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?
Post Reply
User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 3015
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

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

Post by Goofaholix »

rowboat wrote:Yes I know. I was being cheeky. (I used to work for the son of a Scottish boatbuilder who would only refer to himself as a "joiner".)
Sounds much better than being a killjoy-ner.
“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
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

Goofaholix wrote:All you need to is find a reference to the Buddha referring to it as "pointless" or "no benefit" or "utterly impossible", surely one wouldn't diss the genuine open minded practise of the eightfold path of others without that.
If you think that it's beneficial to practice an eightfold path with wrong view then go right ahead. MN 60:
  • Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong speech. Because there actually is the next world, when he is says that 'There is no next world,' he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma. And in that persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, he exalts himself and disparages others. Whatever good habituation he previously had is abandoned, while bad habituation is manifested. And this wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, opposition to the arahants, persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, exaltation of self, & disparagement of others: These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 24309
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

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

Post by retrofuturist »

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.
daverupa wrote:the only missing permutation is "rebirth is false yet must be believed" because this is the only one which is contradictory.
Ironically, though even if it is false, it is beneficial to believe it, as per MN 60, as quoted above.

This is the kind of thing I was hoping to explore in this topic...

Right View and Conventional Truth
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=11603" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

... but alas, it seems difficult to discuss such things on a Theravada forum, without people superimposing Abhidhammic notions over the actual words being said. I guess that's understandable (it is a Theravada forum after all), but unfortunate from the point of view of exploration of this seemingly "contradictory" phenomenon we're discussing here.

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)
User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

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

Post by Lazy_eye »

Ñāṇa wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:All you need to is find a reference to the Buddha referring to it as "pointless" or "no benefit" or "utterly impossible", surely one wouldn't diss the genuine open minded practise of the eightfold path of others without that.
If you think that it's beneficial to practice an eightfold path with wrong view then go right ahead. MN 60:
  • Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong speech. Because there actually is the next world, when he is says that 'There is no next world,' he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma. And in that persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, he exalts himself and disparages others. Whatever good habituation he previously had is abandoned, while bad habituation is manifested. And this wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, opposition to the arahants, persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, exaltation of self, & disparagement of others: These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.
Ñāṇa,

Do you believe with certainty that rebirth is true? If so, at what point in the course of your encounter with the Dhamma did you develop this certainty? What were the decisive factors?
User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 3015
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

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

Post by Goofaholix »

Ñāṇa wrote:If you think that it's beneficial to practice an eightfold path with wrong view then go right ahead. MN 60:
Again you are trotting out non-belief as if it were dis-belief, painting agnosticism as denial. It says quite clearly "one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view", it doesn't say "one who thinks, 'There might be a next world there might not all things are uncertain and I don't pretend to understand it all' is his wrong view".

Such a black and white narrow minded approach to scripture, and to other people's posts, reading that which is not there doesn't bode well for traversing the subtleties of the eightfold path.

It works in the Bible belt, but not here.
“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
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

retrofuturist wrote:Ironically, though even if it is false, it is beneficial to believe it, as per MN 60, as quoted above.
But that isn't what MN 60 is saying.
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

Lazy_eye wrote:Ñāṇa,

Do you believe with certainty that rebirth is true?
As I already tried to indicate, it doesn't matter what I believe. I accept that rebirth is a significant aspect of the received tradition, including the Suttapiṭaka. And this is a Theravāda discussion forum, the Buddhadhamma is more important than my opinions or your opinions or anyone else's opinions.
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

Goofaholix wrote:Such a black and white narrow minded approach to scripture, and to other people's posts, reading that which is not there doesn't bode well for traversing the subtleties of the eightfold path.
You're again misconstruing what I'm trying to indicate. As far as I'm concerned you're completely free to believe whatever you want to believe or remain agnostic or disbelieve. I've already explicitly said this now two or three times on this thread.
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 24309
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

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

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Ñāṇa,
Ñāṇa wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Ironically, though even if it is false, it is beneficial to believe it, as per MN 60, as quoted above.
But that isn't what MN 60 is saying.
I didn't say it was.

It was just a logical IF/THEN statement.

If there's 0% chance of the IF condition (i.e. "rebirth is false") being TRUE on account of the statement in the sutta being correct, then all well and good.

My purpose was only to demonstrate that what Dave perceived as a possible "contradiction", might not necessarily be so.... in other words, that even if there is no rebirth, it is beneficial to believe in rebirth as it is conducive to action which is conducive to liberation (as per MN 60), and being conducive to liberation, it is Right View regardless of its objective truth or falsity.

As I see it, it is the outcome that is important, not the objective truth or falsity of things, and seeing the matter this way allows the whole hornet's nest surrounding "unverified belief" to be neatly sidestepped. As long as I know what is beneficial, and what is not, that is all that matters.

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)
User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

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

Post by Lazy_eye »

Ñāṇa wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Ñāṇa,

Do you believe with certainty that rebirth is true?
As I already tried to indicate, it doesn't matter what I believe. I accept that rebirth is a significant aspect of the received tradition, including the Suttapiṭaka. And this is a Theravāda discussion forum, the Buddhadhamma is more important than my opinions or your opinions or anyone else's opinions.
But, unless I've misunderstood you, the assertion you've made throughout this thread is that it does matter what one believes -- without believing in rebirth, one doesn't have Right View and can't complete the path. Assuming that you believe in rebirth, then, I'm interested to know how you attained conviction with regard to that view.

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.
Which makes me naturally want to know whether you yourself believe in the post-mortem continuum of samsaric becoming, and how you arrived at that belief.

I'd certainly agree that rebirth is significant aspect of the received tradition, including the Suttapitaka.
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

Lazy_eye wrote:But, unless I've misunderstood you, the assertion you've made throughout this thread is that it does matter what one believes -- without believing in rebirth, one doesn't have Right View and can't complete the path.
Well, that's not my assertion, it's explicit and implicit in what is stated in the suttas.
Lazy_eye wrote:Assuming that you believe in rebirth, then, I'm interested to know how you attained conviction with regard to that view.
I think a more useful line of questioning would be: Am I willing to engage aspects of the dhamma that are challenging, or do I habitually gravitate only towards teachings that are within my comfort zone?

Personally, I think it's a good idea to really use the dhamma, which includes reflecting on all aspects of the dhamma including those aspects which don't lend themselves to easy answers. The sources that I rely on include (i) the Pāli Tipiṭaka, (ii) the written & verbal testimony of noble persons, (iii) inferential perception, (iv) direct perception.
Kenshou
Posts: 1030
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

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

Post by Kenshou »

Without injecting my opinion on the matter in specific here, I think "engaging" and "reflecting on" are quite doable without necessarily accepting the thing as truth. Remaining agnostic about rebirth does not necessarily imply ignoring and discounting the idea.
User avatar
Goofaholix
Posts: 3015
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

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

Post by Goofaholix »

Ñāṇa wrote:You're again misconstruing what I'm trying to indicate. As far as I'm concerned you're completely free to believe whatever you want to believe or remain agnostic or disbelieve.
Thanks for the permission.

I take it then you'll be retracting statements that practising the noble eightfold path is "pointless" or "no benefit" or "utterly impossible" unless someone cleaves to such a belief.
Ñāṇa wrote:I've already explicitly said this now two or three times on this thread.
Contradicting yourself doesn't negate the necessity to backup your claims.
“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
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

Goofaholix wrote:Contradicting yourself doesn't negate the necessity to backup your claims.
Your lack of understanding what I've been saying doesn't entail any contradictions on my part.
Nyana
Posts: 2233
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

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

Post by Nyana »

Kenshou wrote:Remaining agnostic about rebirth does not necessarily imply ignoring and discounting the idea.
Yes, of course.
Post Reply