Rebirth Deniers

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby vinasp » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:50 pm

Hi everyone,

What is my position? I will try to explain.

1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.

I am a "rebirth denier" in the sense that I oppose those who posit post-mortem existence. My name for this position is "strategic rebirth denial".
I also oppose those who posit no post-mortem existence. My name for this position is "strategic no-rebirth denial".

One must free the mind from delusions.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby BlackBird » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:26 pm

kayy wrote:oh dear.

I think it's worth being very careful indeed if one decides to step into the stormy territory of drawing comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust!

:thinking:


I was drawing up a hypothetical polemical debate between a rebirth affirmer and rebirth denier, for the purpose of analyzing why the term 'rebirth denier' has become the label to describe someone who does not believe in our (thus far) 3 definitions. It was not an expression of my own feelings, but perhaps I should have been more clear on that.

kayy wrote:2. Aside from proof, evidence and all the rest of it, the most important question is DOES IT MATTER? Does rebirth really matter?


To me, yes.

Would you behave differently if you knew you were to be reborn than if you just accepted that you didn't really know what would happen after your death?


To me the process of Kamma-vipaka and re-birth are two peas of the same pod. It's hard for me to accept the purpose of morality if there is no ultimate fruits of good or bad actions. Yes I behave differently taking rebirth on faith than I would if I took up a view of agnosticism, it highlights the importance of moral training which makes up one of the three platforms of practice.

metta
Jack
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:18 pm

vinasp wrote: 1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.

So you're a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier :juggling: who thinks that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, although you think that he could not have had knowledge of it, as you believe that it doesn't exist? :cookoo:
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby kayy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:29 pm

BlackBird wrote:
kayy wrote:oh dear.

I think it's worth being very careful indeed if one decides to step into the stormy territory of drawing comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust!

:thinking:


I was drawing up a hypothetical polemical debate between a rebirth affirmer and rebirth denier, for the purpose of analyzing why the term 'rebirth denier' has become the label to describe someone who does not believe in our (thus far) 3 definitions. It was not an expression of my own feelings, but perhaps I should have been more clear on that.

kayy wrote:2. Aside from proof, evidence and all the rest of it, the most important question is DOES IT MATTER? Does rebirth really matter?


To me, yes.

Would you behave differently if you knew you were to be reborn than if you just accepted that you didn't really know what would happen after your death?


To me the process of Kamma-vipaka and re-birth are two peas of the same pod. It's hard for me to accept the purpose of morality if there is no ultimate fruits of good or bad actions. Yes I behave differently taking rebirth on faith than I would if I took up a view of agnosticism, it highlights the importance of moral training which makes up one of the three platforms of practice.

metta
Jack



Hi Jack

Nice to meet you, by the way :smile:

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know! I'm trying to accept that, rather than take a view on the matter. I don't know!!!! :jumping:

As far as morality goes, is a compassionate action truly compassionate if we do it purely because we think we'll suffer negative karmic consequences by doing otherwise? Would you perform kind deeds if you knew you would not be rewarded for it? If the answer is no, I don't think that's true morality.

Obviously, I'm totally perfect and all my deeds are out of the kindness of my heart.... ;)

Best wishes

Katy
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby BlackBird » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:54 pm

Hi Katy, nice to meet you too.

No indeed, for me and for most others I imagine that the carrot does not lie solely in a personal cosmic reward, although for some it is probably a motivating factor. What is a strong incentive however is the idea that if we act in a heedless and unskillful manner, there will be painful results.

On a further a-side, motivation for such things tends to go deeper than we probably realize at first. For instance quite a few people in the world give to charity because it makes them feel good, it generates a peace-of-mind. Now imagine how many of those people would give to charity if instead of feeling good, the received a sharp pain in the stomach every time they gave their money away...

Here is a good sutta on the motivations for giving, which you might find interesting:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

metta
Jack :heart:
Last edited by BlackBird on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby kayy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:58 pm

BlackBird wrote:Hi Katy, nice to meet you too.

No indeed, for me and for most others I imagine that the carrot does not lie solely in a personal cosmic reward, although for some it is probably a motivating factor. What is a strong incentive however is the idea that if we act in a heedless and unskillful manner, there will be painful results.

On a further a-side, motivation for such things tends to go deeper than we probably realize at first. For instance quite a few people in the world give to charity because it makes them feel good, it generates a peace-of-mind. Now imagine how many of those people would give to charity if instead of feeling good, the received a sharp pain in the stomach every time they gave their money away...

metta
Jack :heart:



Lol, sure... I'm in agreement with you on all that.

Anyway, I'm off to bed.

Na-night :meditate: (this looks a bit like a sleeping person with their hands sticking out over the top of the duvet).
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Ben » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:31 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
vinasp wrote: 1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.

So you're a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier :juggling: who thinks that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, although you think that he could not have had knowledge of it, as you believe that it doesn't exist? :cookoo:


Well said, Bhante!
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:58 am

Ben wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
vinasp wrote: 1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.

So you're a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier :juggling: who thinks that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, although you think that he could not have had knowledge of it, as you believe that it doesn't exist? :cookoo:


Well said, Bhante!


While my own position is different from that of Vinasp, I think that this explanation may very well misrepresent Vinasp's position.

To "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

Taking his first two statements as "a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier" is a logically incoherent deduction from what he has written. To neither believe in X nor believe in not-X does not equate to "deny belief in X while believing X".

And his statements don't provide enough to conclude that he "thinks that [buddha] could not have had knowledge of it, as [Vinasp] believes that it does not exist". Vinasp has not stated that he believes rebirth does not exist.
Again, to "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

It could simply be that Vinasp does not personally believe either way (~~ agnostic) but believes that the Buddha did teach it. But I'll let Vinasp clarify that for himself.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Dan74 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:30 am

It could simply be that Vinasp does not personally believe either way (~~ agnostic) but believes that the Buddha did teach it.


Not sure about vinasp, but this sums up my view pretty well, (though somewhat leaning to believing on the basis of the scriptures, other people's stories and some very flimsy personal evidence).

Go agnostics! :twothumbsup:

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:11 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
While my own position is different from that of Vinasp, I think that this explanation may very well misrepresent Vinasp's position.

To "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

Taking his first two statements as "a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier" is a logically incoherent deduction from what he has written. To neither believe in X nor believe in not-X does not equate to "deny belief in X while believing X".

And his statements don't provide enough to conclude that he "thinks that [buddha] could not have had knowledge of it, as [Vinasp] believes that it does not exist". Vinasp has not stated that he believes rebirth does not exist.
Again, to "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

It could simply be that Vinasp does not personally believe either way (~~ agnostic) but believes that the Buddha did teach it. But I'll let Vinasp clarify that for himself.


Hi Bhante,

Put that way there seems to be a lot of congruity between Vinasp and what can be said about how I relate to rebirth. However I still think the most accurate label for me is that I am one who accepts rebirth. I accept rebirth on the level of a heart felt devotion. I accept that the Truth which cannot be called existent or non existent is outside of conceptual norms. I dont think meaning is ontologically grounded. It is grounded in how it shapes our motivation and it is accurate to the degree that our motivation is congruent with our well being. I accept that those who do believe in rebirth are better off than those who reject it. I accept that we are all better off when more people believe in rebirth than reject it. I am not saying that everyday meaning like the difference between a cat and a dog is under question. I am saying that the value of what is communicated comes from the actual effect that communication has. This is the value which I am most concerned with when it comes to discerning what is true. This of course must include conforming to delineations such as "cat" or "dog". The effect of communicating in a way that does not conform to this level of meaning would be that no one would listen to anything you said and therefore it would not be True by any measure. :juggling:

I accept that the post mortem effect of a stream of consciousness can for all practical purposes be said to result in "rebirth"

It would be impractical to call a dog a cat. They are both furry creatures who are kept as pets and adored by many. :P

Love

Gabe
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby nowheat » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:20 am

gabrielbranbury wrote:...I still think the most accurate label for me is that I am one who accepts rebirth. I accept rebirth on the level of a heart felt devotion....


So now we have FOUR definitions in the vicinity of “rebirth denier”

A. someone who denies the Buddha taught rebirth ("one who denies the Buddha taught rebirth")
B. someone who does not personally believe in post-mortem continuance ("rebirth denier")
C. someone who denies the Buddha taught and does not personally believe in post-mortem continuance ("one who maintains there is no rebirth and that the Buddha didn't teach literal rebirth")
D. someone who accepts that the Buddha taught rebirth, and accepts the teaching but neither fully believes nor disbelieves in literal rebirth ("one who accepts rebirth")

I conclude that shorthand is difficult to come up with; sometimes you just need more words to accurately convey what the other guy means or things get confusing.

:namaste:
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby vinasp » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:23 pm

Hi everyone,

When I found this thread a few days ago I thought it was interesting. Nowheat was asking if anyone thought that the label "rebirth denier" applied to themselves. I thought that it may - in some sense - apply to my position. But perhaps I was wrong.

There seems to be two meanings of denial :
1. The opposite of affirmation - this relates to truth claims.
2. An alternative to "rejection" in the pair : acceptance / rejection.

On the question of rebirth or no-rebirth my position is : I do not know.
So I am not affirming or denying the truth of either proposition.

However, I am rejecting both propositions. Does this mean that I am denying both in the second sense of the word?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:35 pm

nowheat wrote:D. someone who accepts that the Buddha taught rebirth, and accepts the teaching but neither fully believes nor disbelieves in literal rebirth ("one who accepts rebirth")

I conclude that shorthand is difficult to come up with; sometimes you just need more words to accurately convey what the other guy means or things get confusing.

:namaste:


I'd say that as "one who holds the view" of rebirth, as I put myself in that category and more or less define it that way. Again, apannaka sutta was the turning point for me, along with the Canki sutta.

-M
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:33 pm

hi vincent,
nowheat was asking for it to be defined! not if the label was applicable to anyone.

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

When I found this thread a few days ago I thought it was interesting. Nowheat was asking if anyone thought that the label "rebirth denier" applied to themselves. I thought that it may - in some sense - apply to my position. But perhaps I was wrong.

There seems to be two meanings of denial :
1. The opposite of affirmation - this relates to truth claims.
2. An alternative to "rejection" in the pair : acceptance / rejection.

On the question of rebirth or no-rebirth my position is : I do not know.
So I am not affirming or denying the truth of either proposition.

However, I am rejecting both propositions. Does this mean that I am denying both in the second sense of the word?

Best wishes, Vincent.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby seanpdx » Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:43 pm

BlackBird wrote:Hi Katy, nice to meet you too.

No indeed, for me and for most others I imagine that the carrot does not lie solely in a personal cosmic reward, although for some it is probably a motivating factor. What is a strong incentive however is the idea that if we act in a heedless and unskillful manner, there will be painful results.


This is still a consequentialist attitude, albeit couched in negative instead of positive terms. If you will... aversion instead of craving, though they are ultimately two sides of the same coin. ;)

See also: deontology v. consequentialism v. virtue ethics
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:52 pm

Manapa wrote:hi vincent,
nowheat was asking for it to be defined! not if the label was applicable to anyone.



Good point.

First of all, I don't think anybody ever intended for the term "rebirth denier" to be some sort of sticky label to identify outcasts. It was mentioned casually at some point in the context of the rebirth debate. Nobody is handing out scarlet "RD" letters for people to sew on their shirts.

To me the debate is not whether rebirth is true or not. An anonymous Zen teacher is always quoted as saying that he was a zen master indeed, but not a dead one. That applies to all of us here, unless we have any fouth-jhana past life recollectors...

The "debate" as far as I am concerned is whether the Buddha taught it and whether such a teaching is critical to understanding the Dhamma. And by "it" I mean post-mortem rebirth - the continuation of consiousness after the body dies, or as the Buddha says over and over again "issolution of the body after death"(which you'd think would be unambiguous enough.) The heretic - er um deniers :tongue: to me are just those who think that this isn't the case. I totally understand the position, where it comes from, and have held it myself.

There of course are plenty of non Buddhists that don't believe in rebirth and that's fine. I'm not interested in debating rebirth from it's own side, proving it scientifically, or anything of that sort.

-M
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:59 pm

Hi M & Sean
Sean do you have a link to an article or something?

meindzai wrote:
Manapa wrote:hi vincent,
nowheat was asking for it to be defined! not if the label was applicable to anyone.


Good point.

:woohoo:

First of all, I don't think anybody ever intended for the term "rebirth denier" to be some sort of sticky label to identify outcasts. It was mentioned casually at some point in the context of the rebirth debate. Nobody is handing out scarlet "RD" letters for people to sew on their shirts.

I want one now!

To me the debate is not whether rebirth is true or not. An anonymous Zen teacher is always quoted as saying that he was a zen master indeed, but not a dead one. That applies to all of us here, unless we have any fouth-jhana past life recollectors...

It is a good story

The "debate" as far as I am concerned is whether the Buddha taught it and whether such a teaching is critical to understanding the Dhamma. And by "it" I mean post-mortem rebirth - the continuation of consiousness after the body dies, or as the Buddha says over and over again "issolution of the body after death"(which you'd think would be unambiguous enough.) The heretic - er um deniers :tongue: to me are just those who think that this isn't the case. I totally understand the position, where it comes from, and have held it myself.

There of course are plenty of non Buddhists that don't believe in rebirth and that's fine. I'm not interested in debating rebirth from it's own side, proving it scientifically, or anything of that sort.

-M

I posted my views on this on page one.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby seanpdx » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:11 pm

Manapa wrote:Sean do you have a link to an article or something?


Search google/wikipedia for philosophy of ethics. You'll very quickly run into the three prominent ethical theories: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics.

Heck, just looking up "ethics" on wikipedia will probably give you a good starting point. None of this is super-secret, hard-to-find stuff.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:23 pm

Hi Sean,
Thought you may of been thinking of a specific article.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Postby seanpdx » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:25 pm

Manapa wrote:Hi Sean,
Thought you may of been thinking of a specific article.


Nope. This stuff is just basic Ethics 101 at best.
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