the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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retrofuturist
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
daverupa wrote:Stop thinking that it must conform to what you already know - one planet, etc. If you don't know, even speculations will be inadequate. Get on with the training!
It's funny, I used to think about rebirth a bit... try to understand it, take an honest look as to whether I believe it or not etc.... but nowadays I don't think of it at all.

What I know is the fabricated (sankhata) nature of samsaric existence, and the truth of the Buddha's teaching on kamma in that context... I know that kamma (and thus, paticcasamuppada) holds true in terms of result in the present and in the future. That provides my direction in life.

Whether there is or isn't rebirth has no impact whatsoever on the above knowledge and the fact that I will continue to live my life in accordance with that knowledge... and since it will not change what I do (which you could call 'the training', if it was viewed as such), and since the reality or falsity of rebirth isn't going to change dependent upon my speculations/beliefs, it doesn't even come to mind as a consideration because I see that the arising of such a thought is inconsequential at best.

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)
5heaps
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by 5heaps »

retrofuturist wrote:I know that kamma (and thus, paticcasamuppada) holds true in terms of result in the present and in the future. That provides my direction in life. Whether there is or isn't rebirth has no impact whatsoever on the above knowledge and the fact that I will continue to live my life in accordance with that knowledge... and since it will not change what I do (which you could call 'the training', if it was viewed as such), and since the reality or falsity of rebirth isn't going to change dependent upon my speculations/beliefs, it doesn't even come to mind as a consideration because I see that the arising of such a thought is inconsequential at best.
in other words, you do not begin by first conjuring a conception of rebirth and then proceed to work your way toward observing conditioned existence.
instead, you closely observe conditioned existence and from this rebirth naturally follows as not merely a conjured conception.
yes/no?
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings 5heaps,

Rebirth just doesn't factor into my "practice". If it exists, it is simply part of "in the future". If it doesn't, so be it. Its validity or otherwise has no discernible bearing on how I live and does not trouble me.

Understanding the arising of sankharas, and their qualitative nature (as explained by the roots of greed/aversion/delusion & non-greed/non-aversion/non-delusion - i.e. kamma), and the resultant experience of nama-rupa (as explained from vinnana/nama-rupa onwards in paticcasamuppada, which could alternatively be thought of as sabba or loka) is sufficient for me to know the appropriate way to respond to situations in life.

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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Aloka
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Aloka »

Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Ben »

Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka
Excellent post, Aloka.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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5heaps
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by 5heaps »

Ben wrote:
Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka
Excellent post, Aloka.
is it? it doesnt even fit the minimum definition of buddhist refuge, which is concern for future lives

part of buddhism is studying the reasonings for rebirth and observing the nature of the mind. one does not use the excuse of speculation to excuse oneself from proper investigation. when someone says that talking about past and future lives is speculation, this is a nihilistic assertion.
retrofuturist wrote:Understanding the arising of sankharas, and their qualitative nature (as explained by the roots of greed/aversion/delusion & non-greed/non-aversion/non-delusion - i.e. kamma), and the resultant experience of nama-rupa (as explained from vinnana/nama-rupa onwards in paticcasamuppada, which could alternatively be thought of as sabba or loka) is sufficient for me to know the appropriate way to respond to situations in life.
fair enough. i guess i wonder how a thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind could possibly lead one to not understand the reality of past and future lives.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings 5heaps,
5heaps wrote:i guess i wonder how a thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind could possibly lead one to not understand the reality of past and future lives.
As I understand it, all arahants have (as you call it) "a thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind"... yet not all arahants have the ability to see "past and future lives" - this is one of the optional "higher knowledges". Thus, for those who can't see these for themselves, their existence (or otherwise) remains a "view" or a "belief". However, that limitation does not prevent the "thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind" which is required to bring an end to dukkha.

Ergo, direct knowledge of "the reality of past and future lives" is not essential to this pursuit.

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)
5heaps
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by 5heaps »

retrofuturist wrote:However, that limitation does not prevent the "thorough understanding of paticcasamuppada and the sankharas imprinted on the mind" which is required to bring an end to dukkha. Ergo, direct knowledge of "the reality of past and future lives" is not essential to this pursuit.
what youre talking about refers to the fact that they do not have direct perception granted by the higher knowledges, which can happen in unfortunate circumstances to an arhat that is an especially dull savaka. although they lack access to that they by definition know of past and future lives by virtue of having realizing the 3rd path. they have traversed the truth of cessation and understand its meaning completely, meaning they know they have been released from the suffering of endlessly taking on new bodies and undergoing birth (which is itself included as part of the truth of suffering, which they also realize directly). at that time, long before becoming arhats, they also realize that their release is guaranteed within a limited period of time, since the causes for suffering have been located and counteracted.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings 5heaps,
5heaps wrote:what youre talking about refers to the fact that they do not have direct perception granted by the higher knowledges, which can happen in unfortunate circumstances to an arhat that is an especially dull savaka.
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be too inclined to call any sekha "especially dull", especially not an arahant! You might want to consider your refuges.
5heaps wrote:although they lack access to that they by definition know of past and future lives by virtue of having realizing the 3rd path.
Do they? I thought they say, "jati is ended". What "jati" actually signifies (e.g. "ontological birth of a being" versus "phenomenological experience of identification" or somewhere inbetween) is not a matter of general consensus amongst Theravada Buddhists...
5heaps wrote:they have traversed the truth of cessation and understand its meaning completely, meaning they know they have been released from the suffering of endlessly taking on new bodies and undergoing birth (which is itself included as part of the truth of suffering, which they also realize directly). at that time, long before becoming arhats, they also realize that their release is guaranteed within a limited period of time, since the causes for suffering have been located and counteracted.
... yet since you clearly understand it in the sense of the "ontological birth of a being" as per the classical three-lifetime model of paticcasamuppada, it is as if we are speaking two separate languages. To that end I invite you either to mutually accept this divide, or to study non-time-delineated models of dependent origination, as articulated well by the likes of venerables Nanananda, Nanavira, Buddhadasa et.al.

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: the great rebirth debate

Post by Ben »

5heaps wrote:
Ben wrote:
Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka
Excellent post, Aloka.
is it?
Yes, it is.
Taking refuge in the triple gem isn''t about blindly accepting doctrine.
Belief in rebirth is as much a wrong view as disbelief in rebirth.
Until we develop knowledge via penetrative insight, then any discussion of what occurs beyond death is essentially speculation.
Aloka's post above is in keeping with the Buddha's own teaching on rebirth to worldlings. See the Apanaka Sutta.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: [email protected]..
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Aloka »

5heaps wrote:
Ben wrote:
Aloka wrote:Hi Dennenappelmoes,

I don't know one way or the other about rebirth and find it pointless speculating about past and future lives. Therefore I set it aside in order to deal with the living of my present life and practice here and now.

with kind wishes,

Aloka
Excellent post, Aloka.
is it? it doesnt even fit the minimum definition of buddhist refuge, which is concern for future lives

part of buddhism is studying the reasonings for rebirth and observing the nature of the mind. one does not use the excuse of speculation to excuse oneself from proper investigation. when someone says that talking about past and future lives is speculation, this is a nihilistic assertion.
Hi 5heaps,

I've already discussed my viewpoint and practice with a highly respected Theravada teacher and he was very encouraging.

He certainly didn't tell me I wasn't fitting in with refuge, nor did he accuse me being nihilistic.
:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Tue May 07, 2013 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Nyana
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Nyana »

Ben wrote:Taking refuge in the triple gem isn''t about blindly accepting doctrine.
Developing faith based upon the Buddha's teaching isn't blind.
Ben wrote:Belief in rebirth is as much a wrong view as disbelief in rebirth.
No it isn't.
Ben wrote:Until we develop knowledge via penetrative insight, then any discussion of what occurs beyond death is essentially speculation.
Discussing the Buddha's dhamma isn't speculation.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
Ben wrote:Belief in rebirth is as much a wrong view as disbelief in rebirth.
Ñāṇa wrote:No it isn't.
MN 117 wrote:"And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.
...
And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view.
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)
SamKR
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by SamKR »

retrofuturist wrote:
5heaps wrote:although they lack access to that they by definition know of past and future lives by virtue of having realizing the 3rd path.
Do they? I thought they say, "jati is ended". What "jati" actually signifies (e.g. "ontological birth of a being" versus "phenomenological experience of identification" or somewhere inbetween) is not a matter of general consensus amongst Theravada Buddhists...
It is not a matter of general consensus, of course. But I find it straightforward to see that by "jati" the suttas mean literal rebirth (birth as a baby, grow old, die, again birth, and so on). We may want the suttas not to be talking about literal birth (and all those supernatural things like different planes of existences, and siddhis etc.), but they do -- and they do so very very clearly.

Now the real question in my opinion is, what does this "literal rebirth" signify? As you stated above, is it "ontological birth of a being" or "phenomenological experience of identification" or somewhere inbetween? I think that it is both, otherwise the Buddha's teachings as presented in the suttas do not make sense to me. What we call "ontological birth" too is actually phenomenological; there is no such thing as "merely ontological birth". Of course, for one who can see past lives, this process of rebirth is just an appearance (or experience of the appearance) which appears as real as long as it lasts (ie, as long as one is fettered).

(The hardest thing to resolve (in Buddhist discussions) is the boundary between reality and illusion. Illusion is reality (while the experiences last), and any relative reality is an illusion.)
Last edited by SamKR on Tue May 07, 2013 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Aloka »

5heaps wrote: when someone says that talking about past and future lives is speculation, this is a nihilistic assertion.
Yet the Buddha said :

This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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