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

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

Postby martian » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:48 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote: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:


"It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still."

isn't this problematic in terms of impermanence?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:33 pm

martian wrote:"It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still."

isn't this problematic in terms of impermanence?

No, not really. A river is different every moment, but it doesn't become completely different at any one time.
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

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby SarathW » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:58 pm

martian wrote: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.


Hi Martia

This is not an easy subject. Please read the following book. Sorry.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:02 am

martian wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote: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:


"It's not a totally different "I". It's not like one ball stops rolling, hits another, and the other starts rolling. It's the same ball still."

isn't this problematic in terms of impermanence?

LonesomeYogurt already replied with an answer I agree with, but since you quoted me I thought let me share my understanding.

It's only problematic if you see balls as something permanent. In that way it is a bad example because people tend to see objects as permanent. The river analogy is better. Or lets compare you as you are now to when you were a small kid. You are not the same as you were then, were you? The body is changed, the mind is changed. But also you are not totally different because you are still the same person, the same being. You didn't become your neighbor suddenly.

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

Postby 5heaps » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:55 am

martian wrote: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,

not exactly. it is not the case that first there are the collection of aggregrates and then the person is produced. instead, persons are produced imputedly onto the collection of aggregates at the same time as the collection (ie. mind and body) are produced.

in other words, it is not the case that first you have a table-top and 4 legs and someone constructs them together and then a table is produced. instead, a table arises together with the production of the collection once the person has brought together that collection. it is not the case that first the collection is produced and then the table is produced.

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.

the future instance of flame is linked to a previous instance by way of causation. the fuel/base is different but the momentary and causal continuation of the flame is unbroken. since the continuation of the stream is unbroken and since it depends causally upon previous instances the presently existing flame is a slave to its past. luckily its just a flame and not a person.
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:31 am

martian wrote: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.


Interesting question.
According to the teachings on kamma in the suttas we are heir to our actions: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... kamma.html. So what we do today affects us tomorrow.
Or to put it another way, the you of tomorrow arises in dependence on the you of today.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:
binocular wrote:But I'd really like you to explain why you think kamma and rebirth have nothing to do with moral justice.

Because kamma has to do with sankharas (formations) that arise in dependence upon avijja (ignorance).


And how is this divorced from issues of moral justice?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby binocular » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:38 am

ground wrote:
martian wrote: So, out of compassion for the next "I", we try to accumulate good kamma in this present "I"?

No, ouf of compassion for the potentially 5 succeeding aggregates, self-perceiving themselves as "I" and "mine" surrounded by equally ignorant self-perceiving phenomena, no kamma should be accumulated at all.


Compassion can only be had for living beings, not for things.
Unless you can show otherwise?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:48 pm

Greetings,

binocular wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
binocular wrote:But I'd really like you to explain why you think kamma and rebirth have nothing to do with moral justice.

Because kamma has to do with sankharas (formations) that arise in dependence upon avijja (ignorance).


And how is this divorced from issues of moral justice?

Kamma would operate regardless of whether or not anyone in the universe came up with this concept or vague feeling of "moral justice".

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

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed May 01, 2013 12:31 am

Dwelling at Savatthi... Then a certain brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "What now, Master Gotama: Is the one who acts the same one who experiences [the results of the act]?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is the same one who experiences,' is one extreme."

[The brahman:] "Then, Master Gotama, is the one who acts someone other than the one who experiences?"

[The Buddha:] "[To say,] 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences,' is the second extreme. Avoiding both of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by means of the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

When this was said, the brahman said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to point out the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the community of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life."

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


: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 mikenz66 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:01 am

binocular wrote:But I'd really like you to explain why you think kamma and rebirth have nothing to do with moral justice.

retrofuturist wrote:Because kamma has to do with sankharas (formations) that arise in dependence upon avijja (ignorance).

binocular wrote:And how is this divorced from issues of moral justice?

Kamma would operate regardless of whether or not anyone in the universe came up with this concept or vague feeling of "moral justice".
[/quote]
Perhaps "moral justice" is a poor choice of terminology. Nevertheless, in numerous suttas it is said that bad kamma leads to bad results. And kamma is defined in "moral" terms (killing, stealing, etc...):
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-subject.html#kamma

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

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 01, 2013 1:12 am

Greetings Mike,

Yes that's true, but such examples are just outward manifestations and expressions of...

The Roots of Good and Evil
http://www.virtuescience.com/roots.html

As explained by Nyanaponika Thera, it is the underlying quality of the mind-state underpinning the action that designates the qualitative nature of kamma. In other words, it's not about "cosmic scales" like some people seem to think.... it's about paticcasamuppada based on their kusala or akusala action.

Nyanaponika Thera wrote:The social and political motivations for moral conduct proposed to modern man may not openly contradict the basic sentiments of morality, but as their structures are bound to specific historical conditions and reflect the varying selfinterests and prejudices of the dominant social group, the values they propose are highly relative, lacking universal validity. In contrast, Buddhist ethics, being based on psychological fact and not on external contingencies, provides a core of moral principles inherently free from relativistic limitations, valid for all time and under all circumstances.

Contrast the Buddha's "psychological fact" with Bhikkhu Bodhi's meandering speculation.

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

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 01, 2013 2:26 am

Sure but the suttas do say that bad actions have bad results:
"Monks, the taking of life — when indulged in, developed, & pursued — is something that leads to hell, leads to rebirth as a common animal, leads to the realm of the hungry shades. The slightest of all the results coming from the taking of life is that, when one becomes a human being, it leads to a short life span.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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

Postby ground » Wed May 01, 2013 2:48 am

binocular wrote:
ground wrote:
martian wrote: So, out of compassion for the next "I", we try to accumulate good kamma in this present "I"?

No, ouf of compassion for the potentially 5 succeeding aggregates, self-perceiving themselves as "I" and "mine" surrounded by equally ignorant self-perceiving phenomena, no kamma should be accumulated at all.


Compassion can only be had for living beings, not for things.
Unless you can show otherwise?

There is nothing to show. Knowing can emulate a diversity of phenomena. :sage:
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby binocular » Wed May 01, 2013 7:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:
binocular wrote:And how is this divorced from issues of moral justice?

Kamma would operate regardless of whether or not anyone in the universe came up with this concept or vague feeling of "moral justice".


Leaving aside for the moment that a "feeling of moral justice" itself is kamma too -
I think I see where the problem s then:

Bikkhu Bodhi said:

"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?

and you commented:

I wish Bhikkhu Bodhi wouldn't go off on flowery tangents like this... kamma/rebirth has nothing to do with "moral justice" and appealing to the view of moral justice as legitimisation for the necessity of kamma/rebirth is so logically flawed I don't even know where to begin.


A sense of moral justice is something humans have and, arguably, need.

The way I understand Bhikkhu Bodhi is hat he means that appealing to moral justice is necessary for belief in kamma/rebirth .


That said, it seems that you are implicitly coming from the position that human moral concerns are somehow divorced from what happens in this universe (ie. kamma).

Do you believe kamma would operate regardless of whether or not there are humans in this universe?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby binocular » Wed May 01, 2013 7:42 am

ground wrote:There is nothing to show. Knowing can emulate a diversity of phenomena.


And you have compassion for rocks?
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby ground » Wed May 01, 2013 7:56 am

binocular wrote:
ground wrote:There is nothing to show. Knowing can emulate a diversity of phenomena.


And you have compassion for rocks?

Knowing can emulate a diversity of phenomena. :sage:
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby binocular » Wed May 01, 2013 8:06 am

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

Postby ground » Wed May 01, 2013 8:37 am

I never knows. When I ceases knowing unfolds and kamma and rebirth cease ... if there is distraction I arises again and knowing is veiled. :sage:
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Re: Why care about kamma & rebirth if there is no "I"

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed May 01, 2013 2:12 pm

martian wrote: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.


Hi Martian,

Have heard many attempts to explicate this question, and argued certain stances myself (the Milinda Pañha's account is a pretty good one, and if I remember correctly it is supported by some passages in the suttas). However, a simpler explanation might be that rebirth and anatta represent different levels of understanding, with anatta being the more profound one.

Conventionally speaking, there is an "I". What you did yesterday impacts what will happen to you tomorrow. This also applies to any number of lives. If the illusion of self can be sustained over the course of one life, it can also operate over multiple lives. By the same token, if it were impossible to speak of a self in conventional terms, then how is it that the same avatars keep cropping up here on DW from day to day?

But deep investigation of this "self" shows that it cannot actually be identified with the aggregates, and so it turns out to be a mere construct.

I think it's noteworthy that the suttas present Buddha's awakening in stages. Rebirth and kamma are described at earlier stages (first and second watch). And there is an interesting shift in the language used:

1. Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.
2. Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing.
3. I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations...I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are fermentations... This is the origination of fermentations... This is the cessation of fermentations... This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.'

In the first watch, we are still talking about an "I"; in the second we have "beings", and in the third there are only "fermentations" and the process of dependent origination.

In short, we may not need to square the circle by trying to reconcile rebirth/kamma with anatta. The two represent different types or stages of knowledge.

Just my two cents' worth.
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