Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

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Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Fede » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:10 am

There is already a long thread on Rebirth going on, so it is not appropriate that I potentially divert that thread with my question.
It may indeed already have been explored, but it's a long thread, and I'm having difficulty following it with the best will in the world, so I'm asking here, instead.

I once posited (on another forum) that although Buddhists do not ascribe to a concept of Reincrnation, as a fundamental Buddhist premise, some schools, such as Tibetan schools, consider Reincarnation to be a valid concept with regard to Lamas being re-born as quasi-recognisable manifestations of their former selves, as tulkus.
These are obviously not exact reincarnations, because the Tulkus are individuals in their own right, but that these tulkus are considered reincarnations of previous living Lamas.

re-birth is quite different......

well, I got slapped down for that, as being guilty of propagating misleading and inaccurate information gleaned from a dubious website. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/tibet/reincarnation.htm Well in my ignorance of Tibetan Buddhism, it looked perfectly bona fide to me.....

So, if I am wrong, then what IS the difference between re-birth and reincarnation?
is Tibetan Buddhism the only school or tradition that ascribes to this?

Any comments observations and opinions would be most welcome!
Last edited by retrofuturist on Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added bracketed section to title for clarity
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

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Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:00 am

Hi Fede
I'm just going to move this thread into the Discovering Theravada forum as I am sure it will be of interest to many who are coming to Buddhism for the first time, as well as those who are well established on the path.
Metta

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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: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:08 am

some people will say, nothing, others ,myself included, will say reincarnation requires a soul, an unchanging permanent one at that, that re-incarnates into different bodies, but it is always the same soul/person/atman etc. this would go against the buddhist teaching of anatta and anicca
Last edited by jcsuperstar on Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Placid-pool » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:09 am

Thank you for asking that Fédé .......... I was too shy :oops:

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:28 am

Greetings Fede,

A few things to keep in mind...

1. Both the words "reincarnation" and "rebirth" are English words, and we should therefore not be surprised if they don't align perfectly with their Pali equivalents. I would recommend learning the Pali words being used in the texts, and working out for yourself (with the guidance of dictionaries, wise others etc.) how they should be understood, and in what circumstances.

2. In Buddhism there is no "transmigration of the soul/atman", whereas in Hinduism and other religions influenced by Hinduism, there is.

3. In general Buddhist parlance, rebirth is preferred to reincarnation, because it has less of a soul/atman feel... however, the fact remains that literally speaking there is actually nothing to "re" in light of Buddhist doctrines such as idappaccayata, anatta and anicca. Therefore, in other places I've argued that "post-mortem continuance" is actually a more accurate phrase.

4. The derivation of the word "reincarnation" means something along the lines of "embodied in flesh", and this implies some kind of soul to be embodied thusly.

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: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:35 am

Fede wrote:There is already a long thread on Rebirth going on, so it is not appropriate that I potentially divert that thread with my question.
It may indeed already have been explored, but it's a long thread, and I'm having difficulty following it with the best will in the world, so I'm asking here, instead.

I once posited (on another forum) that although Buddhists do not ascribe to a concept of Reincrnation, as a fundamental Buddhist premise, some schools, such as Tibetan schools, consider Reincarnation to be a valid concept with regard to Lamas being re-born as quasi-recognisable manifestations of their former selves, as tulkus.
These are obviously not exact reincarnations, because the Tulkus are individuals in their own right, but that these tulkus are considered reincarnations of previous living Lamas.

re-birth is quite different......

well, I got slapped down for that, as being guilty of propagating misleading and inaccurate information gleaned from a dubious website. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/tibet/reincarnation.htm Well in my ignorance of Tibetan Buddhism, it looked perfectly bona fide to me.....

So, if I am wrong, then what IS the difference between re-birth and reincarnation?
is Tibetan Buddhism the only school or tradition that ascribes to this?

Any comments observations and opinions would be most welcome!

Reincarnation: At death, self-consciousness continues, in the form of a soul.
Buddhist rebirth: There is no such thing as "self-consciousness". Consciousness ceases at death also, but it still reunites, reappears, in the form of\as the result of a new body, conditioned by the kamma of the previous life.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

Element

Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Element » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:57 am

In Buddhism, the word rebirth is used quite liberally by the translators. For example, if we examine some of the suttas, we will find various words used for rebirth, such as:

Upapannā = found in MN 4
'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech & mind, who reviled noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell.

Opapātikā = found in MN 117, which actually means 'spontaneous birth'
And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.

Upapajjati = reappears Paccājāyati = reborn = found in MN 135
"Here, student, some woman or man is a killer of living beings, murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell. If, on the dissolution of the body, after death, instead of his reappearing in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell, he comes to the human state, he is short-lived wherever he is reborn.

Upatti = found in MN 120
Those intentions and that abiding, developed and made much, conduces to reappearing there. This is the path and method to be born there.

Upapajjati = found in MN 57
"Here, Punna, he develops the dog duty fully & unstintingly, he develops the dog-habit fully & unstintingly, he develops the dog mind fully & unstintingly, he develops dog behavior fully & unstintingly. Having done that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of dogs.

..................................................................................... :pig:

Sopapajjati = found in Dhammapada
137. He who inflicts violence on those who are unarmed, and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states:

138-140 Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from the government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell.

(Kāyassa bhedā duppañño, nirayaṃ sopapajjati) :o

Thus, if we examine what all these teachings have in common, we will find in Buddhism, rebirth is a consequence of one's actions whereas reincarnation is a meta-physical doctrine, of the soul going from one body to another. For example, the Bhagavad Gita states:

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age,
the soul similarly passes into another body at death.
A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.

In short, rebirth is a moral or kammic principle whereas reincarnation is a meta-physical principle.

:computerproblem:
Last edited by Element on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

Element

Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Element » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:08 am

Thus reincarnation looks as follows:

Image

Where as rebirth looks as follows, born into various realms of experience due to our actions:

Image
Last edited by Element on Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:13 am

Thanks Element

Or reborn into various lokas that correspond to different cittas.
-- According to Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Metta

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: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Fede » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:38 am

Thank you all, (and thank you Ben for moving the topic to a more suitable location.....)

This helps clarify matters extraordinarily well.

So, saying that Buddhism does not ascribe to the notion of reincarnation, is actually not factually accurate.
it would be better to say that Theravada Buddhism does not ascribe to the process of reincarnation, although other schools, chiefly in the Mahayana traditions, do.....

I'm not aiming to start an inter-tradition flame war here. I'm merely attempting to clarify the positions of the different schools.
I'd be interested to hear from anyone who could perhaps clarify how Mahayana Buddhists manage to reconcile the notion of Reincarnation with anatta and anicca.

It's an interesting topic for discussion, and I'd like to learn more. Perhaps it would be of interest to new members too, but if Moderators feel this is not suitable, please feel free to edit, delete or close......

:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:00 am

its only tibetan buddhism, not mahayana in general that has this reincarnation system
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:04 am

jcsuperstar wrote:its only tibetan buddhism, not mahayana in general that has this reincarnation system


It is only some of the Mahayana that does not adhere to this same reincarnation system in practice. Soto ("Go-Sit-In-The-Corner-Zen") is the only one that immediately comes to mind....of course, you know what happened to them [at another discussion forum (please re-read forum rules in the announcements section - no badmouthing other fora.. thanks, retro)]....


Don't get me wrong: I would be delighted to hear of, and discuss, other proposed examples of Mahayana exceptions. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:26 am

Individual wrote:Reincarnation: At death, self-consciousness continues, in the form of a soul.
Buddhist rebirth: There is no such thing as "self-consciousness". Consciousness ceases at death also, but it [stuka's note; CONSCIOUSNESS!!!! :jawdrop: ] still reunites, reappears, in the form of\as the result of a new body, conditioned by the kamma of the previous life.



Then the Blessed One said: "Sati, is it true, that such an pernicious view has arisen to you. ‘As I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness :jawdrop: transmigrates through existences, not anything else’?"

"Yes, venerable sir, as I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness :jawdrop: transmigrates through existences, not anything else."

"Sati, what is that consciousness :jawdrop: ?"

"Venerable sir, it is that which feels and experiences, that which reaps the results of good and evil actions done here and there."

"Foolish man, to whom do you know me having taught the Dhamma like this. Haven’t I taught, in various ways that consciousness is dependently arisen. Without a cause, there is no arising of consciousness. Yet you, foolish man, on account of your wrong view, you misrepresent me, as well as destroy yourself and accumulate much demerit, for which you will suffer for a long time."

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:52 am

stuka wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:its only tibetan buddhism, not mahayana in general that has this reincarnation system


It is only some of the Mahayana that does not adhere to this same reincarnation system in practice. Soto ("Go-Sit-In-The-Corner-Zen") is the only one that immediately comes to mind....of course, you know what happened to them [at another discussion forum (please re-read forum rules in the announcements section - no badmouthing other fora.. thanks, retro)]....


Don't get me wrong: I would be delighted to hear of, and discuss, other proposed examples of Mahayana exceptions. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

soto accepts the same mahayana ideas of rebirth as the rest of japanese buddhism and the chinese buddhism it sprang from, same as korean buddhism and vietnamese as well.

there are a few soto teachers who teach no literal rebirth but it isnt a soto teaching as much as it's a teacher and his few students teaching...

tibetan buddhism is the only time i have ever heard anything where the same dude comes back 14 times or whatever
Last edited by jcsuperstar on Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

Element

Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Element » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:57 am

Fede wrote:Thank you all, (and thank you Ben for moving the topic to a more suitable location.....)

My opinion is this thread has not been moved to a more suitable location.

In my opinion, discussions like this can only distract beginners.

For example, when I was a beginner, I was encouraged to develop meditation, apply mindfulness & wisdom and cultivate inner peace.

I was encouraged to learn about the sense organs and understand how suffering arises when we do not have mindfulness & wisdom at sense contact.

With metta,

Element

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:16 am

Greetings Element,

Be that as it may, on discussion forums, such discussions are hard to avoid. Things will be read about "rebirth" and "reincarnation"... therefore it's best that people can learn how to approach these concepts in a way that does not lead them to think that the Buddha taught eternalism.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:23 am

Hi Element

It was my judgment call based on my observation that a lot of people new to Buddhism and new to the Theravada want to have this question clarified. I was concerned that if the thread remained in the conflagration of the 'Dhamma free-for-all', the answer would be less clear and the debate more of a distraction than if the thread was moved to 'Discovering Theravada'.
Thanks for your feedback.
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
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby pererin » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:48 am

Element wrote:
Fede wrote:Thank you all, (and thank you Ben for moving the topic to a more suitable location.....)

My opinion is this thread has not been moved to a more suitable location.

In my opinion, discussions like this can only distract beginners.


Well I can only speak for this beginner, but I am finding this discussion immensely helpful: as far as I am concerned it's far from being a distraction.

Metta

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby Fede » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:31 am

I think I have always been a beginner, of sorts.
I think I shall always be a beginner of sorts.


I would still like to know how Tibetan Buddhists (if we are therefore speaking about this specific tradition being the only one to consider re-incarnation as a premise) reconcile the notion of Reincarnation AND re-birth, within their practice.

Is Reincarnation recognised as a process purely and simply confined to realised individuals, as Lamas?

And how is it possible (in view of anatta and anicca)?

Thank you all kindly for your input.

At one point or another, surely, my reasoning will suggest to me I 'put this aside' as immaterial to my practice.
Until I know that it is most certainly immaterial, I am still curious....

This helps me trremendously.

:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/

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Re: Sorry...What's the difference? (Reincarnation Vs Rebirth)

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:40 am

i think bodhisattvas get to break the rules after a certain point or something....

i could never get all the different levels of bodhisattvas... it always just seemed like it was being made up as the person went long ... "a 10th level bodhisattva can do this but not this as thats reserved for 14th level bodhisattvas and up, but once youre a 48th level bodhisattva....."
its just confusing
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat


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