A Question about Rebirth

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Heaviside » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:06 pm

However, if the Buddha meant something as a metaphor, he'd usually announce it and give the teachings that it is analogue to.
Yes, he clearly did announce methapors, but it is often a question in my mind whether or not a critical term has been somehow altered in translation. Different interpreters translate a given term differently.

I look upon the Buddha as a supreme scientist who was an expert in experimental psychology---both in his day and ours. But I often wonder what his teaching would be were he a contemporary of ours.

I have been reading and thinking about Buddhism, albeit in sporadic and untutored form, for a half century. At first, all I could find in my university library were books that were old and dusty even then: books by Rhys-Davids and a few others. Often I was even forced to read Theosophical Society tracts (e.g. Madame H. P. Blavatsky) and try to winnow out the chaff from the good kernels of wisdom. Nowdays there are many references, and the teaching seems to have changed enormously since then. Happily!

But, my point is that interpretations change rapidly even within one persons physical lifetime, so I wonder how it might change over several kalapas! Or several rounds of rebirth. So, for me, the practical approach is to merely interpret rebirth as merely a temporal alteration in the aggregates. But, as I said earlier, I am finding this discussion rewarding---and appreciate each and every comment.

By the by, thanks so much for the kalama sutta reference, Buckwheat. I think that is the one that stuck in my mind long ago and influenced my thinking on the subject. I intend to read it again very carefully.
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reflection
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by reflection » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:37 am

Hi!

To me, the Buddha deeply understood the mind, not from an external intellectual point of view, but by looking at it from the inside. And 2500 years passed, but minds are still the same.

With metta,
Reflection

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Alex123
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Alex123 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:40 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:I have not resolved these problem areas for myself and am always interested to hear how other non-believers have addressed them. .
I agree with your post. Gotama's search was motivated by seeing aging, sick, and dead person. If there was one life, than mere death would be the end of it. So no need to do anything. Obviously Gotama had to believe in rebirth, because rebirth implies aging, getting sick and dying again and again.

The unfortunate thing is that this seems to be the emphasis of Dhamma. Not merely "peace in this life" which I can see why we would want it in modern stressed out times...

In my case, pain "motivates" me to contemplate the Dhamma to diminish negative psychological states.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:46 pm

Anekajātisaṃsāraṃ, sandhāvissaṃ anibbisaṃ.
Gahakāraṃ gavesanto, dukkhā jāti punappunaṃ. (Dhp v 153)

Gahakāraka diṭṭhosi, puna gehaṃ na kāhasi.
Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā, gahakūṭaṃ visaṅkhataṃ.
Visaṅkhāragataṃ cittaṃ, taṇhānaṃ khayamajjhagā. (Dhp v 154)
These two verses were uttered spontaneously by the Buddha on the dawn after his Enlightenment.

Through many births I wandered in saṃsāra,
seeking, but not finding, the builder of this house.
Painful is repeated birth. (Dhp v 153)

O house-builder! You are seen now.
You will build no house again.
All your rafters are broken.
Your ridge-pole is shattered.
My mind has gone to the unconditioned.
Achieved is the destruction of craving. (Dhp v 154)
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Dinsdale
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:30 am

Buckwheat wrote:Also, this is just my opinion, but I have a suspicion that what the Buddha referred to as rebirth has a middle value, neither the easily acceptable "metaphor" for moment to rebirth, nor the literal rebirth that easy to understand but hard to believe. I have a feeling he is referring to something different altogether, deep, subtle, hard to comprehend. But that's just my opinion.
Interesting comment, and something I've wondered about too - could you say more? Personally I don't find literal rebirth easy to understand, partly because there seems to be little explanation in the suttas of the mechanism involved. Though moment-to-moment rebirth feels like a fudge, and I see little support for this interpretation in the suttas.
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Lazy_eye
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:19 pm

Individual post-mortem rebirth aside, sentient beings in general continue to be born. The process of birth, life and death continues, irrespective of whether it happens to any one individual once or multiple times. Judging by the news and simply observing one's personal experience, it is clear we are heavily affected by greed, hatred and delusion, for which Dhamma is an antidote. In the future, we may succeed in colonizing other parts of the universe, bringing with us our afflictions.

Again, putting aside this one question, is the course of sentient life aided by following the Buddha's teachings, or no? If everyone on the planet learned to practice anapanasati or satipatthana, or simply followed the five precepts, or contemplated impermanence and the ephemeral quality of "Self", would this be a net benefit, or would it make no difference?

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Heaviside » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:11 pm

Here is snippet from another interesting thread by Lazy_eye to which Sam Vara responds (in part):
So perhaps the Buddha had confidence that Sariputta could teach in such a way that even such "unpromising" individuals as Dhananjani could achieve enlightenment. Or, the sub-text might be that one who has such apparently poor background and circumstances should not be judged as being incapable of liberation in this lifetime. After all, the Buddha saw possibilities in the most unheedful of people: Angulimala.
I think there is a lot of this type of subtext surrounding the suttas when rebirth is being discussed. It is difficult to sort things out from the context, both of the particular sutta and of the era in which the Buddha lived.

By the way, I have a somewhat pedestrian question: in practice, I often see the phrase "the Buddha," whereas I have seen exhortations in other places that the word Buddha means 'the enlightened one;" hence one should simply say "Buddha," rather than "the Buddha." I kniw there are many here with expertise in Pali, so can someone clear up the issue for me?

Many thanks.
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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robertk
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by robertk » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:36 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Individual post-mortem rebirth aside, sentient beings in general continue to be born. The process of birth, life and death continues, irrespective of whether it happens to any one individual once or multiple times. Judging by the news and simply observing one's personal experience, it is clear we are heavily affected by greed, hatred and delusion, for which Dhamma is an antidote. In the future, we may succeed in colonizing other parts of the universe, bringing with us our afflictions.

Again, putting aside this one question, is the course of sentient life aided by following the Buddha's teachings, or no? If everyone on the planet learned to practice anapanasati or satipatthana, or simply followed the five precepts, or contemplated impermanence and the ephemeral quality of "Self", would this be a net benefit, or would it make no difference?
this is very much not in line with orthodox theravada. Pleaase read the forum guidelines.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Lazy_eye » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:54 pm

robertk wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Individual post-mortem rebirth aside, sentient beings in general continue to be born. The process of birth, life and death continues, irrespective of whether it happens to any one individual once or multiple times. Judging by the news and simply observing one's personal experience, it is clear we are heavily affected by greed, hatred and delusion, for which Dhamma is an antidote. In the future, we may succeed in colonizing other parts of the universe, bringing with us our afflictions.

Again, putting aside this one question, is the course of sentient life aided by following the Buddha's teachings, or no? If everyone on the planet learned to practice anapanasati or satipatthana, or simply followed the five precepts, or contemplated impermanence and the ephemeral quality of "Self", would this be a net benefit, or would it make no difference?
this is very much not in line with orthodox theravada. Pleaase read the forum guidelines.
Yes, I see the post does not comply with the guidelines. Please feel free to move it to "Great Rebirth Debate" or some other suitable thread.

May i clarify,though, that I am not providing an interpretation here, orthodox or otherwise -- just stating facts and asking a question. Sentient beings do continue to be born, life and death happens, and a great deal of what goes on around us (and in our own lives) is clearly affected by greed, hatred and delusion. Does classical Theravada deny any of the above statements?

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Heaviside
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Heaviside » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:20 am

I found this discussion of rebirth to be quite interesting:

http://justalittledust.com/blog/?p=503

Any comments?
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

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daverupa
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by daverupa » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:27 am

Perhaps; not in this sub-forum...

:heart:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Nyorai
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by Nyorai » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:17 am

Heaviside wrote:I found this discussion of rebirth to be quite interesting:

http://justalittledust.com/blog/?p=503

Any comments?
Basically is the same as it touches on mental volitional that resulted into appearances of form and non form, and these form and non form also directly effecting the mental volitional that rebirth is/are taking place :popcorn: .
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Re: A Question about Rebirth

Post by mogg » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:43 pm

Buckwheat wrote:Lazy Eye,
I go through the same things Lazy Eye describes. A few things that help me are: read the Kalama Sutta (link) and pay close attention to the fact that the Buddha says even if rebirth is not accurate, the practice has benefit here and now. I find this to be quite true, and I have found that when my practice slacks, I immediately feel more entangled in dukkha, and less able to deal with it maturely and responsibly.

On the other hand, I do have dark times due to the goal being rendered moot. But I only feel that way when I'm pessimistic, and the best prescription for that is more practice.

Also, this is just my opinion, but I have a suspicion that what the Buddha referred to as rebirth has a middle value, neither the easily acceptable "metaphor" for moment to rebirth, nor the literal rebirth that easy to understand but hard to believe. I have a feeling he is referring to something different altogether, deep, subtle, hard to comprehend. But that's just my opinion.
The Buddha is talking about literal rebirth. This can be confirmed through meditation and there are many that have performed that very injunction.

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