Rebirth question

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Laurens
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Rebirth question

Post by Laurens » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:23 am

I was thinking about rebirth the other day. It's not something I find especially interesting, because it is rarely relevant to practise for me. However one question did occur to me:

Is rebirth bound by time in the same way that our lives seem to be? Or to phrase it differently, is it possible to be alive at the same time as one of your other incarnations?

This is not something I have heard discussed, or refuted in Buddhism, so I don't know if there is an answer.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Sam Vara
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:27 am

Yes, I think this is a good question. I asked it here some years ago, but didn't get a reply. In the suttas, rebirth is always said to be in the future, as if time were a universal absolute; there doesn't seem to be the possibility of time being relative to each life, such that one could be reborn in an earlier era, or one's life now could be the result of actions committed in what we take to be the future. This may be due to the "Grandfather Paradox"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_paradox
in that one is incapable of causally influencing a cause for one's earlier motivation.

Overall, the Buddha didn't as far as I can see say much about time and space in the abstract. I have heard it said that (like nibbana) space is not created, and I wonder why the same is not said of time.

TRobinson465
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by TRobinson465 » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:39 am

Laurens wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:23 am
I was thinking about rebirth the other day. It's not something I find especially interesting, because it is rarely relevant to practise for me. However one question did occur to me:

Is rebirth bound by time in the same way that our lives seem to be? Or to phrase it differently, is it possible to be alive at the same time as one of your other incarnations?

This is not something I have heard discussed, or refuted in Buddhism, so I don't know if there is an answer.
From my understanding of the Buddhist concept of rebirth, no. you cannot exist at the same time as a previous incarnation. While the Buddha doesn't flat out refute this, im pretty sure there is no jataka tale, story, or sutta that indicates one can have two lifetimes exist simultaneously.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

SarathW
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by SarathW » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:24 am

no. you cannot exist at the same time as a previous incarnation
Yes, that is how I understand it too.

The whole Kamma field exists in sort of an arrow of time.
What is called time is the change.
If there is no change there is no time.
House fly live about 28 days.
So in a when a human lives for 80 years the fly may have 1000 births.
I think you can appear in two different places at the same time though.
The thing is not that is not you.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

santa100
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by santa100 » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:28 pm

Laurens wrote:Is rebirth bound by time in the same way that our lives seem to be? Or to phrase it differently, is it possible to be alive at the same time as one of your other incarnations?
The idea was actually in a Hollywood movie called Little Buddha, where a Tibetan Lama passed away and got reborn as 3 separate kids in separate continents, each as a manifestation of the Lama's body, speech, and mind. While this is an interesting idea, I couldn't find any support or similar story in the Pali Canon. In the Canon, all the stories are about a linear progression of rebirths, causal events happening sequentially (without "forking" out) in accordance with the arrow of time.

Laurens
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by Laurens » Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:42 pm

It would solve the 'problem' of population and rebirth if it were the case that "earth time" and "rebirth time" were both linear, but not dependent on each other. The path of rebirth time could cross over with earth time at different points or even at the same point. If that were true then we wouldn't have more people appearing in rebirth time, just the same lines crossing over each other more at this point in history. In other words there aren't more "souls" (problematic term I know, but my Pali is bad, and I don't know the term for the essence of our being that survives death) there are just more instances of the same soul living in the same earth time, but in multiple bodies at once.

That's just total intellectual speculation, so don't think I am putting forth that Buddhism teaches this, or that even if it doesn't mention it that it must be correct. I am just throwing ideas around. I don't claim to know if this is correct, just interested whether or not there is any precedent for it in Buddhist thought.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

LuisR
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by LuisR » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:43 pm

If i die in Canada can I be reborn in another country or will i be reborn in Canada?

santa100
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by santa100 » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:34 pm

Laurens wrote:It would solve the 'problem' of population and rebirth if it were the case that "earth time" and "rebirth time" were both linear, but not dependent on each other. The path of rebirth time could cross over with earth time at different points or even at the same point. If that were true then we wouldn't have more people appearing in rebirth time, just the same lines crossing over each other more at this point in history. In other words there aren't more "souls" (problematic term I know, but my Pali is bad, and I don't know the term for the essence of our being that survives death) there are just more instances of the same soul living in the same earth time, but in multiple bodies at once.
Linearity of earth time/rebirth time is irrelevant to the issue of over-population, which had been discussed and demonstrated with a simple math scenario here

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Sam Vara
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:41 pm

LuisR wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:43 pm
If i die in Canada can I be reborn in another country or will i be reborn in Canada?
Human rebirth is reckoned to be exceptionally rare. Even if you were reborn in Canada, you might be reborn as a moose.

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_anicca_
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by _anicca_ » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:20 am

LuisR wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:43 pm
If i die in Canada can I be reborn in another country or will i be reborn in Canada?
No way of knowing. It all depends on kamma.

However, if someone is particularly attached to their house they could be reborn as a bug inside that house.

This is all theoretical...
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

http://vipassanameditation.asia

justindesilva
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by justindesilva » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:07 am

_anicca_ wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:20 am
LuisR wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:43 pm
If i die in Canada can I be reborn in another country or will i be reborn in Canada?
No way of knowing. It all depends on kamma.

However, if someone is particularly attached to their house they could be reborn as a bug inside that house.

This is all theoretical...
Let me first get to the point that rebirth is not exactly starting life again. Dependant origination being the core of buddhism , explain that we are existing as conditioned by 12 links ( nidanas from ignorance to birth and rebirth) of darma. Re birth there is only a link in the DO.
Death here means only a seperation of nama rupa , where nama ( consciouness), say floats, until it can link with another rupa. ( form).
As kamma generates the effect of this reunion of nama rupa, the country, here or a peta world or an animal realm will be decided by conditions as stored per resultant kamma.

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cappuccino
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by cappuccino » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:19 am

my fear used to be becoming a ghost

a neighbor had to move because of a ghost, I saw this ghost

TRobinson465
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by TRobinson465 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:24 am

cappuccino wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:19 am
my fear used to be becoming a ghost

a neighbor had to move because of a ghost, I saw this ghost
Your afraid of becoming a ghost because you saw a ghost?
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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cappuccino
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by cappuccino » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:34 am

I just wouldn't want to be stuck

justindesilva
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Re: Rebirth question

Post by justindesilva » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:52 am

cappuccino wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:19 am
my fear used to be becoming a ghost

a neighbor had to move because of a ghost, I saw this ghost
I too had similar fears. J.krishnamurthi on buddhism, explained , that fear & depression & distress , occurs by projecting the past in to the future. So I decided to work against this by sticking to Eight fold noble path ( arya ashtanga marga),in professionall life and domestically. It has since helped me a lot. It also helps spiritual life.
Metta bhavana too, helps in keeping spirits away. ( Karaniya metta sutta).

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