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A Question about Rebirth - Dhamma Wheel

A Question about Rebirth

A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative.

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Heaviside
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A Question about Rebirth

Postby Heaviside » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:53 am

As I understand it, "orthodox" Threvada has it that the five khandhas disaggragate at the time of death of the body and more-or-less enter a "khandha pool" from which khandas come together togive existence to another life form.

Am I right in this interpretation? If so, would I be correct to think that this can be interpreted as the fifth century BCE Buddha's equivalent of dna going into the gene pool and recombining with other dna in the birth process?

Any comments? Thanks. :namaste:
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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cooran
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:25 am

Hello Heavside, all,

Maybe have a look at this previous thread in this sub-forum:

Rebirth in Classical Theravada:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1566

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Heaviside » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:30 pm

Thanks for the link Chris. Can't say that it really satisfied me, though. Probably I really wasn't able to phrase my question really well.

Since the Buddha often spoke in metaphor, it has never been clear to me whether rebirth should be so interpreted or not. The candle flame is clearly a metaphor, but to the extent that it describes rebirth it lends credence to my interpretation of rebirth as transmission of dna (in modern terms) and simply the effects we have on our survivors.

The entire idea of rebirth would seem to contradict the Buddha's oft repeated assertion that anything not leading to enlightenment is useless and a waste of time. My own reaction, therefore, is to simply ignore it.

But I am still interested in the orthodox interpretation because it will assist me in ascertaining the reliability and intended meaning of translated Pali terms.

P.S. As I understand it, the Abhidhamma is entirely interpretation of Buddha's teaching by later commentators, is it not? And some of it seems pretty far out and contradictory to Buddha's warnings about speculation.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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robertk
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby robertk » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:05 pm

mod note:
please check the rules of this forum.
no suggestion that the Abhidhamma is a far out, made up doctrine is permitted here. These ideas will be welcomed in other forums , however.

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Heaviside » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:29 pm

:oops:

Please accept my apologies for the comment, which---I readily admit---was not based on any real knowledge of the Abhidhamma. What I have read of it is certainly interesting.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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reflection
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby reflection » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:50 pm

Hi!

There is no such thing as a khandha pool. Khandhas are also not solid things, but just groupings of experiences, used to indicate their nature of being without owner.

I suggest reading some of the suttas when you want to take a stance on how to interpret the Buddha's teachings on rebirth, and to see if they are meant as a metaphor or not.

With metta,
Reflection

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polarbear101
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby polarbear101 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:36 pm

"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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Nyorai
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Nyorai » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:46 am

ImageTo become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.
If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self.Image

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Heaviside » Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:15 pm

Well, let me respectfully clear up any misunderstanding that might have occurred here---undoubtedly due to my clumsy self expression.

I had no intentention of taking a knowiledgeable position on the subject. Furthermore, a couple of you seem to think I had the ridiculous idea that a khandha referred only to material body.

No, by "khanda pool"---and I had no intention for the term to be pejorative---I simply had the concept of psychic energy of some sort. I find it interesting to compare Buddha's teachings of 2500 years ago with today's science, and usually find a remarkable correlation.

So, please, if I have offended anyone I sincerely apologize. Perhaps it was my poor choice of words about the Abhidhamma that has stimulated your reactions, but the moderator caught it, called it to my attention, and I apologized.

So, perhaps you could continue to comment with the understanding that---really---I have no ax to grind, but am only interested in learning the Dhamma. I, like all (I think), do have certain items of fairly deep conviction. Among them, for me, is the belief that there is no discernible correlation between my present set of aggregates and those of former lives. But I am open to seeing things differently if presented with a logically convincing argument.

:namaste:

P.S. I have done a fair amount of reading of the suttas, but one thing seems salient to me: the crucial core of Buddhism seems to rest on a number of rather technical terms, and their meaning varies a great deal depending upon the translator. So I find that the opinion of contemporaries means a lot to me.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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James the Giant
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby James the Giant » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:44 pm

Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.

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reflection
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:03 am

Hi!

Just in case, just want to say my reply wasn't intended as being annoyed, because I wasn't. I'm quite sure it's the same for others.

That aside, as far as I'm aware, the vast majority of Theravadan Buddhist teachers interpret rebirth literally. In a lot of suttas we see how the Buddha describes how our actions influence our next lives. Or there are the suttas where the amount of suffering in our previous lives is made clear by various analogies. You have to be quite creative to interpret this as an influence of DNA. You can if you want to, but I'm sure it wasn't meant that way. I think it's a modern movement to either neglect it altogether or neglect it's importance.

The amount of importance rebirth is given is varied. The importance may be different for different people. But in my opinion, depending on whether we take rebirth literal or not, changes a lot in the teachings. So in that sense it is important anyway. For example, it gives reading the 4 noble truths a different meaning. The core of Buddhism is these 4 truths. Say we take the second: "The origin of suffering, as a noble truth, is this: It is the craving that produces renewal of being"

Renewal of being, if taken literally is quite simply saying craving keeps rebirth going. Now, if one doesn't want to take it literally, a new interpretation has to be found. And yes, terms get technical and complicated quickly then, because there is a lot more terms one can't take literally.

However, if the Buddha meant something as a metaphor, he'd usually announce it and give the teachings that it is analogue to.

With metta,
Reflection

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Spiny Norman
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:18 am

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

Buckwheat
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:43 pm

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:16 pm

Being a (pretty skeptical) agnostic has made me tend to see rebirth as a key issue -- that is, I can see where problem areas have come up for me as a result of my non-belief. One big problem is the goal of nibbana, i.e. cessation. It seems redundant, since we're going to get there in any case. Likewise, it's not clear why one should pursue a path of renunciation, since all will be renounced anyway at the time of death, whether we want it or not!

I have not resolved these problem areas for myself and am always interested to hear how other non-believers have addressed them. Rebirth, it seems to me, clearly impacts the broader conception of the dhamma as a path leading to a certain goal, what we might call the overarching philosophical/religious framework of Buddhism. But it seems to have less of an impact on specific practices --i.e., there are many Buddhist practices that can be cultivated regardless of one's views on the topic. So perhaps we can say it affects theory more than praxis. Though if we concentrate on the latter only, we may still find ourselves asking "why" -- which leads us back to theory.

Personally, I just go with what I've found to be valid and beneficial in the dhamma, and put aside the rest pending further insights one way or another.

Buckwheat
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:52 pm

Lazy Eye,
I go through the same things Lazy Eye describes. A few things that help me are: read the Kalama Sutta () and pay close attention to the fact that the Buddha says even if rebirth is not accurate, the practice has benefit here and now. I find this to be quite true, and I have found that when my practice slacks, I immediately feel more entangled in dukkha, and less able to deal with it maturely and responsibly.

On the other hand, I do have dark times due to the goal being rendered moot. But I only feel that way when I'm pessimistic, and the best prescription for that is more practice.

Also, this is just my opinion, but I have a suspicion that what the Buddha referred to as rebirth has a middle value, neither the easily acceptable "metaphor" for moment to rebirth, nor the literal rebirth that easy to understand but hard to believe. I have a feeling he is referring to something different altogether, deep, subtle, hard to comprehend. But that's just my opinion.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Heaviside » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:06 pm

Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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reflection
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby reflection » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:37 am

Hi!

To me, the Buddha deeply understood the mind, not from an external intellectual point of view, but by looking at it from the inside. And 2500 years passed, but minds are still the same.

With metta,
Reflection

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Alex123
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:40 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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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:46 pm

• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Spiny Norman
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:30 am

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama


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