To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Yes
36
58%
No
20
32%
Not Sure
6
10%
 
Total votes: 62

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jcsuperstar
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by jcsuperstar » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:23 am

pink_trike wrote:
Peter wrote: Maybe he didn't teach sensual pleasures as like a poisonous snake or falling into debt or like a vine which drags down a large tree.
That's a lot of metaphor...

...which might support the idea that the references to a literally-described rebirth may actually be describing possible mind-states *like* being reborn as an animal, or "as if" being reborn. etc... for example, engaging in excessive indulgences that condition the mind to operate from lower areas of the brain that preserve our animal-like reactivity would be *like* being reborn as an animal (re-creating oneself in the *like*ness of an animal). Perhaps "rebirth" is actually (and only) reactive re-creation that is cumulative, moment by moment in this life.

Metaphor was commonly used in oral tradition and premodern writing as a container...a way of conveying abstractions to a simple people, and as a way of having sophisticated knowledge preserved by the largest number of people in the absence of writing and/or reliable preservation of written materials. Over time, cultural amnesia may have resulted in people only being able to see the container and forgetting what was being contained. It's worth considering.
we've been through that argument on here a few times i think (by on here i mean dhammawheel not this particular thread) and the monks on here will pointout again and again different suttas where it is made pretty clear that this rebirth the buddha spoke of is post mortum. now you can easily apply a non literal rebirth scheme to the dhamma and i think it's agreat teaching tool (we had it in zen and buddhadasa used it), but everytime that argument is made that this is the way buddha had meant it to be taught, we are shown evidence that it is not.

my only problem with rebirth is i just dont understand how it works, who chooses the next life etc. and if "I" am gone why should i care? things of this nature. but it's not really a topic i spend too much time thinking about.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by jcsuperstar » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:24 am

Peter wrote:It seems to me the argument that we can't know what the Buddha actually taught is besides the point of asking what makes a Buddhist. A Buddhist practices the teachings of Buddhism - the teachings of the Buddha as they have come down to us. If you want to say "Maybe the Buddha didn't teach rebirth" then you are creating something new, something having nothing to do with any Buddhist tradition, something not Buddhism.

Fact is, you can say this "maybe" about any teaching you don't like. You like indulging in sensual pleasure? Maybe he didn't teach sensual pleasures as like a poisonous snake or falling into debt or like a vine which drags down a large tree.

Like to drink? Maybe he didn't teach abstinence from alcohol. Obviously that was stuck in by later (and uptight) monks.

Maybe he didn't teach liberation at all. Probably that was just made up too. Who knows? :shrug:
i had planned on making this same argument.. thanks for posting it 1st! :toast:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:16 am

DD:
I do believe in some particular cases that the Sangha would allow changes to occur if they thought a particular sutta did not fit their particular traditional view on things. Please remember that the various early Buddhist schools disagreed on issues and they something edited slightly some of the suttas to fit their particular view point.
That is a long, long way from the conspiracy theory which would require massive editing of the Sutta Pitaka across various schools you are positing in order to discredit the notion of rebirth.
>> 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: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by kc2dpt » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:07 pm

pink_trike wrote:That's a lot of metaphor...

...which might support the idea that the references to a literally-described rebirth may actually be describing possible mind-states *like* being reborn as an animal, or "as if" being reborn. etc...
Except we can see the Buddha wasn't that subtle about his metaphors. When he was making a metaphor he said so, plainly and unambiguously. The fact that the suttas are so full of deliberate metaphors coupled with the fact that not even once is rebirth presented as a metaphor seems to me pretty good evidence that rebirth was not intended to be taken as a metaphor.
Over time, cultural amnesia may have resulted in people only being able to see the container and forgetting what was being contained. It's worth considering.
Again, you are assuming a very large conspiracy over many thousands of people, dozens of countries, and a number of languages. Which is more likely? This large conspiracy? Or one person letting their dislike of a teaching, their societal influenced materialism, cloud their thinking and cause them to make up wild and unsupported excuses as to why they refuse to accept this teaching?
- Peter

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Ceisiwr
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by Ceisiwr » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:02 pm

Greetings


I think rebirth can be seen as describing reality but it doesnt have to mean past death in some passages. There are some that states "reborn in brahma realm" while refering to someone who is still alive, so obviously it means the state of mind that comes about through meditation

However there are other passages that are harder to explain away as metaphor for what was described above, such as
"What is old kamma? The eye is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect is to be seen as old kamma, fabricated & willed, capable of being felt. This is called old kamma.

And what is new kamma? Whatever kamma one does now with the body, with speech, or with the intellect. This is called new kamma."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


and
The Blessed One said, "The ignorance with which the fool is obstructed, the craving with which he is conjoined, through which this body results: that ignorance has not been abandoned by the fool; that craving has not been destroyed. Why is that? The fool has not practiced the holy life for the right ending of stress. Therefore, at the break-up of the body, he is headed for a [new] body. Headed for a body, he is not entirely freed from birth, aging, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. I tell you, he is not entirely freed from stress & suffering.

"The ignorance with which the wise person is obstructed, the craving with which he is conjoined, through which this body results: that ignorance has been abandoned by the wise person; that craving has been destroyed. Why is that? The wise person has practiced the holy life for the right ending of stress. Therefore, at the break-up of the body, he is not headed for a [new] body. Not headed for a body, he is entirely freed from birth, aging, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is, I tell you, entirely freed from stress & suffering."

And
This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there."

But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, the contemplative Gotama does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." Instead, he describes him thus: "He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress."'


"So I was simply befuddled. I was uncertain: How is the teaching of Gotama the contemplative to be understood?"

"Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance."


"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This last one, it could be interpreted as the "I" dying and the sense of "I" coming to be laying claim to the body, however in this sutta it is discussing people after death directly

Vaccha has heard other teachers describing rebirth for their followers be they an ultimate person (i.e. enlightened) or not, however he is confused with the Buddha because he only describes rebirth for those who are not an ultimate person (enlightened) and when an enlightened being dies, he doesnt say they are reborn

There is also these kind of suttas
"Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pain... Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of pain... Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one senses it disjoined from it. When sensing a feeling limited to the body, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.' When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'

"Just as an oil lamp burns in dependence on oil & wick; and from the termination of the oil & wick — and from not being provided any other sustenance — it goes out unnourished; even so, when sensing a feeling limited to the body, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.' When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The last one suggests that unless one has correct wisdom and sees things as they are, there will still be "fuel" and so things wont grow "cold". When things grow cold this is said to be nibbana (fires of greed, hatred and delusion of have put out)


These few suttas i have quoted are harder to dismiss as just metaphor, they imply something else

However slightly off topic but to address rebirth itself, if there is rebirth its anatta anyway, there is no "you" in it just like there isnt now, its not yours, and besides if one wants nibbana they are trying to stop birth and dukkha (and so rebirth after death if it is so)

Im starting to think, Why not practice like there is? If you practice really well and reach nibbana then if there is rebirth, "you" have gone past it, if there isnt then there was an extremely pleasant life full of wisdom

Even if you dont reach nibbana, if there is rebirth it will most likely be pleasant, if there isnt there was still a good and happy life (for most part)
Also if there is rebirth, its the same as this life, marked by Anicca, Anatta and Dukkha so one would have to practice the same again

I think the only time people fall down in practice in reguards to rebirth is when they begin to think of themselves in it, or plan for a better rebirth etc (so seeing it through ignorance etc, not to say anyone here is) but this would be due to a lack of wisdom, if one views it with wisdom i cant see how it can hold one back since one would see any birth, both of "I" in moments in this life and that after death, as Anicca, Anatta and Dukkha

Another point i have just thought of, lets say there is no rebirth at all, the buddha obviously still taught it so it must serve some kind of purpose thats connected with ending dukkha, as he said that all he teaches is benefical and connected with the quenching of dukkha

Metta

:anjali:

Where name-&-form,
along with perception
of impingement & form,
totally stop without trace:
that's where the tangle
is cut.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by zavk » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:10 pm

Peter wrote:
pink_trike wrote:That's a lot of metaphor...

...which might support the idea that the references to a literally-described rebirth may actually be describing possible mind-states *like* being reborn as an animal, or "as if" being reborn. etc...
Except we can see the Buddha wasn't that subtle about his metaphors. When he was making a metaphor he said so, plainly and unambiguously. The fact that the suttas are so full of deliberate metaphors coupled with the fact that not even once is rebirth presented as a metaphor seems to me pretty good evidence that rebirth was not intended to be taken as a metaphor.
Over time, cultural amnesia may have resulted in people only being able to see the container and forgetting what was being contained. It's worth considering.
Again, you are assuming a very large conspiracy over many thousands of people, dozens of countries, and a number of languages. Which is more likely? This large conspiracy? Or one person letting their dislike of a teaching, their societal influenced materialism, cloud their thinking and cause them to make up wild and unsupported excuses as to why they refuse to accept this teaching?
Hi Peter,

I appreciate your concern about wanting to defend the centrality of the rebirth doctrine. It is certainly something that is an important part of the dhamma and contemporary Buddhists shouldn't dismiss it too easily. I am not well-versed in the suttas (I have only really read the ones pertaining to my formal practice over and over again, although I plan to read more eventually), so I can't talk about the different ways in which rebirth is portrayed in the suttas. But I agree with you that the the Buddha often used rhetorical strategies that are explicitly metaphoric.

However, to play the devil's advocate, I would say that as long as we rely on language (and I don't see how we can break free of language easily, although this is certainly a goal), it is impossible to separate metaphor from thought and experience. In other words, to the extent that language produces and shapes our experience, we cannot step outside the workings of metaphor because metaphor is built into language. And it is not possible to demarcate when language stops working metaphorically.

I'm not simply engaging in a clever play of words. To give some crude examples: We all understand that TIME IS VALUABLE. So this understanding shapes how we behave and it manifests in expressions such as:

- You're wasting my time.

- This gadget will save you hours. I don't have the time to give you.

- How do you spend your time these days? That flat tire cost me an hour.

- I've invested a lot of time in her.

- I don't have enough time to spare for that.You're running out of time.

- You need to budget your time.

- Put aside some time for meditation.

- Is that worth your while?

- Do you have much time left?

- He's living on I borrowed time.

- Meditate! Do not think you have time!

- The flow of mindfulness from moment to moment.

In fact, even in your post you cannot but seek recourse in metaphor to make your point. For example, you wrote: 'Or one person letting their dislike of a teaching, their societal influenced materialism, cloud their thinking and cause them to make up wild and unsupported excuses as to why they refuse to accept this teaching?' (Even I am relying on many metaphors in this post).

Again, let me say that I really appreciate you raising a cautionary note against rebirth deniers. The warnings you raise are important ones, and I certainly do not have the expertise to make the same kind of warnings. But what I'm suggesting here is merely that metaphoricity is an inherent part of our thought process and hence, our experience. It seems to me that when the Buddha decided against his initial hesitation to teach, he realised that he had to step back into the mundane world, which is the world of language. The workings of metaphor is evident in the very first words he spoke: When he gave the sermon on the Four Noble Truths, the emptiness of the dhamma entered and took form in the world of language and metaphor. It is after called the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

IMO, it is therefore not possible to dictate or prevent rebirth from being understood metaphorically. The challenge, of course, is how such metaphorical understanding of rebirth stay in accord with fundamental Buddhist ideals. And this is why constant reminders from people such as yourself are helpful.

Metta,
zavk
With metta,
zavk

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pink_trike
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by pink_trike » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:13 am

pink_trike wrote:That's a lot of metaphor...

...which might support the idea that the references to a literally-described rebirth may actually be describing possible mind-states *like* being reborn as an animal, or "as if" being reborn. etc...
Peter wrote:Except we can see the Buddha wasn't that subtle about his metaphors. When he was making a metaphor he said so, plainly and unambiguously. The fact that the suttas are so full of deliberate metaphors coupled with the fact that not even once is rebirth presented as a metaphor seems to me pretty good evidence that rebirth was not intended to be taken as a metaphor.
Actually, it would be the people who eventually wrote down the Buddha's teachings who were or weren't that subtle about his metaphors. It sure would be convenient if 3 months - 500 years (range of scholarly estimates - actual date/span unknown) following the death of the Buddha (actual date unknown) when the teachings were supposedly preserved by 500 Arahants (the historic accuracy questioned by nearly all Buddhist scholars) that such a precise recollection of the Buddha's use of metaphor would exist - and without disagreement to boot.

Equally convenient would be that these (likely few) people would know without doubt after centuries (the 3 month estimate unsupported by scholars) that these concepts (rebirth/reborn) didn't just mean "transform" or "re-create" or "give rise to" in common usage during the life of the Buddha. There is at least one popular religion today that uses the term "reborn" to refer to a literal rebirth within the current lifetime. If reading the teachings is as simple as you suggest, then why the need for Buddhist councils and millions of words of commentary? Why are some concepts still hotly debated among well-trained, scholarly Buddhist teachers? Why frequently do the findings of Buddhist scholars disagree with statements in the teachings? And you think you know? I don't pretend to.
Peter wrote:Again, you are assuming a very large conspiracy over many thousands of people, dozens of countries, and a number of languages. Which is more likely? This large conspiracy?
A conspiracy wouldn't be needed if a change in how the teaching were to be understood happened relatively early, for example by agreement of the likely small group of people who participated in the first council (political machinations not overlooked).

Also, in the indeterminate gap of years between the Buddha's death and the beginning of the written tradition, the oral tradition could very likely have degraded from a practical, practice-oriented path that leads to a healthy personal/social code...a way of life - into a supra-natural religiosity. It wouldn't be the only time this has happened in the past.
Or one person letting their dislike of a teaching, their societal influenced materialism, cloud their thinking and cause them to make up wild and unsupported excuses as to why they refuse to accept this teaching?
The possibility also exists that discomfort with uncertainty and a psychological willingness to accept concretized irrational explanations could cause one person to make wild and unsupported (except by orthodox thinkers) excuses why others must believe a literal reading of the teachings in order to be a Buddhist.

You'll perhaps take all this as further proof that I don't believe in literal rebirth, so I'll say again that _I don't know_. I'm open minded - this is a very strange place, after all - maybe much stranger than we have the ability to perceive. All I ask for is a little rational proof, which doesn't seem to exist. For example, based on scientific evidence regarding current mild fluctuations in earth's gravity, I don't have a problem believing a Native American oral tradition that tells us about a time when Earth's gravity fluctuated wildly and living beings were lifted up to the Great Spirit or had to crawl on the ground. But when it comes to a religious belief in "the next life", literal hells and heavens, other literal realms, etc...based solely on words attributed to the Buddha long after his death...I'm going to have to take a "wait and see" on these. In my understanding, these things aren't consistent with the clear, focused, grounded voice I hear speaking from underneath the layers of froth. An unquestioning "The Buddha said it, I believe it" view is a bit too under-informed and naive for me.

I'll stick to mind-training practices and teachings/commentary related to practice - which there is very little substantial disagreement about and no need for elaborate stories about the past and future that require us to suspend rationality.

---

Person 1: I has a stick.
Person 2: prove it
Person 1: Here it is...see? :smile:
Person 2: ok.

---

Religious person: I has a stick
Other Person: prove it
Religious Person: Arrgghhh!!! No, you prove that I don't have a stick. :evil:
Other Person: Whoa, dude!

---

In the end, I think that "believing" and "not believing" in literal rebirth are both serious distraction on the Dharma path. :anjali:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:47 pm

Given your incredible skepticism of the Sangha's ability to preserve the teachings of the Buddha it is unclear why you are willing to dismiss some teachings and not others. Based on everything you said there is no reason for you to believe anything the Buddha taught survived to today. You give vague arguments why any ancient teaching is suspect and yet you only apply those arguments to particular teachings you don't like.
...wild and unsupported (except by orthodox thinkers) excuses why others must believe a literal reading of the teachings in order to be a Buddhist.
Please clarify what is wild or unsupported about defining a Buddhist as one who follows Buddhist teachings, or defining one who refuses to follow Buddhist teachings as not a Buddhist.
You'll perhaps take all this as further proof that I don't believe in literal rebirth, so I'll say again that _I don't know_. I'm open minded
Is it open minded to say "I won't practice this path until you give me concrete proof it works"? Is it open minded to make unsubstantiated claims of a vast conspiracy to alter the teachings in a way that just happens to coincide with your personal hangups?

Or is open mindedness a willingness to say "Maybe I find this teaching unintuitive, or foreign, or even uncomfortable but I am willing to give it a try and see where it leads"?

Does open mindedness mean being open to everyone else being wrong but you?
Or does open mindedness mean being open to oneself being wrong?
All I ask for is a little rational proof, which doesn't seem to exist.
There is no proof that "right view concerning kamma and rebirth is a necessary part of the path to ending suffering" except for you putting it into practice and seeing for yourself what happens. Similarly, there is no proof that an ending to suffering is possible except for you seeing for yourself. The Buddhist path is all about "come and see". If one is not willing to come and see does it make sense to call such a one a Buddhist?
I'll stick to mind-training practices and teachings/commentary related to practice - which there is very little substantial disagreement about
If "substantial disagreement" is your criteria... there is much disagreement between teachers and traditions regarding the details of meditation practice and yet there is no disagreement regarding rebirth.
and no need for elaborate stories about the past and future that require us to suspend rationality.
Perhaps (in another thread) you could share what about the teaching on kamma and rebirth require elaborate stories or require us to suspend rationality?

Speaking of which... If someone says "Buddhist teachings are irrational" does it make any sense to call such a person a Buddhist?
Last edited by kc2dpt on Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
- Peter

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:50 pm

pink_trike wrote:---

Person 1: I has a stick.
Person 2: prove it
Person 1: Here it is...see? :smile:
Person 2: ok.

---

Religious person: I has a stick
Other Person: prove it
Religious Person: Arrgghhh!!! No, you prove that I don't have a stick. :evil:
Other Person: Whoa, dude!

---
Buddha: Right View is necessary for ending suffering.
pink_trike: Prove it.
Buddha: The proof is in you coming and seeing for yourself.
pink_trike: That's asking to much of me.
Buddha: Well, that's your choice. :shrug:
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by pink_trike » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:56 pm

I'll continue to practice reconditioning the patterns of the mind, restraining desires in everyday life. and benefiting society as I can. You can be the keeper of the faith. :toast:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:19 pm

pink_trike wrote:In the end, I think that "believing" and "not believing" in literal rebirth are both serious distraction on the Dharma path.
If someone says Right View is a serious distraction on the Dharma Path, does it make sense to call such a one a Buddhist?
I'll continue to practice reconditioning the patterns of the mind, restraining desires in everyday life. and benefiting society as I can.
How many folds of the Noble Eightfold Path do you think you've got there? How many do you think are necessary for one to be considered a Buddhist?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:26 pm

Whether the teachings on rebirth are rational is irrelevant to the question in this thread.
Whether the sangha has correctly preserved the teachings is irrelevant to the question in this thread.
Whether one finds the teachings on rebirth relevant to one's practice is irrelevant to the question in this thread.

The question is: for one who refuses to accept these teachings, does it make any sense to call them a Buddhist?

I clarify because I've allowed myself to get off topic in the last few posts.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:46 pm

There is a thread on the Zen International forum of much the same title. While I was writing the below (my only posting in that thread), the thread got locked. It might be of some value here. I generally try to stay out of these rebirth squabbles.

****:
Bhikkhu Bodhi is merely just another person. . . . The suttas are more reliable than an intellectual from New York who decided to become a translator and was named Bhikkhu Bodhi.
Just merely another person who is an intellectual who is a practicing Buddhist monk, who has mastered Pali and who has carefully studied all of, and translated most of, the Sutta Pitaka, which would mean he knows the Pali Canon better than anyone writing on this forum or any other forum I can think of. He can certainly be considered a reliable interpreter of the suttas and presenter of the tradition.

This does not mean that Ven Bodhi is the final word or the only word or that he is beyond question in what he says. What is does mean that if we are going to look to someone as an accurate, authoritative presenter of what the suttas teach, we might want to look at their qualifications.

Ven Bodhi is a bit more than merely just another person or some intellectual from New York (as if being an intellectual from New York is some sort of disqualifier for anything). He is a practicing Buddhist monk who is a highly educated translator of the suttas who knows the tradition extremely well, which makes him a legitimate authority, and he is recognized as such.

Appealing to Ven Bodhi’s writings is not inappropriate. That does not mean he cannot be wrong or that one cannot legitimately disagree with him, but it does mean that trying to dismiss appealing to his writings because he is “merely just another person” and “intellectual from New York who decided to become a translator” carries absolutely no weight as a counter argument to what Ven Bodhi has to say.
The suttas are more reliable than an intellectual from New York who decided to become a translator and was named Bhikkhu Bodhi.
And upon what basis are we to take another’s interpretation as carrying more weight than Ven Bodhi’s?

Merely stating that references to rebirth in the Pali suttas are only some sort of skillful ruse to win over some people but are not a description of how the Buddha actually saw reality is not a reasonable argument - it is not really an argument at all - unless the individual claiming such can actually show this is the case with carefully reasoned and exampled argumentation, something that has yet to be done in these exchanges.

One of the other claims is that rebirth talk of any sort is at best figurative. In these three discourses from the Pali

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

which describe the Buddha’s awakening, rebirth plays an important role, which are not easily explained away as some sort of figurative speech.

And let us not forget that Buddha said:

"This being is bound to samsara, karma is his means for going beyond." - SN I, 38.
>> 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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pink_trike
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by pink_trike » Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:55 pm

Peter wrote:
pink_trike wrote:In the end, I think that "believing" and "not believing" in literal rebirth are both serious distraction on the Dharma path.
If someone says Right View is a serious distraction on the Dharma Path, does it make sense to call such a one a Buddhist?
I'll continue to practice reconditioning the patterns of the mind, restraining desires in everyday life. and benefiting society as I can.
How many folds of the Noble Eightfold Path do you think you've got there? How many do you think are necessary for one to be considered a Buddhist?
I haven't heard anyone say that here, but if they did I still wouldn't give any thought to what they should be called. That's none of my business. I'm not the path-correctness police. :shrug:

I've got enough for me, and what I have is between me and my teachers...if it isn't enough for others then that's on their plate to deal with. :namaste:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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kc2dpt
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Re: To be Buddhist you must accept kamma and rebirth?

Post by kc2dpt » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:48 am

pink_trike wrote:I haven't heard anyone say that here
That is precicely what you said.
pink_trike wrote:I still wouldn't give any thought to what they should be called. That's none of my business.
You are aware of the topic of this thread, right?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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