the great rebirth debate

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:47 am

Aloka wrote:
porpoise wrote:You seem to be suggesting he just made use of existing beliefs without personal belief, insight or verification. But is that idea credible, given the sophistication of early Indian thought, given that the Buddha was from a high-status family and presumably well-educated, given that he explored the various spiritual traditions of the time in great depth, given the Buddha's willingness to challenge the orthodoxies of the time?



I haven't suggested anything that you're implying, porpoise . Now if you'll excuse me, life goes on - and I have important things to do in the world outside my computer.

:anjali:


Haven't we all!
If you don't want to discuss these points, that's fine. I assumed you did because you keep showing up in these debates.
;)
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Aloka » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:31 am

porpoise wrote:
Haven't we all!


Ah yes, but there's an old saying here in the UK : "A woman's work is never done !"


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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby daverupa » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:40 pm

porpoise wrote:The sutta you're referring to is basically a reminder that mindfulness is a way to access Dhamma in the here and now. It's neutral in terms of our current discussion.


"To what extent is the Dhamma visible here-&-now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves?"

The answer the Buddha gives cannot apply to cosmology, but it applies to the Dhamma. That's quite germane.

porpoise wrote:I do get the impression that you're arguing for the redundancy of cosmology in the suttas, and for a secular approach to Buddhism. It's fine if you do, I'm just trying to understand your position.


Yes, the cosmologies seem redundant to me. "There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence..." is possible without them, and beyond this motivating role they do not seem practically significant. It is, in the main, not a component of the gradual training; where cosmological referents can be found in a training context, they function exclusively as motivators.

I argue here simply for it being non-essential (e.g. sense-restraint is essential, rag-robe-wearing is not). It isn't absent, it isn't wrong or right, it isn't necessarily just literal or just figurative - but it can be left alone.
    "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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby imagemarie » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:15 pm

:goodpost:

Ah yes, but there's an old saying here in the UK : "A woman's work is never done !"


Nor a man's either it would seem :popcorn:

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:22 pm

This thread is a tail-chaser:Image

MN 100; ii 212-3; MLDB 821: ”But how is it, Master Gotama are there gods [devas]?”

“It is known to me
[the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.”

“But how is this, Master Gotama, that when you are asked, ‘Are there gods?’ you say: ‘It is known to me to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods?’ If that is so, isn’t what you say empty and false?”

Bharadvaja, when one is asked, ‘Are there gods? Whether one answers, ‘There are gods,’ or ‘It is known to me to be the case [that there are gods],” a wise man can draw the definite conclusion that there are gods”

“But why didn’t Master Gotama answer me in the first way?”

It is widely accepted in the world, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.”


I would imagine if there are devas, then there are various immaterials realms to which they belong, which also opens the door for other immaterial beings and realms. The point of this is that this sort of thing is very much part of the fabric of what we find in the suttas. It is simpy there. Accepting that does not mean that one must believe it to be the devas are real, but certainly the Buddha said it was so and certainly those that followed him believed it to be so. It does the suttas no justice to try to deny that. The only real question here, in my esteemed opinion, is how does one, then, relate to this fabric of the suttas without doing an injustice to the suttas?
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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:54 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
MN 100; ii 212-3; MLDB 821: ”But how is it, Master Gotama are there gods [devas]?”

“It is known to me
[the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.”

“But how is this, Master Gotama, that when you are asked, ‘Are there gods?’ you say: ‘It is known to me to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods?’ If that is so, isn’t what you say empty and false?”

Bharadvaja, when one is asked, ‘Are there gods? Whether one answers, ‘There are gods,’ or ‘It is known to me to be the case [that there are gods],” a wise man can draw the definite conclusion that there are gods”

“But why didn’t Master Gotama answer me in the first way?”

It is widely accepted in the world, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.”


I would imagine if there are devas, then there are various immaterials realms to which they belong, which also opens the door for other immaterial beings and realms. The point of this is that this sort of thing is very much part of the fabric of what we find in the suttas. It is simpy there. Accepting that does not mean that one must believe it to be the devas are real, but certainly the Buddha said it was so and certainly those that followed him believed it to be so. It does the suttas no justice to try to deny that. The only real question here, in my esteemed opinion, is how does one, then, relate to this fabric of the suttas without doing an injustice to the suttas?


Hi Tiltbillings, could that be read as saying that the Buddha knows that there are beliefs in the gods, not that there are really gods per se? (That is, "per se" meaning in itself.)

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:03 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Hi Tiltbillings, could that be read as saying that the Buddha knows that there are beliefs in the gods, not that there are really gods per se? (That is, "per se" meaning in itself.)

:anjali:

“It is known to me [the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.” Looks to be a rather straightforward, there are gods. And given the many other texts where the Buddha talks with and about the devas, I think one would have to do some very serious eel-wriggling to say otherwise.
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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:05 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Hi Tiltbillings, could that be read as saying that the Buddha knows that there are beliefs in the gods, not that there are really gods per se? (That is, "per se" meaning in itself.)

:anjali:

“It is known to me [the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.” Looks to be a rather straightforward statement: there are gods. And given the many other texts where the Buddha talks with and about the devas, I think one would have to do some very serious eel-wriggling to say otherwise.
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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:“It is known to me [the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.” Looks to be a rather straightforward, there are gods. And given the many other texts where the Buddha talks with and about the devas, I think one would have to do some very serious eel-wriggling to say otherwise.


I can agree with the Buddha that "it's the case that there are gods," but I would think that there are correct and wrong ways of viewing this.

:anjali:
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby daverupa » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:09 pm

If I recall Bhikkhu Bodhi's footnote correctly, that part of that sutta is a little garbled, and probably suffered from transmission problems. There's another discussion along similar lines near the end of MN 90:

“What the Blessed One has said appears reasonable, what the Blessed One has said appears to be supported by reason. But, venerable sir, how is it: are there gods?”

“Why do you ask that, great king?”

“Venerable sir, I was asking whether those gods come back to this [human] state or whether they do not.”

“Great king, those gods who are still subject to affliction come back to this [human] state, those gods who are no longer subject to affliction do not come back to this [human] state.”
Last edited by daverupa on Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:11 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:“It is known to me [the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.” Looks to be a rather straightforward, there are gods. And given the many other texts where the Buddha talks with and about the devas, I think one would have to do some very serious eel-wriggling to say otherwise.


I can agree with the Buddha that "it's the case that there are gods," but I would think that there are correct and wrong ways of viewing this.

:anjali:
You can either take it face value, or your can try to read a more modern symbolic take on it, or there may be another way of trying to exorcise the gods as being understood as actual entities out of the Pali suttas.
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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby robertk » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:12 pm

I had a discussion with a well-known science writer some years back who was very interested in Buddhism. The way it had been presented to him was as a kind of ethical humanism .
But then he took the time to actually study the teachings and found them replete with kamma, rebirth, devas, hell realms.
It didn't fit with his worldview, and he saw no reason to change his view so he rejected Buddhism and moved on. It's an honest approach.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:13 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:This is a highly dubious claim that isn't supported by the Buddhist suttas nor any Buddhist tradition. Moreover, if you dismiss the Buddhist view of saṃsāra and rebirth then why would you want to attain liberation from saṃsāra? And why would you want to appropriate the term "nibbāna" for your goal?

Ven. Ṭhānissaro:....


First I think my "dubious claim" is supported by suttas. Sutta clearly speak of nibbana here and now and nibbana as the ultimate release from suffering.

But as I said, some people interpret "dhukka" as inclusive of physical pains, sickness and old age. If that is the case then obviously the only way to end dukkha is to end existence. To such a person, there is no way to experience cessation of suffering while still being alive. How can he end suffering if old age is suffering, if sickness is suffering, if death is suffering. So, irrespective of what the suttas say of "cessation of suffering", they think the "only way out of suffering" is to end existing. So the whole "cycle of rebirth and samsara" come in to play.

Either way what matters is, to those of any school, the "present moment" is applicable. No matter what you believe in, the whole "cycle" :quote: is still visible in the present moment.

And I am really not interested in Ven T's commentaries any more than a ven. A's or ven B's commentaries. They are all just interpretations to me. I will take it all 50-50.

Ñāṇa wrote:Not according to the suttas. Buddhism offers a much greater potential for human knowledge than this.


The suttas I have read do not claim that all practitioners have direct knowledge of life after death. Even some arahaths do not have such knowledge or powers. I don't consider it as a directly verifiable part of dhamma. But I do not refuse or whole heartedly accept it either.

Ñāṇa wrote:No, it's not. The traditional interpretations of saṃsāra and rebirth are quite consistent.


Since when was traditional "interpretations" the gospel?

Ñāṇa wrote:This again shows your lack of understanding of the Buddhadhamma.

It's easy to make personal remarks such as "dubious claim" or "you don't know" but in intellectual discussions they don't hold much ground. :bow:
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:14 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:“It is known to me [the Buddha] to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods.” Looks to be a rather straightforward, there are gods. And given the many other texts where the Buddha talks with and about the devas, I think one would have to do some very serious eel-wriggling to say otherwise.


I can agree with the Buddha that "it's the case that there are gods," but I would think that there are correct and wrong ways of viewing this.

:anjali:
You can either take it face value, or your can try to read a more modern symbolic take on it, or there may be another way of trying to exorcise the gods as being understood as actual entities out of the Pali suttas.


One example of correct reading I think would be to view these gods as something that are not permanent, unchanging, a self in themselves, or free of dukkha... or to put it in other words, they're dependent originated.

:anjali:
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:21 pm

tiltbillings wrote:...but certainly the Buddha said it was so and certainly those that followed him believed it to be so."


Is this the Buddhist equivalent for “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”? The ecumenists must be delighted that there is at least this common-ground between Buddhists and Baptists.


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Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:22 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Scholar monks? :thinking:

Have you had any real-life contact with monastic teachers? I've not come across any who advocate denying literal rebirth. Of course, they will often say "just keep an open mind", or "it's not necessary to believe in anything..."


I AM NOT denying rebirth. How can I deny or accept something I don't know? What I am saying is there are teachers who promote you to focus on the "present moment and present life" and leave the rest of the things behind. I don't have a problem if somebody wants to believe in anything. But I have a problem if someone tries to force a belief down my throat saying "It is there in sutta interpretations and not believing in it is ignorance".

I am having contact with monastic teachers.
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:24 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
One example of correct reading I think would be to view these gods as something that are not permanent, unchanging, a self in themselves, or free of dukkha... or to put it in other words, they're dependent originated.
Which is exactly what the suttas teach.
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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:29 pm

daverupa wrote:It may have been a minority concern, but agnosticism about rebirth is, apparently, no barrier to Dhamma practice (MN 79 might even indicate that the Buddha preferred to set it aside even in cases where he & others could have swapped experiential conversation about it).

At the end of the day, talk of the facticity of supernatural realms can be set aside altogether.


This sums up all of my posts. Thanks daverupa
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Re: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby daverupa » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:32 pm

Something interesting:

when instructing some brahmins,

MN 41 wrote:"If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of the gods of the [Numerous Variety]' it is possible that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he may do so. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.

"If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that by realization myself with direct knowledge, I may here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of the heart and the deliverance by wisdom that are taint-free with exhaustion of taints!' it is possible that, by realization himself with direct knowledge, he may here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of the heart and the deliverance by wisdom that are taint-free with exhaustion of taints. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct."


yet when instructing some monks,

MN 16 wrote:"Again, a bhikkhu lives the holy life aspiring to some order of gods thus: 'By this virtue or observance or asceticism or holy life, I shall become a [great] god or some [lesser] god,' and thus his mind does not incline to ardor, devotion, perseverance, and striving. As his mind does not incline to ardor, devotion, perseverance, and striving, this is the fifth shackle in the heart that he has not severed.

Bhikkhus, that any bhikkhu who has not abandoned these five wildernesses in the heart and severed these five shackles in the heart should come to growth, increase, and fulfillment in this Dhamma and Discipline—that is impossible.
    "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: Is hell and hungry ghost realm to be taken literally?

Postby Dan74 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:41 pm

Throughout this discussion (and others) there is an assumption that everything written in the Suttas was spoken by the Buddha. I don't think we can be sure of that, can we?

My take is being agnostic about what I cannot verify (or disprove) by experience.
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