Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

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Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby Sacha G » Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:36 pm

Hi
In the studies of Ian Stevenson about memories of children concerning their past lives, I find three things which don't quite fit with the Buddha's teachings:
1°) They were humans each time in their previous lives (not animals, petas...etc...)
2°) They were reborn in a place near where they lived before
3°) There is sometimes several weeks or months between the death and the rebirth.
How do U explain all these facts.
Sacha G :bow:
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:38 pm

Sacha G wrote:How do U explain all these facts.


That's already a bit of a stretch...
    "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: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby santa100 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:40 pm

Sacha G wrote:
I find three things which don't quite fit with the Buddha's teachings:
1°) They were humans each time in their previous lives (not animals, petas...etc...)
2°) They were reborn in a place near where they lived before
3°) There is sometimes several weeks or months between the death and the rebirth.


For item 1, since the children only recalled what happened in their most immediate previous life, the inquiry will needs to be rephrased as "is it possible to take human form in 2 consecutive rebirths?" Absolutely. By observing the peaceful and simple way of life in those villages, and assuming these kids did not commit any grave kamma that'll result in rebirth in the lower 3 states of hell, hungry ghost, and animal. Obviously, they didn't do any great kamma either, else they would've been reborn in those higher devas realms.

For item 2, I haven't heard of any restriction on the "state" of future rebirths. Depends on one's kamma, s/he could come back as an opposite gender, in a different country, in the same village, etc..

For item 3, again, there's no set length of "transition" period. I heard that the Tibetan tradition put a length of 49 nights and days. But the duration might vary in other places and cultures..
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:02 pm

daverupa wrote:
Sacha G wrote:(list of Dr. Stevenson's claims about reincarnation deleted)
How do U explain all these facts.


That's already a bit of a stretch...


:goodpost:
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:41 pm

Greetings,

On the gentle side, I see it as irrelevant speculation not connected in any meaningful way to the Noble Eightfold Path.

More bluntly, I think making Buddhist associations with this kind of thing is potentially dangerous and leads to superstitious folly like the Tibetan tulku system (which by all accounts seems riddled with problems), eternalist views, and people being far more zealous about pushing reincarnation beliefs rather than adopting the more open-handed approached used by the Buddha (e.g. MN 60) and by those Theravada monks who readily say "don't know" when they don't in fact 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)


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: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:50 pm

Sacha G wrote:Hi
How do U explain all these facts.


I think you should be directing this question to Ian Stevenson.
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby cooran » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:42 pm

Hello all,

Dr. Ian Stevenson is dead.

It may be better for those who wish to discuss his works with any intelligence to obtain his books and read them first.

A little about Dr. Stevenson:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

with metta
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby James the Giant » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:43 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
I think you should be directing this question to Ian Stevenson.

We missed the boat there. He died some time ago.
He might still be available though, we just have to find the right child and ask the right questions.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:02 pm

:rofl:
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: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby santa100 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:18 pm

Doctor Jim Tucker continues the research left by Dr. Stevenson . There's an interesting line about him:

"Tucker felt unfulfilled by his work in child psychiatry, but was open to the possibility that humans are more than their physical bodies and wished to investigate the matter further.[19] Though raised as a Southern Baptist, Tucker does not subscribe to any particular religion, and claims to be skeptical about reincarnation,[7] but sees it as providing the best explanation for phenomena associated with the strongest cases investigated to date.[8] After reading Ian Stevenson's work Tucker became intrigued by children’s reported past-life memories and by the prospect of studying them."

(ref.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_B._Tucker)
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:21 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

On the gentle side, I see it as irrelevant speculation not connected in any meaningful way to the Noble Eightfold Path.

More bluntly, I think making Buddhist associations with this kind of thing is potentially dangerous and leads to superstitious folly like the Tibetan tulku system (which by all accounts seems riddled with problems), eternalist views, and people being far more zealous about pushing reincarnation beliefs rather than adopting the more open-handed approached used by the Buddha (e.g. MN 60) and by those Theravada monks who readily say "don't know" when they don't in fact know.

Metta,
Retro. :)
It depends upon context if such work as Stevenson's would be a problem for Theravadin/Pali Buddhists.
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: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby chownah » Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:12 am

I find three things which don't quite fit with the Buddha's teachings:

1°) They were humans each time in their previous lives (not animals, petas...etc...)
2°) They were reborn in a place near where they lived before
3°) There is sometimes several weeks or months between the death and the rebirth.

I think items #1 and #2 do not contradict the Buddha's teachings.....his teachings just did not explain why this would be the case.....the Buddha did not teach that a child would always remember being a human in a previous life but he did not teach anything that disagrees with this happening.....the Buddha did not teach that being reborn would happen often within a close proximity of the previous life but he never taught anything that would rule this out either.......as for the third item....I don't know......but, heck, two out of three ain't bad!!!!
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:25 am

chownah wrote:
I find three things which don't quite fit with the Buddha's teachings:

1°) They were humans each time in their previous lives (not animals, petas...etc...)

I think items #1 and #2 do not contradict the Buddha's teachings.....


Human birth is rare:

"So too, bhikkhus, those beings who are reborn among human beings
are few. But those beings are more numerous who are reborn elsewhere than among human
beings. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: we will dwell diligently. Thus
should you train yourselves
." Samyutta Nikaya 20.2

"those being are much more numerous, who
when they pass away, are reborn in the animal realm, the domain of ghosts, in hell.
" Samyutta Nikaya 56.102-131

The Buddha considered the human life to be very precious, because it is an opportunity for living
a spiritual path. He likened the possibility of being re-born human again (if we waste this life) to
a story of a blind sea turtle that comes up for air once every 100 years. The likelihood that the
sea turtle puts his head through a circular hoop, positioned somewhere in the oceans, is the
likelihood we have to being re-born as a human. (Samyutta Nikaya 56.47)

There are not enough humans to go around to explain rebirth or reincarnation to primarily / only the human realm. There are approximately 1,750,000,000,000,000,000 (One quintillion, 750 quadrillion) insects on the planet, which does not even count all of the mammals, fish and other animals in the oceans, etc. So from a simple statistical analysis, we can see that if rebirth is true, then the Buddha is correct that human birth is rare.
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:14 am

Sacha G wrote:3°) There is sometimes several weeks or months between the death and the rebirth.
Assuming no interim rebirth as an insect or animal, if a human being is reborn directly as a human being, one would normally expect a gap of about 9 months from death to rebirth, since rebirth takes place at the moment of conception (opinions vary as to exactly when during pregnancy).

Even in the Pali Texts and Commentaries there are not many cases mentioned of human to human rebirth. It says in the Gradual Sayings that rebirth in other realms are much more likely. Well-known disciples of the Buddha who passed away were mostly reborn in the Celestial or Brahma realms.
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby chownah » Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:46 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
chownah wrote:
I find three things which don't quite fit with the Buddha's teachings:

1°) They were humans each time in their previous lives (not animals, petas...etc...)

I think items #1 and #2 do not contradict the Buddha's teachings.....


Human birth is rare:

"So too, bhikkhus, those beings who are reborn among human beings
are few. But those beings are more numerous who are reborn elsewhere than among human
beings. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: we will dwell diligently. Thus
should you train yourselves
." Samyutta Nikaya 20.2

"those being are much more numerous, who
when they pass away, are reborn in the animal realm, the domain of ghosts, in hell.
" Samyutta Nikaya 56.102-131

The Buddha considered the human life to be very precious, because it is an opportunity for living
a spiritual path. He likened the possibility of being re-born human again (if we waste this life) to
a story of a blind sea turtle that comes up for air once every 100 years. The likelihood that the
sea turtle puts his head through a circular hoop, positioned somewhere in the oceans, is the
likelihood we have to being re-born as a human. (Samyutta Nikaya 56.47)

There are not enough humans to go around to explain rebirth or reincarnation to primarily / only the human realm. There are approximately 1,750,000,000,000,000,000 (One quintillion, 750 quadrillion) insects on the planet, which does not even count all of the mammals, fish and other animals in the oceans, etc. So from a simple statistical analysis, we can see that if rebirth is true, then the Buddha is correct that human birth is rare.

All that you have posted is fine....it might be that a child simply for some unknown reason can not remember a past life if it was not a human one.....if that were the case then any child with a past life of an animal would not report anything (most children do not report about past lives) and the few that did have human past lives would be the only ones we hear about....I think the Buddha's teachings do not conflict with this theoretic idea...I guess....
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:49 am

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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby alan » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:15 am

Since we know the Buddha understood his rebirths only upon his awakening, it seems ridiculous to speculate about it. No one really knows, and those who pretend otherwise are not worthy of consideration.
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:24 am

alan wrote: No one really knows.
Well, obviously you are obviously claiming you know that no one knows, so based upon your claim that you know what everyone does not know, it would seem, then, that you are one of "those who . . . are not worthy of consideration" because your claiming of knowing.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby alan » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:44 am

You can do better than that, tilt. Your complaint is not specific.
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Re: Ian Stevenson, Rebirth, and the Suttas

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:51 am

alan wrote:Since we know the Buddha understood his rebirths only upon his awakening, it seems ridiculous to speculate about it.
According to the scriptural account, the Bodhisatta recollected his previous rebirths and those of others before his awakening, depending on his perfection in Samatha meditation. It was only in the third watch of the night, when he turned is attention to contemplating the five aggregates using vipassanā meditation that he found the method leading to awakening.

Many things are worthy of consideration besides direct knowledge.
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