Beginners questions

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Re: Beginners questions

Postby Livindesert » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:08 am

Thanks for the sutra links :jumping:

O.k. something I just thought about if this constantly changing thing is not realted to some sort of a self then isn't everything you inherit beyond your control? I guess at least a good thing from the same scenario would be someone else besides you would benefit from your good deeds.
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:36 am

if you inherit a million dollars is how you use it beyond your control?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Livindesert » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:38 am

In another post on the board.
When a Buddha-to-be in the Tusita heaven is getting ready to take rebirth in the human realm, he chooses the circumstances (gender, caste, location) most ideal to helping the most people.


O.k. if their is no :quote: self :quote: which aggregate gets to choose which other aggregates it joins up with?
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Livindesert » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:41 am

jcsuperstar wrote:if you inherit a million dollars is how you use it beyond your control?


Exactly :smile: I would only get one shot and no others to spend that money. After I died the remaining money would just go to someone else.
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:41 am

Greetings Livindesert,

Livindesert wrote:O.k. if their is no :quote: self :quote: which aggregate gets to choose which other aggregates it joins up with?

Good question... I don't see there's much choice in the matter. Furthermore, don't forget also that Gotama was not enlightened prior to becoming the Buddha.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:27 am

Hi Livindesert,

Livindesert wrote:O.k. if their is no :quote: self :quote: which aggregate gets to choose which other aggregates it joins up with?


It's a decision and all decisions belong to the aggregate of formations. In fact everything that's mental but isn't a feeling, perception or cognition, belongs to this aggregate.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:09 am

Element wrote:
clw_uk wrote:One can be a householder without a family and still have these virtues and one can be a householder with a family and lack these virtues.

:namaste:

Hi Craig

I agree here however this understanding was not the intention of my post. I was merely listing some reasons for having a family. :hug:

Regards,

E


I benefitted from reading those reasons.

Thanks :namaste:
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Slartibartfast » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:10 pm

Like I have stated before I am quite new and have a few questions to ask our more experienced members, if they would be so kind as to lend some wisdom :)

When I examine my motives for practice, it seems that the answers I come up with are very self-centered. I want wisdom, I aspire to enlightenment, why, because I want it! When I examine why I want it, well I'm not 100% sure, but I am beginning to feel my motives may be selfish and ego-driven. I strive to be ego-free and unselfish and believe practice is the way to accomplish this, but if practise has its roots in ego and selfishness can is this possible? Has anyone else encountered this and how does one overcome this?

Is the ambition to be desire free a desire in itself? And if so is it not self defeating?

This is what I have so far, only two questions but the two biggest I have so far. I am sure there will be more :)
He who formerly was wreckless and afterwards became sober
brightens this world, like the moon when freed from clouds
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Livindesert » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:18 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Livindesert,

Livindesert wrote:O.k. if their is no :quote: self :quote: which aggregate gets to choose which other aggregates it joins up with?


It's a decision and all decisions belong to the aggregate of formations. In fact everything that's mental but isn't a feeling, perception or cognition, belongs to this aggregate.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu



So are you saying that choosing rebirth is illusion?
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby piotr » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:44 pm

Hi,

Slartibartfast wrote:When I examine my motives for practice, it seems that the answers I come up with are very self-centered. I want wisdom, I aspire to enlightenment, why, because I want it! When I examine why I want it, well I'm not 100% sure, but I am beginning to feel my motives may be selfish and ego-driven. I strive to be ego-free and unselfish and believe practice is the way to accomplish this, but if practise has its roots in ego and selfishness can is this possible? Has anyone else encountered this and how does one overcome this?


There is a story in the Sutta-piṭaka about Ānanda-thera and one bhikkhunī who was in love with him. Ānanda-thera teaches her that this body comes into being through food, craving, conceit, and sexual intercourse. By relying on the food, craving, and conceit one can abandon food, craving, and conceit. But sexual intercourse is of no use on the path. In relation to conceit Ānanda-thera said:

    "'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.' The thought occurs to him, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now. Then why not me?' Then, at a later time, he abandons conceit, having relied on conceit. 'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said. — Bhikkhunī-sutta (AN 4.159)

It basically means that path and progress are gradual. First one's motives may be not so clear, but after all they lead to further training and practice — which is good. Then, ultimately, there comes the time when one can let go conceit, craving, and so on...

Is the ambition to be desire free a desire in itself? And if so is it not self defeating?


Yes it is a desire, but a skillful one. According to the teaching in the Suttas it's not self-defeating, since it is like, using canonical analogy, going to the park. When you're not in the park, then you may have a desire to go there. After you find yourself in the desired place, you're free from desire to go where you are.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:52 pm

Hi Livindesert,

Livindesert wrote:Dhammanando: It's a decision and all decisions belong to the aggregate of formations. In fact everything that's mental but isn't a feeling, perception or cognition, belongs to this aggregate.

So are you saying that choosing rebirth is illusion?


No, I didn't mean to say that.

However, looking at the discussion of this matter in the Milindapañha I'm not now sure that the locution "choosing his rebirth" is really correct. The text speaks of the Bodhisatta performing "eight great investigations" (mahāvilokana), i.e., regarding the time of conception, the continent, the region, the family, the mother, the life-span his mother would have after giving birth, the month he would be born, and the time of his renunciation, but it doesn't say anything about him exercising choice regarding the first five items. It might be that rather than "the Bodhisatta chooses to be reborn in the highest caste, either brahmin or kshatriya" it would be more accurate to say "his merit causes him to be reborn in the highest caste, and while in Tusita he foresees what that caste will be." But I would need to look into this further.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:21 pm

Slartibartfast wrote:I strive to be ego-free and unselfish and believe practice is the way to accomplish this, but if practise has its roots in ego and selfishness can is this possible?

It is impossible that your practice not be rooted in ego. If you were capable of acting without ego then you'd be at the end of the practice, rather than at the beginning.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby lonewolf » Mon Oct 20, 2014 1:54 am

Livindesert wrote: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? :shrug:

If life is suffering then why raise a family?

If there is no self then why worry about karma?


thanks : )


Interesting questions. As this is a Buddhist site, and the Buddha himself considered these kinds of questions not connected with the goal of liberation, or at least that's my understanding, there are no answers to these kinds of questions from the Noble one himself. I'll give it a shot with my very limited understanding. Buddhist will give you a Buddhist answer, in essence that there is no answer, it's just an unskillful way to use precious time.

Rebirth is not eternalism, because it ends when one breaks free from ignorance. Something that has a potential to end however unlikely, or difficult, cannot be eternal by definition.

There is no doubt about it Buddha taught that life is suffering, compound is susceptible to suffering, never mind that when one gets enlightened that's not true for the remaider of their life, for the sake of this discussion we can safely assume, life is suffering, a juggernaut, that chews us up, and spits us out lifetime, after lifetime, existence is a nightmare, from which we struggle to wake up. So why have kids? Because most of us are ignorant, and we have kids before we understand anything. It is when we start suffering more that we start wondering what is wrong with that picture? We are ignorant, and blind.

It is said that there is no self in compound, just processes that exist upon previous conditions. Interesting question arises, is unconditioned self? Unskillful question again. Somehow there is a relationship between the impersonal processes and the cause and effect law, so the future effects are tied to, and arise upon the underlying causes.

Even stranger question is if there is no self, what gets enlightened, and what continues into nirvana since there is no self and all five aggregates dissolve upon death?
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Re: Beginners questions

Postby andyebarnes67 » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:35 am

Livindesert wrote: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? :shrug:

If life is suffering then why raise a family?

If there is no self then why worry about karma?


thanks : )


#1: I like the explanation of 'rebirth' I picked up somewhere as like that of lighting a candle from another candle. Nothing of the former remains in the new candle flame although the conditions inherent in the first are transferred to the second. 'rebirth' I find can be a misleading word. As with so many concepts, our language is deficient on being able to fully represent the concept. In my understanding, there is nothing being 'reborn'. One life sets up conditions which influence another life. If we throw a rock into a pool, there is nothing of the rock in the riplles this creates, but without a rock, no ripples. As nothing is actually reborn, no eternalism.

#2: Another favourite allegory, this time from the Dhamma: If a single turtle swimming in all the oceans of the world only coming up for air once every hundred years, when doing so, puts his head through a single yoke (a hoop used to harness an ox) floating on ocean, this is more likely than 'rebirth' into a human life. It is also explained how to be human is the most desireable of incarnations as it is here that we have the best opportunity to advance furthest along the path.
So, whilst indeed existence is inherently marked by suffering, giving this opportunity to another by having children is surely a very compassionate act.

#3: I love trying to understand the new advances in physics and cosmology, however badly I grasp the detail, but it does add some validity to the way I like to visualize a sea of energy and waves. We are simply distortions in this energy field. not inherently separate from it. so whilst there is no self, the kamma we create does go on to influence, or create the conditions for, future wave distortions. If we are are trying to live with wisdom, we are trying towards harmony in the energy field, thinking, speaking and acting in such a way as to further this harmony. We don't do this for our own sake, since we know that we ultimately do not exist as a separate entity, but for the benefit of the field as a whole. Concern with kamma is a selfless concern.
Metta

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