the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 11, 2013 7:28 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:In this case, by correctly following the noble eightfold path to it's conclusion. That is, through engaging in the complete and unerring causes and conditions of awakening. If one engages in erroneous causes and conditions the fruition will not be realized.


I hope it is possible to follow N8P without having to believe in rebirth, etc.

Ñāṇa wrote:Faith involves accepting the awakening of the Buddha. SN 55.37:

    "In what way, venerable sir, is a lay follower accomplished in faith?"

    "Here, Mahānāma, a lay follower is a person of faith. He places faith in the enlightenment of the Tathāgata thus: 'The Blessed One is ... teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.' In that way a lay follower is accomplished in faith."

And faith in the Tathāgata's awakening is connected to hearing the dhamma. MN 112:

    Friends, formerly when I lived the home life I was ignorant. Then the Tathāgata or his disciple taught me the Dhamma. On hearing the Dhamma I acquired faith in the Tathāgata.


But does this all involve belief in rebirth?


Ñāṇa wrote:Do you understand that kamma and rebirth are implicit in the second noble truth?


I accept 2nd and 3rd noble truth that taṇhā is the cause of suffering, and with cessation of taṇhā, suffering ceases.

Yes, I am aware of that 99.999% of dukkha that Buddhism tries to solve is the dukkha connected with infinite amount of rebirths (and thus infinite amount of bodily pain that comes with life + mental suffering for the un-awakened).

As for kamma, yes I accept kamma in the sense of "if you rob a bank, or rape, or kill someone, then you will get caught and suffer as result.".
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Sat May 11, 2013 8:11 pm

Alex123 wrote:I hope it is possible to follow N8P without having to believe in rebirth, etc.

I would suggest exploring what it's like to feel comfortable (or uncomfortable) with uncertainty. And also what it's like to question your own assumptions and premises. This is another area where working with a teacher can be helpful -- in order to challenge our assumptions and expose where we are holding on to aversion. But even if it isn't possible to work with a teacher, the suttas give us many teachings that can challenge us to broaden our horizons.

Alex123 wrote:But does this all involve belief in rebirth?

I don't think the Buddha would have given numerous teachings on the subject if it was unimportant.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 11, 2013 8:25 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:I would suggest exploring what it's like to feel comfortable (or uncomfortable) with uncertainty. And also what it's like to question your own assumptions and premises.


If you read this long thread, you would see that I used to believe very much in rebirth. Now I don't. Interesting.

Ñāṇa wrote:in order to challenge our assumptions


I did. And eventually, difficulty with believing in rebirth, and all assumptions for it that I took for granted, emerged. When I was in the hospital and had anesthesia, I did NOT have consciousness for the duration of it. So when my brain stops functioning at death (a much bigger and permanent alteration for brain), it is difficult to assume that despite that, the consciousness will somehow continue on.

Rebirth is not part of my experience either. While I cannot have experience of Alex's death in the future (post mortem) and what happens after, the other (pre-natal) side of rebirth from previous life into Alex's life would have been possible to have experience of (if the teaching on rebirth is true). When Alex was born, Alex did not know languages or skills from previous lives. I was NOT an old person in a new body. I learned languages, skills, as if I never had them before. I started to gather memory which was only from this life. I have no experience of someone being reborn now as Alex. I have only experience of being Alex born in such a year, and living till present. I have no evidence that I existed prior to being born. Considering the psychological impact of suffering , I have no evidence of its results when Alex was born. And apparently we all shed so many tears, blood, etc that they would fill four oceans. I have no experience of that, nor my mental states seem to suggest that this occurred and I just forgot it.

Ñāṇa wrote:I don't think the Buddha would have given numerous teachings on the subject if it was unimportant.


We don't know what exactly the Buddha, as historical person, if He even existed, has verbally said. We have written suttas that date centuries after the Buddha. I've talked quite a bit about this in another thread.

Also, even if the Buddha did exist, and even if He did teach rebirth, -> how do we know that it wasn't skillful means?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nyana » Sat May 11, 2013 9:33 pm

Alex123 wrote:When I was in the hospital and had anesthesia, I did NOT have consciousness for the duration of it.

That doesn't establish anything. There are people who have claimed that they were conscious while under anesthesia. There are also people who have claimed that they were conscious during cardiac arrest when breathing has ceased and neurological brain activity is so severely impaired that according to physicalist reductionism there should be no conscious experience whatsoever.

Alex123 wrote:So when my brain stops functioning at death (a much bigger and permanent alteration for brain), it is difficult to assume that despite that, the consciousness will somehow continue on.

I was suggesting questioning the premises and assumptions which underpin your newfound faith in scientism.

Alex123 wrote:When Alex was born, Alex did not know languages or skills from previous lives. I was NOT an old person in a new body. I learned languages, skills, as if I never had them before. I started to gather memory which was only from this life. I have no experience of someone being reborn now as Alex. I have only experience of being Alex born in such a year, and living till present. I have no evidence that I existed prior to being born. Considering the psychological impact of suffering , I have no evidence of its results when Alex was born. And apparently we all shed so many tears, blood, etc that they would fill four oceans. I have no experience of that, nor my mental states seem to suggest that this occurred and I just forgot it.

According to the Buddhadhamma, this merely establishes that you haven't developed the correct causes and conditions for the higher knowledge of recollection of past lives.

Alex123 wrote:Also, even if the Buddha did exist, and even if He did say about rebirth, -> how do we know that it wasn't skillful means?

I consider the entirety of the Buddha's dhamma to be provisional expedients from soup to nuts. This allows one to freely accept all of the foundational teachings of the suttas.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 11, 2013 9:50 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:That doesn't establish anything. There are people who have claimed that they were conscious while under anesthesia. There are also people who have claimed that they were conscious during cardiac arrest when breathing has ceased and neurological brain activity is so severely impaired that according to physicalist reductionism there should be no conscious experience whatsoever.


They claimed and recollected it when their normal consciousness resumed, or in some cases the anesthesia did not fully shut down the brain. I would believe in consciousness being independent of the brain when a person could
talk and answer questions with zero brain activity as recorded by fMRI, Spect scan, etc.

Also one of the reasons why I don't find NDE to be convincing is because the person has not actually died, the body was not cremated or buried 6 feet under. He didn't come back after the burial as an angel/deva to tell us the good news.

As for visions during NDE's: The shock of this trauma can produce a lot of chemical and other malfunctions in the brain that of course could produce hallucinations such as: visions of light at the end of the tunnel, afterlife, devas, brahmas, etc. This suggests the origin of these visions as being due to abnormal functioning of the brain even more.

If one takes drugs, one can get visions. Alcohol (in large enough quantities) impairs mental functioning. Certain damaged areas in the brain can alter personality and judgement. Nothing to say about 5 sense consciousness depending on the brain. And when the whole thing goes six feet under...

Ñāṇa wrote:I was suggesting questioning the premises and assumptions which underpin your newfound faith in scientism.


I did. I tried my best to refute it.

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:When Alex was born, Alex did not know languages or skills from previous lives. I was NOT an old person in a new body. I learned languages, skills, as if I never had them before. I started to gather memory which was only from this life. I have no experience of someone being reborn now as Alex. I have only experience of being Alex born in such a year, and living till present. I have no evidence that I existed prior to being born. Considering the psychological impact of suffering , I have no evidence of its results when Alex was born. And apparently we all shed so many tears, blood, etc that they would fill four oceans. I have no experience of that, nor my mental states seem to suggest that this occurred and I just forgot it.

According to the Buddhadhamma, this merely establishes that you haven't developed the correct causes and conditions for the higher knowledge of recollection of past lives.


It is not merely a matter of recollection of past lives:
1) I had no experience of rebirth from past life to this life.
2) There are no results (carryover of skills, tendencies, etc) to suggest that this is continuation in a new body and mind called "Alex" this time.



Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Also, even if the Buddha did exist, and even if He did say about rebirth, -> how do we know that it wasn't skillful means?

I consider the entirety of the Buddha's dhamma to be provisional expedients from soup to nuts. This allows one to freely accept all of the foundational teachings of the suttas.


So you accept sun rotating around the earth, fish 5,000km in length, realms where one is invisible peace of meat flying in the air being pecked by vultures and crows, etc?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Sat May 11, 2013 10:11 pm

Alex123 wrote:I did. And eventually, difficulty with believing in rebirth, and all assumptions for it that I took for granted, emerged. When I was in the hospital and had anesthesia, I did NOT have consciousness for the duration of it. So when my brain stops functioning at death (a much bigger and permanent alteration for brain), it is difficult to assume that despite that, the consciousness will somehow continue on.

What is known from an episode of unconsciousness is that it was a temporary state. And interestingly, that after it was over, your normal consciousness resumed along with all your memories (I presume.) So I don't see how that says anything about death. One could just as easily decide that means something about how consciousness could carry on after death, just as it resumes after anesthesia.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 11, 2013 10:15 pm

kirk5a wrote:What is known from an episode of unconsciousness is that it was a temporary state.


Yes. As long as the brain didn't function, there was no consciousness.

kirk5a wrote: And interestingly, that after it was over, your normal consciousness resumed along with all your memories (I presume.)


Yes. after the brain resumed working because chemicals cleared out, so did the consciousness resume.

kirk5a wrote:So I don't see how that says anything about death.


Death is permanent ending of the brain and its function. Thus it is permanent ending of consciousness that depends on it.

kirk5a wrote:One could just as easily decide that means something about how consciousness could carry on after death, just as it resumes after anesthesia.


1) What is the proof that consciousness can "leap" from dead Alex, to the next life?
2) Why didn't my consciousness leap to another body when this brain was temporarily stopped?
3) Why when I was born, it was as if it was my first life?

The anesthesia was really "enlightening" experience, I've learned a lot from it. :sage:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Sat May 11, 2013 10:26 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:What is known from an episode of unconsciousness is that it was a temporary state.


Yes. As long as the brain didn't function, there was no consciousness.

kirk5a wrote: And interestingly, that after it was over, your normal consciousness resumed along with all your memories (I presume.)


Yes. after the brain resumed working because chemicals cleared out, so did the consciousness resume.

kirk5a wrote:So I don't see how that says anything about death.


Death is permanent ending of the brain and its function. Thus it is permanent ending of consciousness that depends on it.

kirk5a wrote:One could just as easily decide that means something about how consciousness could carry on after death, just as it resumes after anesthesia.


1) What is the proof that consciousness can "leap" from dead Alex, to the next life?
2) Why didn't my consciousness leap to another body when this brain was temporarily stopped?
3) Why when I was born, it was as if it was my first life?

The anesthesia was really "enlightening" experience, I've learned a lot from it. :sage:

All you're doing is assuming something about death from an episode of anesthesia. But anesthesia isn't death. So actually there's nothing of substance to your reasoning.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 11, 2013 10:34 pm

kirk5a wrote:All you're doing is assuming something about death from an episode of anesthesia. But anesthesia isn't death. So actually there's nothing of substance to your reasoning.


Full anesthesia is an example of what happens to consciousness when the brain stops functioning. When death occurs, the brain permanently stops functioning. This is the end of consciousness.Then the body and brain is cremated or decomposes six feet under.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Sat May 11, 2013 11:39 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:All you're doing is assuming something about death from an episode of anesthesia. But anesthesia isn't death. So actually there's nothing of substance to your reasoning.


Full anesthesia is an example of what happens to consciousness when the brain stops functioning. When death occurs, the brain permanently stops functioning. This is the end of consciousness.Then the body and brain is cremated or decomposes six feet under.

Did you know anesthesiologists aren't really certain about the mechanism for how/why their chemicals induce the unconscious state? They just know what works. So given that primitive level of understanding of brain/consciousness, I don't share your convictions about what an episode of anesthesia supposedly demonstrates.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 12, 2013 12:13 am

kirk5a wrote:Did you know anesthesiologists aren't really certain about the mechanism for how/why their chemicals induce the unconscious state?


It doesn't matter. Just because one doesn't know that fire is hot, it doesn't stop fire from burning.

kirk5a wrote:They just know what works.


Correct. So when the brain goes, so does the consciousness. Exactly how consciousness emerges from the brain is a mystery. The point is that consciousness is dependently arisen from the brain. When brain ceases, so does the consciousness.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Sun May 12, 2013 12:36 am

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Did you know anesthesiologists aren't really certain about the mechanism for how/why their chemicals induce the unconscious state?


It doesn't matter. Just because one doesn't know that fire is hot, it doesn't stop fire from burning.

kirk5a wrote:They just know what works.


Correct. So when the brain goes, so does the consciousness. Exactly how consciousness emerges from the brain is a mystery. The point is that consciousness is dependently arisen from the brain. When brain ceases, so does the consciousness.

See that's just it. In anesthesia, the brain hasn't "gone." It isn't dead. I just read an article which describes a study done last year (demonstrating how little anesthesia and consciousness is actually understood) which says
These wave patterns restrict neuron activity so that cells can only fire for short periods of time. “[The new wave pattern] silenc[es the neurons] and only allow[s] them to be activated for brief periodic intervals,” Purdon says, “It’s not so much that the brain is per se, ‘shut off.’ It’s in some pattern that is incompatible with consciousness.”

http://healthland.time.com/2012/11/06/a ... ciousness/

So what does that tell us about death? Nothing. It tells us something about the unconscious state while alive.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 12, 2013 12:47 am

kirk5a wrote:See that's just it. In anesthesia, the brain hasn't "gone." It isn't dead.


The brain is not yet gone, but its function is impaired. When death occurs, the brain falls apart and its function is totally gone. Obviously. So death would be permanent absence of consciousness.

kirk5a wrote: I just read an article which describes a study done last year (demonstrating how little anesthesia and consciousness is actually understood) which says


As long as the brain is one of the required causes for consciousness, if brain goes, so does the consciousness. At death, the brain is either cremated or it turns to dust six feet under.

These wave patterns restrict neuron activity so that cells can only fire for short periods of time. “[The new wave pattern] silenc[es the neurons] and only allow[s] them to be activated for brief periodic intervals,” Purdon says, “It’s not so much that the brain is per se, ‘shut off.’ It’s in some pattern that is incompatible with consciousness.”


It still shows that consciousness somehow depends on the brain. Death is total 'shut off'. The last word is parinibbāna.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Sun May 12, 2013 2:41 am

Alex123,
Seems like you are looking or asking for proof for rebirth and saying that you can not believe in rebirth without proof. I think that this is a good way for you to proceed and is supported by the buddha's teaching to go and find out for yourself. I suggest that you turn this attitude towards pondering the existence of the external world....I think that if your reasoning is clear and dispassionate you will see that there can never be proof either for or against the existence of the external world and if taken one step farther you will then see that there can never be proof either for or against anything existing at all....including rebirth and everything else. In my view the fact that nothing can be proven one way or the other is a clear pointer to the dukkha inherent in all things. Seems like if one wants to eliminate dukkha one must eliminate supporting one's existence with doctrines of belief in the existence of things or the certainty we feel about our knowing.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Sun May 12, 2013 7:01 am

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Faith is belief in something that has no sufficient evidence. If there was evidence, you wouldn't need to have faith - you would know.

"Faith" means a lot more. A spectrum of the meaning of this word concerns things like 'loyalty, reliance on, consistency.'


Loyalty to idea or relying on idea that one has no evidence for. Sure.

How does consistency fits into definition of "faith"?

Being faithful.
Being loyal.
Being true.

A true blue friend. A faithful spouse. A loyal friend.
Etc.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Sun May 12, 2013 7:06 am

Alex123 wrote:It still shows that consciousness somehow depends on the brain. Death is total 'shut off'.

The last word is parinibbāna.


And all people automatically become enlightened upon death?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 12, 2013 11:00 am

chownah wrote:Alex123,
Seems like you are looking or asking for proof for rebirth and saying that you can not believe in rebirth without proof. I think that this is a good way for you to proceed and is supported by the buddha's teaching to go and find out for yourself. I suggest that you turn this attitude towards pondering the existence of the external world....


I am empirically inclined, so the question about external world outside of perception, is meaningless statement. We can't observe it because if it could be observed and/or imagined, that wouldn't be beyond perception. I put more value in what is given to the senses, than abstract and un-observable statements.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 12, 2013 11:00 am

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:It still shows that consciousness somehow depends on the brain. Death is total 'shut off'.

The last word is parinibbāna.


And all people automatically become enlightened upon death?


End of consciousness, end of craving, end of dukkha
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 12, 2013 11:43 am

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:It still shows that consciousness somehow depends on the brain. Death is total 'shut off'.

The last word is parinibbāna.


And all people automatically become enlightened upon death?


End of consciousness, end of craving, end of dukkha
So, why not suicide?
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.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sun May 12, 2013 12:03 pm

tiltbillings wrote:So, why not suicide?


I don't want to hurt my parents. Self preservation instincts are still strong. I am a coward, for now.
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