be revealed - not through perception anymore. This is where it is ineffable truth, words fail us and it is impossible to put it into perceptions or concepts.

Maybe now you are beginning to appreciate the emphasis the Buddha made: 'I teach suffering and the end of suffering. I teach only two things ... there is suffering and there is the end of suffering.' If you have just that insight into understanding suffering then realise the end of suffering then you are liberated from ignorance. If you attempt to speculate on what that is like, you could call it 'Nibbana, the highest happiness' - but 'highest happiness' is not quite it either, is it? To expect the highest happiness to be like getting high, floating in the air, reaching Nibbana and floating up to the ceiling.

But the Way is one of realisation; mindfulness and realisation. Then the eightfold path is development, bhavana: to develop that path to right understanding. More and more we realise the emptiness, the not-self, the freedom from not being attached to anything; which affects what we say, what we do and how we live in the society we are in by increasing the sense of serenity and calm.

That word Nibbana is generally defined as 'non-attachment to the five khandhas,' which means no longer experiencing a sense of a self in regard to the body and mind - rupa, vedana, sañña, san^khara, viññana. We contemplate the five khandhas not with avijja anymore but with vijja. We see that they are all impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self. Then Nibbana is the realisation of non-attachment wherein the self-view ceases. The body is still breathing, so it doesn't dissolve into thin air, but the mistaken identity that 'I am the body' dissolves. The mistaken identity with vedana, sañña, san^khara and viññana - all that ceases. The self dissolves, you can't find anybody. You can't find yourself because you are yourself.

In the view of Dependent Origination occurring over the span of three lives, we see the five khandhas are seen as a kind of permanent form from birth. The body: feelings, perceptions, mind formations and consciousness, are considered as being continuous from birth. But that's an assumption we make - and the reflection of momentary arising points to the mind itself. The body isn't a person anyway, it's not 'me' and 'mine' anyway, never was, never will be. There's only the perception of it as 'me' and 'mine'. The belief that I was born.

I've a birth certificate to prove that this body was born. We carry birth certificates in our mind - we carry around the whole history, the memories and so forth of our lives, giving us this sense of a continuity of a person from birth to the present moment. But examination of perception alone shows that perception arises and ceases. This perception of me as a permanent personality is just a moment. It arises and ceases. Consciousness too is just momentary and conveys the attractive, repulsive and neutral qualities of the conditioned realm. When one sees that clearly then there is no interest anymore in that attachment and in seeking for happiness, trying to be reborn into happiness or beauty, pleasure, safety or security. Rebirth is a grasping of the conditioned realm so we let that go. The five khandhas are still the five khandhas, they are seen for what they are as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self.

So this reflection on the truth of the way it is - it's very direct, very clear. From the confused, amorphous, nebulous, insecure, unstable, uncertain to the certain - whatever it is, we are no longer choosing which we prefer, we are just noting that what ever arises ceases. As you realise this through your practice, then a lot of the vagueness, and fuzziness of your mind are seen for exactly what they are. Confusion is confusion, just that, it's a dhamma. Confusion is just confusion in the moment, it's not permanent or the self. So what before was a problem or something deluding us is transformed into a dhamma. The transformation is not through changing the condition but through changing the attitude, from ignorance to clarity.

People say, 'all this is very well but what about love and compassion?' The desire for all that is the block, isn't it? Love is no problem once there is no delusion, once there is no self, there's nothing to hinder or block off or prevent love. But as long as there is self-illusion then love is just an idea that we long for but are always feeling disappointed with because the self is getting in the way. The self-view is always blinding us, making us forget and deluding us that there isn't any love. We feel alienated and lonely and lost because there doesn't seem to be any love, so we blame somebody else. Or we blame ourselves, maybe because we're not loveable. Or we become cynics.

But the Buddha pointed to this and asked what was the real problem? It's the illusion of a self. It's the attachment to that perception. That affects the consciousness and everything else so we are always creating the separations, and the dissatisfaction and identifying with that which is not ourselves. Once we are free from that illusion then love is ever-present. It's just that we can't see it or enjoy it when we are blinded by our desires and fears. As you understand this more and more your faith increases and there is a willingness to give up everything. There is a real zest, a joy in being with the way things are.

http://www.amaravati.org/abm/english/do ... /cont.html
“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” Ovid
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Re: The Danger of Rebirth

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:27 am

Hi Craig,

clw_uk wrote:I dont view death to be death since there is no me to die, only the expiring of aggregates that have run their course empty of self

clw_uk wrote:Whenever we speak of birth and death, in reality we are just talking about the birth and death of clinging/craving

No I'm really confused. Clearly in the first quote you are using "death" the same way the rest of us would?

General question to all: As far as I can tell, this "Dhamma Language" idea originates with Buddhadasa. Am I correct? Or confused?

Metta
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