Rebirth

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 811
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: Rebirth

Post by Nicolas » Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:46 am

In my opinion & limited experience, rebirth is only seen as a problem from the materialist paradigm. Once this paradigm is seen as (quasi-)arbitrary, once you go beyond the body, mind is offered the possibility of being more foundational, and its post-death continuation doesn't seem that far-fetched anymore.

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 5794
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Rebirth

Post by Aloka » Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:02 am

Johnnymac wrote:

I am still wrapped up in my opinion of my greatness.
Coming from a combat background I almost always slip into combat mode when I shouldn't. So I beg your forgiveness and I will endeavour to smooth out my action.
Okey dokey. Life's too short for quarrelling.

"All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never departing shadow."


(Dhammapada Ch. 1, Gil Fronsdal translation)

:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dinsdale
Posts: 5963
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Rebirth

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:47 am

JohnK wrote:From Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Under the Bodhi Tree, pp. 63-64:
Rebirth in Buddhism, in Dhamma language, is the reappearance of the concept of self. With each clinging to self there is a new birth or "rebirth." In other words, with each spin of dependent co-arising there is a new birth (just as there are new moments of contact, feeling, craving, and so on). Each occurrence of dependent co-arising is a new birth of the illusive self...In this language, rebirth is the concept of "I" being reborn in mind."
This purely psychological interpretation of birth seems at odds with the more physical description of birth in the suttas, specifically in dependent origination:

“And what, bhikkhus, is birth? The birth of the various beings into the various orders of beings, their being born, descent into the womb, production, the manifestation of the aggregates, the obtaining of the sense bases. This is called birth."
https://suttacentral.net/en/sn12.2

And in dependent origination birth leads invariably to aging and death, which are also described in physical terms, rather than in purely psychological terms:

“And what, bhikkhus, is aging-and-death? The aging of the various beings in the various orders of beings, their growing old, brokenness of teeth, greyness of hair, wrinkling of skin, decline of vitality, degeneration of the faculties: this is called aging. The passing away of the various beings from the various orders of beings, their perishing, breakup, disappearance, mortality, death, completion of time, the breakup of the aggregates, the laying down of the carcass: this is called death. Thus this aging and this death are together called aging-and-death."
https://suttacentral.net/en/sn12.2
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6440
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: Rebirth

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:59 am

CedarTree wrote:I am hoping those knowledgeable can explain how it is talked about in their school and also experiences and or things that have helped deepen their understanding on this teaching.
Reading/listening to a lot of suttas as well as more contemporary teachings from monastics. As Spiny pointed out, the description of rebirth in the suttas is unequivocally about a beginningless sequence of rebirths into one form of existence or another. And when you read contemporary teachings from monastics, those whose position is to deny or beat around the bush about this about this are rare outliers. The only ones I can think of are Ajahn Buddhadasa and Ajahn Sumedho and some of their disciples/peers. I think that position is actually quite uncommon among Buddhists, but one might get the impression that it's prevalent if most of one's interaction with other Buddhists is over the internet.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6440
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: Rebirth

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:11 am

Nicolas wrote:In my opinion & limited experience, rebirth is only seen as a problem from the materialist paradigm. Once this paradigm is seen as (quasi-)arbitrary, once you go beyond the body, mind is offered the possibility of being more foundational, and its post-death continuation doesn't seem that far-fetched anymore.
That's a good way of looking at it. Related to that, one way I look at it as to look at it from the mind's perspective, forgetting the body and the sensory realm for a moment. That impetus in our minds that sends us craving and seeking for fresh delight in one thing after another can be clearly discerned in our own experience. Death won't serve as the cause and condition for the ending of that impetus unless we develop insight right there. So the impetus will continue on, establishing another set of aggregates to find fresh delight in, bound by kamma. Voila, rebirth! And on it goes.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Rebirth

Post by Lazy_eye » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:41 pm

Mkoll wrote:the description of rebirth in the suttas is unequivocally about a beginningless sequence of rebirths into one form of existence or another.
Primarily, perhaps, but not "unequivocally." There is at least one sutta in which the heaven and hell realms are presented as states of mind rather than physical destinations.
I have seen a hell named 'Six Spheres of Contact.' Whatever form one sees there with the eye is undesirable, never desirable; displeasing, never pleasing; disagreeable, never agreeable. Whatever sound one hears there with the ear... Whatever aroma one smells there with the nose... Whatever flavor one tastes there with the tongue... Whatever tactile sensation one touches there with the body... Whatever idea one cognizes there with the intellect is undesirable, never desirable; displeasing, never pleasing; disagreeable, never agreeable...

I have seen a heaven named 'Six Spheres of Contact.' Whatever form one sees there with the eye is desirable, never undesirable; pleasing, never displeasing; agreeable, never disagreeable. Whatever sound one hears there with the ear... Whatever aroma one smells there with the nose... Whatever flavor one tastes there with the tongue... Whatever tactile sensation one touches there with the body... Whatever idea one cognizes there with the intellect is desirable, never undesirable; pleasing, never displeasing; agreeable, never disagreeable.
Hat tip to BWB, where I came across this sutta.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4385
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Rebirth

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:03 pm

Lazy_eye wrote: There is at least one sutta in which the heaven and hell realms are presented as states of mind rather than physical destinations.
I have seen a hell named 'Six Spheres of Contact.' Whatever form one sees there with the eye is undesirable, never desirable; displeasing, never pleasing; disagreeable, never agreeable. Whatever sound one hears there with the ear... Whatever aroma one smells there with the nose... Whatever flavor one tastes there with the tongue... Whatever tactile sensation one touches there with the body... Whatever idea one cognizes there with the intellect is undesirable, never desirable; displeasing, never pleasing; disagreeable, never agreeable...

I have seen a heaven named 'Six Spheres of Contact.' Whatever form one sees there with the eye is desirable, never undesirable; pleasing, never displeasing; agreeable, never disagreeable. Whatever sound one hears there with the ear... Whatever aroma one smells there with the nose... Whatever flavor one tastes there with the tongue... Whatever tactile sensation one touches there with the body... Whatever idea one cognizes there with the intellect is desirable, never undesirable; pleasing, never displeasing; agreeable, never disagreeable.
Hat tip to BWB, where I came across this sutta.
Yes, that's certainly a different way of expressing things, but presumably this sutta could be referring to a type of rebirth in a non-material realm. Alternatively, it could be referring to physical and mental realms of existence, but expressed in different terms. Either way, it would appear to be compatible with the traditional view of rebirth.

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6440
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: Rebirth

Post by Mkoll » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:34 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Primarily, perhaps, but not "unequivocally."
No, it's unequivocal.
Sam Vara wrote:Yes, that's certainly a different way of expressing things, but presumably this sutta could be referring to a type of rebirth in a non-material realm.
Indeed. Ven. T's note from his ATI translation of the sutta:
The message here is that in realms where sense objects are totally disagreeable or totally agreeable it is very difficult to practice the holy life, for in the former, one is too distracted by pain; in the latter, too distracted by pleasure.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Rebirth

Post by Lazy_eye » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:37 pm

Mkoll wrote: No, it's unequivocal.
Well, we'll have to disagree then.
Sam Vara wrote:Yes, that's certainly a different way of expressing things, but presumably this sutta could be referring to a type of rebirth in a non-material realm.
Could be. Nevertheless, it's still an example of a sutta where the terms "hell" and "heaven" are used to describe something other than the traditional hell and heaven realms. Both the heavens and hells are part of kama-loka, whereas the non-material realms are arupa-loka. So I can't see any way of getting around the fact that the terms are being used differently in this sutta. Now, what we make of this (i.e. how much significance should we assign to this example) is another question.
Either way, it would appear to be compatible with the traditional view of rebirth.
Sure. I don't see any reason to claim an incompatibility there.

santa100
Posts: 3112
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Rebirth

Post by santa100 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:52 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Primarily, perhaps, but not "unequivocally." There is at least one sutta in which the heaven and hell realms are presented as states of mind rather than physical destinations...
SN 35.135's 'Contact's Sixfold Base' hell is actually a physical realm like the human realm. Ven. Bodhi's note citing Cmy.'s explanation:
Chaphassayatanika. Spk: There is no separate hell named "Contact's Sixfold Base", for this designation applies to all thirty-one great hells; but this is said here with reference to the great hell Avici. At 56:43, a hell so described is referred to as mahaparilaha niraya, the Hell of the Great Conflagration.

hermitwin
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:35 pm

Re: Rebirth

Post by hermitwin » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:49 am

according to ajahn brahm, you can see your previous lives in meditation, and when you see it, you will not have any more doubts.
i cant see my previous lives. but if life is a continuum, its only logical that we will still exist after death. i think the analogy of our childhood experiences is appropriate. what happened in our childhood affects us even today. but are we the same person? not really, but its a strong connection. biologist say that every single cell in your body dies and are replaced every 7 years. so physically, we die every 7 years, but we are still 'alive'. a different body but still the same person. at least we think we are the same person. i think rebirth is similar, you take on a different body, but there still traces of your old self. it never ends, until nirvana....

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 1535
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Rebirth

Post by cappuccino » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:30 am

There are previous lives but they're empty previous lives.
As this life is empty.

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Rebirth

Post by Lazy_eye » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:10 am

santa100 wrote:At 56:43, a hell so described is referred to as mahaparilaha niraya, the Hell of the Great Conflagration.
Yes, but interestingly enough this other sutta, SN 56.43, presents us with another example of hell being used figuratively rather than literally.

The sutta begins with the Buddha referring to "the hell named the Great Conflagration," which is the extreme state of all sense and mind objects being disagreeable. He then proceeds to tell the assembled bhikkhus that there is an even more terrible and frightful conflagration than that one. And what is this worse conflagration? It consists of the experiences of aging, death, sorrow, lamentation. pain, displeasure, and despair.

To describe all these woes, the Buddha uses hell as an extended metaphor, describing them as a form of "burning," which is clearly figurative rather than literal. Sorrow and lamentation don't literally cause us to combust.
Having generated such volitional formations, they are burnt by the conflagration of birth, burnt by the conflagration of aging, burnt by the conflagration of death, burnt by the conflagration of sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.
We can notice also that when the Buddha mentions the Great Conflagration at the start of the sutta (the passage is nearly identical to that of the "Six Spheres of Contact" hell in SN 35.135), he describes it in terms of a mental/psychological state rather than some literal torture realm. There are no references to hell wardens or meat hooks or people's limbs getting
chopped off, or any of the other lurid scenes out of MN 130.

It seems to me that SN 35.135 and SN 56.43, taken together, provide support for the assertion that the Buddha sometimes used terms such as heaven and hell metaphorically, or as teaching devices.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:31 am, edited 5 times in total.

SamKR
Posts: 995
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:33 pm

Re: Rebirth

Post by SamKR » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:13 am

If there is a belief in rebirth (or no-rebirth), then unless a direct indubitable experience or knowledge of rebirth (or no-rebirth) arises, it is merely a belief (no matter what a teacher says, or even a Buddha says), and nothing more. This belief is an experience directly and indubitably arising right now. It is impermanent, it is suffering, and empty of any substance.

If a direct indubitable (or dubitable) experience or knowledge of rebirth arises, that too arises directly and indubitably right now. It is impermanent, it is suffering, and empty of any substance. All past lives (and ideas of past lives or no-past-lives) are empty bubbles that may arise just to pass away right now.

Do we need any sutta support for this? :)

santa100
Posts: 3112
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Rebirth

Post by santa100 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:54 am

Lazy_eye wrote:We can notice also that when the Buddha mentions the Great Conflagration at the start of the sutta (the passage is nearly identical to that of the "Six Spheres of Contact" hell in SN 35.135), he describes it in terms of a mental/psychological state rather than some literal torture realm. There are no references to hell wardens or meat hooks or people's limbs getting
chopped off, or any of the other lurid scenes out of MN 130.
The Hell of the Great Conflagration/MahaParilaha Niraya, just like the hell of Contact's Sixfold Base are concrete realms as already provided by Cmy's explanation. Let's be very clear about what the Buddha said in SN 56.43. There the Buddha first described a concrete hell realm, and then said the suffering due to birth, aging, death, etc. is more terrible and frightful than even the suffering at a concrete hell realm. He never described MahaParilaha Niraya as some sort of mental/psychological state. He only said the suffering there is still lighter than the suffering of birth, aging, death, etc.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], hermitwin, paul, robertk and 102 guests