the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:02 am

darvki wrote:
Alex123 wrote:If there are multiple lifetimes then suicide will not deal with problems inherent in existence. If there is one life, then suicide is a shortcut.

This, of course, assumes that one finds the "problems inherent to existence" solvable only by its termination. Many surely think otherwise.


Buddha couldn't avoid all dukkha. I don't think that I can do better than a Buddha.

Angulimala as an Arahant still experienced severe physical pain. He wasn't above that.

In MN144 due to severe illness Bhikkhu Channa, to quote the Buddha,

    Sāriputta, there may be the families of venerable Channa's friends, well-wishers and earlier relatives, I say, there is no fault to that extent. Sāriputta, if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly.MN144

It is said that the Buddha could prolong his lifespan for remaining of Kappa, or that he could die naturally, or shorten his life.

    10. And at the Capala shrine the Blessed One thus mindfully and clearly comprehending renounced his will to live onDN16

Why did Buddha shorten his life so that he would die within 3 month? Why didn't He remain longer to help more people?

To exist more means to experience more pain, aging, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, abusive people, and other complications inherent in having this body. Buddha was not exempt from it.

    28. But when the Blessed One had entered upon the rainy season, there arose in him a severe illness, and sharp and deadly pains came upon him. DN16

What makes you think that you can do better?

According to 4NT, at least 2/3 of Dukkha in this life is unsolvable. The only thing is to stop rebirth to stop life with all that which comes with it.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby darvki » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:07 am

Alex123 wrote:...

For some of us, whether we believe in one life or many, whether we are awakened or not, life is more than just unnecessary pain.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby barcsimalsi » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:12 pm

Alex123 wrote:Of course if one becomes an Arahant, then there will be less, less dukkha. But still, even the Buddha experienced some forms of dukkha that is inherent in existence. What are our chances of becoming Buddha, or even Arhant? What is the point in struggling if one could use the rope and quickly parinibbanize?

I love the idea of short cut please enlist me.
Maybe the Buddha's main point is to train ourselves to purely let go of all attachment so when we die or commit suicide, we and others got nothing to lose. I had listened to many suttas and i don't find any part of it that tells commit suicide will bring a person to hell. So if we are ready to let go everything, i think that is fine of taking the short cut.

Also if we don't believe in continuous rebirth, it won't make sense anymore about distinguishing craving for non existence vs accomplishing non attachment. I don't think the subject of rebirth can be parted from Buddhism.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:00 pm

darvki wrote:
Alex123 wrote:...

For some of us, whether we believe in one life or many, whether we are awakened or not, life is more than just unnecessary pain.


When one doesn't fully see the breadth, depth and width of Dukkha -Then, I guess, decorating seats in a burning house isn't that bad till some point. It is pessimism to say that house is burning, right? It is still somewhere in the future... Right?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:20 pm

I fail to see how speculative metaphysics of any kind are a comfort to people, but it happens.

I also fail to see how the Dhamma is seen as having been rendered toothless without this sort of belief, but it happens.

(Partly this is because I've yet to see a rebirth discussion not run afoul of either MN 2 or DN 1...)
    "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 gavesako » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:54 pm

Whatever problems arise, they arise right
here. “Is death followed by rebirth? By annihi-
lation? Is there a next world? Does hell exist?
Does heaven? Does evil exist? Does merit?” Ev-
erywhere I go, there’s the same question: “Do
heaven and hell exist?” I never feel like answer-
ing. I don’t see any reason to answer it, because
that which is burdened with heaven and hell
is the heart, which everyone already has. So
why waste time answering? After all, I’m not a
record-keeper for heaven and hell! Living beings
are reborn in various realms of existence through the power
of the good and bad kamma within the heart. The heart itself
is what’s reborn into those realms. If we don’t solve the
problem right in the heart, we’ll never be able to escape
the bonfires of suffering and anxiety.


-- Luangta Maha Boowa, "Samana"
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:33 pm

daverupa wrote:I fail to see how speculative metaphysics of any kind are a comfort to people, but it happens.

I also fail to see how the Dhamma is seen as having been rendered toothless without this sort of belief, but it happens.

(Partly this is because I've yet to see a rebirth discussion not run afoul of either MN 2 or DN 1...)



I recall Ajahn Sumedho saying in a talk I went to at Amaravati Monastery not long before he retired: ...

" What happens after death ? - We all have our opinions, but the fact is we don't really know."


:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby cooran » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:
darvki wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Why isn't suicide a shortcut to parinibbana? Why suffer needlessly?

I've heard this argument presented a lot, and it's time to be clear on why it has no merit:

If one is looking at a one-life-only viewpoint, the multiple-lives-dependent definition of parinibbana is rendered meaningless. Mixing worldviews like this is a logical black hole. To use a possibly clumsy example: it's like believing that there is no God, but that you'll go to Abrahamic-religious heaven (or hell) when you die.


Unlike some other religions, Buddhism teaches that there is dukkha. One doesn't even have to be Buddhist, just examine what life is about.

If there are multiple lifetimes then suicide will not deal with problems inherent in existence. If there is one life, then suicide is a shortcut.

Of course if one becomes an Arahant, then there will be less, less dukkha. But still, even the Buddha experienced some forms of dukkha that is inherent in existence. What are our chances of becoming Buddha, or even Arhant? What is the point in struggling if one could use the rope and quickly parinibbanize?


Hello Alex, all,

Could we please leave ''Suicide'' to threads having it as a main topic, and not clog up the discussion about Rebirth?

Please discuss/debate about ''Suicide'' in the topics below, or many others which will come up in any search of DhammaWheel:

Buddhism, rebirth and suicide
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12221
A Logical Sacrifice
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=11504&p=173965


with metta
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby darvki » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:40 pm

Alex123 wrote:When one doesn't fully see the breadth, depth and width of Dukkha -Then, I guess, decorating seats in a burning house isn't that bad till some point. It is pessimism to say that house is burning, right? It is still somewhere in the future... Right?

All I'm saying is that some of us aren't going to have our minds changed posts like these. You may think what you wish, but surely it's too much to hope others will eventually think the same if you make enough of these comments.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby darvki » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:43 pm

cooran wrote:Hello Alex, all,

Could we please leave ''Suicide'' to threads having it as a main topic, and not clog up the discussion about Rebirth?

Sorry for helping the main topic veer off, Chris. I'm done now.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:59 pm

darvki wrote:
Alex123 wrote:When one doesn't fully see the breadth, depth and width of Dukkha -Then, I guess, decorating seats in a burning house isn't that bad till some point. It is pessimism to say that house is burning, right? It is still somewhere in the future... Right?

All I'm saying is that some of us aren't going to have our minds changed posts like these. You may think what you wish, but surely it's too much to hope others will eventually think the same if you make enough of these comments.


I am happy that you don't suffer so much.


With best wishes,

Alex
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby equilibrium » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:18 pm

Rebirth must apply to those who are not awakened in this very life.
Rebirth must apply to those who are in other planes of existence.....unless they got out by help.
Rebirth should also happen to those who wish to come back to guide/help others due to compassion.

Rebirth is interesting because it is like a puzzle, it needs to be resolved in the mind, if not, one will definitly return until it is solved.....so this life as a human being, it is a great opportunity to really do something that really matters most!
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby darvki » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:42 pm

Alex123 wrote:I am happy that you don't suffer so much.

I have my share. Some of it has gone away with time thanks to the Dhamma. I hope (and firmly believe) you can find some immediate relief in your own refuge and practice.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby dsaly1969 » Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:35 pm

Scanning through this thread and the metaphysical speculation, it seems to remind me of the parable of the poison arrow. Deal with the dukkha. :tongue:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:36 am

gavesako wrote:Whatever problems arise, they arise right
here. “Is death followed by rebirth? By annihi-
lation? Is there a next world? Does hell exist?
Does heaven? Does evil exist? Does merit?” Ev-
erywhere I go, there’s the same question: “Do
heaven and hell exist?” I never feel like answer-
ing. I don’t see any reason to answer it, because
that which is burdened with heaven and hell
is the heart, which everyone already has. So
why waste time answering? After all, I’m not a
record-keeper for heaven and hell! Living beings
are reborn in various realms of existence through the power
of the good and bad kamma within the heart. The heart itself
is what’s reborn into those realms. If we don’t solve the
problem right in the heart, we’ll never be able to escape
the bonfires of suffering and anxiety.


-- Luangta Maha Boowa, "Samana"


Yet, the discussions of such go on and on and on and on! :jawdrop:

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby SamKR » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:55 pm

Just to perpetuate the cycle of this great rebirth debate... :)

dsaly1969 wrote:Scanning through this thread and the metaphysical speculation, it seems to remind me of the parable of the poison arrow. Deal with the dukkha. :tongue:

Yes. Some people deal with the Dukkha first by accepting that there has been an enormous amount of Dukkha in countless past lives because of the fetters of craving and ignorance; then by being determined to get rid of this Dukkha by diligently working towards liberation from the fetters.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Kamran » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:12 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Attachment to views, even right views, is a hindrance. If we have a good understanding of the Dhamma, we shouldn't get too upset when other disagree with us. If we argue too vigorously for our POV, it indicates some doubt and insecurity.

When someone disagrees too vehemently, it is best not to respond. Buddhist forums should be a place to learn, or a place to teach, not a place to argue.


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Javi » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:54 pm

Hi guys, just turning the wheel again :tongue:

I have just read this whole great rebirth debate, all 149 pages! (over the course of several days of course, some skimming over redundant arguments) I must be nuts or a masochist :rolleye: Anyways, I see that these are issues that arise again and again and have no end to them. I realize that this is a Sisyphean attempt at bridging some of these disagreements, but here we go. I have encountered two major points of contention.

1 - What the Buddha taught - Main issue seems to be the Procrustean attempt to make the suttas fit one's preconceived notions of what they must say.
1.1 - That the Buddha of the suttas taught rebirth ONLY as 'selfing' or didn't teach it at all.
1.2 - That the Buddha of the suttas ONLY taught agnosticism or skepticism about rebirth - the 'no-view' view.

2 - The relevancy of rebirth to dhamma practice. Various claims to the effect that people who do not actively believe in some form of post mortem continuum of conscious or mental elements (or hold to annihilationism) hold wrong view and that therefore they will not get far on the path. This is said to be because:
2.1 - Not believing means their sila is compromised.
2.2 - The soteriological goal of the dhamma is negated by this belief, suicide=nibbana according this account.

(1) Is a futile attempt as anyone who reads the suttas or any of the scholarly literature will eventually see. This is not to say that the interpretation of birth as 'selfing' is always wrong, sometimes is makes sense and it can be useful for practice, but clearly the Buddha taught 'literal' rebirth, whether you accept rebirth or not is a different matter altogether that can be very problematic, especially for westerners. I realize this is of course the crux of the problem, these are ancient Indian teachings and coming to them with a western skeptical and scientific point of view can be difficult. The important thing to keep in mind here is that what the suttas do say that it is OK to remain agnostic about this (and therefore gain the four assurances of the Kalamas). This doesn't mean that the suttas don't teach rebirth as a view (yes, you can teach a particular view, even while holding that clinging to views is bad - without views you have nothing to teach).

This brings us to 2.1, which of course, can be sourced and found in the suttas, though I do not believe this is universally true, there are many atheists and non-believers who are moral and believers in a next life that are immoral. I don't need to cite examples of atheists who have been charitable, of prison statistics showing a lower percentage of atheists in comparison to the total population (a total population which general believes in punishment for misdeeds after death), as of all this is found all over the net thanks to the acolytes of Dawkins et al. What I do think we need to do is look at this statement in its proper context, in ancient north India this may have been in the case, we don't live in ancient north India.
That being said, 2.2 can be problematic without 'literal' rebirth, but I don't think that it follows that suicide is nibbana. Nibbana seems to be something more than just a negative annihilation of all sensation, and it certainly wouldn't be something that caused intense suffering to everyone around you if you achieved it. What does follow is that if rebirth is negated or reinterpreted, then nibbana must be affected by this also.

Of course, all this only leaves us where we left off, and the wheel of rebirth threads spins its course ever onwards. How to stop this samsaric cycle? I propose the following.

1 - Study the suttas and understand what they say in the context of their time. Be aware of the many interpretations. If you choose to put your own interpretation on them, that's ok, but be mindful of what you are doing and don't cling to your own exegesis.

2 - As an atheist and a skeptic myself, I understand the difficulty in accepting supernatural theories based on scriptural evidence alone. The solution is of course, what I have always thought about life after death, a healthy agnosticism. Note that it is perfectly fine to hold an agnostic position according to the suttas. This does not mean that they say that this was the Buddha's personal position however, and it certainly does not mean they don't teach rebirth. I think that once we are able to separate these two often conflated notions (what the suttas say about rebirth and what the suttas say about believing in rebirth) we can move on, and practice without clinging.

3 - This is a sort of way to make everyone happy. I propose that atheists/agnostics who find it difficult to accept literal rebirth take rebirth as a sort of moral thought experiment or ethical imperative. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant formed his famous deontological ethics on the basis of one imperative "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction." You don't need to believe that universal moral laws exist, but you can be ethical by using this thought experiment every time you make an action. I propose a Buddhist kamma categorical imperative:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you would act if kamma and rebirth were literally true and your actions would have consequences over multiple lives"

You don't need to believe rebirth exists, you can remain agnostic, you can retain your naturalistic & phenomenological explanations about kamma and rebirth (maybe even combine it, symbolically, with the above), but using this you can be ACTIVELY agnostic about literal rebirth, not just passively so. I think this is something that we can all come together and accept as a common ground, a middle way for skeptics who cannot bring themselves to accept literal rebirth at the moment. The moral force and effect of the belief in rebirth is kept more or less intact - if you follow the maxim, without having to accept something on faith and scripture. At the same time, those who have a more orthodox view of rebirth can accept that this at least helps to ameliorate the problem of total agnosticm with regards to rebirth (which I personally don't see as a problem). All of this is unimportant however, if we are unable to let go of our dependency to views (ditthinissaya) - yes, even the thought experiment outlined above - which cause sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair.

"And how is there unyoking from views? There is the case where a certain person discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, & the escape from views. When he discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, & the escape from views, then — with regard to views — he is not obsessed with view-passion, view-delight, view-attraction, view-infatuation, view-thirst, view-fever, view-fascination, view-craving. This is unyoking from sensuality, unyoking from becoming, & unyoking from views."
- Yoga sutta


I apologize for the long post and probably repeating some of what has been said here again and again, it was something of an intellectual exercise for myself to understand this issue better and come up for a solution. I have seen much sutta quotes about detachment from views, I have seen less actual attempt at putting this into practice, hopefully it helps some people unfetter themselves as well.
Maha-Metta for all :heart:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby polarbuddha101 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:09 pm

:goodpost:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:03 pm

I like to think they are mental not actual places. But then again who know :jawdrop:
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