the great rebirth debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
binocular
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 3:08 pm

porpoise wrote:
binocular wrote: So, yes, at some point, the whole practice may seem like nothing more than a glorified coping strategy. That is in roundabout the view that some Western psychologists probably have of Buddhism.
It also seems to be the view that some secular Buddhists have.
Most Buddhists probably start out as secular Buddhists.

chownah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by chownah » Thu May 16, 2013 3:10 pm

binocular wrote: So, yes, at some point, the whole practice may seem like nothing more than a glorified coping strategy. That is in roundabout the view that some Western psychologists probably have of Buddhism.
Seems to me that all of our actions and intentions are just a glorified coping strategy......coping with the result of the six sense doors along with their objects and associated consciousnesses.
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binocular
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 3:16 pm

porpoise wrote:So if a Buddha still feels pain, ages and dies, and death is final extinction, why bother with Buddhist practice atall?
I guess in that case, "Buddhist" "practice" comes down to keeping up appearances. There in fact is a measure of satisfaction in keeping up appearances.

binocular
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 3:21 pm

chownah wrote:
binocular wrote: So, yes, at some point, the whole practice may seem like nothing more than a glorified coping strategy. That is in roundabout the view that some Western psychologists probably have of Buddhism.
Seems to me that all of our actions and intentions are just a glorified coping strategy......coping with the result of the six sense doors along with their objects and associated consciousnesses.
I think that depending on how one frames one's basic existential issues, one can really screw oneself up.

chownah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by chownah » Thu May 16, 2013 3:24 pm

porpoise wrote:So if a Buddha still feels pain, ages and dies, and death is final extinction, why bother with Buddhist practice atall?
I am perfectly willing to accept the possibility that the Buddha felt pain, aged, and died, and that death is final extinction....and accepting this has absolutely no impact on my practice at all.....to me it is totally irrelevant.....the benefits in pursuing what he taught are the basis for my practice and whatever his life was is of no importance to me at all....focus on the message, not the messenger.
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chownah
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by chownah » Thu May 16, 2013 3:29 pm

binocular wrote:
chownah wrote:
binocular wrote: So, yes, at some point, the whole practice may seem like nothing more than a glorified coping strategy. That is in roundabout the view that some Western psychologists probably have of Buddhism.
Seems to me that all of our actions and intentions are just a glorified coping strategy......coping with the result of the six sense doors along with their objects and associated consciousnesses.
I think that depending on how one frames one's basic existential issues, one can really screw oneself up.
Whatever one wants to think of as one's self will always screw one's self up.....this is a basic teaching of the Buddha and is usually followed by the advice to have no doctrine of self whatever......advice which is rarely understood and even more rarely does one try to follow it.
chownah

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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 3:33 pm

porpoise wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:But the arahant doesn't equal his or her body.
Buddha, Angulimala, MahaMogallana still felt pain.
So if a Buddha still feels pain, ages and dies, and death is final extinction, why bother with Buddhist practice atall?

Not to suffer where one doesn't have to.
"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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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 3:34 pm

binocular wrote:
porpoise wrote:
binocular wrote: So, yes, at some point, the whole practice may seem like nothing more than a glorified coping strategy. That is in roundabout the view that some Western psychologists probably have of Buddhism.
It also seems to be the view that some secular Buddhists have.
Most Buddhists probably start out as secular Buddhists.

I didn't. You can even check in the middle of this thread (and elsewhere) I was very attached to defending literal rebirth.
"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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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 3:52 pm

kirk5a wrote:And by the way, now you're changing your story. You originally said "Neurology proved that consciousness depends on the brain." I asked for evidence, and now you are restricting the point to observations of alterations, rather than causation.
You are playing with definitions. Let me rephrase it more precisely: By damaging the brain, you can damage mental states. Also by damaging the brain you can make person blind, deaf, not-feel any pain, etc.

It is also not just matter of causation, but of dependence. Even if the brain is not the sole cause for mind, or consciousness - if it is necessary cause, then even if other causes are met, if this necessary cause is missing - then consciousness or mind will not occur.

kirk5a wrote:That is really weak. First of all, we could tinker with a radio and make Beethoven sound like Hell-spawn Symphony No. 5.
1) How can radio convert sound carrying Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 into coherent music such as "Sweet Dreams" by Marylin Manson.

2) Even if you could change any signal into any coherent music, the final outcome is still with the radio. If brain is responsible for interpretation of "signal" as loving kindness or hatred, then the brain is still important and necessary cause for the final outcome.

3) Without the radio, what music can the signal produce? It can't. Same is with brain.

Radio wave is produced by physical causes, and quickly ceases. What produces consciousness (if not the brain) and how can we study it?

4) If consciousness is immaterial and has no place, then how does it interact with physical objects that have place? Why is it when I walk downstairs or upstairs, the consciousness changes location? What keeps it glued to this body and location of this body?
"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..."

binocular
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 3:58 pm

Alex123 wrote:I didn't. You can even check in the middle of this thread (and elsewhere) I was very attached to defending literal rebirth.
That could mean many things. For example, it could mean you were new to Buddhism and not particularly knowledgeable, and, excuse the word, cocky, but wanted to gain a place and acceptance among Buddhists or were blindly eager for a solution to your existential quandary, so you played along and everything seemed to make sense.
Later on, when the first flush started to wane, you started to actually think more about the things you supposedly believed, and that eventually lead you to recant your previous position or certainty thereof.

It happens all the time to people who are new to a religion or philosophy: first they are all for it, it all seems to make sense, and they tend to interpret this as "having the faith" and "getting it right." After a while, the infatuation wears off, and then comes the real work. Many people tend to understand this loss of the initial momentum as "loss of faith" or "abandoning the path" - but it's not necessarily that.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu May 16, 2013 4:09 pm

Alex123 wrote: If consciousness is immaterial and has no place..
Here's a question that puzzles me a little. Is it logically necessary for consciousness to be immaterial in order for rebirth to take place?

Couldn't there be the possibility that existence (including formation of the nama-rupa complex and the associated sense of Self) just recurs for some reason?

Viññāṇa normally arises in conglomeration with the other aggregates. The only exception I'm aware of is the "formless realms", but these are a somewhat peripheral area in Buddhism and could well be a holdover from some previous model.

Time loops are a popular subject in sci-fi. These don't involve a floaty immaterial consciousness, just some sort of spatial/temporal oddity.


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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 4:16 pm

binocular wrote:That could mean many things. For example, it could mean you were new to Buddhism and not particularly knowledgeable, and, excuse the word, cocky, but wanted to gain a place and acceptance among Buddhists or were blindly eager for a solution to your existential quandary, so you played along and everything seemed to make sense.
I did believe in rebirth because I liked Buddhism very much. It was much better than other religions and more practical than mere philosophy. But then my crisis of faith occurred when I paid more attention to talk on fish 5,000km in length, demon Rahu swallowing the moon, sun rotating around the Earth, life forms as flying invisible piece of meat being pecked by crows and vultures - and then I realized. I heard these stories somewhere before... If these things are false, then Pali Canon is not infallible in other aspects.
binocular wrote:Later on, when the first flush started to wane, you started to actually think more about the things you supposedly believed, and that eventually lead you to recant your previous position or certainty thereof...


Yes you are right. I was very enthusiastic at first. Also, my knowledge was improving with time so eventually I realized the problems with rebirth. While I don't want to say that I am 100% certain rebirth doesn't exist, the evidence we have is difficult to reconcile with teaching of literal rebirth.
"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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kirk5a
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 4:16 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:And by the way, now you're changing your story. You originally said "Neurology proved that consciousness depends on the brain." I asked for evidence, and now you are restricting the point to observations of alterations, rather than causation.
You are playing with definitions. Let me rephrase it more precisely: By damaging the brain, you can damage mental states. Also by damaging the brain you can make person blind, deaf, not-feel any pain, etc.

It is also not just matter of causation, but of dependence. Even if the brain is not the sole cause for mind, or consciousness - if it is necessary cause, then even if other causes are met, if this necessary cause is missing - then consciousness or mind will not occur.
So you keep asserting. You don't have any proof one way or the other. Just assertions.
kirk5a wrote:That is really weak. First of all, we could tinker with a radio and make Beethoven sound like Hell-spawn Symphony No. 5.
1) How can radio convert sound carrying Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 into coherent music such as "Sweet Dreams" by Marylin Manson.
That is completely irrelevant.
2) Even if you could change any signal into any coherent music, the final outcome is still with the radio. If brain is responsible for interpretation of "signal" as loving kindness or hatred, then the brain is still important and necessary cause for the final outcome.
So? The context here is rebirth. So there is a continuity of consciousness (signal) in some way, which becomes associated with a new brain (radio).
3) Without the radio, what music can the signal produce? It can't. Same is with brain.
Again, so? Does that indicate anything about rebirth? The point is, if the brain isn't the productive cause of the entirety of consciousness, then it's wrong to think that rebirth is impossible owing to the physical destruction of the brain.
Radio wave is produced by physical causes, and quickly ceases. What produces consciousness (if not the brain) and how can we study it?
:meditate:
4) If consciousness is immaterial and has no place, then how does it interact with physical objects that have place? Why is it when I walk downstairs or upstairs, the consciousness changes location? What keeps it glued to this body and location of this body?
This thread is about rebirth, and I am simply responding at this point to your materialistic arguments du jour, not attempting to provide a complete explanation of consciousness to you. Nor do I have it.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 4:34 pm

kirk5a wrote:So you keep asserting. You don't have any proof one way or the other. Just assertions.
Read books on neurology for in depth analysis. Also I have given some links to studies about brain and mental functions.
kirk5a wrote:
Alex wrote:
kirk5a wrote:That is really weak. First of all, we could tinker with a radio and make Beethoven sound like Hell-spawn Symphony No. 5.
1) How can radio convert sound carrying Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 into coherent music such as "Sweet Dreams" by Marylin Manson.
That is completely irrelevant.
Fully relevant. It shows a fatal flaw in signal & radio argument. If the brain is responsible for how the "signal" is converted, then it is a necessary cause for
what sound will be played back. When rebirth occurs, the new brain will play this part. Not this mystical consciousness. So how can there be a multi-life development and continuity if the brain is such an important cause and totally new brain arises?

If the brain is one of the necessary causes for production of mental states and consciousness (other cause could be learned behavior stored in the brain), then when it is gone, so will be consciousness with all the skills.
kirk5a wrote:So? The context here is rebirth. So there is a continuity of consciousness (signal) in some way, which becomes associated with a new brain (radio).
And there is no proof for mind, consciousness, memory, skills that are independent of the brain & body. If concrete memory and skills are stored in the brain, and cease when the brain ceases, then what about continuous multi-life development? How can it occur?

When a person is born, how do we know that there was rebirth rather than first birth?
As it comes to rebirth, there are always TWO points when it occurs. It occurs after death (post-mortem) of this body which we cannot experience now, and it occurs at/before birth of this body (pre-natal). The latter can theoretically be experienced or at least can be remembered. However: When I (Alex) was born, I didn't come with developed positive or negative skills. I didn't come with knowledge of any languages, and there was nothing from which I could now infer that I inherited my past qualities from previous lives. Nothing to say about the lack of direct experience of rebirth into Alex. It was as if it was my first life...
"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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Alex123
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Post by Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 4:49 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Here's a question that puzzles me a little. Is it logically necessary for consciousness to be immaterial in order for rebirth to take place?
If it is not immaterial but physical, then it could have been studied like any other physical phenomenon and follow physical laws. As I think right now, we could try to argue for rebirth in this way: "the information from the dying brain is transmitted to the body and brain that is being born".

However:
a) There is no proof for this transmission.
b) How is it done? What is the mechanism?

and

c) Childhood. There is this problem that I've written at the bottom paragraph of above post. There is nothing in the child's development that suggests that he is rebirth of someone. Child learns all skills, languages, memories, etc, a new. As if it is the first life. Rebirth happens from "both sides" (ex: at 1950 "birth" and at 2030, "death"). While speaking about the future has obvious problems, how about analyzing the past events that did occur?
"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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