Accepting Rebirth

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Nibbida » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:31 am

Individual wrote:...Yes... and agnosticism seems to fall under one of the 52 wrong views, the one about the refusal to take a clear position.


jcsuperstar,
Do you mean that that enlightened individuals become omniscient? There are enlightened Zen masters have reported having no experiences of past lives.

Again, I'm not saying that I don't believe in rebirth across lifetimes or that I'm agnostic. I haven't said anything either way, because it's not relevant.

Having a list of 52 wrong views sounds a little dogmatic to me.
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Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Individual » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:50 am

Nibbida wrote:
Individual wrote:...Yes... and agnosticism seems to fall under one of the 52 wrong views, the one about the refusal to take a clear position.


jcsuperstar,
Do you mean that that enlightened individuals become omniscient? There are enlightened Zen masters have reported having no experiences of past lives.

Again, I'm not saying that I don't believe in rebirth across lifetimes or that I'm agnostic. I haven't said anything either way, because it's not relevant.

Having a list of 52 wrong views sounds a little dogmatic to me.

This sutta clarifies the scope of the Buddha's knowledge, and exalts him above the common, agnostic philosopher.

The list of 52 wrong views might be misunderstood in a dogmatic way, yes, but it still seems to be a very useful list of common wrong views, both back then and even today. Agnosticism can be a good thing if a person is honest about their ignorance and refuses to take a position simply because they don't know: they're still investigating. It becomes a problem, metaphorically described as "eel-wriggling," when a person adopts the label out of a refusal to acknowledge their ignorance and to further investigate what they don't know.
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Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:39 am

Hi Nibbida,

Nibbida wrote:I didn't say whether or not I was agnostic about rebirth across lifetimes, only that there are enlightened individuals who are.


In the Theravada their claims to enlightenment (or the claims that their tradition makes on their behalf) would be dismissed without appeal. In the Theravadin conception of enlightenment one may be enlightened without recalling former existences, but not without understanding the conditionality of dhammas. To doubt or reject rebirth is to suppose that those dhammas denoted "causes and conditions for further becoming" might not in fact give rise to further becoming. To suppose this is possible only for one by whom the conditionality of dhammas has neither been understood intellectually nor penetrated by insight.


    When dhammas become manifest
    To the ardent meditating brahman,
    All his doubts then vanish since he understands
    Each dhamma along with its cause.
    (from the Udana, sutta 1)

One needs to bear in mind that when those of non-Theravadin persuasion speak of 'enlightenment', they're often referring to something altogether different from the enlightenment of the Buddha's Buddhism.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:50 am

Hi Nibbida,

Nibbida wrote:Having a list of 52 wrong views sounds a little dogmatic to me.


The list is actually of 62 views.

Have you read the Brahmajala Sutta and seen what these views are, what the Buddha says about how each view arises and in what its error consists? If you have, then would you care to say which ones in particular struck you as being a dogmatic judgment on the part of the Buddha?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Nibbida » Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:43 pm

Dhammanando wrote:In the Theravada their claims to enlightenment (or the claims that their tradition makes on their behalf) would be dismissed without appeal. In the Theravadin conception of enlightenment one may be enlightened without recalling former existences, but not without understanding the conditionality of dhammas. To doubt or reject rebirth is to suppose that those dhammas denoted "causes and conditions for further becoming" might not in fact give rise to further becoming. To suppose this is possible only for one by whom the conditionality of dhammas has neither been understood intellectually nor penetrated by insight.


    When dhammas become manifest
    To the ardent meditating brahman,
    All his doubts then vanish since he understands
    Each dhamma along with its cause.
    (from the Udana, sutta 1)

One needs to bear in mind that when those of non-Theravadin persuasion speak of 'enlightenment', they're often referring to something altogether different from the enlightenment of the Buddha's Buddhism.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu



To be more clear, I don't claim that the Buddha's sutta contained dogmatic thinking. I don't even disagree with any of the 52 wrong views. I get suspicious however, whenever some air-tight reasoning is put in place that makes anyone else's views "wrong" and easily dismissed. Whether or not it's true, it's a slippery slope to dogmatic thinking. To reiterate, this is not to say that I disagree with the principles discussed here.

Are there many different kinds of enlightenment, or are non-Theravadin's not enlightened? Are Zen masters enlightened in the Theravadin sense? Are Tibetan lamas?

To all who have responded, I appreciate your patience and carefull consider what you have written here.
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Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jun 14, 2009 3:54 pm

Hi Nibbida,

Nibbida wrote:Are there many different kinds of enlightenment,


It seems that the term 'enlightenment' is used by different Buddhist schools to denote different things. For example, in the Theravada enlightenment consists in a progressive development of understanding, bringing about a gradual purgation of the mind from its fetters in four stages (stream-entry, once-returning etc.). Now if you go over to Zen Forum International and ask the posters there what Zen has to say about this, I expect Reverends Nonin and Jundo, and others, will tell you that practice in their school has no truck with any such notion of 'stages'.

or are non-Theravadin's not enlightened?


To judge from the Mahaparinibbana Sutta it would depend on whether non-Theravadins understand and cultivate the Eightfold Path.

    "In whatever Dhamma and discipline the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, no ascetic is found of the first, the second, the third or the fourth grade. But such ascetics can be found, of the first, second, third and fourth grade in a Dhamma and discipline where the Noble Eightfold Path is found."
    (DN. 16)

Are Zen masters enlightened in the Theravadin sense? Are Tibetan lamas?


I don't know about Zen masters. The spiritual virtuosos of Tibetan Buddhism are believed by their devotees to be enlightened in a vastly superior sense to that of the Theravada.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Accepting Rebirth

Postby Nibbida » Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:28 pm

Thank you Bhante.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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