Beginners questions

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible in order to double-check alignment to Theravāda orthodoxy.
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Dhammanando
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Re: Beginners questions

Post by Dhammanando »

Hi Livindesert,
Livindesert wrote:Dhammanando: It's a decision and all decisions belong to the aggregate of formations. In fact everything that's mental but isn't a feeling, perception or cognition, belongs to this aggregate.

So are you saying that choosing rebirth is illusion?
No, I didn't mean to say that.

However, looking at the discussion of this matter in the Milindapañha I'm not now sure that the locution "choosing his rebirth" is really correct. The text speaks of the Bodhisatta performing "eight great investigations" (mahāvilokana), i.e., regarding the time of conception, the continent, the region, the family, the mother, the life-span his mother would have after giving birth, the month he would be born, and the time of his renunciation, but it doesn't say anything about him exercising choice regarding the first five items. It might be that rather than "the Bodhisatta chooses to be reborn in the highest caste, either brahmin or kshatriya" it would be more accurate to say "his merit causes him to be reborn in the highest caste, and while in Tusita he foresees what that caste will be." But I would need to look into this further.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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kc2dpt
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Re: Beginners questions

Post by kc2dpt »

Slartibartfast wrote:I strive to be ego-free and unselfish and believe practice is the way to accomplish this, but if practise has its roots in ego and selfishness can is this possible?
It is impossible that your practice not be rooted in ego. If you were capable of acting without ego then you'd be at the end of the practice, rather than at the beginning.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
lonewolf
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Re: Beginners questions

Post by lonewolf »

Livindesert wrote:O.k. some quick beginners questions. Why is rebirth not eternalism? I mean even without a soul if something can either be reborn or just continues on with no self without being annihilated then is'int that eternalism by default? :shrug:

If life is suffering then why raise a family?

If there is no self then why worry about karma?


thanks : )
Interesting questions. As this is a Buddhist site, and the Buddha himself considered these kinds of questions not connected with the goal of liberation, or at least that's my understanding, there are no answers to these kinds of questions from the Noble one himself. I'll give it a shot with my very limited understanding. Buddhist will give you a Buddhist answer, in essence that there is no answer, it's just an unskillful way to use precious time.

Rebirth is not eternalism, because it ends when one breaks free from ignorance. Something that has a potential to end however unlikely, or difficult, cannot be eternal by definition.

There is no doubt about it Buddha taught that life is suffering, compound is susceptible to suffering, never mind that when one gets enlightened that's not true for the remaider of their life, for the sake of this discussion we can safely assume, life is suffering, a juggernaut, that chews us up, and spits us out lifetime, after lifetime, existence is a nightmare, from which we struggle to wake up. So why have kids? Because most of us are ignorant, and we have kids before we understand anything. It is when we start suffering more that we start wondering what is wrong with that picture? We are ignorant, and blind.

It is said that there is no self in compound, just processes that exist upon previous conditions. Interesting question arises, is unconditioned self? Unskillful question again. Somehow there is a relationship between the impersonal processes and the cause and effect law, so the future effects are tied to, and arise upon the underlying causes.

Even stranger question is if there is no self, what gets enlightened, and what continues into nirvana since there is no self and all five aggregates dissolve upon death?
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andyebarnes67
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Re: Beginners questions

Post by andyebarnes67 »

Livindesert wrote:O.k. some quick beginners questions. Why is rebirth not eternalism? I mean even without a soul if something can either be reborn or just continues on with no self without being annihilated then is'int that eternalism by default? :shrug:

If life is suffering then why raise a family?

If there is no self then why worry about karma?


thanks : )
#1: I like the explanation of 'rebirth' I picked up somewhere as like that of lighting a candle from another candle. Nothing of the former remains in the new candle flame although the conditions inherent in the first are transferred to the second. 'rebirth' I find can be a misleading word. As with so many concepts, our language is deficient on being able to fully represent the concept. In my understanding, there is nothing being 'reborn'. One life sets up conditions which influence another life. If we throw a rock into a pool, there is nothing of the rock in the riplles this creates, but without a rock, no ripples. As nothing is actually reborn, no eternalism.

#2: Another favourite allegory, this time from the Dhamma: If a single turtle swimming in all the oceans of the world only coming up for air once every hundred years, when doing so, puts his head through a single yoke (a hoop used to harness an ox) floating on ocean, this is more likely than 'rebirth' into a human life. It is also explained how to be human is the most desireable of incarnations as it is here that we have the best opportunity to advance furthest along the path.
So, whilst indeed existence is inherently marked by suffering, giving this opportunity to another by having children is surely a very compassionate act.

#3: I love trying to understand the new advances in physics and cosmology, however badly I grasp the detail, but it does add some validity to the way I like to visualize a sea of energy and waves. We are simply distortions in this energy field. not inherently separate from it. so whilst there is no self, the kamma we create does go on to influence, or create the conditions for, future wave distortions. If we are are trying to live with wisdom, we are trying towards harmony in the energy field, thinking, speaking and acting in such a way as to further this harmony. We don't do this for our own sake, since we know that we ultimately do not exist as a separate entity, but for the benefit of the field as a whole. Concern with kamma is a selfless concern.
Metta
:meditate:
Andy Barnes
My comments are by nature, subjective interpretations from my mind. As such, they are never wrong, They are as they are. They are never right, They are as they are.
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