the great rebirth debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:40 am

rowboat wrote:
I'd suggest that both belief and disbelief are potentially problematic in this context. Personally I find that agnosticism works best on questions like this.


To me it seems like a lack of saddha. Would it not be much easier to proceed skillfully and in the right manner when there is a greater faith and confidence in the Buddha and His teachings?


It seems that people think about saddha in different ways. I was suggesting agnosticism as skillful means for those who have a problem with the teachings on rebirth - I don't particularly myself.
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2847
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Spam, wonderful spam

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:42 am

nowheat wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
chownah wrote:In that case why do some people have a problem with rebirth?

What "some people" are you talking about and specifically what "problem"? Hard to respond to this without more information.

:namaste:


It's very clear from reading Buddhist forums and threads like this that some people have a problem with rebirth. Some are very skeptical, others don't see the relevance of this aspect of the teachings. It was just an observation.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 2847
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Spam, wonderful spam

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby rowboat » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:18 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
rowboat wrote:
I'd suggest that both belief and disbelief are potentially problematic in this context. Personally I find that agnosticism works best on questions like this.


To me it seems like a lack of saddha. Would it not be much easier to proceed skillfully and in the right manner when there is a greater faith and confidence in the Buddha and His teachings?


It seems that people think about saddha in different ways. I was suggesting agnosticism as skillful means for those who have a problem with the teachings on rebirth - I don't particularly myself.


Understood.

:anjali:
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5
User avatar
rowboat
 
Posts: 450
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:31 am
Location: Brentwood Bay, British Columbia

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:12 pm

Grain, wealth, silver, gold,
or whatever other belongings you have;
slaves, servants, errand-runners,
& any dependents:
you must go without taking
any of them;
you must leave
all of them
behind.

What you do
with body, speech, or mind:
that is yours;
taking
that you go;
that's
your follower,
like a shadow
that never leaves.

Thus you should do what is fine
as a stash for the next life.
Acts of merit
are the support for beings
in their after-death world.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1784
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:09 pm

I ask questions, but I don't get answers. Is this because when answered, cognitive dissonance arises?

Earlier I asked: "Are you, then, suggesting that the Buddha is teaching that an individual *should* only care about their own suffering?"

and

"Do you, then, disagree that in the lists of 'virtuous behavior' acts that will harm others predominate? The only exception I can think of offhand is 'wrong view' which might seem internal on the surface, but wrong view leads to all the other bad behaviors -- it is wrong view that is their ultimate cause. So, really, the point of wrong view is really that it leads to bad behavior that harms others."

I asked these questions because seeing the Buddha's teaching as being *about rebirth* tends to push one in the direction of thinking in terms of oneself, but I see plenty of indicators that that wasn't the Buddha's aim -- he wasn't intending to set up a teaching that results, even inadvertently, in us thinking about how to make our own rebirths/futures better. We have the example of his life (he thought about how troublesome it would be to teach -- knew how much easier his life would be if he just went off to be a complete recluse -- but he chose to help others). We have the lists of things to refrain from which all affect others. We have his talks about how holding views dogmatically causes argument and divisiveness -- something that affects not just the divider but upsets the divided. And then there's MN 117, in which the Buddha actually *says* in plain words that holding those beliefs results in "acquisitions" which means, as Bhikkhu Bodhi puts it:

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Now we come to right view. This is where it becomes more interesting. We see this distinction, “Right view, I say, is two-fold. There is right view that is affected by taints…” Here the Pali expression is simpler, “sasava” that is literally, “with the asavas”, with these (I don’t like “taints”) “with these influxes” or “corruptions”. “Partaking of merit.” Now we have an expression a little obscure, the translation is “ripening in the acquisitions”: “upadhivepakkà”. What is meant here by “the acquisitions”, that is the word “upadhi”, [which] has several shades of meaning, but the relevant meaning here would be “the five aggregates that constitute personal existence”. And so meritorious right view, ripens in the acquisitions, in that it leads to acquiring a new set of five aggregates in the future...
-- http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html lecture on the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta dated 9/28/2004 clip begins at 20:58


These corrupted right views that "partake of merit" have as their fruit (vepakka) a new set of aggregates.

And then I asked rowboat: "I find it interesting that so many people think the Buddha meant that *his view* comes with effluents, and results in acquisitions. Is that what you, personally, believe? That the Buddha wants you to adopt a view that comes with effluents and results in acquisitions?"

Rather than an answer, rowboat came back with an aside that didn't address my point.

This is my point: the words on the page state the Buddha's thoughts on what these belief systems do for us. Belief systems that involve sacrifice and oblations, and concern with fruit and results, thinking about this world and the next, about folks who claim to have gone there, and so on are corrupted (they come to us *with* corruptions), concern themselves with merit, and result in -- he uses the word that means "the fruit of that planting is..." -- more of the bits that we mistake for self. It results in more of what passes for self. It is a *selfish* point of view.

It is difficult to read that bit of MN 117 and accept, in light of what the traditions say the Buddha is teaching about rebirth, that it could mean what it actually says, what even Bhikkhu Bodhi says it says. Cognitive dissonance arises, and off we go looking for some explanation that can soften those words. And we're human beings, so we'll find them. And we'll take the word of the scholars that the words on the page don't mean what they actually say, they mean something else. I call this "faith and confidence in scholars" not "faith and confidence in the Buddha". I believe what the Buddha says there is very precisely stating exactly what he means -- I put my confidence in the Buddha's skill with words -- in part because I can see it for myself in the world around me: that a concern with one's rebirth (no matter how fancily explained) results in focusing on one's own future (it's selfish) rather than on a far more selfless, compassionate concern for others. The debate I keep having over whether the Buddha's teachings focus just on one's own liberation or on actions that will reduce dukkha for all demonstrates this point.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Hiker » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:04 pm

As part of teaching 7th grade Social Studies, every year we cover Buddhism. I stopped using our textbook years ago since it is too superficial as well as downright inaccurate. Instead I use some short readings, video clips, note-taking, and A LOT of class discussion. It's one of the few lessons where I don't have to worry about losing the kids. I get a lot of class discussion-- even argument.The class really gets into it. When we cover karma, the idea of rebirth naturally comes tagging along.

The lesson goes like this:

After they copy a short definition of karma into their notes (which they can use on the test) I show them this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU followed by a discussion. Invariably at least one kid brings up the point that in real life good deeds often go unrewarded and bad deeds sometimes go unpunished. That's my lead in for my second video, which is the trailer from Cloud Atlas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWnAqFyaQ5s . After a brief discussion I have them copy the definition of rebirth I have prepared, which contrasts it with reincarnation.

At this point the class is just as confused as me.

I believe I read somewhere that the Buddha said something about focusing our attention on such things as being a distraction from the path. I think that he may have had a point.
User avatar
Hiker
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:40 am
Location: Southern California

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:06 pm

nowheat wrote:I ask questions, but I don't get answers. Is this because when answered, cognitive dissonance arises?
Maybe, but there also might be other reasons.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19785
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:11 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Maybe, but there also might be other reasons.

Undoubtedly. But whatever the reason, it comes down to either choosing to not, or being unable to, engage in debate. Which seems odd to me in a topic in which the word "debate" is featured.
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:36 pm

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Maybe, but there also might be other reasons.

Undoubtedly. But whatever the reason, it comes down to either choosing to not, or being unable to, engage in debate. Which seems odd to me in a topic in which the word "debate" is featured.
At this point, I simply choose not to debate this subject any further, and not because I am unable, but rather having indulged in this at length, I find it fruitless. You, for whatever reason, want a debate. Good luck with that; I hope you find someone who is interested.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19785
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:56 pm

tiltbillings wrote:At this point, I simply choose not to debate this subject any further, and not because I am unable, but rather having indulged in this at length, I find it fruitless. You, for whatever reason, want a debate. Good luck with that; I hope you find someone who is interested.

Why say anything at all, tilt, if you have nothing to say? I would think that those who come here, come here to *engage* in debate, or at the very least, discussion.

I am here to ask those who have a different point of view if they can (1) understand what I am saying (not accept, just understand) and (2) show me holes that indicate why what I am suggesting *cannot* be right. The way I see it there are two reasonably coherent, internally consistent ways of looking at what the Buddha was teaching. Theravada has one that has been well-worked out, and I'm not trying to convince anyone who is happy with it to give it up. But there is another way of seeing it, and I believe it has great internal consistency, and coherence. I'm just trying to do what, I believe, is the right thing to do with a new idea: test it.

There may also be people who come here disbelieving in rebirth, or that the Buddha taught rebirth, who might be interested in reading about a different way of seeing it. Some of them may be able to find holes in my logic, too, or they may just want to talk. I don't need, nor am I looking for, a fight. I actually am averse to it -- I dislike upsetting people.
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:51 am

nowheat wrote: I dislike upsetting people.
Then why did you upset me?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19785
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
nowheat wrote: I dislike upsetting people.
Then why did you upset me?

I wasn't aware I did. I'm sorry for it. Anything I can do to make it better?

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:41 pm

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Maybe, but there also might be other reasons.

Undoubtedly. But whatever the reason, it comes down to either choosing to not, or being unable to, engage in debate. Which seems odd to me in a topic in which the word "debate" is featured.

Bringing to a debate the idea of not participating in the debate is a very helpful position. Some things are just not worth getting worked up over. In the Buddha's teachings, we often here of four things, here presented in a psuedo-logical way (meaning I have no training in formal logic):

(1) A is.
(2) B is.
(3) Both A and B are.
(4) Neither A or B are.

Bringing the idea of non-discussion of a topic falls under the 4th. The development of a less dogmatic way of thinking follows a similar pattern. One thinks:

(1) This is true. I am right about this and others are wrong.
(2) Perhaps I was wrong. Actually, this is right.
(3) Well, there's a bit of truth in both of these things.
(4) Actually, neither of them are relevant to me at all.

Of course sometimes 1, 2, or 3 is correct, e.g. a squared plus b squared equals c squared. But when it comes to contentious debates on abstractions, I've found it's best to largely stay out of the firing line. I did find this out through experience and I think others must follow the same path so as usual I'm preaching to the choir here.

:rolleye:
Peace,
James
User avatar
Mkoll
 
Posts: 3617
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:32 pm

Mkoll wrote:But when it comes to contentious debates on abstractions, I've found it's best to largely stay out of the firing line. I did find this out through experience and I think others must follow the same path so as usual I'm preaching to the choir here.

Well stated, and wise. But the point I'm trying to get across is outside of the set you're describing. It's when you have displayed an interest by having chosen to enter into the debate, and then, when there is a question you choose to not answer, or find yourself unable to answer -- for whatever reasons -- you just vanish. The effort that has been required to give you honest engagement in debate, to consider your points, to answer them, and to come up with good questions illustrative of a different way of looking at things is denigrated by not even giving a well-thought-out and heartfelt reason for leaving the debate. Avoiding answering the question by staying in a while but muddying the waters is just about as unkind and unhelpful.

One of the reasons I recommend dhammawheel to those who get interested in Buddhism is because the quality of discussion and debate as well as scholarship around here is higher than just about anywhere else I've encountered.

Note: The use of "you" is not directed at you here, Mkoll, but is generic.

:namaste:
nowheat
 
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:42 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:01 am

In a forum there is never a need to post......just vanishing is just fine......if someone has a problem with this they should see how it is that they are so attached to the debate.
chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2845
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:41 am

nowheat wrote:It's when you have displayed an interest by having chosen to enter into the debate, and then, when there is a question you choose to not answer, or find yourself unable to answer -- for whatever reasons -- you just vanish. The effort that has been required to give you honest engagement in debate, to consider your points, to answer them, and to come up with good questions illustrative of a different way of looking at things is denigrated by not even giving a well-thought-out and heartfelt reason for leaving the debate. Avoiding answering the question by staying in a while but muddying the waters is just about as unkind and unhelpful.:

I agree with this. At that point it's a matter of respect that should be upheld for oneself and for others. Once one has taken steps into something, one shouldn't simply vanish but should make a careful withdrawal.
Peace,
James
User avatar
Mkoll
 
Posts: 3617
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:52 am

All this about debating, I really don't think one's debating ability has anything whatsoever to do with the truth or logicalness of the arguement one is arguing, sometimes the best ideas come from the people least equipped to defend them. Thats why I think its kind of silly to insist on some kind of formal debating format to this thread and others, if someone wants to make their point then disappear, that's their prerogative.

Personally I find the best debaters to be bordering on being bullies, not to mention lousy listeners!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
User avatar
lyndon taylor
 
Posts: 878
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 11:41 pm
Location: Redlands, Southern California, USA

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:26 am

Back to the topic, please.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19785
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:28 am

Preaching that Nirvana is the only possible goal for a practicing Buddhist, is kind of like preaching that winning the Indy 500 or Formula 1 race is the only acceptable goal for a car driver. The Buddha taught a graded path, and that quite likely the path to Nirvana could cover several future lifetimes, to say that practicing for a higher rebirth is folly makes no sense at all, its incredibly more likely that you will have a future rebirth than that you will reach nirvana in this lifetime. Correspondingly it is very possible that you could have a lower rebirth and be reborn in one of the hell realms. The buddha taught to avoid what leads to the lower realms and cultivate what leads to the higher realms, including the complete liberation of attaining Nirvana. If you personally have a problem believing in rebirth, and higher and lower realms, don't try to say you got that idea from the Buddha, because you didn't!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
User avatar
lyndon taylor
 
Posts: 878
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 11:41 pm
Location: Redlands, Southern California, USA

Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Mkoll » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:48 am

lyndon taylor wrote:The Buddha taught a graded path, and that quite likely the path to Nirvana could cover several future lifetimes, to say that practicing for a higher rebirth is folly makes no sense at all, its incredibly more likely that you will have a future rebirth than that you will reach nirvana in this lifetime.

This is a good point. Having the perspective that rebirth is real or even the perspective that rebirth is a real possibility gives one a good impetus to do meritorious things in this life. Given the ignorance inherent in our human condition, I think those who refuse even the possibility of rebirth should perhaps rethink their position.
Peace,
James
User avatar
Mkoll
 
Posts: 3617
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California, USA

PreviousNext

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 7 guests