Rebirth - how does it work?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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alfa
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Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by alfa » Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:06 am

This isn't a debate on what rebirth is - whether it's moment to moment or actual transmigration sort of thing. Nor is it about 'what takes birth', 'is there a self' etc. etc. So please .........

Let's say there really is rebirth in the literal sense, that you come back to this world again and again until nibanna.

the question is: if you have no desire to come back, then surely you won't?

So if the aim is to avoid rebirth, then why do we need spiritual practice like meditation, metta, etc? A simple desire not to come back should suffice?

Or is it much more complicated than that?

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:17 am

alfa wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:06 am
if you have no desire to come back, then surely you won't?
If you jump into the air, and have no desire to come back to the ground, then surely you won't?
No. Gravity. It's a fact.
Rebirth works the same, it's a fundamental part of the universe.

If you have eradicated all desire and aversion and have become enlightened however, then yeah you're not going to be reborn.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:18 am

alfa wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:06 am
This isn't a debate on what rebirth is - whether it's moment to moment or actual transmigration sort of thing. Nor is it about 'what takes birth', 'is there a self' etc. etc. So please .........

Let's say there really is rebirth in the literal sense, that you come back to this world again and again until nibanna.

the question is: if you have no desire to come back, then surely you won't?

So if the aim is to avoid rebirth, then why do we need spiritual practice like meditation, metta, etc? A simple desire not to come back should suffice?

Or is it much more complicated than that?
I don't think we can say it is as simple as "If you have no desire to come back, then you won't". Lots of things happen to us when we have no specific desire for them. If conditions are right for something, it happens. A simple desire not to die doesn't stop us from dying. The same applies to ageing, getting pregnant, getting sick, and accidents. They happen because conditions are right, not (as the Buddha said) because of our wishes. Some people might even claim that a simple desire for something to happen would lead to continued existence in samsara.

alfa
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by alfa » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:30 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:18 am
alfa wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:06 am
This isn't a debate on what rebirth is - whether it's moment to moment or actual transmigration sort of thing. Nor is it about 'what takes birth', 'is there a self' etc. etc. So please .........

Let's say there really is rebirth in the literal sense, that you come back to this world again and again until nibanna.

the question is: if you have no desire to come back, then surely you won't?

So if the aim is to avoid rebirth, then why do we need spiritual practice like meditation, metta, etc? A simple desire not to come back should suffice?

Or is it much more complicated than that?
I don't think we can say it is as simple as "If you have no desire to come back, then you won't". Lots of things happen to us when we have no specific desire for them. If conditions are right for something, it happens. A simple desire not to die doesn't stop us from dying. The same applies to ageing, getting pregnant, getting sick, and accidents. They happen because conditions are right, not (as the Buddha said) because of our wishes. Some people might even claim that a simple desire for something to happen would lead to continued existence in samsara.
Agreed. But the things you mention happen owing to various laws of this world - gravity, atrophy, etc. Rebirth, otoh, is not limited to these laws or rules, so I am wondering if a simple desire not to come back would suffice.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:03 am

alfa wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:30 am

Agreed. But the things you mention happen owing to various laws of this world - gravity, atrophy, etc. Rebirth, otoh, is not limited to these laws or rules, so I am wondering if a simple desire not to come back would suffice.
Good point. But the Buddha said that a particular type of rebirth is not subject to our wishes, along with those things governed by worldly laws:
"Long life is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world.

"Beauty is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world.

"Happiness is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world.

"Status is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world.

"Rebirth in heaven is welcome, agreeable, pleasant, & hard to obtain in the world.

"Now, I tell you, these five things are not to be obtained by reason of prayers or wishes.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

So this suggests that the laws he was talking about extend beyond effects we can experience in this world. If a simple desire to not be reborn was sufficient to guarantee it, then he would not have bothered with the rest of the teachings. As James said, rebirth is ended by means of eradicating all desire and aversion and becoming enlightened. We could conceive of this enlightened state as a "simple desire not to come back", or as the lack of desire for anything whatsoever, but this is, apparently, a very difficult state to reach. It requires a path to get there, rather than just desiring to be there.

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equilibrium
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by equilibrium » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:27 am

alfa wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:06 am
So if the aim is to avoid rebirth, then why do we need spiritual practice like meditation, metta, etc? A simple desire not to come back should suffice?
To avoid rebirth is to BREAK out of the cycle of existence, to SEE the actual illusion. If this isn't seen, one is bound within it.....conditioned existence.

One is in a dream, until one wakes up, one doesn't KNOW one is in a dream! You only know after you wake up!

Transcend between Samsara (fabricated existence) and Nibbana (unborn)!

santa100
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by santa100 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:11 pm

alfa wrote:if you have no desire to come back, then surely you won't?

So if the aim is to avoid rebirth, then why do we need spiritual practice like meditation, metta, etc? A simple desire not to come back should suffice?
Because to get out of Samsara, one must completely purify oneself in all three gateways: thought, body, and speech. A desire not to come back is just a thought. There's concrete actions that need to be implemented for that thought. A simple analogy, you're driving a car, you might "desire" to stop but your foot is still hitting the gas pedal. As long as the foot doesn't implement what the mind wants, the car will keeping moving. Hence all the needed spiritual practice like meditation, metta, etc... All those are effective methods that help taking your foot off that darn gas pedal and make your "desire" comes true.

justindesilva
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by justindesilva » Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:00 pm

Re birth is a result of past kamma. The only means of getting out of past kamma is attaining the state of nirvana.

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Rebirth - how does it work?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:57 am

actually, i think desire is sufficient, but that actually has to be the case. i want nibbāna but i also want to eat after solar noon and masturbate and smoke cigarettes. upādāna, clinging or grasping, is like adding fuel to a raging fire. the fire wont go out unless it is deprived of fuel. the fire gone out is nibbāna
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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