Mawkish1983 wrote:Punabbhava, as I understand it so far, is a process by which this "I" came into being. There were a set of conditions that existed and led to "my" existence. During "my" life (including the moment of "my" death) "I" make choices and do 'stuff'. This 'stuff' will be a contributing factor in another 'becoming'. Am I right so far?
Yes. The primary factor leading to another becoming is clinging. If there was no clinging there could be no becoming.
what do we call the next 'becoming' which is the result of many factors (including "my" volition)? Is it okay to say "My next life" or is this confusing things? Similarly, what do we call the life that played a role in "my" becoming? Is it okay to say "My previous life/past life" or is this confusing things too? What is the correct nomenclature for the sentient beings whose lives are linked in samsara?
Let's see what nomenclature the Buddha himself used:
Buddha, MN36 wrote:I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two... five, ten... fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion: 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.
I think people who complain about using the word "I" or "me" are merely adopting an affectation. The problem is not the words we use; the problem is not taking the time to understand what those words mean.
Fine. In addition, those things fall away and new ones arise during your life as well, not just at the end. There is nothing about you now that has persisted from when you were a child, for example.
3) in "my" life it is possible to develop such a deep realisation that I could somehow visualise the 'past lives' that lead to where "I" am. (I think, but I may be wrong, the Buddha developed this via the Jhanas?)
... but as no 'thing' from those lives exists in "mine", this visualisation is not simply a memory exercise, more of a transcendence. Is that right?
I don't know if it is right. The logic is flawed though. Nothing about your mind exists from yesterday either. Yet memory still works. (As a side note: I heard an report on the radio that current theory holds that memory is not an object in a box that we can take out from time to time and look at and then put back in the box. Rather, recent experiments have shown that each time we recall something we actually build
a new memory to replace the previous one. There is a transference of information, rather than some sort of object. And there is no reason a transference of information couldn't happen between lives as well.)
punabbhava is nothing more than the process by which a baby is made (the birds and the bees, so to speak). Now I am SURE this is wrong view, so I'd rather like to be corrected! In my mind I have the 'cause' of a new being as 'sex between two people'... that new person lives (hopefully) after the parents have died... so is this simply what punabbhava is teaching?
No. First off, if that were the case then the endless cycle of rebirth would be broken simply by not having children. Second, when recalling past lives, the Buddha would have recalled a pair
of lives - mother and father. Third, the Buddha's teachig on sotapanna, sakadagami, & anagami wouldn't make any sense. A sakadagami will have one kid and then that kid will attain awakening? A anagamai would... I can't think of how this would be understood. And what of when the Buddha spoke of these attainments regarding dead people? "Such-and-such monk has died. He had attained sotapanna. He will be reborn no more than 7 times before attaining awakening." How could this possibly be understood as having kids?
There are many other problems with this idea of punabhava meaning making babies.