the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby nowheat » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:35 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi NoWheat,
nowheat wrote:My concern is that if this is true, rebirth accepters spread a meme that seriously slows ability to gain liberation.

Please explain why you think that rebirth in the sense explained by the Buddha supports a sense of self. It seems to me that that would be a misreading of the Suttas (and, of course, the Abhidhamma).

HI Mike! I believe it because the Buddha said it. Please see the top post on page 35 of "the great rebirth debate" thread where I quote Bhikkhu Bodhi explaining it.

:namaste:
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:44 pm

seanpdx wrote:according to the third noble truth, it is the extinction of tanha which results in the cessation of dukkha and, subsequently, liberation. Not the extinction of eternalist or annihilationist views.


Hi Sean & All,
maybe worth remembering the fourth noble truth also?
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: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby nowheat » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:46 pm

(apologizing to all who have answered for only answering a few posts but at the moment I'm pressed for time, and your posts aren't light reading. I will get to them though!)
mikenz66 wrote:
seanpdx wrote:What if we simply drop any and all notions of annihilationism and eternalism? Does belief in rebirth then remain a necessary belief?

How do you propose to do that?

I propose to do it by following the Buddha's example of agnosticism. In fact, for myself, I'm past proposing; it happened to me without my ever really intending that it should. When I started reading the suttas and came to understand that the Buddha was not saying there is another life beyond this, nor was he saying that there wasn't, that he was saying that we must base our choices on what we can know directly ourselves; when I realized that I do not know whether this is my only life or one of many, my stomach did that rollercoaster-drop thing on and off for quite a while, because I was deeply, deeply disturbed by the concept. Which was pretty funny because I *thought* I'd been an agnostic for many years; I hadn't realized until I accepted his wisdom that I have to base my life on what I can know, and not simply on what others tell me (in other words; read, study, listen, choose wise teachers, but test and see for yourself) I discovered that I had a whole bunch of unexamined assumptions and letting go of them was deeply uncomfortable. I expect I still have a few more to let go of, but hopefully not too many left in this particular category; I've gotten fairly good at noticing them when they (rarely) show their heads.

:namaste:
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:53 pm

Hi NoWheat,
nowheat wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Please explain why you think that rebirth in the sense explained by the Buddha supports a sense of self. It seems to me that that would be a misreading of the Suttas (and, of course, the Abhidhamma).

HI Mike! I believe it because the Buddha said it. Please see the top post on page 35 of "the great rebirth debate" thread where I quote Bhikkhu Bodhi explaining it.

Hmm, I guess you mean:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=41&start=680#p50948
nowheat wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi says that the Buddha said in this sutta that right view ripens (in other words "matures into" or "gives us fruit which is") the acquisition of "the five aggregates that constitute personal existence.' In other words, following this view causes us to continue to generate the five aggregates. Note that when it comes to the aggregates, it doesn't use a word that implies "will continue as before" but one that implies that the process of believing mundane right view *generates* the taint: *ripening* in the acquisitions.

I can see your point, but I don't necessarily accept the sort of "cause and effect" you attribute to it.

I would summarise it as: "With mundane right view there is progress but rebirth continues until there is full awakening (at which point supramundane right view arises...)." I.e. the continued becoming is a result of lack of awakening rather than a result of mundane right view.

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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby nowheat » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:56 pm

seanpdx wrote:
Ben wrote:As you know, when the Buddha was questioned by the householders of sala who were sceptical of rebirth, in the Apannaka Sutta (MN 60), he didn't try to convince them that they were wrong but used logical inference to direct them to the conclusion that living one's life as though one believed in rebirth will lead to their welfare. And I think that remains a potent message for all of us.
kind regards


Just an FYI, but that's simply a buddhist form of Pascal's Wager.

Except that it's not, not entirely a Pascal's Wager. The part about "will get a good rebirth after the breakup of the body" is Pascal's Wager, but the parts about "will lead a good life, praised by your peers" is not.

The best reason to be moral is because it reduces suffering, in the long run. It can do that by making one's life better: for a householder, as above, because you will have the respect of your peers and the support of your community. For a mendicant, same as for a householder *and* you set up a situation in which it is easier for you to maintain your practice.

I bet there are other good reasons, nothing to do with rebirth, for being moral.

:namaste:
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby seanpdx » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am

BlackBird wrote:
seanpdx wrote:Please do not speak for me, what I believe, or the views which I may or may not possess. Thank you.


Well, Mike and Retro are quite correct to say so. This is because a non-ariyan mind, left to it's own devices (which is most of the time) necessarily inclines itself to one of these two views, or a combination thereof, just as a river inclines itself towards the sea.

Say a person were to announce: "Well, we all have either 2 kidneys or 1 kidney" and some man were to come a long and say: "Come now my good man, please do not speak for my kidneys, please do not assume that I may or may not have 2 kidneys or 1 kidney or even kidneys at all"

Would he be right in saying such a thing?


Yes. If he did, in fact, have zero kidneys. See also: dialysis. Or if, perhaps, he had a genetic abnormality that caused more than two kidneys. See also: genetic mutation.
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:03 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hmm, I guess you mean:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 680#p50948

Gee, you're good at that. Wish I had time to figure out how you magicked it.

:tongue:

I would summarise it as: "With mundane right view there is progress but rebirth continues until there is full awakening (at which point supramundane right view arises...)." I.e. the continued becoming is a result of lack of awakening rather than a result of mundane right view.


Which is a lovely way of rewriting it leaving out the sense of "acquisition" of those aggregates that comes with "mundane right view" but I think the Buddha chose the word that meant mundane right view resulted in acquisition of the aggregates because that's what he meant. It's not even the only negative word he uses in that sequence. He says it's a tainted view (Bodhi translates it as "with influxes" implying something new being added by the process; or alternatively "corrupted"). I don't see how we can put a sweet spin on all these things that clearly say something bad is being brought in (influx) that pollutes (corrupted) and brings to fruit the aggregates of self.

(but this belongs in that other thread!)

:namaste:
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby seanpdx » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:11 am

nowheat wrote:The best reason to be moral is because it reduces suffering, in the long run. It can do that by making one's life better: for a householder, as above, because you will have the respect of your peers and the support of your community. For a mendicant, same as for a householder *and* you set up a situation in which it is easier for you to maintain your practice.

I bet there are other good reasons, nothing to do with rebirth, for being moral.

:namaste:


I always get very uncomfortable when someone prefaces a statement with the words "The best reason...". However, I have an extremely difficult time discussing the concept of being "moral" without delving into ethics and meta-ethics. And whenever discussions of morality come up between people, it's usually blatantly obvious who has studied ethics and who has not.

I will _not_ get into a full discussion of consequentialism, and its ethical and meta-ethical dilemmas, but I will point out that the reason you give above is a consequentialist view of ethics. If you're interested in further investigation of this particular line of thought, hunt down some books/websites on consequentialism as an ethical theory.

That said, I consider myself more of a virtue-ethicist than a consequentialist.
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:16 am

Hi NoWheat,

Great points! From my point of view, yes, the person with mundane right view still has taints (asavas) because they have not been eliminated yet... Since a belief in rebirth is, of course, some sort of fixed view, it's something that would have to be let go of eventually, but it's not clear to me that it's that belief that is the [b]major[/b] reason for continued rebirth.
I would have thought that there were lots of much worse wrongheaded views that have be let go of for awakening.

Mike

PS, if you want to link to a particular post, go to the thread and click on the heading of the post you want to quote. You can then cut and paste the address.
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:20 am

Hi Sean,
seanpdx wrote:... I have an extremely difficult time discussing the concept of being "moral" without delving into ethics and meta-ethics. And whenever discussions of morality come up between people, it's usually blatantly obvious who has studied ethics and who has not.

I don't really see what tricky questions of ethics have to do with the Buddha's teaching on sila. LIke Ben (and, I think, Sean) I see it as simply practical advice: doing bad stuff messes up your mind. Not doing bad stuff doesn't.
(http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3527&start=20#p51256)

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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby seanpdx » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:24 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sean,
seanpdx wrote:... I have an extremely difficult time discussing the concept of being "moral" without delving into ethics and meta-ethics. And whenever discussions of morality come up between people, it's usually blatantly obvious who has studied ethics and who has not.

I don't really see what tricky questions of ethics have to do with the Buddha's teaching on sila. LIke Ben I see it as simply practical advice: doing bad stuff messes up your mind. Not doing bad stuff doesn't.
(http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3527&start=20#p51256)

Mike


The problem comes when one encounters an individual who may be equally as moral, but without the same reasons. It can become all too easy to claim that said person is, in truth, not moral (or not as moral), or just plain wrong. A study of ethics and meta-ethics demonstrates how ludicrous such claims can be.
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:24 am

Greetings Mike,

Tying what you said just then to nowheat back to your earlier comments... that you have Right View with Taints, means you are not an eternalist, nor are you an annihilationist... nor you do possess any of the 62 wrong views detailed in the Brahmajala Sutta.

The tendency (anusaya) to think in terms of self is a different matter altogether, and is only completely eradicated upon attaining arahanthood.

Therefore, to repose Sean's question against that setting once more, "Does belief in rebirth then remain a necessary belief if you hold no wrong views with respect to atman?". Feel free to answer as you see fit.

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: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:35 am

Hi Sean,
seanpdx wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I don't really see what tricky questions of ethics have to do with the Buddha's teaching on sila. ...

The problem comes when one encounters an individual who may be equally as moral, but without the same reasons. It can become all too easy to claim that said person is, in truth, not moral (or not as moral), or just plain wrong. A study of ethics and meta-ethics demonstrates how ludicrous such claims can be.

As far as I can see, these ethical dilemmas have nothing to do with the practicalities of trying to follow the Buddha's advice on sila. In my view, if one has some suspicion that some action that one is contemplating would violate a precept then one should not proceed with it, otherwise it will certainly generate disturbing mind states.

Of course, I would not claim to be following that advice particularly well, but the point is that I don't think that doing an ethical analysis would be any help at all to me developing my sila...

Metta
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby seanpdx » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:41 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Sean,
seanpdx wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I don't really see what tricky questions of ethics have to do with the Buddha's teaching on sila. ...

The problem comes when one encounters an individual who may be equally as moral, but without the same reasons. It can become all too easy to claim that said person is, in truth, not moral (or not as moral), or just plain wrong. A study of ethics and meta-ethics demonstrates how ludicrous such claims can be.

As far as I can see, these ethical dilemmas have nothing to do with the practicalities of trying to follow the Buddha's advice on sila. In my view, if one has some suspicion that some action that one is contemplating would violate a precept then one should not proceed with it, otherwise it will certainly generate disturbing mind states.

Of course, I would not claim to be following that advice particularly well, but the point is that I don't think that doing an ethical analysis would be any help at all to me developing my sila...

Metta
Mike


It has more to do with how one relates to other people who may have a different basis for morality, and less with the practicalities of actually following the precepts or anything of that nature.
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:43 am

seanpdx wrote:It has more to do with how one relates to other people who may have a different basis for morality, and less with the practicalities of actually following the precepts or anything of that nature.

So why should I worry about it in the context of this discussion?

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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby seanpdx » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:47 am

mikenz66 wrote:
seanpdx wrote:It has more to do with how one relates to other people who may have a different basis for morality, and less with the practicalities of actually following the precepts or anything of that nature.

So why should I worry about it in the context of this discussion?

Mike


A discussion requires relating to people. And, of course, morality itself is part of the topic. If you wish to discuss morality while ignoring centuries of western philosophy on the subject, you are of course free to do so.
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:56 am

seanpdx wrote:A discussion requires relating to people. And, of course, morality itself is part of the topic. If you wish to discuss morality while ignoring centuries of western philosophy on the subject, you are of course free to do so.

Yes, I've been trying to avoid the word "morality". Can you explain how centuries of western philosophy will help me perfect my sila? It sounds like a distraction to me.

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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:22 am

Abyss wrote:What about death? I don't want to die, therefore I seek liberation from death in this very life, which is possible according to the Buddha..

What do you get instead of death?

nowheat wrote:Can anyone find wording that makes it sound like he was exhorting others to follow his path, failure to do so was at their peril?

Maybe this (MN 8, Sallekha Sutta):

"What should be done for his disciples out of compassion for them, that I have done for you, Cunda. There are these roots of trees, these empty huts. Meditate, Cunda, do not delay or else you will regret later. This is our instruction to you"

I had forgotten that. Mild urgency, but that could be in the choice of words in the translation, or just the dry way the Buddha has of saying it. Good reference, Abyss, thanks!

:namaste:
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:
nowheat wrote:This assumes that there is something offered by holding the rebirth view that is not available in the whole of the Buddha's teaching (without rebirth).

The argument I usually hear is that we have no reason to be moral unless we'll be punished if we are amoral. Am I correct in my understanding that this is THE reason rebirth is “necessary”? Or are there other points not having to do with encouraging morality?

I presume we agree that sila is an absolutely essential part of the Path, but this rather trivailized version of sila wasn't my point at all.

I didn't mean to imply that the "usual argument" was yours; sorry for my lack of clarity if it read that way.

The point is the the Buddha invites us to try out his teaching. Follow the instructions and see for ourselves. I don't (yet) know which of the instructions are absolutely essential, so I keep an open mind about them.

If I were to point to a "reason" why having some sort of "post-mortem continuation attitude" would be helpful, it would be to do with countering annihilationistic tendencies of the mind, not some kindergarten idea about "crime and punishment". And, of course, it needs to be taken with a dose of anatta, to counter eternalistic tendencies...

Having drafted several possible questions about the above, I have come to the conclusion that I need to understand what the perception is of what it is that goes on to a rebirth "after the breakup of the body". Clearly it's not the soul/atman. Is it The Force? Is it a wave of vipaka? Is there a word in common use for it? Are there suttas that describe this {whatever}? I haven't tripped across any yet and I've been reading suttas in my free time for a couple of years now. All I ever seem to encounter is negatives and never do I see the Buddha say that anything at all -- not even a metaphor for anything at all -- goes on.

:namaste:
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Re: the Dhamma without rebirth: amoral and what else?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:21 am

Another argument, apart from viz "punishment", is this:

Those with the belief in rebirth may be inclined to give full effort to the path.
Evidence: How many bhikkhus do not accept this teaching?
Extremely few.
Suggesting that without this view, one may be inclined to hold back from 100% commitment.
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