Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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ground
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by ground »

martian wrote:Since there is no "I", is it right to tell people that Dhamma can be practiced with the lesser aim of a more fortunate rebirth? Isn't that misleading since the "I" that will be reborn will be a totally different "I" only related to the previous "I" through the Aggregates?
If in the context of such teachings emphasis is generally put on "compassion with others" and practicing "for the benefit of others" there is no contradiction or lie. Especially if the teachings about (no-)self are not kept secret.
martian wrote: Or really more on a lie since there is no 'I" to begin with. This make the idea of a Bodhisattva problematic also but that is for another topic and another forum :smile:
But all teachings appeal to the sense of "I" and "mine" in the first place. What would want to get rid of dukkha? :sage:
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by mikenz66 »

See also:
MN 109 Maha-punnama Sutta: The Great Full-moon Night Discourse
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation and notes:
14. Then, in the mind of a certain bhikkhu this thought arose: “So, it seems, material form is not self, feeling is not self, perception is not self, formations are not self, consciousness is not self. What self, then, will actions done by the not-self affect?”
  • [Footnote: It seems that this bhikkhu had difficulty in understanding how kamma can produce results without a self to receive them.]
Then the Blessed One, knowing in his mind the thought in the mind of that bhikkhu, addressed the bhikkhus thus: “It is possible, bhikkhus, that some misguided man here, obtuse and ignorant, with his mind dominated by craving, might think that he can outstrip the Teacher’s Dispensation thus: ‘So, it seems, material form is not self…consciousness is not self. What self, then, will actions done by the not-self affect?’ Now, bhikkhus, you have been trained by me through interrogation on various occasions in regard to various things.

15. “Bhikkhus, what do you think? Is material form permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”—“Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?”—“Suffering, venerable sir.”—“Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”—“No, venerable sir.”
...
:anjali:
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reflection
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by reflection »

martian wrote:Since there is no "I", is it right to tell people that Dhamma can be practiced with the lesser aim of a more fortunate rebirth? Isn't that misleading since the "I" that will be reborn will be a totally different "I" only related to the previous "I" through the Aggregates? Or really more on a lie since there is no 'I" to begin with. This make the idea of a Bodhisattva problematic also but that is for another topic and another forum :smile:
It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still. Just without anything constant in it. That's what we mean with no-self, as Venerable Pesala and others also tried to show in their replies.

Is a better rebirth a noble aim? I'd say, not always. But there is nothing misleading or lying about it. It's the same as saying, by following the path you can become more focused, remove your anger, connect to people more deeply, etc. All these things are not nibbana itself, but that doesn't mean it's misleading to say they can be a result of the practice.

With metta,
:anjali:
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Polar Bear
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by Polar Bear »

When people think about about a being that just died and where it was reborn in a third person perspective they often run into this confusion about how the two beings are related. But if you imagine what rebirth would be like from a first person perspective then there isn't any issue. One experience simply follows another and this continues until one realizes nibbana and passes away out of their final existence. If you go to sleep and wake up, it is the same stream of experience, if you die and are reborn, it is the same stream of experience.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by LonesomeYogurt »

polarbuddha101 wrote:When people think about about a being that just died and where it was reborn in a third person perspective they often run into this confusion about how the two beings are related. But if you imagine what rebirth would be like from a first person perspective then there isn't any issue. One experience simply follows another and this continues until one realizes nibbana and passes away out of their final existence. If you go to sleep and wake up, it is the same stream of experience, if you die and are reborn, it is the same stream of experience.

:anjali:
This is an important point. The reason we act in order to prevent suffering tomorrow is the same reason we should act to prevent suffering in our next life - self or not, "we" are gonna feel it when it hurts.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by martian »

polarbuddha101 wrote:When people think about about a being that just died and where it was reborn in a third person perspective they often run into this confusion about how the two beings are related. But if you imagine what rebirth would be like from a first person perspective then there isn't any issue. One experience simply follows another and this continues until one realizes nibbana and passes away out of their final existence. If you go to sleep and wake up, it is the same stream of experience, if you die and are reborn, it is the same stream of experience.

:anjali:
"It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still."

isn't this problematic in terms of impermanence?
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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by LonesomeYogurt »

martian wrote:"It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still."

isn't this problematic in terms of impermanence?
No, not really. A river is different every moment, but it doesn't become completely different at any one time.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by SarathW »

martian wrote:If what we know as "I" is just a product of the continuous interaction of the 5 Aggregates and the "I" that is reborn is really a different "I" produced again, by the continuous interaction of the aggregates,
then why would the present "I" be concerned about the condition the new "I" will be born into? A typical explanation about rebirth is a flame being transferred from one lamp to another. Even in this example the flame from the first lamp have no connection with the flame that will be produced next. The brightness or dullness of the first flame with not affect the quality of the next flame. If this is the case, then is there any need to be concerned about kamma beyond the present life and furthermore, rebirth? Hoping for some clarity. Thanks.
Hi Martia

This is not an easy subject. Please read the following book. Sorry.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by reflection »

martian wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:When people think about about a being that just died and where it was reborn in a third person perspective they often run into this confusion about how the two beings are related. But if you imagine what rebirth would be like from a first person perspective then there isn't any issue. One experience simply follows another and this continues until one realizes nibbana and passes away out of their final existence. If you go to sleep and wake up, it is the same stream of experience, if you die and are reborn, it is the same stream of experience.

:anjali:
"It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still."

isn't this problematic in terms of impermanence?
LonesomeYogurt already replied with an answer I agree with, but since you quoted me I thought let me share my understanding.

It's only problematic if you see balls as something permanent. In that way it is a bad example because people tend to see objects as permanent. The river analogy is better. Or lets compare you as you are now to when you were a small kid. You are not the same as you were then, were you? The body is changed, the mind is changed. But also you are not totally different because you are still the same person, the same being. You didn't become your neighbor suddenly.

:anjali:
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by 5heaps »

martian wrote:If what we know as "I" is just a product of the continuous interaction of the 5 Aggregates and the "I" that is reborn is really a different "I" produced again, by the continuous interaction of the aggregates,
not exactly. it is not the case that first there are the collection of aggregrates and then the person is produced. instead, persons are produced imputedly onto the collection of aggregates at the same time as the collection (ie. mind and body) are produced.

in other words, it is not the case that first you have a table-top and 4 legs and someone constructs them together and then a table is produced. instead, a table arises together with the production of the collection once the person has brought together that collection. it is not the case that first the collection is produced and then the table is produced.
then why would the present "I" be concerned about the condition the new "I" will be born into? A typical explanation about rebirth is a flame being transferred from one lamp to another. Even in this example the flame from the first lamp have no connection with the flame that will be produced next. The brightness or dullness of the first flame with not affect the quality of the next flame. If this is the case, then is there any need to be concerned about kamma beyond the present life and furthermore, rebirth? Hoping for some clarity. Thanks.
the future instance of flame is linked to a previous instance by way of causation. the fuel/base is different but the momentary and causal continuation of the flame is unbroken. since the continuation of the stream is unbroken and since it depends causally upon previous instances the presently existing flame is a slave to its past. luckily its just a flame and not a person.
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by Spiny Norman »

martian wrote:then why would the present "I" be concerned about the condition the new "I" will be born into? A typical explanation about rebirth is a flame being transferred from one lamp to another.
Interesting question.
According to the teachings on kamma in the suttas we are heir to our actions: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... kamma.html. So what we do today affects us tomorrow.
Or to put it another way, the you of tomorrow arises in dependence on the you of today.
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by binocular »

retrofuturist wrote:
binocular wrote:But I'd really like you to explain why you think kamma and rebirth have nothing to do with moral justice.
Because kamma has to do with sankharas (formations) that arise in dependence upon avijja (ignorance).
And how is this divorced from issues of moral justice?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by binocular »

ground wrote:
martian wrote: So, out of compassion for the next "I", we try to accumulate good kamma in this present "I"?
No, ouf of compassion for the potentially 5 succeeding aggregates, self-perceiving themselves as "I" and "mine" surrounded by equally ignorant self-perceiving phenomena, no kamma should be accumulated at all.
Compassion can only be had for living beings, not for things.
Unless you can show otherwise?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
binocular wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
binocular wrote:But I'd really like you to explain why you think kamma and rebirth have nothing to do with moral justice.
Because kamma has to do with sankharas (formations) that arise in dependence upon avijja (ignorance).
And how is this divorced from issues of moral justice?
Kamma would operate regardless of whether or not anyone in the universe came up with this concept or vague feeling of "moral justice".

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Post by Polar Bear »

Dwelling at Savatthi... Then a certain brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "What now, Master Gotama: Is the one who acts the same one who experiences [the results of the act]?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is the same one who experiences,' is one extreme."

[The brahman:] "Then, Master Gotama, is the one who acts someone other than the one who experiences?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences,' is the second extreme. Avoiding both of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by means of the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

When this was said, the brahman said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to point out the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the community of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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