according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

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according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:08 am

ACCORDING TO THE PALI CANON, what happens after you die?

obviously we all know the over all idea of karma affecting one's rebirth. you die and are reborn in one of six realms in such and such conditions depending on your merit. as far as my studies have gone, in a nutshell, this is all that was said on the topic.

did the buddha ever say what the process was between the moment of death and the moment of birth?

again as far as i know he did not, which in my opinion, would imply that one is instantaneously transferred from one's dead body to an awaiting fetus or egg/sperm combo.

does anyone know any more about this?

P.S. also i know what other traditions say happens between this life and the next. there are some really cool teachings about it that are mind blowing and a little scary. i've read many books on the subject that were, to my great delight, better than some non-buddhist fictional novels and movies i've known on the topic of death and the afterlife! if you know about these things, it's not necessary to try to school me on them. like i said, i already know about them. i always wondered if even a granule of any of it came from the buddha himself as, if it did, i might want to practice some lucid dreaming techniques to prepare a little;)

if you don't know about the after death stuff from other traditions, by all means ask me and i'll tell you about them and recommend some good books! super cool stuff regardless of where they came from!
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby Agent » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:10 am

Hi Zac,

From "How Rebirth Takes Place" (Chapter 28) of The Buddha and His Teachings by Venerable Nārada Mahāthera:

Rebirth takes place immediately, irrespective of the place of birth, just as an electromagnetic wave, projected into space, is immediately reproduced in a receiving radio set. Rebirth of the mental flux is also instantaneous and leaves no room whatever for any intermediate state [7] (antarabhava). Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its "reincarnation."

This question of instantaneous rebirth is well expressed in the Milinda Pañha:

The King Milinda questions:

"Venerable Nagasena, if somebody dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, and another dies here and is reborn in Kashmir, which of them would arrive first?

"They would arrive at the same time. O King.

"In which town were you born, O King?

"In a village called Kalasi, Venerable Sir.

"How far is Kalasi from here, O King?

"About two hundred miles, Venerable Sir.

"And how far is Kashmir from here, O King?

"About twelve miles, Venerable Sir.

"Now think of the village of Kalasi, O King.

"I have done so, Venerable Sir.

"And now think of Kashmir, O King.

"It is done, Venerable Sir.

"Which of these two, O King, did you think the more slowly and which the more quickly?

"Both equally quickly, Venerable Sir.

"Just so, O King, he who dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, is not reborn later than he who dies here and is reborn in Kashmir."

"Give me one more simile, Venerable Sir."

"What do you think, O King? Suppose two birds were flying in the air and they should settle at the same time, one upon a high and the other upon a low tree, which bird's shade would first fall upon the earth, and which bird's later?"

"Both shadows would appear at the same time, not one of them earlier and the other later. [8]"

The question might arise: Are the sperm and ovum cells always ready, waiting to take up the rebirth-thought?

According to Buddhism, living beings are infinite in number, and so are world systems. Nor is the impregnated ovum the only route to rebirth. Earth, an almost insignificant speck in the universe, is not the only habitable plane, and humans are not the only living beings. [9] As such it is not impossible to believe that there will always be an appropriate place to receive the last thought vibrations. A point is always ready to receive the falling stone.

__________________________
[7] According to Tibetan works, writes Dr. Evans-Wents, there is an intermediate state where beings remain for one, two, three, five, six or seven weeks, until the forty-ninth day. This view is contrary to the teachings of Buddhism. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, pp. XLII - XLIII, 58, 160-165

[8] Milinda's Questions, part 1, pp. 127-128.

[9] "There are about 1,000,000 planetary systems in the Milky Way in which life may exist." See Fred Hoyle, The Nature of the Universe, pp. 87-89.


Online Version of this book
PDF Version

In addition to chapter 28, you may also find chapters 26, 27, and 29 of interest in regards to rebirth.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā.
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:12 am

Agent wrote:Hi Zac,

From "How Rebirth Takes Place" (Chapter 28) of The Buddha and His Teachings by Venerable Nārada Mahāthera:

Rebirth takes place immediately, irrespective of the place of birth, just as an electromagnetic wave, projected into space, is immediately reproduced in a receiving radio set. Rebirth of the mental flux is also instantaneous and leaves no room whatever for any intermediate state [7] (antarabhava). Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its "reincarnation."

This question of instantaneous rebirth is well expressed in the Milinda Pañha:

The King Milinda questions:

"Venerable Nagasena, if somebody dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, and another dies here and is reborn in Kashmir, which of them would arrive first?

"They would arrive at the same time. O King.

you never drop the ball man, thanx!!! this confirms what i was thinking! much appreciated :)
"In which town were you born, O King?

"In a village called Kalasi, Venerable Sir.

"How far is Kalasi from here, O King?

"About two hundred miles, Venerable Sir.

"And how far is Kashmir from here, O King?

"About twelve miles, Venerable Sir.

"Now think of the village of Kalasi, O King.

"I have done so, Venerable Sir.

"And now think of Kashmir, O King.

"It is done, Venerable Sir.

"Which of these two, O King, did you think the more slowly and which the more quickly?

"Both equally quickly, Venerable Sir.

"Just so, O King, he who dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, is not reborn later than he who dies here and is reborn in Kashmir."

"Give me one more simile, Venerable Sir."

"What do you think, O King? Suppose two birds were flying in the air and they should settle at the same time, one upon a high and the other upon a low tree, which bird's shade would first fall upon the earth, and which bird's later?"

"Both shadows would appear at the same time, not one of them earlier and the other later. [8]"

The question might arise: Are the sperm and ovum cells always ready, waiting to take up the rebirth-thought?

According to Buddhism, living beings are infinite in number, and so are world systems. Nor is the impregnated ovum the only route to rebirth. Earth, an almost insignificant speck in the universe, is not the only habitable plane, and humans are not the only living beings. [9] As such it is not impossible to believe that there will always be an appropriate place to receive the last thought vibrations. A point is always ready to receive the falling stone.

__________________________
[7] According to Tibetan works, writes Dr. Evans-Wents, there is an intermediate state where beings remain for one, two, three, five, six or seven weeks, until the forty-ninth day. This view is contrary to the teachings of Buddhism. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, pp. XLII - XLIII, 58, 160-165

[8] Milinda's Questions, part 1, pp. 127-128.

[9] "There are about 1,000,000 planetary systems in the Milky Way in which life may exist." See Fred Hoyle, The Nature of the Universe, pp. 87-89.


Online Version of this book
PDF Version

In addition to chapter 28, you may also find chapters 26, 27, and 29 of interest in regards to rebirth.

thanx! exactly what i was thinking! much appreciated!
Last edited by dhammastudier on Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby suriyopama » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:23 am

Thank you for the information, Agent. Very interesting

I like the way King Milinda makes the question:
"Venerable Nagasena, if somebody dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, and another dies here and is reborn in Kashmir, which of them would arrive first?


[OFFTOPIC]
This reminds me an old joke:

A father and his son are staring at the Moon, and the boy says:
- "Dad, what is farther from here, the Moon or Barcelona?"
And the father answers:
- "My son, can you even see Barcelona from here?

[/OFFTOPIC]
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby cooran » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:16 am

Hello zac,

I think a better question is "What is it which re-becomes?" "You" are not reborn.

with metta
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby cooran » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:42 am

Hello all,

A few articles by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi:

Does Rebirth Make Sense? - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html

Rebirth - Bhikhu Bodhi
http://www.beyondthenet.net/dhamma/rebirth.htm

Dhamma without Rebirth - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodh ... ebirth.php

with metta
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:48 am

Greetings,

cooran wrote:I think a better question is "What is it which re-becomes?" "You" are not reborn.

:thumbsup:

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: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:21 pm

cooran wrote:Hello zac,

I think a better question is "What is it which re-becomes?" "You" are not reborn.

with metta
Chris


what was i thinking??? i bet no one even knew what i was talking about! thanx for correcting me chris!
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:25 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,

A few articles by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi:

Does Rebirth Make Sense? - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html

Rebirth - Bhikhu Bodhi
http://www.beyondthenet.net/dhamma/rebirth.htm

Dhamma without Rebirth - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodh ... ebirth.php

with metta
Chris


if it was wrong for me to say "rebirth" is it wrong here as well? should i even read these or does the incorrect terminology make it too confusing?
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:30 pm

cooran wrote:Does Rebirth Make Sense? - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html

Rebirth - Bhikhu Bodhi
http://www.beyondthenet.net/dhamma/rebirth.htm

Dhamma without Rebirth - Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodh ... ebirth.php
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

cooran wrote:I think a better question is "What is it which re-becomes?" "You" are not reborn.

:thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)


bhikkhu bodhi seems to think that "rebirth" is an appropriate term. i've always felt he was a very well researched author, is it possible i was wrong about him?
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby Anicca » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:40 pm

Rebirth / rebecoming is not the issue, the "you" is the issue - what is "it" the re-becomes or what is "it" that gets reborn because "it" is not "you" - that would be re-incarnation which if any learned teacher of Buddhism uses - run the other way!

At least that is my understanding - hope it helps


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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:48 pm

Anicca wrote:Rebirth / rebecoming is not the issue, the "you" is the issue - what is "it" the re-becomes or what is "it" that gets reborn because "it" is not "you" - that would be re-incarnation which if any learned teacher of Buddhism uses - run the other way!

At least that is my understanding - hope it helps


Metta


oh, gotcha, thanx, i was hoping bodhi is still the man on translating and writing buddhism! he has sooo many good books!
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:49 pm

i definitely didn't say "re-incarnation" and on a buddhist web site i don't think anyone is going to confuse this with hinduism or anything else that teaches re-incarnation just because i used a word like "it" or "you" or "rebirth" (which many buddhist authors use). you guys think a small grammatical error makes my post sound like it's talking about re-incarnation and the author agent just referenced literally used the term "re-incarnation" but no one noticed?

but oh well, nit picking is fun for some. but to be fair this debate over petty semantics is :offtopic: and it would be nice to get back to talking about what the buddha taught on the topic :smile:
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby Anicca » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:10 pm

zac wrote:i definitely didn't say "re-incarnation" ... but oh well, nit picking is fun for some. but to be fair this debate over petty semantics is :offtopic: and it would be nice to get back to talking about what the buddha taught on the topic :smile:

Howdy Zac!
I agree with you completely! Please do not think that i was implying *you* used the term re-incarnation - i mentioned it only to say that you need not doubt Ven. Bodhi because he uses the term rebirth and that if you *ever * find someone teaching re-incarnation as Buddhism - THEN run away!

Please do not take it personally when the use of any term that implies a "self" is questioned in Buddhist discussion - it goes with the territory. I understand what you mean, but you seemed confused about what Chris said so i hoped to clarify those words - not pick on yours.
cooran wrote:I think a better question is "What is it which re-becomes?" "You" are not reborn.


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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:42 pm

Greetings Zac,

zac wrote:bhikkhu bodhi seems to think that "rebirth" is an appropriate term. i've always felt he was a very well researched author, is it possible i was wrong about him?

Rebirth is just a word - what it points to is far more important than the choice of word itself. I would advise investigating the terms bhava, punabhava, and jati and working out what they mean for yourself so that you are not reliant on any one translator's interpretation. I think if there is a problem with the English translation 'rebirth' it is the 're' aspect. 'Re' means 'again' or 'repeated', and is with reference to an object that is"'re'd"... however in the Dhamma, there is nothing that "re's"... there is arising and cessation based on conditions, and that's it. Rebirth, at a casual glance (i.e. unless you're being directly cognizant of anicca and anatta) can be falsely taken to be rebirth of an actual self. In reality, there is no atman to be born, let alone "re"-born. As Bhikkhu Ñanananda says, "All concepts of 'going', 'coming', 'being born', 'growing old' and 'dying' are to be found in the prolific. They simply do not exist in the nonprolific."

I hope this gives some indication as to why it's better to investigate and study the key Pali terms in question, than rely solely upon English translation. As Anicca points out, "reincarnation" (literally: re-embodied in flesh) is an atrocious translation and should not be tolerated.

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: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby Agent » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:05 am

zac wrote:you guys think a small grammatical error makes my post sound like it's talking about re-incarnation and the author agent just referenced literally used the term "re-incarnation" but no one noticed?


Sorry for going a bit off topic, but just to clarify so no one gets the wrong idea that the Venerable quoted supports reincarnation, the term was only used here:

Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its "reincarnation."


In the context of the sentence the inference is that belief in a being to be reincarnated (or "reborn" for that matter) it is not a correct view.
He uses the word reincarnation and puts it in quotes to reinforce this idea.
Last edited by Agent on Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby Kare » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Zac,

zac wrote:bhikkhu bodhi seems to think that "rebirth" is an appropriate term. i've always felt he was a very well researched author, is it possible i was wrong about him?

Rebirth is just a word - what it points to is far more important than the choice of word itself. I would advise investigating the terms bhava, punabhava, and jati and working out what they mean for yourself so that you are not reliant on any one translator's interpretation. I think if there is a problem with the English translation 'rebirth' it is the 're' aspect. 'Re' means 'again' or 'repeated', and is with reference to an object that is"'re'd"... however in the Dhamma, there is nothing that "re's"... there is arising and cessation based on conditions, and that's it. Rebirth, at a casual glance (i.e. unless you're being directly cognizant of anicca and anatta) can be falsely taken to be rebirth of an actual self. In reality, there is no atman to be born, let alone "re"-born. As Bhikkhu Ñanananda says, "All concepts of 'going', 'coming', 'being born', 'growing old' and 'dying' are to be found in the prolific. They simply do not exist in the nonprolific."

I hope this gives some indication as to why it's better to investigate and study the key Pali terms in question, than rely solely upon English translation. As Anicca points out, "reincarnation" (literally: re-embodied in flesh) is an atrocious translation and should not be tolerated.

Metta,
Retro. :)


:goodpost:

I agree that one ought to look closer at the Pali - and at the context. "Bhava" simply means "to be (and "bhava" in fact is cognate with English "be"). "Puna" means "again". So "punabhava" means that something "comes to be again" - in a given context that may of course be biological rebirth, but in another context it may as well be greed, hate and ignorance that arises again and again. There is nothing implicit biological in the word itself, it has to be understood from the context.

"Jati" means "birth". This looks more biological ... until you read a little further in the Pali texts. Then you will find that "jati (with variant grammatical forms) also appears in idioms that have nothing to do with biological birth. For instance ... "tuttha" means "glad, happy". In a story something good happens to a man, and the texts says that he became "tutthajato". Of course he was not "born happy" in that moment ... he "became happy". So in cases like that "jati/jato" seems to indicate nothing simply that some change was occurring, something happened. Again: Context is King, as translators sometimes say.
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:14 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Zac,

zac wrote:bhikkhu bodhi seems to think that "rebirth" is an appropriate term. i've always felt he was a very well researched author, is it possible i was wrong about him?

Rebirth is just a word - what it points to is far more important than the choice of word itself. I would advise investigating the terms bhava, punabhava, and jati and working out what they mean for yourself so that you are not reliant on any one translator's interpretation. I think if there is a problem with the English translation 'rebirth' it is the 're' aspect. 'Re' means 'again' or 'repeated', and is with reference to an object that is"'re'd"... however in the Dhamma, there is nothing that "re's"... there is arising and cessation based on conditions, and that's it. Rebirth, at a casual glance (i.e. unless you're being directly cognizant of anicca and anatta) can be falsely taken to be rebirth of an actual self. In reality, there is no atman to be born, let alone "re"-born. As Bhikkhu Ñanananda says, "All concepts of 'going', 'coming', 'being born', 'growing old' and 'dying' are to be found in the prolific. They simply do not exist in the nonprolific."

I hope this gives some indication as to why it's better to investigate and study the key Pali terms in question, than rely solely upon English translation. As Anicca points out, "reincarnation" (literally: re-embodied in flesh) is an atrocious translation and should not be tolerated.

Metta,
Retro. :)


gotcha. i understand all of that and that's why i didn't use the word "re-incarnation" at all in my post. i used the word "rebirth" in conjunction with other words in combinations i've read used by many buddhist authors.

thanx for the explanation :smile:
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:15 am

Agent wrote:
zac wrote:you guys think a small grammatical error makes my post sound like it's talking about re-incarnation and the author agent just referenced literally used the term "re-incarnation" but no one noticed?


Sorry for going a bit off topic, but just to clarify so no one gets the wrong idea that the Venerable quoted supports reincarnation, the term was only used here:

Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its "reincarnation."


In the context of the sentence the inference is that belief in a being to be reincarnated (or "reborn" for that matter) it is not a correct view.
He uses the word reincarnation and puts it in quotes to reinforce this idea.


all good agent. like i said on a buddhist web site i don't think anyone is going to be confused by this.
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Re: according to the pali canon, what happens after you die?

Postby dhammastudier » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:16 am

Anicca wrote:
zac wrote:i definitely didn't say "re-incarnation" ... but oh well, nit picking is fun for some. but to be fair this debate over petty semantics is :offtopic: and it would be nice to get back to talking about what the buddha taught on the topic :smile:

Howdy Zac!
I agree with you completely! Please do not think that i was implying *you* used the term re-incarnation - i mentioned it only to say that you need not doubt Ven. Bodhi because he uses the term rebirth and that if you *ever * find someone teaching re-incarnation as Buddhism - THEN run away!

Please do not take it personally when the use of any term that implies a "self" is questioned in Buddhist discussion - it goes with the territory. I understand what you mean, but you seemed confused about what Chris said so i hoped to clarify those words - not pick on yours.
cooran wrote:I think a better question is "What is it which re-becomes?" "You" are not reborn.


Metta


right on, i didn't think you were saying that. thanx for clarifying anyway :smile:
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