Rebirth

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Rebirth

Postby placebo23 » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:20 pm

I'm new to theravada buddhsim in general and I have question about rebirth.
What exactly does it mean when it is said that there is no rebirth after awakening (nirvana). I know (conceptual) from reading that the state of nirvana cannot be described but at least it is uttered that rebirth ends.

At this point, what does rebirth mean? Does it really mean, that there is no new physical formation of a body or are we talking here about the formation of a new ego-sense (a false self so to speak) ?

Or to formulate the question in a different way: Does the "end of rebirth" mean, that the ongoing process of the five aggregates comes to an end ?

Thank you
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Re: Rebirth

Postby reflection » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:55 pm

Hi,

It means quite literally what it says: that rebirth ends, means there is no more next birth. So no more birth, no more being, no more suffering.

Seems like a very saddening end to a spiritual path, but understanding it is the highest happiness, that's part of why the Buddha's teachings are so hard to understand.

With kindness,
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Re: Rebirth

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:27 am

It may or may not be worthwhile to point out there is no such teaching of "rebirth".
There is rather the teaching of "again birth".
As in "after death there is once again birth".
And we practice for the end of "birth".

It's maybe a subtle thing, or perhaps no thing at all, but people tend to get confused by the term "rebirth". The word tends to lead one to think there is some thing which is born again. "He died and then he was reborn again." The teachings rather speak in more impersonal terms...

"From clinging as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play.

"From the cessation of clinging comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair all cease."

— AN 10.92
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Re: Rebirth

Postby placebo23 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:24 pm

Thank you both of you for clarifying the issue.

For the last post I already know that there is no entity which gets reborn. It is merely an ongoing process or to say it in other terms a reoccuring of the five aggregates.

For me it is enough to know if the five aggregates are still experienced after parinirvana or if they come to an final end (in other terms: no new formation of a body).


Again thank you for both your kind replay. ;)
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Re: Rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:33 pm

Greetings Placebo,

See...

Does the Buddha Exist After His Death?
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/41.htm

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Rebirth

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:45 am

placebo23 wrote:For me it is enough to know if the five aggregates are still experienced after parinirvana or if they come to an final end (in other terms: no new formation of a body).

Wouldn't that constitute birth? What else is birth if not the new formation of a body?
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:03 am

retrofuturist wrote:Does the Buddha Exist After His Death?
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/41.htm


Very inconclusive. ;)
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Re: Rebirth

Postby placebo23 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:14 pm

Wouldn't that constitute birth? What else is birth if not the new formation of a body?


Sorry, my native language is germany and perhaps I didn't pointed my understanding as such in a bad way out. I think birth could be understood twice. In one way it is the birth of the ego sense in mind and in the other it is the formation of a new body. Did I understand it now correctly that whenever the buddha spoke of birth (for example: birth is ended the holy life fulfilled) that he meant the formation of a new body ? Thank you.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:58 pm

Greetings,

placebo23 wrote:Did I understand it now correctly that whenever the buddha spoke of birth (for example: birth is ended the holy life fulfilled) that he meant the formation of a new body ? Thank you.

There is no simple answer to this question, first and foremost because the Buddha did not use the English word "birth".

There are many Pali words which are often translated as "birth" or "rebirth" and these include jati and punnabhava, yet neither of these conclusively mean "formation of a new body" in a literal sense, though are often interpreted as such.

My recommendation, particularly for matters such as this where personal knowledge of the matter is not on the immediate horizon, is simply to hold loosely to whatever perspective you may have, and do not cling tightly to any one interpretation which may in fact lead you to close off the possibility of personal direct knowledge in the future. Always remain open to new and increasingly nuanced perspectives, because to progress in the Dhamma means to bring one's life more in accord with the Dhamma, rather than try to peg down the Dhamma in terms presently understandable to our (limited) selves. It is an iterative journey...

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: Rebirth

Postby Jason » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:48 am

placebo23 wrote:I'm new to theravada buddhsim in general and I have question about rebirth.
What exactly does it mean when it is said that there is no rebirth after awakening (nirvana). I know (conceptual) from reading that the state of nirvana cannot be described but at least it is uttered that rebirth ends.

At this point, what does rebirth mean? Does it really mean, that there is no new physical formation of a body or are we talking here about the formation of a new ego-sense (a false self so to speak) ?

Or to formulate the question in a different way: Does the "end of rebirth" mean, that the ongoing process of the five aggregates comes to an end ?

Thank you


I'm of the opinion that, assuming the causes of a mindstream are solely afflictive*, it potentially means both, i.e., the end/cessation of rebirth (punabhava, literally 'again becoming') in both the cosmological and the psychological sense.

On one level, rebirth and kamma deal with the framework of morality and ethical conduct in general. In this sense, I understand rebirth to signify the Buddha's observation that there's a type of continuity that underlies experience in the form of our actions and their results — one that doesn't necessarily end at death — and kamma to represent the intentional element of our psyche that goes into experience. This corresponds to what the Buddha called "right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]" (MN 117). Here, morality and ethical conduct are associated with intentional actions and their corresponding results — which aren't just limited to those within the present lifetime — and the continuous cycle of birth and death.

On another level, rebirth and kamma deal with the framework of what I'd call psychological processes, which corresponds to what the Buddha called "noble right view, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path" (MN 117). Here, rebirth still signifies the Buddha's observation that there's a type of continuity that underlies experience in the form of our actions and their results, and kamma still represents the intentional element of our psyche that goes into experience, but they're placed within the context of the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path.

In this context, the emphasis is on things such as recognizing and understanding the mental processes by which we construct our sense of self, in what the Buddha called the process of 'I-making' and 'my-making' (ahankara-mamankara), as well as how to utilize those processes in more skillful ways. And if we can learn to be more aware of these mental processes, we can learn to master them through a combination of mindfulness training and other contemplative techniques.

The point where I think the cosmological and psychological models or processes primarily converge is becoming (bhava). In SN 12.2, for example, becoming is defined as "sensual becoming, form becoming, & formless becoming." In AN 3.76, however, becoming is treated slightly differently, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu notes at the bottom of his translation that:

    Notice that the Buddha, instead of giving a definition of becoming (bhava) in response to this question, simply notes that becoming occurs on three levels. Nowhere in the suttas does he define the term becoming, but a survey of how he uses the term in different contexts suggests that it means a sense of identity in a particular world of experience: your sense of what you are, focused on a particular desire, in your personal sense of the world as related to that desire. In other words, it is both a psychological and a cosmological concept. For more on this topic, see The Paradox of Becoming, Introduction and Chapter One.

Becoming, then, is a mental process that has the potential to lead to "renewed becoming in the future," which can be understood in both a psychological and cosmological sense, i.e., acting as a condition for the birth, ageing, and death (or arising, changing, and disappearance as per AN 3.47) of the conceit 'I am,' which occurs innumerable times throughout one's life (think of the imagery of SN 12.61), as well as a condition for birth, ageing, and death in the broader sense.

When it comes to dependent co-arising specifically, most of the descriptions appear to be more geared towards the cosmological or life-to-life model in the Suttas; but there are place like MN 140 where I think both are illustrated in tandem, with the psychological aspects of becoming (the arising and ceasing of self-identity view) being placed within the broader, cosmological framework.

The reason I personally think the psychological aspects are so important is because that's where the work of the meditator is done, where we can observe these processes taking place in the present. As Thanissaro Bhikkhu puts it in "A Verb for Nirvana," "Samsara is a process of creating places, even whole worlds, (this is called becoming) and then wandering through them (this is called birth). Nirvana is the end of this process." And this process (along with the that of the continuous arising and ceasing of suffering) is primarily a mental one.

- - - - - - - - -

* It should be noted that, from the Mahayanin perspective, there's nothing stopping a Buddha from 'popping back' into samsara, especially considering that, for them, the distinction between samsara and nirvana is little more than an illusion when viewed from the ultimate standpoint of the Dharmakaya . Moreover, their conception of causality allows for the continuation of the mindstream after the breakup of the body. As Namdrol from E-Sangha once explained it to me:

    If the causes of a mindstream were solely afflictive, then with the exhaustion of the karmic share that sustains the life force of the body, and thus the life of a Buddha or an arhat, I might be inclined to agree that the mind stream of a Buddha or an arhat would cease at death, since all causes for its continuance would be exhausted too. However there is a slight problem with this: if the mindstream's causes were solely afflictive, why does the mind not cease with nirvana in toto? Why does the mind continue after the eradication of all afflictions in a Buddha and an arhat? And if the mind continues after the eradication of the afflictions of a Buddha, etc., why could it not continue after the breakup of the body of a Buddha, etc., albeit in a non-afflicted state? In fact, Peter Harvey's interesting book, The Selfless Mind, makes this very suggestion on page 250 where he summerizes all of his arguments and findings.

In other words, not only does bodhicitta act as a cause to help keep a bodhisattva on the path to buddhahood throughout their innumerable lives, it acts as a positive, non-afflictive cause for the continuation of the enlightened being/mindstream as well. And this is perfectly logical and consistent within Mahayana's own understanding of itself, which includes certain terms that Theravada understands differently.

For example, the Theravada standpoint is that the cause of said mindstream (as well as the body) is kamma, both skillful and unskillful, although I'm not entirely sure if this corresponds to afflictive and non-afflictive in Mahayana. Nevertheless, in the Pali Canon, the noble eightfold path is said to be the kamma that leads to the ending of kamma (AN 4.235).

When it comes to the standard explanation of why the mind and body don't [always] cease with that attainment of nirvana, it's said that as long as the lifespan of the aggregates isn't completely exhausted — which itself depends upon the amount of input remaining from past kamma — the mind and body of an arahant will continue. When this input from past kamma is exhausted, there's said to be complete cessation of both mind and body.

A Mahayanaist would probably disagree with this in an ultimate sense, however, saying that this is only how it appears from the point of view of samsara (think relativity here), but not from the point of view of high-level Bodhisattvas and fully enlightened Buddhas.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Rebirth

Postby nibbuti » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:54 am

reflection wrote:It means quite literally what it says: that rebirth ends, means there is no more next birth.

Hi reflection

I don't agree. There literalism seems to neglect the Buddha's teaching on Dependent Origination and on compassion toward people.

The usual phrase is "no more coming to any state of being.".

However, when some people read it literally, without taking Dependent Origination into account, they usually come to the state of sadness thinking "rebirth of 'me' will end".

:cry:
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:My recommendation, particularly for matters such as this where personal knowledge of the matter is not on the immediate horizon, is simply to hold loosely to whatever perspective you may have, and do not cling tightly to any one interpretation which may in fact lead you to close off the possibility of personal direct knowledge in the future. Always remain open to new and increasingly nuanced perspectives, because to progress in the Dhamma means to bring one's life more in accord with the Dhamma, rather than try to peg down the Dhamma in terms presently understandable to our (limited) selves. It is an iterative journey...

Metta,
Retro. :)

:goodpost:
That's my recommendation, too, and for the same reasons.

:namaste:
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Re: Rebirth

Postby pegembara » Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:52 am

Becoming or bhava is used instead of rebirth. Bhava is also translated as existence. The problem is not birth but existence itself.
Re - birth suggest that there is something that is reborn and causes confusion. As far as I know, the Buddha never used it. Instead the term jati is used to describe birth.

From birth as a requisite condition comes aging & death.


"From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth...


"From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming...


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 0-piya.pdf

Look at this world:
Beings, afflicted with thick ignorance,
are unreleased
from delight in what has come to be.
All levels of becoming,
anywhere,
in any way,
are inconstant, stressful, subject to change.

Seeing this—as it has come to be—
with right discernment,
one abandons craving for becoming,
without delighting in non‐becoming.
From the total ending of craving
comes dispassion & cessation without remainder:

Unbinding.

For the monk unbound,
through lack of clinging/sustenance,
there is no renewed becoming.
He has conquered Mara,
won the battle,
gone beyond all becomings

Such. — Ud 3:10
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby kirk5a » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:20 pm

Vens. Thanissaro and Bodhi both translate "uppattiṃ" here as "rebirth."

I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance."
...
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

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
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Re: Rebirth

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:37 pm

nibbuti wrote:some people ... come to the state of sadness thinking "rebirth of 'me' will end".

:cry:

For such people, understanding 'birth' and 'rebirth' is the least of their problems. The whole "no more birth" thing is a solution to a problem, namely the problem of stress. If one wants endless rounds of death and birth then they likely don't understand why death and birth are stressful. How can we meaningfully talk about a solution when the problem isn't even recognized?
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Re: Rebirth

Postby reflection » Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:02 pm

nibbuti wrote:
reflection wrote:It means quite literally what it says: that rebirth ends, means there is no more next birth.

Hi reflection

I don't agree. There literalism seems to neglect the Buddha's teaching on Dependent Origination and on compassion toward people.

The usual phrase is "no more coming to any state of being.".

However, when some people read it literally, without taking Dependent Origination into account, they usually come to the state of sadness thinking "rebirth of 'me' will end".

:cry:

Hi,

I think you are generalizing a bit. But I don't see how that neglects dependent origination at all as in my eyes it is exactly that which teaches rebirth. And so the cessation of dependent origination teaches the end of rebirth.

I don't see how compassion or a sense of sadness does have anything to do with that. I know happy, compassionate people who have the same idea.

With metta
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Re: Rebirth

Postby placebo23 » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:16 pm

So many posts and my confusion is increasing the more opionions are displayed.
I appreciate the postings of you above but I want to express my feelings here in another way.

I already realized how much suffering there is in life because of its impermanent nature. Over years this observation built into a complex of feelings which in buddhism is commonly called samvega. I find the thought about endless rebirths only to die again just shocking and it creates a strong feeling of dismay that there is a continuation of this process of meaningless life. Even so, as you already stated, there is no entity which gets reborn, at least there is a new existence with endless running around in circles, never truly arriving.

So all in all I see birth as painful and a calamity, with it comes only suffering, pain and endless worries and finally you will lose everything (death).

To know that there can be an end to this really is a solacing message.

Kind regards from Germany.
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Re: Rebirth

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:14 am

That's all wonderful to hear, placebo. But I guess now I'm confused as to what your question is.

placebo23 wrote:So all in all I see birth as painful and a calamity, with it comes only suffering, pain and endless worries and finally you will lose everything (death).


The Buddha taught the way to the cessation of birth, the cessation of suffering, pain, and endless worries, the cessation of death. Are you asking if his teachings are true?
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Re: Rebirth

Postby pegembara » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:26 am

I stand corrected.
Kutuhalasala Sutta is interesting. Here the Buddha uses the term being and rebirth of that being. Doesn't this description of rebirth identical to the idea of reincarnation despite some saying that rebirth is not reincarnation?

"This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.[u]" But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Gotama the contemplative does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." Instead, he describes him thus: "He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress."'


"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, [u]when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Elsewhere he describes what this so called "being" is.

"'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up[1] there, tied up[2] there, one is said to be 'a being.'[3]

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Rebirth

Postby Sylvester » Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:18 am

pegembara wrote:I stand corrected.
Kutuhalasala Sutta is interesting. Here the Buddha uses the term being and rebirth of that being. Doesn't this description of rebirth identical to the idea of reincarnation despite some saying that rebirth is not reincarnation?

"This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there.[u]" But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Gotama the contemplative does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." Instead, he describes him thus: "He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress."'


"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, [u]when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html




To be fair, I should just remark that this is a case of the translator inserting an interpretation into the translation. Same comment for kirk5a's comment on uppatti above.

What you have in the text rendered as "reborn" is the past participle uppanna (pp of uppajjati). According to Warder, the verb uppajjati is an emphatic form of atthi (to be) and it can be used in quite a broad range of contexts that do not entail rebecoming of a being, eg it can be applied to knowledge and fetters as well. Both the verb uppajjati and the noun uppatti are related.

I agree with the interpretation of rebirth, given the context.
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