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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Theravada book of the dead?

Theravada book of the dead?

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Theravada book of the dead?

Postby greggorious » Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:38 pm

Just out of interest, is there a Theravada version of the Tibetan book of the dead? The Tibetan traditions seem to be very clear and concise in their beliefs during the after death state. Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?
"The original heart/mind shines like pure, clear water with the sweetest taste. But if the heart is pure, is our practice over? No, we must not cling even to this purity. We must go beyond all duality, all concepts, all bad, all good, all pure, all impure. We must go beyond self and nonself, beyond birth and death. When we see with the eye of wisdom, we know that the true Buddha is timeless, unborn, unrelated to any body, any history, any image. Buddha is the ground of all being, the realization of the truth of the unmoving mind.” Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Akuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:15 pm

Just out of interest, is there a Theravada version of the Tibetan book of the dead? The Tibetan traditions seem to be very clear and concise in their beliefs during the after death state. Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?


Unlike other traditions Theravada doesnt teach bardo / antarabhava / intermediate existence between death and rebirth.
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:34 pm

greggorious wrote:Just out of interest, is there a Theravada version of the Tibetan book of the dead? The Tibetan traditions seem to be very clear and concise in their beliefs during the after death state. Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?


Theravada is more concerned with the living.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby cooran » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:36 am

Akuma wrote:
Just out of interest, is there a Theravada version of the Tibetan book of the dead? The Tibetan traditions seem to be very clear and concise in their beliefs during the after death state. Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?


Unlike other traditions Theravada doesnt teach bardo / antarabhava / intermediate existence between death and rebirth.



Hello all,

The Abhidhamma followers will say ‘no’
Bardo - any 'antaraabhava' or the intermediate state in Theravada?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/49151

– but there are other opinions …

‘’And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta S.N. 44.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Aloka » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:43 am

greggorious wrote:Just out of interest, is there a Theravada version of the Tibetan book of the dead? The Tibetan traditions seem to be very clear and concise in their beliefs during the after death state. Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?



The Tibetan book of the dead (Bardo teachings)wasn't taught by the Buddha. It was taught by the Indian tantric guru Padmasambhava who went to Tibet around the 9th century. Personally therefore, I cannot see how it is relevant to Theravada.


.
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby plwk » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:44 pm

If you want something to do with the dead try... this (Proceed with caution)
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Virgo » Fri May 27, 2011 8:09 pm

Since one citta directly follows the next by way of proximity condition, there can be no gap between them. At the moment of death there is dying consciousness, which is immediately followed by rebirth consciousness citta with is a vipakacitta (result due to kamma). That is followed by bhavanga cittas and so on. So the answer is that rebirth is immediate. If one were to be born in some other "plane" first, such as a bardo, one would have to die again before taking on another body, so the idea is not found in Theravada.

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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 27, 2011 9:54 pm

Greetings Greg,
greggorious wrote:Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?

Whether one feels there is room for an intermediate state (and there's a few varying views above for your consideration), Theravada certainly stays away from issuing any unique instructions regarding what to do in an intermediate state (if there even is one).

Accordingly, I don't think it's anything worth being overly concerned about, otherwise the Buddha would have let us know...

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby daverupa » Sat May 28, 2011 12:30 am

retrofuturist wrote:Accordingly, I don't think it's anything worth being overly concerned about, otherwise the Buddha would have let us know...


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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Moggalana » Sat May 28, 2011 8:42 am

Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby BlackBird » Sat May 28, 2011 11:59 am

cooran wrote:
Akuma wrote:
Just out of interest, is there a Theravada version of the Tibetan book of the dead? The Tibetan traditions seem to be very clear and concise in their beliefs during the after death state. Is there such a thing in this tradition, or does Therevada stay away from all that?


Unlike other traditions Theravada doesnt teach bardo / antarabhava / intermediate existence between death and rebirth.



Hello all,

The Abhidhamma followers will say ‘no’
Bardo - any 'antaraabhava' or the intermediate state in Theravada?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/49151

– but there are other opinions …

‘’And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta S.N. 44.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta
Chris


Well that sutta clearly states that there is some sort of intermediary state between the two. So it seems we have found an interesting sticking point between the Suttas and the Abhidhamma, I would be interested to know how those who are versed in the Abhidhamma attempt to resolve this seeming contradiction.

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Virgo » Sat May 28, 2011 8:32 pm

BlackBird wrote:
cooran wrote:

Hello all,

The Abhidhamma followers will say ‘no’
Bardo - any 'antaraabhava' or the intermediate state in Theravada?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/49151

– but there are other opinions …

‘’And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta S.N. 44.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta
Chris


Hi Chris.

Very interesting post.

It would seem that the sutta categorically refers to some intermediary period between lives and yet the Abhidhamma emphatically denies the possibility. I am very interested to know how those versed in the Abhidhamma might resolve this seeming contradiction between Sutta and Abhidhamma.


What is being referred to in the Sutta here is why the mind stream doesn't just "stop" after death. Why is it reborn? What sustains it to 'become' again in another rebirth. It is not referring to any intermediate realm. The passage refers to craving being the sustenance that keeps rebirth going again and again, even though a body, which the mind stream is born with dies. It does not refer to another in between realm where the mind is sustained by craving until it is reborn.

Kevin

’And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta S.N. 44.9
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby BlackBird » Sun May 29, 2011 1:02 am

Hi Virgo. Interesting take. I have to disagree in your reading of the sutta however, it is pretty catigorical, and I am not convinced a less than literal interpretation is logically permitted.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Virgo » Sun May 29, 2011 1:28 am

BlackBird wrote:Hi Virgo. Interesting take. I have to disagree in your reading of the sutta however, it is pretty catigorical, and I am not convinced a less than literal interpretation is logically permitted.

Hello BlackBird,

That's fine. But if you ask me the translation is probably poor. I don't speak Pali myself, but being familiar with this doctrine in Theravada and looking at the passage, I can see how the passage may easily be misinterpreted, especially by a translator. A better translation would probably be:

'And when a being dies and his body has no more life in it, what is the reason that rebirth occurs, even though the body has died?"
"Vaccha, when a being dies and the body has no more life, It is because of craving that there must be rebirth, for craving is what causes (or sustains) rebirth at that time."

As opposed to this translation:

’And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

Of course this is my feeling. I would love to see what some Pali experts have to say about it.

Best,

Virgo.
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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 29, 2011 1:42 am

Greetings,

Virgo wrote:Of course this is my feeling. I would love to see what some Pali experts have to say about it.

Well, I'm certainly not one of those... but there is yet another way in which the meaning of this phrase could be translated (though it's bound to raise a few eyebrows, though will not be too unfamiliar to those exposed to the phenomenological interpretations of some Theravada exponents).

What is referred to in the suttas as jati (commonly translated as "birth" or "rebirth") relates to I-making and perceptions of a solid, stable self. If you look up its traditional Indian usage, the word "jati" actually means something like this (source: Wikipedia)...

(the word literally means thus born) is the term used to denote clans, tribes, communities and sub-communities in India. It is a term used across religions. In Indian society each jāti typically has an association with a traditional job function or tribe, although religious beliefs (e.g. Sri Vaishnavism or Veera Shaivism) or linguistic groupings define some jatis. A person's surname typically reflects a community (jati) association: thus Gandhi = perfume seller, Dhobi = washerman, Srivastava = military scribe, etc. In any given location in India 500 or more jatis may co-exist, although the exact composition will differ from district to district.


In other words, it is identification, the perception of an I and the association of the I with respect to, and relative to the so-called "outside world". It is "me, in the world"... and whilst "me" or "I" is the most fundamental form of identify, there is also, "Paul the Buddhist", "Paul the music fan", "Paul the father", "Paul the retrofuturist", "Paul the Australian" etc. When "I" identify as such, "I" come to exist, and thereby subject "myself" to change, decay, and sorrow. When I am a father, I experience a father's suffering (but when I'm not, I don't).... when I am a son, I experience a son's suffering (but when I'm not, I don't) etc. If you don't "be" (bhava) anything, you will not suffer.

Taking all that into account, the phrase may mean that even when identification of self is not related to the body, there is still the experience of existence, due to craving (i.e. there is still differentiation between 'self' and other, and a desire to appropriate or reject some of the other).

Feel free to disregard if that was not useful, or if it was confusing - some people do not like the phenomenological approach to the Dhamma taught by some Theravada bhikkhus and I respect that.

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: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Virgo » Sun May 29, 2011 1:52 am

Hi Retro,

Thanks for your input. I understand what you are saying clearly, and I feel that things may also be interpreted that way. However, in this sutta, I don't think that was the Buddha's meaning. If you look at the Sutta, a layman was asking the Buddha why other teachers say that even enlightened persons are reborn somewhere but that the Buddha instead says that unenlightened people (non-Arahants) are born in this place or in that place, but that enlightened beings are not.

Basically, the guy is asking Buddha why other teachers pronounce such and such to be born somewhere and such and such other person to be born somewhere else, and also say that enlightened people are born in some place but that the Buddha differs and says, yes, such and such was born in this or that realm, and this other person was born in such and such a realm, but enlightened people are not reborn. It's not about a Bardo. It's about why unenlightened people are reborn (literally) and enlightened people are not.

The Buddha explains it, and explains why rebirth occurs (craving). He explains that just like a flame can be sustained by the wind and go to another location, beings, even though "they" die, "go to another place" sustained by craving... this does not have to imply that literal rebirth is not immediate at all.

A couple verses from the Sutta to put this in perspective:

(The original authors translation)

"This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Gotama the contemplative does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." Instead, he describes him thus: "He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress."'

"So I was simply befuddled. I was uncertain: How is the teaching of Gotama the contemplative to be understood?"

"Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance."

"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."


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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 29, 2011 1:57 am

Greetings Kevin,

Yes, I agree that was certainly the nature of the question asked... I'm just curious as to whether the Buddha may have been tweaking an incorrectly framed question in providing his answer, as he often did when dealing with wanderers of other sects.

Either way, there's now (at least) 3 different ways of understanding it... two of which have nothing to do with a bardo-like intermediate state.

:D

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: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby Virgo » Sun May 29, 2011 2:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kevin,

Yes, I agree that was certainly the nature of the question asked... I'm just curious as to whether the Buddha may have been tweaking an incorrectly framed question in providing his answer, as he often did when dealing with wanderers of other sects.


Possibly Retro.

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Re: Theravada book of the dead?

Postby BlackBird » Sun May 29, 2011 2:24 am

Virgo wrote:
BlackBird wrote:Hi Virgo. Interesting take. I have to disagree in your reading of the sutta however, it is pretty catigorical, and I am not convinced a less than literal interpretation is logically permitted.

Hello BlackBird,

That's fine. But if you ask me the translation is probably poor. I don't speak Pali myself, but being familiar with this doctrine in Theravada and looking at the passage, I can see how the passage may easily be misinterpreted, especially by a translator. A better translation would probably be:

'And when a being dies and his body has no more life in it, what is the reason that rebirth occurs, even though the body has died?"
"Vaccha, when a being dies and the body has no more life, It is because of craving that there must be rebirth, for craving is what causes (or sustains) rebirth at that time."

As opposed to this translation:

’And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

Of course this is my feeling. I would love to see what some Pali experts have to say about it.

Best,

Virgo.


This is an interesting point Virgo, Venerable Thanissaro does have a history of translating the pali according to his own inclinations, so thanks for bringing that up.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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