the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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Zom
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Re: No difference...

Postby Zom » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:48 am

And a good point to know about Kalama sutta:

Now does the Kalama Sutta suggest, as is often held, that a follower of the Buddhist path can dispense with all faith and doctrine, that he should make his own personal experience the criterion for judging the Buddha's utterances and for rejecting what cannot be squared with it? It is true the Buddha does not ask the Kalamas to accept anything he says out of confidence in himself, but let us note one important point: the Kalamas, at the start of the discourse, were not the Buddha's disciples. They approached him merely as a counselor who might help dispel their doubts, but they did not come to him as the Tathagata, the Truth-finder, who might show them the way to spiritual progress and to final liberation.

Thus the discourse to the Kalamas offers an acid test for gaining confidence in the Dhamma as a viable doctrine of deliverance. We begin with an immediately verifiable teaching whose validity can be attested by anyone with the moral integrity to follow it through to its conclusions, namely, that the defilements cause harm and suffering both personal and social, that their removal brings peace and happiness, and that the practices taught by the Buddha are effective means for achieving their removal. By putting this teaching to a personal test, with only a provisional trust in the Buddha as one's collateral, one eventually arrives at a firmer, experientially grounded confidence in the liberating and purifying power of the Dhamma. This increased confidence in the teaching brings along a deepened faith in the Buddha as teacher, and thus disposes one to accept on trust those principles he enunciates that are relevant to the quest for awakening, even when they lie beyond one's own capacity for verification. This, in fact, marks the acquisition of right view, in its preliminary role as the forerunner of the entire Noble Eightfold Path.

Partly in reaction to dogmatic religion, partly in subservience to the reigning paradigm of objective scientific knowledge, it has become fashionable to hold, by appeal to the Kalama Sutta, that the Buddha's teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify. This interpretation of the sutta, however, forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been put into brackets.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Bhikkh ... _Sutta.htm




But I see it this way. People can either belief that:

1) There is no rebirth:
----- You practice the Dhamma to be free from suffering in this life.


Yes, they can. But no need to be a monk, hold celibacy, practise deep meditation and numerous precepts on the highest and sublime level and ect. No need to make dana to monks also. That is why Buddha said that in this case "There is no holy life".

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Re: No difference...

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:51 pm

pedro1985 wrote: In both cases you practice to be free from suffering.


Yes, that's true.

Spiny

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Re: No difference...

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:00 pm

Kaktus wrote:From the Kalama Sutta

"'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.


An interesting quote though I think the point of it is less about what happens after death, and more about an encouragement to behave ethically.

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Re: No difference...

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:07 pm

Zom wrote:
But I see it this way. People can either belief that:

1) There is no rebirth:
----- You practice the Dhamma to be free from suffering in this life.


Yes, they can. But no need to be a monk, hold celibacy, practise deep meditation and numerous precepts on the highest and sublime level and ect. No need to make dana to monks also. That is why Buddha said that in this case "There is no holy life".


I disagree. While I have my difficulties with rebirth, I have a good deal of faith in nirvana. For this reason, I see a very strong pull towards monastic life, and an attempt for the greatest purity and holy life. I have this desire not for liberating some abstract concept that will be reborn in the distant future. I intent to achieve nirvana right here and now, every moment of every day. I have faith that in this lifetime I can achieve nirvana, and if not then at least I died trying.

I used to be a bit of a lush (one who indulges the sense pleasures) and I am still working to eradicate some very basic indulgences, so I have a lot of work left on the path. However, for that very reason, I see that indulge brings suffering in this lifetime, whereas virtue, concentration, and insight bring freedom from suffering right here and now.

That being said, I have no problems with others having faith in rebirth, because their faith does nothing to stand in my way of liberation from suffering. Also, over the last 18 months I have been starting to come around to rebirth, but like I said in the opening, I have my difficulties with it.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby DuskMoonPenguin » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:07 pm

Hi all,

I've been hearing much in this forum about the whole rebirth debate, whether it is actual or just a changing of mental states. Personally, for me, I'm coming closer to believing that it may be actual for a number of reasons. First, if it is true that there is only this life, that much of what shapes Buddhism, IMO, is not very practical, and theoretically speaking, one can do whatever he or she wants, indulging in his or her senses, and doing unwholesome actions and yet, the ultimate fate of that person when compared to one who follows the Dharma, the Noble Eightfold Path, and shows compassion and metta, would be the same, a complete eventual death. Whereas if rebirth existed, that would not be the case as both characters would have their karmic fruits ripen upon death and be a factor in the next birth. Secondly, by the law of karma, the state we are in is a result of the fruitions of our past karma, over many previous lives and this life too. If this doesn't exist, how can one effectively explain why some people are born in deep poverty while others are born in relative affluence, or what about those that were aborted in the womb?

And somewhat related to rebirth, I want to ask to clarify. What exactly defines the human realm? Is it just based on the appearance of four-limbed bipedal intelligent primates, or more so on our sapience and sentience, and the balance of both suffering and happiness in the realm. If the latter, would a species of intelligent reptilian hominids constitute a portion of the "human realm"?

Just some thoughts. Feel free to give your ideas!

Thanks!

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:03 pm

DuskMoonPenguin wrote:I've been hearing much in this forum about the whole rebirth debate, whether it is actual or just a changing of mental states. Personally, for me, I'm coming closer to believing that it may be actual for a number of reasons. First, if it is true that there is only this life, that much of what shapes Buddhism, IMO, is not very practical, and theoretically speaking, one can do whatever he or she wants, indulging in his or her senses, and doing unwholesome actions and yet, the ultimate fate of that person when compared to one who follows the Dharma, the Noble Eightfold Path, and shows compassion and metta, would be the same, a complete eventual death. Whereas if rebirth existed, that would not be the case as both characters would have their karmic fruits ripen upon death and be a factor in the next birth. Secondly, by the law of karma, the state we are in is a result of the fruitions of our past karma, over many previous lives and this life too. If this doesn't exist, how can one effectively explain why some people are born in deep poverty while others are born in relative affluence, or what about those that were aborted in the womb?


Your reasoning appears to come from the point of view that the realities of life must necessarily conform to our understanding of Buddha Dhamma or our understanding of the realities of life must be wrong. This kind of reasoning can start with good intentions but can end up all the worst characteristics of religion, intolerance, control etc.

Better to start from the premise that if our understanding of the realities of life doesn't conform to our understanding of Buddha Dhamma then our understanding of Buddha Dhamma may not be perfect, you may end up with the same conclusions but you may be on firmer ground.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby contemplans » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:16 pm

If this doesn't exist, how can one effectively explain why some people are born in deep poverty while others are born in relative affluence, or what about those that were aborted in the womb?


These are explained by past and present human actions of others. Children are not aborted by impersonal karmic forces, but present intentional actions of another. There are past and present influences, but evidence of past and present influence does not prove past lives, especially a continuity in a line of past lives, i.e., our karma is unique, not shared. Then we get to the question of what persists from one incarnation to another. But rebirth is not necessary to explain injustice in our world. Also I think the suttas are pretty clear that rebirth is actual separate bodies and lives as is commonly understood.

This provides some interesting philosophical exploration of rebirth:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/05 ... o-you.html

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby DuskMoonPenguin » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:19 pm

Your reasoning appears to come from the point of view that the realities of life must necessarily conform to our understanding of Buddha Dhamma or our understanding of the realities of life must be wrong. This kind of reasoning can start with good intentions but can end up all the worst characteristics of religion, intolerance, control etc.


Hi Goofaholix,

Can you be a bit more specific? I understand that when reading the teachings of Buddha, we do not immediately fully understand the meaning and value of the teachings, and that's why I posted this, for more clarification and understanding of it. The main question, I probably should have been more specifc, sorry, is can Buddhism still have strong foundations for the rest of Buddha's teachings if rebirth, theoretically, did not exist? I personally do believe in it, as I stated before, but to me it seems that rebirth is such an important foundation for the rest of the dharma. So your thoughts?

Thanks.

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby santa100 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:26 pm

Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay below might be helpful..

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_06.html

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:57 pm

DuskMoonPenguin wrote:The main question, I probably should have been more specifc, sorry, is can Buddhism still have strong foundations for the rest of Buddha's teachings if rebirth, theoretically, did not exist? I personally do believe in it, as I stated before, but to me it seems that rebirth is such an important foundation for the rest of the dharma. So your thoughts?


That's a valid question, and to say you believe in it is a valid response. Your previous post seemed quite a convoluted way of trying to justify this position, no need to justify it.

Personally I can say the Buddha Dhamma has mode a big impact on my life to the extent that I'm confident I'd never abandon the practises of training the mind and open minded enquiry, and yet I've never noticed the teaching on rebirth having a big impact. I see no necessity to justify why it could be true, nor any reason to try and justify why it might not be true.

But if you do feel the need to justify it then start with what is observable and verifiable and work up, bottom up not top down.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:43 am

contemplans wrote:Children are not aborted by impersonal karmic forces, but present intentional actions of another. There are past and present influences, but evidence of past and present influence does not prove past lives, especially a continuity in a line of past lives, i.e., our karma is unique, not shared. Then we get to the question of what persists from one incarnation to another. But rebirth is not necessary to explain injustice in our world.


Okay, from your Christian perspective, what happens to the child that is aborted or other children under 2 years old who die from natural or unnatural causes? Free ticket to heaven, correct? Is that justice and fair? What about others like us who didn't get that free ticket and had lots of opportunities to do bad?

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Viscid » Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:52 am

contemplans wrote: but evidence of past and present influence does not prove past lives, especially a continuity in a line of past lives, i.e., our karma is unique, not shared.


Ooo, I like this idea of shared or collective ka[r/m]ma. The whole linear succession of lives thing doesn't work.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:20 am

Christianity actually accepts the continuity of life, isn't it?

If Mr. A born in 1950 and die in 2010.

Life span of Mr A
Christianity: Starting 1950 until infinite time in the future, whether hell or heaven.
Age from earth perspective = 60 years
Age from overall perspective = unlimited.

Buddhism: Starting from infinite from the past until infinite in the future
Age from earth perspective = 60 years
Age from overall perspective = unlimited.

Infinite life span is not an issue. If it is an issue, the infinity life span of Christianity in the future is also an issue.
If life span is without end in the future, there is no reason why life span is also without end in the past.

Without a rocket science and without going to the logic reasoning, my human sense can already tell me:

If life span can spread unlimited to the future, why life span can't expend as well unlimited to the past.

Without beginning, without end.

Scientist talks about bing bang. My question is which big bag they are talking about since time has no beginning.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:51 am

DuskMoonPenguin wrote:And somewhat related to rebirth, I want to ask to clarify. What exactly defines the human realm? Is it just based on the appearance of four-limbed bipedal intelligent primates, or more so on our sapience and sentience, and the balance of both suffering and happiness in the realm. If the latter, would a species of intelligent reptilian hominids constitute a portion of the "human realm"?

In the context of (literal) rebirth, surely it doesn't matter: each of us will be reborn in an appropriate realm and appropriate situation within it, according to our kamma.
Of course, your hypothetical intelligent reptilian hominids may well be asking exactly the same question about intelligent apelike reptilians. :tongue:

:namaste:
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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:53 am

contemplans wrote:
If this doesn't exist, how can one effectively explain why some people are born in deep poverty while others are born in relative affluence, or what about those that were aborted in the womb?


These are explained by past and present human actions of others. Children are not aborted by impersonal karmic forces, but present intentional actions of another. There are past and present influences, but evidence of past and present influence does not prove past lives, especially a continuity in a line of past lives, i.e., our karma is unique, not shared. Then we get to the question of what persists from one incarnation to another. But rebirth is not necessary to explain injustice in our world. Also I think the suttas are pretty clear that rebirth is actual separate bodies and lives as is commonly understood.

This provides some interesting philosophical exploration of rebirth:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/05 ... o-you.html


Contemplans,

What is your purpose here? A member was asking about the nature of rebirth within the Theravada but the link you provide concludes that the Buddhist notion of rebirth is "impossible"? If you have no affinity for the Buddhadhamma then why waste your time and everyone else's posting opinions which are widely divergent or completely at odds with the Dhamma?
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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:19 am

Without taking side to anyone, it is very common within buddhist community that:
1. Think Buddha as a God.
2. The life is created by God.
3. There is no past life.

We cannot avoid this. We may ask around, and these people are there. This is reality of life.

Only those who study buddhism can know that Buddha is not God, and the life is without beginning.

We have a moral responsibility to explain the correct Buddism at the speed of that person understanding. Soon or later, that person will understand if that person also have enough merit to understand. If that person cannot, at least in his imprint, he may understand it in the future.

In the beginning of learning Buddhism, the existance of God doesn't really affect the learning process of that person. The non-existance of God can only be proven logically when that person understand sunyata. Since, this sunyata is even unheard, it is better not to discuss the existance of God with that basis.

The existance of past life is also not necessary to be understood in the beginning of the learning process. Although when study the law of karma will have a bit problem, when the confident of law of karma improves, slowly but sure, that person will ask him/herself about the existance of past life.

Everything takes process. That is why we are here, and we will forever here to show the reality of life until the end of this samsara. This is the call of our metta.

:namaste:
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby chownah » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:28 pm

[quote="DuskMoonPenguin"] is can Buddhism still have strong foundations for the rest of Buddha's teachings if rebirth, theoretically, did not exist?
/quote]
For this question the answer is yes. For me rebirth is only theoretical in that there is nothing in my life that would lead me to expect that there is such a thing as rebirth so when considering it I do so as a theoretic....maybe there is rebirth but I just haven't had the experience yet...so for now it is theoretic....and I see absolutely nothing about rebirth that makes it necessary...........in fact I often wonder how one can have a view of the Buddha's teachings that would make one even consider that rebirth is important.....for me it is absolutely a non-issue.......
chownah

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Skeptic » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 pm

chownah wrote:in fact I often wonder how one can have a view of the Buddha's teachings that would make one even consider that rebirth is important.....for me it is absolutely a non-issue.......


Yes, when living in present moment, not thinking much about past and future, the question of afterlife becomes completely irrelevant.

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Re: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby kirk5a » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:48 pm

Skeptic wrote:
chownah wrote:in fact I often wonder how one can have a view of the Buddha's teachings that would make one even consider that rebirth is important.....for me it is absolutely a non-issue.......


Yes, when living in present moment, not thinking much about past and future, the question of afterlife becomes completely irrelevant.

Except "living in the present moment" has to include an understanding of causality.
"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: Some thoughts about rebirth

Postby Alex123 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:47 pm



    Locke holds that for some person existing after your death to count as the same person as you, it is sufficient that that person’s consciousness be continuous with yours in the sense of containing memories of having done the things you’ve done, manifesting your distinctive personality traits, and so forth.

I have an issue with this. Even in this life we don't always remember everything. In dreams I can even forget one of languages. Even in this life sometimes person is lustful, sometimes angry, sometimes have this characteristic and sometimes opposite type of behavior. Even in this life a person can drastically change behavior patterns and be a different person. Alex was totally different ten years ago. This doesn't mean that Alex now doesn't have to pay for mistakes of that Alex. What I believe in necessary to be carried over is the deluded first person perspective and feeling of "I AM" + underlying tendencies. In dreams, Alex can be totally different dream character, but what remains is the perspective "I AM" deluded feeling. The externals (feelings, thoughts, character traits, etc) change, but not this until Parinibbāna. Person is not a "self-in-itself" and external situation affects it as well, so if external situation is different, the behavior will be different.

With best wishes,

Alex
"dust to dust...."


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