the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:43 pm

nowheat wrote:In the suttas I have seen how sometimes a simile is useful in conveying information. Here's my attempt at using that method to make clear what I see happening here. . . ..
That's nice, and it is an interesting back-handed admission of your failure in this thread; however, the problem is that you have very directly stated that the Buddha said something without quoting a sutta, which opened your statement to a reasonable question of what did the Buddha/the suttas say in support of your opinion. Rather than this prolonged and tedious msg after msg attempt by you at deflecting the focus away from your "He [the Buddha] says," it would be better if you simply and concisely quoted the suttas to show what it is that the Buddha said that supports of your opinion.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:23 pm

chownah wrote:I have a lot of agreement for what you are saying......

Yes, I think we do. We might use slightly different language to say it, and might even mean slightly different things by it, but there is a lot of overlap.

but.....to understand my posts you should understand that my belief system is very different from most posters here. For me having no doctrine of self is probably the key concept. In working toward no doctrine of self I start from the opposite side from most. My default belief is that there is no self in me or in the world anywhere....

I can understand seeing it that way, though when I find the Buddha talking about how the world is empty of self I have heard him defining "the world" in terms of the aggregates, or in terms of sense data -- so, once again, I think it's self he's talking about. That ends up a bit circular: the world is empty of self = self is empty of self, but it seems to me that is what he is saying.

This is not me arguing that the world outside of us *has* a self -- that's not what I'm saying. But I have, in the past, tended to interpret the Buddha as saying "nothing in the world has any inherent nature" (aka "nothing in the world has a self") and, on study, I don't actually find him overtly saying that, though I think it is still there as subtext, or at the very least that we can infer it through observation of how *we* have no inherent self and the same principal applies to everything we see around us (so he doesn't have to say it in the texts for it to be a Buddhist concept -- if it is drawn from the things he points out to us, and we can see it in the world around us, it's logically "Buddhist" as far as I can see).

SN 35.85 [pts S iii 54]
"It is, Ananda, because it is empty of self and of what belongs to self that it is said, 'Empty is the world.' And what is empty of self and of what belongs to self? The eye, Ananda, is empty of self and of what belongs to self."


and of course this view is in fact a doctrine of self. But I can not just snap my fingers and change my views so I continue to firmly be of the view that ther is no self anywhere.

I agree, it is a doctrine of self. Isn't it easier to relax and understand that there is no inherent self, but that it is something we construct? It's a concept? I find this helps with the "walking around the world behaving like there is a self" problem. As long as we are mindful that it's something we're building...

I believe strongly in The All and The World as the Buddha defined them in the suttas.......but unlike most people I fully believe that understanding experience as being just that is a major key in moving toward the goal....this means that I tend to deny the existence of the "external world" as most people view it.....if I must give an opinion about the external world I would say that it's existence is just conjecture.

But wiser to just set its reality or lack thereof aside? What matters is what we can know, which is experience, including the experience of dukkha?

Do understand that I do typically walk around feeling like a self and seeing others as being selves but I see this as just my state of delusion... so I'm not a slack jawed drooler.

Glad to hear it! ; )

All of this about me is to show you how hard it is for me to reply to what you are saying. You talk about whether a self should work towards it's future happiness and my most honest answer to this is that all a self ever does is to work towards it's future happiness and this is a strong indication of why we should have no doctrine of self.

Yes! That seems to be its function in life, even if, in its ignorance, it isn't very good at it.

You talk about saving the world and I think you mean the external world and my view is that it's existence is just a conjecture and it is better to see the world in more definite terms I.e. as the sum total of our life's experience and nothing more.....on other words it is a product of the self.

This might be where I go wrong in my wording, because I tend to use "the world" in a multi-layered way, sort of the way I see the Buddha using it. If the external world gets saved (bees and oceans and plants and air) that's a good thing and a byproduct of saving people from their selves (world = self, in that case). Aloka inserted "the whole" into the phrasing I used at one point -- I said something about the Buddha being out to save the world and she repeated what I said back to me as "the whole world" which I think confused the point.

So, I agree with a lot of what you are saying but I have to decode it into my belief structure, formulate an answer, code it back onto your belief structure, and then express it in writing...

I am sorry it takes so much effort but I am glad you persist.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:58 pm

Aloka wrote:Hello again nowheat,

Hello Aloka, and thanks for taking the time to answer.

After his awakening the Buddha decided to teach others because he realised that beings were in different stages of development and that some of them would benefit greatly from his teachings. (SN 6.1)

He then went on to teach the people who were interested in what he had to say, in an area of India.

To me this doesn't indicate that his personal intention was to cure the suffering of everyone on the planet.

Yes, I can appreciate this point of view. This seems especially clear in light of the way we see the Buddha as a desireless person -- he can't have, really, *wanted* to cure the world of suffering because that "wanting" would involve desire, wouldn't it.

But there is some very subtle understanding in here about this, about why he would give up the comforts of his own solitary practice in favor of the difficulty of teaching people. And the other really subtle aspect of this is the way we humans (you and I in this instance) tend to push what the other person is saying off its actual center a little in order to be able to disagree with it, to be able to say "My understanding is correct, and yours is incorrect" (or something more subtle than even that -- it is hard to express what I am saying here).

So, for example, as a next step in this conversation, it is tempting for me to suggest that what you seem to be saying here is that the Buddha had no desire to achieve anything in particular -- he is a desireless being. He did not, therefore, set out to save the world, because that would be an expression of desire. And then we could wander off into debate about why he would then overcome his reluctance ("If I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be wearisome for me, that would be troublesome..") to teach a dhamma that is, as the Buddha said in the sutta you cited "deep, hard to see, hard to understand"*. But quite probably you're not suggesting that the Buddha lived his life without any intention, nor that intention = desire, so the argument I would be making might well be subtly pulling us away from understanding, through the effect of distorting your point so we have further to go to get to the middle.

And this is the situation with the concept that I am saying the Buddha was Out To Save The Whole World with its implication that I am suggesting that he thought he could (and that this is refuted by pointing out that he couldn't Do The Numbers). It distorts what I was suggesting.

And simultaneously *completely* avoids talking about what was at the heart of the issue: about whether, for any of us as individuals -- never mind what the Buddha said, I'm asking how each of us sees the practice -- we perceive emphasis on our own future happiness to be a critical component of practice over letting go of concern with ourselves and our futures and perceiving the world in terms of the effect we have on others.

Funny how we never end up discussing that.

No offence meant - but In general, I'm not particularly interested in continually speculating about what the Buddha might, or might not have intended. I guess its probably because I'm a schoolteacher by profession and I like to see supporting evidence from source material - but anyway, that's all from me. Have fun !

Oh I take no offense, but haven't you said, "I'm done" in various ways before? Maybe I'm misreading and what you're saying is, "on this point, on this subject, that's all folks"?

:namaste:

* interesting that the Buddha did not describe it as "overt, obvious, all easily explained, so that he could confine himself to always speaking on a literal level"
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:02 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:In the suttas I have seen how sometimes a simile is useful in conveying information. Here's my attempt at using that method to make clear what I see happening here. . . ..
That's nice, and it is an interesting back-handed admission of your failure in this thread; however, the problem is that you have very directly stated that the Buddha said something without quoting a sutta, which opened your statement to a reasonable question of what did the Buddha/the suttas say in support of your opinion. Rather than this prolonged and tedious msg after msg attempt by you at deflecting the focus away from your "He [the Buddha] says," it would be better if you simply and concisely quoted the suttas to show what it is that the Buddha said that supports of your opinion.

I wish I could see the above as intentional humor. It would be really awesome as humor.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:01 pm

nowheat wrote:Yes, I can appreciate this point of view. This seems especially clear in light of the way we see the Buddha as a desireless person -- he can't have, really, *wanted* to cure the world of suffering because that "wanting" would involve desire, wouldn't it.

But there is some very subtle understanding in here about this, about why he would give up the comforts of his own solitary practice in favor of the difficulty of teaching people. And the other really subtle aspect of this is the way we humans (you and I in this instance) tend to push what the other person is saying off its actual center a little in order to be able to disagree with it, to be able to say "My understanding is correct, and yours is incorrect" (or something more subtle than even that -- it is hard to express what I am saying here).

So, for example, as a next step in this conversation, it is tempting for me to suggest that what you seem to be saying here is that the Buddha had no desire to achieve anything in particular -- he is a desireless being. He did not, therefore, set out to save the world, because that would be an expression of desire. And then we could wander off into debate about why he would then overcome his reluctance ("If I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be wearisome for me, that would be troublesome..") to teach a dhamma that is, as the Buddha said in the sutta you cited "deep, hard to see, hard to understand"*. But quite probably you're not suggesting that the Buddha lived his life without any intention, nor that intention = desire, so the argument I would be making might well be subtly pulling us away from understanding, through the effect of distorting your point so we have further to go to get to the middle.


Hi nowheat,

Please don't think that I'm implying anything other than what I've already written. I'd also be grateful if you didn't start creating "tempting" next steps in an imaginary conversation with me.

Oh I take no offense, but haven't you said, "I'm done" in various ways before? Maybe I'm misreading and what you're saying is, "on this point, on this subject, that's all folks"?


I'm saying that I'm done with that particular subject area, thank you.

:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:11 pm

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote:In the suttas I have seen how sometimes a simile is useful in conveying information. Here's my attempt at using that method to make clear what I see happening here. . . ..
That's nice, and it is an interesting back-handed admission of your failure in this thread; however, the problem is that you have very directly stated that the Buddha said something without quoting a sutta, which opened your statement to a reasonable question of what did the Buddha/the suttas say in support of your opinion. Rather than this prolonged and tedious msg after msg attempt by you at deflecting the focus away from your "He [the Buddha] says," it would be better if you simply and concisely quoted the suttas to show what it is that the Buddha said that supports of your opinion.

I wish I could see the above as intentional humor. It would be really awesome as humor.
Sorry for your deficiency. Being without humor in this world can be difficult.

To the point at hand, it would seem, however, that in a discussion of understanding of the Buddha's teachings that direct reference to -- that is, quoting the Buddha Word -- would be more than appropriate in illustrating one's point.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Kusala » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:24 pm

Why rebirth is important ----------> http://www.iisis.net/index.php?page=sem ... e&hl=en_US
Image

Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby cooran » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:50 pm

Hello Kusala,

This doesn't seem like a quality site. I would be careful using it as a support.

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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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:10 am

The PDF book draft by Bhikkhu Cintita that Bhante Gavesako linked to here has some interesting discussion relevant to this thread:
Growing the Dhamma: Buddhism's Religious Spadework.

Chapter 4: Transcendence.
...
We have three optional views that define the wiggle room to retains the functionality of rebirth:

1. Rebirth is literally true as described in early Buddhism. Probably this is the dominant view
historically.

2. Rebirth is an approximation for something more subtle, potentially verifiable, yet largely
equivalent with regards to the functionality that authenticity demands. This is a view seldom
considered.

3. Rebirth as literally understood is a beneficial working assumption even if it is a pretense. This is
the Buddha's own recommendation, as we will see, for the skeptical.

The view that the Buddha never taught rebirth at all requires great imagination, that a ring of monks
tainted with brahmanic views slipped heretical changes systematically into sutta after sutta shortly after
the time of the Buddha and then managed to popularize these changes to such a degree that no
contradictory suttas survived. It requires dismissing the drive for transcendent meaning in Buddhist
practice that I have argued here is essential for the Path of Awakening. Let's look at each of these three
optional takes on rebirth.
...

:anjali:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:04 am

Nowheet,
I don't often recommend reading things but this is from the link that mikenz66 just provided:

..............
Transcendent meaning for the Buddhist is attained through “that panoramic perspective from which we can survey our lives in their broader context and total network of relationships” that comes from realizing that our lives and therefore our practices are woven inextricably into something far grander in scale, a rich and immense tapestry of human affairs. We realize that we are each engaged in an epic struggle with karmic forces from the ancient past and producing outcomes that will reach endlessly into the future. Our practice therefore has vastly more at stake than happiness and comfort in this present life. It has never been exclusively about this one present life. From this the urgency that impels us to deep practice develops that also opens up the prospect of Awakening.
.................

Is this at least just a tiny little bit like what you have been saying? :smile:
chownah
P.S. My automatic spell corrector changes your name into "nowhere" sometimes so if this shows up it is not some subtle anything.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:15 am

chownah wrote:Nowheet,
I don't often recommend reading things but this is from the link that mikenz66 just provided:

..............
Transcendent meaning for the Buddhist is attained through “that panoramic perspective from which we can survey our lives in their broader context and total network of relationships” that comes from realizing that our lives and therefore our practices are woven inextricably into something far grander in scale, a rich and immense tapestry of human affairs. We realize that we are each engaged in an epic struggle with karmic forces from the ancient past and producing outcomes that will reach endlessly into the future. Our practice therefore has vastly more at stake than happiness and comfort in this present life. It has never been exclusively about this one present life. From this the urgency that impels us to deep practice develops that also opens up the prospect of Awakening.
.................

Is this at least just a tiny little bit like what you have been saying?
chownah
P.S. My automatic spell corrector changes your name into "nowhere" sometimes so if this shows up it is not some subtle anything.
chownah
What do you see as being nowheat's position?
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:
chownah wrote:Nowheet,
I don't often recommend reading things but this is from the link that mikenz66 just provided:

..............
Transcendent meaning for the Buddhist is attained through “that panoramic perspective from which we can survey our lives in their broader context and total network of relationships” that comes from realizing that our lives and therefore our practices are woven inextricably into something far grander in scale, a rich and immense tapestry of human affairs. We realize that we are each engaged in an epic struggle with karmic forces from the ancient past and producing outcomes that will reach endlessly into the future. Our practice therefore has vastly more at stake than happiness and comfort in this present life. It has never been exclusively about this one present life. From this the urgency that impels us to deep practice develops that also opens up the prospect of Awakening.
.................

Is this at least just a tiny little bit like what you have been saying?
chownah
P.S. My automatic spell corrector changes your name into "nowhere" sometimes so if this shows up it is not some subtle anything.
chownah
What do you see as being nowheat's position?

I have been working on defining her momentum and as Heisenberg says, the more you know about her momentum the less you can know about her position! :jumping:
As for my spellchecker demon, it thinks she is nowhere!!!!! :jumping: :woohoo:
On a less serious note, with regard to rebirth I think that she is of the opinion that rebirth is a sort of beginning point in a transitional teaching which transitions at least to an expression of metta as directed toward all sentient beings and perhaps beyond as well. I'm likely wrong on this or at best maybe slightly right. I also think she has the opinion that many/most/all of the buddha's teachings are of a similar transitional nature. And by transitional I think it means that the Buddha starts with an initial element found in The World of the listener and then presents ideas which can be seen as being related to the initial element but which moves the person's thinking toward the buddha's perspective in a way which not only shows his teaching but also shows the deficiencies of the initial element......but does this in a way which usually only occurs to the listener after some reflection on what has been said. Again I may very well be wrong on this.........I think she talks a lot about the Buddha's methods and her overarching view of the implications and not so much about hammering out doctrinal issues.
I'm interested on seeing what she thinks of the excerpt I presented in my previous post.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:24 am

chownah wrote: . . .
I have been working on defining her momentum and as Heisenberg says, the more you know about her momentum the less you can know about her position!
It is hard to pin down, which is why I have been asking here to do a concise point by point statement of what she is advocating. The long prolix expositions are way too amorphous and time consuming. Life is way too short.

As for my spellchecker demon, it thinks she is nowhere!!!!!
Inadvertent insight.

On a less serious note, . . .
Thank you. I appreciate your effort in this.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:01 am

mikenz66 wrote:2. Rebirth is an approximation for something more subtle, potentially verifiable, yet largely
equivalent with regards to the functionality that authenticity demands. This is a view seldom
considered.


It's something I've mused on. But I feel the "psychological" interpretation of rebirth is too crude an approximation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:35 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:2. Rebirth is an approximation for something more subtle, potentially verifiable, yet largely
equivalent with regards to the functionality that authenticity demands. This is a view seldom
considered.


It's something I've mused on. But I feel the "psychological" interpretation of rebirth is too crude an approximation.

I know that most everyone scoffs at the idea but consider genetics.
One argument against it is that it is too physical or as you might say too crude. But consider that the genetic machinery can be seen as a book. While a book is very physical, its message transcends its physicality....and while the genetic machinery is very physical, its impact goes well beyond its physicality. Also, kamma is used to explain how a person can have characteristics with no apparent explanation in their present life time and it is well documented that the genetic machinery plays a major role in determining characteristics with no other apparent explanation in the present life time.
Another argument against is that it is too impersonal as it does not point to any sort of continuum associated with the individual. But it seems to me the the more an idea points to a continuum associated with an individual the more that idea will come into conflict with the teachings of having no doctrine of self....so for me the great distance that the genetic machinery has from an individual specific continuum is a plus factor and should be helpful.
There is also the question of how is it that an arahant has no rebirth since children will continue to be born even after the arahant's death. Maybe it is because the arahant sees no self anywhere in The World and so an adamant does not see a "child" being born but rather just sees life rearising or the aggregates manifesting....so for the arahant there is no further birth.
chownah
P.S. I have forgotten what precisely gets reborn and are there any sutta references which talk about precisely what gets reborn.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:58 pm

chownah wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:2. Rebirth is an approximation for something more subtle, potentially verifiable, yet largely
equivalent with regards to the functionality that authenticity demands. This is a view seldom
considered.


It's something I've mused on. But I feel the "psychological" interpretation of rebirth is too crude an approximation.


I know that most everyone scoffs at the idea but consider genetics.


It would make sense to say that genes are continually reborn, and genes code for psychological as well as physical characteristics. But is there anything in the suttas which would support this idea? Could you for example intepret kamma as survival of the fittest?

But going back to the "psychological" interpretation of rebirth, it just feels too literal to me - like another finger pointing at the moon perhaps. Maybe part of the problem here is that old paradox of trying to describe the unconditioned by means of the conditioned.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:10 pm

chownah wrote:But it seems to me the the more an idea points to a continuum associated with an individual the more that idea will come into conflict with the teachings of having no doctrine of self

There is no need for a self-doctrine to explain the continuity of a particular individual from infancy to adulthood. Similarly, the process of beings continual "transmigrating & wandering on" requires no self-doctrine. There is no conflict between the anatta teachings and rebirth.
P.S. I have forgotten what precisely gets reborn and are there any sutta references which talk about precisely what gets reborn.

"There are, O monks, four nutriments for the sustenance of beings born, and for the support of beings seeking birth. What are the four?

"Edible food, coarse and fine; sense-impression is the second; volitional thought, the third; and consciousness, the fourth.

"If, O monks, there is lust for the nutriment edible food, if there is pleasure in it and craving for it, then consciousness[1] takes a hold[2] therein[3] and grows.[4] Where consciousness takes a hold and grows, there will be occurrence of mind-and-body.[5] Where there is occurrence of mind-and-body, there is[6] growth of kamma-formations.[7] Where there is growth of kamma-formations, there is a future arising of renewed existence.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... html#fnt-8
"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 ancientbuddhism » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:22 pm

mikenz66 wrote:The PDF book draft by Bhikkhu Cintita that Bhante Gavesako linked to here has some interesting discussion relevant to this thread ...


This is a religious tract. Straw-man arguments such as “The view that the Buddha never taught rebirth at all requires great imagination…” does find echo on this thread, but is a position which has yet to accuse anyone here. Does Cintita's book really inform this discussion?
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:31 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
chownah wrote:

I know that most everyone scoffs at the idea but consider genetics.


It would make sense to say that genes are continually reborn, and genes code for psychological as well as physical characteristics. But is there anything in the suttas which would support this idea? Could you for example intepret kamma as survival of the fittest?

But going back to the "psychological" interpretation of rebirth, it just feels too literal to me - like another finger pointing at the moon perhaps. Maybe part of the problem here is that old paradox of trying to describe the unconditioned by means of the conditioned.

I think the Buddha had no idea about the genetic mechanisms. I think he experienced The World and drew his understandings from it so genetic mechanisms would be totally unknown to not only him but to everyone of the time. There will not be anything pointing to genetic mechanism in any writings of the time. Any manifestation of genetics which was observed would be explained in another way. For instance in some cultures an animal's color being the same as the father or mother or a mixture of the two is explained as the power of the blood.....or in many cultures if a woman does not bear a son then it is explained as a defect in her while we know now that it is just a matter of the genetic machinery of the sperm. Anyway, there will not be any pointers to genetics and to find the connection one should look for the kinds of things that are influenced by genetics and understand that this genetic mechanism is the basis for what they have observed in The World. For example, if someone is beautiful the Buddha explains this through kamma as a possible explanation and rather than to disagree with this I want to point out that physical features seem to be predominantly determined by genetics.....not completely, however....so on this particular example there is room for more than one influence such as emotional makeup and societal preferences etc. and some of these influences do play out but they act after the birth and I think can not be accurately be seen as coming into expression after transiting the rebirth process. In other words, there are multiple factors which makes someone beautiful but the only one that can be directly seen associated with the rebirth process that I know of is genetics.....with some other few exceptions like fetal alcohol syndrome and other extreme things like that which effect the fetus.
For me the bottom line is that kamma is used within the context of an agent which acts across the rebirth from the previous life into the next one......I think it would be better if Buddhists saw that genetics is a factor which without a doubt acts across the rebirth from a previous life into the next one. If one argues that this is wrong because it is not the same person then my response is that there are no selves involved in this and that is exactly why genetic mechanism is appropriate.....in fact I would propose that it is likely that people's understanding of rebirth as found in the suttas is more likely to draw them into a doctrine of self than is an understanding of genetics.....if so then perhaps the genetic explanation is superior. People are always talking about "my rebirth" or "my past lives".......very clearly a self is closely associated with their ideas.

About survival of the fittest. I don't see this as having much to do with the genetic mechanism. It has more to do with what happens to beings after the genetic mechanism does its work.

Another pitfall is that people say that genetics might explain how someone is deformed (for example) but it can not explain why that particular individual is the one to get that deformity. My answer is that genetic mechanisms do not create self identity....rather the person wondering why a particular individual is the one with the deformity is the person who is expressing a view of self. Genetic material from the mother and father is brought together through the craving associated with the clinging aggregates....if that fusion of genetic material receives nutrient it will grow and mature into a child with many latent tendencies which come about because of the genetic material.....a dog has doggy tendencies, a scorpion has scorpionic tendencies, and a human has human tendencies...this is kamma coming to fruition I guess...or is it the genetic mechanism?
chownah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:45 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:The PDF book draft by Bhikkhu Cintita that Bhante Gavesako linked to here has some interesting discussion relevant to this thread ...


This is a religious tract. Straw-man arguments such as “The view that the Buddha never taught rebirth at all requires great imagination…” does find echo on this thread, but is a position which has yet to accuse anyone here. Does Cintita's book really inform this discussion?

There is an argument to be made that the Buddha did not teach rebirth but it comes from a completely different basis than the Bhikku provides......

I think it is obvious that the Buddha taught ABOUT rebirth or that he USED rebirth to illustrate his teachings but I do not think that the Buddha taught rebirth. For me the clear example of this is that he never as far as I have seen precisely describe what was reborn and he never as far as I know ever discuss rebirth relative to having no doctrine of self. I can not imagine someone as smart and experienced as the Buddha doing such a poor job of teaching something. For instance consider The All......the Buddha was very clear about what it was and now it functioned....the same goes for The World.....the same goes for the self. When the Buddha talks about the processes of birth they are described as methods of generation and not as methods of rebirth at least that is how it is rendered in English, I hope some Pali scholar can verify if the two terms are different in Pali or not.
Too tired to continue although what I have written seems a bit garbled.
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