What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

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pink_trike
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by pink_trike » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:36 pm

shjohnk wrote:Hi Ben, thanks for the confirmation: i figured the goal was stream entry. It would be good to hear more talks where this is stressed: the urgency of achieving this in THIS life. It seems to me that many talks by popular Western theravadan teachers are too 'touchy feely'. After you listen to them, you think 'Well, that's OK then. I may be full of defilements but i can get rid of those in my next life!'. The catch is if you don't practice with urgency now, the chances are you are going to be spinning through the lower realms for the next few aeons! Sort of like missing a bus and then seeing that the next one is scheduled to arrive in 100 trillion years, and the weather has just turned nasty... I think people need to remember that the Buddha was not a new age hippy! He taught that Samasara is suffering and you need to get out NOW! OK, rant over. :) Thanks again, Ben, and drolma, for your answers! Metta.
To understand why the Dharma is often presented to Westerners in a less urgent, more "touchy feely" style requires an understanding of the cultural context and historical background of Western society within which this is being done, and to understand that teachers skillfully present the teachings in ways that are best suited for the culture and time. There are many ways of awakening people to the Dharma...there is no "one size fits all" except in that box in our head where we store our preferences.
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.

kidd
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by kidd » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:58 am

Since the Buddha taught that we have no souls and that nothing is permanent, what do you imagine is 'reborn'?

:juggling:

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Guy
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by Guy » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:35 am

Hi Kidd,

My understanding is that it is the "stream of consciousness" which goes from life to life.This is impermanent since even consciousness momentarily comes and goes and can stop altogether. It is the "desire to be" that perpetuates this cycle of rebirth. Both consciousness and desire are empty/impersonal processes dependant on conditions rather than unchanging and independantly existing objects.

Please anyone correct me if I am wrong about any of this.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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tiltbillings
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:36 am

kidd wrote:Since the Buddha taught that we have no souls and that nothing is permanent, what do you imagine is 'reborn'?
Your bad habits, which is my favorite response to that question by Chogyam Trungpa.
>> 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: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by clw_uk » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:26 am

Guy wrote:Hi Kidd,

My understanding is that it is the "stream of consciousness" which goes from life to life.This is impermanent since even consciousness momentarily comes and goes and can stop altogether. It is the "desire to be" that perpetuates this cycle of rebirth. Both consciousness and desire are empty/impersonal processes dependant on conditions rather than unchanging and independantly existing objects.

Please anyone correct me if I am wrong about any of this.

With Metta,

Guy

I think you have it "wrong", ive never read the Buddha saying that a "stream of consciousness" gets "reborn". However this has all been said on "great rebirth debate"

metta
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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retrofuturist
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Sep 15, 2009 12:27 pm

Greetings,

One moment of consciousness conditions the next.

If that gets called a "stream", over time... it's not an unrealistic comment. It just shows the continuity of causal relations from one moment to the next.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by EOD » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:05 pm

retrofuturist wrote:One moment of consciousness conditions the next.
Hello,

I'm not sure what you mean with "moment of consciousness". A kind of "atomic theory" of mind or time? Or just consciousness as it is right now? I'm not aware that the Buddha taught that consciousness is a succession of causally related discrete and smallest units ("atoms") of consiousness in time.

Best wishes,

EOD

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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:31 pm

Greetings EOD,

A citta. I agree though it doesn't have to be discrete and "atomic".

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Guy
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by Guy » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:55 am

Hi Kidd,

Ajahn Brahm has used the metaphor of sand on a beach to describe consciousness. At a distance when you look at a beach it looks like it is a solid surface but up close when you look at each grain of sand individually you see that there are gaps between the sand. In a similar way, our ordinary experience of consciousness is that it is an ongoing process with no gaps or spaces, but when the mind is clear (after deep meditation) we can see that there are instances/moments of consciousness that arise and pass away, with gaps in between.

Consciousness is said to be like sands on a beach, it is like a stream, but these are just metaphors to help us understand such a subtle process.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

kidd
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by kidd » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:18 am

Aren't we conscious of what is apparent and not conscious of what is not apparent?

Isn't consciousness simply awareness of what is; and when there is nothing to be aware of doesn't consciousness cease?

:juggling:

EOD
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by EOD » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:27 am

Guy wrote:Ajahn Brahm has used the metaphor of sand on a beach to describe consciousness. At a distance when you look at a beach it looks like it is a solid surface but up close when you look at each grain of sand individually you see that there are gaps between the sand. In a similar way, our ordinary experience of consciousness is that it is an ongoing process with no gaps or spaces, but when the mind is clear (after deep meditation) we can see that there are instances/moments of consciousness that arise and pass away, with gaps in between.
Hello,

how can you see gaps between moments of consciousness? In those gaps no consciousness ("seeing") is present per definition. Gaps between moments of consciousness are moments of unconsciousness, i.e. moments in which consciousness is absent. But as long as you see something (a "gap" for example), consciousness is still present. You might be able to notice the absence of ear-consciousness with your mind-consciousness, but there is no instance beyond mind which were able to notice the absence of mind or consciousness in total. So even if there were gaps between moments of consciousness, it would be impossible to notice them at the time when they are present.

Best wishes,

EOD

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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:26 pm

EOD wrote: how can you see gaps between moments of consciousness?
This perception is described in the Progress of Insight outlined in the Commentaries and Visuddhimagga. Here is Mahasi Sayadaw's explanation:

http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progres ... ml#Arising" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
4. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away
...
His knowledge consisting in insight, here called "noticing," will be likewise keen, strong, and lucid. Consequently, he will discern clearly and in separate forms all the bodily and mental processes noticed, as if cutting to pieces a bamboo sprout with a well-sharpened knife. Therefore the meditator then believes: "There is no body-and-mind process that cannot be noticed." When examining the characteristics of impermanence, etc., or other aspects of reality, he understands everything quite clearly and at once, and he believes it to be the knowledge derived from direct experience.
http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progres ... issolution" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
5. Knowledge of Dissolution

Noticing the bodily and mental processes as they arise, he sees them part by part, link by link, piece by piece, fraction by fraction: "Just now it arises, just now it dissolves." When that knowledge of arising and passing away becomes mature, keen and strong, it will arise easily and proceed uninterruptedly as if borne onward of itself; also the bodily and mental processes will be easily discernible. When keen knowledge thus carries on and formations are easily discernible, then neither the arising of each bodily and mental process, nor its middle phase called "presence," nor the continuity of bodily and mental processes called "occurrence as unbroken flux" is apparent to him; nor are the shape of the hand, the foot, the face, the body, and so on, apparent to him. But what is apparent to him is only the ceasing of bodily and mental processes, called "vanishing," or "passing away," or "dissolution."
Mike

EOD
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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by EOD » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:53 am

mikeenz66 wrote:
EOD wrote:how can you see gaps between moments of consciousness?
This perception is described in the Progress of Insight outlined in the Commentaries and Visuddhimagga. Here is Mahasi Sayadaw's explanation:

http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progres" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... ml#Arising
4. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away
...
His knowledge consisting in insight, here called "noticing," will be likewise keen, strong, and lucid. Consequently, he will discern clearly and in separate forms all the bodily and mental processes noticed, as if cutting to pieces a bamboo sprout with a well-sharpened knife. Therefore the meditator then believes: "There is no body-and-mind process that cannot be noticed." When examining the characteristics of impermanence, etc., or other aspects of reality, he understands everything quite clearly and at once, and he believes it to be the knowledge derived from direct experience.
That is not the same thing as seeing gaps between moments of consciousness. He says: "There is no body-and-mind process that cannot be noticed." I agree with that. But you need mind or consciousness in order to notice. Gaps in consciousness are like blind spots. When you are unconscious you can't notice: "I'm unconscious" or "There is no consciousness", because in order to do that you need consciousness which is not there at that moment or gap. That is what I meant.

Apart from that I would not rely too much on the commentaries or Visuddhimagga. The Buddha said in AN 4.180 and DN 16 that in case of doubt only the discourses and the discipline are relevant in order to find out what belongs to his teachings and what not.

Best wishes,

EOD

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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:12 am

Hi EOD,

Well, use your own experience then. With enough calm and mindfulness it is possible to notice discontinuities.

Metta
Mike

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Re: What is the Theravadan Aim for Rebirth?

Post by EOD » Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:34 am

mikenz66 wrote:With enough calm and mindfulness it is possible to notice discontinuities.
I agree.

Best wishes,

EOD

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