Question about reincarnation

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Question about reincarnation

Postby loft » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:14 am

Hi,

I'm new to Buddhism and had a question about reincarnation, which I find very interesting.

Is reincarnation only linear? I mean, does it follow the forward flow of time? In other words, if I were to die today and were reincarnated, would it be in the future? Or is reincarnation in the past possible? So is it possible to die in 2011 and be reincarnated in the year 1450?

Also, when you die, are you reincarnated right away or might you not be reincarnated for fifty more years?

Sorry if my questions are so basic. I just wonder about this a lot....
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:25 am

Greetings Loft,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

One fundamental assumption underpinning your question is that there is some "I" or "myself" that is transported throughout these time periods.

In Buddhism, it is recognised that this perception of "I" or "self" is actually a cognitive error, and anything we might think of, or experience as "self" is actually impermanent. This is the teaching of anatta (not-self).

I would recommend investigating anatta in depth before pursuing your current line of enquiry any further, lest you feel into the wrong view of believing there is a consciousness that transmigrates from one life time to the next.

To see how the Buddha responded when people assumed that was his teaching, see...

MN 38: Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta
http://www.leighb.com/mn38.htm

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: Question about reincarnation

Postby ajahndoe » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:36 am

Reincarnation is not the doctrine of Theravada Buddhism. It is a teaching of Vajrayana, also known as Tibetan Buddhism. Theravada teaches "rebirth", which is the arising of new consciousness based on the clinging of past consciousness. This is not "you", not "self" or "soul".
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:53 am

ajahndoe wrote:Reincarnation is not the doctrine of Theravada Buddhism. It is a teaching of Vajrayana, also known as Tibetan Buddhism. . .
Not really. I think one needs to be very careful about characertizing other schools of Buddhism.
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: Question about reincarnation

Postby villkorkarma » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:08 pm

there is a self that you can controll your actions of. // buddhas teachings.
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:50 pm

Greetings villkorkarma,

villkorkarma wrote:there is a self that you can controll your actions of. // buddhas teachings.

If all five aggregates of experience are anatta (not-self), then what is this "self" other than a conventional designation or concept?

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: Question about reincarnation

Postby meindzai » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:45 pm

villkorkarma wrote:there is a self that you can controll your actions of. // buddhas teachings.


"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'

"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...

"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.'


(Anatta-lakkhana-sutta)
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:14 pm

So, how do we inherit our own kamma then?
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby Refugee » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:16 pm

Annapurna wrote:So, how do we inherit our own kamma then?

:namaste:
Ven. Walpola Rahula, in his book "What the Budddha Taught" (chapter 6) writes:
Here naturally a question arises: If there is no Atman or Self, who gets the results of karma (actions)? No one can answer this question better than the Buddha himself. When this question was raised by a bhikkhu, the Buddha said: 'I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality in all things.'

The problem is, I still could not figure out what ven. Walpola Rahula's was getting at. :? It would be appreciated if someone here could explain this in more simple terms. Also, what sutta is being quoted by the writer?
My practice is simply this: Avoid evil, do good, and purify the mind.
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby kirk5a » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:52 pm

Refugee wrote:
Annapurna wrote:So, how do we inherit our own kamma then?

:namaste:
Ven. Walpola Rahula, in his book "What the Budddha Taught" (chapter 6) writes:
Here naturally a question arises: If there is no Atman or Self, who gets the results of karma (actions)? No one can answer this question better than the Buddha himself. When this question was raised by a bhikkhu, the Buddha said: 'I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality in all things.'

The problem is, I still could not figure out what ven. Walpola Rahula's was getting at. :? It would be appreciated if someone here could explain this in more simple terms. Also, what sutta is being quoted by the writer?

'I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality in all things.'

rather than a me in all things, a "do-er" in the past and an "inherit-or" in the present... Bing!
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby Refugee » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:22 pm

kirk5a wrote:'I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality in all things.'

rather than a me in all things, a "do-er" in the past and an "inherit-or" in the present... Bing!

:thanks: Now it's beginning to make sense.
My practice is simply this: Avoid evil, do good, and purify the mind.
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:52 pm

Yes - well said Kirk.

:thumbsup:

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: Question about reincarnation

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:45 am

To answer the OP, Reincarnation/rebirth is said to be linear- ie there is no mention of anyone being reborn at an earlier period in time, after their death, now.

But it is an interesting question! Some people even suggest that the whole thing is circular- but then that doesnt hold water because there would be no escape from it!

with metta

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With Metta

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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby Will » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:45 pm

loft wrote:Hi,

I'm new to Buddhism and had a question about reincarnation, which I find very interesting.

Is reincarnation only linear? I mean, does it follow the forward flow of time? In other words, if I were to die today and were reincarnated, would it be in the future? Or is reincarnation in the past possible? So is it possible to die in 2011 and be reincarnated in the year 1450?

Also, when you die, are you reincarnated right away or might you not be reincarnated for fifty more years?

Sorry if my questions are so basic. I just wonder about this a lot....


So many sages here that direct answers are often never given.

No, it is not possible to reincarnate backwards in time. Rebirth as a human being (not the only option) happens quickly for some; for others it may take days or years or not at all.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:55 pm

loft wrote:Hi,

I'm new to Buddhism and had a question about reincarnation, which I find very interesting.


Welcome. (^_^) I will precede my statement by saying the majority I have with this is speculation along with the Dhamma, so if I am out of turn or incorrect, please correct me.

Is reincarnation only linear? I mean, does it follow the forward flow of time?


I think this will give you an idea:

Image

In other words, if I were to die today and were reincarnated, would it be in the future?


There's no "I" to be incarnated again.

Or is reincarnation in the past possible?


No. Time and space is subject to certain laws, however the idea of multiple universes and life on other planets applies. So while you might not be reborn in the past, you could be reborn on another planet in a different dimension.

So is it possible to die in 2011 and be reincarnated in the year 1450?


No.

Also, when you die, are you reincarnated right away or might you not be reincarnated for fifty more years?


Right away from what I remember.

Sorry if my questions are so basic. I just wonder about this a lot....


These are tough qs.
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby Viscid » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:57 pm

rowyourboat wrote:no escape from it!


:twothumbsup:
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:09 pm

Will wrote:
loft wrote:Hi,
I'm new to Buddhism and had a question about reincarnation, which I find very interesting.
Is reincarnation only linear? I mean, does it follow the forward flow of time? In other words, if I were to die today and were reincarnated, would it be in the future? Or is reincarnation in the past possible? So is it possible to die in 2011 and be reincarnated in the year 1450?

No, it is not possible to reincarnate backwards in time.


Wizard in the Forest wrote:
loft wrote:Or is reincarnation in the past possible?

No. Time and space is subject to certain laws, however the idea of multiple universes and life on other planets applies. So while you might not be reborn in the past, you could be reborn on another planet in a different dimension.


I really wouldn't be so sure about all that. "Time and space"... nothing but ideas, if one thing is certain, then uncertainty...
and please don't get me wrong, I neither argue for nor against anything...
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.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:16 pm

Greetings,

In line with acinteyyo's comment, it would be safest to say that the Buddha did not talk about dying in one time and being reborn before that.

On the other hand, there is an allusion to time dilation in the sense of time periods being different in different realms. E.g. you could go from one realm to another, feel like it was a thousand years, and get back later to find it was only a day you'd been gone.

Suttas or other Theravada materials where such time dilation appears though do not come easily to mind, so if anyone has some links to where such things are discussed it would be appreciated.

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: Question about reincarnation

Postby Viscid » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:Suttas or other Theravada materials where such time dilation appears though do not come easily to mind, so if anyone has some links to where such things are discussed it would be appreciated.

Image
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Re: Question about reincarnation

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:39 am

Greetings Viscid,

But that's not "Suttas or other Theravada materials", is it?

Klingon maybe...

:thinking:

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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