Evidence of reincarnation

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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daverupa
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:53 pm

Aloka wrote:
Anagarika wrote:As was mentioned earlier, the Buddha not only taught the truth of rebirth ( as distinct from reincarnation) but made it central to his Dhamma.
Yes, but its worth remembering that it was already a belief in Indian culture before the birth of the Buddha 2,500 years ago.
This is rather important to note; the Buddhist rebirth theories I've heard are basically an Indian rebirth creole; the Nikayas themselves are a creole of the Dhamma & the permutating Indian context, which is ignored by virtually all Buddhists in favor of seeing a monolithic Traditional Buddhism as being somehow, ahistorically and impossibly, what the historical Buddha taught.
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I will leave you to work out what it says if you really wish to know what the Buddha taught, and not be content with a modern interpretation to make the sceptics feel comfortable.
I wonder what sort of interpretations are around just to make Traditionalists feel comfortable... hmm... quite a lot, if we look through a historical lens.

---

Finally, take any 'evidence' of rebirth, and hold it against the warnings in the Brahmajala Sutta: such 'evidence' will fall apart.
  • "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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Lazy_eye
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by Lazy_eye » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:54 pm

kirk5a wrote:Since there have been those, from ancient as well as in modern times, who say they have seen the truth of rebirth for themselves, Ben's statement is hardly an adequate description of "the facts."
Well, let's pair up what Ben wrote with what you wrote:
Ben wrote:There is no credible scientific evidence of rebirth or reincarnation. People either take it a metaphor or take it on faith.
kirk5a wrote:There have been those, from ancient as well as in modern times, who say they have seen the truth of rebirth for themselves.
Are these two statements in contradiction to each other? I say no. They are both correct.
samseva wrote: Rebirth can be real without most holding the belief that it is real. If you read what Ben wrote and listen to what most skeptics say about rebirth or reincarnation, you will see that the usual argument is that there is no scientific evidence of rebirth. That there is no documented scientific evidence (which is false, Stevenson's research being reasonably meticulous) doesn't mean that there is no evidence at all. It is not because something hasn't taken place under supervision from highly educated scientists that it means it isn't evidence.

Although science has its strong points, it isn't everything.
Yes, but Ben clearly mentioned "credible scientific evidence." We've got a full-fledged equivocation fallacy at play here, much like we see with creationists arguing that evolution is "just a theory." Of course if we are talking about scientific evidence, then it should reflect something "that has taken place under supervision from highly educated scientists."

This is exactly the kind of argumentative sleight of hand that I was complaining about in my rant. :)

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samseva
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by samseva » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:17 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Yes, but Ben clearly mentioned "credible scientific evidence." We've got a full-fledged equivocation fallacy at play here, much like we see with creationists arguing that evolution is "just a theory." Of course if we are talking about scientific evidence, then it should reflect something "that has taken place under supervision from highly educated scientists."

This is exactly the kind of argumentative sleight of hand that I was complaining about in my rant. :)
I am not saying that reincarnation or rebirth exists, but simply discrediting that the fact that there isn't credible scientific evidence doesn't mean that it isn't real—it just means that there isn't credible scientific evidence.

Furthermore, stating that something is only a belief simply because there isn't scientific evidence doesn't mean that the thing in question doesn't exist.

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daverupa
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:21 pm

But it does mean:

1. There is no evidence it does exist.
2. The burden of proof is on the one claiming it does exist.

---

And, while we're at it, what's the difference between a Brahmin saying Deva realms exist, and a Druid saying the Summerland exists? Both have ecstatic/meditative evidence... if only we could read the Brahmajala Sutta to learn about foundations for views...
  • "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]

SarathW
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by SarathW » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:24 pm

I have no much faith in science.
They keep on changing their mind all the time.
Some science discoveries have practical application however.
I do not believe in theory of evolution and big bang etc.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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daverupa
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:41 pm

If evidence for evolution is unconvincing to you, I cannot even imagine what sort of evidence rebirth would require!
  • "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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Mr Man
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:42 pm

SarathW wrote:I have no much faith in science.
They keep on changing their mind all the time.
Some science discoveries have practical application however.
I do not believe in theory of evolution and big bang etc.
Science doesn't require faith. That they keep changing there mind is perhaps a strong point - it is not constrained by dogma. It is an on-going investigation with constant re-evaluation.

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kirk5a
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by kirk5a » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:48 pm

daverupa wrote: if only we could read the Brahmajala Sutta to learn about foundations for views...
I'm looking at the Brahmajala Sutta, it talks about the foundations for certain views being rooted in prior lives, as well as the direct meditative recollection of prior lives. How does that make evidence for rebirth "fall apart" ?
"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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mikenz66
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:53 pm

Mr Man wrote:
SarathW wrote:I have no much faith in science.
They keep on changing their mind all the time.
Some science discoveries have practical application however.
I do not believe in theory of evolution and big bang etc.
Science doesn't require faith. That they keep changing there mind is perhaps a strong point - it is not constrained by dogma. It is an on-going investigation with constant re-evaluation.
That's an important point. The whole idea of science is to develop new models, not to bolster some idea of "truth".

The Big Bang model was developed in the 1950s, and had a lot of opposition at the time (by Hoyle and others). That particular argument was extremely helpful in sharpening up the analysis and the observations, so it's not as if Hoyle etc "lost". They were a key part of the development.
Inflationary cosmology was developed in the early 80s.
The "Dark Energy" (accelerated expansion) observations and analysis was late 1990s and may or may not be overturned by new observations and more detailed analysis. However, that work was an amazing example of careful measurement and modelling...

The models are, therefore, extremely important in driving improvement in observation, analysis, and technology whether or not they are later disproved (as most models are, at least partially).

:anjali:
Mike

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daverupa
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:59 pm

kirk5a wrote:
daverupa wrote: if only we could read the Brahmajala Sutta to learn about foundations for views...
I'm looking at the Brahmajala Sutta, it talks about the foundations for certain views being rooted in prior lives, as well as the direct meditative recollection of prior lives. How does that make evidence for rebirth "fall apart" ?
Look at what's said of them all towards the end:
When those recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the past, speculators about the future, speculators about the past and the future together, who hold settled views about the past and the future, assert on sixty-two grounds various conceptual theorems referring to the past and the future—that too is only the feeling of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who are immersed in craving.

...Therein, bhikkhus... —that is conditioned by contact.

“When, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and passing away of the six bases of contact, their satisfaction, unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, then he understands what transcends all these views.
Right View that is Taintless does not make reference to rebirth in these ways; take note that it is only a tainted view that adheres to these aspects.

(And go ahead with a claim about meditative visions; I'll point out the historical progression of these things, mention Druids & the Summerland again, and we're back to epistemological square one.

The Dhamma isn't founded on any of this. The cultural ecology of the early & ongoing Sangha, though, seems definitely tied to it...)
  • "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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Anagarika
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by Anagarika » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:38 pm

[quote="daverupa"]But it does mean:

1. There is no evidence it does exist.
2. The burden of proof is on the one claiming it does exist.

---

So, if you're suggesting that the Buddha can't meet his burden of proof, then you would not consider yourself a "Buddhist," or one that follows the Dhamma? I think that part of the point is that the Buddha clearly taught rebirth; he taught it independent of earlier and contemporary views of Vedic reincarnation of a self/soul, and the like. He taught rebirth as integral to his core teachings. So, if we then are requiring the Buddha to prove rebirth, we are essentially suggesting that the Buddha was mistaken, or that this proof was beyond his knowledge and experience. Clearly, the discourses tell us otherwise. This is what separates the skeptics and humanists from Buddhists: Buddhists operate with the saddha, or confidence, that the teaching of rebirth has evidentiary validity. We trust that the Buddha wouldn't have taught something carelessly or frivolously, least not make it a core element, of his Dhamma. If one chooses to argue against its validity, that is fine, we may never be able to prove rebirth through scientific method, but one then suggests that one has rejected the foundations of the Buddha's teachings.
Last edited by Anagarika on Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mr Man
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:56 pm

Anagarika, you seem determined to excommunicate. :smile:

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daverupa
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:07 pm

Anagarika wrote:So, if you're suggesting that the Buddha can't meet his burden of proof
I'm not.
I think that part of the point is that the Buddha clearly taught rebirth
I think the point is that the Buddha taught the Dhamma within a context of rebirth, a function of the Iron Age context. It's described as a tainted sort of view, helpful only insofar as it renders a suitable ethical framework with respect to un/wholesome action.

Liberative action differs from both of those, and it is this action which the Buddha taught as the Path.
  • "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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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by lyndon taylor » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:14 pm

Claiming that rebirth doesn't exist is calling the Buddha a liar, or worse delusional, and calling into doubt his whole claim of being enlightened. I think we have a lot of modern "Buddhists" who think they know more than the Buddha about the subject, when in fact they are the ones we should be doubting.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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daverupa
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Re: Evidence of reincarnation

Post by daverupa » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:19 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Claiming that rebirth doesn't exist...
...hasn't happened. Such a conclusion is also warned against in the Brahmajala Sutta...
  • "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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