the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sanghamitta »

I think rather than the language involved Aloka the most important thing is to reply without the snippy attitude.
Otherwise I might wonder why you are bothering to consort with monks and nuns at all.
If I joined a Tibetan forum I would learn Tibetan terms. Not an unreasonable demand I think.
You might want to start with learning the meaning of punarbhava. It is one of the terms used by the Buddha, and which is very poorly translated by the term Rebirth...and disastrously badly translated by the term reincarnation.

:anjali:

Valerie.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 7133
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Aloka »

Sanghamitta wrote:I think rather than the language involved Aloka the most important thing is to reply without the snippy attitude.
Otherwise I might wonder why you are bothering to consort with monks and nuns at all.
If I joined a Tibetan forum I would learn Tibetan terms. Not an unreasonable demand I think.

:anjali:

Valerie.

"Snippy attitude" is entirely your own interpretation, Valerie.

Are you a monk or a nun yourself ?

"Consort" can also mean like husband or wife, so personally I'd be wary of using that term in connection with monks and nuns !

Have a lovely day.
:anjali:
Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sanghamitta »

Dear oh dear.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8503
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by cooran »

Hey guys,

Settle down! :group:
No need to be at daggers drawn. :tongue:

Any difficulties with language before you become familiar with the usual Pali terms can be eased by checking with this dictionary.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... ict.n2.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 18097
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by mikenz66 »

As Cooran indicates, Ven Nyanatiloka's Dictionary is often useful for clarifying Pali terms:
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... ict.n2.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
In this case:
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... punabbhava" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Punabbhava: lit.: re-becoming; 'renewed existence', is a sutta term for 'rebirth', which, in later literature mostly is called patisandhi The attainment of Sainthood arahatta implying the end of future rebirths, is often expressed in the words:;This is the last birth. Now there is no more a renewed existence!; natthi dāni punabbhavo M. 26; D. 15; Therag. 87, 339; Sn. 502. - The term is often linked with abhinibbatti 'arising'.

But how, o brother, does it come to renewed existence and arising in the future āyatim punabbhavābhinibbatti? Because beings, obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving, find ever fresh delight now here, now there, for this reason there is renewed existence and arising in the future; M. 43. See also S.XII. 38. abhinibbatti also stands sometimes alone in signifying 'rebirth', e.g. in A. VI, 61; X, 65.

Cf., in the 2nd Truth, the adj. ponobhavika 'leading to renewed existence'.

See A. III, 76; Sn. 163, 273, 514, 733; S. VII, 12; X, 3.
:anjali:
Mike
Last edited by mikenz66 on Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18438
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Ben »

Moderator note:

At this point I would like to remind all members of our twin values of friendliness and mutual respect. Please keep these in mind when writing your posts. Off-topic posts and posts that contain dispariaging and personal remarks are subject to moderation.
Thanks for your kind attention.

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]..
Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sanghamitta »

You are quite right Chris. None at all. I think though that when one has to justify using basic terms like punarbhava on a Theravadin forum , the swing to the demotic has gone too far.

:anjali:

Valerie.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 18097
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by mikenz66 »

Sanghamitta wrote: I think though that when one has to justify using basic terms like punarbhava on a Theravadin forum , the swing to the demotic has gone too far.
.
As a point of clarification, I'd like to point out that the usual Pali spelling is punabbhava...

A search for punarbhava (Sanskrit, I guess) won't get many good Theravada sources.

Mike
User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 7133
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Aloka »

mikenz66 wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote: I think though that when one has to justify using basic terms like punarbhava on a Theravadin forum , the swing to the demotic has gone too far.
.

As a point of clarification, I'd like to point out that the usual Pali spelling is punabbhava...

A search for punarbhava (Sanskrit, I guess) won't get many good Theravada sources.

Mike

Thanks very much for the clarification, Mike !


:anjali:
Sunrise
Posts: 199
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:26 pm

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sunrise »

Lazy_eye wrote: And so, according to you, mundane right view and sila are not central parts of the dhamma, right?

I take it you also reject the Buddha's "graduated path"....
Let me repeat. Belief in rebirth is NOT central, essential, inseparable (whatever) part to Buddhism. Belief in rebirth is not an integral part of the four noble truths. You can follow a moral conduct whether you believe in rebirth or not. You can be a person established in sila whether there is rebirth or not. Yes, sila is essential for samadhi and wisdom. But rebirth beliefs are not essential to sila. Get it?
Lazy_eye wrote: And, as you have indicated several times, the four noble truths refer to present-life suffering and not to endless cycling through samsara?
Let me repeat. I have indicated several times that the four noble truths are visible and verifiable here and now. You can believe in rebirth and expand it to many lifetimes if you like or you can leave rebirth beliefs aside and apply it to this lifetime. I am not the one who is trying to gulp down a belief down my throat and the others' you know.
Lazy_eye wrote: In brief, when you say that rebirth/kamma are not central to the dhamma, you mean a dhamma that has had quite a lot excised from it. And if that works for you, fine! My interest in this thread mainly has to do with precision of terms.
Lazy, please believe in what you like. :) This thread is about "whether Buddhism can exist without belief in rebirth". My answer is yes.
Lazy_eye wrote: If a student or other newcomer comes to this forum looking for information about Buddhism, it's misleading to tell him/her that rebirth and kamma are not core teachings.
Wait, I can do that too. If a student or other newcomer comes to this forum looking for information about Buddhism, it's misleading to tell him/her that rebirth and kamma are core teachings. Tell them that the four noble truths are the core teachings. They will decide whether they should take up beliefs (if that helps their practice) or not. Get it?
Lazy_eye wrote: This is just contravened by so many of the suttas
Let me repeat. Please provide me a quote where the Buddha says that belief in rebirth is essential to Buddhism and you cannot follow it without believing in it.
Lazy_eye wrote:What would be more accurate, in my view, is to acknowledge there are "reformist" or "modernist" currents...
And there are also fundamentalist extremists. They continue to state that we should believe in what they believe in because according to their understanding of the suttas, rebirth is essential to the practice. It's like the Christians saying "If you don't believe in God you are doomed to hell"
Lazy_eye wrote: Simple, except that your statement contradicts itself. How can one "let beliefs go" while undertaking to "be a good person"? "Good" is itself a belief, implying an ethical system or at least some vague assemblage of sentiments and principles.
There is no point in this subtle sophistry. Let me ask you, if you got to know that rebirth does not exist and when you die that will be it, will you cease to be a good man abiding by the five precepts from tomorrow? Will the five precepts mean anything to you and your practice if there is no rebirth? Do you follow a moral conduct because there is rebirth not because morality and sila helps you in your mental stability and samadhi, which is required for wisdom to arise? If there is no rebirth, does that mean we should forget about general social morality and well being of others?
Lazy_eye wrote: The approach taught in the dhamma, as I understand it, is not "let beliefs go and just be a good person". It is more like "be a good person and cultivate until you get to a point where beliefs can go". In other words, the scaffolding has to be there before you kick it away.
Let me repeat. No one is asking you to let your beliefs go and just be a good person. If you think your beliefs are required for you to follow the five precepts, then carry on. There are some of us who do not need rebirth beliefs to abide by the five precepts. It is absolutely possible to practice dhamma without believing or disbelieving rebirth. You seem to be having a hard time wrapping your brain around that don't you?
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by tiltbillings »

Sunrise wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote: And so, according to you, mundane right view and sila are not central parts of the dhamma, right?

I take it you also reject the Buddha's "graduated path"....
Let me repeat. Belief in rebirth is NOT central, essential, inseparable (whatever) part to Buddhism. Belief in rebirth is not an integral part of the four noble truths. You can follow a moral conduct whether you believe in rebirth or not. You can be a person established in sila whether there is rebirth or not. Yes, sila is essential for samadhi and wisdom. But rebirth beliefs are not essential to sila. Get it?
You can follow the precepts, you can practice meditation without believing in rebirth. That is not an issue, but the Buddha taught rebirth. It is part of his teachings.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
Sunrise
Posts: 199
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:26 pm

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sunrise »

tiltbillings wrote:You can follow the precepts, you can practice meditation without believing in rebirth. That is not an issue, but the Buddha taught rebirth. It is part of his teachings.
Are you getting off topic tiltbillings?
Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sanghamitta »

mikenz66 wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote: I think though that when one has to justify using basic terms like punarbhava on a Theravadin forum , the swing to the demotic has gone too far.
.
As a point of clarification, I'd like to point out that the usual Pali spelling is punabbhava...

A search for punarbhava (Sanskrit, I guess) won't get many good Theravada sources.

Mike
Thank you MIke. You are of course quite right. I allowed myself to be swayed by Spellcheck. :smile: *
It remains a fact that the Buddha spoke of punarbhava/punabbhava, and "Rebirth" conveys very little of what he was actually teaching. I think there are a few key terms that we should not attempt to translate , but rather that we should approach on THEIR terms...the most notorious being Dukkha..but I would contend that Anicca and Anatta are virtually impossible to translate without whole threads and half a page pf script...its far easier to learn a few key concepts. And the various terms that the Buddha actually used to describe the process by which one group of skandhas leads to another are well worth internalising.
Having said all that the point I was making is that there are some aspects of Dhamma which are unavoidable. The whole sphere of Sila for example is not a matter of belief, but of action or refraining from action.
When it comes to beliefs. and for most of us that is what Rebirth ( in any language ) is, I think we should emphasise those practices which give rise to an understanding of the processes involved. Not start with a belief system which defines whether someone is a true believer or not.
If Rebirth is factual we should have faith in our practice to show us that by the time honoured ways laid down by generations of Dhamma students. Not argue the toss on a website. Are certainly not by suggesting that anyone who is still in the process of internalising these concepts is a second class citizen bound for hell unless we save them.

* which on my checker recognises punarbhava...but not punabbhava..its clearly a Mahayanist Spellchecker. :tongue:
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Sun Oct 10, 2010 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by tiltbillings »

Sunrise wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:You can follow the precepts, you can practice meditation without believing in rebirth. That is not an issue, but the Buddha taught rebirth. It is part of his teachings.
Are you getting off topic tiltbillings?
Damdifino.

Basically, it is one opinion versus another. Can Buddhism exist if rebirth is proven to be false? If proving rebirth false were possible, something would exist, but it would be not quite be the Buddha's teachings.

It is, however, a meaningless question in that rebirth cannot be proven either true or false in any sort of objective manner any more than nibbana can be. Basically, this topic, as has been shown at length, is a tail chaser:
Attachments
chasing_tail.jpg
chasing_tail.jpg (52.28 KiB) Viewed 1428 times
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
Sanghamitta
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sanghamitta »

This topic ALWAYS is...The time would be much better spent finding out for ourselves....with appropriate guidance.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Post Reply