the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Dhammakid
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Dhammakid »

Alex123 said:
"I am not a big fan of re-interpreting the Teaching to make it fit one's preconceived beliefs. Rather, I think it is better to change oneself to conform to the Teaching rather than changing them to confirm to you.

With metta,

Alex"

I understand what you're trying to say here, but it comes off as advocating blind acceptance in the manner you put it.

I don't think the Buddha wants us to "change ourselves" to fit his teachings, but rather put the teachings into practice in our everyday lives and discover the truths that way. Some of the truths take quite a bit longer than others, but we will eventually see them if we continue diligent practice.

My position is that, day by day, I see the truths of most of the teachings for myself, so I have full faith that eventually I will know the truth of rebirth. I choose to believe because so much of what he taught has been right so far and that leads me to believe literal rebirth is as well. Plus, since he states rebirth as a part of Right View, I feel like I give myself a better chance at success in practice if I believe him. But hey, if it's wrong when I'm able to know so, then so be it. No harm, no foul. At least I lived a good life.

:anjali:
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Hanzze »

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Aloka
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Aloka »

Alex 123 said ..
Tell that to the Buddha. A person may believe what s/he wants. But if it is not Buddha's teaching, then it is not and should not be called to be Buddha's teaching.

I am not a big fan of re-interpreting the Teaching to make it fit one's preconceived beliefs. Rather, I think it is better to change oneself to conform to the Teaching rather than changing them to confirm to you.

Well actually, I tell it to a Theravada teacher offline - and practice according to his advice, not yours.


:anjali:

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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sanghamitta »

Frankly what bothers me Alex is your apparent need for everyone to view these things the way that you do...irrespective of how knowledgeable or otherwise they are. or their stage of practice. I think you have an issue. And that it is more akin to a Christians need for uniformity of thought rather than the experiential emphasis of the Buddha. its "come and believe" rather than " come and taste".
As Aloka and others have pointed out genuinely great teachers like Ajahn Sumedho and before him Ajahn Chah will not be drawn on these matters AT ALL......at least not in public discussion where they have no way of gauging the mindset or knowledge of those participating.. They invariably say something like " find out for yourself " . They also point to the practices that are likely to result in insight into the teachings in their context. They dont just beat a drum for particular doctrines out of any pragmatic context .
And I know whose approach I trust more.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Hanzze
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Hanzze »

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Sanghamitta »

beeblebrox wrote:
Laurens wrote:Kamma needs rebirth to make sense. Kamma being that our actions bear fruit at some time or another. One lifetime simply doesn't allow this to happen. Forgive for bringing Hitler into the argument, but I hope I shall be forgiven, because I am not likening anyone to him, just merely pointing out an obvious example. Hitler was responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews, and countless more deaths in battle, do you think that Hitler's actions bore fruit in this life? He was not brought to justice, nor even slain by an enemy bullet, but his own bullet, with his own finger on the trigger. Did he really have to bear any kind of proportional negative kammic fruit for his actions? I do not believe that he did. So kamma would have failed. Not all volitional actions reap fruit if confined to one life time.
His use of Hitler as an analogy is quite unfortunate. First, he gave him a self. Second, he speculated about the inconceivable, which is the workings of someone's kamma.

Third, he thought that if Hitler was confined to that one lifetime, then the fruits won't happen. That obviously isn't true. People today still remember his actions. Some of them are still hurt by it. There are also some people who praise him for what he did. Some of them try to continue his ideals, and even emulate him. His name still get used in bad analogies. Those are rebirths in action.

What are the fruits? If people today try to become like Hitler, they'll have much harder time. They'll also bring the suffering (quite a bit) onto themselves. Many other people today, because of Hitler, are now aware of what would happen if these kind of people come to power, so they suppress these kind of people. So, the people who want to follow the same ideals as Hitler's will have some hard times ahead. Those are the fruits.

Here's the difference between the Buddha and Hitler:

The Buddha found the way to Nibbāna, where the rebirths (i.e., the continuing of dukkha) cease. If people try to follow this way (barring their own wrong views) they'll reach the end of their rebirths, which is Nibbāna.

Hitler didn't find the way to Nibbāna, where the rebirths (i.e., the continuing of dukkha) cease. If people try to follow his way, they'll only create more rebirths for themselves to take care of. That will bring on a lot of hardships. They'll only reach a state similar to Hitler's, not Nibbāna.

Seems to me like the kamma (and the rebirths) still work fine, with just one life model.
See "reductio ad hitlerum" and Godwins Law.....
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by tiltbillings »

Sanghamitta wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:. . .

Hitler didn't find the way to Nibbāna, where the rebirths (i.e., the continuing of dukkha) cease. If people try to follow his way, they'll only create more rebirths for themselves to take care of. That will bring on a lot of hardships. They'll only reach a state similar to Hitler's, not Nibbāna.

Seems to me like the kamma (and the rebirths) still work fine, with just one life model.
See "reductio ad hitlerum" and Godwins Law.....
Not sure that the reductio and Godwins fit here.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Sanghamitta »

No ? Godwin's Law states that sooner or later any internet discussion will be reduced to a discussion about Hitler and the Nazis....no matter what the subject or how germane to the debate....
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Sanghamitta »

beeblebrox wrote:
Laurens wrote:Ok so I admit I do not know exactly how kamma might work in one lifetime, so please:

Can you posit a single lifetime, workable model of kamma that does not contradict the Buddha's teachings?
I think that depends on how one views this phrase, "one lifetime." If this literally means that there's only one life within this entire universe... then that's obviously wrong. Just from a simple observation that there are already many other lives. No temporal acrobatics needed.

If it's viewed as one lifetime compared to many others, before and after it, and simultaneously (and maybe parallelly)... then the model is already clearly laid out for it by the Buddha.

Some people seem to think that this model requires many lifetimes for one person. That's patently wrong, because the idea of a continuous one person goes against what the Buddha taught about Anatta.

I think that is probably why some people seem to have problems trying to see this model with just "one lifetime." They try to view it in isolation, with just one person... and miss the entire forest.

Hope that makes it clear.
Good post Beeblebrox, and one that makes it clear that in terms of what we actually do, one lifetime or many lifetimes is secondary.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Sanghamitta »

Laurens wrote:Ok so I admit I do not know exactly how kamma might work in one lifetime, so please:

Can you posit a single lifetime, workable model of kamma that does not contradict the Buddha's teachings?
Laurens I get the feeling that having become disillusioned with the Dhamma you are now on a mission to close down all other options for others by reducing everything to black and white so that they too will leave the pitch and will join you in heckling from the sidelines.
I will be happy for you to prove me wrong in this judgement.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Shonin »

Alex123 wrote:Speaking precisely, all feelings (including “pleasant” ones) are ultimately just greater or lesser dukkha. SN36.2, SN36.5, SN36.11.
You seem to be confusing two different uses of the word Dukkha.

1. Dukkha as a Feeling (vedanā) of unpleasantness and as opposed to sukhā (pleasant)

2. Dukkha as one of the three characteristics which applies universally to all conditioned Dhammas
This is Dukkha as ultimate unsatisfactoriness. The fact that no dhamma by itself leads to permanent happiness. Conditioned dhammas are ultimately unreliable as ways to find enduring happiness.

All conditioned dhammas being Dukkha does not mean that all we find in this life is unpleasantness. The pleasantness we feel is as real as the unpleasantness. Both of these are conditioned and impermanent. The happiness that arises from the unconditioned dhamma is real. You are misrepresenting Buddhism as teaching that 'all conditioned dhammas are dukkha' means 'the entirety of life is unpleasantness, any apparent pleasantness or happiness is an illusion'. It is over-simplistic and misleading as well as a blatant contradiction of what anyone (who is not severely depressed and pessimistic) actually experiences in life if they are paying attention to their actual life.

Thus, since it's initial premise is false, your argument that 'since life is suffering, without rebirth we might as well all commit suicide' falls apart.
Alex123 wrote:Even pleasant feelings are ultimately just suffering, only to a lesser degree. Even blissful Jhānic feelings are stressful (AN 9.41) in comparison with higher Jhānas (where more and more vedana and other mental factors have ceased). Since there is less suffering, the more pleasant feeling are only mispercieved as happiness in contrast to much greater suffering that came before. Their pleasure is due to absence of most suffering. The pleasant feelings are pleasant only in comparison with far greater suffering. One of the perversions of perception is seeing pleasure in painful. So due to this perversion people actually think that some things are happy. It is perversion of perception and view, not how it actually is.
1. What does the Buddha's use of the word 'Sukkha' refer to ? An illusion?
2. What does the Buddha's many descriptions of the happiness of Nibbana refer to ? Another illusion?
Alex123 wrote:Another example: You are tired of being on foot all day and decide to lie down and rest. Lying down and resting feels pleasant (at first). But try to remain in that pleasant position motionless for may hours (lets say 12+) and it will feel painful, you will want to get up and stretch or stand or walk. So in one case it felt pleasant, but when you got more of it (more of the subtle suffering) it added up to lots of discomfort. Changing posture seems pleasant, but try to remain in that “pleasant” posture for too long. You will be unable to bear that “pleasure”.
Simple: don't have too much of anything. Otherwise, pleasure becomes displeasure. Does this mean 'everything is displeasure'? No. Does it mean it makes sense if we all kill ourselves? No. It means 'everything in moderation', 'easy on the salt'. No one said anything about 'inherent nature of pleasure' except you.
“Whether it be pleasant or painful, Along with the neither-painful-nor-pleasant, Both the internal and the external, Whatever kind of feeling there is: Having known, This is suffering (dukkhanti), Perishable, disintegrating, Having touched and touched them, seeing their fall, Thus one loses one's passion for them” SN36.2(2)
It's unfortunate that 'Dukkha' is sometimes mistranslated as if it mean 'painful'. Except when 'Dukkha' refers to a Feeling (Vedana) of Unpleasantness. 'Unsatisfactory', or 'unreliable' is usually more accurate.
While craving is one of the factors for mental suffering, there can be physical pain unrelated to current craving. Even Arhats & Buddha experienced excruciating pain. Was it all due to craving they had at that time? No. It is nature of Samsara to be unsatisfactory.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Pleasure too happens in every life.
Even 8th Jhana is still imperfect. No feelings & perceptions is much better. If there was one life, it would be easy to accomplish that.
If you truly imagine the goal of Buddhism is some sort of oblivion. And if you seek that goal, then... well... your life must be pretty hard.
Secondly, any imagined improvement from suicide would never be experienced.
And neither would drawbacks be experienced, if there was one life.
Right - suicide would lead to neither improvement nor drawbacks for oneself (although it may create tremendous suffering for friends and family). And so how does this support your belief that suicide makes sense or would be a good thing for anyone who doesn't believe in rebirth? It doesn't. Suicide would not improve anyone's situation. A sensible course of action for someone who lacks a belief in multiple lives rather is to make the most of this existence. That is, to act in such a way that minimises unpleasantness and maximises pleasantness. Or even better, to find a happiness which is not conditional on unreliable dhammas, perhaps by practising the Buddha dhamma.
Last edited by Shonin on Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by tiltbillings »

Sanghamitta wrote:No ? Godwin's Law states that sooner or later any internet discussion will be reduced to a discussion about Hitler and the Nazis....no matter what the subject or how germane to the debate....
Reductio ad Hitlerum:The fallacy claims that a policy leads to—or is the same as—one advocated or implemented by Adolf Hitler or the Third Reich, and so "proves" that the original policy is undesirable. The suggested logic is one of guilt by association, a classic confusion of correlation and causality, as if to say that anything Hitler did, no-one else should do, for it will obviously or eventually lead to genocide. For example: "Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is wrong [because it leads to mass murder]." The tactic is often used to derail arguments, because such comparisons tend to distract and anger.[1]
Godwin's law: Godwin's law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions. The law and its corollaries would not apply to discussions covering genocide, propaganda, eugenics (racial superiority) or other mainstays of Nazi Germany, nor, more debatably, to discussion of other totalitarian regimes, since a Nazi comparison in those circumstances may be appropriate. Whether it applies to humorous use or references to oneself is open to interpretation, since this would not be a fallacious attack against a debate opponent.
beeblebrox's response dances on the edge of these two things, but Laurens' comment does not.
beeblebrox wrote:
Laurens wrote:Kamma needs rebirth to make sense. Kamma being that our actions bear fruit at some time or another. One lifetime simply doesn't allow this to happen. Forgive for bringing Hitler into the argument, but I hope I shall be forgiven, because I am not likening anyone to him, just merely pointing out an obvious example. Hitler was responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews, and countless more deaths in battle, do you think that Hitler's actions bore fruit in this life? He was not brought to justice, nor even slain by an enemy bullet, but his own bullet, with his own finger on the trigger. Did he really have to bear any kind of proportional negative kammic fruit for his actions? I do not believe that he did. So kamma would have failed. Not all volitional actions reap fruit if confined to one life time.
His use of Hitler as an analogy is quite unfortunate. First, he gave him a self. Second, he speculated about the inconceivable, which is the workings of someone's kamma.

Third, he thought that if Hitler was confined to that one lifetime, then the fruits won't happen. That obviously isn't true. People today still remember his actions. Some of them are still hurt by it. There are also some people who praise him for what he did. Some of them try to continue his ideals, and even emulate him. His name still get used in bad analogies. Those are rebirths in action.

What are the fruits? If people today try to become like Hitler, they'll have much harder time. They'll also bring the suffering (quite a bit) onto themselves. Many other people today, because of Hitler, are now aware of what would happen if these kind of people come to power, so they suppress these kind of people. So, the people who want to follow the same ideals as Hitler's will have some hard times ahead. Those are the fruits.

Here's the difference between the Buddha and Hitler:

The Buddha found the way to Nibbāna, where the rebirths (i.e., the continuing of dukkha) cease. If people try to follow this way (barring their own wrong views) they'll reach the end of their rebirths, which is Nibbāna.

Hitler didn't find the way to Nibbāna, where the rebirths (i.e., the continuing of dukkha) cease. If people try to follow his way, they'll only create more rebirths for themselves to take care of. That will bring on a lot of hardships. They'll only reach a state similar to Hitler's, not Nibbāna.

Seems to me like the kamma (and the rebirths) still work fine, with just one life model.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Sanghamitta »

OK Fair do's,
Godwin was of course making a humorous observation when he formulated his "Law".
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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by Sunrise »

5heaps wrote: he taught cessation based on the knowledge of the ultimate nature of persons (including the heaps). this includes knowledge of mind, which when understood is synonymous with understanding rebirth.
Ultimate nature of phenomena is : impermanence, suffering and not-self

Let me ask you a question. Can there be arahaths without any first hand insight/knowledge into post-mortem rebirth? Is understanding or believing in post-mortem rebirth an essential part to enlightenment?

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Re: Can Buddhism exist without the doctrine of reincarnation?

Post by tiltbillings »

Given the subject matter and nature of the discussion, this topic/thread has been mergeed with the great rebirth debate thread, the great-granddaddy of tail-chasing threads on DW.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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