REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:27 am

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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:40 am

danieLion wrote:Do we have even one written recording of the Buddha saying anyone has to believe in rebirth?

We don't have one written recording of the Buddha saying that anyone has to believe, much less do, anything at all.

However, we have many written recordings of the Buddha saying that Right View, of which rebirth is an integral part, is a necessary requirement should one wish to become enlightened:

AN 10.176 wrote:"And how is one made pure in three ways by mental action? There is the case where a certain person is not covetous. He does not covet the belongings of others, thinking, 'O, that what belongs to others would be mine!' He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. [He thinks,] 'May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!' He has right view and is not warped in the way he sees things: 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is how one is made pure in three ways by mental action."


It is undeniable that the stock definition of Right View, one repeated over and over again in the Suttas, affirms rebirth. One cannot become a Stream Enterer, much less an arahant, without Right View - and this includes acknowledging the truth of rebirth.
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: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:54 am

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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:15 am

danieLion wrote:Sariputta became an arahant without believing in rebirth (and likely several others became at least stream enterers without this belief).

I do not believe this to be the case. Do you have any textual support for this?

Also, exactly what would a Stream Enterer be if he or she didn't believe in rebirth? The very definition of a Stream Enterer is one who will be reborn at most seven more times. To say that someone could be a Stream Enterer and reject rebirth is almost meaningless unless you strip away the defining feature of Stream Entry.


That rebirth is an integreal part of Right View is just and opinion based on inference. Plus, attributing stock definitions of anything to the Buddha is dubious.

The Buddha believed rebirth to be true, and declared it so. For one to not believe in rebirth is to be in conflict with a huge part of the Buddha's wordview, and thus I can't imagine one who did so would be considered one who possesses Right View.
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: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:38 am

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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby danieLion » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:52 am

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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:07 am

danieLion wrote:The Buddha did not want us to accept his worlview. He taught one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering. Rebirth would be an unecessary appendage to this delcaration which trumps all the other declarations.

Okay, this I think is the heart of our disagreement. You see rebirth as unnecessary in terms of understanding suffering, whereas I believe (and I believe the texts support me here) that a firm knowledge of rebirth and its mechanisms is necessary in order to fully grasp the width and depth of Samsara's shittiness, to put it bluntly. When the Buddha talks about suffering, he's not talking this individual life. He's talking about millions of eons of pain. To cut rebirth out of the First Noble Truth is to neuter it:

Assu Sutta wrote:"From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

"As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."


Annihilationism is not, by the way, compatible with the law of karma either; as the sutta you quoted clearly shows, it is very possible for unwholesome actions to never bring about unwholesome results in one life, or even many. Without a belief in rebirth, the law of karma breaks down and becomes little more than naturalist, physicalist cause-and-effect, which is a blatant recasting of the Buddha's words. I cannot see how one could argue otherwise. Rebirth is not "an unnecessary appendage," but in fact a central element of both suffering and the end of suffering.
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: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:30 am

Viscid wrote:
danieLion wrote:Does "name-dropping" really bother you? If so, why?


Well, on a forum such as this one we have to assume that the people we're speaking with haven't read the same material we have, especially when that material is obscure. If you're name-dropping, you're saying "you won't understand what I am trying to explain unless you are as familiar with these sources as I am" which excludes most people from the discussion. It also just looks like you're trying to impress others with how well-read you are.

or providing the sources so that others can look more closely at the source and come to a conclusion based on the same information.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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."
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:32 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
danieLion wrote:The Buddha did not want us to accept his worlview. He taught one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering. Rebirth would be an unecessary appendage to this delcaration which trumps all the other declarations.

Okay, this I think is the heart of our disagreement. You see rebirth as unnecessary in terms of understanding suffering, whereas I believe (and I believe the texts support me here) that a firm knowledge of rebirth and its mechanisms is necessary in order to fully grasp the width and depth of Samsara's shittiness, to put it bluntly. When the Buddha talks about suffering, he's not talking this individual life. He's talking about millions of eons of pain. To cut rebirth out of the First Noble Truth is to neuter it:

Assu Sutta wrote:"From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

"As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."


Annihilationism is not, by the way, compatible with the law of karma either; as the sutta you quoted clearly shows, it is very possible for unwholesome actions to never bring about unwholesome results in one life, or even many. Without a belief in rebirth, the law of karma breaks down and becomes little more than naturalist, physicalist cause-and-effect, which is a blatant recasting of the Buddha's words. I cannot see how one could argue otherwise. Rebirth is not "an unnecessary appendage," but in fact a central element of both suffering and the end of suffering.


I think Lonesome Yogurt's nailed it on the head here. The Buddha's doctrine of kamma entails rebirth and the first noble truth loses alot of its weight under a one life model.

To re-quote Gombrich here:

There is an interesting inconsistency here in the Buddha’s
presentation. Steven Collins' has discussed and explained the fact
that while the Buddha often commends ‘right views’ and condemns
‘wrong views’, in some contexts the canonical texts have the Buddha
say that he has no views (ditthi) at all, that only other people have
views. He is there talking about metaphysical speculation, and it is
not hard to see what he means, even if one finally assesses the claim
as disingenuous. But when it comes to preaching to the public, to
attracting and perhaps converting laymen, he cannot avoid making
clear that there is one ‘right view’ without which his entire edifice
collapses: that the law of karma ensures that there is justice in the
world.

When one introduces the Buddha’s teaching to a modern
audience, one very often stresses at the outset - as indeed I have
done - that he asked people to use their own judgement, to go by
their own experience and take nothing on trust. One soon has to
qualify this, however, by saying that there was one belief which he
held himself and relied on in his teaching, the belief in the law of
karma; and if that was not to be obviously falsified by every cot death,
it had to entail belief in rebirth.
One tends to add, perhaps in an
apologetic tone, that these were beliefs that the Buddha inherited
and simply could not shake off. I hope I have shown that this is the
very reverse of the truth. The Buddha’s version of the law of karma
was entirely his own; but to accept it was the leap of faith he
demanded of every follower.


From pages 27 and 28 of What the Buddha Thought

:namaste:
"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: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby Dmytro » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:49 am

Hi,

LonesomeYogurt wrote:The Buddha believed rebirth to be true, and declared it so.


The Buddha saw rebirth to be true, remembered his past lives, and saw how other beings are reborn.

It's not so difficult to get in touch with past lives - many of my non-Buddhist friends did it.

In ancient times, even more people than today, were simply able to remember past lives.
Nowadays as well, many children remember past lives, especially in countries where scientism is not rampant.

"Ditthi" in this case is not a "view", but a "vision", "what one sees".
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby Mr Man » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:45 am

Hi Dmytro
Dmytro wrote:It's not so difficult to get in touch with past lives - many of my non-Buddhist friends did it.

Have you done it?

In ancient times, even more people than today, were simply able to remember past lives.

Are you sure?
Nowadays as well, many children remember past lives, especially in countries where scientism is not rampant.

Many? Are you sure they a remembering past lives?

Seems like this thread which started on a perceived "perspective" based on non-contextualized quotes has drifted into pure speculation.
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:20 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Annihilationism is not, by the way, compatible with the law of karma either; as the sutta you quoted clearly shows, it is very possible for unwholesome actions to never bring about unwholesome results in one life, or even many. Without a belief in rebirth, the law of karma breaks down and becomes little more than naturalist, physicalist cause-and-effect, which is a blatant recasting of the Buddha's words. I cannot see how one could argue otherwise. Rebirth is not "an unnecessary appendage," but in fact a central element of both suffering and the end of suffering.


Hi LonesomeYogurt,

It's impossible to practice annihilationism... that is why it's a wrong view. There is not even any annihilationism that is happening when we remove the belief of rebirth. The dukkha still arises.

The belief is not an integral part of the right view like you claimed... it's like what you said, that we don't need to know how the engine works in depth, to be able to drive out of here.

Viscid wrote:I am treating the 'self' as a phenomenological entity-- what it 'feels' to be a being separate from the world. This, I feel, when eliminated, leads to the complete extinction of greed, hatred and delusion. Your view sounds more like Thanissaro's 'not-self strategy,' which doesn't deny the existence of an ontological self, and stands opposed to the more mystical 'not-self revelation' which does. The 'not-self strategy' does seem more appealing in the face of the problems inherent in an outright denial of any self.


Hi Viscid,

This sense of separation that we feel is a phenomenon. Any phenomenon that we might experience is not because of self. (Sabbe dhamma anatta.) So, this sense of separation can't be something which is caused by self.

It is just dukkha that arise. If we paid attention carefully, we will even see it passing away.

I would like to give you a challenge, to try experience this sense of separation continuously, for a week without any break (apart from sleeping). I think that you will find it's impossible.

I think that the problem here lies in when we see that something is existing, then we continue to assume that it exists even after it's passed away. That is due to clinging.

That is exactly how the Buddha described it in the Kaccayanagotta sutta... where he said that people would have this tendency to try to cling to the existence when there is non-existence, and to non-existence when there is existence. This has nothing to do with self, either... it's also a phenomenon.

:anjali:
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:57 am

:zzz:

There's a way to abandon these states of perplexity...
    "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: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:28 pm

danieLion wrote:Sariputta became an arahant without believing in rebirth (and likely several others became at least stream enterers without this belief).

How do you know that Sāriputta didn't believe in rebirth?

danieLion wrote:That rebirth is an integreal part of Right View is just and opinion based on inference.

No, it's explicitly stated in the suttas.
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:45 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
danieLion wrote:Sariputta became an arahant without believing in rebirth (and likely several others became at least stream enterers without this belief).

How do you know that Sāriputta didn't believe in rebirth?


Hi Nana,

Why believe in something (existence) when there's no experience of it (non-existence)? That would only create some difficulty, as per the Kaccayanagotta sutta.

danieLion wrote:That rebirth is an integreal part of Right View is just and opinion based on inference.

No, it's explicitly stated in the suttas.


I think it would be interesting to see these passages (such as what LonesomeYogurt quoted earlier on) and what Pali words have been translated, or interpreted as rebirth.

:anjali:
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby manas » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:57 pm

...
"When this was said, Ajita Kesakambalin said to me, 'Great king, there is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. A person is a composite of four primary elements. At death, the earth (in the body) returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. The fire returns to and merges with the external fire-substance. The liquid returns to and merges with the external liquid-substance. The wind returns to and merges with the external wind-substance. The sense-faculties scatter into space. Four men, with the bier as the fifth, carry the corpse. Its eulogies are sounded only as far as the charnel ground. The bones turn pigeon-colored. The offerings end in ashes. Generosity is taught by idiots. The words of those who speak of existence after death are false, empty chatter. With the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed. They do not exist after death.'
...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


What to speak of the Buddha, even King Ajatasattu rejected annihilationism. Yet nowadays, going by the above definition, a lot of people do hold this view.

:anjali:
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:13 pm

manas wrote:
...
"When this was said, Ajita Kesakambalin said to me, 'Great king, there is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. A person is a composite of four primary elements. At death, the earth (in the body) returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. The fire returns to and merges with the external fire-substance. The liquid returns to and merges with the external liquid-substance. The wind returns to and merges with the external wind-substance. The sense-faculties scatter into space. Four men, with the bier as the fifth, carry the corpse. Its eulogies are sounded only as far as the charnel ground. The bones turn pigeon-colored. The offerings end in ashes. Generosity is taught by idiots. The words of those who speak of existence after death are false, empty chatter. With the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed. They do not exist after death.'
...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


What to speak of the Buddha, even King Ajatasattu rejected annihilationism. Yet nowadays, going by the above definition, a lot of people do hold this view.


Hi Mana,

When someone dies, does that person stop existing? I don't think so... and it doesn't imply rebirth.

Does the world stop existing? Of course not.

Will that person continue to have an effect on the world, or not? I think definitely.

Also, what exactly is "spontaneously reborn beings"? What are the pali words for these, especially for "reborn"?

:anjali:
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:31 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:No, it's explicitly stated in the suttas.


It's waveringly stated in the suttas, with neither belief in nor knowledge of it ever given as a necessary condition for meditation, per the question in the OP.

This really shouldn't devolve into another rebirth thread, should it?
    "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: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:38 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Why believe in something (existence) when there's no experience of it (non-existence)?

If direct perception is the only reliable criterion, then why believe that arahanthood is possible?...

beeblebrox wrote:Also, what exactly is "spontaneously reborn beings"?

See Ven. Dhammanando's post here.

beeblebrox wrote:What are the pali words for these, especially for "reborn"?

The most common terms are upapatti (rebirth) and punabbhava (renewed existence).
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Re: REAL Meditation: The Originalist Thesis

Postby Nyana » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:40 pm

daverupa wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:No, it's explicitly stated in the suttas.


It's waveringly stated in the suttas....

It's explicitly asserted.
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