the great rebirth debate

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

Post by tiltbillings »

Sanghamitta wrote:This topic ALWAYS is...The time would be much better spent finding out for ourselves....with appropriate guidance.
No argument from me on that.
>> 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
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Hanzze
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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 7:12 pm, edited 2 times 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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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Spiny O'Norman »

Sanghamitta wrote:.... Not start with a belief system which defines whether someone is a true believer or not.
Good point. And it seems to me that the Buddhist path is a process of discovery, not a taking on of beliefs.

Spiny
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Hanzze
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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 7:13 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 _()_
Sunrise
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sunrise »

tiltbillings wrote:
Basically, it is one opinion versus another.
No one said otherwise :shrug:
tiltbillings wrote: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.
Good luck chasing your own tail

tiltbillings wrote: rebirth cannot be proven either true or false ...
:focus:
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Lazy_eye
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Lazy_eye »

Sunrise wrote: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.
Please show me where in this thread i have argued that "you cannot follow Buddhism without believing in [rebirth]".
Lazy_Eye wrote:we start with some degree of conviction in the Buddha as a teacher, accept his recommendations provisionally as one would the advice of a good doctor, and see if the practice helps. As we practice, we develop stronger trust in the Buddha as a teacher; etc etc. It's a process.
Lazy_Eye wrote:What I do think is important is to understand how rebirth works within the Buddha's teaching, why is is important and could even be considered central.
If you're taking my words to mean that I have a gung-ho conviction in the truth of rebirth and insist that you believe in it too, you're seeing something that isn't there.
Sunrise wrote:You can follow a moral conduct whether you believe in rebirth or not.
Sure you can! Have I disputed this? To quote myself again (jeez, I feel like Ray Davies), "as essential as Right View may be, the teachings may not take into account the possibility of secularized ethical systems (humanism, environmentalism, unitarianism, etc) which have a similar function."

But that isn't the question. The question is whether, in the religion/philosophy known as Buddhism, rebirth and kamma are important.
Sunrise wrote: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?
Well, the Buddha is on record as saying, basically, that there is no factor more crucial than Right View. You can find it in the Anguttara Nikaya (1:16):
Bhikkhus, to a person with right view his bodily, verbal and mental actions[ would be guided according to the standard of attainment of his view, so too his intentions, wishes, aspirations and determinations. They would be suitable, agreeable, and conducive to pleasantness. What is the reason? It is because of his right view. Bhikkhus, just as a sugar cane seed, a paddy seed or a grape vine seed embedded in wet soil would draw the essence in the soil and water and all that essence would be unmixed and sweet. In the same manner the bodily, verbal, mental actions, intentions, wishes, aspirations and determinations of a person with right view, would be guided according to the standard of attainment of his view and they would be suitable, agreeable and conducive to pleasantness.
Bhikkhus, to a person with wrong view his bodily, verbal and mental actions would be guided according to the standard of attainment of his view, so too his intentions, wishes, aspirations and determinations. They would be unsuitable, disagreeable, and conducive to unpleasantness. What is the reason? It is because of his wrong view. Bhikkhus, just as a nimba seed, a kosataki seed or a bitter goad seed [1] embedded in wet soil would draw the essence in the soil and water and all that essence would be bitter. In the same manner the bodily, verbal, mental actions, intentions, wishes, aspirations and determinations of a person with wrong view, would be guided according to the standard of attainment of his view and they would be unsuitable, disagreeable and conducive to unpleasantness.
And cutting right to the chase...
Bhikkhus, I do not know of anything so seriously bad as wrong view. Of bad things, the worst is wrong view.
Now, you will argue that the above only has to do with "morality and merit" and not with liberation. Your thesis that rebirth and kamma are inessential depends on severing the "mundane" teachings (and perhaps anything else you don't like) from the rest of the dhamma.
Sunrise wrote:Lazy, please believe in what you like...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?
Why do you keep mentioning "my beliefs"? Are you sure you know what my beliefs are? We are having a discussion, you are putting forward a position, and I am replying to that position. That's all. No need to personalize it.
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".
It is more like Christians saying "the doctrine of Christ's resurrection is important to Christianity" or Marxists saying "the idea of the class struggle is important to Marxism". In both cases, it may be possible to call oneself a Christian or a Marxist, but people will naturally raise some objections.
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?
No, not at all. Because my behavior is informed by a combination of secular humanism, the stuff I was taught in church as a kid, various personal ideas of what is and isn't good, and, more recently, the dhamma. Many if not most of us who encounter Buddhism later in life have some sort of pre-existing value system.

But if we are looking at Buddhist ethics in and of itself, then yes rebirth and kamma are important and some may be at a loss for how to function morally if these are removed.
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beeblebrox
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by beeblebrox »

Sunrise wrote:
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.
I actually think that the rebirths (or so-called) and kamma are both integral parts of Buddhism, but as long as they're understood correctly. Understanding these terms is what makes a practice useful.

They also enable one to figure out what the path is. I actually don't think you have any disagreement on this, but just wanted to make sure.
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Hanzze
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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 7:13 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 _()_
Sunrise
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sunrise »

Lazy_eye wrote: Please show me where in this thread i have argued that "you cannot follow Buddhism without believing in [rebirth]".
You have spent the last few days in the forum stressing on the fact that the literal rebirth is absolutely important and central to Buddhism. Is it impossible for someone to think that they cannot follow Dhamma when they miss out on this all-important central buddhist teaching?
What I do think is important is to understand how rebirth works within the Buddha's teaching, why is is important and could even be considered central
It seems fairly clear that the dhamma rests on kammic rebirth as a given
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.

Lazy_Eye wrote: If you're taking my words to mean that I have a gung-ho conviction in the truth of rebirth and insist that you believe in it too, you're seeing something that isn't there.
I think it's pretty obvious that you believe in rebirth (without any conviction of it). Do you deny it? If yes, well I will stand corrected. Either way is fine with me :smile:

Lazy_Eye wrote:
Sunrise wrote:You can follow a moral conduct whether you believe in rebirth or not.
Sure you can! Have I disputed this?
Yes, you have
Lazy_Eye wrote:yes rebirth and kamma are important and some may be at a loss for how to function morally if these are removed
Lazy_Eye wrote:the scaffolding has to be there before you kick it away
Lazy_Eye wrote: And cutting right to the chase...
wow, I'm impressed by the way you "cut right to the chase". :jedi: So allow me to question you further.

Do you think rebirth is part of the super-mundane/noble right view?
If yes, then basically one cannot reach complete cessation if he doesn't believe in it. Is that what you are saying? But then again you also deny that you think it is useless to practice dhamma without believing in it yeah?

I think rebirth belief is part of the mundane right view for morality. You can take it up or let it be. It has nothing to do with cessation.
Lazy_Eye wrote:Why do you keep mentioning "my beliefs"?
I don't know how else to refer to your beliefs rather than "your beliefs" :jumping:
Lazy_Eye wrote: Are you sure you know what my beliefs are?
It's somewhat obvious from where I am standing that you actually believe in rebirth although you say you are agnostic. :jumping:
Lazy_Eye wrote: We are having a discussion, you are putting forward a position, and I am replying to that position. That's all. No need to personalize it.
Somebody's getting defensive :jumping:
Lazy_Eye wrote:
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?
No, not at all.
So you basically don't need rebirth to conduct morally? But then again you also think this:
Lazy_Eye wrote:But if we are looking at Buddhist ethics in and of itself, then yes rebirth and kamma are important and some may be at a loss for how to function morally if these are removed.
:jumping:
Last edited by Sunrise on Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cooran
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by cooran »

Hello all,

Further teaching by Bhikkhu Bodhi on Rebirth:

http://www.theravada.ca/readings/56-reb ... bodhi.html" 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 ---
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Lazy_eye
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Lazy_eye »

beeblebrox wrote: I actually think that the rebirths (or so-called) and kamma are both integral parts of Buddhism, but as long as they're understood correctly. Understanding these terms is what makes a practice useful.

They also enable one to figure out what the path is. I actually don't think you have any disagreement on this, but just wanted to make sure.
Yeah I'd agree with you there, Beeblebrox... when we consider that the Buddha used many terms that were also used by other religions, but used them in often radically different ways, understanding what he meant could become critical. Just as one example, "karma" has become a fairly popular term in the West, but often the usage differs from the Buddhist understanding.

This essay by Y. Karunadasa is worth a read, IMHO.

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

Post by Sunrise »

beeblebrox wrote:
I actually think that the rebirths (or so-called) and kamma are both integral parts of Buddhism
Literal rebirth is not an integral part of the four noble truths IMO. The Buddha taught suffering and the cessation. It can very well be applied to the moment
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beeblebrox
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by beeblebrox »

Sunrise wrote:Literal rebirth is not an integral part of the four noble truths IMO. The Buddha taught suffering and the cessation. It can very well be applied to the moment
You have no argument from me on that one. It's the word "rebirth" (and the things that are associated with it) that are problematic... if not for these problems, it plays a part in Buddhism.

Likewise, as Lazy Eye mentioned, it would be unfortunate if we decided to abandon the kamma part, just because we're only familiar with the popularized version of "karma." (A misconception which exists even in the Buddhist countries.)
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Goedert
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Goedert »

rybak303 wrote:Is Buddhism dependent on the doctrine of reincarnation? If reincarnation does not exist then does that mean that the Buddha Guatama was mistaken and his teachings are fundamentally flawed? Are there Buddhists who don't believe in reincarnation?
Can Christianity exist with out God? If God do not exist or is not the almight one, Jesus Christ was mistaken and his teachings are fundamentally flawed? Are there Christians who don't believe in God?

Friend ryabak303,

The Buddha stated that people need to have free inquerity. There is no need to BELIEVE. I suggest you to read the kamala sutta to understand what the Buddha mean with free inquerity.

"Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas" (AN 3.65), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, June 8, 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.
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beeblebrox
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by beeblebrox »

Goedert wrote:Can Christianity exist with out God? If God do not exist or is not the almight one, Jesus Christ was mistaken and his teachings are fundamentally flawed? Are there Christians who don't believe in God?
Actually, there are such people as Christian atheists. :jawdrop: Check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism.
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