Considering Buddhism

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Ben » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:00 am

retrofuturist wrote:If you think the rest of the Dhamma makes sense without rebirth, why not just put the teachings into practice, cultivate the benefits that are available, and let whatever happens (or doesn't happen) after death take care of itself... which is, in reality, what it will happen anyway - your personal beliefs will not change what happens, so don't get hung up about it.


This is similar to advice that the Buddha gave to a group of people who were skeptical of rebirth in MN60: The incontrovertible teaching.
kind regards

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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Mukunda » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:39 am

retrofuturist wrote:If you think the rest of the Dhamma makes sense without rebirth, why not just put the teachings into practice, cultivate the benefits that are available, and let whatever happens (or doesn't happen) after death take care of itself... which is, in reality, what it will happen anyway - your personal beliefs will not change what happens, so don't get hung up about it.



:thumbsup:
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Dan74 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:47 am

This thread is relevant, have a look:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4490

Also on the extreme of not-believing there are people like Stephen Batchelor, who has spent time as a monk and done some serious practice and obviously finds that there is plenty in Buddhism even when beliefs in such thing as rebirth are put aside:

http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol2/buddhism_without_beliefs.html

http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/

This is not to say that I agree or promote Batchelor's kind of Buddhism, but just to show that this path can be practiced in many different ways.

Good luck!!!
_/|\_
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Nibbida » Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:20 pm

Most of what I would have said has been said here. I'll only add this: the beauty of Buddhism is that the core of it does not require any faith or devotion. This is in contrast to the common forms most other religions. The Kalama sutta says to investigate these things for ourselves and only accept them if they bear out. Do we suffer more when we are mindful or mindless? Is our well being greater when we are being kind and compassionate or cruel and greedy? Our intentional choices inevitably produce consequences (i.e. karma). Does clinging to a certain state of affairs make us feel better or worse when things don't work out as we had hoped? (i.e. the Four Noble Truths). Off course there are cultural add-ons (from Tibet, Japan, Thailand, etc.), but those vary. The essentials, Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, are invariable.

Rebirth after death is not something that seems like it can be factually proven or disproven. However, even if you put the issue aside, neither rejecting nor accepting it, the rest still works just as well. That's not the case with "Believe in prophet X and then heaven/happiness/paradise will be yours." There's nothing to take on faith. I'm not encouraging any viewpoint on rebirth here, only saying that there's more here than just promises and consolations. Scientists have just begun to catch on to this fact and there has become this vigorous collaboration between Buddhist meditation teachers and researchers. Not surprisingly, the brain imaging and clinical studies have been churning out a steady stream of impressive results.

All of that sounds good, but the bottom line is the altered sense of well-being that comes from this practice. It becomes like a snowball effect. The more I experience it, the more motivated I am to develop my practice. And the more I develop my practice, the more I experience it.
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby smokey » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:05 pm

chatra wrote:I'm a new member here, and I'm considering converting to Buddhism. In fact, I might just convert right here and now - if it weren't for one issue.
I'm going to try my best not to rehash a topic I know has been gone over hundreds of times, but I'm having trouble accepting the concept of "rebirth". I cannot seem to find any logical justification for it. Is there any logical and scientific* explanation of exactly how this works?
Is it possible to be a Buddhist, accepting the ethical tenants, view of human nature, etc. etc., while rejecting the cosmology (rebith, the 36 planes, etc. etc.)? Or would this be as dishonest as claiming to be Christian, while rejecting the concepts of Heaven and Hell?
Thanks for any help you might have to offer. I'll keep an open mind, I promise.



*While an enormous compendium of people who explain and seem to have experienced rebirth might be classified as scientific, it still does not give logical justification.


You might want to see this: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/rebirthscience.pdf
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:27 pm

chatra wrote:I'm a new member here, and I'm considering converting to Buddhism. In fact, I might just convert right here and now - if it weren't for one issue.
I'm going to try my best not to rehash a topic I know has been gone over hundreds of times, but I'm having trouble accepting the concept of "rebirth". I cannot seem to find any logical justification for it. Is there any logical and scientific* explanation of exactly how this works?
Is it possible to be a Buddhist, accepting the ethical tenants, view of human nature, etc. etc., while rejecting the cosmology (rebith, the 36 planes, etc. etc.)? Or would this be as dishonest as claiming to be Christian, while rejecting the concepts of Heaven and Hell?
Thanks for any help you might have to offer. I'll keep an open mind, I promise.



*While an enormous compendium of people who explain and seem to have experienced rebirth might be classified as scientific, it still does not give logical justification.



This really depends a lot on how the concept of "rebirth" is to be understood within the Buddhas framework. There are essentially to "camps" the going with the interpretation of rebirth meaning birth beyond the grave in some other realm or back to earth and the other going with rebirth meaning birth of the sense of "I am" throughout life on earth


For the second view you might find these helpful to understand it

(Selected extract)

... The Buddha said that, "I teach only one thing: dukkha and the quenching of dukkha." That is what all the teachings are about, dukkha and the quenching of dukkha. He didn't talk about other things. Whether or not there is rebirth is not the fundamental question, because once one is born here and now, there is dukkha like this and it must be quenched like this. Even if you are born again, dukkha is like this and must be quenched in the same way. Why bother talking about birth or no birth? Talk only about how dukkha arises and how dukkha is quenched. Just this is already enough. For this reason the Buddha taught anattā. Once anattā is fully realized, there is no dukkha. When there is no attā, dukkha isn't born, anymore. Therefore, he taught the quenching of dukkha, that is, he taught this matter of not-self. The teaching of anattā is essential for the ending of dukkha. Arguments and discussions about whether there is rebirth or not area waste of time. Whether "it" will be born or not, there is still this business of quenching dukkha like this. It's better to speak about this quenching of dukkha instead. This quenching of dukkha is the fact that there is no attā, is understanding that everything is anattā. (33)


We can conclude by saying that if you understand anattā correctly and truly, then you will discover for yourself that there is no rebirth and no reincarnation. The matter is finished.


http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ebirth.pdf



(Selected Extract)

BIRTH

Now, going a little higher, we come to the word "birth" (jati). In everyday language, the word "birth" refers to physically coming into the world from the mother's womb. A person is born physically only once. Having been born, one lives in the world until one dies and enters the coffin. Physical birth happens to each of us only once. This birth from the mother's womb is what is meant by "birth" in everyday language.

In Dhamma language, the word "birth" refers to the birth of the idea "I" or "ego" that arises in the mind throughout each day. In this sense, the ordinary person is born very often, time and time again; a more developed person is born less frequently; a person well advanced in practice (ariyan, noble one) is born less frequently still, and ultimately ceases being born altogether. Each arising in the mind of the idea of "I" in one form or another is called a "birth." Thus, birth can take place many times over in a single day. As soon as one starts thinking like an animal, one is born as an animal in that same moment. To think like a human being is to be born a human being. To think like a celestial being is to be born a celestial being. Life, the individual, pleasure and pain, and the rest-all these were identified by the Buddha as simply momentary states of consciousness. So the word "birth" means in Dhamma language the arising of the idea of "I" or "me", and not, as in everyday language, physical birth from the mother's womb.

The word "birth" is very common in the Buddha's discourses. When he was speaking of everyday things, he used the word "birth" with its everyday meaning. But when he was expounding Higher Dhamma - for instance, when discussing conditioned arising (paticca-samuppada) - he used the word "birth" (jati) with the meaning it has in Dhamma language. In his description of conditioned arising, he wasn't talking about physical birth. He was talking about the birth of attachment to the ideas of "me" and "mine", "myself" and "my own.



http://www.buddhadasa.com/naturaltruth/ ... uage1.html





I believe you have already been given links that adhere to the rebirth after the grave understanding



hope this helps


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Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby adosa » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:31 am

Why label yourself?


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"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby OcTavO » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:28 pm

Hello Chatra,

I entered Buddhism from exactly the same place you sound like you're at - drawn to the aspects that fit well with my scientific/atheistic worldview and repelled by those that didn't.

Two books and a single realization helped...

The books were The Universe In A Single Atom by the Dalai Lama, and Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Bachelor.

Both of these books helped me to understand that there were people deeply involved in Buddhism who weren't religious nutjobs but whom in fact had a far deeper understanding of science than I did.

The thought that occured to me one day was this:

It doesn't matter what I know or believe in terms of science, it has no effect on my suffering.

In other words, I realized that in 35 years of being a secular humanist, an outspoken atheist, and a hard skeptic, none of those modes of thinking had helped me understand or tame my own suffering one bit. That's when I decided to start just sitting down and meditating, without being overly concerned about the parts of Buddhism that my gut wanted to automatically reject. I figured why not just give the practical aspects a try and see what happens...
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby coyote123 » Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:18 am

You cannot be a Buddhist and not believe in rebirth, the Buddha called this wrong view. The Buddha taught that there are two wrong extremes, the view of annihilation and the view of eternal ism. So the choices are, 1. shelve the problem until you have understanding 2. take rebirth as the arises and falling of the mind. No one here knows if rebirth is true or not, Buddhists have conviction it is true because the teaching is testable and experienced as real here and now. Conviction can only grow with practice, like a map that proves accurate but we have not yet arrived at the goal.
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:35 am

Isn't 're-becoming' a better term than rebirth? I don't think it's a minor semantic issue.
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Shonin » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:11 am

coyote123 wrote:You cannot be a Buddhist and not believe in rebirth, the Buddha called this wrong view.


I think that's highly debatable. Anyway, is it better to sincerely follow truth with a genuinely open mind or to be "a Buddhist"?
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:37 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:Isn't 're-becoming' a better term than rebirth? I don't think it's a minor semantic issue.

In MN43 the Mahavedalla Sutta it is said:
"And how is further becoming in the future brought about?"
"The delight, now here, now there, of beings hindered by ignorance & fettered by craving: That's how further becoming in the future is brought about."

The Pali passage is
kathaṃ panāvuso, āyatiṃ punabbhavābhinibbatti hotī"ti?
avijjānīvaraṇānaṃ V kho, āvuso, sattānaṃ taṇhāsaṃyojanānaṃ tatratatrābhinandanā evaṃ āyatiṃ punabbhavābhinibbatti hotī"ti.

The term used here is "punabbhavābhinibbatti" which is
"puna" again,
"bhava" becoming, existence,
"abhinibbati" birth, becoming.
So you could say for example "birth or becoming again in existence" or (which I prefer) "birth/becoming again of existence". However one may arrange the terms, the difficulty I see is, that the first example (using in) implies something to be born again supporting the belief in a self, whereas the second example (using of) doesn't support the idea of common rebirth. It reveals that it is becoming or existence (bhava) which arises again keeping the wheel turning, because when there's bhava there's jāti and the whole mass of dhukka. The misunderstanding of that is, in my eyes, the main reason for all the disscussions about "rebirth" or "re-becoming" or "what ever one may call it".
just my two cents...

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:15 pm

I know very little about Pali grammar so subtle but important differences like this always fascinate me. May I ask, acinteyyo, do you favour the translation of or in?
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:49 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:I know very little about Pali grammar so subtle but important differences like this always fascinate me. May I ask, acinteyyo, do you favour the translation of or in?

acinteyyo wrote:or (which I prefer) "birth/becoming again of existence"

because it is bhava which arises again.
MN43 wrote:The delight, now here, now there, of beings hindered by ignorance & fettered by craving: That's how further becoming in the future is brought about.
or in my words: "Thus in the future is becoming(abhinibbatti) of existence again(punabbhava)."
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

:anjali:
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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Jason » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:41 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Isn't 're-becoming' a better term than rebirth? I don't think it's a minor semantic issue.


Most definitely.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Laurens » Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:55 pm

Don't accept it if you don't believe it.

Its not scientific and is unproven, its very rational of you not to believe it, despite whatever other people may have said.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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Re: Considering Buddhism

Postby Nibbida » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:47 pm

retrofuturist wrote:If you think the rest of the Dhamma makes sense without rebirth, why not just put the teachings into practice, cultivate the benefits that are available, and let whatever happens (or doesn't happen) after death take care of itself... which is, in reality, what it will happen anyway - your personal beliefs will not change what happens, so don't get hung up about it.


This is so true, even apart form the rebirth issue. We sometimes treat our beliefs as if they direct reality instead of vice-versa. Whatever exists/happens will do so regardless of whether or not we give it our stamp of approval. Maybe the ancient Greeks were right and we all end up in Hades.

Even if someone were to conclusive prove (even though I can't imagine how) that rebirth across lifetimes is not true, that the Buddha never existed, and this whole thing was cooked up by some guy named Leroy Jablonksi in his basement apartment in Brooklyn, it wouldn't change a thing for me. I'd go right on living the Eightfold Path as best as possible. This is not a practice based on blind faith, so removing some article of faith has little or no effect. I've already been living the results of practice. What more could one ask for?*


*Disclaimer: This is neither affirming nor negating the value of belief in rebirth, nor that it is an integral part of the Buddha's views as stated in the Pali canon, yadda yadda yadda.
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