Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

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Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:02 pm

I took the following quote from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_bein ... cite_ref-4

The human rebirth is said to be extremely rare. The Majjhima Nikaya (129 Balapandita Sutta) compares it to a wooden cattle-yoke floating on the waves of the sea, tossed this way and that by the winds and currents. The likelihood of a blind turtle, rising from the depths of the ocean to the surface once in a hundred years, putting its head through the hole in the yoke is considered greater than that of a being in the animal realm, hungry ghost realm or hell realm achieving rebirth as a human. This is because, according to the sutta, in these realms there is no Dhamma (Sanskrit Dharma), no practicing what is right, no doing what is wholesome, and no performing of merit. However it is generally implied that if one is already living as a human they will continue to be reborn in the human world based on good works and so they will be one again and again as long as they are moral and good in the ways described in Buddhist rules regardless of whether or not they are Buddhist themselves. The idea is that one must be good and moral because falling below the human realm is dangerous as the odds of one becoming a human again with any great frequency is slim.


Is the implication correct? That a human being will continue to be reborn in the human world based on good work? I've heard both sides...this one and also that human rebirth is rare in all circumstances....even if one conducts himself well.

I have this sense of angst about my next life sometimes and wish deeply to be able to continue the practice of the Dharma...that's why, the idea of it almost being impossible to be reborn as a human is very discouraging.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:04 pm

Digity wrote:I have this sense of angst about my next life


You should probably get to work here and now, in that case!

:hug:
    "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: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:07 pm

SN 56.102-113 wrote:Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn't even count. It's no comparison. It's not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

"In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

Human birth is a rare, rare thing indeed. Strive on with diligence and obtain stream entry; such is the only path to avoid falling into lower realms.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:38 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Human birth is a rare, rare thing indeed. Strive on with diligence and obtain stream entry; such is the only path to avoid falling into lower realms.


Sometimes I think I may have attained stream-entry, because I have no serious doubts about the Buddha's path, don't cling to any sort of rites and rituals and understand that this self-identity is illusive and just a composition of the five aggregates. My understanding is those are the first three fetters that one must overcome to gain stream-entry. Also, I have taken up the five precepts. I still strive forward to deepen my understanding and I'm putting even more effort into meditation and actually beginning to enjoy it. I wonder if I'm truly on the first step to awakening or simply deluding myself, but I honestly feel that I have my first footing on the path.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby cooran » Sun Oct 14, 2012 8:48 pm

Hello Digity,

Stream Winner is the hardest of all the levels to achieve. After that, all others will be achieved in not more than seven rebirths. A Stream Winner has also eradicated the Ten Samyojanas (fetters); Seven Anusayas (latent defilements)
http://www.thisismyanmar.com/nibbana/ariyas4.htm

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:29 pm

cooran wrote:Hello Digity,

Stream Winner is the hardest of all the levels to achieve. After that, all others will be achieved in not more than seven rebirths. A Stream Winner has also eradicated the Ten Samyojanas (fetters); Seven Anusayas (latent defilements)
http://www.thisismyanmar.com/nibbana/ariyas4.htm

with metta
Chris

I'm sorry, but that is incorrect. Even that chart shows that a Stream Winner still has the fetters of conceit, ignorance, etc.

Did you misspeak?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby santa100 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:35 pm

Digity wrote:
Sometimes I think I may have attained stream-entry...


The following thread might have useful info. for you..
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=14256&p=209712&hilit=+stream+ent#p209712
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:50 am

santa100 wrote:
Digity wrote:
Sometimes I think I may have attained stream-entry...


The following thread might have useful info. for you..
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=14256&p=209712&hilit=+stream+ent#p209712

Yes, I've read that. I'm of the view that stream-entry is not some impossible feat. I known now that doubts about the teachngs have been eradicated in me. I use to have them, but I eventually reached a point in my practice where those doubts were gone. If anything, I'm just in pure awe of the teachings. I sometimes want to pinch myself thinking about how fortunate we are to have had a Buddha give his teachings to us.

In terms of the self-identity...I mean, I just don't believe in any eternal self. I actually think it's ridiculous that some people even believe in this idea, because there's ZERO evidence for it anywhere. There's far more evidence to suggest we are a composition of the five aggregates.

Lastly, I've always felt that performing rituals for spritiual reasons was silly....I mean, come on! Honestly, of the first three fetters the one I had to overcome was the doubt. I had my doubts about the teachings, but you reach a point where you have this unwavering trust in what the Buddha taught. I just see truth in all his teachings. Everytime I read a sutta it's just more clarity and understanding. I don't understand sometimes why everyone wouldn't want to be a Buddhist...why some people don't see the truth in his teachings...it's bizarre. Although, I've been obsessed from a early age about these questions about life. That's why, finding the Buddha's teachings was a relief in my life, because before that I would get depressed, because I couldn't comprehend the point of life. I just saw it as this futile cycle with no real meaning to it. That's the beauty of the Buddha's teachings...it acknowledges this feeling in the pit of your stomach and offers a way out!

Do people think stream-entry is just this? Or is it suppose to be some mind-blowing experience where you start floating in the sky after meditating...haha, okay, I'm joking. I'm just wondering if we need to bring stream-entry more down to earth and make it less of this impossible feat. I don't know. maybe I'm all wrong about this.

BTW my original question was whether the quote from the wikipedia was correct? I've heard it both ways. Not sure if anyone has answered that.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:15 am

Digity wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:Human birth is a rare, rare thing indeed. Strive on with diligence and obtain stream entry; such is the only path to avoid falling into lower realms.


Sometimes I think I may have attained stream-entry,
Possible, but either way, it is just one more of which to let go.
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: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:29 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Digity wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:Human birth is a rare, rare thing indeed. Strive on with diligence and obtain stream entry; such is the only path to avoid falling into lower realms.


Sometimes I think I may have attained stream-entry,
Possible, but either way, it is just one more of which to let go.

All views must be let go in the end. However, as we traverse the path they play a role...just like the raft simile.

Tilt, I know you're not a fan of people who make such claims and I don't blame you. I feel silly even suggesting it, but when I think about my conviction in the teachings I can't help but think that I've at least attained the first footings into the teachings. I just couldn't imagine myself ever walking away from the teachings at this point...they're just too clear in my mind now. Before I had to convince myself that they were correct...but now it's morphed more into just doing the work that needs to be done. That's what I see as my path now...just putting it into full practice. Once the doubt is gone you're willing to open up more to the practice.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:39 am

Digity wrote:
Tilt, I know you're not a fan of people who make such claims and I don't blame you. I feel silly even suggesting it, but when I think about my conviction in the teachings I can't help but think that I've at least attained the first footings into the teachings. I just couldn't imagine myself ever walking away from the teachings at this point...they're just too clear in my mind now. Before I had to convince myself that they were correct...but now it's morphed more into just doing the work that needs to be done. That's what I see as my path now...just putting it into full practice. Once the doubt is gone you're willing to open up more to the practice.
It is an interesting place to be in, but the only thing I'd add is tread lightly and continue to do the work and not to make it all a credential .
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: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:53 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Digity wrote:
Tilt, I know you're not a fan of people who make such claims and I don't blame you. I feel silly even suggesting it, but when I think about my conviction in the teachings I can't help but think that I've at least attained the first footings into the teachings. I just couldn't imagine myself ever walking away from the teachings at this point...they're just too clear in my mind now. Before I had to convince myself that they were correct...but now it's morphed more into just doing the work that needs to be done. That's what I see as my path now...just putting it into full practice. Once the doubt is gone you're willing to open up more to the practice.
It is an interesting place to be in, but the only thing I'd add is tread lightly and continue to do the work and not to make it all a credential .

I honestly feel like my practice is really just beginning now. Previous to this I just fought with doubt or just not want to accept the teachings. I feel like I've been chipping away at my resistence to the Dharma...and there is a resistence to it, because it's so against the grain of the wordly ways. There's almost a sense of fear when you first learn about Buddhism, because we have to go against the common way of life and people don't want that...they just want to fit in. I think that's one of the big barriers to these teachings...it's having to walk away from the common approach to life...the common approach to thinking...the common approach to everything! That's scary, but if you see the truth in the teachings then I think it's no longer something to fear, because you see through the "veil" of security that the "common approach to life" gives us and you don't want a part of it anymore!

The reason I said I "sometimes" think I have attained stream-entry, is because so much of the doubt about the teachings have been removed. I wonder is that all there is too it? Once the doubts gone then it's just a matter of walking the path to the end. Anyway, I'm not claiming at all to be a stream enterer...just someone who have lost doubt in the teachings and now feels fully convinced to practice. I sometimes think that's what the Buddha meant by stream-entry, but there's so many definitions out there that it's almost silly to debate about it.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:35 am

Since it might sound pretty scary with the blind turtle simile from the OP, but have no fear, keep going forward, train hard, and things will naturally fall into the right place. The thread below probably has some helpful insight to address your original concern Digity..
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=14444#p211348
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:54 am

santa100 wrote:Since it might sound pretty scary with the blind turtle simile from the OP, but have no fear, keep going forward, train hard, and things will naturally fall into the right place. The thread below probably has some helpful insight to address your original concern Digity..
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=14444#p211348


Yes, I've thought about that sutta a lot. My mind seems so inclined towards the Dhamma that I imagine it will carry me forward into the next life and let me continue the path. I guess I should stop worrying about these things. Although, it's in my nature to seek security. I think that's the underlying fear in all this...it's wanting to be assured that I'm secure in the path of the Dhamma in my next life and forward. That's what makes the idea of being a stream-entrant so appealing, but maybe I haven't fully comprehended what "stream-entry" means. However, even the Buddha's comments about where the mind is inclined seems to suggest that once we elimiate our doubt about the Dhamma and we are fully inclined towards practice then that should carry us forward...in a sense, isn't that stream-entry?
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:02 am

Say even if one hasn't made it to stream entry, as long as one possesses the four virtues as mentioned in SN 55.22 above, it's still safe enough to ensure a favorable rebirth..
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:12 am

santa100 wrote:Say even if one hasn't made it to stream entry, as long as one possesses the four virtues as mentioned in SN 55.22 above, it's still safe enough to ensure a favorable rebirth..

What does "favourable" rebirth mean? If it means being reborn in the heavens that's not necessarily favourable if one doesn't continue their Dhamma practice. To me, the only favourable rebirth is one where one continues the path to its completion...anything else is not a favourable rebirth. Even if you're born into the most blissful realm...what's the point? It's just the same old, same old samsara. The only favourable rebirth is the one that leads to Unbinding....which implies stream entry.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby santa100 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:18 am

Sure, just like the Buddha described it in that sutta:
"A disciple of the noble ones, when endowed with four qualities, leans toward Unbinding, slants toward Unbinding, inclines toward Unbinding"


So, regardless of whether he'll be reborn into a heavenly realm, or a human realm, as long as he posseses the four virtues, he will continue to have the chance to see and practice the Dhamma again. About stream entry, I've already given you the link to the Kosambiya sutta that lists the seven factors, which should be pretty good concrete metrics to verify whether one's made it to that stage or not..
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Reductor » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:23 am

Hey Digity,

About that turtle bit, consider the shear scope of samsara: so many lives extend into the past that no beginning can be found. That's an enormous number, in comparison to which ten human lives lived in sequence still seems fantastically small and fortuitous. Once those ten (or two, or five or however many) have yielded a change in cosmic alignment, so to speak, the way back is long and arduous indeed.

So, perhaps a person has lived a single life as a human being, but that doesn't mean they will be going some other plane in the next one. Although if they depart from normal human morals enough, they likely will cease to be human the next time around.

About being a stream winner. I'd ask first how long you've been a serious minded Buddhist. If it hasn't been too long, then your easy position with regard to Dhamma and doubt may be the result of beginner's momentum more than anything else. Just give it time, and see how the next decades of your practice turn out. ;) If doubt arises at some future date, look it square in the face then and don't get worked up about failing the criteria for 'sotapatta'.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Digity » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:32 am

Reductor wrote:Hey Digity,

About that turtle bit, consider the shear scope of samsara: so many lives extend into the past that no beginning can be found. That's an enormous number, in comparison to which ten human lives lived in sequence still seems fantastically small and fortuitous. Once those ten (or two, or five or however many) have yielded a change in cosmic alignment, so to speak, the way back is long and arduous indeed.

So, perhaps a person has lived a single life as a human being, but that doesn't mean they will be going some other plane in the next one. Although if they depart from normal human morals enough, they likely will cease to be human the next time around.

About being a stream winner. I'd ask first how long you've been a serious minded Buddhist. If it hasn't been too long, then your easy position with regard to Dhamma and doubt may be the result of beginner's momentum more than anything else. Just give it time, and see how the next decades of your practice turn out. ;) If doubt arises at some future date, look it square in the face then and don't get worked up about failing the criteria for 'sotapatta'.

I've been studying Buddhism for eight years...so the teachings are nothing new to me. I've already been through the beginners ups and downs...I have a fairly good understanding of the teachings now. Although, I still diligently try to deepen my understanding. What I lack is development in my meditation, but I'm starting to improve in that area.

I don't see doubt arising...I've had all my doubts, but I've seen through them now and the conditions for those doubts no longer exists. I'm a highly skeptical person and question almost everything....so I didn't just 'believe' something without first examining it from all angles to find holes. I don't take these matters lightly and think the Dhamma needs to be thoroughly examined for it to be properly penetrated.
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Re: Confused about likelihood of human rebirth

Postby Reductor » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:59 am

Digity wrote:I've been studying Buddhism for eight years...so the teachings are nothing new to me. I've already been through the beginners ups and downs...I have a fairly good understanding of the teachings now. Although, I still diligently try to deepen my understanding. What I lack is development in my meditation, but I'm starting to improve in that area.

I don't see doubt arising...I've had all my doubts, but I've seen through them now and the conditions for those doubts no longer exists. I'm a highly skeptical person and question almost everything....so I didn't just 'believe' something without first examining it from all angles to find holes. I don't take these matters lightly and think the Dhamma needs to be thoroughly examined for it to be properly penetrated.


Thanks for responding.

The dhamma does need to be properly examined, that is true. If you have done that, and continue to do that, there is little need to be anxious about your next life.

I'd point out that examining the teachings for holes is very different from a fundamental shift in your cognitive process. That is, a lack of doubt from not finding holes is different from seeing your mind with new and better eyes. The first admits that doubt may arise if holes are found, while the second is to fill the holes with a first hand account of how things are.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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