the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Rebirth

Postby alan » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:47 am

rickety,
There is nothing in Buddhism that says you will go to hell if you don't believe. Where did you get that idea?
If you are serious then pay attention to the posts from Tex and Ben. I found them to be very worthwhile.
Also, it is very useful to read the Suttas. Getting a decent grasp on the Dhamma is a prerequisite for decisions about concepts like Kamma and rebirth. You may be surprised to find your objections fade as awareness increases.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Digity » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:06 am

Response to ricketybridge:

I don't understand how you can remove rebirth from the picture and still think you have the dhamma intact. I take rebirth literally, not metaphorically. Sure, I don't have any evidence, but there is evidence out there that suggest it might be true. For instance, children with past life memories. Although, I think it's perfectly normal to have some healthy skepticism about it.

I don't understand why you're surprised the Buddha taught about rebirth. To me it fits in perfectly with all the other teachings. Samsara itself is continuous rebirth in realms going higher and lower. It's this perpetual wandering from life to life that the Buddha taught us we needed to escape. If you don't believe in rebirth then what do you think happens after you die? What do people mean when they say they take rebirth metaphorically? If you take it metaphorically, then what does that even mean once you're dead?

Anyway, I'm really curious what you have to say, because I don't understand how someone can not take rebirth literally and still understand the dhamma.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:33 am

Greetings Digity,
Even the Buddha did not try to correct the view of rebirth-sceptics in the Apannaka Sutta.
I think we should respect where Rick is at and respond in a matter that is appropriate to his particular situation. What we know about the Dhamma is that it leads one from ignorance to knowledge, not from ignorance to blind belief. If Rick engages with the practice and makes progress on the path, that is the only thing that matters.
Feel free to get involved in the great rebirth debate in the Dhammic Free For All forum. Debate is not appropriate for this forum.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:36 am

Greetings,

:goodpost:

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: Rebirth

Postby kirk5a » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:14 pm

The Apannaka Sutta is indeed an attempt to correct the view of those who hold: "no next world." The Buddha says this is wrong view, why, because it isn't true.
"Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong speech. Because there actually is the next world, when he is says that 'There is no next world,' he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world. "


And that wrong view results in action (karma) which is very unskillful and with very bad results.

These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.


Better to not paper this over just so someone stays interested. There it is, in all its uncomfortableness. We do have to examine our own beliefs on the matter, actually. And most importantly, the extent to which our beliefs contribute to good or bad bodily, verbal, or mental conduct. The Buddha is pointing out that the belief "There is no next world" contributes to bad conduct. It's easy to see how this is so. If someone truly believes that, you can imagine what bad things they'd allow themselves, why - because they think doing those things won't have serious consequences.
"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: the great rebirth debate

Postby adeh » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:30 pm

Refugee wrote: More than two thousand years have gone by and there is still no consensus about (post-mortem) rebirth.

I think it is a mistake to talk about this as if it is something that Buddhists have been arguing about for over two thousand years. The lack of consensus about rebirth would seem to be a recent and mostly western phenomenon...most Asian Buddhists-and Hindus and Jains for that matter-don't seem to have ever had a problem with idea. From what I can gather the ancient controversies of all the Buddhist traditions did not centre around whether or not post-mortem rebirth took place, but rather how it took place.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby ricketybridge » Fri Apr 08, 2011 4:59 pm

Ben wrote:
ricketybridge wrote:And I see the end of rebirth as the end of the rebirth of desires. Since this is sufficient, to me, to agree with the rest of his teachings, shouldn't it be sufficient for stream-entry?
When you become a sotapanna, you will be able to tell us!


lol, ok, it'll be an interesting experiment at the very least.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:08 pm

Hi Kirk,

I agree with you on this. Belief in rebirth is an imminently useful belief to subscribe to in terms of practice. It may not be completely proveable but it cannot be disproved either. In such a situation why not take on a belief that is helpful to yourself and others, leading to wholesomeness and goodness. We do not need to box in the Buddhas teaching and think he taught only certain types (ie proveable) of teachings. It was his genius IMO that he could use whatever he had to hand to further the practice in his disciples.

Ben, incidentally I remember reading a sutta about his description about the end of the world and him saying only a stream entrant would believe it. I think a stream entrant sees the lengths he goes to find the truth, hence believes statements that they cannot discern themselves without special psychic abilities.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Digity » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:21 pm

adeh wrote:
Refugee wrote: More than two thousand years have gone by and there is still no consensus about (post-mortem) rebirth.

I think it is a mistake to talk about this as if it is something that Buddhists have been arguing about for over two thousand years. The lack of consensus about rebirth would seem to be a recent and mostly western phenomenon...most Asian Buddhists-and Hindus and Jains for that matter-don't seem to have ever had a problem with idea. From what I can gather the ancient controversies of all the Buddhist traditions did not centre around whether or not post-mortem rebirth took place, but rather how it took place.


So true.

To me it's obvious that the suttas are talking about rebirth from one being to another (i.e. animal, ghost, human, etc, etc). I don't understand what people mean when they say they view rebirth metaphorically. I've never read the suttas and walked away thinking the Buddha meant rebirth to be a metaphor. Anyone who thinks that is adding that interpretation themselves because they don't really believe in rebirth. In my mind, when someone says they believe in rebirth metaphorically they're basically saying they don't believe in rebirth, but they're trying to come up with some sort of notion of rebirth that they can half swallow.

Having said all that, I think it's fine to put rebirth on the side and still study the teachings. It would be sad to think if someone gave up on Buddhism because of this issue.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:46 pm

kirk5a wrote:The Buddha says this is wrong view, why, because it isn't true.


I don't think that's quite accurate, or even a complete picture:

Even if we didn't speak of the next world, and there weren't the true statement of those venerable brahmans & contemplatives, this venerable person is still praised in the here-&-now by the wise as a person of good habits & right view: one who holds to a doctrine of existence. If there really is a next world, then this venerable person has made a good throw twice, in that he is praised by the wise here-&-now; and in that — with the break-up of the body, after death — he will reappear in the good destination, the heavenly world. Thus this safe-bet teaching, when well grasped & adopted by him, covers both sides, and leaves behind the possibility of the unskillful.


I also don't think that the "next world" necessarily have to refer to literal rebirth, strictly. It could be a world that continues after a person dies, and what kind of world that will be, would be based on the kamma.

The only thing that most people would know is that they're existing right now, in this world... which logically would be the "next world" for those who came before us. They also know for sure that they have absolutely no memories of their old lives, that could help with their own current Dhamma practice.

If they want to help their own practice, how can they make sure that the next time they die, and pop up again (if that ever happens), especially without any memories, that they'll pop up in a good world, so that this practice will continue to develop? If it turns out they don't pop up again, then whatever they've done would make up the "next" world for others who want to practice. I think this is basically a good place to start, for most.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:27 pm

When I say that rebirth is metaphorical... what I really mean is that there is no literal self that gets reborn. In this way, I can see it in every moment, and every life. I also can imagine this for every expansion and contraction of a world, or every kalpa... but I don't really try to run with this, because it's a papañca, or a big diffusion.

I think it's like a fractal. It's really a matter of finding out what the useful zoom is (a focus) for one's own practice, which will lead to a complete unbinding. For some it's moments, and for others it's lives.

The Dhamma that we're studying right now (based around the paticca samuppada) was specifically designed for a human life, by the Buddha. This is what a practitioner really should focus on, to make any progress with it. What does the humans have? They have moments, and lives... those should be studied.

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Re: Rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:53 am

Greetings greggorious,

You've got here a small sample of the diverse range of views that exist within the Theravada tradition on the subject of rebirth.

So diverse in fact that the following topic has 98 pages and is still running...

the great rebirth debate
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=41

Since the Discovering Theravada forum is not intended for debate, it seems appropriate at this point in time to close the topic.

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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Possible rebirth?

Postby unspoken » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:07 pm

We know that how we die, will affect our next life. Eg: If we die sad, we will reborn in a depressed realm.

My question is : If we die suddenly when we sleep, let's say we are sleeping, but suddenly the wall collapse and bricks knocked the head and die instantly. Then what are the possibilities of our next rebirth?
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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby unspoken » Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:59 am

Or at least some one knows something that can relate to it?
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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:17 am

Death can come at any time, unspoken. Rather than worry about where you will end up if you die while asleep, I suggest you concentrate on doing what needs to be done to eliminate the causes of suffering in this life. This, I think, will be more beneficial.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby Aloka » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:23 am

Ben wrote:Death can come at any time, unspoken. Rather than worry about where you will end up if you die while asleep, I suggest you concentrate on doing what needs to be done to eliminate the causes of suffering in this life. This, I think, will be more beneficial.


Well said, Ben.

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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby ground » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:37 am

unspoken wrote:My question is : If we die suddenly when we sleep, let's say we are sleeping, but suddenly the wall collapse and bricks knocked the head and die instantly. Then what are the possibilities of our next rebirth?


That depends on your condition when this happens. In some sense one is practicing for just that moment that may come unexpectedly and even if it comes expectedly there is no garantee that your condtion is favorable in exactly this moment. That is why one practices as long as there is opportunity. In this sense practice is preparation for this moment.

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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby unspoken » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:40 am

I just curious for those who passed away due to some accidents when they are sleeping. Where are they going?
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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby ground » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:44 am

We do not know what deeds done and what kind of motivations of the past are effective in others. And even if we did know we could not infer the fruition.

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Re: Possible rebirth?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:39 pm

unspoken wrote:I just curious for those who passed away due to some accidents when they are sleeping. Where are they going?

"Where are they going?" Is not a skillful question, because one gets entangled in (wrong) self-views. It would be better to leave it aside.
Ben wrote:Death can come at any time, unspoken. Rather than worry about where you will end up if you die while asleep, I suggest you concentrate on doing what needs to be done to eliminate the causes of suffering in this life. This, I think, will be more beneficial.
kind regards

Ben


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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