Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

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Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Terasi » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:30 pm

My sister (who is not affiliated to any faiths) asked me this question. Please do not shoot us for being egocentric, as a new student I hope to learn - and to be able to answer her.

I was telling her that all of us are just like radio wave (something I read on Ven S. Dhammika's Good Question Good Answer), and when we die, our radio wave retains our characteristics such as personality, temper, preference, etc. The radio wave then finds a fertilised egg to rebirth. This new person however, is not necessarily the same as the previous person because he/she is influenced by their upbringing and environment, forming a new set of characteristics. The argument that we need to cultivate ourselves in this live, is so that in the next life we can be born as a better person. For instance, Terasi gets angry easily this life, Terasi needs to train herself so in the next life the new person, say, Teraso, becomes a milder temper person.

She pointed out that: between Terasi and Teraso there is no memory link, nor there is any knowledge of each other, so those two are basically two different people.

And the question is: in the selfish point of view of a mere human full of defilement, why should Terasi struggles to cultivate herself just for the benefit of "someone else" (Teraso)?

I use my own name just for illustration, because despite this kind of questions, I still want to learn and practice.
Oh and, I need to provide an answer to my skeptic sister :jumping:
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:41 pm

You shouldn't.
The only life that you know about is this one.
So ask yourself which behaviours are likely to produce happiness for yourself and others in the long term and develop those.
Any next life will then take care of itself and you will benefit yourself in this life.
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:52 pm

Agree with PeterB, of course and will only add this:

Don't try to convince your sister of anything, it might cause contradiction.

Sorry, Zen, not Theravada, but fits so well:


A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"



You could feel like caring about your next life, if you think about this:

A human rebirth is said to be extremely rare. We have a big chance now to realize the Dhamma and make sure our next rebirths are not in lower realms, such as hell and animal kingdom, etc,.

Being an animal is not such a joyride...

A Buddhist wants to exit Samsara.


She pointed out that: between Terasi and Teraso there is no memory link, nor there is any knowledge of each other, so those two are basically two different people.



You are not 'bereft' of what you learned however. What you learned will bring you into your new life.

If you learned, understood and lived compassion, it will have a beneficial kammic impact on your next rebirth.

Plus, highly develpped people are said to recollect previous lives.

And the question is: in the selfish point of view of a mere human full of defilement, why should Terasi struggles to cultivate herself just for the benefit of "someone else" (Teraso)?


You're not THAT disconnected from what becomes. You can't inherit anybody elses kamma, only your own.

YOU won't be there anymore, but you will have another awareness, and suffer if you messed up.

You could of course diminish this.

Was that helpful?
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:13 pm

You cannot remember what you did as a child and as a child you were essentially a different person. What you went through as a child affects you now. So would you not want to do what is best for your future be it this life or the next?

Show your sister these clips:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OarxB-ds ... =1&index=1

with metta
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Aloka » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:12 pm

PeterB wrote:You shouldn't.
The only life that you know about is this one.
So ask yourself which behaviours are likely to produce happiness for yourself and others in the long term and develop those.
Any next life will then take care of itself and you will benefit yourself in this life.


Absolutely. Why speculate about what will happen after "you" are dead ? Live each moment with wisdom in this life.


.
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Wind » Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:28 pm

Terasi wrote:
She pointed out that: between Terasi and Teraso there is no memory link, nor there is any knowledge of each other, so those two are basically two different people.



Hi Terasi. This part is not necessarily true. Some people do remember past lives but most forget. There have been modern example of people who recall their past lives. And there are example in the Suttas, where people who have died still remember who they were. And the Buddha himself can recall his past lives.
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby phil » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:12 pm

Hi

It's perfectly natural to have an interest in one's future destination, and the Buddha often encouraged such reflection in order to support moral behaviour. Of course the deeper truth is anatta, but if you read many texts aimed at householders, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that the Buddha understood that people of limited penetrative insight would cling to notions about rebirth and that he made good use of this natural clinging. If you study Dhammapada (with the original commentary as well) again and again there are passages poining to one's future destination. My personal favourite is that our good deeds will great us as a long-lost loved ones returning home in the next world. At some point I would like to look more closely at this sort of thing, because it looks like eternalism, which is of course wrong view. But you find it again and again in the texts, and even the commentaries back up what feels like an eternalist interpretation. People I know say "well, people in the Buddha's day all had deep understanding so they could read the deeper truth between the lines" and things like that, but the commentary doesn't discourage an eternalist-feeling reading.

Anyways, despite our theoretical understanding that it is not kosher to be concerned about where "you" will go it is very helpful for conditioning a concern about behaviour, and in my rather obnoxious opinion anyone who claims not to be interested in where he or she is building a probability for destination is not being completely honest with him or herself. Of course we can understand that there is no way to guarantee a destination, no matter how morally and wisely one lives, kamma from any past life can crop up and be the deciding factor!

I'm off to Canada for a few weeks so won't be able to discuss further, but at some point I hope to discuss this seeming contradiction in the Buddha's teaching on future destinations.

Metta,

Phil
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(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:29 pm

Hi Terasi,

Wouldn't your sister go through hard trouble to help you? Or someone else she cares about?

Why not do the same for ones own mind?
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby octathlon » Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:28 am

Rui Sousa, you beat me to it. It could be thought of as your child, since it is born from "you", the offspring of this mind at the breakup of the body. If you would want to provide for your physical child to have the best possible life, wouldn't you even more want that mind offspring to have the best circumstances as well? Extend this idea and feel grateful for the merit of the one who was before you who, which allowed your current circumstances to be as favorable as they are. Then, extend it more by thinking of all beings and the benefits to all that it would bring, not just to that one.

I like rowyourboat's point also, I'll repeat it:
rowyourboat wrote:You cannot remember what you did as a child and as a child you were essentially a different person. What you went through as a child affects you now. So would you not want to do what is best for your future be it this life or the next?


You may never remember any past lives and it's not important to, but it can be helpful if you remember some things and realize that you, another being in a completely different life, are still repeating the same old pattern, yet again...
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby EricJ » Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:47 am

It really depends on your motivations. If "you" wish to realize bodhi and be unbound at some point (and don't achieve the goal in this lifetime), rebirth in the lower realms certainly leads to an unnecessarily long detour in the path. Furthermore, rebirth in the lower realms is connected to unwholesome mental states which are bound up in greed, hatred and delusion; so, although you may not be trying to dismantle these defilements in order to avoid lower rebirth, you are still dismantling these defilements due to their qualities, which define experience in the lower realms.

I suppose that for somebody who does not set their sights on bodhi (either in this life or the next), there is no real reason to care about the lives which follow this one. It's not as if "he" or "she" will be experiencing a new life. Likewise, for those of us who do set our sights on Nibbana, we should not concern ourselves which future lives merely because one may involve excrutiating pain or copious amounts of sensual pleasure. No individual experiences the life of another individual, regardless of whether these two individuals inherit kamma from one another in the process of rebirth.

I don't think there is any point in worrying about "your" future rebirths, and you certainly shouldn't speculate about it. We uproot unwholesome qualities in this life because that is how we are freed from suffering. Uprooting fear/threat of lower rebirth is merely an added bonus.
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:11 am

Greetings Terasi,

Terasi wrote:I was telling her that all of us are just like radio wave (something I read on Ven S. Dhammika's Good Question Good Answer)

Or so says ven Dhammika, but the Buddha never said this. Of course that doesn't mean ven Dhammika is wrong per se... merely that I have no idea about where he got this idea from.

As for the question of future lives and how and if it ought to impact us in this life, I recommend...

MN 60: Apannaka Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:49 am

Rui Sousa wrote:Hi Terasi,

Wouldn't your sister go through hard trouble to help you? Or someone else she cares about?

Why not do the same for ones own mind?


:goodpost:
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby adosa » Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:37 pm

Hi Terasi,

Ask your sister, "what's the benefit of having led a good life?"



adosa
"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: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Terasi » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:11 am

Hi everyone, I've been away due to a medical condition for a while. Thank you very much for the replies, they do let me see what should be my focus. It struck a chord that trying to train ourselves to good thought, good speech, good action can only result in good habits for this life (personally, this is what I wish to achieve by learning Buddhism), and while the question of next life is something else, it's still be better to be on caution side and hold onto the Safe Bet side.

There are a lot of things to understand, hopefully one day I'll be able to understand more about the next life and such, and the puzzle pieces will all fall into their places. So in short, I shouldn't care much -- or should I? Maybe simply that it's too advanced, should learn to walk first before running.

Rui Sousa wrote:Hi Terasi,
Wouldn't your sister go through hard trouble to help you? Or someone else she cares about?
Why not do the same for ones own mind?


Sorry I don't really get the question. My sister didn't try to help me, she didn't think for me, she wouldn't have this question in mind simply because she doesn't think about spirituality much at this stage. She was just commenting with critical mind when I shared what I just read with her. I wasn't trying to convince her either, I've found a lot of peace even with the little I've learned about Buddhism, and it's like I buy a cake and wanted to share the delicious thing with her, but yeah, it would be good if I was able to answer.
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Shonin » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:33 am

Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?


I think this is an excellent question.

Why do you care about what happens to you next week?

Presumably because you identify with the idea of 'yourself' in the future and with the anticipations of what what will happen to 'you' next week.

But if the idea of a future rebirth seems like metaphysical speculation or you simply find it too abstract to identify with, then you won't respond *now* to thoughts about what will happen in that future life, right?

Perhaps you could find a way to relate to it with compassion instead? Just as we have compassion for other beings and take care to avoid causing suffering to others, surely we can relate to this future life with the same compassion.

On the other hand, I'd suggest that Buddhism was not really about 'getting a good rebirth' or even the question of whether there is rebirth or not. I'd suggest that it's about becoming free from this whole sense of selfhood, which is constructed from these processes of identification, and ending the suffering that it creates.
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Viscid » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:50 pm

I've had a lovely life thus far and if previous lifetimes were responsible for allowing me to live this one, then I am eternally grateful, and will strive to condition a subsequent good lifetime.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:51 pm

Terasi wrote:Sorry I don't really get the question. My sister didn't try to help me, she didn't think for me, she wouldn't have this question in mind simply because she doesn't think about spirituality much at this stage. She was just commenting with critical mind when I shared what I just read with her. I wasn't trying to convince her either, I've found a lot of peace even with the little I've learned about Buddhism, and it's like I buy a cake and wanted to share the delicious thing with her, but yeah, it would be good if I was able to answer.


Hi Terasi,

What I meant to say was that it is always a good idea to help someone we are related to, and we have a strong connection with our next existences, much stronger connection than with many of the people we help now (for example a neighbor or a co-worker). So I not do what we can to help our next existence?
With Metta
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby 5heaps » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:10 am

Terasi wrote:She pointed out that: between Terasi and Teraso there is no memory link, nor there is any knowledge of each other, so those two are basically two different people.

although there is no coarse memory link there is a coarse link of cause and effect;
that future person will have a different name to today's person, but the future person will suffer horribly or experience happiness based on what is done now.

similar to how you treat your body now will have an effect on your body in 50 years; the body in 50 yrs wont entirely resemble the body now, and yet what you are doing will produce incredible aches and pains in the future :)
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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby ground » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:10 am

Terasi wrote:She pointed out that: between Terasi and Teraso there is no memory link, nor there is any knowledge of each other, so those two are basically two different people.

And the question is: in the selfish point of view of a mere human full of defilement, why should Terasi struggles to cultivate herself just for the benefit of "someone else" (Teraso)?


Correct. This is exactly the question it boils down to in this point of view. And a nearly identical question in the same point of view is: Why should one care about others in this life? Why should one avoid harming others? Simply because one is able to? Or because there is a proscription?

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Re: Why should we care about the new life after rebirth?

Postby Benjamin » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:26 pm

If she can accept the idea of rebirth for the sake of this question, then your sister is experiencing some good karma from a previous birth. If she is at all grateful for the previous life's good deeds (again assuming she accepts rebirth for the sake of discussion), then she should be glad and do the same for the life after her.

Also, by caring for your current life via practicing the Dhamma, you automatically care about the next life by cultivating positive qualities that will continue once this life is done.

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