Rebirth once again

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Rebirth once again

Postby richierich » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:24 am

I have been browsing this forum and decided to join. I wanted to share my understanding of rebirth and see if anyone who opposes it can counter this. Alright I think we can all agree that consciousness or what we may call the mindstream, like all things, is dependently arisen and impermanent. Being so, it does not have a fixed being/identity/"thingness." It is not truly existent. This is part of emptiness. Now, there being no thing (existence) there to begin with, how could there be the absence of a thing, non existence? Just so, there being no consciousness present as a true existent thing to begin with, how could there possibly be absence of that thing? Now it is this dependently arisen and impermanent consciousness itself (not "self" but you know what I mean) that is not existent and thus cannot be non existent. So one can say that dependently arisen and impermanent phenomena themselves are emptiness.

There is no emptiness apart from phenomena. Thus emptiness is not existence (what we may call eternalism) and is not non existence (nihilism or annihilationism). To claim that consciousness ended at death would be to believe that there was something substantial there that could end in the first place. Therefore, the very view that, because apart from changing phenomena there is no emptiness the CONTINUITY of this mindstream as dependently arisen and always changing IS emptiness, IS itself the middle way - it avoids existence and non existence, nothingness, annhiliation, etc. If one believes that the stream of mind can end after death, I believe that one does not yet have right view of emptiness. I would in fact say that correct understanding of emptiness includes understanding rebirth as literal. I would very much like to hear refutations from rebirth deniers on this topic.
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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:45 am

Greetings Richie,

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

I found this bit in particular a little baffling... a little like word play.

richierich wrote:Now, there being no thing (existence) there to begin with, how could there be the absence of a thing, non existence? Just so, there being no consciousness present as a true existent thing to begin with, how could there possibly be absence of that thing? Now it is this dependently arisen and impermanent consciousness itself (not "self" but you know what I mean) that is not existent and thus cannot be non existent.


The Buddha spoke clearly on such matters in suttas like...

SN 12.15 - Kaccayanagotta Sutta: To Kaccayana Gotta (on Right View)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Perhaps you could read that sutta, and let us know which bits you agree with or understand, and any bits who you do not understand or do not agree with?

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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:18 pm

richierich wrote:I have been browsing this forum and decided to join. I wanted to share my understanding of rebirth and see if anyone who opposes it can counter this. Alright I think we can all agree that consciousness or what we may call the mindstream, like all things, is dependently arisen and impermanent. Being so, it does not have a fixed being/identity/"thingness." It is not truly existent. This is part of emptiness. Now, there being no thing (existence) there to begin with, how could there be the absence of a thing, non existence? Just so, there being no consciousness present as a true existent thing to begin with, how could there possibly be absence of that thing? Now it is this dependently arisen and impermanent consciousness itself (not "self" but you know what I mean) that is not existent and thus cannot be non existent. So one can say that dependently arisen and impermanent phenomena themselves are emptiness.

There is no emptiness apart from phenomena. Thus emptiness is not existence (what we may call eternalism) and is not non existence (nihilism or annihilationism). To claim that consciousness ended at death would be to believe that there was something substantial there that could end in the first place. Therefore, the very view that, because apart from changing phenomena there is no emptiness the CONTINUITY of this mindstream as dependently arisen and always changing IS emptiness, IS itself the middle way - it avoids existence and non existence, nothingness, annhiliation, etc. If one believes that the stream of mind can end after death, I believe that one does not yet have right view of emptiness. I would in fact say that correct understanding of emptiness includes understanding rebirth as literal. I would very much like to hear refutations from rebirth deniers on this topic.


Think it would work with basic Madhyamaka.
General conventional mindstream Sautrantika style.
A bit wordy for Theravada, though, maybe.

Oh, didn't read the last clause in your post:
Not a rebirth denier, this one.
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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby richierich » Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:25 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:
richierich wrote:I have been browsing this forum and decided to join. I wanted to share my understanding of rebirth and see if anyone who opposes it can counter this. Alright I think we can all agree that consciousness or what we may call the mindstream, like all things, is dependently arisen and impermanent. Being so, it does not have a fixed being/identity/"thingness." It is not truly existent. This is part of emptiness. Now, there being no thing (existence) there to begin with, how could there be the absence of a thing, non existence? Just so, there being no consciousness present as a true existent thing to begin with, how could there possibly be absence of that thing? Now it is this dependently arisen and impermanent consciousness itself (not "self" but you know what I mean) that is not existent and thus cannot be non existent. So one can say that dependently arisen and impermanent phenomena themselves are emptiness.

There is no emptiness apart from phenomena. Thus emptiness is not existence (what we may call eternalism) and is not non existence (nihilism or annihilationism). To claim that consciousness ended at death would be to believe that there was something substantial there that could end in the first place. Therefore, the very view that, because apart from changing phenomena there is no emptiness the CONTINUITY of this mindstream as dependently arisen and always changing IS emptiness, IS itself the middle way - it avoids existence and non existence, nothingness, annhiliation, etc. If one believes that the stream of mind can end after death, I believe that one does not yet have right view of emptiness. I would in fact say that correct understanding of emptiness includes understanding rebirth as literal. I would very much like to hear refutations from rebirth deniers on this topic.


Think it would work with basic Madhyamaka.
General conventional mindstream Sautrantika style.
A bit wordy for Theravada, though, maybe.

Oh, didn't read the last clause in your post:
Not a rebirth denier, this one.

That's what I was thinking but I figured oh well, might as well go all out...

Madhyamaka is kind of my preferred school. Not that I have anything against Theravada. Ever since e sangha shut down, I've been searching for other buddhist forums to peruse.
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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby Calahand » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:30 pm

Hi Richierich, I am having trouble understanding what exactly you are trying to say...(I am not against rebirth) , but I still don't understand your argument.

hmm, I understand this part:
richierich wrote:I have been browsing this forum and decided to join. I wanted to share my understanding of rebirth and see if anyone who opposes it can counter this. Alright I think we can all agree that consciousness or what we may call the mindstream, like all things, is dependently arisen and impermanent.


Being so, it does not have a fixed being/identity/"thingness." It is not truly existent.
what does the word "truly existent" mean? existing in truthfulness?, "not lying" about its existence?- if so , to whom? "not falsely existing"? what does "truly existent" mean?
This is part of emptiness. Now, there being no thing (existence) there to begin with, how could there be the absence of a thing, non existence?
So are you saying that non-existence is not opposite to "there being a thing" but another "thing" that is existing? actually, you know what, just tell me what you are saying here, because I don't understand what you are saying.
Just so, there being no consciousness present as a true existent thing to begin with, how could there possibly be absence of that thing?
Um, isn't consciousness there as a dependently arisen phenomena like you said in the first part of your argument, so it is sort of there? and there is absence of such consciousness when there is dissolution according to the law of impermanence.
Now it is this dependently arisen and impermanent consciousness itself (not "self" but you know what I mean) that is not existent and thus cannot be non existent. So one can say that dependently arisen and impermanent phenomena themselves are emptiness.

see this goes way over my head, what are you trying to say?

There is no emptiness apart from phenomena. Thus emptiness is not existence (what we may call eternalism) and is not non existence (nihilism or annihilationism). To claim that consciousness ended at death would be to believe that there was something substantial there that could end in the first place.
wait, but consciousness does arise as a phenomena, though it is impermanent , it does arise as a result of something else, and precisely because it is impermanent , it means it can end! yes? I mean Buddha says it himself that consciousness leads to name and form and then down the line , it leads to >>>>>> "birth" so it sort of ends by resulting in birth.

Therefore, the very view that, because apart from changing phenomena there is no emptiness the CONTINUITY of this mindstream as dependently arisen and always changing IS emptiness, IS itself the middle way - it avoids existence and non existence, nothingness, annhiliation, etc. If one believes that the stream of mind can end after death, I believe that one does not yet have right view of emptiness. I would in fact say that correct understanding of emptiness includes understanding rebirth as literal. I would very much like to hear refutations from rebirth deniers on this topic.

But the mindstream does end... sort of, i mean isn't there a place somewhere in the suttas where buddha says something like impermanence, anatha and a few other laws are immutable laws of nature, or something like that? yes? So if impermanence is true, all things must have a beginning and an end, including the "mind-stream" or whatever you call it.
Last edited by Calahand on Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:30 pm

welcome to Dhamma Wheel
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby 5heaps » Sun Jan 03, 2010 3:25 pm

richierich wrote:Being so, it does not have a fixed being/identity/"thingness." It is not truly existent. This is part of emptiness. Now, there being no thing (existence) there to begin with, how could there be the absence of a thing, non existence?

Lack of true existence does not mean lack of all existence. Lack of all existence is nihilism.

To claim that consciousness ended at death would be to believe that there was something substantial there that could end in the first place.

Rebirth deniers (ie. physicalists, materialists, etc) rely on a single argument, namely that mind is an illusion. The argument of buddhists, meditators, and any rational person in the age of degeneration is to accurately and precisely illustrate that mind is a substantial, functioning thing.
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Re: Rebirth once again

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:06 pm

Sounds like Mahayana interpretation of emptiness ie. Heart sutra, form is emptiness emptiness is form.

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