the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:53 pm

Alex123 wrote:Do you accept, reject or agnostic regarding Rebirth?


Dhamma practice can be beneficially conducted in each of those cases. I fail to see the point of asking.
    "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: the great rebirth debate

Postby santa100 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:22 pm

PeterB wrote:
Ajahn Buddhadasa's writings are so replete with with his eschewing of the three lifetimes model that you could stick a pin in them almost anywhere and hit a suitable passage to that end.
With Ajahn Sumedho the issue is slightly different, he simply will not become involved in such discussions.
If direct questions are put to him on the matter he shifts the emphasis and talks about the importance of not identifying with views


Then your'e down to 1 venerable. Not sure if it'd make a convincing case with just 1 master's viewpoint. But please provide reference anyway.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:34 pm

daverupa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Do you accept, reject or agnostic regarding Rebirth?


Dhamma practice can be beneficially conducted in each of those cases. I fail to see the point of asking.

It looks to me that the Buddha would not agree with that, in the case of rejecting.

"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. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma. And in that persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, he exalts himself and disparages others. Whatever good habituation he previously had is abandoned, while bad habituation is manifested. And this wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, opposition to the arahants, persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, exaltation of self, & disparagement of others: These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:59 pm

My stance to any belief is - if it helps you and motivates you to practice the noble eightfold path- then go ahead and believe it! if it hinders you in the path to 1) becoming a better person 2) developing mindfulness, concentration and insight- then please let go..

In any case, what can be verified now- we need to hold lightly- what more needs to be said about that which cannot be verified now! We may have faith in the Buddha's word- nothing wrong in that- only people who have trust issues find this a problem- but even then, please let go.. Arguments about who is right, is in the realm of defilements-kilesa, IMO.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby santa100 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:06 pm

Daverupa wrote:
neither accepting nor rejecting views on rebirth is possible while still practicing the Dhamma


And:

Dhamma practice can be beneficially conducted in each of those cases


Dude, something really funky with the logic here.. :smile:
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby ground » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:11 am

rowyourboat wrote:My stance to any belief is - if it helps you and motivates you to practice the noble eightfold path- then go ahead and believe it! if it hinders you in the path to 1) becoming a better person 2) developing mindfulness, concentration and insight- then please let go..

I agree as to belief or (rejecting) non-belief or agnosticism in objects, things and phenomena that are not accessible to direct experience/perception and I would like to add that - whatever you believe in this context - if a belief or (rejecting) non-belief or agnosticism of others that does not comply with your own belief disturbs you then there may be something wrong with your own.


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:43 am

kirk5a wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Do you accept, reject or agnostic regarding Rebirth?


Dhamma practice can be beneficially conducted in each of those cases. I fail to see the point of asking.

It looks to me that the Buddha would not agree with that, in the case of rejecting.

"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. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma. And in that persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, he exalts himself and disparages others. Whatever good habituation he previously had is abandoned, while bad habituation is manifested. And this wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, opposition to the arahants, persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, exaltation of self, & disparagement of others: These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

'The world, the world'[1] it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?
Find the answer here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:42 am

chownah wrote:'The world, the world'[1] it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?
Find the answer here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
chownah

And? What meaning do you draw from that sutta, as it relates to the topic?
"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 chownah » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:04 am

kirk5a wrote:
chownah wrote:'The world, the world'[1] it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?
Find the answer here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
chownah

And? What meaning do you draw from that sutta, as it relates to the topic?

I think lt helps to understand the "next world"....as is found in the post I was replying to....
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:24 am

rowyourboat wrote:My stance to any belief is - if it helps you and motivates you to practice the noble eightfold path- then go ahead and believe it! if it hinders you in the path to 1) becoming a better person 2) developing mindfulness, concentration and insight- then please let go..

I think that trying to become a better person might hinder the removal of personality view.

Believing in a life after death, a heaven or hell, in the likelihood of rebirth in hungry ghost or animal realms, would tend to make someone more mindful, whereas not believing in them would tend to make them heedless and live only for the moment or for results visible in the present life, unmindful of future results. One would be blind or one-eyed, not two-eyed.

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If the Buddha Did Not Appear

If the sun did not appear in the world the people would be groping in the dark and some would fall into a chasm. If the Buddha did not appear, there would be no knowledge of the Dhamma, and people would fall into the chasm of Hell. It is because the Buddha appeared that wisdom prevails to distinguish Hell from nibbāna, celestial realms and so forth. Otherwise, there would be profound ignorance.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:44 am

santa100 wrote:
PeterB wrote:
Ajahn Buddhadasa's writings are so replete with with his eschewing of the three lifetimes model that you could stick a pin in them almost anywhere and hit a suitable passage to that end.
With Ajahn Sumedho the issue is slightly different, he simply will not become involved in such discussions.
If direct questions are put to him on the matter he shifts the emphasis and talks about the importance of not identifying with views


Then your'e down to 1 venerable. Not sure if it'd make a convincing case with just 1 master's viewpoint. But please provide reference anyway.

I am not " down " to anything.. :smile:
I have no desire to convince you or anyone else with reference to a belief system, and in the absence of personal knowledge that is all it is.
If you are interested in Ajahn Buddhadasa's critique of the the Three Lifetimes View then his views are widely available...
Ajahn Sumedho's consistent avoidence of being drawn into debate about the issue stems from the fact that he too is uninterested in promoting an adherence to belief or disbelief.
When asked about punabhava he points to the cushion.
It seems to me that there are two debates here which are often conflated.
The first is about clarifying the mechanics of punabhava, what the Canon records the Buddha teaching about the issue.
The second debate is about how that teaching should be interpreted, and clearly there are various views.
What in my opinion is less than helpful is an insistence on one interpretation only..which is invariably the interpretation one favours... ;)
There is actually only one way to know the truth of punabhava, whatever that truth is..and it is not by debate.
Last edited by PeterB on Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Akuma » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:43 am

Alex123 wrote:Hello Ancientbuddhism,

Of course one may believe what one wants. What I don't approve of is the projecting of one's beliefs onto the Suttas.


Many westerners who choose Buddhism to fill a hole in themselves will believe selectively because negative contents of the religion induce fear; in this case people believe in Enlightenment which induces positive feelings and has positive attributes but not in hungry ghost realms f.e. because of its negative attributes. Most Christians interprete their scriptures in the same way regarding hell. Discussion with those people is a futile practice as their goal is not enhanced understanding but enhanced feeling and since we're dealing with a defense mechanism those people also dont have any insight into their selectivity or the reasons behind it.
Actually the whole thread with its 2300 posts is indicative of why people choose a religion and how little they care about what it actually teaches if it only helps them in some way as "debating rebirth" is - looking at the history of buddhist philosophy with its many very bright minds - a sad joke.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:05 am

Your post is equally arguable from either direction Akuma.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:22 pm

Alex123 wrote:
What I mean is that if one is to doubt rebirth merely because one has not seen it and Science cannot prove it, then why not deny other things that one has not seen and Science cannot prove such as: Nibbāna, Arhatship, etc?

Why be selective in what aspects of the suttas one accepts and what denies?


The issue is whether or not we have reasonable cause to reject (or accept).

We have good cause to be skeptical about literal descriptions of the hells because there are other cosmological passages in the suttas which are demonstrably wrong (if taken literally). This suggests the cosmology as a whole need not be taken at face value.

Dependent origination, on the other hand, is in accord with reason and consistent with experience and observation. So we have good cause to accept it.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Believing in a life after death, a heaven or hell, in the likelihood of rebirth in hungry ghost or animal realms, would tend to make someone more mindful


The problem, though, is we could say the same thing about superstitions. They do indeed make people "mindful" -- of the importance of not walking under a ladder, not spilling salt, and of wearing blue to fend off the evil eye. Actually the very definition of superstition has to do with imaginary cause-and-effect relationships. Cultivating a belief in these actually has the effect of drawing us away from genuine cause-and-effect relationships and into the realm of magical fantasy. So, in short, it's not simply a question of whether someone is being heedful; it's also important to consider what they are being heedful about.

Is the evidence really there to support the claim that religious people are more ethical than, say, secular humanists?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:03 pm

santa100 wrote:Dude, something really funky with the logic here.. :smile:


So:

First, I said that the choice between "affirming rebirth" and "denying rebirth" was a false dichotomy, because it is possible to neither affirm nor deny rebirth. In this case, I said, Dhamma practice was still beneficial. The point here was to showcase the false dichotomy.

Later, I made the claim that Dhamma practice can be beneficially conducted in each of those three cases. This possibility was never denied, and in fact it was always implicit since I hold that any view of rebirth is unimportant as pertains to one's Dhamma practice. In any of the tetralemma cases for rebirth (for, against, neither, both), Dhamma practice can be conducted with benefit. Therefore, asking which of those four cases I personally agree with is quite beside the point, as Dhamma practice is not affected one whit.

The logic is sound.

The structure of rebirth is easily seen in the Suttas (and its iteration in early Buddhism is explicated in detail in The Selfless Mind by Peter Harvey, if one was so inclined).

What has never been shown is that believing it is essential to Dhamma practice. To insist that it is essential is unfounded, and to argue that something inessential is, in fact, essential to Dhamma practice is incorrect, unproductive, and alienating.
    "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: the great rebirth debate

Postby santa100 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:01 pm

Daverupa wrote:
To insist that it is essential is unfounded, and to argue that something inessential is, in fact, essential to Dhamma practice is incorrect, unproductive, and alienating


It then depends on how the individual sees what is essential and what is not, for it is just as incorrect, unproductive, and alienating to insist that something essential as inessential..
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:03 pm

TMingyur wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:My stance to any belief is - if it helps you and motivates you to practice the noble eightfold path- then go ahead and believe it! if it hinders you in the path to 1) becoming a better person 2) developing mindfulness, concentration and insight- then please let go..

I agree as to belief or (rejecting) non-belief or agnosticism in objects, things and phenomena that are not accessible to direct experience/perception and I would like to add that - whatever you believe in this context - if a belief or (rejecting) non-belief or agnosticism of others that does not comply with your own belief disturbs you then there may be something wrong with your own.


Kind regards


Agreed. I think what you mean (correct me if I am wrong..) is that if you are ATTACHED to your belief then other's beliefs may disturb you - this is how I see it. :)

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:14 pm

Hi Bhikkhu Pesala

I think that trying to become a better person might hinder the removal of personality view.


I'm not sure that is correct - cultivating what is wholesome (best articulated IMHO as 'becoming a better person') IS '..the teaching of the Buddhas - just look at the Karaniyamatta sutta and many other suttas like Mahamangla sutta- while these may seem unrelated to the 'important' work of developing concentration, insight etc I do not believe they are not - intact to get to the non-returner stage we must remove any and all manner of defilements .. and 'become a better person'. Also, Samma vayama is nothing BUT 'becoming a better person'. Even stream entry has elements of being faithful, virtuous and generous.. to a fault. I don't think just because modern dhamma teachers don't quite put it in those terms, or does not articulate Samma vayama as a distinct practice, that means that it doesn't exist within the holistic teaching, the 'well-said' teachings of the Thatagata. It would be a poor teaching indeed, if it's wasn't the case! Threadbare insight is highly unsatisfactory without a sprinkling of what comes under the broader definition of adhi-citta (heightened mind) or 'Samadhi'.

With much metta

:namaste:

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby chownah » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:49 pm

Rowyourboat,
My view is that the try to be a "better person" is contrary to the "have no doctrine of self" teaching which as you know is a very important concept in fulfilling the path. Maybe the idea of becoming a "better person" would be helpful for someone who has not bought into the "have no doctrine of self" teaching but it seems that the Buddha was pretty good at not portraying his teachings as self improvement even for the novice. If I explain some teaching to a beginner or to someone making idle conversation and just wondering about Buddhism (for example) I might talk about self improvement but I would also at the same time mention something at least tangentially about anatta....but that's just me....
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:51 pm

What the individual sees as essential is not the issue.
The question becomes what does the Buddha see as essential, and he answers that with the 4NT, and 8FP, not by recourse to punabhava... a concept which is capable of diverse interpretations...a diversity which has led to this thread of inordinate length.
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