O.k. some quick beginners questions. Why is rebirth not eternalism? I mean even without a soul if something can either be reborn or just continues on with no self without being annihilated then is'int that eternalism by default?
If life is suffering then why raise a family?
If there is no self then why worry about karma?
thanks : )
#1. Some Buddhists do
subtly teach eternalism through having the "bhavanga," whatever it might be, take the place of the soul in traditional eternalistic theories. This is especially true of Mahayana, which teaches the idea of a subtle mind that transmigrates. However, having an unhealthy obsession with opposing and refuting this view is likely a subtle form of annihilationism.
The Buddha did not teach eternalism, but was pretty explicit that the teaching is neither annihilationism nor eternalism. Recognizing the non-existence of self (both inwardly and outwardly), the question, "Where do I go at death?" ceases to have any meaning.
#2. The first noble truth has a variety of interpretations and it is often misunderstood. Some interpret the first noble truth as meaning life is unsatisfactory, that suffering is a necessary part of life. Others more substantially interpret it as meaning all life is basically worthless and suffering, because all conditioned dharmas, if clinged to, bring suffering, so delighting in conditioned dharmas is always painful.
The Buddha left his family and most monks (in accordance with Vinaya) do not raise families precisely because raising a family is conducive to craving and suffering. But it is possible for a layperson to skillfully endure raising a family, with non-attachment, so as to maximize the happiness from it and minimize the suffering (i.e. from things not going as expected and from family members passing away, or suffering).
#3. There is no self, but there is still selfing
. Selfing goes on when you say, "I am this," or "I am not this." Buddhist ethics are not a question of should, but what, in that they do not command people to act a certain way, but simply point out quite stoically that actions have particular consequences. "Worry" is not the right word, though. Instead, it's "concern" for karma. And so, it's not that you should have concern or not for karma, but that having no concern for it will lead to suffering and ignorance, while having great concern for it will lead to joy and enlightenment. Whether you prefer joy and enlightenment over suffering and ignorance is up to you.