What am I missing? Rebirth.

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What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby tolove » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:28 pm

The foundation for Buddhism is in the concept of impermanence. We must not cling to the doctrine of the self. Which is difficult at first, because clearly we exist. But it is something that slowly makes sense when we examine what we are. When we break ourselves down into the five aggregates, we can see that the "I" is not there. "I" am a composition of very many things, none of which is "me."

This is all clear to me. This feels complete.

Now, where's room for rebirth? Where is this hidden self? What is the reasoning for this supernatural permanence that belongs to "me?"

(If the only reasoning for a supernatural "self" is that you've personally seen it through a first hand experience, then that is fine. Please say so, and I'll move on to my next question. I don't want to post my next questions yet, since they might change depending on how this part is answered. I feel as if I'm missing something here.)

Thank you for your time!
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby culaavuso » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:36 pm

There is no need for a hidden self or a supernatural permanence. You can think of how the body you have today has replaced all of its material with food eaten over the years, but we still call it the "same" body conventionally even though there's really nothing the same about it. Likewise, a wave travels through the ocean and we might call it the "same" wave but the water that was in the wave at the start is not the same volume of water that's in the wave the entire way. There is no "thing" that is the wave or that is the body, it's a continually changing process that we designate as a "thing" because it's a helpful label for discussing and predicting experiences in the world. Rebirth likewise doesn't require a hidden or eternal self to be reborn, it only requires that a process of continual change continues to continually change. You can think of it using the notion of a fire that has died down to embers and is then reignited when some additional fuel is added and the someone blows on the coals. The fire is "reborn" because the same process has started anew, in the same place, using some of the previous fuel and heat from the previous burning. However, this fire is also entirely new. There is no eternal hidden self behind the fire, it's simply the process of burning doing what the process of burning does.

Some useful reading about rebirth can be found on accesstoinsight:
Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi
The Truth of Rebirth (and Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice) by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby SarathW » Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:30 pm

There is no rebirth. We just change from Caterpillar to Butterfly.
:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQOFh1exp3A
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby chownah » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:19 am

DNA and it's associated machinery is what gets reborn.
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby SarathW » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:50 am

chownah wrote:DNA and it's associated machinery is what gets reborn.
chownah

I don't think so!
:thinking:
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:26 am

SarathW wrote:There is no rebirth. We just change from Caterpillar to Butterfly.
:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQOFh1exp3A


Hello SarathW,

Are you positing a continuing self/individual?

With metta,
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:26 am

tolove wrote:Now, where's room for rebirth? Where is this hidden self? What is the reasoning for this supernatural permanence that belongs to "me"?


There is no self, hiding or in plain sight.
There is no permanence. Al phenomena are anicca, Dukkha and anatta except nibbana. Nibbana, while not anicca and Dukkha, is anatta.
Kind regards,
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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby SarathW » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:09 am

cooran wrote:
SarathW wrote:There is no rebirth. We just change from Caterpillar to Butterfly.
:)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQOFh1exp3A


Hello SarathW,

Are you positing a continuing self/individual?

With metta,
Chris


No.
There is an ignorant Citta continuing.
:)
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:14 am

tolove wrote:Now, where's room for rebirth? Where is this hidden self? What is the reasoning for this supernatural permanence that belongs to "me?"


The suttas don't describe a permanent self or soul that transmigrates, rather it's the dependent arising of consciousness in different realms, according to kamma.

It's analogous to everyday life - the "you" of tomorrow will not be the same as the "you" of today, though it will arise in dependence on the you of today.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby binocular » Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:22 am

tolove wrote:Now, where's room for rebirth? Where is this hidden self? What is the reasoning for this supernatural permanence that belongs to "me?"

Congratulations, you've arrived at one of the most heated topics of religion and philosophy altogether!
Wearing a hazmat suit and a gift basket full of goodies to give away is advisable. Proceed at your own risk.
:thumbsup:
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby tolove » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:11 pm

binocular wrote:
tolove wrote:Now, where's room for rebirth? Where is this hidden self? What is the reasoning for this supernatural permanence that belongs to "me?"

Congratulations, you've arrived at one of the most heated topics of religion and philosophy altogether!
Wearing a hazmat suit and a gift basket full of goodies to give away is advisable. Proceed at your own risk.
:thumbsup:


I've but this subject on hold for a long time now, but the more I read, the more important rebirth becomes. So many of the passages are centralized around the idea of rebirth.

culaavuso wrote:There is no need for a hidden self or a supernatural permanence. You can think of how the body you have today has replaced all of its material with food eaten over the years, but we still call it the "same" body conventionally even though there's really nothing the same about it. Likewise, a wave travels through the ocean and we might call it the "same" wave but the water that was in the wave at the start is not the same volume of water that's in the wave the entire way. There is no "thing" that is the wave or that is the body, it's a continually changing process that we designate as a "thing" because it's a helpful label for discussing and predicting experiences in the world. Rebirth likewise doesn't require a hidden or eternal self to be reborn, it only requires that a process of continual change continues to continually change. You can think of it using the notion of a fire that has died down to embers and is then reignited when some additional fuel is added and the someone blows on the coals. The fire is "reborn" because the same process has started anew, in the same place, using some of the previous fuel and heat from the previous burning. However, this fire is also entirely new. There is no eternal hidden self behind the fire, it's simply the process of burning doing what the process of burning does.

Some useful reading about rebirth can be found on accesstoinsight:
Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi
The Truth of Rebirth (and Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice) by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Your reply is the most in depth, and touches on something I've heard before. The idea that desire, thirst, craving, etc is what attaches us to the cycle of samsara. However, this idea breaks down for me with more thought for me. I can let go the idea that there is some unknown medium in which this wave travels. What I can't let go, however, is that life is "special."

What is it that makes a human better than a monkey? What is it that makes a monkey better than a squirrel? What is it that makes a squirrel better than an ant? What is it that makes an ant better than a bacteria? What is it that makes a bacteria better than a crystal? What is it that makes a crystal better than random particles?

Where does this concept of life and specialness stop? Why am I not allowed rebirth into an amethyst? Why am I not allowed rebirth into a flash of lightning? Why am I not allowed rebirth into my own corpse, where I sit, decay, and transform normally with the laws of nature? Why must this idea of literal rebirth exist, where my "craving" is transmitted to another life?

Did the Buddha call for the enlightenment of all beings? What would such a call even mean? What is a being?
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:18 pm

tolove wrote:I can let go the idea that there is some unknown medium in which this wave travels. What I can't let go, however, is that life is "special."

What is it that makes a human better than a monkey?...


This question assumes something does. But there's no 'better' that isn't tied to some contextual evaluation, thus no objective 'better' obtains among beings in this way.

This answer might need to be massaged if metaphysical beings are brought into consideration, but there appears to me to be no need for such hypotheses.

Where does this concept of life and specialness stop?


Where conceptualization stops.

Did the Buddha call for the enlightenment of all beings?


Nope. He simply described what it took for awakening to occur, and offered it.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby binocular » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:32 pm

tolove wrote:The idea that desire, thirst, craving, etc is what attaches us to the cycle of samsara.

From what I understood so far, I think Thanissaro Bhikkhu would say that the above is backwards.
That it is backwards to think there is a self, and this self then has craving that make this self take birth over and over again. (On principle, this is more akin to the general Hindu idea of how reincarnation takes place.) But that instead, there is karma, and from karma then arises a particular sense of self.

What I can't let go, however, is that life is "special."

Why should you let go of that idea?

What is it that makes a human better than a monkey? What is it that makes a monkey better than a squirrel? What is it that makes a squirrel better than an ant? What is it that makes an ant better than a bacteria? What is it that makes a bacteria better than a crystal? What is it that makes a crystal better than random particles?

Where does this concept of life and specialness stop?

As a rule of thumb, it's good to consider that if one gets stuck on a problem, it may help to reconceptualize it, restate it in such a way that the problem becomes solvable.
Can you think of any other way to formulate what you find to be a problem with specialness?

Here's one: We have a sense of right and wrong, a sense of what is wholesome and what isn't, a sense of what could lead to the end of suffering and what couldn't. It seems like a crime to go against that sense. Right now, one is a human, or in a human body, or however exactly this may be, but it remains that it is demoralizing to waste time.

Why am I not allowed rebirth into an amethyst? Why am I not allowed rebirth into a flash of lightning? Why am I not allowed rebirth into my own corpse, where I sit, decay, and transform normally with the laws of nature?

Who says you aren't allowed that?

Why must this idea of literal rebirth exist, where my "craving" is transmitted to another life?

Ask the Hindus who believe in serial reincarnation across species?

Did the Buddha call for the enlightenment of all beings?

You mean a call like "Get enlightend, or burn in hell for all eternity!" --?
:D
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby tolove » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:37 pm

daverupa wrote:This question assumes something does. But there's no 'better' that isn't tied to some contextual evaluation, thus no objective 'better' obtains among beings in this way.


I am very unfamiliar with particular passages, but I do remember rebirth being discussed in depth by the Buddha. Such as being born ugly, or as a "lesser" life as karmic punishment. I can recall nothing that says it's possible to be reborn as a lifeless object. Is there something?

daverupa wrote: Nope. He simply described what it took for awakening to occur, and offered it.


Does he tell us why to strive for enlightenment? If negative emotions such as pain and longing do not contain an inherent evil, then why is it suggested that we free ourselves from them?



binocular wrote: But that instead, there is karma, and from karma then arises a particular sense of self.


This makes more sense this way, but still confuses me. If we allow rebirth into inanimate objects, then, again, where is this personal karma that is attached to ourselves? A droplet of water, merges into two. Karma on a personal level makes no sense to me. Karma on a whole makes no sense either. How can one individual free himself if we are all made from the same components?

binocular wrote:Why should you let go of that idea?


I mean to say, I can't accept that life is "better" than non life. However, you will probably reply with the same statement!

binocular wrote: Who says you aren't allowed that?

Who says I am allowed rebirth into inanimate objects? I thought rebirth was described by the Buddha strictly from life to another life.

binocular wrote: Ask the Hindus who believe in serial reincarnation across species?


Isn't cross species rebirth a part of Theravada as well?

binocular wrote:You mean a call like "Get enlightend, or burn in hell for all eternity!" --?


Yes! Not quite like that, but as in: "You are trapped, and you should try to free yourself. Because being trapped is bad."
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby Babadhari » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:59 pm

Craving is like the rope that binds to the strong post or pillar.
The five clinging-aggregates are like the post or pillar.
The wrong view of identity, craving, and ignorance cover the uneducated, ordinary person’s eye of wisdom.
Because of this blindness,the uneducated, ordinary person is unable to see things according to reality (yatha·bhuta):
unable to see ultimate truth: ultimate materiality and ultimate mentality.
Being in that way unable to see things according toreality, the uneducated, ordinary person is unable to see that they are
impermanent (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and non-self (an·atta).
This ignorance, and its associated craving is why she or he commits unwholesome
and wholesome actions through body, speech and mind. Such action is called kamma.
[b]So long as there is ignorance and craving, the kammic potency of one of those actions will mature at her or his death,
to produce the rebirth-linking consciousness (pa;isandhi·citta) of her or his
next life.
When there is a rebirth-linking consciousness again, there will
also be disease again, old age again, and death again[/b], and there will also
be sorrow again, lamentation again, pain again, displeasure again, and
despair again. That way the uneducated, ordinary person is not released
from suffering, from the round of rebirth
.94

from page 36 of the 'Workings of Kamma' by the Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:03 pm

tolove wrote:
daverupa wrote:This question assumes something does. But there's no 'better' that isn't tied to some contextual evaluation, thus no objective 'better' obtains among beings in this way.


I am very unfamiliar with particular passages, but I do remember rebirth being discussed in depth by the Buddha. Such as being born ugly, or as a "lesser" life as karmic punishment.


It isn't punishment, however. If you touch a hot stove, the burn isn't punishment, it's simply the result.

There are lesser and greater orders of beings, on the traditional view, such that heavenly states are (almost tautologically) better than hellish ones since this is due to the contacts which occur in those cases, and pleasure is better than pain, generally.

But my comment was that, with sole reference to the various types of living beings we can observe, there's no way to assess one or another as better or not without also talking about the environment within which that life abides. Comparing a chickadee and a whale, one is only better than another e.g. depending on whether we're a mile underwater or not, and so on.

So if we take the context as samsara, then human life is best due to access to the Dhamma (or we can take a certain phenomenology as our context, whereupon the current life is best because it actually obtains), but there should always be a "due to/because" attached to language of "better/worse". It's the only way to assess these sorts of claims.

Does he tell us why to strive for enlightenment? If negative emotions such as pain and longing do not contain an inherent evil, then why is it suggested that we free ourselves from them?


Inherent evil? Pain sucks, sickness and aging suck, the fact that 'nothing lasts' sucks... there doesn't have to be an inherent evil for all of that to be worth setting down and not taking up again.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:23 pm

I've never heard of rebirth into lifeless objects that are without consciousness. I don't know where you heard that but I'd like to see a reference. Consciousness arises in dependence upon paticcasamuppada which includes ignorance and craving.

:anjali:
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James
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby tolove » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:53 pm

daverupa wrote:It isn't punishment, however. If you touch a hot stove, the burn isn't punishment, it's simply the result...


This makes a lot more sense.

daverupa wrote:Inherent evil? Pain sucks, sickness and aging suck, the fact that 'nothing lasts' sucks... there doesn't have to be an inherent evil for all of that to be worth setting down and not taking up again.


I have difficulty seeing why to strive for enlightenment.
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby Babadhari » Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:11 pm

tolove wrote:

I have difficulty seeing why to strive for enlightenment.


hi tolove,

if you aknowledge life as suffering then you will strive for nibbana.

:namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: What am I missing? Rebirth.

Postby binocular » Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:45 pm

tolove wrote:Does he tell us why to strive for enlightenment? If negative emotions such as pain and longing do not contain an inherent evil, then why is it suggested that we free ourselves from them?

Heh. Good questions.

If we allow rebirth into inanimate objects, then, again, where is this personal karma that is attached to ourselves?

You said
Why am I not allowed rebirth into an amethyst? Why am I not allowed rebirth into a flash of lightning? Why am I not allowed rebirth into my own corpse, where I sit, decay, and transform normally with the laws of nature?

I asked "Who says you aren't allowed that?" to clarify where exactly it is that you get your ideas about rebirth from. I didn't do so to suggest there is rebirth into rocks and such (although I think that in Hinduism, even such things are deemed possible).

Bottomline, I want to emphasize that by not knowing the sources for one's ideas, one can get all worked up - unnecessarily. Which is why it is good to know one's sources so that one can always refer to them when in doubt. Maybe one misremembered things the first time around, so it's good to be able to know where to read again.

A droplet of water, merges into two. Karma on a personal level makes no sense to me. Karma on a whole makes no sense either. How can one individual free himself if we are all made from the same components?

Noted.

Isn't cross species rebirth a part of Theravada as well?

Depends whom you ask, I guess.

tolove wrote:I have difficulty seeing why to strive for enlightenment.

Good point. It seems that many people who are into Buddhism take it for granted that we do or should strive for enlightenment.
Of course, if one doesn't know what enlightenment is, or has no particular idea what enlightenment could be - then the desire to attain it won't be there either. One cannot desire that which one doesn't know or doesn't have any particular idea about.
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