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Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I" - Dhamma Wheel

Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
martian
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Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby martian » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:38 am

If what we know as "I" is just a product of the continuous interaction of the 5 Aggregates and the "I" that is reborn is really a different "I" produced again, by the continuous interaction of the aggregates,
then why would the present "I" be concerned about the condition the new "I" will be born into? A typical explanation about rebirth is a flame being transferred from one lamp to another. Even in this example the flame from the first lamp have no connection with the flame that will be produced next. The brightness or dullness of the first flame with not affect the quality of the next flame. If this is the case, then is there any need to be concerned about kamma beyond the present life and furthermore, rebirth? Hoping for some clarity. Thanks.
Last edited by martian on Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:59 am

What if you knew that at midnight tonight, someone would knock you with a hammer, erase your memory, and then torture you horribly? Would you be concerned about your relationship with the post-amnesia person or would you realize that, however the connection metaphysically "works," the suffering that person in the future endures will be known to you?

Rebirth is the same way; we may not be the same as the person we become in the next life, but hell, we aren't really "the same" as the person we are now! All that matters is that suffering is here now, and it will be here in the future unless we act in wholesome ways. Does that make sense?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta


martian
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby martian » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:26 am

Thanks for the reply. So, out of compassion for the next "I", we try to accumulate good kamma in this present "I"? However the separation or distinction from one another of the two "I" is problematic in terms of how kamma and rebirth relate to moral justice. According to Bikkhu Bodhi :

"It is obvious that moral justice cannot be found within the limits of a single life. Immoral people might enjoy happiness and success, while people who lead lives of high integrity are bowed down beneath pain and misery. For the principle of moral equilibrium to work, some type of survival beyond the present life is required. Two different forms of survival are possible: an eternal afterlife in heaven/hell or a sequence of rebirths. Of these two, the hypothesis of rebirth seems far more compatible with moral justice than an eternal afterlife; for any finite good action, it seems, must eventually exhaust its potency, and no finite bad action, no matter how bad, should warrant eternal damnation." from Does Rebirth Make Sense?

Where is moral justice if the present "I" is distinct and different from the "I" to be reborn? An immoral or moral "I" will just breakdown into the aggregates and then the aggregates will then produce another "I". Even if the karmic seeds of morality or immorality gets transmitted in the aggregates, we can still see that the present and reborn "I" are distinct from one another. If this is the case, moral justice and kammic consequence does not or cannot extend beyond one's lifetime. But we still see some bad people being better off relative to some good doers, til their deaths. From what I can infer, rebirth and kamma, as it relates to moral justice can only be significant if the "I" being reborn is literally the same as the present "I". But this is not how rebirth is in Buddhism :cry:
Last edited by martian on Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:33 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby dhammapal » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:42 am







martian
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby martian » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:23 am

Thanks retro and dhammapal. The Thanissaro Bhikkhu part is really illuminating and mirrors the dilemma I have right now. So, Liberation is really to be realized in the here and now. The question of the "I" and how it relates to the next "I", and of kamma and rebirth, only comes up long as one has a concept of self. Once one realizes into the non-self, one stops being an "I", the processes of the aggregates stops and thus obliterating kamma and rebirth. Is this assumption correct?

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retrofuturist
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:26 am

Pretty much, yes.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby ground » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:28 am


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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:30 am

• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby binocular » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:34 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:37 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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reflection
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby reflection » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:49 am

Hi!

Ha, good question. This is my understanding:

First of all, it's not another being that is born. It is the same process, the same person. But also, it's not just another "I" at the moment of being reborn, there is no "I" at any moment and that's exactly the same process. So why care about tomorrow? Or about anything at all? I'd say, you are conditioned to care. Or not, if you're not. This goes also without the "I".

I guess you came to this answer and would want another. But there is not. It's all cause and effect. Dissatisfying? Not so much, it just depends on how you look at it. You see.. since there is no self, it also doesn't really matter if you care or not...

But it's not really caring about rebirth that has to lead the way to practice. There can be many other reasons. You can not care about rebirth and still walk the path. In a way, it is not caring that is a natural result. The more you see, the more you understand, but the less you care. One who is blind is afraid of rebirth, but one who is enlightened wouldn't care about being reborn and that's exactly why they aren't.

Be strong!

With metta!
Reflection

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ground
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby ground » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:59 am

Last edited by ground on Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

martian
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby martian » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:00 am

Since there is no "I", is it right to tell people that Dhamma can be practiced with the lesser aim of a more fortunate rebirth? Isn't that misleading since the "I" that will be reborn will be a totally different "I" only related to the previous "I" through the Aggregates? Or really more on a lie since there is no 'I" to begin with. This make the idea of a Bodhisattva problematic also but that is for another topic and another forum :smile:

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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:31 am


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ground
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby ground » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:38 am


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mikenz66
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:00 am


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reflection
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby reflection » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:04 pm


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polarbear101
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby polarbear101 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:51 pm

When people think about about a being that just died and where it was reborn in a third person perspective they often run into this confusion about how the two beings are related. But if you imagine what rebirth would be like from a first person perspective then there isn't any issue. One experience simply follows another and this continues until one realizes nibbana and passes away out of their final existence. If you go to sleep and wake up, it is the same stream of experience, if you die and are reborn, it is the same stream of experience.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:04 pm

Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta



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