Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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TheNoBSBuddhist
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:14 am

No.

The Dhamma is hard to grasp because;

    We refuse to believe it is so simple
    We are too attached to compounded phenomena.
    We grasp at the desire for Permanence of familiar things.
    We fail to see that it is within reach.
    we TRY TOO HARD.

The Dhamma is like a handful of cream in the palm of our hands;
squeeze our hand into a fist, to clutch it tightly, and the cream escapes through every tiny crack and crevice, and leaves our hand empty...
But cradle it gently and merely fold your fingers to contain the cream, and it will always remain with you.

:namaste:

Edit:

OH.....
I was responding to a previous post , made by indian_buddhist, which read "That's because the Dharma is hard to grasp" in response to my sympathetic post for silver surfer....

That post seems to have been removed.
I apologise for the confusion, but it's not my fault.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

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mikenz66
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:23 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:By all means, explain what the Buddha meant by the expressions commonly translated as "rebirth" or "reincarnation", (there is no "re" in the Pali as far as I understand) and explain why the anatta doctrine makes the terms rebirth or reincarnation extremely misleading.


But surely we need some way of distinguishing between the cycle of dependent arising of consciousness with the assumption of anatta ( "rebirth" ), and the continual transmigration of a "soul" based on the assumption of atta ( "reincarnation" )?

Sure, you need to explain it like that! Not just make vague statements like: "The Buddha taught rebirth not reincarnation" and expect readers to figure out the difference between the synonyms...

I do understand that some Buddhists do adopt these two words in a technical way to distinguish the concepts (just as "suffering" or "mindfulness" are used as technical translations of the Pali terms dhukkha and sati), but expecting anyone to understand the difference that they are getting at without providing a detailed explanation is not helpful, in my opinion.

:anjali:
Mike

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TheNoBSBuddhist
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:49 am

I feel sure - although I could be wrong - that mikenz66 is referring to me with his criticism of omission of explanation.

If not, my mistake, but if so, then it's a valid point.

I did not wish to actually elaborate excessively until silver surfer came back and probed further.
I did not wish to bombard him with so much new information, given the amount of rubbish he already had to plough through, given the long, wordy, lengthy but ultimately largely frivolous text he posted.

I felt refraining from giving too much information might prompt further discussion with him, and pique his curiosity, enabling a shorter, clearer and more accurate discussion to ensue.

As it is - in my opinion - he has now been bombarded with so much information, and so many wordy, lengthy and perhaps rather complex replies, that it is hardly surprising to me that he seems to have (currently) abandoned discussing the matter further.

He may have been put off by the avalanche of responses, some of which I believe, actually reach beyond a beginner's initial capacity to digest.
We all know what we're talking about.
silver-surfer is a complete novice, and personally, I feel this thread has become too daunting.

But that's just me, ignoramus that I am.

:namaste:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:12 am

Hi TNBSB,

I wasn't referring to you in particular. I was merely agreeing with LE that to tell someone new to Buddhism that "The Buddha taught rebirth not reincarnation" does not lead to reduced confusion, since it requires the reader to already have read the particular authors who make that particular distinction between two terms that are English-language synonyms. Some writers use the term "rebirth", some "reincarnation", and some "transmigration" http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn15/sn15.003.than.html. Arguably, any of those terms are very misleading in a Buddhist context, since they seem to imply some sort of "soul" or "self" that is reborn, reincarnated, or transmigrated.

The explanations and links to what the Buddha taught, which you and others gave, are very helpful. I think that the link that Cooran gave here summarises the ideas quite well. In my view, in such a difficult topic, there are no shortcuts to giving a detailed explanation.

:anjali:
Mike

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TheNoBSBuddhist
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:18 am

Thank you for your kind and considered response, mike.

:sage:

I see what you mean about explanations needing to have substance and depth; indeed, it is impossible to not go into detail, I agree...

I just hope our OP comes back. It would be a shame, if not, because he seemed extremely enthusiastic!

:namaste:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:52 am

Spiny Norman wrote:But surely we need some way of distinguishing between the cycle of dependent arising of consciousness with the assumption of anatta ( "rebirth" ), and the continual transmigration of a "soul" based on the assumption of atta ( "reincarnation" )?


Hi Spiny,

I don't think that's quite right... the birth had been ended for the Buddha and arahants because they've understood anatta completely, among other things. (If we viewed the nibbana as the ending of greed, hatred and delusion, this would fall under the category of delusion.)

The rebirth continues because of the assumption of the self, or "clinging."

It also doesn't end if we decided to just get rid of the self (i.e., annihilationism and/or nihilism), because it is still an assumption that the problem was self-based.

:anjali:

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby dhammacoustic » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:50 pm

Thank you all, for all the stuff you've provided.

Actually, the thing I'm having trouble understanding is; the being that is born = is it the me of right now, or someone/something else. In meditation I focus on my breath, and try to put a distance between my current (momentary) mind and my heart. So what's breathing = is this the thing that is constantly being born? I guess this was my question. I can't say that I fully get it, as I have no idea about my past lives, yet. It's just blank and I don't know anything. I'm trying know, or recollect. But nothing, I really don't know what I am, nor where I came from (yet).

By the way;

TheNoBSBuddhist,
I would think such a person could not possibly exist. A person cannot honestly and compassionately manifest such virtues AND simultaneously think the way you describe. Such a life would be a sham, a pretense. It can't be done.


I guess you got me wrong,

By horrific thoughts, I meant fear and anxiety. Not bad intentions for others. The person I described is wholly good in the heart, but living a bad life because of his conditions. There is also hatred in him, hatred as in, for example ~ hate for animal hunters, because he loves animals so much and feels the utmost compassion for them, but he lacks the power to stop the evil, so he can't find peace. I can't understand how this kind of a craving is bad, it originates out of compassion/empathy. I'm sure you understand what I mean. So what can you say? What kind of a kamma would this person cause?

He is;
good, caring, compassionate, moral, almost egoless.

What his conditions give him;
stress, doubt, hatred, fear and despair.

Well?
Monks, it is not possible for one who possesses right view, to live without respect, without regard for the Tathagāta, nor is it possible for such a one to live without respect, without reverence for the Dhamma taught by the Tathagāta.
∞ Yaṁ kiñci ratanaṁ loke vijjati vividhā puthū, ratanaṁ Buddhasamaṁ natthi ∞


This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.

...he is disgusted by sensation, he is disgusted by perception, he is disgusted by consciousness, he is disgusted by formation, he is disgusted by materiality...

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:17 pm

silver surfer wrote:Thank you all, for all the stuff you've provided.

Actually, the thing I'm having trouble understanding is; the being that is born = is it the me of right now, or someone/something else. In meditation I focus on my breath, and try to put a distance between my current (momentary) mind and my heart. So what's breathing = is this the thing that is constantly being born? I guess this was my question. I can't say that I fully get it, as I have no idea about my past lives, yet. It's just blank and I don't know anything. I'm trying know, or recollect. But nothing, I really don't know what I am, nor where I came from (yet).


If you read my introductory post, I explain, in my very first post here on site, just how basic, ignorant and simple-minded my practice is.
I am not well-versed in the Dhamma, so cannot give accurate quotations or references.
But this I know:

There is absolutely NO POINT whatsoever, in any way shape or form, in being concerned about what was, who/what you were, what effect it's having or why you are as you are.

You are as you are, because it is what it is.

You are just as able to make a mess of your life now, as it is possible you did in the past.
The Past, you can neither know, or change (with regard to 'previous existences').
All you can do, is to focus on what you are doing here, now, today, and be the best 'silver surfer' you can be.
That truly is what matters.
it's ALL that matters.
Forget trying to work out what kammic events brought you here.
They are not relevant.
Continually trying to fathom them, remember them, work them out - it's completely pointless - as you have discovered!!
so leave it be.
Concentrate on what is before you, now.


By the way;
TheNoBSBuddhist,

I would think such a person could not possibly exist. A person cannot honestly and compassionately manifest such virtues AND simultaneously think the way you describe. Such a life would be a sham, a pretense. It can't be done.


I guess you got me wrong,

By horrific thoughts, I meant fear and anxiety. Not bad intentions for others. The person I described is wholly good in the heart, but living a bad life because of his conditions. There is also hatred in him, hatred as in, for example ~ hate for animal hunters, because he loves animals so much and feels the utmost compassion for them, but he lacks the power to stop the evil, so he can't find peace. I can't understand how this kind of a craving is bad, it originates out of compassion/empathy. I'm sure you understand what I mean. So what can you say? What kind of a kamma would this person cause?

He is;
good, caring, compassionate, moral, almost egoless.

What his conditions give him;
stress, doubt, hatred, fear and despair.

Well?


You need to cultivate an understanding of the 4 Brahma~Viharas:

This is an interesting entry:

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... ma_Viharas

And also, access to Insight will have much beneficial information.

A person cannot practise sincere Compassion if they have hatred, resentment and animosity in their heart; but the first person you need to go easy on - is you.
We cannot save the world all at once; but by our actions can we be known.

People who wish to change the world, should start with a small garden; a famous 17th Century prayer goes:

"Oh Lord, change the world; begin I pray thee, with me."

Whether we can indeed make a huge difference in our lifetime, is an unknown, but a man walking along a beach, observed a woman picking up stranded starfish, and hurling them back into the ocean. There were thousands, littering the seashore....

he advised her that the work was too much; there were too many of them for her to make any difference.

She hurled another one far out into the waves, and replied, cheerfully:

"Well it made a difference to THAT one!"

Don't burden yourself with the grief of the world; look to yourself, your immediate surroundings, community, family and neighbours, and begin there.
One step at a time, just one....

:namaste:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

santa100
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby santa100 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:19 pm

silver surfer wrote:the being that is born = is it the me of right now, or someone/something else. In meditation I focus on my breath, and try to put a distance between my current mind and my heart. So what's breathing = is this the thing that is constantly being born? I guess this was my question. I can't say that I fully get it, as I have no idea about my past lives, yet. It's just blank and I don't know anything. I'm trying know, or recollect. But nothing, I really don't know what I am, nor where I came from (yet).

The Five Aggregates are just "processes", you won't find a "you" or "him" or "her" in them. The body contantly sheds its old cells and generates new cells, so technically you are not exactly the same "you" a moment ago. As a result, questions like "who am I", "what am I", "where I came from", "where I'll become" are irrelevant for they don't address the most important problem which is suffering. Suffering is real and it needs to be addressed.
silver surfer wrote:By horrific thoughts, I meant fear and anxiety. Not bad intentions for others. The person I described is wholly good in the heart, but living a bad life because of his conditions. There is also hatred in him, hatred as in, for example ~ hate for animal hunters, because he loves animals so much and feels the utmost compassion for them, but he lacks the power to stop the evil, so he can't find peace. I don't know if this kind of clinging is bad, because the clinging originates out of compassion. I'm sure you understand what I mean. So what can you say? What kind of a kamma would this person cause?

Then s/he still needs to work on his aversion/hatred defilements and extend his narrow compassion for the animals to include the poachers also. So, clinging doesn't originate out of compassion. It originates out of craving and attachment.

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:31 am

beeblebrox wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:But surely we need some way of distinguishing between the cycle of dependent arising of consciousness with the assumption of anatta ( "rebirth" ), and the continual transmigration of a "soul" based on the assumption of atta ( "reincarnation" )?


Hi Spiny,

I don't think that's quite right... the birth had been ended for the Buddha and arahants because they've understood anatta completely, among other things. (If we viewed the nibbana as the ending of greed, hatred and delusion, this would fall under the category of delusion.)
The rebirth continues because of the assumption of the self, or "clinging."


Yes, and DO explains that the cycle of "rebirth" persists while ignorance persists.
I was trying to distinguish between 2 models of becoming - one where where anatta is assumed ( the Buddhist one ) and one where atta is assumed.
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby indian_buddhist » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:45 am

Silver Surfer

your enthusiasm is your greatest strength. Keep that going and you will reach your destination eventually.
Identification with my country is one of my fetters.

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby Way~Farer » Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:45 am

It is interesting and relevant that the original expression of the various 'wrong views concerning eternalism' is the Brahmajāla Sutta, the 'All Encompassing Net of Views'. The notion that is mainly criticized on account of it being 'eternalism' is the idea that 'the Self' is something which will endure for ever and ever - like a mountain peak or a pole set fast in the earth are the kinds of similes that are given. This is said to be the view of 'certain ascetics and contemplatives' who had recalled 10, or 20, or hundreds, or thousands of previous existences and came to the conclusion that they therefore were, to all intents, eternal. (Actually if one recalled thousands of prior births, I think that might be an eminently reasonable conclusion.)

Now, whether that view actually amounts to what Western sources mean by 'the soul' is far from obvious. 'The soul' doesn't have to be conceived as 'something self-existent, unchanging and eternal'. 'The soul' might simply be a way of referring to the totality of the human - something more than simply the ego/persona, and encompassing the latencies, tendencies and aspirations which might not be available to conscious introspection. In that way of speaking 'soul' is more a process than an entity - more like, in fact, the 'mind-stream' which is the (rather inelegant) expression that exponents of re-birth are often obliged to adopt.

Just some things to comtemplate.

:namaste:

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Vanda
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby Vanda » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:27 pm

There is no eternal soul


According to the Buddha's teachings, that is correct.

There is... only a stream of consciousness ~ within the universe of form. This is a fact, correct?


That is incorrect.

A helpful text on the subject would be Milindapanha ("Questions of Milinda"), from the Khuddaka Nikaya (minor collection of texts). You can read it online in many places, PDF, etc
“Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness’ — then you should enter and remain in them.”
- Kalama Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya

hermitwin
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby hermitwin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:50 am

Some people believe that Buddha did teach reincarnation. He talked about his previous lives.


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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby hermitwin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:55 am

It is interesting to note that Buddhists in Asia do not differentiate between reincarnation and rebirth. Why do westerners have a big problem with Buddha and reincarnation?

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby samseva » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:08 am

hermitwin wrote:It is interesting to note that Buddhists in Asia do not differentiate between reincarnation and rebirth. Why do westerners have a big problem with Buddha and reincarnation?

The correct understanding of rebirth is not a simple task. Even when meditating a lot, it takes much wisdom. Another reason might be that Buddhists in Asia don't necessarily speak English. The words reincarnation and rebirth probably have no direct translation or slightly different definitions.

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:16 am

hermitwin wrote:It is interesting to note that Buddhists in Asia do not differentiate between reincarnation and rebirth. Why do westerners have a big problem with Buddha and reincarnation?


Asian Buddhists who use the two terms indiscriminately usually do so either because of a poor grasp of English, such that they’re not aware of any difference in meaning between them, or else a poor grasp of Buddhist doctrine, such that they don’t distinguish the Buddhist conception of the afterlife from the Hindu one. For example, they may not be familiar with the Milindapañha’s distinction between the verbs saṅkamati and paṭisandahati :-

    The King said: “Revered Nāgasena, does that which does not pass over (saṅkamati) reconnect (paṭisandahati)?”

    “Yes, sire, that which does not pass over reconnects.”

    “How, revered Nāgasena, does that which does not pass over reconnect? Make a simile.”

    “Suppose, sire, some man were to light a lamp from (another) lamp; would that lamp, sire, pass over from that (other) lamp?”

    “No, revered sir.”

    “In the same way, sire, that which does not pass over reconnects.”

    "Make a further simile."

    “Do you remember, sire, when you were a boy learning some verse from a teacher of verses ?”

    “Yes, revered sir.”

    “But, sire, does that verse pass over from the teacher?”

    “O no, revered sir.”

    “In the same way, sire, that which does not pass over (yet) reconnects.”

    “You are dexterous, revered Nāgasena.”
    (Mil. 71-2, Horner tr.)

Of the two terms, “reincarnation” carries too strong a sense of something (i.e. a soul) passing over.
Sundɑrɑromɑ̄nɑ
Pɑli Romɑnisɑtion


sɑrɑ̄: ɑ ɑ̄ i ī u ū e o
kɑɳȶɑjɑ̄: k ƙ ɡ ɠ ŋ
tɑ̄lujɑ̄: c ƈ j j̛ ɲ
mudɗɑjɑ̄: ʈ ȶ ɖ ȡ ɳ
dɑntɑjɑ̄: t ƭ d ɗ n
oʈȶɑjɑ̄: p ƥ b ɓ m
ɑvɑɡɡɑ̄: y r l v s h ł
niɡɡɑhītɑ̊: ɑ̊ i̊ ů

hermitwin
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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby hermitwin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:32 am

Bhante Dhammanando, what do you think about Ajahn Brahm's take on reincarnation?

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:04 am

hermitwin wrote:Bhante Dhammanando, what do you think about Ajahn Brahm's take on reincarnation?


I'm afraid I'm not familiar with it. What does he say?
Sundɑrɑromɑ̄nɑ
Pɑli Romɑnisɑtion


sɑrɑ̄: ɑ ɑ̄ i ī u ū e o
kɑɳȶɑjɑ̄: k ƙ ɡ ɠ ŋ
tɑ̄lujɑ̄: c ƈ j j̛ ɲ
mudɗɑjɑ̄: ʈ ȶ ɖ ȡ ɳ
dɑntɑjɑ̄: t ƭ d ɗ n
oʈȶɑjɑ̄: p ƥ b ɓ m
ɑvɑɡɡɑ̄: y r l v s h ł
niɡɡɑhītɑ̊: ɑ̊ i̊ ů

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Re: Questions About Kamma and Rebirth

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:02 am

Dhammanando wrote:
hermitwin wrote:Bhante Dhammanando, what do you think about Ajahn Brahm's take on reincarnation?


I'm afraid I'm not familiar with it. What does he say?

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