Skeptical of Samsara

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
inyenzi
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Skeptical of Samsara

Post by inyenzi » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:32 am

Firstly, I should note that I am not myself a Buddhist, but have developed a keen interest in the teachings. However, time and time again a major issue keeps popping up, which is that it seems to me that overall Dhamma rests on the reality of Samsara. That is, without Samsara actually being the case, the Buddhist path and practice is on the whole pointless (aside from some moral lessons and cognitive benefits).

The issue for me is that there is no real proof for Samsara. I can't remember my own past lives. The 32 planes of existence just plainly strike me as ancient mythology, and I struggle to understand how any rational person can actually believe these planes exist (take the absurdity of the 'hungry ghost' realm, for instance..). How kamma affects rebirth, and how the actual process/mechanics of rebirth takes place is never really explained either (a 'not-self' transmigrates into the womb of an animal? into a hell realm? Um, how?). I have brought up these issues with practicing Buddhists, who have told me to set aside these issues for now, and that belief may come later. But without the preceeding belief in Samsara, instead of practicing the Buddhist path, I can merely kill myself to end the Dukkha (of human existence). Or really, just fill my time with whatever I feel like until I die eventually anyway. It is as if from a Westerners perspective, one must be first eased into a belief in rebirth, so that they may then practice the path to escape from it.

I realize bringing this up on a Buddhist forum is somewhat silly, given that I assume most here do believe in the reality of rebirth/Samsara, but I assume many here have also faced these issues. There is no proof for Samsara - to me it is quite plainly ancient religious mythology - so why practice Buddhism? Why do you personally believe in it?

sunnat
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by sunnat » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:45 am

There's no need to believe in it, or lots of stuff, in order to experience the real personal benefits of practicing the meditation techniques as taught by the Buddha. All you have to do is practice and see for yourself. Put aside the disbelief. It's not important.

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Zom
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by Zom » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:20 am

There is no proof for Samsara - to me it is quite plainly ancient religious mythology - so why practice Buddhism? Why do you personally believe in it?
There are some hints and clues, strictly these are not proofs, but these hardly can be explained somehow without rebirth mechanism. These are hundreds of cases collected by Ian Stevenson (and now this work is continued by Jim Tucker). YouTube is full of these, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX4rHtPu_vg

Then again, there are some interesting videos with animals. Like this, for example - cat stands still on hearing a Russian anthem. This all fits very well with rebirth concept. And you can find more such weird vids.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDfwPQdvLt0
and how the actual process/mechanics of rebirth takes place is never really explained either (a 'not-self' transmigrates into the womb of an animal? into a hell realm? Um, how?
This just happens. How? Too difficult to explain how. There are things in physics that can be explained, but are insanely difficult to explain; and yet, they keep happening.

justindesilva
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by justindesilva » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:58 am

sunnat wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:45 am
There's no need to believe in it, or lots of stuff, in order to experience the real personal benefits of practicing the meditation techniques as taught by the Buddha. All you have to do is practice and see for yourself. Put aside the disbelief. It's not important.
Paticca samuppada or Dependant Origination is an interesting example to show that there is no said rebirth
in Buddha darma. If not then what. It is a continuation of a birth from the past to present , and the present to future. From DO we are explained that a being is a psycho physico entity ( explained by ven K. Dammanando ) continuing from an unkown past to future along with a universal reaction of energies. Lord budda has termed this flux as ohga.
During this reaction of DO , death is a change of phase of the reaction. This death is a seperation of our physical body ( apo tejo vayo patavi) from the mind or vingnana.
May I explain that as samsara it is the mind or vingnana which continues , that too as a renewing energy.
This is taken from the fact of avidya paccaya sankara, that explains that after the death of a being the mind settles in a womb , which fabricates another physical body as sankara ( salayatana) that continues conditionally as another being of existence( bavo)
Anatta sutta and paticca samuppada sutta in refererence
could explain this better.
( As it is presumed that the questioner is in need of a rational explanation this mode is selected).
The continuation of a psycho physico nature of a being bound by greed , vexation and delusion - loba dosa moha is samsara.

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cappuccino
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by cappuccino » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:43 pm

Samsara is like a (dangerous) shore

Nirvana is the other (safe) shore



The dangerous shore is stressful

The safe shore is peaceful

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Bundokji
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by Bundokji » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:21 pm

I don't think a genuine interest in Buddhism requires any theoretical beliefs in samsara (whatever that means). Instead, i see it as a result of genuine questions one might have begin asking himself at a very young age. To give few examples:

1- We have more than seven billion people on this planet in which everyone believing himself to be holding the Truth. and having the magical solution to the world's problems. If we have 7 billion solutions, then why the world is so messed up? and what is the truth?

2- Experiencing things implies that they have an origin, but this origin is never directly experienced. Why? And where does the chain of cause and effect stops?

3- We believe we are mortals, but we behave otherwise. Why?

4- How do we know if we are in a dream or awake?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

santa100
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by santa100 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:46 pm

inyenzi wrote:take the absurdity of the 'hungry ghost' realm, for instance..
But it'd only be "absurd" if you're able to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the hungry ghost realm absolutely 100% does not exist. What separates humans from animals is the capability of abstract thinking and the ability to keep an open mind toward scenarios/possibilities that the physical senses have yet able to observe and capture. You can just kill yourself to end Dukkha, or fill your time with whatever you feel like until you die, but a smart person with abstract thinking capability would keep his mind open to these questions: "what if I'm wrong? What if all that I can know and see right now is still severely limited? What if there're a lot more "out there" to be discovered and understood?". Notice that just because there's no proof to something, it doesn't automatically mean it does not exist. It could just mean that our current level of understanding, our current scientific instruments might not have been advanced quite enough to capture it. Try to prove to the ants the existence of differential equation or the Hubble space telescope!
It’s like taking a scoop out of the ocean with a cup and saying there are no such things as whales because there are none in my cup." ~ Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson [on the limitation of the human senses and of current scientific instruments] ~

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cappuccino
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by cappuccino » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:03 pm

Skepticism is from lack of faith

And faith should be developed

denise
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by denise » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:10 pm

hello all....if a women gives birth to identical twins or more...... who is there ...with multiple embryos...who is who? :thinking:

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cappuccino
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by cappuccino » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:45 pm

denise wrote:who is who?
the soul isn't affirmed or denied

denise
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by denise » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:55 pm

just wondering about multiple identical births...it's interesting to be here as one, let alone a cast of 6,5,4,3 or 2...same womb, same parents... :? sorry if off topic

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cappuccino
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by cappuccino » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:00 pm

the body isn't self

like clothes aren't self

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Aloka
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by Aloka » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:04 pm

When I saw this topic I was reminded of an article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu that I read a few years ago:



Samsara

Samsara literally means "wandering-on." Many people think of it as the Buddhist name for the place where we currently live — the place we leave when we go to nibbana. But in the early Buddhist texts, it's the answer, not to the question, "Where are we?" but to the question, "What are we doing?" Instead of a place, it's a process: the tendency to keep creating worlds and then moving into them. As one world falls apart, you create another one and go there. At the same time, you bump into other people who are creating their own worlds, too.

Continues at the link:


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... msara.html

:anjali:

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cappuccino
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by cappuccino » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:16 pm

Samsara is a place

The land of confusion

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Aloka
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Re: Skeptical of Samsara

Post by Aloka » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:02 pm

cappuccino wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:16 pm
Samsara is a place

The land of confusion
This is the definition of samsara from the Nyanatiloka Pali-English dictionary:

samsára: 'round of rebirth', lit. perpetual wandering', is a name by which is designated the sea of life ever restlessly heaving up and down, the symbol of this continuous process of ever again and again being born, growing old, suffering and dying.

More precisely put, samsára is the unbroken chain of the five-fold khandha-combinations, which, constantly changing from moment to moment follow continuously one upon the other through inconceivable periods of time. Of this samsára, a single lifetime constitutes only a tiny and fleeting fraction; hence to be able to comprehend the first noble truth of universal suffering, one must let one's gaze rest upon the samsára, upon this frightful chain of rebirths, and not merely upon one single life-time, which, of course, may be sometimes less painful. - Cf. tilakkhana, anattá,
paramattha, patisandhi.


https://what-buddha-said.net/library/pd ... ionary.pdf

.

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