If there is no self how can we reincarnate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
davidbrainerd
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by davidbrainerd » Sat Sep 03, 2016 2:31 am

Caodemarte wrote:Likening something to a rabbit's horns in Buddhist texts is typically, AFAIK, used to refer to something that does not exist and cannot exist and often to something that is logically impossible as it contradicts its own terms. In this case, it does not refer at all to an argument that something does not exist because you don't have proof (a good argument, but irrelevant here). If Buddhists agree to the doctrine of no self, then asking how does the self (which Buddhism does not accept as existent) reincarnate in Buddhism is like looking for a rabbit's horns. It is not an argument about an object not existing because you have no proof it does or proof that it does not, but pointing out that you have already stipulated that the object does not exist at all and then are are asked what colors you see in it. So, if you do not accept the not self argument then asking what happens to it may be logically self-consistent, but is not logically self-consistent if you agree there is no self. The answer to the OP (how does a self reincarnate in Buddhism if there is no self in Buddhism) is that the question is like asking about a rabbit's horns. Pointing out that asking "If x does not exist in this religion, how does this religion believe x functions" does not work is not so much an argument about x (or the self) as about the impossibility of answering the question as asked.
That makes sense. I guess ultimately, for me, aside from the answer of what is orthodox in Theravada, my answer as to Buddhism overall would be that, it seems to me that Buddhism originally had a concept of a soul, or else it wouldn't have rebirth/reincarnation. Rebirth/reincarnation is a leftover from before the soul was thrown out. Its a leftover from a time when anatta was understood to mean "not the self" as in "all phenomena are not the self" and "all conditioned things are not the self" (because the soul/self is beyond or transcending the physical world) and somehow when the magic switchover to anatta meaning "there is no self, anywhere, not even beyond the physical world" took place, the newly emerging sects "forgot" to throw out reincarnation/rebirth along with the change. And I guess that would be my final word on that. I don't want to be too argumentative.

practitioner
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by practitioner » Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:30 am

there is no soul yet somehow there is rebirth. How?
A being is a composite of 5 aggregates. 1 of 4 is the body, materiality. 4 of 5 are the mentality.

There is rebirth not just in across lifetimes but also within one lifetime. The mental craving, clinging, attachment, then becomes birth.

A person becoming alcoholic has undergone rebirth.

You are trying to apply conventional thinking and concept.

That collective encapsulation of consciousness is not a soul because it is always changing. There is nothing in it that has never changed, so there is no soul. Is there a soul in river? Water flowing pass a point is never the same at different point in time. Your mental flow is like river.

Rebirth is simply the binding of that mental flow with whatever that can manifest the mental stream.

To stop river flow, you elevate the lower bed to the same level as the source.

To stop rebirth, you curb all cravings.

chownah
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by chownah » Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:10 am

devaloka wrote:If our body and mind is nothing but rupa and nama rising and falling and there is no I or self, how can 'I' reincarnate if one dies non-enlightened?

Thanks in advance
This is a good question. I think of it as having two key concepts: the self, and reincarnation (which I will rename "rebirth" as it is more applicable to theravadin thought and is easier to type). Of the two I think that we have more experiences of self than we have of rebirth. So, it seems to make sense that there is alot of information for pondering our ideas about self....but almost nothing to ponder about our experiences of rebirth. I think it is possible that one can come to the understanding of the true nature of self without any understanding of rebirth but I think it is impossible to come to an understanding of rebirth without first understanding the true nature of self.....so.....it seems that it makes alot of sense to not worry too much about rebirth until you have come to an understanding of the true nature of self.

Put another way, effort in understanding self will probably yield more benefits than efforts in understanding rebirth.
chownah

binocular
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:43 am

davidbrainerd wrote:That makes sense. I guess ultimately, for me, aside from the answer of what is orthodox in Theravada, my answer as to Buddhism overall would be that, it seems to me that Buddhism originally had a concept of a soul, or else it wouldn't have rebirth/reincarnation. Rebirth/reincarnation is a leftover from before the soul was thrown out. Its a leftover from a time when anatta was understood to mean "not the self" as in "all phenomena are not the self" and "all conditioned things are not the self" (because the soul/self is beyond or transcending the physical world) and somehow when the magic switchover to anatta meaning "there is no self, anywhere, not even beyond the physical world" took place, the newly emerging sects "forgot" to throw out reincarnation/rebirth along with the change. And I guess that would be my final word on that. I don't want to be too argumentative.
If you posit a self, then how do you answer the question "How did this self get into samsara?" ?

Theistic religions that posit a(n eternal) self usually answer this with their version of the Original Fall doctrine. For example, in much of Christianity, it was Adam and Eve who originally fell and thus caused the fall for all their offspring. In some Hindu traditions, it is said that the soul rebelled against God, the soul wanted to "lord it over material nature" and that God granted the soul this wish by creating the illusion (maya) that the soul is in control (when in fact it isn't).

Either way, it seems that as soon as we posit a(n eternal) soul, we're faced with the problem of how this soul got into samsara out of which it now desperately tries to escape.

binocular
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:45 am

chownah wrote:Put another way, effort in understanding self will probably yield more benefits than efforts in understanding rebirth.
Efforts to understand suffering may yield even better results.

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The Thinker
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by The Thinker » Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:17 am

Have Dinosaurs reincarnated? , then why should we? End of, the rest is pure vanity.
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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No_Mind
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by No_Mind » Sat Sep 03, 2016 6:05 am

practitioner wrote:
Rebirth is the reality that as long as there is potential in mental energy then mental energy will flow.
Mental energy -- where does it say that in the Pali Canon? This is what I call creative Buddhism.

:namaste:
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus

practitioner
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by practitioner » Sat Sep 03, 2016 2:37 pm

where does it say that in the Pali Canon? This is what I call creative Buddhism.
Any Buddhist book or literature that talks about or mention rebirth will tell you that craving causes rebirth.

Why do you think the 4 Noble Truths mention birth as suffering? Because of re-birth, birth is suffering; otherwise, if it is just one life time who would care about living a noble life.

Noble Truth says craving is the source of suffering. Craving is potential as in potential energy. When ground is not level it creates potential for water to flow to the lower level.
When potential is different between two nodes, current begins to flow.

You just look at your own mind. When there is craving in you, your mind begins to flow outward.

It is not creative Buddhism, but fundamental dhamma that everyone can see for themselves that when they have craving there is mental flow in them.

practitioner
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by practitioner » Sat Sep 03, 2016 2:46 pm

Have Dinosaurs reincarnated?
Rebirth is mental flow of consciousness. Consciousness is energy. Rebirth can be energy from another galaxy. Learn about some strange facts about quantum mechanics. An electron from light years away can influence electron right here.

Checkout University of Virginia's reasearch on rebirth. Though reincarnation is only a concept, people have mixed the usage of the two terms rebirth and reincarnation as if they are the same is because many have not read about Buddha's teaching.

practitioner
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by practitioner » Sat Sep 03, 2016 2:58 pm

Laws of kamma ties in with rebirth.

Think not about "I" agent. Rebirth is consciousness binding with materiality and manifesting that mental energy in the being which does not have to be human.

Conventional concept of "I" will only tie you up in a knot.

Rebirth is not something you need to believe in or not believe in. Ancient men believed that earth is flat, which is fine.

Back then, to tell someone that earth is round would have you ridiculed. What can possibly hold you up sidedown. Try to explain magnetism. We accept the term magnetism and that is what it does. We think we understand it only because we accept it that is what is. If you think about it, it is hard to imagine how nothing has such strong force to hold so much weight together.

It is hard for you all to understand rebirth just as it was hard for ancient people to unserstand that earth is round.

SamKR
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by SamKR » Sat Sep 03, 2016 7:03 pm

devaloka wrote:If our body and mind is nothing but rupa and nama rising and falling and there is no I or self, how can 'I' reincarnate if one dies non-enlightened?

Thanks in advance
The absolute view positions "there is self" and "there is no self" both are not declared by the Buddha (as far as I know based on Suttas I have read).
It is not correct to say "there is self; therefore there is rebirth" or "there is no self; therefore there is no rebirth" (the latter seems to be your premise).

As long as there is self-view and "I am" feeling (due to ignorance or non-enlightenment) there is arising of birth/rebirth/reincarnation.
As soon as there is no self-view* and no "I am" feeling (due to cessation-of-ignorance or enlightenment) there is no more birth/rebirth/reincarnation.

* It is not the case that no-self view position (vs. seeing anything directly as not self) is what liberates, rather it is because of no self-view position (regarding anything) liberation happens.

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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by The Thinker » Sat Sep 03, 2016 7:53 pm

practitioner wrote:
Any Buddhist book or literature that talks about or mention rebirth will tell you that craving causes rebirth.
There is good and bad mental rebirth,this is kamma and conditioning from childhood, not believing in reincarnation can be very liberating, likewise discovering not-self is liberating, and in part is relinquishing or letting go of our vanity in my opinion. If we can let go of what we think we are, and how we think we should react, then there exists the opportunity to observe those thoughts and emotions and let go of those aspects that may be the cause of some part of our ever changing sufferings. If craving causes rebirth then obviously rebirth is not the goal( on this I agree), relinquishing craving is part of the goal. The four truths the guide.

No easy path mind! :namaste:
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

davidbrainerd
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by davidbrainerd » Sat Sep 03, 2016 10:03 pm

binocular wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:That makes sense. I guess ultimately, for me, aside from the answer of what is orthodox in Theravada, my answer as to Buddhism overall would be that, it seems to me that Buddhism originally had a concept of a soul, or else it wouldn't have rebirth/reincarnation. Rebirth/reincarnation is a leftover from before the soul was thrown out. Its a leftover from a time when anatta was understood to mean "not the self" as in "all phenomena are not the self" and "all conditioned things are not the self" (because the soul/self is beyond or transcending the physical world) and somehow when the magic switchover to anatta meaning "there is no self, anywhere, not even beyond the physical world" took place, the newly emerging sects "forgot" to throw out reincarnation/rebirth along with the change. And I guess that would be my final word on that. I don't want to be too argumentative.
If you posit a self, then how do you answer the question "How did this self get into samsara?" ?
From the realist position (that matter is real and individuation is real, i.e. Samkhya) the souls would just have always existed and either (1) they were always intermingled with matter, or (2) by ignorane of what it would mean to intermingle with matter, they did so and got stuck. From the non-realist position (i.e. Vedanta) that neither matter nor indivuation is real...their position does not make sense to me.
binocular wrote:Theistic religions that posit a(n eternal) self usually answer this with their version of the Original Fall doctrine. For example, in much of Christianity, it was Adam and Eve who originally fell and thus caused the fall for all their offspring.
That's only an immortal or semp-eternal soul (eternal forwards but not backwards) because it has an origin point, i.e. creation by God or by conception in the womb, which is also why they don't believe in reincarnation/rebirth. There is really no point of comparison here.
binocular wrote:In some Hindu traditions, it is said that the soul rebelled against God, the soul wanted to "lord it over material nature" and that God granted the soul this wish by creating the illusion (maya) that the soul is in control (when in fact it isn't).
Like I said, the non-realist school doesn't make sense to me. Because to them individuation is not real, i.e. all souls are one and the same God, yet are also treated as separate, which is just confusing.
binocular wrote: Either way, it seems that as soon as we posit a(n eternal) soul, we're faced with the problem of how this soul got into samsara out of which it now desperately tries to escape.
The realist position makes enough sense to me....but I think without a soul its harder to explain.

I.e. if Buddha was a Samkhyan, then saying that ignorance and craving causes reincarnation/rebirth makes perfect sense, because you have individual souls to be ignorant and crave. But with no soul, craving and ignorance exist with no self to crave or be ignorant, so craving and ignorance become Vedanta style corporate selves shooting forth false illusory individuations. No soul leads back to the non-realist school, back to corporate soul. Simple as that.

davidbrainerd
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by davidbrainerd » Sat Sep 03, 2016 10:29 pm

The Thinker wrote:Have Dinosaurs reincarnated? , then why should we? End of, the rest is pure vanity.
You're thinking of resurrection.

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No_Mind
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Re: If there is no self how can we reincarnate

Post by No_Mind » Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:14 am

binocular wrote: In some Hindu traditions, it is said that the soul rebelled against God, the soul wanted to "lord it over material nature" and that God granted the soul this wish by creating the illusion (maya) that the soul is in control (when in fact it isn't).
Can you tell which Hindu tradition says soul rebelled against God? If you think it is off topic you can pm me.

Hinduism speaks of Brahman -- the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena (note the n, not Brahma the Creator God in Hinduism but Brahman). Brahman is not a God or a deity but very similar to Tao.

Like a fish is born in a lake, the Universe (samsara) is born in Brahman. The lake did not create the fish but the fish was born due to the ecosystem present in the lake ...

Just like the fish is made of atoms from the lake, individual souls are made of the Divine soul. Just like a fish dies and after decay the atoms constituting it return to the lake, in same way each individual atman returns to the Divine (not always .. but that is the end goal or Moksha).

(my own analogy used to explain why Brahman is not Creator God to westerners .. not something you can find in any Upanishad; this explains how Brahman the ultimate reality is the primary cause of creation but side steps any role it needs assume as a Creator God).

I am not very well read about Hinduism but have been studying it in bits and pieces for many years and nothing I have come across says souls rebelled against God.

In Samkhya philosophy there is Purusa and Prakriti but that also does not speak of souls rebelling (to the best of my knowledge).
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus

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