the great rebirth debate

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retrofuturist
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:12 am

Greetings Element,

That is a good point, but again, there is the potentiality for it through a logical sequence of causal conditions, such as that which you specified. Note that those conditions you specified fall under the dominion of consciousness and name-and-form.

At a slight tangent, the above quotation seems incompatible with the commentarial 'three lives' dependent origination interpretation, because it refers to consciousness being a condition for name-and-form not just in a "once in a lifetime" sense at the moment of conception, but ongoing throughout life.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

Element

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Element » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:17 am

retrofuturist wrote:"If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"

"No, lord."
Now the quote above is also quite vague to me, regarding both its meaning & intent.

For example, say a boy or girl enters into a coma but they are placed on life support for the remainder of their lives.

Whilst, consciousness is cut off, the rupa (but not nama) could reach maturity.

Thus again, this is merely saying if there is no consciousness, there can be no functioning of mind (citta, nama) because without sense objects, the citta could not develop ordinary knowledge let alone enlightenment knowledge.

For our consideration.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:51 am

Greetings Element,

Not that I'm sure it will help by way of clarity, but here's Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation...

"If the consciousness of a young boy or girl were to be cut off, would mentality-materiality grow up, develop and reach maturity?"

To which the ancient commentary elaborates,

The meaning is: "If consciousness were to be cut off, would bare mentality-materiality survive and grow up in the first period of life, develop through the middle period, and reach maturity in the last period? Would it grow up, develop, and reach maturity through ten, twenty, a hundred or a thousand years?"

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by xiaogui17 » Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:50 am

Over from Buddhachat... :mrgreen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28PLuTUzp30" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Prasadachitta » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:34 pm

Here are some of my thoughts on rebirth. I try to hold to them as lightly as possible. I would not call myself a "Follower of the Theravada" per say partly due to my immense respect for the teachings of Nagarjuna. That being said a great deal of what I have studied and found inspiration from comes from the Pali Cannon and Theravadin teachers more generally. So here goes the thoughts which are not at all original...

The Buddha realized that what his enlightenment consisted of was subtle and went strongly against how people approached existence. He was aware that for people to even begin an effective contemplation which could lead them to this truth, a very rarefied state of peace and contentedness must first be present. For each person taught he upheld those ideas which he discerned would lead to or help to maintain a state conducive to effective contemplation while always being careful to point the pupil beyond these conditions. Karma and Rebirth is one of these ideas. There were also ideas that his pupils tended to which the Buddha discerned was not conducive to effective contemplation. These included the idea that there is something about this process of becoming which comes to an end. The Buddha Held no views.

Once a being has a glimpse of what the Buddha was getting at they also do their best to discern what is most conducive to the effective contemplation of the truth. These beings are what the Pali sources call Noble ones. Although the ability to discern exactly which ideas help and which ones hinder must vary from noble one to noble one, there seems to have been at least one idea which has always been upheld. That is the idea of Karma and Rebirth.

Whether or not a person has a tendency to rest in the idea that the fruit of good or bad actions now will be theirs later on in another life after this body has perished, I would say that there are still some ideas which that person does rest in which are more conducive to effective contemplation than others. What those Ideas might consist of I will not speculate about. I am open to their existence but I dont think they should be distributed under the label of Buddhism. Whether or not we believe in rebirth we are still defining our reality with self referential ideas unless we are Enlightened.

This is why I think the primary act of Buddhism is going for refuge. Going for refuge does not consist of the taking on of views in the ordinary sense. In my opinion going for refuge consists of being willing to let go of all views while trusting in the infinite compassion of awakening to the nature of reality.

May all beings bask in the infinite beauty of awakening

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:51 pm

Greetings Gabriel,

Firstly, welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

Secondly, as a Nagarjuna fan, you might be interested to see the role emptiness plays in the teachings of the Pali Canon

From the Empty Universe site...
http://www.empty-universe.com/discernment5.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The relevance of this to the thread? If all things are empty of inherent existence, what is there to "re" in the process of "rebirth"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Prasadachitta » Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:42 am

Hi Retro,

My bringing up of Nagarjuna really has nothing to do with this thread it was just part of a short intro of me. In my opinion and from what I read of the link you just posted there is no dissagreement between What Nagarjuna taught and what is found in the discourses of the Buddha from the Pali Cannon. When this emptiness is taken on intellectually or otherwise the whole question of what is reborn cant really be addressed without missing the mark. I do think that for those who do not understand emptiness it is best to point to rebirth as a rough and ready guide to how reality works. On the one hand because it is relativly coherent and on the other hand because the Buddha discerned that it was conducive to peace of mind and harmony. I would basically say that to whatever extent we buy into our self referential ideas there is a causal relationship with that misunderstanding and further misunderstandings of a similar nature in the future. That includes life beyond this current body. Since this misunderstanding is within our power to overcome it would follow that it is relativly more "ours" then anything else. I am uninterested in the minutia of how exactly there is a causal relationship between my misunderstanding in this life and my misunderstanding in future lives. This is a bit of a matter of confidence in the Buddha and intuitive feeling.

I am not a material reductionist and I just cant imagine how all the biological and cultural diversity of life's experiences arise without a medium which one could only call spiritual. Now It is altogether possible that this medium is material, sort of like how mass communication travels through copper wires. I think there is a subtle but very influential "element" to what we know of as reality and it courses through us in a way that cannot be fully grasped intellectually. Maybe we can call it the collective and individual proclivities of beings that in a way cross pollinates on every level and in every moment.

I dont Know....

Im just happy for the path of practice :clap:


Metta

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by stuka » Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Gabriel,

Firstly, welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

Secondly, as a Nagarjuna fan, you might be interested to see the role emptiness plays in the teachings of the Pali Canon

From the Empty Universe site...
http://www.empty-universe.com/discernment5.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The relevance of this to the thread? If all things are empty of inherent existence, what is there to "re" in the process of "rebirth"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
Good site. A couple of good quotes:
emptyuniverse
An Empty World (Sunna-loka)

Look at the world and see its emptiness....
Uproot the view of self and thereby go beyond death. (Sutta Nipata 1119)

Emptiness isn't some sort of dogmatic principle or philosophical ideal. Rather, it's a way of experiencing reality without the filter of 'self' — a self which manifests as the various concepts and other forms of self-seeking that we habitually identify with. And it's this egoistic identity — this self-view (atta-ditthi) — which causes ongoing subtle (and not so subtle) dissatisfaction and emotional conflict in our lives. In fact, our habitual identification with the mind's ongoing inner dialogue is the root cause of the majority of the collective suffering occurring in this world. And while there's only so much that we can do to relieve the collective suffering on this planet, there's a lot that we can do to relieve our own suffering and dissatisfaction. What's more, by relieving our own personal share of the collective suffering we are actually diminishing the suffering of the whole. Not only because there's then one less fearful, angry person in the world, but also because there's then one more calm source of sanity in the world. One more person working with others and not obstructing others. And precisely because working with suffering individually is also working with it collectively, the Buddha taught us to let go of self-identification for the benefit of both oneself and others.

...

The whole point of this analysis is to see the emptiness of all concepts, and thereby stop trying to define ourselves by constructing 'castles in the air' (i.e. futile attempts to create conceptually 'safe' refuges from conditioned phenomena, right within conditioned phenomena). If we can cease the ignorant habit of trying to define ourself, which is actually an attempt to defend our poor insecure fabricated notions of 'me' and 'mine,' we can gain release from all anxiety and existential angst. We can gain release from all ignorant attempts at seeking, craving, grasping, and becoming.... Such release leads directly to what we mentally label 'Nibbana,' because such release eventually leads us to nontemporal discernment wherein all temporal existential angst is radically resolved.
Another good one:

Buddhadasa: Emptiness

http://mail.saigon.com/~anson/ebud/ebdha196.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Individual » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:30 pm

To understand rebirth, one first needs to get rid of two wrong views: materialism (all is matter) and idealism (all is mind). Those who oppose "literal rebirth" generally seem to fall into the first category (even while telling themselves they believe in "physicalism" or science), while those who support "literal rebirth" seem to fall into the second category (even while telling themselves they believe in the "original teaching of the Buddha").

Of the first category, they subtly think, "I was born (from matter) and eventually, this matter will dissolve (therefore I will die)", supporting the primacy of material over mental, intellect over faith, the value of science, opposing Abhidhamma, devotional practices, esotericism, mysticism, etc..

Of the second category, they subtly think, "My mind created the foundation for this body (and so I was born), and eventually, this mind will create a foundation for a new body (therefore, I will die and be re-born," supporting the primacy of mental over material, faith over the intellectual, the value of Buddhist mysticism, esotericism, Abhidhamma, devotional practices, etc..

Both views are really equally deluded, but the second one is samma-ditthi with asavas (right view with effluents), since the first category denies the existence of the fruit of karma beyond this life, denying "this world and the next".

In this sense, both views are merely projections of a more deep-seated ignorance, self-view, choosing an arbitrary reference point for self, either the "body" of this life (which lays the basis for this consciousness), or the "luminous mind" which comes and goes, between lives. In accordance with dependent-origination, the mind and body are dependently co-arising, and to choose one reference point over another is irrelevant. So, we might say that those who argue over this aren't really so much in disagreement over realities, they are in disagreement over how to correctly describe what they know, and they are in disagreement over how to correctly describe what they don't know. Letting go of this, the mechanism for rebirth is really a petty issue not worth arguing over. The Buddha's teaching on rebirth was pretty straightforward and only lacks clarity when it isn't examined mindfully -- in this world and the next.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:29 pm

I think rebirth is expounded quite well in the 4 Noble Truths.

In the first truth the buddha says:
Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering — in short, suffering is the five categories of clinging objects."


The Second Truth states the the origin of dukka is craving

Therefore if birth is dukka then its origin is craving

If Craving Condtions birth then there must have been an existence before where there was craving and that same craving will lead to more dukkha in the future, i.e birth.
“The world has arisen in the six.
The world has commune in the six.
Holding on to these very six.
The world finds itself in a fix.”


Element

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Element » Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:34 pm

In the First Noble Truth, Buddha taught from simple to more subtle. The subtle part was "in short, clinging to the five aggregates is dukkha". The dukkha is in the clinging. Regarding 'birth is dukkha', this simply means birth of a child is dukkha. For the mother it is dukkha and for the helpless child it is dukkha. However, if a mother & parents can practise non-attachment, birth, just like aging, sickness & death, will not be dukkha. Dukkha is attachment.

Element

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Element » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:03 pm

Individual wrote:Both views are really equally deluded, but the second one is samma-ditthi with asavas (right view with effluents), since the first category denies the existence of the fruit of karma beyond this life, denying "this world and the next".
The view of no-rebirth accords with the supramundane dhamma of the Buddha, with the teachings of impermanence, conditionality & not-self. For example, Buddha taught extensively about the practise of contemplation of death. If one holds rebirth belief, this practise loses much of its efficacy. Impermanence is to be contemplated deeply & thoroughly, until dispassion arises.
Individual wrote:In this sense, both views are merely projections of a more deep-seated ignorance, self-view, choosing an arbitrary reference point for self, either the "body" of this life (which lays the basis for this consciousness), or the "luminous mind" which comes and goes, between lives.
The Buddha taught the body & all consciousness, whether gross and subtle, are impermanent. The above view by Individual is the view of nihilism. Individual is equating the five aggregates with 'self' and thus to be free of 'self', one must be free of the five aggregates. This view is denial. This view is one that does not want to face reality in meditation. This view is one that instead of confronting negative, harmful & lustful mental formations as real, denies these formations and the other aggregates through heedlessness, which they equate with non-attachment. Non-attachment is not heedlessness. We must be careful here.
Individual wrote:In accordance with dependent-origination, the mind and body are dependently co-arising, and to choose one reference point over another is irrelevant.
Dependent origination is about the dependent origination of suffering. It is not about the dependent origination of the mind and body. For example, when dependent origination states ignorance conditions fabricators and the fabricators condition consciousness and the mind-body, the meaning here is that the mind-body become affected by or imbued with ignorance. There is a body - for example, an erect penis - fabricated by ignorance to become erect. Once the penis was not erect. The penis dwelt in penis nirodha. However, then the penis becomes imbued with ignorance formations and the seach begins to find a sense object of penis gratification. Also, there is a mind - full of hindrances, primed for a sensual search - full of ignorance. The mind and body are not pure. The mind and body are not free from ignorance & defilement. So dependent origination is about the origination of an ignorant body-mind and not the body-mind per se.
Individual wrote:The Buddha's teaching on dependent-origination was pretty straightforward.
Buddha said:
"It's amazing, lord, it's astounding, how deep this dependent co-arising is, and how deep its appearance, and yet to me it seems as clear as clear can be."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Deep is this dependent co-arising, and deep its appearance. It's because of not understanding and not penetrating this Dhamma that this generation is like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond samsara, the planes of deprivation, woe and bad destinations
.

Element

Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Element » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:12 pm

Individual wrote:Both views are really equally deluded, but the second one is samma-ditthi with asavas (right view with effluents), since the first category denies the existence of the fruit of karma beyond this life, denying "this world and the next".
In Pali, the teaching is "there is this world and another world". The translation of "this world and the next world" is incorrect.

The "worlds" are the various realms of existence. For example, a human being that has an addiction dwells in the hungry ghost world.

"This world" is the world of "normality". In Pali, the word "sila" has is roots in the meaning of "normalcy". When sila is practised, human beings maintain their normalcy, their natural psychological integrity, rather than being born into other words, such as the hungry ghost world, animal world or even the hell world of extreme sufferings and despair.

Thus, Buddha taught "there is this world and another world". The other world is the place your parents taught you not to hang out in when your were a kid.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Ceisiwr » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:18 pm

In the First Noble Truth, Buddha taught from simple to more subtle. The subtle part was "in short, clinging to the five aggregates is dukkha". The dukkha is in the clinging. Regarding 'birth is dukkha', this simply means birth of a child is dukkha. For the mother it is dukkha and for the helpless child it is dukkha. However, if a mother & parents can practise non-attachment, birth, just like aging, sickness & death, will not be dukkha. Dukkha is attachment.

You are completely correct, but expanding on my previous post, he is describing a cycle, if rebirth is taking out then the whole of dependent origination, which can be reguarded as expounding further on the 2nd noble truth, falls apart. Dependent origination is a self perpetuating system (until liberation). If nothing carries on past death then death would be reguarded as its end not liberation.

Going back to another point on birth, yes in one sense birth is dukkha due to suffering involved in the birth process, but birth itself still needs craving behind it as all dukkha has craving behind it. Craving must have been there in past for dukkha to have arrisen in the first place, for the dukkha of birth to have arrisen

What about the infant, if you take out rebirth from previous life then the infant in effect has no attachment/craving that could correlate to the dukkha or rebirth for it is a new being into exsistence, but if birth is dukkha then it has to have craving behind it at the individual level, therefore birth wouldnt be included in the 1st noble truth if there was just one birth as it would be at odds with the 2nd truth, that dukkha arises due to an indivuals craving/attachment.

Just to note i dont have a firm belief in rebirth as i have not experienced anything as of yet to verify it i just have confidence and i also accept that my reasoning may be at fault.

Metta
Craig :twothumbsup:
“The world has arisen in the six.
The world has commune in the six.
Holding on to these very six.
The world finds itself in a fix.”


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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Individual » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:44 pm

Element wrote: The view of no-rebirth accords with the supramundane dhamma of the Buddha, with the teachings of impermanence, conditionality & not-self.
It might seem that way because of attachment, but there is no mundane right view which "accords" with noble right view in particular, including nihilism. If it did, there would be no meaningful distinction between the two. Noble right view is "discernment," an idea rooted in a deeper psychology, and therefore transcendental, and the understanding of this renders it unnecessary to attach certain "views" to this discernment. Indeed, anything that is attached to discernment (literal rebirth, no-rebirth, etc.) will eventually be swept away. It is problematic to say that the "supramundane" dhamma of the Buddha is a direct contradiction of the mundane dhamma. But rather, the mundane dhamma is derived from the supramundane. How is it, though, that one derives "rebirth" from "no-rebirth"? And yet, with discernment, discernment and only discernment, it is clear and there is no confusion.
Element wrote: For example, Buddha taught extensively about the practise of contemplation of death. If one holds rebirth belief, this practise loses much of its efficacy.
Only if the person regards consciousness as permanent and self. It isn't. I think a good analogy is the T-1000 (the liquid-metal robot) from Terminator 2. This analogy works rather well when you consider that scientists mostly believe that conscious life arose out of a kind of "primordial soup". Like the liquid metal of the T-1000, the illusion of permanent material existence with relation to self can be likened to water or dust (the Buddha used the metaphors foam, bubble, etc., to describe the aggregates). So, if you take a sledgehammer to someone's skull, there will be a broken skull, blood everywhere, mashed brain, and the rest of the body, too, will rot away... And during this whole process, there is no "consciousness", for its basis has been destroyed. And yet, in some peculiar way, because subtle ignorance remains, then like the T-1000, the primordial soup oozes back together, in accordance with kamma, in a way that lays the basis for the next life. And in the next life, almost everything that the person attained in the previous life (material possessions, even gross mental possessions like knowledge and experiences) will be gone, but the luminous mind which is the foundation for becoming remains. This isn't a lie, Element. The Buddha wasn't a liar, teaching lies to laypeople and truths to his bhikkhus (truths which he told laypeople was a wrong view -- annihilationism). This is is the way things actually work.
Element wrote:
Individual wrote:In this sense, both views are merely projections of a more deep-seated ignorance, self-view, choosing an arbitrary reference point for self, either the "body" of this life (which lays the basis for this consciousness), or the "luminous mind" which comes and goes, between lives.
The Buddha taught the body & all consciousness, whether gross and subtle, are impermanent. The above view by Individual is the view of nihilism. Individual is equating the five aggregates with 'self' and thus to be free of 'self', one must be free of the five aggregates. This view is denial. This view is one that does not want to face reality in meditation. This view is one that instead of confronting negative, harmful & lustful mental formations as real, denies these formations and the other aggregates through heedlessness, which they equate with non-attachment. Non-attachment is not heedlessness. We must be careful here.
You are making false assumptions about what I'm saying and then going on and on in dismissing views I don't agree with. Of course nihilism is false. The five aggregates aren't the "self," but they are the manner in which self-view arises, so within subjective reality, it certainly might seem as though the aggregates are self.
Element wrote:
Individual wrote:In accordance with dependent-origination, the mind and body are dependently co-arising, and to choose one reference point over another is irrelevant.
Dependent origination is about the dependent origination of suffering. It is not about the dependent origination of the mind and body. For example, when dependent origination states ignorance conditions fabricators and the fabricators condition consciousness and the mind-body, the meaning here is that the mind-body become affected by or imbued with ignorance. There is a body - for example, an erect penis - fabricated by ignorance to become erect. Once the penis was not erect. The penis dwelt in penis nirodha. However, then the penis becomes imbued with ignorance formations and the seach begins to find a sense object of penis gratification. Also, there is a mind - full of hindrances, primed for a sensual search - full of ignorance. The mind and body are not pure. The mind and body are not free from ignorance & defilement. So dependent origination is about the origination of an ignorant body-mind and not the body-mind per se.
Suffering is manifest through mind-and-body, is it not? You said the 12 nidanas are nota bout mind and body... And then you used an analogy involving a body part.
Element wrote:
Individual wrote:The Buddha's teaching on dependent-origination was pretty straightforward.
Buddha said:
"It's amazing, lord, it's astounding, how deep this dependent co-arising is, and how deep its appearance, and yet to me it seems as clear as clear can be."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Deep is this dependent co-arising, and deep its appearance. It's because of not understanding and not penetrating this Dhamma that this generation is like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond samsara, the planes of deprivation, woe and bad destinations
.
When you're talking to me directly, Element, you are allowed to say "you", "your", etc.. Please, don't talk to me as a third-person... It's bad enough that you speak of yourself in the third-person. It's weird! :smile:
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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