Rebirth mechanics

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Rebirth mechanics

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:35 pm

How does consciousness pass from one body to the next at the moment of rebirth? Is it similar to how radio waves travel through air from one emitter to the receiver?

Also, if I die in Europe, is it possible to be reborn in, say, Japan?
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:40 pm

Consciousness is not a static thing which can travel through space. A consciousness moment arises, performs it's function, and passes away. This happens very rapidly. However, one consciousness moment conditions the next, which is why we have the illusion of continuity over time. In a similar fashion, the death consciousness moment conditions the birth consciousness moment.

Distance makes no matter. You can die in Europe and take birth in Japan with no problem.

The precise mechanics have never been studied by anyone so there is no answer to your primary question.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:44 pm

Six common misconceptions of a permanent self:

1. The body

2. Feelings

3. Perceptions

4. Mental formations

5. Consciousness

6. The world

(None of the above constitutes a permanent self.)

Sorry, don't have the exact Sutta reference handy. :thinking:
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:05 pm

Peter wrote:Consciousness is not a static thing which can travel through space. A consciousness moment arises, performs it's function, and passes away. This happens very rapidly. However, one consciousness moment conditions the next, which is why we have the illusion of continuity over time. In a similar fashion, the death consciousness moment conditions the birth consciousness moment.

Distance makes no matter. You can die in Europe and take birth in Japan with no problem.

Thanks for that.

Peter wrote:The precise mechanics have never been studied by anyone so there is no answer to your primary question.

Surely the Buddha must have taught this? :?

:smile:
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:09 pm

TheDhamma wrote:Six common misconceptions of a permanent self:

1. The body

2. Feelings

3. Perceptions

4. Mental formations

5. Consciousness

6. The world

(None of the above constitutes a permanent self.)

Sorry, don't have the exact Sutta reference handy. :thinking:

Did my question imlpy that consciousness was self? :anjali:
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:36 pm

I don't recall the Buddha saying anything about the mechanics of it other than saying that craving makes it happen. Without craving, it doesn't happen.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:23 pm

Stefan wrote:Did my question imlpy that consciousness was self? :anjali:


Kind of in this sentence:

Stefan wrote:How does consciousness pass from one body to the next at the moment of rebirth?


Consciousness does not "pass" from one body to the next; otherwise it would imply a permanent consciousness or self. I know it is more to do with the vagaries of language and you did not mean that. :smile:

It is more of a continuation in a series. The usual analogies are a flame, river, etc. Not the same river, not the same flame, but a continuation of the series.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:35 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Stefan wrote:Did my question imlpy that consciousness was self? :anjali:


Kind of in this sentence:

Stefan wrote:How does consciousness pass from one body to the next at the moment of rebirth?


Consciousness does not "pass" from one body to the next; otherwise it would imply a permanent consciousness or self. I know it is more to do with the vagaries of language and you did not mean that. :smile:

It is more of a continuation in a series. The usual analogies are a flame, river, etc. Not the same river, not the same flame, but a continuation of the series.


OK, thanks. How should I say it then?
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:44 pm

Stefan wrote:OK, thanks. How should I say it then?


Perhaps, "what are the mechanics of rebirth?" or "what is reborn?"

You are not satisfied with my answer above? :tongue: Reprinted (reborn) here:

It is more of a continuation in a series. The usual analogies are a flame, river, etc. Not the same river, not the same flame, but a continuation of the series.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:47 pm

Is this correct then:

Wikipedia wrote:Rebirth: belief that consciousness arising in the new person is neither identical to, nor different from, the old consciousness, but forms part of a causal continuum
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:50 pm

Stefan wrote:Is this correct then:

Wikipedia wrote:Rebirth: belief that consciousness arising in the new person is neither identical to, nor different from, the old consciousness, but forms part of a causal continuum


Sounds good to me.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:59 pm

Stefan wrote:How should I say it then?

Maybe: What are the mechanics of death consciousness conditioning birth consciousness?
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:03 pm

Peter wrote:
Stefan wrote:How should I say it then?

Maybe: What are the mechanics of death consciousness conditioning birth consciousness?

:thanks:
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Macavity » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:19 am

Stefan wrote:Is this correct then:

Wikipedia wrote:Rebirth: belief that consciousness arising in the new person is neither identical to, nor different from, the old consciousness, but forms part of a causal continuum



I think the writer is confusing two different questions.

"Neither identical to nor different from..." is the answer to the question: "Is someone in the present life the same person that he was in a past life, or is he a different person?"

But if the question is: "Is consciousness of the present life the same or different to the consciousness of the past life?" then the answer is that it is different. Even the past consciousnesses that arose within the present life are now dead and gone, and no longer existent, so how much more so the past consciousnesses that arose in past lives.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Macavity » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:23 am

Stefan wrote:OK, thanks. How should I say it then?


"With what as condition is there birth?"

And see the Nalakalapiyo and Mahanidana Suttas.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.067.than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Jechbi » Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:16 am

Hi Stefan, how's the juggling going?

This thread on the mechanics of gandhabba is somewhat related. :smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby nathan » Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:17 am

As far as I can see, and it appears to accord with the teachings entirely, ignorance is the prime mover, the premier cause of the rebirth. Ignorance is, in this sense, the same as consciousness itself, which is a lonely little thing when it is all by itself with nothing to be conscious 'of'. So, it continues to seek contact, of one sort or another, not realizing that this contact leads to becoming mired in a whole heap of compounded conditions, such as gathering together a cloud of mind qualities and conditions and possibly also acquiring a body of one kind or another and senses and thereby 'getting a life'. When it is over, if the condition persists, namely complete ignorance of what is going on, the consciousness condition arises again and this simply repeats itself, again and again. So the mechanics are that consciousness is ignorant that being and becoming are nothing but a pain in the...consciousness. And that it's own re-arising, the condition of consciousness, is just another ignorantly habbitual re-occurrence of the same old problem again as well. The cure, is education.

Stay in school kids.
:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby Rhino » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:48 pm

Peter wrote:I don't recall the Buddha saying anything about the mechanics of it other than saying that craving makes it happen. Without craving, it doesn't happen.

I Agree. As I know the Buddha never taught the mechanics of rebirth. He said as long as there are ignorance and craving there is rebirth. There are some suttas about Kamma and how the beings will reappear depending to their thoughts and doings. And knowing the legality of Kamma is imho the knowing of the mechanisms of rebirth. But the Buddha warned us against speculation about Kamma in the Acintita Sutta:
"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?
[...]
"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...
[...]

AN 4.77
In the same direction leads Samyutta Nikaya 56.31:
Once the Blessed One was staying at Kosambi in the simsapa forest. Then, picking up a few simsapa leaves with his hand, he asked the monks, "What do you think, monks: Which are more numerous, the few simsapa leaves in my hand or those overhead in the simsapa forest?"

"The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, lord. Those overhead in the simsapa forest are more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.

"And what have I taught? 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress': This is what I have taught. And why have I taught these things? Because they are connected with the goal, relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. This is why I have taught them.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

S 56.31
So the Buddha thought that it is not useful for salvation to know the exact mechanism of kamma and rebirth. We have to trust the Buddha that there is rebirth as long as there is ignorance and craving. There is no necessity to know the mechanics of it. I think it could lead us in the wrong direction. I'm sure that not even every Arahant knows of past existences (but maybe some). The Arahant knows 'birth is ended'.
With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.
Nanavira Thera - Notes on Dhamma
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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:37 pm

Rhino wrote:I Agree. As I know the Buddha never taught the mechanics of rebirth. He said as long as there are ignorance and craving there is rebirth. ...

There is plenty of detail in the Abhidhamma.
See, for example "A comprehensive manual of abhidhamma" Translation and commentary edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi).
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hxo ... lQTussnmCQ

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Re: Rebirth mechanics

Postby nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:28 am

Rhino wrote:[...]
"The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...
[...]

AN 4.77[/quote]\

A small point of order. The question is to the 'causes of' not the 'results of'.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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