How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby pegembara » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:03 pm

Kare wrote:If anything should make me believe in rebirth, it must be this eternal rebirth-debate, which seems to be eternally reborn whenever buddhists meet! :lol:

But the debate is confusing two very different issues and mixing them up.

The first of these issues is: Does rebirth occur?
The second is: Did the Buddha believe in rebirth?
The third is: Is the teaching of rebirth necessary for Buddhism?



Just my view
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=2583#p36051
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby pegembara » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:10 pm

enkidu wrote:
I don't see how eliminating karma and rebirth leaves a practical eightfold path to liberation, or a comprehensible set of four noble truths and am more than a little curious how any such system may retain the label "buddhism."

Thanks.


Karma is essential, rebirth not. It is also clear that Buddha had a cosmic view but did not consider it essential to liberation.He only taught about suffering and how to end it ie. Noble 8FP and 4NT.

Ven. Susima heard that "A large number of monks, it seems, have declared final gnosis in the Blessed One's presence: 'We discern that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world."'" Then Ven. Susima went to those monks and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with them. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to them, "Is it true, as they say, that you have declared final gnosis in the Blessed One's presence: 'We discern that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world"'?"

"Yes, friend."

"Then, having known thus, having seen thus, do you recollect your manifold past lives i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand births, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here'?"

"No, friend."

"So just now, friends, didn't you make that declaration without having attained any of these Dhammas?"

"We're released through discernment, friend Susima."

Susima Sutta

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The Buddha himself attained 3 knowledges on the night of his enlightenment which is clearly different from the above description

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two...five, ten...fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion: 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.

Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Last edited by pegembara on Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Kare » Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:31 pm

enkidu wrote:
Kare wrote:So - back to the first question: Does rebirth occur? I do not think so - but I also consider the question to be of little importance.


Is there an unbroken lineage that holds this view?


Where did the Buddha say: "Leave your thinking to the unbroken lineage!"?
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby enkidu » Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:23 pm

Kare wrote:
enkidu wrote:
Kare wrote:So - back to the first question: Does rebirth occur? I do not think so - but I also consider the question to be of little importance.


Is there an unbroken lineage that holds this view?


Where did the Buddha say: "Leave your thinking to the unbroken lineage!"?


Thank you.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby enkidu » Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:51 pm

pegembara wrote:
enkidu wrote:
I don't see how eliminating karma and rebirth leaves a practical eightfold path to liberation, or a comprehensible set of four noble truths and am more than a little curious how any such system may retain the label "buddhism."

Thanks.


Karma is essential, rebirth not.


Thank you for those quotations, though through my ignorance I fail to see how they address whether rebirth is essential to the Buddha's teaching.

Is the teaching on dependent origination not essential? Is rebirth not essential to the teaching on dependent origination?
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:11 am

enkidu wrote:Is the teaching on dependent origination not essential? Is rebirth not essential to the teaching on dependent origination?


Yes, the teaching on dependent origination is essential.

And no, rebirth is not essential to the teaching on dependent origination. Read for instance the book "Paticcasamuppada. Practical dependent origination", by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby enkidu » Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:30 am

Kare wrote:
enkidu wrote:Is the teaching on dependent origination not essential? Is rebirth not essential to the teaching on dependent origination?


Yes, the teaching on dependent origination is essential.

And no, rebirth is not essential to the teaching on dependent origination. Read for instance the book "Paticcasamuppada. Practical dependent origination", by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.


Thank you for the reference point. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's astonishingly novel interpretation of the Buddha's teaching is not for me.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:13 am

enkidu wrote:
Kare wrote:
enkidu wrote:Is the teaching on dependent origination not essential? Is rebirth not essential to the teaching on dependent origination?


Yes, the teaching on dependent origination is essential.

And no, rebirth is not essential to the teaching on dependent origination. Read for instance the book "Paticcasamuppada. Practical dependent origination", by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.


Thank you for the reference point. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's astonishingly novel interpretation of the Buddha's teaching is not for me.

Or me.
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: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:
enkidu wrote:Thank you for the reference point. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's astonishingly novel interpretation of the Buddha's teaching is not for me.

Or me.

I think he was a Great Trickster. I use the word trickster in it's positive ancient sense.
Last edited by pink_trike on Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:22 am

pink_trike wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
enkidu wrote:Thank you for the reference point. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's astonishingly novel interpretation of the Buddha's teaching is not for me.

Or me.

I think he was a Great Trickster. I use the word trickster in it's ancient traditional sense.

Actually, the problem is likely less Buddhadasa, than his overly zealous followers whose portrayal of Buddhadasa's POV becomes absolutistic. On the other hand, there are better Dhamma teachers out there.
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: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby pegembara » Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:36 am

enkidu wrote:
pegembara wrote:
enkidu wrote:
I don't see how eliminating karma and rebirth leaves a practical eightfold path to liberation, or a comprehensible set of four noble truths and am more than a little curious how any such system may retain the label "buddhism."

Thanks.


Karma is essential, rebirth not.


Thank you for those quotations, though through my ignorance I fail to see how they address whether rebirth is essential to the Buddha's teaching.

Is the teaching on dependent origination not essential? Is rebirth not essential to the teaching on dependent origination?



So just now, friends, didn't you make that declaration without having attained any of these Dhammas?"

"We're released through discernment, friend Susima."

The monks above had no knowledge of rebirths or past life and yet became enlightened through insight meditation. Knowledge of past lives etc can occur to some meditators who do deep samatha/concentration but whether they are "true" or not is anyone's guess. If you listen to Ajahn Brahmavamso he has no doubt about it. The Buddha's teachings are all experiential and needs no external confirmation. It is timeless and is to be experienced by oneself.

When he first gained enlightenment he was reluctant to teach as the Dhamma is hard to see except by those with little dust in their eyes. He also said he taught only what was needed to end suffering comparing his teachings to a handful of leaves compared to all the leaves in the forest which was his total knowledge. This handful is just the 8 Noble Path.

The teaching on dependent origination is really the teaching on kamma which is Right View under the 8NP.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:09 am

OK, I understand that all of you have read Buddhadasas book on Paticcasamuppada, and you reject his views on Dependent origination. Can you please tell me exactly where his interpretation of the Paticcasamuppada goes wrong?
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:29 am

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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby enkidu » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:04 am

pegembara wrote:
enkidu wrote:Thank you for those quotations, though through my ignorance I fail to see how they address whether rebirth is essential to the Buddha's teaching.


So just now, friends, didn't you make that declaration without having attained any of these Dhammas?"

"We're released through discernment, friend Susima."

The monks above had no knowledge of rebirths or past life and yet became enlightened through insight meditation. Knowledge of past lives etc can occur to some meditators who do deep samatha/concentration but whether they are "true" or not is anyone's guess. If you listen to Ajahn Brahmavamso he has no doubt about it. The Buddha's teachings are all experiential and needs no external confirmation. It is timeless and is to be experienced by oneself.


Thank you for the clarification. I understand now what you were getting at, that rebirth has been shown to be inessential to the liberation of at least one set of realizers.

Kare wrote:OK, I understand that all of you have read Buddhadasas book on Paticcasamuppada, and you reject his views on Dependent origination. Can you please tell me exactly where his interpretation of the Paticcasamuppada goes wrong?


I lack the intelligence and eloquence to refute Buddhadasa properly, though I rejoice that you like the monks in pegembara's quote find rebirth to be inessential to following the Buddha's teaching to its fruition. My mind is far too feeble to make sense of the suffering nature of Samsara, karma and dependent origination without rebirth.

I will say this though: I do not hold that rebirth violates anatta.
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:55 am

I would like to try to focus this discussion about how far you can strip down Buddhism.

For instance, the Soto Zen people have apparently demonstrated that you can have a perfectly functional version of Buddhism without rebirth doctrine. Further, Bhikku Bodhi has pointed out that

Bhikku Bodhi wrote:"The Buddha himself does not try to found ethics on the ideas of kamma and rebirth, but uses a purely naturalistic type of moral reasoning that does not presuppose personal survival or the working of kamma. The gist of his reasoning is simply that we should not mistreat others — by injuring them, stealing their belongings, exploiting them sexually, or deceiving them — because we ourselves are averse to being treated in such ways."


{as quoted on Buddha Forum}

So between these two points, it looks clear that Buddhist ethics can exist independently of rebirth doctrine and possibly karma doctrine too.

Which leaves me wondering : How would the abandonment of the concept of karma affect Buddhist ethics? Was Bhikku Bodhi correct, will the ethics stand without karma? Does a practice require more than Buddhist ethics to be called Buddhism?
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby puthujjana » Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:16 pm

enkidu wrote: My mind is far too feeble to make sense of the suffering nature of Samsara, karma and dependent origination without rebirth.

It's the same with my mind...
"Once you understand anatta, then the burden of life is gone. You’ll be at peace with the world. When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness and we can truly be happy."
- Ajahn Chah
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby Kare » Sat Oct 31, 2009 1:12 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Kare,

Here's some discussion:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=311&start=0
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1160

Mike


Thank you. Those discussions are interesting. However, when I read (or rather, skimmed) through them, I could not see that the discussions touched the question of rebirth in the Paticcasamuppada, which very much hinges on the understanding of the Pali word jati. Did I overlook something?
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby nowheat » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:48 pm

catmoon wrote:I would like to try to focus this discussion about how far you can strip down Buddhism.

... it looks clear that Buddhist ethics can exist independently of rebirth doctrine and possibly karma doctrine too.

Which leaves me wondering : How would the abandonment of the concept of karma affect Buddhist ethics? Was Bhikku Bodhi correct, will the ethics stand without karma? Does a practice require more than Buddhist ethics to be called Buddhism?

The last argument I was trying to make on E-Sangha before it shut down was that, not only does Buddhism not need karma and rebirth, they are detrimental to the practice of Buddhism. I do not, however, propose leaving out karma in the sense of "intention matters" only karma in the sense of "counts towards your next rebirth". Are you suggesting, catmoon, that we leave out karma as intention as well?

Yes, a practice does require more than Buddhist ethics to be called Buddhism. Insofar as ethics guide what choices you make that will affect others, to be genuine Buddhist ethics requires that they are a natural outcome of direct insight. Buddhist ethics, unlike all the other ethical systems I'm familiar with, come from within one, as opposed to being a system applied from the outside. So for Buddhist practice to be genuine, it can't just be a system of ethics we are applying with intellect alone, from the outside. It requires the rest of the Eightfold Path, wisdom and concentration (view, resolve, effort, mindfulness, concentration) not just ethics.

:namaste:
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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:34 pm

Kare wrote:


Thank you. Those discussions are interesting. However, when I read (or rather, skimmed) through them, I could not see that the discussions touched the question of rebirth in the Paticcasamuppada, which very much hinges on the understanding of the Pali word jati. Did I overlook something?

I'm sure it's been hotly discussed somewhere. Perhaps also try the Rebirth Thread:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=41

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Re: How far back can you strip the Buddha's teachings?

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:37 pm

nowheat wrote:The last argument I was trying to make on E-Sangha before it shut down was that, not only does Buddhism not need karma and rebirth, they are detrimental to the practice of Buddhism. I do not, however, propose leaving out karma in the sense of "intention matters" only karma in the sense of "counts towards your next rebirth". Are you suggesting, catmoon, that we leave out karma as intention as well?


(My bolding) I'm not suggesting anything! I just want to look at the minimal set of Buddhist principles, see what it might look like. All the same, let's suppose you eliminate karma entirely. I presume that will leave the right and wrong types of action intact. So it's clear that much of the ethical system could survive this radical surgery. It might lose moral force though, because a wrong action would not necessarily have unfortunate consequences. Rights actions would have no benefit, except by pure chance. To regain the lost moral force, one might attempt resurrect consequences through dependent origination. But I'm speculating all over the map here.


Yes, a practice does require more than Buddhist ethics to be called Buddhism. Insofar as ethics guide what choices you make that will affect others, to be genuine Buddhist ethics requires that they are a natural outcome of direct insight. Buddhist ethics, unlike all the other ethical systems I'm familiar with, come from within one, as opposed to being a system applied from the outside. So for Buddhist practice to be genuine, it can't just be a system of ethics we are applying with intellect alone, from the outside. It requires the rest of the Eightfold Path, wisdom and concentration (view, resolve, effort, mindfulness, concentration) not just ethics.

:namaste:


I think I get your drift. Basically you are saying Buddhism requires ethics and meditation. Without meditation, the ethics might become no more than an arbitrary and externally-imposed law. With meditation, the ethics can be internalized, or understood.
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