the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 6177
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Aloka » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:48 pm

.

I thought I'd add this to the topic. Its an excerpt from page 1-2 of a transcript of a talk given by Ajahn Amaro in 2018 (he's abbot of Amaravati Monastery UK), with the title: " Unshakeable Well Being : Is the Buddhist Concept of Enlightenment a Meaningful Possibility in the Current Age ? " (PDF)
In Buddhist tradition, and in a more mythological expression, enlightenment is also called ‘the ending of the cycle of birth and death’ – this makes reference to rebirth as well as to the diminishing and ending of rebirth. I think it’s helpful here to say that one of the things that attracted me and many other people towards the Buddha’s teachings is its non-dogmatic nature. I am quite aware that many people don’t like the concepts of past lives, future lives and rebirth. That sort of terminology may send shudders through the system and that’s fair enough. I feel that even though the texts talk in terms like ‘ending the cycles of birth and death’, it is completely valid to think of that in terms of ‘psychological birth and death’.

What do I mean by that phrase? For example, you might be born into your current book project or your new experimental design. That is a birth. The mind takes hold of a particular venture, a possession, an identity, a personal relationship or a social role. We might say that we are born into the role of being a Dhamma teacher or into the role of being a professor, born into founding a particular project, and with that birth is also a delight.

The delight comes from the sense that everything is going well, there is the aspiration that beautiful and useful things might come forth from it. But there is also the death element; perhaps things don’t work so well, or you don’t get funded the next time, or you present your thesis and you get slammed by your professors. There is a bitterness that comes when you have invested in something and then have to see your aspirations die. That is birth and death. Buddhist language does not just refer to physical birth and death, it also refers to psychological birth and death.

My own teacher Ajahn Chah would use these terms when he talked about birth and death. He would talk about being born into a hope, being born into a building project, being born into the role of being a monk or a nun. So I feel it’s completely valid to think in terms of the freedom from birth and death as meaning freedom from being reborn into the entanglement and toxic identification that can come with taking hold of a project or a role or a position and so forth. ‘Freedom from birth and death’ therefore means a complete independence from addictive and compulsive attachments, as well as from self-centred attitudes.

https://forestsangha.org/teachings/book ... ge=English

:anjali:

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 2705
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by cappuccino » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:53 pm

The Buddha taught that doubt is one of five hindrances that arise in the mind, clouding your judgment, limiting your ability to act, and causing great emotional disquiet.
Lost in Doubt?

User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 5395
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Ceisiwr » Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:06 pm

I think the psychological interpretation is perfectly fine and compatible with the belief in rebirth post mortem.

Personally i have come to have saddha in rebirth and kamma post mortem, which has been quite a journey for me.

jasday
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:07 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by jasday » Tue May 14, 2019 6:15 am

I have always struggled with this notion. On one end, the Buddha is very trustworthy because everything but his supernatural teachings can be tested and proven true for any individual who sincerely tries.

But as far as kamma and rebirth are concerned, there is no way of proving it that I know without becoming enlightened, if that sort of knowledge can be gained from following the path.

I wouldn't say I have much confidence in the supernatural aspects of the buddha's teachings but I can't deny that atheists aren't close to proving their case either. My current knowledge of biology has shown me how little materialists even know about our origins/birth, which in my opinion can shed light on what we actually know of what happens after death. I have realized that a lot of what is considered a theory or hypothesis when it comes to evolution or biology is a lot of the time propped up as a fact when it's at best a conjecture. The running theory: abiogenesis, says that life began billions of years ago and that a cell more simple that the cells of today propped up by complete accident. Proteins, lipids and other compounds naturally can bond with each other and create an enclosed system that is permeable (a cell(s) that can absorb material [food]) and eat other cells therefore creating competition. It is also said that this so called cell can contain information and pass it on to future generations (evolution). It is also said that first cells that divided were sliced in half by impact of rock, waves in water and other environmental factors by chance and that these enclosed systems became smaller enclosed systems that could be separated so perfectly that the information 'stored' in these newly divided cells would be the same. jack szostak is a nobel prize winner for his research.

My problem with all of this is that while these first cells could have divided by accident due to impact with environment (lets say sharp rock) and that through permeability, could have absorbed other cells (eating them and would be the competition spoken about in evolutionary theory), it does not explain that after accidental divisions and cells colliding with other cells and from permeability one cell would accidentally absorb another, it does not explain at all how these cells would choose to divide on their own, pass information to new generations, and that a program in these cells would use this information to improve on future generations of cells. The missing link in all of this is will and decision.

The craziest part of this is that it leads me to believing that a decision maker(s) involved in each of these cells would have brought them to life. To have 'information' but to use it to improve future generations is a choice. It is an action. What sets this decision in motion. I like to believe that when Buddha spoke about the beginning of a new world system it would be a higher being made from mind so called tasting the water until the became grosser in form and dense and hence why this dead matter would have produced this simple cell that jack szostak is proposing that existed from there the will of this mind based being identified with said cell and so evolution of this cell was set into motion.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm babbling and that I'm actually explaining myself correctly but this is where I'm at in my view and I'm torn between not knowing what happens after death and drawing a complete blank in that regard, but on the other end I'm pretty confident that a will and decision was made to put dead matter into motion, even in it's most simple form, and provided with it the will to eat, sustain, fear pain, desire pleasure, and have the other characteristics of a sentient being that the buddha described that includes intelligence and consciousness as well.

I think this is interesting and would like to hear someone else's thoughts, please.

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2534
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by manas » Wed May 15, 2019 8:10 pm

Hello, please allow a momentary digression...

A month or two ago (not sure) I made a post here that flowed more from anger at religion in general, rather than representing what I actually believe. I don't really believe there is no rebirth - I take it back. It was a phase I was going through at the time, a sort of 'science craze', almost forcing myself to look at things from the standpoint of biology alone.

I can now state that to my mind, the breadth and depth of the verifiable truths about the mind and human heart, that we have as recorded in Sutta, so outshines any other philosophy I've encountered, that I'm happy to take rebirth, kamma, kamma-vipaka, wandering on in Samsara 'as working hypotheses', to quote Ajahn Thanissaro. Even more than that, it actually makes more sense than previously.

Whatever the truth about it is, I think the Buddha's admonition to live a virtuous life in the here-and-now, to put effort into that with dana, sila, and bhavana, so that if there is nothing after death, we don't lose out on having lived a good life, respected by others etc, however if there is life after death, our good actions through our lifetime, could protect us from having to be reborn in 'states of woe / deprivation'. Even in this world, we can see grades of happiness and sorrow that differ vastly in scope. Imagine being born as a 'prey animal', always frightened and for good reason, or even just human, but in Nth Korea - there are 'hellish' states right here in plain sight to us, and while we might not be experiencing them, many other being are.
From what's dear is born grief,
from what's dear is born fear.
For one freed from what's dear
there's no grief
— so how fear?


Dhp 212

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 5584
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by DooDoot » Wed May 15, 2019 8:57 pm

Saddhā wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:06 pm
Personally i have come to have saddha in rebirth and kamma post mortem, which has been quite a journey for me.
Often tanha can influence such convictions; such as not wanting to die; or subconsciously within wanting another chance due to missing the boat; or simply wanting more lives of engaging in sensual pleasures. The suttas say (somewhere) death is difficult for those attached to sensual pleasures. I think Christian Protestantism provides an excellent insight into the development of narcissistic forms of religion; salvation via faith rather than deeds; rebirth by faith rather than by deeds. Religion once nurtured fear of doing evil (ottappa) but modern developments of narcissistic religion are the very opposite.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 2705
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by cappuccino » Thu May 16, 2019 9:26 pm

re·birth
noun
the process of being reincarnated or born again.

User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 5395
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Ceisiwr » Fri May 17, 2019 9:41 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:57 pm
Saddhā wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:06 pm
Personally i have come to have saddha in rebirth and kamma post mortem, which has been quite a journey for me.
Often tanha can influence such convictions; such as not wanting to die; or subconsciously within wanting another chance due to missing the boat; or simply wanting more lives of engaging in sensual pleasures. The suttas say (somewhere) death is difficult for those attached to sensual pleasures. I think Christian Protestantism provides an excellent insight into the development of narcissistic forms of religion; salvation via faith rather than deeds; rebirth by faith rather than by deeds. Religion once nurtured fear of doing evil (ottappa) but modern developments of narcissistic religion are the very opposite.

Good job none of that applies to me.

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 5584
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by DooDoot » Sat May 18, 2019 2:52 am

cappuccino wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 9:26 pm
re·birth
noun
the process of being reincarnated or born again.
What Pali word is the Pali equivalent? Thanks. For example, the most common Pali word translated as "rebirth", namely, "upapajjati", does not appear to literally mean "the process of being reincarnated".
Saddhā wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:41 pm
Often tanha can influence such convictions; such as not wanting to die; or subconsciously within wanting another chance due to missing the boat; or simply wanting more lives of engaging in sensual pleasures. The suttas say (somewhere) death is difficult for those attached to sensual pleasures.
Good job none of that applies to me.
Are you claiming to have no craving (tanha), like an Arahant; or claiming to have no wishes for future sensual pleasures; like a Non-Returner? :shrug:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 2705
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by cappuccino » Sat May 18, 2019 3:08 pm

DooDoot wrote:
cappuccino wrote: re·birth
noun
the process of being reincarnated or born again.
What Pali word is the Pali equivalent?
Saṃsāra

the beginningless cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence and dying again

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 5584
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by DooDoot » Sat May 18, 2019 11:34 pm

cappuccino wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 3:08 pm
Saṃsāra
saṃsarati
saṃ + sar + a
moves about continuously

sarati
to go, flow, run, move along
Just as a dog, tied by a leash to a post or stake, keeps running around and circling around that very post or stake; in the same way, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for people of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

He assumes feeling to be the self...

He assumes perception to be the self...

He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self...

He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness.

He keeps running around and circling around that very form... that very feeling... that very perception... those very fabrications... that very consciousness. He is not set loose from form, not set loose from feeling... from perception... from fabrications... not set loose from consciousness. He is not set loose from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is not set loose, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

But a well-instructed, disciple of the noble ones — who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for people of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma — doesn't assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

He doesn't assume feeling to be the self...

He doesn't assume perception to be the self...

He doesn't assume fabrications to be the self...

He doesn't assume consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness.

He doesn't run around or circle around that very form... that very feeling... that very perception... those very fabrications... that very consciousness. He is set loose from form, set loose from feeling... from perception... from fabrications... set loose from consciousness. He is set loose from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is set loose, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
The above appears to say "samsara" is "running around and circling around" the same here-&-now aggregates (rather than reincarnating into new aggregates in a future life). :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Sat May 18, 2019 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 2705
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by cappuccino » Sat May 18, 2019 11:41 pm

DooDoot wrote:
cappuccino wrote: Saṃsāra
saṃsarati
saṃ + sar + a
moves about continuously

The above appears to say samsara is "running around and circling around" the same aggregates (rather than reincarnating into new aggregates). :smile:
Buddha nowhere refutes reincarnation

& as far as anyone can tell, he taught reincarnation

it is common sense

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 5584
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by DooDoot » Sat May 18, 2019 11:43 pm

cappuccino wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 11:41 pm
Buddha nowhere refutes reincarnation
Keep avoiding the questions put to you. Avoid "upapajjati"; avoid "samsara". Now appear to claim the Buddha taught "reincarnation" of a "soul" or "atta".
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 2705
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by cappuccino » Sat May 18, 2019 11:44 pm

DooDoot wrote:
cappuccino wrote: Buddha nowhere refutes reincarnation
Keep avoiding the questions put to you. Avoid "upapajjati"; avoid "samsara". Now appear to claim the Buddha taught "reincarnation" of a "soul" or "atta".
soul is nowhere refuted, nowhere affirmed

except to neither refute nor affirm the soul

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 2705
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by cappuccino » Sat May 18, 2019 11:55 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhava

bhava is the tenth of the twelve links of Pratītyasamutpāda. It is the link between the defilements and repeated birth, that is, reincarnation.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], sakyan, SDC, seeker242 and 140 guests