can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Goofaholix
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Goofaholix »

Lazy_eye wrote: Earlier you wrote:
If you don't believe in the post-mortem continuum of saṃsāric becoming, then there is no reason whatsoever to want to realize nibbāna.
Another example of a black and white dismissive and polarising statement.

Why would anyone here suggest that nibbāna, the cessation of greed, aversion, and delusion, the cooling off of all the causes and conditions giving rise to suffering is something that under any circumstances there is "no reason whatsoever to want"?
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Nyana »

Goofaholix wrote:Why would anyone here suggest that nibbāna, the cessation of greed, aversion, and delusion, the cooling off of all the causes and conditions giving rise to suffering is something that under any circumstances there is "no reason whatsoever to want"?
Nibbāna as taught in the Pāli dhammavinaya is only meaningful in the context of the cessation of becoming (bhavanirodho nibbāna).
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Goofaholix »

Ñāṇa wrote: Nibbāna as taught in the Pāli dhammavinaya is only meaningful in the context of the cessation of becoming (bhavanirodho nibbāna).
Correct, and becoming doesn't just happen at the point of death, becoming is a continuous ongoing process.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Nyana »

Goofaholix wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote: Nibbāna as taught in the Pāli dhammavinaya is only meaningful in the context of the cessation of becoming (bhavanirodho nibbāna).
Correct, and becoming doesn't just happen at the point of death, becoming is a continuous ongoing process.
Indeed.
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by mikenz66 »

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dave,
mikenz66 wrote:A truly agnostic stance would be:
  • "I don't really understand what suttas on such-and-such are getting at and/or whether to take certain passages literally, but I'll press on and see how it turns out."
daverupa wrote:That isn't agnosticism, it's confusion paired with persistence.
Yes, that's how it reads to me too. The agnostic options you describe seem more aligned with agnosticism as I know it.
That may be so. What Dave described sounded like very definite views to me. Is that what agnosticism is, then?
daverupa wrote:Agnosticism comes in weak and strong forms - here, a strong form would be "it is impossible to know whether rebirth is true", while a weak form would be "it is currently not possible for me to know whether rebirth is true".
:anjali:
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Mike,

As the examples read to me, true agnosticism is an expression of the perspective that "I have not seen, so it is not proper for me to take sides through belief or disbelief" - and there can be weak and strong expressions of this, as per Dave's example (e.g. I do not presently know, it is impossible to know)

Whereas the statement "I don't really understand... but I'll press on and see how it turns out" is about very much about taking sides - in this case, deferring to and passively accepting a particular tradition and its views, and placing faith/belief in that tradition demonstrating its truths in due course, despite not having seen.

MN 60 suggests that views that lead to wholesome activities are the way to go, so the view reflected by your statement is likely to yield better results than true agnosticism which is more neutral, and potentially unskilful if it paves that way for skeptical doubt or indecision. After all, the Buddha taught Right View, not No View. To be clear, I'm not speaking in favour of agnosticism though I do respect its intellectual and spiritual integrity.
Mike wrote:What Dave described sounded like very definite views to me. Is that what agnosticism is, then?
What you intend to communicate by "definite views" in this case is unclear. Do you mean "clear" and/or "confident"?

Agnosticism confidently admits that one definitely doesn't know and one is prepared to be quite clear and consciously aware of this. On the other hand, "I don't really understand... but I'll press on and see how it turns out" reads as neither confident nor clear... rather, it is an expression embued with bewilderment, deference and earnest persistence. It assumes that "I do not presently know, but I believe that those I trust do know." Unconfirmed belief is guiding action.

On the other hand, there is nothing timid or deferential about agnosticism. Agnosticism is about being crystal clear and self-honest in the separation of belief and knowledge, and never allowing the two to be regarded as synonymous. Alternatively, if there is timidity and deference with regards to the two, the door is wide open to defering both to the knowledge and beliefs of others, and relinquishing the opportunity to differentiate between them. That's not agnosticism - that's submission... very different.

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: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Goofaholix »

mikenz66 wrote:That may be so. What Dave described sounded like very definite views to me. Is that what agnosticism is, then?
daverupa wrote:Agnosticism comes in weak and strong forms - here, a strong form would be "it is impossible to know whether rebirth is true", while a weak form would be "it is currently not possible for me to know whether rebirth is true".
I agree, I don't find Dave's analysis helpful.

To me the approach is about embracing the uncertainties in life and having the integrity to admit one just doesn't know. This has at least three affects, it leaves one open to new learning, it leaves one nothing to cling to, it means one needs to practise with the possiblity that more than one view could be true and fulfil ones obligations accordingly, all of these are entirely consistant with the Buddhas approach.

Believing one has nailed a true understanding of a particular point of doctrine or practise only invites complacency. Look at the millions of people in traditional cultures whose understanding of Buddhism doesn't go beyond "do good deeds to compensate for your bad deeds and get a better rebirth".
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Son »

hahaha

OK, you cannot develop the pure desire to attain Nibbana if you have the wrong view that "reincarnation" (as described by the Dhamma, not Hinduism or Wicca) is false, because without first realizing the truth of reincarnation Nibbana doesn't mean what it is. If you realize from your direct experience that you're dying and rebirthing every day a billion times, then you must see that this life is merely a passing phase, one that is preceding with death and continues with life. If you can't realize the simple fact of your consciousness reproducing eternally with passing and arising beings living in your every day life, then Nibbana isn't even directly within your grasp. You can't attain it, and that's why the Buddha declared that it is WRONG VIEW. And if you think to yourself, "my reincarnation begins when I was born, when my body happening to form thoughts in my mother's womb, and it will cease when my brain dies," then again you have missed the point, because consciousness has no discernible beginning. Even modern scientists have confirmed, consciousness does not and cannot simply "begin" in the brain, not in humans or in animals. It begins spontaneously in other beings, but we cannot normally see those beings. All this is purported by the Buddha.

The REAL pertinent question is: what are your arguments to these facts?
A seed sleeps in soil.
It's cold and alone, hopeless.
Until it blooms above.
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by mikenz66 »

Goofaholix wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:That may be so. What Dave described sounded like very definite views to me. Is that what agnosticism is, then?
daverupa wrote:Agnosticism comes in weak and strong forms - here, a strong form would be "it is impossible to know whether rebirth is true", while a weak form would be "it is currently not possible for me to know whether rebirth is true".
I agree, I don't find Dave's analysis helpful.

To me the approach is about embracing the uncertainties in life and having the integrity to admit one just doesn't know. This has at least three affects, it leaves one open to new learning, it leaves one nothing to cling to, it means one needs to practise with the possiblity that more than one view could be true and fulfil ones obligations accordingly, all of these are entirely consistant with the Buddhas approach.

Believing one has nailed a true understanding of a particular point of doctrine or practise only invites complacency. Look at the millions of people in traditional cultures whose understanding of Buddhism doesn't go beyond "do good deeds to compensate for your bad deeds and get a better rebirth".
Yes, I agree.

I'm not sure where Retro and Dave are getting "confusion" and "taking sides" from what I said. Perhaps I didn't express myself well.To me confusion would be arguing for a definite view, positive or negative, based on incomplete investigation.

I like your expression:
Goofaholix wrote:To me the approach is about embracing the uncertainties in life and having the integrity to admit one just doesn't know.



:anjali:
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Mike,
mikenz66 wrote:To me confusion would be arguing for a definite view, positive or negative, based on incomplete investigation.
Well if you insist on redefining the English language to suit your proclivities, you may well continue to be confused as to how or why people interpret your statements as they do.
Collins English Dictionary wrote:confusion [kənˈfjuːʒən]
n
1. the act of confusing or the state of being confused
2. disorder; jumble
3. bewilderment; perplexity
4. lack of clarity; indistinctness
5. embarrassment; abashment
mikenz66 wrote:Perhaps I didn't express myself well.
What you're defining as "confusion" might be better called "unjustified confidence".

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: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by mikenz66 »

retrofuturist wrote: Well if you insist on redefining the English language to suit your proclivities, you may well continue to be confused as to how or why people interpret your statements as they do.
Whatever. English in a very flexible language...
retrofuturist wrote: What you're defining as "confusion" might be better called "unjustified confidence".
Fine. I see lot of unjustified confidence in particular views, then.
which would be:
the state of being confused
:anjali:
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by santa100 »

Goofaholix wrote:
"Look at the millions of people in traditional cultures whose understanding of Buddhism doesn't go beyond "do good deeds to compensate for your bad deeds and get a better rebirth"

I wouldn't look at people in traditional cultures that way. I respect them for focusing more on the practice side instead of mere knowledge and theory. Now "Assumming" there're more people in modern cultures whose understanding of Buddhism DO go beyond "do good deeds to compensate for bad deeds and get a better rebirth", out of those who DO, how many actually "fulfill" that statement? Any 9-year old kid can say such statement, but a 90-year old person would have a tough time to actually "carried out" such thing. By the way, how could you be so sure that people of traditional cultures will not reach enlightenment before you do?
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by Goofaholix »

santa100 wrote:I respect them for focusing more on the practice side instead of mere knowledge and theory.
Agreed, threads like this are an example of where the latter gets you.
santa100 wrote:By the way, how could you be so sure that people of traditional cultures will not reach enlightenment before you do?
If you re-read above you'll see my main point is to embrace uncertainty, so i don't claim to be sure about anything. However I do apply time in effort in areas that I have found bear fruit and I'm glad trying to obtain a better rebirth was not the path Gautama Siddhartha chose to follow.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by vinasp »

Hi everyone,

Many of the passages quoted, for example MN 117 and MN 60, refer to
"this world" and the "next world".

These passages are ambiguous and need not be understood in a context of
rebirth (understood in a literal way).

It is clear that "loka" (world) is often used with the meaning - a state
of mind.

The state of mind which is enjoyment of sense-pleasures is called "this world",
corresponding to kama-dhatu, the sense-pleasure element.

The non-returner has broken the five lower fetters, which include kama-raga,
sense-pleasure desire. This is why he is said to arise spontaneously in a
higher world, called the "pure abodes".

Here is a literal translation of a passage from MN 34:

" ... so are those monks who, through eliminating the five fetters of
the worldly condition, are of spontaneous uprising, achieving nibbana
there without return from that world. ..." [ D.W.Evans, 1992.]

Spontaneous generation is described in MN 12.33 quote:

"What is spontaneous generation? There are gods and denizens of hell and certain human beings and some beings in the lower worlds; this is called spontaneous generation."

So, correctly understood, "this world" and the "next world" certainly
are true, for particular individuals at particular times, but need not be
understood in a context of literal rebirth.

The arahant is, of course, beyond both "this world" and the "next world".

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: can i achieve nirvana when i don't believe in Reincarnation

Post by santa100 »

Goofaholix wrote:
"However I do apply time in effort in areas that I have found bear fruit and I'm glad trying to obtain a better rebirth was not the path Gautama Siddhartha chose to follow."

That's not the path our great Buddha followed but it's one of the paths the Buddha offered to us mere mortals. People have different potentials, interests, effort levels, committment levels, etc..so the Buddha offered different paths that are appropriate to the individual: happiness in the here and now, OR a more fortunate future rebirth, OR final total liberation. From this, it's illogical to hold the view that rebirth is false. If that was true, then 1 out of the 3 paths the Buddha taught us would be false! thus the Buddha gave false teaching!! which we all know that cannot be the case. Anyway, regardless of your position on the issue, there're practical metrics that we should all pay attention to: is what we're practicing helps lessening our greed, anger, and delusion? are we gaining more concentration for meditation? are we becoming more compassionate toward others?
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