Rebirth & consciousness

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dhammafriend
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Rebirth & consciousness

Post by dhammafriend » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:07 pm

I've heard many Dhamma teachers say that its simply consciousness that continues after death, but there is a sutta where a monk is criticized by the Lord Buddha for declaring that:

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

...As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on [from birth to birth], not another.'"...

The Buddha's response:

..."And to whom, worthless man, do you understand me to have taught the Dhamma like that? Haven't I, in many ways, said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'? [2] But you, through your own poor grasp, not only slander us but also dig yourself up [by the root] and produce much demerit for yourself. That will lead to your long-term harm & suffering."...

Then somewhere else a sutta speaks of craving as fuel that maintains consciousness between births. I can't source it now but in it the Buddha compares it to a fire that jumps from one roof to the next. Does anyone know the sutta? I think He is speaking to Ven. Ananda.

It seems that in certain suttas rebirth is taught via dependent origination, then in others it sounds like they are talking about specific entities continuing. i.e. ghandaba etc. Are these contradictions that crept in later? Or are they simply 2 ways t describe the process?

Thanks
Dhammafriend.
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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daverupa
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by daverupa » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:13 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Does anyone know the sutta? I think He is speaking to Ven. Ananda.

It seems that in certain suttas rebirth is taught via dependent origination, then in others it sounds like they are talking about specific entities continuing. i.e. ghandaba etc. Are these contradictions that crept in later? Or are they simply 2 ways t describe the process?
It's in MN 38.

As for the second aspect, this will be a complex conversation. There are a number of threads woven together by the Nikayas, and you're noticing two of them here. The many iterations of paticcasamuppada are examples of other threads, the various formless attainments and the jhanas are more threads, and so on (a lot can happen in ~150 years).

There was once a thread about the mechanism of rebirth, but these things tend to devolve into argumentation...
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

culaavuso
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by culaavuso » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:24 pm

dhammafriend wrote: Then somewhere else a sutta speaks of craving as fuel that maintains consciousness between births. I can't source it now but in it the Buddha compares it to a fire that jumps from one roof to the next.
Sounds like
SN 44.9: Kutuhalasala Sutta wrote: "But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"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, 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."

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daverupa
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by daverupa » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:10 pm

:goodpost:

That was in the intro of the page I linked, not the sutta proper.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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dhammafriend
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by dhammafriend » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:16 pm

Thanks Culaavuso, that's the sutta i wanted to contrast the other one with! The issue came up because I'd totally forgotten about the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta. Although I read it years ago. It just seems fashionable in Theravada communities lately to say that consciousness continues after death.

Daverupa, that's interesting, are there any old threads about this topic of themes/ information threads running through the suttas? When you read widely in the canon you can almost 'feel' the shifts in descriptions.

Thanks
Dhammafriend
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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daverupa
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by daverupa » Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:36 pm

dhammafriend wrote:Daverupa, that's interesting, are there any old threads about this topic of themes/ information threads running through the suttas? When you read widely in the canon you can almost 'feel' the shifts in descriptions.
These are largely issues that reflect stratification within the texts; I can't think of a catalog of pertinent examples at the moment, it's more of a gestalt... most Early Buddhism topics address this sort of thing, as it happens.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

pulga
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by pulga » Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:57 pm

SN 44.9: Kutuhalasala Sutta wrote: "But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"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, 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."
“Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, is that your speculative view?
This is a heap of sheer formations:
Here no being is found."

http://suttacentral.net/sn5.10/en

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daverupa
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by daverupa » Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:25 pm

pulga wrote:
SN 44.9: Kutuhalasala Sutta wrote: "But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"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, 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."
“Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, is that your speculative view?
This is a heap of sheer formations:
Here no being is found."

http://suttacentral.net/sn5.10/en
Perfectly illustrative of the situation.

:anjali:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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polarbear101
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by polarbear101 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:35 pm

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Radha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "'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.'

"Just as when boys or girls are playing with little sand castles:[4] as long as they are not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, that's how long they have fun with those sand castles, enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them. But when they become free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, & craving for those little sand castles, then they smash them, scatter them, demolish them with their hands or feet and make them unfit for play.

"In the same way, Radha, you too should smash, scatter, & demolish form, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for form.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish feeling, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for feeling.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish perception, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for perception.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish fabrications, and make them unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for fabrications.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish consciousness and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for consciousness — for the ending of craving, Radha, is Unbinding."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Edit: Not that it's that important, but I sense the supposed problem is dissolved after looking at enough suttas.

May you all find peace

: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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Spiny Norman
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by Spiny Norman » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:32 am

dhammafriend wrote: ...As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on [from birth to birth], not another.'"...
I think Sati's error here was assuming it's the same consciousness that wanders on, effectively equating consciousness with a soul. So the Buddha reminds Sati that consciousness is always dependently arisen, not an independent entity.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
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dhammafriend
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Re: Rebirth & consciousness

Post by dhammafriend » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:01 am

Thanks Spiny and Polarbuddha, but don't you think its odd that regarding consciousness, the Buddha breaks it up into the six bases. Eye consciousness etc. He seems to be saying that its not a unitary thing but a 'bunch' of things.
Furthermore, he says that consciousness cannot arise without: contact and a corresponding object. From the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta:

..."Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the eye & forms is classified simply as eye-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the ear & sounds is classified simply as ear-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the nose & aromas is classified simply as nose-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the tongue & flavors is classified simply as tongue-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the body & tactile sensations is classified simply as body-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the intellect & ideas is classified simply as intellect-consciousness.

"Just as fire is classified simply by whatever requisite condition in dependence on which it burns — a fire that burns in dependence on wood is classified simply as a wood-fire, a fire that burns in dependence on wood-chips is classified simply as a wood-chip-fire; a fire that burns in dependence on grass is classified simply as a grass-fire; a fire that burns in dependence on cow-dung is classified simply as a cow-dung-fire; a fire that burns in dependence on chaff is classified simply as a chaff-fire; a fire that burns in dependence on rubbish is classified simply as a rubbish-fire — in the same way, consciousness is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises...


Then in the other sutta with the roof fire analogy He says that craving is the fuel between one birth and the next. What I want to know is, what is its object between births? At death the six bases cease so consciousness cannot be maintained. From the Kutuhalasala Sutta:

..."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, 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."...


But the the above sutta alludes to an in-between state (devoid of sense bases & objects?) between births. I think satta is the word being translated as being, so he's not referring explicitly to consciousness here either. Is this a translation issue? I'll try and find the Pali versions of these texts.

Thanks
Dhammafriend
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.

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