To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Yes
36
60%
No
19
32%
Not Sure
5
8%
 
Total votes: 60

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:54 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:It seems to me it would be a better question to ask "Could you accurately be called a Buddhist if you reject rebirth without knowing and seeing for yourself whether it has validity?". I think it is the lack of rejection of Karma and rebirth which is of critical importance to effective practice not whether one accepts it or not.

Metta


Gabriel


I think that's a more poignant question. Thanks! :clap:

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:29 pm

Greetings


I think in reguards to kamma and rebirth it is important to have some kind of set view

My reason for this is because, as i think peter said, it will have an impact on how one acts in certain situations, such as euthanasia or some situation where there is a choice of say killing another to save yourself (someone trying to kill you for example)

How you view kamma and rebirth effects these situations greatly i feel and although they are extreme situations, i would say that the general view of kamma and rebirth has an effect on the whole practice even if its not obvious, which is why i feel its always said to be part of Right View


Metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby Ordinaryperson » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:40 am

I voted yes as I feel that is what Buddha taught.

However, one must still take initiative to investigation in order to understand and to strengthen one's trust in Buddha's teaching.

:anjali:

p/s: I did not read all the thread before answering by the way.
~Actively trying to destroy the Three Unwholesome Roots of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance~

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby pink_trike » Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:16 am

zavk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:One of the other claims is that rebirth talk of any sort is at best figurative. In these three discourses from the Pali which describe the Buddha’s awakening, rebirth plays an important role, which are not easily explained away as some sort of figurative speech.


I think you wrote a great post, Tilt. It would have been nice to share those ideas at ZFI. Reading your post got me thinking further about what I see as an unexamined assumption underlying such debates about rebirth--the assumption about 'figurativeness' (<-- This is an awkward word but I'll use since it has been raised.)

On the one hand, it seems to me that the argument that rebirth must be understood literally turns on an assumption about 'figurativeness'. This is the assumption that figurativeness somehow compromises the 'truth' of rebirth (and by implications the 'truth' of the Buddha's teaching). It is assumed that the doctrine of rebirth is somehow rendered less 'efficacious', less 'real', when people attempt to understand it figuratively.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the argument that rebirth is merely a rhetorical strategy also turns on the same assumption about 'figurativeness'. This is the assumption that figurativeness somehow allows us to sidestep (and even debunk) rebirth. It is assumed that the doctrine of rebirth is somehow rendered less 'challenging', less 'real', when it is construed as merely a clever play with words.

But as I have suggested in my previous post, what if figurativeness is in fact a fundamental part of our perceptual process? What if figurativeness is what makes it possible for us to make sense of anything at all? I have suggested that we cannot step outside the workings of language--not until we attain some level of awakening anyway (and IMO I don't think Awakening obliterates language but rather allows us to have a new, non-grasping relationship with language). If figurativeness is how language works, then thought and understanding also works through figurativeness.

To give an example, if you were to ask a number of people to note down the first impressions that come to them when you mention the words 'dog', 'car', or 'tree', I'm sure you will get a variety of responses. I've done this exercise with students many times and the responses to a word like 'tree' include: wood, green, leaves, bark, oxygen, fuel, nature, mother earth, recycling, life, peace, etc. Or with a word like 'dog' the responses were: woof, tail, fur, Spot the family dog, German Shepard (or some other breed), happiness, man's best friend, fear (because of a bad experience), warm fuzzy feelings, loyalty, poop, stinky, walk in the park, etc.

What becomes evident in this simple example is that language functions figuratively. Meaning or 'truth' isn't established through direct correspondence but through figurativeness. Without this ever-present figurativeness, language wouldn't be possible, and hence, thought and understanding wouldn't be possible. If meaning and truth were established through direct correspondence, then everyone would have the same impressions when they hear or read the words 'tree' or 'dog'. But what we see is that for some people the words 'tree' or 'dog' didn't even remind them of an actual plant or a canine but of various concepts or emotions. Even though such concepts and emotions do not directly correspond to the words 'tree' or 'dog', they are 'truths' about 'trees' and 'dogs', and these 'truths' would shape and influence the way those people behave (i.e. a person who understands 'trees' only as so much raw material would behave in a different way from another who understands 'tree' as life or mother earth). Which is to say that to accept the figurativeness of language is not to slide in relativism for the question of ethics is ever-present.

In light of this, maybe we can re-evaluate the terms of the debate around rebirth. If figurativeness is a fundamental characteristic of our perceptual process, if 'truth' is always to some degree or another established through figurativeness--indeed, made possible by figurativeness--should we still assume that the 'truth' of rebirth is always compromised when people attempt to understand it figuratively? By the same token, when people dismiss rebirth as just a kind of figurative speech, should they assume that is any less 'truthful' and 'real'? Either position fails to be mindful of how figurativeness conditions consciousness. And shouldn't we be mindful of how our minds work in figurative ways? For after all, figurativeness is that which deludes us and also that which might awaken us.

Please excuse the long post. It's kinda long-winded but I wanted to be as clear as I can. I'm not directing this at anyone in particular, whether you are for a literal understanding or rebirth or not. I'm writing this because Tilt's post presented a good opportunity for me to stick my nose in and raise questions about the assumptions upon which such debates have left unexamined. Perhaps a more productive way forward is to sometimes take a step backwards to re-examine hidden assumptions underlying the debate before attempting to move forward again.

I could very well be wrong but I think this is precisely what exploring the path entails.

:anjali:

Metta,
zavk


Hi Zavk,

Thanks for taking the time to write this thoughtful post.

---

Here is an article from BuddhaDharma magazine that touches on some of the issues that have arisen in this thread as the panel guests discuss the supernatural elements in Buddhism

http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2 ... /forum.php
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:51 am

It seems to me the Kalama Sutta actually illustrate well what it means to have Right View. The Buddha doesn't say "You have to believe in rebirth." What he says is "It is in your best interest to act as if there was rebirth." That's what I think it means to practice Right View. You should censure your actions based on the idea that there might be consequences that will affect you after death.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby nathan » Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:30 am

I think that rebirth is more in keeping than not with human religious origins in "prehistory" and any early presently cogently accountable religious history. It is older than any monotheism by a long shot.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby fijiNut » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:38 pm

I answered yes, if Ajahn Chah was still here, he would have voted "Not Sure!". :tongue:

But seriously, kamma and rebirth is the cornerstone of Dhamma.

Checkout this youtube series on children who remember previous lives -

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_t ... efore&aq=f

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_t ... tion+&aq=f

And of course, there are works of Dr Ian Stevenson and Dr. Jim Tucker widely available off amazon.com

What I mean to say, is that accepting the belief or view of 'beings spontaneously reborn according to their kamma' is not something you have to believe to be Buddhist, but it is something that is happening here and now
Believe it or not?

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby nathan » Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:37 am

I suggest looking into it directly in your own body and mind. Find out exactly what that is about. That is the route to seeing it clearly in any ways beyond that. Touch what you touch. See what you see. Hear what you hear. Acknowledge it. Not, have it told or proven to you. Find out personally. Start looking at it now. Carry on and good luck. Nothing else will help, take my word for it you can imagine anything you like, but all of that represents nothing at all. We all have to take it as it comes for what it actually is for us. That could be very good or very bad depending on who you are and have been so far. But that appears to be the only way towards actually 'knowing' anything. Use your own body, mind and senses, that is all any of us get. All the rest has been told to us. See what is true. No point in arguing after that.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:16 am

fijiNut wrote:but it is something that is happening here and now


nathan wrote:Use your own body, mind and senses, that is all any of us get. All the rest has been told to us. See what is true.


I agree. Spontaneous re-creation is constantly taking place at the base of each mind-moment. With practice, we can experience this directly as it happens.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:13 am

The Buddha said that there are three kinds of individuals: the blind, the one-eyed, and the two-eyed.
9. Andhasuttaṃ

29. “Tayome, bhikkhave, puggalā santo saṃvijjamānā lokasmiṃ. Katame tayo? Andho, ekacakkhu, dvicakkhu.

  1. The blind cannot even see their own benefit in this life.
  2. The one-eyed knows how to acquire wealth.
  3. The two-eyed also knows how to acquire merit

Andha Sutta
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby nathan » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:29 am

When I see one, I'll register a vote to a poll with one option along these lines:

A buddhist's doctrine details ongoing cyclic existence in terms of kamma and an inescapable bondage to suffering until decisive meritorious action effects the path leading to full awakening to nibbana and full emancipation.

1. Yes
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby lonewolf » Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:45 am

Why does a Buddhist have to accept anything without verifying its validity? Didn't Buddha tell us not do so?
Cause and effect is a fact, stretching the same principle into moral sphere, or non-material reality is not inconceivable. Even rebirth can be roughly understood, as everyhing in nature we know of gets recycled, why would we be any different? I don't see how taking something on a face value is necessary.

I really don't see how a mind free from beliefs, and attachment to rituals can be an impediment to walking The Path.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:01 am

lonewolf wrote:Why does a Buddhist have to accept anything without verifying its validity? Didn't Buddha tell us not do so?
Cause and effect is a fact, stretching the same principle into moral sphere, or non-material reality is not inconceivable. Even rebirth can be roughly understood, as everyhing in nature we know of gets recycled, why would we be any different? I don't see how taking something on a face value is necessary.

I really don't see how a mind free from beliefs, and attachment to rituals can be an impediment to walking The Path.



It isnt :goodpost:
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby silver surfer » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:30 am

I call myself a buddhist and I don't accept anything, I just try to see things as they truely are, see the streams, tendencies and their natural destinations. I believe it's the only way I'll become a rocking buddha one day.

:anjali:
This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: ‘These standpoints, thus assumed, thus misapprehended, lead to such a destination.’ He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that, he does not misapprehend. As he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the perfect peace. The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging. These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see and understand, sublime, beyond reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, with direct knowledge, propounds to others.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby MisterRunon » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:17 am

silver surfer wrote:I call myself a buddhist and I don't accept anything, I just try to see things as they truely are, see the streams, tendencies and their natural destinations. I believe it's the only way I'll become a rocking buddha one day.

:anjali:


I don't call myself a Buddhist and I don't accept anything that I have not experienced for myself. The use of labels is just so.. imperfect. There are tons of people who consider themselves Buddhists; they proselytize, donate to their local temples, believe in karma/rebirth, and have altars with Buddha statues in their homes... yet they don't practice any of his teachings. And then there are people who put real effort into the practice and teachings of mindfulness and uprooting fetters, yet they don't even consider themselves Buddhists.

I think the ultimate answer to this post is that it doesn't really matter, since everyone has their own definition of what being a Buddhist means.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby silver surfer » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:47 pm

MisterRunon wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I call myself a buddhist and I don't accept anything, I just try to see things as they truely are, see the streams, tendencies and their natural destinations. I believe it's the only way I'll become a rocking buddha one day.

:anjali:


I don't call myself a Buddhist and I don't accept anything that I have not experienced for myself. The use of labels is just so.. imperfect. There are tons of people who consider themselves Buddhists; they proselytize, donate to their local temples, believe in karma/rebirth, and have altars with Buddha statues in their homes... yet they don't practice any of his teachings. And then there are people who put real effort into the practice and teachings of mindfulness and uprooting fetters, yet they don't even consider themselves Buddhists.

I think the ultimate answer to this post is that it doesn't really matter, since everyone has their own definition of what being a Buddhist means.


:goodpost:

May I ask you a personal question then? Do you accept kamma and rebirth? :D

:anjali:
This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: ‘These standpoints, thus assumed, thus misapprehended, lead to such a destination.’ He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that, he does not misapprehend. As he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the perfect peace. The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging. These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see and understand, sublime, beyond reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, with direct knowledge, propounds to others.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby SamKR » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:53 pm

MisterRunon wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I call myself a buddhist and I don't accept anything, I just try to see things as they truely are, see the streams, tendencies and their natural destinations. I believe it's the only way I'll become a rocking buddha one day.

:anjali:


I don't call myself a Buddhist and I don't accept anything that I have not experienced for myself. The use of labels is just so.. imperfect. There are tons of people who consider themselves Buddhists; they proselytize, donate to their local temples, believe in karma/rebirth, and have altars with Buddha statues in their homes... yet they don't practice any of his teachings. And then there are people who put real effort into the practice and teachings of mindfulness and uprooting fetters, yet they don't even consider themselves Buddhists.

Donating and karma/rebirth are integral parts of his teachings. So, by donating and believing in karma/rebirth they are still practicing his teachings. But it does not mean that if you do not donate or do not believe in karma/rebirth you are not a Buddhist. Accepting kamma and rebirth is not a requirement to be a Buddhist.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby silver surfer » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:18 pm

SamKR wrote:Accepting kamma and rebirth is not a requirement to be a Buddhist.


How is that so? Unless "you're a buddhist with wrong views" :D

You don't accept kamma, means you don't see the reality of kamma/you deny kamma. Denying kamma, means you don't feel the need to classify actions, which means you accept that there is no conditionality. So why would it matter whether you practice or not, if you think that there is no re-action to a specific action? Or that seeds don't sprout at all? Isn't it like saying, "this stream is headed towards that ocean, but it could also fall another"

Am out of line here?

:anjali:
This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: ‘These standpoints, thus assumed, thus misapprehended, lead to such a destination.’ He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that, he does not misapprehend. As he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the perfect peace. The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging. These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see and understand, sublime, beyond reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, with direct knowledge, propounds to others.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:38 pm

silver surfer wrote:
SamKR wrote:Accepting kamma and rebirth is not a requirement to be a Buddhist.


How is that so? Unless "you're a buddhist with wrong views" :D

You don't accept kamma, means you don't see the reality of kamma/you deny kamma. Denying kamma, means you don't feel the need to classify actions, which means you accept that there is no conditionality. So why would it matter whether you practice or not, if you think that there is no re-action to a specific action? Or that seeds don't sprout at all? Isn't it like saying, "this stream is headed towards that ocean, but it could also fall another"

Am out of line here?

:anjali:



It wouldn't necessarily mean that someone holds a wrong view by not accepting kamma or rebirth (I don't even see that these concepts have to go hand in hand), they may just be saying "don't know" and put them to one side.

To take "rebirth" as an example, if someone says that they don't hold to a view of rebirth, it doesn't follow that they must hold to a view of no rebirth (annihilationism). It's a false dichotomy.
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Postby MisterRunon » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:53 pm

SamKR wrote:
MisterRunon wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I call myself a buddhist and I don't accept anything, I just try to see things as they truely are, see the streams, tendencies and their natural destinations. I believe it's the only way I'll become a rocking buddha one day.

:anjali:


I don't call myself a Buddhist and I don't accept anything that I have not experienced for myself. The use of labels is just so.. imperfect. There are tons of people who consider themselves Buddhists; they proselytize, donate to their local temples, believe in karma/rebirth, and have altars with Buddha statues in their homes... yet they don't practice any of his teachings. And then there are people who put real effort into the practice and teachings of mindfulness and uprooting fetters, yet they don't even consider themselves Buddhists.

Donating and karma/rebirth are integral parts of his teachings. So, by donating and believing in karma/rebirth they are still practicing his teachings. But it does not mean that if you do not donate or do not believe in karma/rebirth you are not a Buddhist. Accepting kamma and rebirth is not a requirement to be a Buddhist.


Maybe, maybe not. Everyone has their own personal definition of what Buddhism means - that was my whole point.

clw_uk wrote:
silver surfer wrote:
SamKR wrote:Accepting kamma and rebirth is not a requirement to be a Buddhist.


How is that so? Unless "you're a buddhist with wrong views" :D

You don't accept kamma, means you don't see the reality of kamma/you deny kamma. Denying kamma, means you don't feel the need to classify actions, which means you accept that there is no conditionality. So why would it matter whether you practice or not, if you think that there is no re-action to a specific action? Or that seeds don't sprout at all? Isn't it like saying, "this stream is headed towards that ocean, but it could also fall another"

Am out of line here?

:anjali:



It wouldn't necessarily mean that someone holds a wrong view by not accepting kamma or rebirth (I don't even see that these concepts have to go hand in hand), they may just be saying "don't know" and put them to one side.

To take "rebirth" as an example, if someone says that they don't hold to a view of rebirth, it doesn't follow that they must hold to a view of no rebirth (annihilationism). It's a false dichotomy.


Yes, I believe there are 3 positions to take, and people often confuse the "I am not sure" with "you don't believe in it." It's Yes, No, and Maybe (which means either yes or no).


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