Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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beeblebrox
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Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by beeblebrox » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:20 pm

Micheal Kush wrote: Personally, I just find it more horrifying to engage in a thought of living a life as say, a disabled person or totally deprived being, who is ignorant of their past life and who lives another life of birth, decay, death. And yet people say rebirth was conjured up to escape the fear of eternal death. Yea rite .
If a person was that concerned about being reborn as a disabled person (and not having a chance to do his practice as well), then maybe he should focus on making things better for the disabled, that are actually living right now... then I think that way when he is reborn, things won't be so bad, because of the work that he's already done.

I've found the attitudes of some Buddhists to be generally poor, at the very least, towards deaf people. A deaf guy told me few years ago that when he tried to register for a 10-day vipassana retreat, he was denied because someone said that auditory feedback was an "integral component" of the practice. I thought that this was wrong.

It's not inconceivable to me that the person who said that will find himself reborn as a deaf person sometimes in one of his future lives... and then regret it when there isn't any much opportunity for him to encounter or practice Dhamma. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this is what happened to me. (I'm deaf.)

Sometimes, I'm a little mystified about why I seem to be able to pick up this practice so easily, from so little... compared to the people who can hear, and have a free, unobstructed access to the bhikkhus' advice in real life. Reading from the books (or internet forums) just isn't the same... when you are in the presence of actual practitioners, it makes all the difference in the world.

It seems unfair to deny that to deaf people... just because it's inconvenient. I don't think that many deaf people actually have the ability to extract so much from so little, such as learning the Dhamma from just a mustard seed. I could try to help them to do that... but I'm just one person, still practicing... and due to some vinaya rule, unable to ordain as a bhikkhu to do that full-time.

When I walked out of my friend's house one time, a Tibetan monk walked by. I bowed to him, and he bowed back. He started to have a conversation with me... and then when he found out that I was deaf, he just walked away (really). He didn't even say good-bye. Do you think that this is right? What do you think that his future life is going to be like?

In this life, the ones who I've found to be most helpful to my practice have been bhikshunis (Mahayana nuns). They've been extremely willing to learn how to sign, and very generous in how they shared their practice experiences with me. So, if you're ever going to be born deaf in the next life... make sure that you're born a woman, also (and maybe less picky about where you get your Dhamma from, if you're Theravadin). There are some limits to what kind of time that I can spend with the bhikshunis, because of the precepts that they follow.

Other than that I think that the nuns have been wonderful with the way that they share their time with me. They're truly some of the most sincere people I've ever met... by far, compared to other monastics.

If you're concerned about being reborn disabled, then do something about that right now... rather than to wait for it, or for someone else to make it better for you. You'll also get to do something nice for a lot of people.

If all of that seems too hard to do, or bothersome, then I think there's really no hope for Nibbana.

:anjali:
Last edited by beeblebrox on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Micheal Kush
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Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by Micheal Kush » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:51 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote: Personally, I just find it more horrifying to engage in a thought of living a life as say, a disabled person or totally deprived being, who is ignorant of their past life and who lives another life of birth, decay, death. And yet people say rebirth was conjured up to escape the fear of eternal death. Yea rite .
If a person was that concerned about being reborn as a disabled person (and not having a chance to do his practice as well), then maybe he should focus on making things better for the disabled, that are actually living right now... then I think that way when he is reborn, things won't be so bad, because of the work that he's already done.

I've found the attitudes of some Buddhists to be generally poor, at the very least, towards deaf people. A deaf guy told me few years ago that when he tried to register for a 10-day vipassana retreat, he was denied because someone said that auditory feedback was an "integral component" of the practice. I thought that this was wrong.

It's not inconceivable to me that the person who said that will find himself reborn as a deaf person sometimes in one of his future lives... and then regret it when there isn't any much opportunity for him to encounter or practice Dhamma. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this is what happened to me. (I'm deaf.)

Sometimes, I'm a little mystified about why I seem to be able to pick up this practice so easily, from so little... compared to the people who can hear, and have a free, unobstructed access to the bhikkhus' advice in real life. Reading from the books (or internet forums) just isn't the same... when you are in the presence of actual practitioners, it makes all the difference in the world.

It seems unfair to deny that to deaf people... just because it's inconvenient. I don't think that many deaf people actually have the ability to extract so much from so little, such as learning the Dhamma from just a mustard seed. I could try to help them to do that... but I'm just one person, still practicing... and due to some vinaya rule, unable to ordain as a bhikkhu to do that full-time.

When I walked out of my friend's house one time, a Tibetan monk walked by. I bowed to him, and he bowed back. He started to have a conversation with me... and then when he found out that I was deaf, he just walked away (really). He didn't even say good-bye. Do you think that this is right? What do you think that his future life is going to be like?

In this life, the ones who I've found to be most helpful to my practice have been bhikshunis (Mahayana nuns). They've been extremely willing to learn how to sign, and very generous in how they shared their practice experiences with me. So, if you're ever going to be born deaf in the next life... make sure that you're born a woman, also (and maybe less picky about where you get your Dhamma from, if you're Theravadin). There are some limits to what kind of time that I can spend with the bhikshunis, because of the precepts that they follow.

Other than that I think that the nuns have been wonderful with the way that they share their time with me. They're truly some of the most sincere people I've ever met... by far, compared to other monastics.

If you're concerned about being reborn disabled, then do something about that right now... rather than to wait for it, or for someone else to make it better for you. You'll also get to do something nice for a lot of people.

If all of that seems too hard to do, or bothersome, then I think there's really no hope for Nibbana.

:anjali:

(A side note: should people on here view this as a just mere Mahayana rhetoric... or as a sincere attempt to encourage the people, including monks, to live their own lives in a way that is more decent towards others? You decide.)
Thank you for the response and as a fellow practitioner who can resonate with your story, I don't dispute the fact that monks or otherwise should dismiss disabled(or otherwise) people from practicing the Dhamma. However, maybe it was my vagueness or some other element failing to express my message but it's not the fact of me being afraid to be reborn as a disabled person, I believe even in general that if one were reborn in this world it is still really difficult to process life again due to the components that constitute(lack of memory of dhamma etc.) it.

I don't think one should practice generosity in order to avoid being reborn as disabled person, it should be genuine and for the develop of that persons' wellbeing. And I'm sorry to hear what happened. The problem with any type of people who adhere to a specific system of thought is if they get too fixated on their doctrinal pursuits it can obscure the real practice they need to advocate. This could be a reason why religion gets many critics is because their doctrines demand a sense of purity through moral action, others expect them to be perfect. But remember, not all Buddhists are like that and this is a mistake they need to correct in order induce generosity.

And to Kamran: " Interesting post. When you consider animals the logic of rebirth seems to break down. Its like asking if animals go to heaven. "

I don't see how this undermines the logic of rebirth. Just because it unfavorably displays that animals can spend endless cycles delving in their own ignorance doesn't mean its wrong. Reality doesn't have to accommodate to our senses of rights and wrongs. It's like saying the logic of impermanence is broken down because people(and animals) can die instantly and that doesn't seem fair.

But all in all, Thank you for the responses and the contribution.

With metta, Mike

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beeblebrox
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Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by beeblebrox » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:06 pm

Micheal Kush wrote: Thank you for the response and as a fellow practitioner who can resonate with your story, I don't dispute the fact that monks or otherwise should dismiss disabled(or otherwise) people from practicing the Dhamma. However, maybe it was my vagueness or some other element failing to express my message but it's not the fact of me being afraid to be reborn as a disabled person, I believe even in general that if one were reborn in this world it is still really difficult to process life again due to the components that constitute(lack of memory of dhamma etc.) it.

I don't think one should practice generosity in order to avoid being reborn as disabled person, it should be genuine and for the develop of that persons' wellbeing. And I'm sorry to hear what happened. The problem with any type of people who adhere to a specific system of thought is if they get too fixated on their doctrinal pursuits it can obscure the real practice they need to advocate. This could be a reason why religion gets many critics is because their doctrines demand a sense of purity through moral action, others expect them to be perfect. But remember, not all Buddhists are like that and this is a mistake they need to correct in order induce generosity.
Hi Michael, thanks for the reply. I think the idea of rebirth (at least in a Dhammic practice) is meant to be used as a tool... so you're right in that the fear of being reborn as a disabled person doesn't really have anything to do with it, per se... but if it's viewed in a certain way, it could give you some insight about the state of your practice. There'll be some clues of what to do with it, sometimes in a quite significant way.

For example, if you're horrified at the idea of living as a disabled person (or to be reborn as one, to make it seem more scary), it just means that you're seeing something which makes you horrified. I think it could be useful for your practice to study why it seems so horrifying.

Study where that horror actually arise from (probably easier said than done), and then study what might bring it to its cessation. (Many of the practitioners on here seem to think that it just comes to cessation by itself... not true.) It's a good awareness practice... not only of the world that is around you, but also the mind that is apprehending it.

If a person was horrified at the idea of living as a disabled person... I think that might be just a reflection of his own outlook of life, not the actual quality of a disabled person's life. I know this from experience. Many people think that it's terrible to be deaf, but also for many of the deaf people (along with the people who have been exposed to them), it's not so bad.

Also, if it really was the actual quality of the disabled person's life, then why doesn't the person viewing that do something about it? It's also just a reflection of his state of mind... is he too lazy; too preoccupied (with forums); not confident enough; uncaring; too self-centered; etc? That person will be "reborn" as one of these things.

Just abruptly walking away from a person who we aren't familiar how to deal with, like the Tibetan monk did, what does that really say about the practice? I hope that the monk had enough awareness to contemplate these sort of thing, so that he might adjust his own behavior. People who are horrified about living as a disabled person... are they aware enough to study this, or will they just continue to be reborn as horrified people?

I'm sorry to bring some Mahayana views into this... but they say that Nirvana is not different from Samsara. Of course, samsara is not nirvana... that's why it's called samsara. But nibbana is still something that happens within samsara. When a person experiences that, I think something wonderful happens. There's no more aversion to any kind of situation, along with no more delusion about what they entail. I think that the world becomes a better place for it.

Instead of seeing deaf people as some people who can't hear the language that the person speaks... instead of trying to bring them into that person's world of suffering, he would start to see them as people using a language that is different from his... even transcending the sound. He would start to see them having their own lives that are outside of his own little world. These people's lives never had anything to do it... or his delusions of how things are.

I think that some Theravadin practitioners seem to have a bit of escapist tendency... they seem to want run away from the world, or things that they think are suffering... but it's not these things that cause suffering. It's their views. So, they keep on getting reborn into that...

:anjali:

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Jaidyn
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Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by Jaidyn » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:55 pm

Is the intention of a human of the same type and with the same qualities as the intention of an animal - a lion for example?

Micheal Kush
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Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by Micheal Kush » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:36 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote: Thank you for the response and as a fellow practitioner who can resonate with your story, I don't dispute the fact that monks or otherwise should dismiss disabled(or otherwise) people from practicing the Dhamma. However, maybe it was my vagueness or some other element failing to express my message but it's not the fact of me being afraid to be reborn as a disabled person, I believe even in general that if one were reborn in this world it is still really difficult to process life again due to the components that constitute(lack of memory of dhamma etc.) it.

I don't think one should practice generosity in order to avoid being reborn as disabled person, it should be genuine and for the develop of that persons' wellbeing. And I'm sorry to hear what happened. The problem with any type of people who adhere to a specific system of thought is if they get too fixated on their doctrinal pursuits it can obscure the real practice they need to advocate. This could be a reason why religion gets many critics is because their doctrines demand a sense of purity through moral action, others expect them to be perfect. But remember, not all Buddhists are like that and this is a mistake they need to correct in order induce generosity.
Hi Michael, thanks for the reply. I think the idea of rebirth (at least in a Dhammic practice) is meant to be used as a tool... so you're right in that the fear of being reborn as a disabled person doesn't really have anything to do with it, per se... but if it's viewed in a certain way, it could give you some insight about the state of your practice. There'll be some clues of what to do with it, sometimes in a quite significant way.

For example, if you're horrified at the idea of living as a disabled person (or to be reborn as one, to make it seem more scary), it just means that you're seeing something which makes you horrified. I think it could be useful for your practice to study why it seems so horrifying.

Study where that horror actually arise from (probably easier said than done), and then study what might bring it to its cessation. (Many of the practitioners on here seem to think that it just comes to cessation by itself... not true.) It's a good awareness practice... not only of the world that is around you, but also the mind that is apprehending it.

If a person was horrified at the idea of living as a disabled person... I think that might be just a reflection of his own outlook of life, not the actual quality of a disabled person's life. I know this from experience. Many people think that it's terrible to be deaf, but also for many of the deaf people (along with the people who have been exposed to them), it's not so bad.

Also, if it really was the actual quality of the disabled person's life, then why doesn't the person viewing that do something about it? It's also just a reflection of his state of mind... is he too lazy; too preoccupied (with forums); not confident enough; uncaring; too self-centered; etc? That person will be "reborn" as one of these things.

Just abruptly walking away from a person who we aren't familiar how to deal with, like the Tibetan monk did, what does that really say about the practice? I hope that the monk had enough awareness to contemplate these sort of thing, so that he might adjust his own behavior. People who are horrified about living as a disabled person... are they aware enough to study this, or will they just continue to be reborn as horrified people?

I'm sorry to bring some Mahayana views into this... but they say that Nirvana is not different from Samsara. Of course, samsara is not nirvana... that's why it's called samsara. But nibbana is still something that happens within samsara. When a person experiences that, I think something wonderful happens. There's no more aversion to any kind of situation, along with no more delusion about what they entail. I think that the world becomes a better place for it.

Instead of seeing deaf people as some people who can't hear the language that the person speaks... instead of trying to bring them into that person's world of suffering, he would start to see them as people using a language that is different from his... even transcending the sound. He would start to see them having their own lives that are outside of his own little world. These people's lives never had anything to do it... or his delusions of how things are.

I think that some Theravadin practitioners seem to have a bit of escapist tendency... they seem to want run away from the world, or things that they think are suffering... but it's not these things that cause suffering. It's their views. So, they keep on getting reborn into that...n

:anjali:
Thank you for the elaborated response, good to hear from you. I see the scenario of viewing rebirth in fear of being reborn as a disabled person having striking similarities to the death meditation I currently practice. When one instrospectively reflects both on a personal and global level that death can grasp ones life away in an instant, it really helps us add awareness to that reality and demands us to utilize our practice or life in a more meaningful way.

The problem I see pertaining to how monks or people in general see say disabled people, can be due to their past expierences with them. Its a fact that we see certian people like that unusually different and act much distinctly towards them. To practice generosity, its best to contribute socially to the community in a way that enhances our ability to communicate and eliminate our self centeredness. My memory may be wrong but I believeI read somewhere that Bhikkhu Bodhi set out to help children with malnutrition. When we carefully investigate the impermenance of the world, we can see how realities like rebirth or death can rapidly progress our practice forward when we confront it from an objective eye.

I appreciate your post even if it seems Mahayana. Their highest level of attainment consummates the ideals of boundless compassion and infinite love. And for the monk who shunned you, this is something even myself have been a victim of. This is something I need to learn also, that no matter who they are, what distinction we have from them, endless respect is monumentally better than subtle scolding. But as fellow friend, It is more important for you to look back at the incident with the monk and radiate loving kindness and hopes he finds his peace.

May we all be liberated from samsara, Mike

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beeblebrox
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Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by beeblebrox » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:38 am

Micheal Kush wrote:[ . . . ] that no matter who they are, what distinction we have from them, endless respect is monumentally better than subtle scolding. But as fellow friend, It is more important for you to look back at the incident with the monk and radiate loving kindness and hopes he finds his peace.

May we all be liberated from samsara, Mike
Hi Mike, I agree, that is definitely something that I need to work on. I appreciate you giving me a chance, and thank you for the opportunity for me to say so.

:anjali:

Micheal Kush
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:47 pm

Re: Karma, Rebirth and Animals

Post by Micheal Kush » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:58 am

beeblebrox wrote:
Micheal Kush wrote:[ . . . ] that no matter who they are, what distinction we have from them, endless respect is monumentally better than subtle scolding. But as fellow friend, It is more important for you to look back at the incident with the monk and radiate loving kindness and hopes he finds his peace.

May we all be liberated from samsara, Mike
Hi Mike, I agree, that is definitely something that I need to work on. I appreciate you giving me a chance, and thank you for the opportunity for me to say so.

:anjali:
Anytime. Just keep striving, be healthy and hope you find your own peace aswell.

And metta to all beings aswell, Mike

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