the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:07 am

AJungianIdeal wrote:
chownah wrote:
AJungianIdeal wrote:I'm trying real hard to try and make rebirth mesh with neuroscience. Does rebirth depend on a dualistic conception of the mind? If not, what gets "transferred" as it was?

DNA?
chownah




As for DNA, the 1 thing I know about rebirth is that it is not familial or generational or anything like that.


The thing about DNA is that it is not familial or generational either. Some people see it that way as a result of their indulging in a doctrine of self.......like 'this is MY DNA.........this is my mother's DNA.....'...etc. if these people would stop obsessing with their self view the concepts of familial and generational would disappear. To help one get a better understanding of DNA one can ponder how all of the DNA in the human genome is dependent on billions and billions of different kinds of creatures with non-human DNA.....you can start with the bacteria in your gut as an example....and don't forget that all the food we need to exist came about because of a web of diverse DNA like soil microbes and earth worms......even the air we breathe is the way it is because of different kinds of DNA stretching back literally billions of years and continuing through the present and hopefully onto the future.

All DNA is made of fairly simple compounds repeated in near endless patterns.......but basically it is ALL THE SAME and it all exists because it ALL exists......no strand of DNA exists on its own.....even the strand of DNA in your heart is dependent on the strand of DNA in your gut whether you identify that strand of DNA in your gut as being 'yours' or as 'belonging' to a bacteria.

Of course maybe I am wrong........certainly there must be some DNA which is independent of some other DNA.....I guess.....don't know for sure.......
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:11 am

Just to be clear and please correct me if I'm wrong...

With the exception of mutagens and DNA replication errors, all of the somatic cells in a particular human body have the same DNA code. The manifestation of a cell, whether it be a cardiac muscle cell, a neuron, or what have you, is due to what parts of the DNA code are expressed.

:anjali:
Peace,
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:23 pm

clw_uk wrote:Not exactly, although I see where your coming from

You can see the sign, and know it means danger and stop

You can see the sign, ignore it and be harmed

You can see the sign, misinterpret it and be harmed

You can not see the sign at all

However some people can not see the sign, and still skip danger ;)

OR some people can ignore the sign, and skip danger ;)

In every case but the first, a serious collision would be inevitable, and soon.
"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 chownah » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:10 pm

Mkoll wrote:Just to be clear and please correct me if I'm wrong...

With the exception of mutagens and DNA replication errors, all of the somatic cells in a particular human body have the same DNA code. The manifestation of a cell, whether it be a cardiac muscle cell, a neuron, or what have you, is due to what parts of the DNA code are expressed.

:anjali:

I believe you are correct at least for the nuclear DNA.......don't forget that pretty much every cell also has mitochondria which have their own DNA distinct from the nuclear DNA. I don''t know if all the mitochondrial DNA is identical or not....but it is interesting that one idea for the origin of mitochondria is that a way way long long time ago a bacteria infected a single celled organism and they developed a symbiotic relationship which has continued to the present. For those fixated on the 'self' I guess this means that every cell within your body contains a non-human entity which we call a mitochondria but is really just a highly evolved bacterium which is along for the ride. I have heard it said that humans are just machines invented by bacteria which they use for obtaining food and shelter.

Did you know that a family of plants called legumes (beans, peas, clover, etc.) have nodules on their roots and a colony of bacteria live on the nodules and that the bacteria receives nutrients from the plant and in turn produces nutrient for the plant.....and that this bacteria as part of its way of living also produces hemoglobin which is also the chemical in animal blood which carries oxygen the cells and carbon dioxide away for the cells?.........seems that hemoglobin probably originally came from bacteria but somehow we ended up with a gene to produce it......can we really call the genes for producing hemoglobin our own or should we just thank bacteria for loaning it to us?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:59 pm

tiltbillings wrote:... 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.

Four months and five pages later, I finally manage to return (please hold down the rejoicing). The dog didn't eat my homework, but I've spent entirely too much time in VA hospitals over the last months. I think I'm now healthy enough to be able to carry on a conversation without major dropouts but we'll see. At any rate, the time was not entirely wasted. I did manage to get a paper written and published that is an analysis of "Quarrels & Disputes" inspired by a conversation I had with Leigh Brasington (who has a page about the sutta you can read http://www.leighb.com/snp4_11.htm if you're interested). In the paper I believe I show that the Buddha is clearly using language in a way that is meant to convey two things simultaneously. Unfortunately the paper won't be out there for free for another year, but I'll be glad to let y'all know when it is, if anyone is interested.

But that just covers one sutta.

Aside from that I'm working on a rather long paper that builds a case for the Buddha quite intentionally using language -- complete with citations of many suttas -- language that can (and I believe should) be read two ways, but it will be a while before that one is finished, hopefully accepted, and through the process of being published and out there without a subscription. I understand that you would like me to put it all in a very brief, Reader's Digest, easy-to-read version, and that you want the Cliff's Notes to be utterly convincing all by themselves or you're not going to (1) be bothered to read anything lengthy or (2) allow any possibility that what I'm saying could be true but, tilt, I'm trying to show something that was intended from its origins to be subtle, so a one-page description complete with enough suttas to convince you is not going to be possible, sorry. But I'm appreciative of the conversation here and further inspiration to sit down and pull all the bits I could find together into a logical order, even though that's not suitable for publication in the forum.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:20 pm

Way back on page 226, Sylvester said (quoting an earlier post):
Sylvester wrote:Since your thesis is an interpretation of how the Buddha intended to communicate DA to his brahmin auditors and "influence" them, we would also need a fair amount of citation of the Buddha's exposition of DA that we can see actually corresponding to the Vedic received wisdom or Vedic method or whatever it is you believe was the problem. I would be satisfied with a number of sutta citations that address specifically the nidanas traditionally interpreted to mean "birth" and "rebirth"; if you can give even more DA expositions on the other nidanas that are probative of your supposed correspondence, so much the better. Note that I ask for "a number of sutta citations"; I need quantity to see a trend and pattern, rather than to let one singular pronouncement colour the rest of the expositions.

and
Sylvester wrote:I don't think it's unreasonable, especially since we are asking nothing more than what would be expected of a text-critical approach...


After careful consideration of your requests, it occurs to me that I have perhaps overcomplicated what I am saying.

I don't see that it's necessary, really, to prove that there was any exceptional understanding of the Buddha's audience that enabled them to get what he was saying in DA, because what I am suggesting is that he was working with themes that were familiar to pretty much everyone who paid any attention at all to the world around them. I'm not actually suggesting that DA was aimed at "his brahmin auditors".

So, for example, when you ask me to provide "examples of the Vedic worldview" that I believe are relevant, the word "the" tells me I've not done well in making clear that I'm not suggesting that DA is depicting "a" view, but that it's a structure built on very general views, of which there were probably dozens of varieties. One general view -- the first portion of DA -- is that people come into being because of desire, that consciousness arrives first, then the individuality of name-and-form comes into existence, and through that the senses are gained. It seems to me that, since those who take DA as being a description of rebirth understand that the Buddha is talking about consciousness descending into the womb, and name-and-form being birth, and with birth the senses being acquired -- that that was the order as most folks understood it -- I shouldn't have to provide any outside sources that show that this was more-or-less the way most folks understood things to happen. It's right there in the suttas, showing that that is the order people perceived. Even if that order of events wasn't X's actual belief, X will have been familiar with it as the predominant worldview, and that we should understand this just through reading the suttas. That the Prajapati myths use that very construction is a bonus piece of evidence that this was, indeed, a known worldview. But seeing that order reflected in the Prajapati myth isn't actually necessary -- because it's quite visibly what's perceived as the natural order in the suttas themselves.

We do not find other views of the process of beings coming into existence represented in the suttas, so I see no reason for me to provide evidence that this was a way of looking at the process that was well-known. Now if there were other views of the order of events around birth discussed, and they dominated, then maybe I'd need to go looking for outside evidence.

The same sort of thing goes with with Part Two of DA, which I am suggesting has to do with the way the rituals done are supposed to have an effect on one's life after death. We know from reading the suttas that folks were concerned with the proper performance of rituals, and what effect those rituals would have on them in the future, because they asked questions about these things. So I don't need to be providing outside support to show that this is what people believed -- it's right there in the suttas.

And, finally, it shouldn't require any outside confirmation to prove that folks believed that their understanding of the world -- and hence the rituals they chose and the way they performed them -- would have an effect on where they went after death, with the aim being to go somewhere nice and blissful rather than somewhere nasty and uncomfortable. That, too, we should be able to gather from reading the suttas.

On the most basic of levels, that is what I am saying is the structure of DA: the first portion being "the givens" about how we come into the world, the middle portion being detail about our rituals and how they lead to the last part, which is what happens to us after we die.

The only parts of that I can think might be in the least controversial are (1) the first and last steps, in which I find the Buddha twisting the usual beginning and ending of a life story. The first step might not be so "usual" because that beginning is "all about knowledge" which might be associated with the atman-brahman worldview more than any other ---- whereas the Buddha twists it to say "it's all about ignorance". But "the usual ending" is that "this all leads to happiness" whereas he says "this all leads to dukkha" (aka: the same-old-same-old of aging, sickness, and death). But even if those twists might be zingers and stingers for those who held views about knowledge leading to bliss, to get the point, it wasn't necessary to understand the barbs, rather, the listener could just work with what he was saying on his subtlest level: that we come into the world ignorant of all that he's about to describe, and that the ignorance and all that follows leads us into trouble. You didn't need to get the joke to get the point.

And (2) that the rituals were thought to bring into being a perfected "self". In "Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion" (1989, p. 46) Brian K Smith argues that the equivalencies found throughout Vedism are part of a logical worldview, and that ritual and sacrifice were "displayed as a constructive activity, creating the human being (ontology), the afterlife (soteriology), and the cosmos as a whole (cosmology)." This view of the world wasn't limited to the Brahmin priests who performed the ceremonies, but was engaged in on behalf of those in other classes -- warrior caste, and merchants, for example -- all of whom were likely to have known why they were performing the rituals -- to purify or perfect that self, to get a better outcome/future.

So my thesis is not that DA was designed "to communicate DA to his brahmin auditors" but to talk to everyone in the society familiar with the general theories that dominated the times about how we come into the world, and why folks did what they did with their daily and special rituals, which were aimed at improving their lot after death.

As for your request for "a number of sutta citations that address specifically the nidanas traditionally interpreted to mean 'birth' and 'rebirth'", since all the brief summaries of the 12-steps do this, I assume you're actually asking for something that explicitly points out that these are *not* about rebirth, but since I have (repeatedly) said the Buddha designed a system that allowed him to subtly address his deeper points while overtly talking about rebirth, this request would be asking me to do something contrary to my thesis -- not a reasonable request to make.

In the end, you and the folks following this conversation can either recognize the shape of DA as being about the ways people saw the creation of a life, and the process of living that life, and its outcome after death -- and the ways in which the Buddha is denying that "what everyone knows" about all these things is actually accurate -- and then one can begin to see how all the other pieces fit to support that view, or not. And this, I say, will be just as the Buddha intended: that you can continue to believe the Cosmos is all about rebirth until conditions are right for you to see, through your own direct experience, how little actual evidence you have of rebirth, and just why it is far more effective to focus on what you *can* see when aiming to reduce or do away with dukkha.
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Reference to Rebirth by different people

Postby Rahula » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:00 am

Hi,
I'm trying to find about people who discovered or have strong original opinion about rebirth on their own in the past. Or it could be original reference to rebirth on different sources.

Presently I know of following people, please let me know if you know anyone else.

1. Buddha - As it is mentioned in Buddhist text he discovered cause for rebirth and path to stop it.
2. Edgar Cayce - Although he did not believe it at first while awake, he had talked about it while he was giving readings.
3. Ian Stevenson - He did a research on rebirth based on past life stories told by children and has some post-mortem reports as paper evidence on his book. He started believing in rebirth as a result of his research.

There are reference to Rebirth/Reincarnation on bible as well.
http://reluctant-messenger.com/reincarnation-pope.htm
http://www.carolynprescott.com/apps/blog/show/32261603-christians-don-t-believe-in-reincarnation-why-is-your-book-built-around-such-nonsense-
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Re: Reference to Rebirth by different people

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:05 pm

Rahula wrote:Hi,
I'm trying to find about people who discovered or have strong original opinion about rebirth on their own in the past. Or it could be original reference to rebirth on different sources.

Presently I know of following people, please let me know if you know anyone else.

1. Buddha - As it is mentioned in Buddhist text he discovered cause for rebirth and path to stop it.
2. Edgar Cayce - Although he did not believe it at first while awake, he had talked about it while he was giving readings.
3. Ian Stevenson - He did a research on rebirth based on past life stories told by children and has some post-mortem reports as paper evidence on his book. He started believing in rebirth as a result of his research.

There are reference to Rebirth/Reincarnation on bible as well.
http://reluctant-messenger.com/reincarnation-pope.htm
http://www.carolynprescott.com/apps/blog/show/32261603-christians-don-t-believe-in-reincarnation-why-is-your-book-built-around-such-nonsense-



Would it matter to you if rebirth wasnt true?

Is your Dhamma practice dependent on you being reborn?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:07 pm

Also I wouldn't go to the Bible for justification of rebirth/reincarnation et al


The old testament barely conceives of an eternal soul/heaven. Most of the Old Testament is only concerned with this life, and has a view that after death there is either nothing or is sceptical towards any future state. The book of Ecclesiastes is a good example of the annihilationist/nihilist view that is expressed throughout the bible.

As for the new testament from Jesus, thats all about eternalism and a linear view of existence. It is mostly drawn the from the oral Torah, which takes a view of life after death, as opposed to the written Torah which focuses on only one life.




However there is nothing in the Bible that really supports "rebirth", not until you get to the Latter day saints anyway who have a form of it.
Last edited by clw_uk on Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:35 pm

4. Anyone who is among the living has hope --even a live dog is better off than
a dead lion!
5. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have
no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.


Old Testament -Ecclesiastes

Sounds similar to Ajita Kesakambali
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:46 pm

1. Buddha - As it is mentioned in Buddhist text he discovered cause for rebirth and path to stop it.


How do you understand his teaching on rebirth?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:20 am

clw_uk wrote:
1. Buddha - As it is mentioned in Buddhist text he discovered cause for rebirth and path to stop it.

How do you understand his teaching on rebirth?


The suttas describe a cycle of psycho-physical rebirth with beings re-appearing in different realms according to their kamma. How one chooses to understand or interprets this is, I think, another matter.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:56 am

Lol, after 244 pages this thread is still spinning around in the same old way (Do I detect a Kylie Minogue song playing faintly in the background?)


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:18 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
1. Buddha - As it is mentioned in Buddhist text he discovered cause for rebirth and path to stop it.

How do you understand his teaching on rebirth?


The suttas describe a cycle of psycho-physical rebirth with beings re-appearing in different realms according to their kamma. How one chooses to understand or interprets this is, I think, another matter.



Do you view the reference of birth of beings as occurring in each moment, or only after death, or both?


In other words, do you view "birth" in D.O. in terms of future life birth or constant mental birth (that could carry on after)?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:42 pm

If there is only one life, then at death arahants and worldlings are all equal at 6 feet under. Not much point in trying to become a stream enterer or higher....
Death would be automatic parinibbana.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:02 pm

Alex123 wrote:If there is only one life, then at death arahants and worldlings are all equal at 6 feet under. Not much point in trying to become a stream enterer or higher....
Death would be automatic parinibbana.



We are danger of getting into the same old argument here

At the end of the day I do not know if there is rebirth, heaven, hell, Ra, oblivion or the Force.

However I will say that that line of thinking is irrelevant to me.

All I will say is that when I engage with Dhamma, I am more happy etc and I would practice regardless, as even if there is no future state etc it still improves my life in the here and now :)

My practice would not change if rebirth was proved, or if Christianity was proved or it oblivion was proved.

The reason why is that whenever I think about what happens after death, its always because of the "ego" wanting to know what happens to "me", which of course is a wrong place to come from (as well as admitting that I do not know and might never know)


However thats just my approach to the Dhamma, others will of course find merit in rebirth view and that works for them

The person who does that is just as much a follower of Buddha as I am, to me whats more important is how we use these concepts to free ourselves from dukkha :)


peace out x
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:46 pm

On a side note I will say I was wrong before to say that Buddha did not teach about rebirth. If we look at the Suttas he obviously did and because of that he obviously seen some value in teaching others about the concept. The reasons why though, I do not know. If I am honest I personally do not see the need for it, but thats just my subjective preference, which is not a good indicator of truth (As Ajahn Chah said, following our desires and preferences wont get us to nibbana)


Also, in terms of D.O. it can be read as both psychological and literal in the Suttas (or maybe intended as both, where clinging gives birth to "me" which can carry on after physical death).


The reasons for Buddha teaching about rebirth after death to some people, I do not know. I don't know the Buddhas intent, by that I mean I do not know if he meant to use it as a skilfull means to help others aim at wholesome actions (which helps to then lead them to his own teachings) or if he taught it as being an empirical fact, that he either believed or knew about.

I can see both in the Suttas

As I said before however, I think its how we use these views that is important, not the views themselves

After all we all aim for nibbana, which is the ending of birth here and now and after (if it does happen).


:smile: :soap:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:07 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:The suttas describe a cycle of psycho-physical rebirth with beings re-appearing in different realms according to their kamma. How one chooses to understand or interprets this is, I think, another matter.


Do you view the reference of birth of beings as occurring in each moment, or only after death, or both?



As I said, in the suttas on dependent origination, birth and death are clearly and consistently described in physical rather than psychological terms. DO describes literal birth and death arising arising in dependence on bhava ( being or becoming ) which logically means that bhava must represent the cycle of ( literal ) birth and death, not some kind of psychological process.

In any case for me the idea of momentary rebirth of the "I" ( whatever ) doesn't make a lot of sense - the suttas describe self-view, conceit etc as deep-seated tendencies, not things that keep getting"reborn".

If you find the idea of moment-to-moment rebirth useful, that's fine, but I still don't think it's supported by the suttas.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:09 pm

clw_uk wrote: I don't know the Buddhas intent, by that I mean I do not know if he meant to use it as a skilfull means to help others aim at wholesome actions (which helps to then lead them to his own teachings) or if he taught it as being an empirical fact, that he either believed or knew about.


There is no way of knowing for sure, but I find it difficult to believe that the Buddha would have made stuff up in order to reach a wider audience.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:17 pm

As I said, in the suttas on dependent origination, birth and death are clearly and consistently described in physical rather than psychological terms. DO describes literal birth and death arising arising in dependence on bhava ( being or becoming ) which logically means that bhava must represent the cycle of ( literal ) birth and death, not some kind of psychological process.


Yet the Buddha said that when there is no more clinging, there is no more "me" etc and there is the deathless. He also taught that clinging gives rise to "I am" and taught that the "world" etc are in the mind.

When I read the suttas I take it as meaning psychological for the most part, with suttas that teach that this moment to moment process can carry on after psychical death.


In any case for me the idea of momentary rebirth of the "I" ( whatever ) doesn't make a lot of sense - the suttas describe self-view, conceit etc as deep-seated tendencies, not things that keep getting"reborn".


That is true, however the strong view of "me" can be different from a subtle, underlying notion of "mine"


If you find the idea of moment-to-moment rebirth useful, that's fine, but I still don't think it's supported by the suttas.


To me it makes the most sense and has been a very useful tool to use in terms of practice etc. If you find the traditonal three life times model and post mortem rebirth useful, thats cool :)


There will always be those who prefer Ajahn Buddhadasa teaching of Dhamma, and those who prefer Ajahn Bodhi teaching of Dhamma

If they both help people get beyond dukkha, whats the harm :)

Different strokes for different folkes


The only I issue I have is when someone says that someone has to believe in rebirth, or not believe in it, to be a Buddhist


Personally I think that the defining feature of being a Buddhist is adhering to the three marks, non attachment and wholesome action ... Not if someone agrees with, disagrees with or just doesnt care about certain metaphysical/supernatural claims :) x
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