Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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chownah
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Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by chownah » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:03 am

Taking off from another thread:
binocular wrote:
SarathW wrote:What else can we add to this presentation to get it as close as to Buddha's teaching?
Is it necessary to believe kamma and rebirth to become an Arahant?
Why even use the term "arahant" if one is not willing to use the term "kamma"?
In developing our modern interpretation of the pail canon some fully accept the concepts of arahant, rebirth, and kamma (we could put other items on this list)....some accept two out of three....some accept one out of three.....and some accept none of the above.

Ignoring the "none of the above" people and the "all of the above" people what can we consider to be a good reason to accept some but reject the others when ALL of them seem to be lacking in support from the standpoint of modern people living in this modern world?....all of them can be seen as being sort of superstitious in a modern context.

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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by DNS » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:19 am

I think if one believes in either kamma or rebirth, the other 2 sort of follow. Kamma or rebirth would be mostly pointless without going together and then if they are true, it is generally accepted that there is a way out of rebirth and that would be by becoming an arahant or by what might be called moksha or jinnah or Divine union in other rebirth/reincarnation traditions.

Perhaps the only case where one would accept one and not the other 2 would be the case of a secular Buddhist / secular Dharma practitioner. They might accept the term arahant to refer to someone 'free-of-suffering' a sort of secular Dharmic enlightenment, with rebirth not an issue, since they reject rebirth and then by definition, also kamma.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by Kim OHara » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:18 am

David N. Snyder wrote:I think if one believes in either kamma or rebirth, the other 2 sort of follow. Kamma or rebirth would be mostly pointless without going together and then if they are true, it is generally accepted that there is a way out of rebirth and that would be by becoming an arahant or by what might be called moksha or jinnah or Divine union in other rebirth/reincarnation traditions.

Perhaps the only case where one would accept one and not the other 2 would be the case of a secular Buddhist / secular Dharma practitioner. They might accept the term arahant to refer to someone 'free-of-suffering' a sort of secular Dharmic enlightenment, with rebirth not an issue, since they reject rebirth and then by definition, also kamma.
A secular Buddhist may instead choose to accept kamma but not rebirth, by seeing kamma as the results in this life of our actions. Such a view retains kamma as a useful guide for daily life. (BTW, I don't see it as lacking support in our rationalist modern world, since it is basically cause-and-effect and we can often find plausible connections.)
'Arahant' is basically meaningless to one who does not accept rebirth but, as you say, David, could be taken to refer to "a sort of secular Dharmic enlightenment".
So ...
"All" is traditional and consistent.
"none" is traditional and consistent - for non-Buddhists.
Accepting kamma but not rebirth is "secular Buddhist" but not illogical, whether Arahant is accepted or not.
Accepting arahant and kamma but not rebirth is "secular Buddhist" but not illogical, but I can't see how accepting arahant might make sense without kamma.

:coffee:
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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by binocular » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:40 pm

chownah wrote:In developing our modern interpretation of the pail canon some fully accept the concepts of arahant, rebirth, and kamma (we could put other items on this list)....some accept two out of three....some accept one out of three.....and some accept none of the above.

Ignoring the "none of the above" people and the "all of the above" people what can we consider to be a good reason to accept some but reject the others when ALL of them seem to be lacking in support from the standpoint of modern people living in this modern world?....all of them can be seen as being sort of superstitious in a modern context.
Imagine that we'd stop using some English besede, but would still insist that we're govorimo English.
Or ha we omi some leers from he English language, bu insis ha i is sill English.

What would be the point of that, other than indulging in a whim?
chownah wrote:Ignoring the "none of the above" people and the "all of the above" people what can we consider to be a good reason to accept some but reject the others when ALL of them seem to be lacking in support from the standpoint of modern people living in this modern world?....
Some of those cherry-pickers seem to stick with those terms that carry the most prestige and ditch the rest. The term bodhisattva (in Sanskrit!) certainly is connected in many people's minds with prestige, while "kamma" is for dullards mucking around in the mud ... And "arahant" -- many never heard of that one anyway ...
all of them can be seen as being sort of superstitious in a modern context.
Then why on earth bother with Buddhism?! Because even fashion trends need to have some air of legitimacy??

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Sam Vara
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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:34 pm

chownah wrote: what can we consider to be a good reason to accept some but reject the others when ALL of them seem to be lacking in support from the standpoint of modern people living in this modern world?....all of them can be seen as being sort of superstitious in a modern context.chownah
Good question. We need to be aware that it is not simply a matter of assenting to the veracity and usefulness of concepts whose meaning is plain and accepted in the same way by everyone. "Rebirth" and "kamma" in particular tend to be disputed concepts; Buddhists and non-buddhist scholars from most traditions disagree as to what these terms actually mean in their practical details. So it's quite possible for people to disagree about the concepts, while having broadly the same view of the reality and soteriology involved.

Second, I incline to the view that we accept or reject terms or ideas through processes that we have little control over. If our conditioning predisposes us to a particular view (the best example being that we are culturally habituated to it) then that view will appear in a favourable light, and our assent will be given. Usually more gut feeling than brain-work.

Personally, I have two basic criteria which I use. Or, in light of the paragraph above, which use me. The first is rationality, especially in the form of beliefs not falling foul of laws of non-contradiction, excluded middle, etc. (I adopted this from Frits Staal's excellent little book Exploring Mysticism.) The second is pragmatic (in the everyday rather than any specialist sense) in that the belief ought to be useful or helpful for what I am trying to do. This is Popperian in style, in that I adopt the proposition or belief as a testable hypothesis, and as part of a piecemeal project. (I owe this particular debt to the writings of Richard Gombrich, who was Popper's student and edited some of his work...). So I can't give total and unqualified support to any of the concepts you list. They just serve me well according to my own lights.
In this way he guards the truth; but there is as yet no discovery of truth.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:27 pm

binocular wrote:Imagine that we'd stop using some English besede, but would still insist that we're govorimo English.
Or ha we omi some leers from he English language, bu insis ha i is sill English.

What would be the point of that, other than indulging in a whim?
To maslo one's kleb one might be interessovat in composing a horrorshow sequel to Burgess’s Clockwork Orange, but with the Nadsat argot of Alex and his droogs changed from Cockney-cum-Russian to Cockney-cum-Slovenian.

:lol:

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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by BasementBuddhist » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:38 pm

It all depends on one's p.o.v, clearly. Many westerners tend to view kamma as mere cause and effect. Arahants as a person who have changed their way of being to remove all unnecessary unsatisfactoriness. With rebirth being far from proven, it is easy from this perspective to take the Buddha as a very wise man who came up with a formula for human happiness and got a bit wrong.

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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Picking and choosing: arahant, rebirth, kamma

Post by BasementBuddhist » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:41 pm

My teacher tends to view all questions of kamma and rebirth as a waste of time and drives people to focus on themselves, in this life. For most of us, there are no selves, so what is the point of focusing on kamma and rebirth from practical perspective?

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