the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:19 pm

One more thing, Craig. The "I" is being "reborn" multiple times throughout the day as perception arises and falls colored by ignorance, and it gets sick and then dies before it is reborn again?

What about the streamwinner, reborn at max only seven times after that level of attainment? So, his or her "I" gets reborn seven times, then what?
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
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby meindzai » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:32 pm

clw_uk wrote:Ive also not seen one case made for why one must include rebirth after death in the 4nt's in order to understand them, why birth of "I" is not an accurate relfection of them and why if one does not take up the view of being born as a .... after death then there cannot be nibbana


The problem is that in order to justify the rebirthless new-age version you have to jump through such elaborate semantic hoops, rather than just look at what the text says. The Buddha first explains that birth (defined in gory detail in more than one sutta as the ghandarva entering the womb) is suffering, then goes on to explain how to end birth. (If I was already born, who cares, unless he's telling me how to end a future birth?)

In other suttas he talks about his own past lives (where he met Dipankara for example), future lives (Kukkuravatika Sutta, where one will be reborn as a dog and the other as an ox, if they continue with their views), people having been such and such in prior lives, and using the phrase upon the dissolution of the body after death. Do you really think you are revealing anything interesting by explaining away each one of these things with a convoluted system of selective readings? What's the point? What does it prove?

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby vinasp » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:15 pm

Hi everyone,

Several posters have quoted MN 36 in support of an opinion that the Buddha actually knew that rebirth was a fact. I think they should take a closer look at the text. The sequence is :

MN 36.38 "When my concentrated mind was thus purified ... I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives ..."

MN 36.39 "This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night ..."

MN 36.40 "When my concentrated mind was thus purified ... I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings ... Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing ... according to their actions".

MN 36.41 "This was the second true knowledge attained by me in the middle watch of the night ..."

MN 36.42 "When my concentrated mind was thus purified ... I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints (asavas). I directly knew as it actually is :"This is suffering ... ; This is the origin of suffering ; This is the cessation of
suffering ; This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering ; These are the taints ; This is the origin of the taints ; This is the cessation of the taints ; This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints".

MN 36.43 "When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance ..."

MN 36.44 "This was the third true knowledge attained by me in the last watch of the night".

The section 36.42 is describing the entire noble eightfold path, when Gotama sees this he becomes a noble one. Prior to this he is still a puthujjana.

Section 36.43 describes the actual enlightenment, Gotama is now an arahant. Note the destruction of the asava of ignorance.

Now, what credibility do the first and second knowledges have ? Gotama was still a worldling at the time of those "attainments". Also, even the eye of dhamma which is attained by a stream-winner is regarded as higher than the divine eye.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:38 pm

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote: Now, what credibility do the first and second knowledges have ? Gotama was still a worldling at the time of those "attainments". Also, even the eye of dhamma which is attained by a stream-winner is regarded as higher than the divine eye.

Recollection of past lives, along with the various psychic powers are not ariyan knowledges and not claimed to be unique to the Buddha's teaching.

Mike
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:08 am

clw_uk wrote:all im saying is that I dont see such views in the Buddhas own teachings


Which is in itself a speculative view. You don't know the Dhamma for yourself, and neither do I, so we can speculate to the cows come home about all kinds of theories or modern interpretations, but it won't do us any good.

Please don't make the easy mistake of taking the map to be the hidden treasure itself. Realisation wont happen by debating the intricacies of the map. Go out and explore the topography of the land it maps. That's the only way to be sure.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:49 am

BlackBird wrote:so we can speculate to the cows come home about all kinds of theories or modern interpretations, but it won't do us any good.

Sure it will. Okay, maybe it won't do any good for those whose views are entrenched, but for the observers out there to recognize that there is a debate ongoing over what the Buddha taught is a good thing.

Each side believes they are defending the dhamma the Buddha taught. Would you have one set of view-holders -- those with your prefered view, maybe? -- just stop offering their understanding on a public board? Each of us feels that to reach enlightenment, and to help others reach enlightenment, we must understand what the Buddha taught, and each in good faith is trying to help.

There will be those out there, new to Buddhism, who see the logic of the rebirth dhamma, and I'm sure that path will do them great good. There will be those out there who find no evidence themselves for rebirth, and see logic in the no-views dhamma, and I'm sure that path will do them great good, because this is, after all, a practice that is good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end. We have more in common in our understanding than differences.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:17 am

nowheat wrote:
BlackBird wrote:so we can speculate to the cows come home about all kinds of theories or modern interpretations, but it won't do us any good.

Okay, maybe it won't do any good for those whose views are entrenched


That's the nail on the head right there.

nowheat wrote:but for the observers out there to recognize that there is a debate ongoing over what the Buddha taught is a good thing.


In an earlier draft of this post I had written something a long the lines of:
"But if it is for posterity then I humbly apologise"
I think that might apply here.

nowheat wrote:Would you have one set of view-holders -- those with your prefered view, maybe? -- just stop offering their understanding on a public board? Each of us feels that to reach enlightenment, and to help others reach enlightenment, we must understand what the Buddha taught, and each in good faith is trying to help.


Does understanding the Dhamma come from debating with those who have entrenched views? I guess it depends on your motivation. In my case all I get is frustration.

nowheat wrote:There will be those out there who find no evidence themselves for rebirth, and see logic in the no-views dhamma, and I'm sure that path will do them great good, because this is, after all, a practice that is good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.


Is that what they call it these days? Because it certainly appears to be quite the opposite of 'no views' to me. Although perhaps appearances are deceiving me.

nowheat wrote:We have more in common in our understanding than differences.


Could you kindly elaborate on this point?

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:42 am

BlackBird wrote:
nowheat wrote:Would you have one set of view-holders -- those with your prefered view, maybe? -- just stop offering their understanding on a public board? Each of us feels that to reach enlightenment, and to help others reach enlightenment, we must understand what the Buddha taught, and each in good faith is trying to help.

Does understanding the Dhamma come from debating with those who have entrenched views? I guess it depends on your motivation. In my case all I get is frustration.

I'm with you on the frustration (though that's not all I get out of following these debates).

Understanding does not come from debating alone, but neither have I ever met anyone who gained a good understanding of the Dhamma without discussion with others (though there's a rumor about a guy in India 2,500 years ago who managed it).

nowheat wrote:There will be those out there who find no evidence themselves for rebirth, and see logic in the no-views dhamma, and I'm sure that path will do them great good, because this is, after all, a practice that is good at the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.

Is that what they call it these days? Because it certainly appears to be quite the opposite of 'no views' to me. Although perhaps appearances are deceiving me.

The rebirth vs no-views is a reference to what we believe the Buddha taught (that leaving behind all views is his teaching); no-views is not referring to the people who hold the view that the Buddha taught no-views. (Whew!)

nowheat wrote:We have more in common in our understanding than differences.

Could you kindly elaborate on this point?

Gladly. I'm pretty sure we all agree that the Buddha's intention was to free humans of suffering. That the main things he taught were that we can free ourselves from suffering by relinquishing clinging; that causation is the way the world works and no thought, no object, arises without cause; that all things that arise from causes are impermanent; that because all these are impermanent, we suffer when we cling to them; and that this includes us -- we too are impermanent, and when we cling to the view that we are permanent, we suffer. Further, I expect both view-holders would agree that the Buddha said it was intention that was critical in our actions, not the actions themselves. There may be more points but that's the essence.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:51 am

Thank you Nowheat

:goodpost:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Laurens » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:39 am

I have come to the conclusion that instead of debating endlessly here we should all go off to our own individual caves (or bedrooms) and meditate untill we attain knowledge of the passing away and rising of beings. Then we can come back here and debate afterwards :P

Anyone??

Haha, nah I'm just jealous because I don't know the Tipitaka well enough to make lengthy posts in this topic.

All the best
Laurens
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Kare » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:55 am

Laurens wrote:I have come to the conclusion that instead of debating endlessly here we should all go off to our own individual caves (or bedrooms) and meditate untill we attain knowledge of the passing away and rising of beings. Then we can come back here and debate afterwards :P

Anyone??

Haha, nah I'm just jealous because I don't know the Tipitaka well enough to make lengthy posts in this topic.

All the best
Laurens


Don't worry ... you don't have to know a single line of the Tipitaka in order to study rebirth. If rebirth occurs, then it is a natural occurence, a natural process. Therefore, in order to study rebirth - study Nature. If you find that every being in Nature is reborn again and again, and find good evidence for this (which should be easy if rebirth is a fact), then accept rebirth. If you study Nature and find that the rebirth theory is highly improbable, then don't accept it. Trying to use the Tipitaka as an authoritative textbook for studying Nature, is equal to the mistakes of the medieval scholars, who tried to use Aristoteles and the Bible as authorities about Nature.
Mettāya,
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Laurens » Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:33 am

Kare wrote:
Laurens wrote:I have come to the conclusion that instead of debating endlessly here we should all go off to our own individual caves (or bedrooms) and meditate untill we attain knowledge of the passing away and rising of beings. Then we can come back here and debate afterwards :P

Anyone??

Haha, nah I'm just jealous because I don't know the Tipitaka well enough to make lengthy posts in this topic.

All the best
Laurens


Don't worry ... you don't have to know a single line of the Tipitaka in order to study rebirth. If rebirth occurs, then it is a natural occurence, a natural process. Therefore, in order to study rebirth - study Nature. If you find that every being in Nature is reborn again and again, and find good evidence for this (which should be easy if rebirth is a fact), then accept rebirth. If you study Nature and find that the rebirth theory is highly improbable, then don't accept it. Trying to use the Tipitaka as an authoritative textbook for studying Nature, is equal to the mistakes of the medieval scholars, who tried to use Aristoteles and the Bible as authorities about Nature.


You do have a very good point, its easy for me to forget that actually the Dhamma is all around all the time in nature rather than just in books.
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:33 pm

Greetings,

"I am not so much interested in arguments that one ought to believe this or that, or to disbelieve it - but rather in the fact that one is forced by the nature of experience to believe or disbelieve (which is only a mode of belief). The octopus' sucker must stick to something."

From Bhikkhu Nanamoli's "Thinker's Notebook - Book 2" - http://waij.com/oldbooks/thinkersnotebookpages.html?27

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby BlackBird » Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:06 am

Do those who do not believe in rebirth also not believe in Kamma-vipaka?

Also thank you Retro for posting that link, this is a very interesting book indeed.

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby pink_trike » Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:28 am

but rather in the fact that one is forced by the nature of experience to believe or disbelieve


If he means that believing and disbelieving are the only two options available and that they are "forced by the nature of experience" then I hope he finds a good teacher at some point. Perhaps there is a larger context to his saying this that I'm missing...
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:15 am

pink_trike wrote:
but rather in the fact that one is forced by the nature of experience to believe or disbelieve


If he means that believing and disbelieving are the only two options available and that they are "forced by the nature of experience" then I hope he finds a good teacher at some point. Perhaps there is a larger context to his saying this that I'm missing...
Having been dead for quite sometime, the translator of the Majjhima Nikaya and the Visuddhimagga probably had larger context for what he said before he died.
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
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby meindzai » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:10 pm

BlackBird wrote:Do those who do not believe in rebirth also not believe in Kamma-vipaka?



Good question. It seems that would have to be the case. Without rebirth, it would mean that your un-ripened kamma prior to death just goes bye-bye. I'm curious how one accounts for that without rebirth?

There are also two specific cases where I can't seem to account for no rebrth. How can you account for somebody who acts skillfully in this lifetime but seems to suffer nothing but misfortune, or the person who acts unskillfully in this lifetime but seems to be blessed with wealth, fortune, intelligence, etc.?

From these two cases, the conclusion would seem to be that skillfulness and unskillfulnss do not matter. This is why the rebirth thing is so serious. It's not about believing in a cosmology for the hell of it. It's the whole reason I've chosen to adopt the view of rebirth, despite it being counter to everything I've supposedly been taught my lfe about how the world is supposed to work. Your other choices are random, meaningless chaos, or God's will.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Rhino » Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:57 pm

meindzai wrote:
BlackBird wrote:Do those who do not believe in rebirth also not believe in Kamma-vipaka?


Good question. It seems that would have to be the case. Without rebirth, it would mean that your un-ripened kamma prior to death just goes bye-bye. I'm curious how one accounts for that without rebirth?


Nanamoli Thera wrote:If there is rebirth then there is nothing in this whole world, not even oneself, that is worth killing anyone for. But if there is no rebirth, then there is nothing, provided only that I am clever enough to evade the direct consequences, to prevent me killing one who gets in my way. Materialists might not (like?) this. (June 58)


Nanamoli Thera - A Thinker's Note Book §377
With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.
Nanavira Thera - Notes on Dhamma
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby meindzai » Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:34 pm

No replies? Did we win?

(lol)

:tongue:

-M
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby seanpdx » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:08 pm

Ok, I'll bite, just for the heck of it. =)

meindzai wrote:Good question. It seems that would have to be the case. Without rebirth, it would mean that your un-ripened kamma prior to death just goes bye-bye. I'm curious how one accounts for that without rebirth?


The false assumption here is that kamma cannot "ripen" immediately, and that this particular understanding of the workings of kamma and vipaka is correct.

meindzai wrote:There are also two specific cases where I can't seem to account for no rebrth. How can you account for somebody who acts skillfully in this lifetime but seems to suffer nothing but misfortune, or the person who acts unskillfully in this lifetime but seems to be blessed with wealth, fortune, intelligence, etc.?


The false assumption here is that life is somehow fair. Wanting life to be fair does not make it so.

meindzai wrote:From these two cases, the conclusion would seem to be that skillfulness and unskillfulnss do not matter. This is why the rebirth thing is so serious. It's not about believing in a cosmology for the hell of it. It's the whole reason I've chosen to adopt the view of rebirth, despite it being counter to everything I've supposedly been taught my lfe about how the world is supposed to work. Your other choices are random, meaningless chaos, or God's will.


So you choose to believe in rebirth because you don't like the other options?
What's wrong with random, meaningless chaos? Is the notion of cosmic meaninglessness too frightening? Too disturbing?

Ironically, a friend of mine has, on more than one occasion, lashed out at how rebirth is a load of crap, because she can't imagine what she could have done in a previous life to deserve the suffering that has been inflicted upon her in this life. If you would like to explain to her why she deserves everything that has happened to her from the moment she was born, feel free. It'll be a conversation that will make you feel like ****.
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