Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth? - Dhamma Wheel

Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby edwhys211 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:40 pm

I am an agnostic who is interested in Buddhism. I like meditation, the teachings of The Buddha and Asian culture, but I cannot accept rebirth without skepticism. As an agnostic I cannot be sure or unsure about anything, but I really do not fully believe in rebirth and the realms of rebirth. I view it more as a story, not a truth. Does Zen, or any other minor school just view Buddhism as a philosophical religion without rebirth?

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby Justsit » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:53 pm

No, there are no "Buddhist" schools that do not teach rebirth. Rebirth, and karma, are fundamental to the Buddha's teaching.

It seems that Westerners often have difficulty with the concept of rebirth. We often come from a scientific/materialistic background, or from distasteful experiences with religion. It may be helpful to just put it aside until one is a bit further along on the path, when one's understanding of the teachings may be a bit deeper. Put it on the back burner for now, learn more, revisit rebirth later. It's always fine to say, "I don't know. "

One day the penny will drop.

Just my .02, YMMV.

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby Aloka » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:00 pm

I think there are some Soto Zen teachers who are agnostic on the subject of rebirth. You might like to check out Brad Warner, for example.

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby plwk » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:03 pm

Once again, Zen Buddhists can be reached on this subject fully or

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:46 pm

"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby dude » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:14 pm

Why are you interested in Buddhism?

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:03 pm


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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:16 pm

I have been a Buddhist since the age of 22 and a monk for 35 years. I have always believed in literal rebirth, but I still cannot remember my previous lives, nor do I know what my next existence will be.

So what's the difference between you and me? Believing is not knowing, and not-believing is not knowing either. Learn to see doubt for what it is, accept that there are some things that you cannot know, and try to understand the things that you can.

The Buddha's teaching is about understanding suffering and its causes. We should try to understand as much as possible in this very life, since the next life is uncertain. For the first twenty two years of this existence I did not know anything about the Buddha's teaching — now that I do, it guides my life and motivates me to abstain from evil, cultivate good, and purify the mind. If there is another life after this one, that cannot be bad. If there is not, it makes me happier in this existence.

Read the and study the discourse in full if you have time. Perhaps it will clear some of your doubts and help you to focus on what is important.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:45 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby Kamran » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:02 am

If interested, Soto Zen is non-mystical with no rebirth according to monks like Gudo Nishijima (see his interesting 30 questions below). He has a theory that meditation is a way to balance the autonomic nervous system.

8. What is Heaven and Hell?
Heaven is a human supposition and Hell is also a human supposition. But when our autonomic nervous system is balanced, it is just Heaven, and when our autonomic nervous system is not balanced, it is just Hell.

16. Where will you be in 100 years from now?
When I die in a few years, not so long from now, everything will become nothing including me, and I will take a rest forever.

20. Does Zazen have a goal?
Zazen has a goal. The goal of Zazen is to practice Zazen itself.
"Silence gives answers"

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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Re: Do Zen Buddhists fully believe in Rebirth?

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:39 am

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