the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:32 am

kirk5a wrote:A Buddhist meditation teacher of impeccable conduct with long experience in practice and teaching.


Ah. I have not met such a teacher, but then I live in a quite isolated and conservative place, and have been a person of very modest means for many years (aka "I don't get out much"). If you have a teacher with great patience and time on their hands who would like to have, say, an email conversation with me about it, I'd be glad of the contact.

For the purpose of seeing whether your understanding and experience is actually what you take it to be. Do you allow for any possibility of latching onto a conditioned frame of mind and supposing that is "deathless" when it is not?


I do allow for such a thing, but I am not sure that what you propose would be helpful, unless that teacher actually understands what I am saying and why I am saying it. Do you know of a meditation teacher of impeccable conduct with long experience in practice and teaching who does not have dogmatic views about, say, what Dependent Arising describes? If this would just end up being a conversation that results in coming to the conclusion that I am not interpreting the dhamma in accordance with their understanding of it then we can avoid wasting the time of the venerable because I think we all already know that.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:45 am

Moderator note: A bunch of stuff having to do with the translation of amata has been moved here:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=10569&p=178757#p178757
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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:32 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Ajahn Thanissaro wrote:Although rebirth is often presented as an unscientific view, the material sciences actually have no way at all of proving the issue one way or the other.... science is in no position to prove or disprove the Buddha's teachings on the range and powers of human action.


This a fallacious argument -- shifting the burden of proof.

The fact that science hasn't proven or disproven rebirth doesn't necessarily mean there is good cause to accept it. The burden of proof is on the person making the assertion.

Suppose I logged on to this board one fine morning and announced "little did you know it, but we are all living in a computer simulation being run by beings in another dimension!" Folks might be intrigued. You might ask me to supply reasons for making the claim. But suppose that instead of providing reasons, I said "well, you can't disprove it, and science has no way at all of settling the issue one way or the other!" Who would be satisfied with that answer?

I'm not saying Ajahn is wrong about rebirth, but I guess this kind of shoddy thinking is a red flag for me. When someone of his intelligence is willing to resort to known fallacies to advance an argument, it's might be because a stronger basis for the argument cannot be found.


Ajahn Thanissaro is not using this as a logical argument for rebirth. What he is saying is that logic will never lead to a satisfactory asnwer, so we need another criteria for judegement. What is that criteria? What, when I do it, will lead to long term welfare and happiness? This is the grand question that all skillful discernment is based on. So, if one wagers on no rebirth, they may be able to reduce suffering in this lifetime, but they can not achieve the full liberation of nibbana. How can one pursue liberation from rebirth in the realms of suffering if one denies rebirth to begin with? Without rebirth, one may pursue equinimity and become a relatively wise person compared to the heathen, but they will never achieve liberation from rebirth.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sarva » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:12 pm

To just jump in to a long thread...

My stance is that this is the last life.
Rebirth is rather a historic question; what lead to this birth, not what's next.

Through meditational insight I saw a desire (craving) which lead to this birth. The desire was for many years unexplicable and deep rooted and until that moment I had not found a root cause or satisfaction for it. I was not able to distinguish a factor from childhood which would have given rise to the desire, yet it existed and played a large role on forming my character and the choices taken throughout my life. I mention, this rather personal observation, as my practice is alone and I am curious if this is could help others or others might recognise it.

Metta.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:04 am

Sarva wrote:Rebirth is rather a historic question; what lead to this birth, not what's next.


I assume this is your own opinion? From the Buddhist perspective, rebirth is about both past and future. The ongoing result of the causal factors and kamma.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sarva » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:58 am

Buckwheat wrote:
Sarva wrote:Rebirth is rather a historic question; what lead to this birth, not what's next.


I assume this is your own opinion? From the Buddhist perspective, rebirth is about both past and future. The ongoing result of the causal factors and kamma.


Yes, Buckwheat, this is my own opinion. Thanks for the reply. :hello:
My understanding in Buddhism is that there can be a last birth because a futuristic rebirth depends on two factors: self* and karma. Actions (karma) that have been done or are happening in the present must have results. My opinion is that the result is invevitable as all action has a result, however for there to be a recipient of the results to prompt a rebirth there has to be a self concept or owner of the karma. With the oberservation that there is no self* there is the observation that there will be no more rebirth.

Metta

* There is no self which is not subject to change. So the error of clinging to a concept of self should also be kept in mind.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:30 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi Spiny, everyone,

Quote:
"But in DO "death" is defined in straightforward physical terms - so I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here."

How can you say that "death" is described in straightforward physical terms?

1. It is clearly said to be the "death" of "a being" (satta).

2. A being is defined in terms of craving.

3. An Arahant has no craving - he is therefore, not a being.

4. So, for an Arahant, the link "death" has already ceased, since there
is no longer "a being" to die.

5. The body will, of course, at some point, stop functioning and will
disintegrate.

Regards, Vincent.


Vincent, wouldn't it be simpler to say that an Arahant still experiences ( biological ) death, but doesn't experience it as dukkha? Whereas for everyone else biological death is dukkha? And of course for everyone else dukkha ( including biological death ) arises in dependence on ( biological ) birth. That's how DO is described in the suttas.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:40 pm

nowheat wrote:Any time we are engaged in activities that have reference to that sense-of-self, we are in the DA process, engaged in fueling it, adding to our concepts of self, so we are part of what is "born, ages, suffers, dies" (in that we are feeding off of those experiences).



I can see that clinging to self is an important aspect of the clinging described in DO. But I don't see how your interpretation is consistent with the section of DO which describes biological birth arising in dependence on becoming in the 3 realms.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:44 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:I can see that clinging to self is an important aspect of the clinging described in DO. But I don't see how your interpretation is consistent with the section of DO which describes biological birth arising in dependence on becoming in the 3 realms.


Greetings, Spiny,

I've done (aging-and-) Death at great length, now you want me to do Birth and then Becoming? Will you be asking me to work backward through the entire chain? I ask because my thesis is quite lengthy.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:49 pm

nowheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:I can see that clinging to self is an important aspect of the clinging described in DO. But I don't see how your interpretation is consistent with the section of DO which describes biological birth arising in dependence on becoming in the 3 realms.


Greetings, Spiny,

I've done (aging-and-) Death at great length, now you want me to do Birth and then Becoming? Will you be asking me to work backward through the entire chain? I ask because my thesis is quite lengthy.

:namaste:


Yes, I'd be interested to hear your interpretation of the birth and becoming nidanas.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:07 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:Yes, I'd be interested to hear your interpretation of the birth and becoming nidanas.


Thanks for being interested in it, Spiny.

The thesis that underlies my lengthy post on the Buddha's use of "death" in dependent origination is no small thing, and though it simplifies (at least for me) what is being said with DO -- and sharpens its focus quite a bit, as well -- the explanation of what it is, and how all the pieces fit, and what each link means, and all the layers to it will be far less clearly understood if I try to lay them out in bits and pieces. So I don't think I'm going to give that a serious go just now. It really needs the whole thesis to be read all at once to make sense. The good news about this is that I have put the thesis in writing and submitted it for review, and it has been accepted for the jury process. When it gets published, I'll give details here.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:09 pm

Greetings nowheat,

nowheat wrote:It really needs the whole thesis to be read all at once to make sense. The good news about this is that I have put the thesis in writing and submitted it for review, and it has been accepted for the jury process. When it gets published, I'll give details here.

:thumbsup:

I look forward to it.

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: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:A new booklet:

The Truth of Rebirth And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice
by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... birth.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ebirth.pdf

Here's a critique of Ven. Ṭhānissaro's The Truth of Rebirth by Mark Knickelbine:

“The Truth of Rebirth” : A Review, Part I

“The Truth of Rebirth”: A Review, Part 2

“The Truth of Rebirth” : A Review, Part 3

Without giving a detailed critique of Knickelbine's review, I'll just say that I found his criticisms weak primarily due to the weakness of the "secular" hermeneutic founded on the premise that the historical Buddha was either an agnostic or materialist, and that all of the teachings on rebirth found in the Pāli canon are either (i) based on a strategy for teaching morality to people who weren't capable of understanding Gotama's true dhamma, or (ii) were never intended to be interpreted literally, or (iii) were composed by deluded Indians in the centuries after the Buddha's death who weren't capable of accurately retaining and transmitting Gotama's true dhamma.

Unfortunately, this premise is entirely speculative. The methodology of textual criticism is not able and will never be able to demonstrate what the historical Buddha actually taught. This is why a necessary distinction needs to be made between Original Buddhism and Early Buddhism. Original Buddhism refers to the actual oral teachings of the historical Gotama and his immediate disciples. Early Buddhism refers to the early formative pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism and the extant textual documents which claim to be records of the Buddha's teachings as remembered by his immediate disciples after his death.

And while we can infer some significant information about the early pre-sectarian period of Indian Buddhism with the help of text-critical analysis of the extant discourses, we will never be able to prove with any degree of certainty which of these doctrines and training rules actually originated with the Buddha himself. What is clearly evident, however, is that teachings pertaining to rebirth, higher and lower realms, and supernormal knowledges are found throughout the discourses and are thoroughly integrated into the thought-world of Early Buddhism. And prior to the modern age, informed as it is by empirical science and a materialist worldview, these teachings on rebirth, etc., were never questioned, denied, or dismissed by any Buddhist school or commentator.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mknicke » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:47 pm

You're certainly welcome to dispute my review of "The Truth of Rebirth" but please don't misrepresent what it says. Neither I nor any other secular dharma writer I'm aware of would make any of the oversimplified and unjustifiable claims you attribute to me. What I do say is that the Theravadin faith that the entire Pali canon presents an accurate and doctrinally and logically consistent picture of Gotama's teachings on rebirth is unjustifiable, based on either historical evidence or on the heteroglossic nature of the texts themselves. What my review says is that, to make any sense of the Pali texts, we have to interpret what we read there. Thanissaro Bhikkhu's interpretation violates common sense, scientific knowlege and the core prinicples of anatta and conditioned arising, and is no more justifiable than an interpretation based on the many passages of the canon in which Gotama advises against metaphysical speculation and in favor of liberation in this very life. I would advise folks to go to my review and read it for themselves. I welcome responsible discussion.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:10 pm

Mknicke wrote:What I do say is that the Theravadin faith that the entire Pali canon presents an accurate and doctrinally and logically consistent picture of Gotama's teachings on rebirth is unjustifiable, based on either historical evidence or on the heteroglossic nature of the texts themselves.

Okay then, let's start here: What precisely is inaccurate about the traditional view of the Buddha's teachings on rebirth?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby SDC » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:18 pm

:popcorn:

3 years and 138 pages later this thread finally gets interesting.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:56 pm

Mknicke wrote: What I do say is that the Theravadin faith that the entire Pali canon presents an accurate and doctrinally and logically consistent picture of Gotama's teachings on rebirth is unjustifiable, based on either historical evidence or on the heteroglossic nature of the texts themselves. What my review says is that, to make any sense of the Pali texts, we have to interpret what we read there.


The suttas are so much filled with talk about devas, other realms, and rebirth that it would require cutting 3/4 of Dhamma out of the suttas. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

Also I am very unconvinced when people ignore clear-as-clear-can-be phrases such as:
    "with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in..."
and considering how the Buddha consistently defined body as:
    "this body — endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother & father, nourished with rice & porridge",
I cannot see how one can make 2+2 equal other than 4. I cannot see how the Buddha could have been any clearer than that.

The suttas are filled with such material that cannot simply be a metaphor.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:06 pm

    TB is saying that since we do not always perceive the connection between our actions and our happiness, that means that the connection can only exist outside the framework of a single human lifetime. Therefore, unless we accept that there are multiple lifetimes, we can’t accept Gotama’s teaching as complete and defensible. Presumably, however, if one could see in this life how one’s intentions and behaviors lead to their outcomes, belief in rebirth would be unnecessary; and I would argue that this is precisely what the practice Gotama taught enables us to do.
    http://www.secularbuddhistassociation.c ... ew-part-3/

We often see lying, backstabbing, aggressive shrewd and cunning psychopaths get to the top because they unfairly beat those who are not so aggressive and are push overs. Within the framework of one-life, they are on the top. But if we consider that there are multiple lifetimes we can consider that their victory is only for this short life and the bad kamma will catch up on them causing more trouble than it was worth.

N8P can at times be difficult:
    "Even though it may be with pain, even though it may be with sorrow, even though he may be crying, his face in tears, he lives the holy life that is perfect & pure. This is called the individual who goes against the flow." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If there is one life only, why not "live life to the full"? Why burden oneself with restrictions (that deny short term gain) even to the point of tears ? If there is kamma and rebirth, then being a nice guy who follows N8P, even if painful in this life, will eventually triumph in reaching Nibbana.

If there is only one life, then it is dumb to follow what can lead to pain, sorrow, tears, deprivation, etc.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:22 pm

Alex123 wrote:If there is one life only, why not "live life to the full"? Why burden oneself with restrictions (that deny short term gain) even to the point of tears ?


Such an appeal to incredulity is fallacious.
    "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 ancientbuddhism » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:48 pm

Alex123 wrote:We often see lying, backstabbing, aggressive shrewd and cunning psychopaths get to the top because they unfairly beat those who are not so aggressive and are push overs. Within the framework of one-life, they are on the top. But if we consider that there are multiple lifetimes we can consider that their victory is only for this short life and the bad kamma will catch up on them causing more trouble than it was worth.


Heaven for good people and hell for bad people? Do you really think the Dhamma is based on petty morality?
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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