the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Alex123
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Alex123 »

mikenz66 wrote: It might get one "ahead", but will it leave one "free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble"?
Mike
Sometimes yes. Bad guys benefit more than good guys, and "life is beautiful when you find the right anti-depressant/drug".

It is very hard, especially for most, to really get peace of mind. It is certainly possible, but not for all (within this one life), and not in all circumstances. Chances are that one may struggle for entire life being a good person to be "free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble".

If one does gain such state at the moment of death, then it would be worth it if there was rebirth. But if one doesn't believe in rebirth, then for most, why bother? One could bliss out much easier on proper medications and it is better to cry in a ferrari than in some homeless shelter...
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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Alex123
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Alex123 »

Hi Retro, all,
retrofuturist wrote: Firstly, as Mike and others have provided scriptural evidence (that conforms to experience) that the Dhamma, well practiced, is beneficial now and in the future. If benefit is not seen here-and-now, the benefits of Dhamma practice become an article of blind faith, but this is not how the Buddha taught!
It can be beneficial in the now. But IMHO if one removes belief in rebirth, 99.999% benefit is gone. Furthermore not everybody can become awakened in this life, so that benefit may not come in this life soon enough.
"What others call happiness, that the Noble Ones declare to be suffering. What others call suffering, that the Noble Ones have found to be happiness. See how difficult it is to understand the Dhamma! Herein those without insight have completely gone astray. For those under the veil (of ignorance) it is obscured, for those who cannot see it is utter darkness. But for the good and the wise it is as obvious as the light for those who can see. Even though close to it, the witless who do not know the Dhamma, do not comprehend it.

"By those overcome by attachment to existence, those who drift with the stream of existence, those in the realm of Mara, this Dhamma is not properly understood. Who other than the Noble Ones, are fit to fully understand that state, by perfect knowledge of which they realize final deliverance, free from defilements?"
And do you know what that means? Ordinary beings rejoice and delight in BEING. Nibbana, the cessation of being is ultimate peace. If there is only one life, then Nibbana is guaranteed. So why bother practicing and not speed up the process?


One can much easier experience peace and calm through chemical means (not available or widespread during Buddha's time). But that wouldn't help with next-life.



“Whether it be pleasant or painful, Along with the neither-painful-nor-pleasant, Both the internal and the external, Whatever kind of feeling there is: Having known, This is suffering (dukkhanti), Perishable, disintegrating, Having touched and touched them, seeing their fall, Thus one loses one's passion for them” SN36.2(2)

"Pleasant feeling, bhikkhus, should be seen as painful;"
Sukhā, bhikkhave, vedanā dukkhato daṭṭhabbā -SN 36.5(5)


"Whatever is felt is included in suffering." yaṃ kiñci vedayitaṃ taṃ dukkhasmi’nti
SN 36.11(1)

Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā’’ti , All formations are stressful. Dhp 278

'Pleasant' with regard to the stressful is a perversion of perception, a perversion of mind, a perversion of view.

'Stressful' with regard to the stressful is a non-perversion of perception, a non-perversion of mind, a non-perversion of view.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Life isn't that good, and more of it would be a bad thing. This is why it is good to work (however long and however many lives it may take) to become an Arhat and end it all.



Buddha lived 4-5th Century BC. At that time there weren't that many sensual things, comfort and drugs compared to today. There weren't as much Business opportunity (which one could abuse for personal gain) back then to really get ahead, and if one would worry too much, there's chemistry for that. Many of middle class Westerners probably live as good, or even better than the Siddhartha Gotama did.
Last edited by Alex123 on Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Alex,

From memory, I think you're inclined towards a classical Theravada perspective on Buddhist matters, yes?

If so, it might be worth getting yourself a copy of Bhikkhu Bodhi's "The Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship: The Samannaphala Sutta and its Commentaries"... or even if not, just studying the sutta itself would be beneficial.

DN 2: Samaññaphala Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As you'll see, the benefits "here and now" aren't restricted to nibbana.

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)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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mikenz66
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Alex,
Alex123 wrote:
mikenz66 wrote: It might get one "ahead", but will it leave one "free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble"?
Mike
Sometimes yes. Bad guys benefit more than good guys, and "life is beautiful when you find the right anti-depressant/drug".
Please don't take this the wrong way, but you do seem obsessed about how others might be having a better time than you and how if there is no rebirth then things won't be "fair". I'm certainly not free of hostility and ill will, but it seems to me that if I was a little more free from hostility, ill will, etc, then such thoughts would not bother me any more...

:anjali:
Mike
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Alex123
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Alex123 »

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alex,

From memory, I think you're inclined towards a classical Theravada perspective on Buddhist matters, yes?
Right. And I believe that belief in Rebirth is key point. Not to mention what the suttas say. One may believe what one wants, but either it is what the Buddha taught or what He didn't teach.

As you'll see, the benefits "here and now" aren't restricted to nibbana.
In a sense you are right. But as I've said, I beleive that 99.999% of the Dhamma's benefit is gaining Arhatship within the context of there being many lives.
If there was one-life-only, most of those benefits wouldn't be worth it in MODERN WESTERN WORLD. It may have been applicable in 4-5th century BC, but not today for most people.

If one can gain Jhānas at ease, then it *could* be worth it to spend one's life as a bhikkhu blissing out in them. But again, one can bliss out just as well with modern chemisty and entertainment that didn't exist in 4-5th century BC India.

But even as far as Jhanas are concerned, the best bliss is 9th Jhana (cessation of perception and feelings). That state is extremely difficult to get, but it could permanently be gained by suicide IF THERE WAS ONLY ONE LIFE.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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Alex123
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Alex123 »

Hello Mike, all,
mikenz66 wrote: Please don't take this the wrong way, but you do seem obsessed about how others might be having a better time than you and how if there is no rebirth then things won't be "fair". I'm certainly not free of hostility and ill will, but it seems to me that if I was a little more free from hostility, ill will, etc, then such thoughts would not bother me any more...
Mike
It does seem to me that in modern Western World, most people can enjoy life much better than in ancient agrarian India and most benefits of Dhamma may not apply as much as it did in those times. There are things today that didn't exist during the Buddha's time. Furthermore some sociopaths and cold-blooded businessmen who do get ahead in life by successfully exploiting others, may not even suffer from remorse or regret! So in a sense they could live without remorse. Even if they did have few and short moments of remorse or unpleasant mental states, still certain chemistry could deal with bad emotions, but they wouldn't help if there were many lives and bad kamma would catch up.

But with rebirth, Dhamma makes total sense and suicide would not be the answer.

With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by mikenz66 »

Alex123 wrote: It does seem to me that in modern Western World, most people can enjoy life much better than in ancient agrarian India and most benefits of Dhamma may not apply as much as it did in those times. There are things today that didn't exist during the Buddha's time. Furthermore some sociopaths who do get ahead in life, make successful business while exploting others, may not even suffer from remorse or regret! So in a sense they could live without remorse. Certain chemistry could deal with bad emotions, but they wouldn't help if there were many lives.
Well, as I said, I don't find worrying about whether some sociopaths are enjoying themselves more than I am particularly useful to my practise. However, if I do pay some attention, I notice that such people usually don't seem to be particularly happy or peaceful.

Mike
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Hanzze »

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by alan »

Gethin makes an eloquent argument in a book well worth reading, "Foundations of Buddhism".
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by ground »

I feel what is getting mixed up here are two questions:

1.
If buddhism is deprived of the doctrine of re-appearance/re-birth can the remainder of the teachings still make sense in the context of assuming that the 4 truths and the 8fold path are valid?

2.
If buddhism is deprived of the doctrine of re-appearance/re-birth can the remainder of the teachings still validly be called "buddhism"?


Personally - and the answers can only be answers that an individual has to find for her/himself - I think that the 1st question might be answered in the affirmative. However affirmative reasonings applying "the present" and "this life" appear ill-founded and contradictory to me since they convey exactly the attitude that imo must be overcome and the doctrine of re-appearance/re-birth is a means for that overcoming.

The 2nd question seems to combine two questions a) "What is a coherent system of conventional thought?" and b) "Is 'buddhism' meant to be a coherent system of conventional thought?"


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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by alan »

Yes, you are mixed up.
Perhaps you can let us know what "conventional thought" means to you.
Nothing you have ever said seems conventional.
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by ground »

alan wrote:Perhaps you can let us know what "conventional thought" means to you.
Thank you for asking. You are right "conventional thought" is a bit "too abreviated" and should be replaced by "thought based on [conventional] language" or "thought applying [conventional] language".
Actually the qualifier "conventional" may be omitted since there is no language that is not "conventional".

I hope that makes it clearer.

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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by alan »

And there is no way of "expressing yourself" that does not include "reason".
That is, if you mean to be "understood" by "people".
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by ground »

alan wrote:And there is no way of "expressing yourself" that does not include "reason".
That is, if you mean to be "understood" by "people".
This is not an instance of "people" but an instance of "you and me".
And as to understanding: I do not understand what you are trying to hint at. Could you express yourself a bit clearer?

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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sunrise »

Lazy_eye wrote: If you did all that, and read all that, and came to the conclusion that rebirth and kamma are not core teachings, then who am I to argue? :)
I don't know. Who are you? :shrug:

Yes, rebirth is by no means central to the 4 noble truths. You can apply the noble truths to a single lifetime, to the present moment without any issues
Lazy_eye wrote:
By cultivating Right View and observing in what ways it influences your sila and other aspects of your practice.
Your rebirth beliefs influence your sila. That is the whole idea of this "belief". It is a mundane right view for morality. You can believe it if you like. Or you can let beliefs go and just be a good person, abiding by the Buddhist precepts whether there is rebirth or not. As simple as that.
Lazy_eye wrote: It's not a question of testing "rebirth" per se. None of us here, unless we have some really advanced meditators among us, can say we have verified it first hand.
Well I asked it because you invited me to "test the teachings out for myself". As you yourself agree, there is no way to "test' these things. They remain to be beliefs that you can take up if you like or leave them be. The super-mundane Dhamma is "visible here and now". You can test how suffering arises and dies here and now. You can mindfully observe how self view arises in your mind here and now. You can see how attachments cause dukkha here and now. Therefore, some of us don't see the need to believe in rebirth to practice Dhamma.
Lazy_eye wrote:It's a provisional teaching; the point is to apply it.I don't see how that's relevant to the question of what the Buddha taught or didn't teach. Anyone can "verify" this by reading the suttas -- there's nothing up the Buddha's sleeve.
The suttas clearly state that rebirth belief is a mundane teaching for morality and is not a part of the super-mundane right view that leads to cessation. It is not mandatory to take up these beliefs. In fact, as per the same suttas you are referring to, the Buddha encouraged his disciples to verify dhamma for themselves and not to believe in anything just because he said so. :smile:
Lazy_eye wrote: A "Buddhist" usually signifies someone who has taken refuge, which presumably means that he/she considers the Buddha reliable enough to take refuge in.
I have taken refuge in the Buddha's teachings of the four noble truths, I can verify my faith by applying his teachings to this moment.
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