mikenz66 wrote:Perhaps someone could explain what they see as the key difference between "reincarnation" and "rebirth"? I've never been able to figure out what the difference is supposed to be since they are synonyms in normal English usage.
I think it's simply a matter of how one answers the question "what the relationship between 'you' that exist now and the 'you' that existed a few moments ago?". The eternalist(say, one following Vēdānta) would say it's the same "you". Sure, your body may have aged between that moment and the present moment, and your mind may have changed, but the "real" you - the eternal ātma, remains the same, therefore the relationship between the now-you and the past-you is one of equality. Since it is the ātma that transmigrates from life to life, if you consider the last moment of this life and the first moment of the next life, it's the same "real you" between the two lives.
But from the Buddhist point of view, the relationship can't be clearly defined: is it the same "you"? No. Is it a different "you"? Not quite, since the present-you is a result of the past-you. So the relationship is, as Venerable Nāgasēna says, "Neither the same, nor another". The same relationship exists between the last-you of this life and first-you of the next life.
(It doesn't necessarily mean that the "you" of one moment is just conditioned by the "you" of the previous moment. In fact there doesn't need to be any talk of 'moments' at all. What one becomes at the present is born out of a complex web of kammic interactions of both past and present - whether "within the same life" or whether "becoming a new life".)
Bhava, or Becoming, is constantly taking place, and it simply doesn't end when at what we call "death" - so, may be, the reason to use the term "punabbhava" is necessary because it is us puthajjanas that fabricate the world in terms of 'this life', and 'the next life'. If one is an āriya, then one understands(similar to mathematical induction), that as long as the process explained by paticcasampuppāda carries on, 'becoming' can't simply end with the break-up of the physical body, so I think that for an āriya, a special designation by the term 'punabbhava' is unnecessary, since they realize it is the same process of 'bhava paccayā jāti' regardless of whether 'within this life' or 'from one life to the next'. Or as Ven. Ñāṇānanda would say, a designation as a "here" and a "there".
retrofuturist wrote:To me, as I understand it, punabbhava has nothing to do with transmigration, whereas patisandhi unambiguously does.
Huh?? May be I've misunderstood, but how does patisandhi-citta suggest a transmigration?
As already quoted from the Ñātilōka dictionary:
- Neither has this rebirth-consciousness transmigrated from the previous existence to this present existence, nor did it arise without such conditions, as kamma, kammic-constructions, propensity, object, etc. That this consciousness has not come from the previous existence to this present existence, yet that it has come into existence by means of conditions included in the previous existence, such as kamma, etc.
retrofuturist wrote:So, returning to MN 48 for a moment, which refers to speculation... "If a monk is absorbed in speculation about the other world, then his mind is enthralled". If one knows from experience things "about the other world" then good for them. But if they don't know it, it is speculation, and if it is speculation, the mind is enthralled.
Well if one is pondering about the future(lives) at the detriment of cultivating the mind, yes. But there are some teachings by the Buddha that would count as 'skillfull speculation about the future' - e.g. contemplating the dangers of saṃsāra. Kamma is speculation too, but certainly the Buddha highly encouraged one to distinguish skillful actions from unskillful actions.
retrofuturist wrote:Which of course isn't to deny "literal post-mortem rebirth" - just to say that it's not a necessary corollary of punabbhava, just like it's not a necessary corollary of paticcasamuppada.
I'm not sure if there's a big difference between "literal post-mortem rebirth" and punabbhava.