bardo...

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:01 am

EDIT: side question: what are we, as theravadins, supposed to do at the time of death? what does the canon say? END EDIT.

firstly, vajrayana is a wonderful thing and i respect all of it's teachings and their validity within their own tradition. this thread is about the possibility of the existence of the tibetan ideas of a death bardo as detailed in the tibetan book of the dead in the pali canon. so this is about the pali canon and the buddha found within. i fully accept that the buddha of the tibetan canon taught things that promote bardo practice and that it is a very important practice for tibetan buddhism. from here on i'm talking about the buddha of the pali canon and not the buddha of the tibetan canon. i am not saying one is right and the other is wrong. i'm just detailing what the buddha in the pali canon did or did not teach and making some assumptions about these things.

i had heard some say the ideas are in the pali canon and did some research.

immediate rebirth or in between stage? practice(s) required to pass through it into nibbana? can a person who is destined for higher realms or even nibbana fail to navigate the bardo and end up in lower realms again?

conclusions based on my research of the pali canon:

biggest conclusion: the buddha taught for FORTY FIVE YEARS, if some kind of bardo practice was important, he would have taught it. he never mentions anything of the sort, so there is no logical reason to assume that such a thing should be paid any mind.

1. according to vague allusions in the suttas there may be an in between stage (SN 44.9 among others).

2. the suttas in no way imply this state is a nightmarish experience as does the tibetan book of the dead or that one can completely control this state and influence ones future birth. instead it implies that some reach nibbana while in this state (SN 46.3*), but it does not say that people change their destination in any other way. it seems that they were just due for nibbana then, as opposed to using some skill to reach it while in said state.

3. the suttas do not imply this is a long period as does the tibetan book of the dead.

4. the buddha gives ZERO instructions on working with this state. literally zero. therefore we can conclude that either there are not practices for this state and people who reach nibbana there do so as a result of practice while living and not conscious intervention during said state, or that it is a waste of time (ie. practice time on earth is overwhelmingly more likely to lead one to nibbana if one practices what the buddha taught instead of working on some kind of in between practice plan). and it is certainly completely safe to assume that there's nothing to fear from this state that we should prepare for as, again, he would have mentioned it and taught about it and instead he says literally NOTHING about it in that way.

5. the odds of it being 100% systematized and the same for every person as taught in the tibetan book of the dead are practically zero. if this was the case the buddha would have taught on it (broken record i know but thousands of suttas and he never gives a single bardo practice, so the point is at the forefront). instead he gave extremely vague metaphors that simply imply that there is an in between state and gives no other information, thus one can safely conclude he didn't see it as important enough to even teach about except for a mention here and there.



*this sutta translated by bhikkhu bodhi in "connected discourses of the buddha" mentions directly the phrase "Nibbana in the interval". however the one on accesstoinsight does not.
Last edited by alan... on Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby fig tree » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:25 am

alan... wrote:2. the suttas in no way imply this state is a nightmarish experience as does the tibetan book of the dead or that one can completely control this state and influence ones future birth. instead it implies that some reach nibbana while in this state (SN 46.3), but it does not say that people change their destination in any other way. it seems that they were just due for nibbana then, as opposed to using some skill to reach it while in said state.

I thought I had once read a sutta reference which described the arahant as defeating death as a strong person would overpower a weak person, but I don't know where to find it. I wouldn't assume this was meant to describe application of a "technique".

Fig Tree
User avatar
fig tree
 
Posts: 170
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:25 am

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:30 am

fig tree wrote:
alan... wrote:2. the suttas in no way imply this state is a nightmarish experience as does the tibetan book of the dead or that one can completely control this state and influence ones future birth. instead it implies that some reach nibbana while in this state (SN 46.3), but it does not say that people change their destination in any other way. it seems that they were just due for nibbana then, as opposed to using some skill to reach it while in said state.

I thought I had once read a sutta reference which described the arahant as defeating death as a strong person would overpower a weak person, but I don't know where to find it. I wouldn't assume this was meant to describe application of a "technique".

Fig Tree


death but not a bardo state. out of curiosity, have you read the tibetan book of the dead? if it said "an arahant after death but before rebirth defeats death as a strong person would overpower a weak person." or "an arahant, in the in between state, defeats death..." that would be referring to a bardo practice. as it is one could defeat death at the moment one is dying or even before death.

at any rate in vajrayana there is a lot of detailed instruction on bardo practice and none in theravada. even if there was one sutta that taught it one could still assume it was not very important as the thousands of other suttas not only don't mention it but are very much focused on practice for living. if all the practice for living depended on being able to do a bardo practice to reach the final goal then not teaching bardo practice totally nullifies all practice. it's like giving someone a car and a map that leads them off a cliff but not a parachute. they are doomed no matter what since you didn't give them the necessary means to handle the end of the journey.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby perkele » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:45 am

alan... wrote:biggest conclusion: the buddha taught for FORTY FIVE YEARS, if some kind of bardo practice was important, he would have taught it. he never mentions anything of the sort, so there is no logical reason to assume that such a thing should be paid any mind.

Agree...
So why do you bring it up and make so much of it? :smile:


To contribute something that touches the subject I quote this from Ajahn Paññavaddho's "Samadhi and Wisdom", which I recently found as part of the collection of his recorded teachings transcribed here and have come to like them very much:
Ajahn Paññavaddho wrote:Student: The idea in the Tibetan practice is that these would be things that would come up
after you died naturally. You would meet these beings.

Ajahn Paññavaddho: I suspect in the Tibetan practice that applies only to someone who has
actually done the practice and attained samãdhi. They would meet those
nimittas because they have trained themselves to do it. One mustn’t expect
the ordinary person to experience that. As far as I can make out, the process
of death for the ordinary person can be almost as varied as life. That’s
because peoples’ minds and what’s in them vary so much that you can't
expect a standard process to cover all of them. You can say a certain type of
experience must happen, but as to exactly what takes place and how, the
imagery and experiences probably vary enormously.

Makes sense to me.

In the end we all die. This body will stop functioning. That's a useful thing to contemplate in detail. Whatever we can fantasize and theorize and speculate beyond that now will probably not be very helpful at that time. Practising meditation in this way or that way, making a habit of it, is something you may be able to depend on at death. When one's goal is seeing things as they are then one should practice seeing things as they are as far as one can see them here and now. That's what I think anyway.
Last edited by perkele on Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Those who are ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of -- upholding true views, they do not go to states of woe.
(suggested by SamBodhi)
perkele
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:53 am

perkele wrote:
alan... wrote:biggest conclusion: the buddha taught for FORTY FIVE YEARS, if some kind of bardo practice was important, he would have taught it. he never mentions anything of the sort, so there is no logical reason to assume that such a thing should be paid any mind.

Agree...
So why do you bring it up and make so much of it? :smile:


To contribute something that touches the subject I quote this from Ajahn Paññavaddho's "Samadhi and Wisdom", which I recently found as part of the collection of his recorded teachings transcribed here and have come to like them very much:
Ajahn Paññavaddho wrote:The idea in the Tibetan practice is that these would be things that would come up
after you died naturally. You would meet these beings.
I suspect in the Tibetan practice that applies only to someone who has
actually done the practice and attained samãdhi. They would meet those
nimittas because they have trained themselves to do it. One mustn’t expect
the ordinary person to experience that. As far as I can make out, the process
of death for the ordinary person can be almost as varied as life. That’s
because peoples’ minds and what’s in them vary so much that you can't
expect a standard process to cover all of them. You can say a certain type of
experience must happen, but as to exactly what takes place and how, the
imagery and experiences probably vary enormously.

Makes sense to me.

In the end we all die. This body will stop functioning. That's a useful thing to contemplate in detail. Whatever we can fantasize and theorize and speculate beyond that now will probably not be very helpful at that time. Practising meditation in this way or that way, making a habit of it, is something you may be able to depend on at death. When one's goal is seeing things as they are then one should practice seeing things as they are as far as one can see them here and now. That's what I think anyway.


i struggled with this question for a time and have done a lot of research and wanted to share and see what others thought. this is actually a copy/paste of something i wrote for myself to summarize my findings so that i could easily come back to them if in, let's say five years from now, i read some article that claims the pali canon supports bardo and i can't remember exactly what i found out about it. of course i re edited it and added things for the thread.

i imagine contemplating arising and falling at death should be a good practice. seeing impermanence should lessen grasping and so make a fortunate rebirth or even deathbed arahantship likely. or even entering jhana or simply breath meditation would keep the mind from grasping at unwholesome things so one could die detached. but i really don't know. i read a talk ajahn chah gave to a lay disciple on their deathbed, it was mostly just him talking the person into relaxing and letting go of this life.

i've actually started breath meditation when dying in dreams before and it created a feeling of calm release, so i imagine this should be the same as in life. in these dreams i was 100% sure i was going to die so they were vivid and intense and so they should have been pretty much the same synaptic firings that would happen in real life.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:04 am

Hello alan, all,

The Metta Sutta speaks of:
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born
May all beings be at ease!
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .amar.html

AND dhammawiki notes:

In between state From The Dhamma Encyclopedia
Some people assert that after death, consciousness is suspended for a while before being reborn. This is called the in-between state (antarabhava). In Tibetan (Vajrayana) Buddhism there is much interest in the in between state where there are rituals and prayers to assist the departed toward a good rebirth. In Tibetan the in between state is known as the Bardo.

Some claim that this state lasts for seven days, others for 14 and yet others for 49 days. The in-between state is not mentioned specifically in the Tipitaka but we can assume that there is a pause of some duration before re-embodiment and the subsequent rebirth. The available fertilized eggs could not possibly correspond with the number of people who have just died and the consciousness seeking re-embodiment and thus some period of waiting must occur at least in some cases.

The Abhidhamma and the Classical Theravada hold that rebirth is always immediate with no intermediate state. Although there is no indication from the Suttas that directly references an immediate rebirth in all cases. It is only insisted upon in the Abhidhamma, which although part of the Pali Canon, is a later text.

There are a few Suttas which suggest that there could be this intermediate state. One of the strongest indications of this is in the Metta Sutta which speaks of extending loving-kindness to 'bhuutaa vaa sambhavesii vaa' -- "to beings who have come to be and those about to come to be."

If there is an intermediate state (and the above suggests that there is) it would probably be reserved for just those higher or noble ones who are awaiting a good birth. For most, including animals and others, it is most likely instant.
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... ween_state

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 ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7064
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:19 am

cooran wrote:
In between state From The Dhamma Encyclopedia
...The in-between state is not mentioned specifically in the Tipitaka but we can assume that there is a pause of some duration before re-embodiment and the subsequent rebirth. The available fertilized eggs could not possibly correspond with the number of people who have just died and the consciousness seeking re-embodiment and thus some period of waiting must occur at least in some cases.



what? i don't get it. why couldn't there be the right number of eggs? if we are assuming people are only reborn on this earth as humans then that could be true if it's based on some kind of mathematical population/birth/death ratio equation using data from our planet. but then how do we account for animals and bugs? the number of beings with fertilized eggs all over our planet, if you include all forms of sentient life, is so vast it's uncountable. but that's not even totally how it works in the pali canon. there are six realms in a ten thousand fold world system. there may even be more than one human realm for all we know, as ambiguous as "ten thousand fold world system" is, it could mean multiple universes, ten thousand systems each containing it's own six realms. or any other combination of ideas, it's not really laid out clearly.

but let's just say it's only six realms. six realms all teeming with life is plenty of fertilized eggs ready for consciousness in an instant rebirth model. not that i'm even saying rebirth is instant, i just don't understand the logic of the line i quoted.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:42 am

Hello alan,

I think it might refer to an appropriate rebirth according to ones' kamma-vipaka. Most people are not sotapannas or above, but, for those very few who are, there is no rebirth in the lower realms.

Here is an essay by Bhikkhu Sujato. Have a look at what Bhante has to say on
Rebirth and the In-between State in Early Buddhism
http://santifm.org/santipada/2010/rebir ... -buddhism/

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 ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7064
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: bardo...

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:07 am

A little more:

SN 44.9 Kutuhalasala Sutta: With Vacchagotta
[..........]
‘’ "And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
‘’
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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 ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7064
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: bardo...

Postby gendun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:48 am

cooran wrote:Hello alan,

I think it might refer to an appropriate rebirth according to ones' kamma-vipaka. Most people are not sotapannas or above, but, for those very few who are, there is no rebirth in the lower realms.

Here is an essay by Bhikkhu Sujato. Have a look at what Bhante has to say on
Rebirth and the In-between State in Early Buddhism
http://santifm.org/santipada/2010/rebir ... -buddhism/

with metta
Chris

See, I think this is another case of comparing apples to oranges.
Most Vajrayana teachers and all Dzogchen teachers would come to the reverse conclusion to that of Ajahn Pannavaddho..to whit, that the Four Stages of Enlightenment are nimittas, and are only relevant to those who are conditioned by a particular set of concepts.
As with the kensho and satori thread, these are discrete systems
of thought that do not readily cross refer.
The important thing imo is to see one system through.
:anjali:
Gendun P. Brownlow.
Karma Kagyu student.
gendun
 
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:49 am
Location: Guildford UK

Re: bardo...

Postby perkele » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:30 pm

gendun wrote:See, I think this is another case of comparing apples to oranges.
Most Vajrayana teachers and all Dzogchen teachers would come to the reverse conclusion to that of Ajahn Pannavaddho..to whit, that the Four Stages of Enlightenment are nimittas, and are only relevant to those who are conditioned by a particular set of concepts.

Interesting. Did you read the few paragraphs of text in the pdf leading up to what I quoted? That something similar like you just said was also the practice taught by some Thai Ajahn? (In the quote that I made there was a mistake btw. I corrected it now: The first sentence was said by a student and the rest of the text was Ajahn Paññavaddho's reply.)
Ajahn Paññavaddho did not come to a definite conclusion about that other than that he could not make sense of it and not maintain confidence in that practice, so he just practiced anapanasati instead, and later searched for another teacher.
Did Vajrayana have some influence in Thailand as well? Curious thing.
Anyway:
As with the kensho and satori thread, these are discrete systems
of thought that do not readily cross refer.
The important thing imo is to see one system through.
:anjali:

I agree. Maybe we can discuss these matters after we have attained Nibbana/Nirvana respectively. :tongue: To me it brings nothing but confusion at the moment.
Last edited by perkele on Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Those who are ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of -- upholding true views, they do not go to states of woe.
(suggested by SamBodhi)
perkele
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby gendun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:43 pm

I may be that all schools lead to Nirvana/Nibbana in their own way.
I think that there are two extremes to be avoided.
The first is for one school to dismiss another school completely on the grounds of doctrinal differences.
The other extreme is for obvious glaring differences in doctrine and pracise to be minimised because the resulting dissonance makes us uncomfortable as individuals.

:anjali:
Gendun P. Brownlow.
Karma Kagyu student.
gendun
 
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:49 am
Location: Guildford UK

Re: bardo...

Postby perkele » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:06 pm

gendun wrote:I may be that all schools lead to Nirvana/Nibbana in their own way.
I think that there are two extremes to be avoided.
The first is for one school to dismiss another school completely on the grounds of doctrinal differences.
The other extreme is for obvious glaring differences in doctrine and pracise to be minimised because the resulting dissonance makes us uncomfortable as individuals.

:anjali:

Well said. We agree here. So let's walk our paths and meet at the unconditioned asap.
:buddha2:
Those who are ashamed of what they should be ashamed of, and are not ashamed of what they should not be ashamed of -- upholding true views, they do not go to states of woe.
(suggested by SamBodhi)
perkele
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:37 pm

perkele wrote:
gendun wrote:I may be that all schools lead to Nirvana/Nibbana in their own way.
I think that there are two extremes to be avoided.
The first is for one school to dismiss another school completely on the grounds of doctrinal differences.
The other extreme is for obvious glaring differences in doctrine and pracise to be minimised because the resulting dissonance makes us uncomfortable as individuals.

:anjali:

Well said. We agree here. So let's walk our paths and meet at the unconditioned asap.
:buddha2:



alan... wrote: from here on i'm talking about the buddha of the pali canon and not the buddha of the tibetan canon. i am not saying one is right and the other is wrong. i'm just detailing what the buddha in the pali canon did or did not teach and making some assumptions about these things.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:45 pm

gendun wrote:As with the kensho and satori thread, these are discrete systems
of thought that do not readily cross refer.
The important thing imo is to see one system through.
:anjali:


the kensho and satori thread was a cross over which is why i posted it in the lounge section as it was just food for thought, for fun. this thread is a response to the frequently detailed idea that the bardo ideas are found in the pali canon. this is not me deliberately combining traditions, rather i am posting my findings in reaction to others attempting to imply that a bardo is to be found and worked upon in the pali canon. does the OP really sound like i don't know where vajrayana ends and theravada begins or that i'm trying to practice two systems at once (as opposed to "see[ing] one system through")? i've done my research and posted references and clear statements so i don't know how you have come to this conclusion.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:55 pm

Don't see that anyone has linked this thread yet so
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5678&start=0&hilit=bardo
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5667
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:57 pm

Cittasanto wrote:Don't see that anyone has linked this thread yet so
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5678&start=0&hilit=bardo


indeed. that thread along with articles and mentions in books are what this thread is a response to. i would have simply responded to that or other threads on here about it but responding to threads that are long forgotten is usually a waste of time. thanks for posting it so others can see it, good idea.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby gendun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:12 pm

I had no idea that the Bardo teachings were being promulgated outside of the Vajrayana..and certainly not that they are being looked for in the Pali Canon.
Obviously that puts a different spin on the issue.
Gendun P. Brownlow.
Karma Kagyu student.
gendun
 
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:49 am
Location: Guildford UK

Re: bardo...

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:13 pm

cooran wrote:Hello alan,

I think it might refer to an appropriate rebirth according to ones' kamma-vipaka. Most people are not sotapannas or above, but, for those very few who are, there is no rebirth in the lower realms.

Here is an essay by Bhikkhu Sujato. Have a look at what Bhante has to say on
Rebirth and the In-between State in Early Buddhism
http://santifm.org/santipada/2010/rebir ... -buddhism/

with metta
Chris

okay so from that logic there are more than enough fertilized eggs. few are those who are guaranteed an upper rebirth, some suttas say that in the lower realms there are many more beings than in the upper ones. so if there are way more beings below than when one dies above there are always fertilized eggs waiting. the same for the few who go up, since there's not many there are more than enough eggs ready. if suddenly all of the lower realms were emptied then yes there would be a long waiting list to get an egg! or maybe if all the upper realms were emptied the same. without exact numbers and clear mathematical equations we cannot make any assumptions about availability of fertilized eggs and this exact information is not found in the suttas. but assuming things remain as they were in the time of the buddha, based on the metaphors he gives, there are plenty of eggs for everyone to inhabit. again, i do not doubt an in between state, i just don't get the logic of that line i quoted above in the earlier post.

perhaps there is a sutta that implies one must wait until an egg is ready? as it is it could be possible that one will not even die unless an egg is ready which would point to immediate rebirth for all. that is an extreme idea in the other direction however and is not supported directly by the suttas either. since neither are detailed it's all broad speculation.
alan...
 
Posts: 824
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:37 pm

Re: bardo...

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:15 pm

See also this thread:
Tantric Theravada

It's a longish thread, with many interesting posts pointing out the diversity of practice in SE Asia.

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 9631
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Next

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 6 guests