According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by aflatun » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:40 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:
2.a. There is no self but there is a frequency transfer of kammic energies (some interpretations)
2.b. There is no permanent self, but there is an indeterminate, inexpressible self (pudgalavada)
2.c. There is no permanent self but there is citta which never dies (some Forest traditions and other modern interpretations in Theravada and Mahayana)
2.d. What is reborn? Neuroses (Trungpa)
2.e. There is no permanent self, but there is a mind stream which is individual and continues (some interpretations)
2.f. There is no self but there is a Ālāya-vijñāna (store-house consciousness) accounting for kamma and rebirth (Mahayana-Yogachara)
The Sampasādanīya Sutta, DN 28, refers to "the unbroken flux of human consciousness," in a section on degrees of discernment. It's a difficult sutta and probably there is some context or dimension of meaning to the words that I'm not aware of. However, on the face of it, doesn't this "unbroken flux" sound like 2e or possibly 2c?

[A recluse or brahmin] by means of ardour, of effort, of application, of strenuous earnestness, of careful concentration, reaches up to such rapture of thought that with rapt mind he meditates introspectively on just this bodily organism from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, as a hide-bound mass of manifold uncleanness...and he goes on after that to discern the unbroken flux of human consciousness established both in this world and in another world.
Interesting passage. Maybe one of our Pali savants can chime in?
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by aflatun » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:03 pm

binocular wrote:
aflatun wrote:We might be talking about two different things, but I'm not sure? When you said "not definitive for its identity" with respect to the ship, I thought you mean there was something that was definitive for its identity apart from its material components, i.e. an essence.
No. I think it's the concepts of "individuality" and "essence" when we take them for granted that make us think of and look for things that might not be there.

It is my intuition that for a practicing Buddhist, whether a ship from a couple of years ago called "Argo" is the same ship called "Argo" now is not relevant, nor is it relevant that the John one knew ten years ago is the same John one knows now.
Identity, essence are important for various practical worldly purposes (note: legal purposes), and in some religions, they are important to the execution of justice (so that the right, the same person goes to hell forever and ever, etc.). But beyond that -- what is the use of notions like identity, essence?
Well said, and ultimately, agreed. As happy as I am to dismiss such things as mere conventions, or even stronger, delusions (see the second quote in my signature), I was trying to keep such an approach out of the discussion (for my part), but because what David is asking about is conventional identity, continuity, etc. And so I would say that the relevance has to do with personal responsibility, personal liberation, etc, which requires continuity, even if that continuity has a mirage like status and said liberation consists in the uprooting of that "I."
aflatun wrote:Or are you saying that kamma, or intention, is what makes an individual continuum what it is?
binocular wrote:As far as I understood, yes. It's kamma that makes the I. It's not that kamma makes you you; it's that kamma makes you.
In "I am the owner of my kamma", I don't take this to mean that that "I" exists somehow separately from the kamma, or that it is "I" who makes kamma. It's the other way around.
I agree with this :meditate:
aflatun wrote:The reason I brought up the apple in my first post in this thread, is I believe your question boils down to (although you didn't phrase it this way) "what makes an individual an individual, in the midst of all the change?" If we can answer what makes an individual an individual in this life, then we might be able to answer what makes two separate lives belong to an individual without positing any kind of self, substance, essence etc?
binocular wrote:Indeed! What is it that makes you you?
Your taste in music? Your name? The color of your skin? Your education? What your parents think of you? ...

We can specifiy identity in some worldly contexts and for worldly purposes. But beyond that, I don't see how it is possible to define identity in any meaningful way.
Again, agreed, but I have the Madhyamaka-itis :D

I'm content to say identity will continue to appear "across lives" much as it appears within temporal 'segments' of this one, even though it can never be found when we look for it. And that identity will persist for all of us until Nibbana, when there will be no way to measure or classify.

But none of that helps answer David's question! So I'm still trying...
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by aflatun » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:58 pm

robertk wrote:
There is only citta, cetasika and rupa that arise and cease instantly. However each citta (in conjunction with cetasikas) potentially conditions succeeding cittas which means there is a stream - neverending, unless khandha parinibbana occurs- of these elements.
THere is no problem at all talking about people and self as long as one understands that these are mere linguistic terms of convenience to identify who and what.
Thank you for that Robert. So does that mean for this model, that there is as much discontinuity between one moment and the next, as there is between one life and the next? No "thing" passes on, but the next moment is conditioned by what preceded it?
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:11 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Yes, but how does the kamma go to the next sentient being? There must be some stream, mind-stream, etc., some continuity.
"This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.

"This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.

"This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.

"This body comes into being through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is to be abandoned. With regard to sexual intercourse, the Buddha declares the cutting off of the bridge.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
A being comes into existence through food, craving, conceit, and sexual intercourse.

The idea that "kamma goes to the next being" implies that there is a (semi)permanent, soul-like entity that takes on bodies, one after another. If we want to avoid that implication, we can't use the formulation "kamma goes to the next being." If anything, kamma makes the next being.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:24 pm

aflatun wrote:
binocular wrote:It is my intuition that for a practicing Buddhist, whether a ship from a couple of years ago called "Argo" is the same ship called "Argo" now is not relevant, nor is it relevant that the John one knew ten years ago is the same John one knows now.
Identity, essence are important for various practical worldly purposes (note: legal purposes), and in some religions, they are important to the execution of justice (so that the right, the same person goes to hell forever and ever, etc.). But beyond that -- what is the use of notions like identity, essence?
Well said, and ultimately, agreed. As happy as I am to dismiss such things as mere conventions, or even stronger, delusions (see the second quote in my signature), I was trying to keep such an approach out of the discussion (for my part), but because what David is asking about is conventional identity, continuity, etc. And so I would say that the relevance has to do with personal responsibility, personal liberation, etc, which requires continuity, even if that continuity has a mirage like status and said liberation consists in the uprooting of that "I."
The sense of one's own self and its continuity is a given anyway. The continuity of other people's identity ideally isn't all that important to a practicing Buddhist.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by DNS » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:12 pm

From Rupert Gethin's Foundations of Buddhism:
The problem of personal continuity: self as
'causal connectedness'

We have seen how Buddhist thought criticizes the concept of
an unchanging self as incoherent; however, both ancient and
modern critics have argued that to do away with the self in the
manner of Buddhist thought in fact creates insurmountable
philosophical and moral problems. How can the experienced facts
of personal continuity-after all it is I who remember getting
up this morning and going to the shops, not you-be accounted
for? Again, central to the Buddhist world-view is the notion
of rebirth, but surely for this to be meaningful some part of a
person must remain constant and be reborn, which is precisely
what the teaching of no self seems to deny. Furthermore, if there
is no self, is not the whole foundation of morality undermined?
If I am not the same person as the one who robbed the bank
yesterday, how can I be held responsible? In fact does not the
teaching of no self render life meaningless and is it not tanta,.
mount to a doctrine of nihilism? For its part, Buddhist thought
claims that it has adequate answers to these questions and has
always categorically denied the charge that it is a species of
nihilism.13 The answers to these questions are all in one way ot
another to be referred to the particular Buddhist understanding
of the way in which things are causally connected.
(pg.140)
Especially the Classical Theravada position has been connected with nihilism by some scholars and also Buddhists and non-Buddhists; which is why I have been looking for some better explanations. Some good posts here so far. :thumbsup:

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:50 pm

aflatun wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote: The Sampasādanīya Sutta, DN 28, refers to "the unbroken flux of human consciousness," in a section on degrees of discernment. It's a difficult sutta and probably there is some context or dimension of meaning to the words that I'm not aware of. However, on the face of it, doesn't this "unbroken flux" sound like 2e or possibly 2c?

[A recluse or brahmin] by means of ardour, of effort, of application, of strenuous earnestness, of careful concentration, reaches up to such rapture of thought that with rapt mind he meditates introspectively on just this bodily organism from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, as a hide-bound mass of manifold uncleanness...and he goes on after that to discern the unbroken flux of human consciousness established both in this world and in another world.
Interesting passage. Maybe one of our Pali savants can chime in?
Hope so -- I would like to know what Pali term(s) are being translated as "unbroken flux of human consciousness," and whether or not this formulation occurs somewhere else in the suttas. I came across DN 28 by accident a few years ago and continue to find it intriguing. For one thing, it is spoken by Sāriputta to the Buddha -- it's basically "here's how I understand your teachings...do I have it right?"

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by robertk » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:25 am

aflatun wrote:[q

Thank you for that Robert. So does that mean for this model, that there is as much discontinuity between one moment and the next, as there is between one life and the next? No "thing" passes on, but the next moment is conditioned by what preceded it?
Right! just as much continuity, and discontinuity .
thus there are three types of death. Khanika marana, momentary death, that we experience every moment, sammuti marana, conventional death at the end of each life, and absolute death when an arahat passes away.

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by aflatun » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:52 pm

robertk wrote:
aflatun wrote:[q

Thank you for that Robert. So does that mean for this model, that there is as much discontinuity between one moment and the next, as there is between one life and the next? No "thing" passes on, but the next moment is conditioned by what preceded it?
Right! just as much continuity, and discontinuity .
thus there are three types of death. Khanika marana, momentary death, that we experience every moment, sammuti marana, conventional death at the end of each life, and absolute death when an arahat passes away.
Thank you Robert for the clarification! :thumbsup:

Do you have any insight into the passage Lazy Eye was wondering about? (Above)
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by robertk » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:25 am

"unbroken flux.." is simply a description of the (beginingless) stream of namarupa in my reading. And yes that Buddha discerns this perfectly..

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by SarathW » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:57 am

robertk wrote:
aflatun wrote:[q

Thank you for that Robert. So does that mean for this model, that there is as much discontinuity between one moment and the next, as there is between one life and the next? No "thing" passes on, but the next moment is conditioned by what preceded it?
Right! just as much continuity, and discontinuity .
thus there are three types of death. Khanika marana, momentary death, that we experience every moment, sammuti marana, conventional death at the end of each life, and absolute death when an arahat passes away.
What is the source for this description Robert?
Why do you say there is absolute death for arahat when they passes away?
Why Nibbana is called death less?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by robertk » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:18 am

The dispeller of Delusion (pali text society) trans. Bhikku Nanamoli:
page 121, volume1:
"this division too should be known, namely momentary death (khanika-
marana), conventional death (samutti marana) and death as cutting
off (samuccheda-marana)
also path of purification xliii “
There are three kinds of death: death as
cutting off, momentary death, and conventional death. Death as cutting off belongs
to those whose cankers are exhausted (and are Arahants). Momentary death is
that of each consciousness of the cognitive series beginning with life-continuum
consciousness, which arise each immediately on the cessation of the one preceding.
Conventional death is that of all (so-called) living beings
For the meaning of amata - which can be translated as deathless, It is because as there is no more birth , that with samuccheda marana there can also be no more death. See dhammpada atthakatha I228. It is the complete cessation of the five aggregates.

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:08 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Hope so -- I would like to know what Pali term(s) are being translated as "unbroken flux of human consciousness," and whether or not this formulation occurs somewhere else in the suttas.
... purisassa viññāṇasotaṃ ... ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ ... — "A man's stream-of-consciousness that is uninterrupted between both [this world and the next]."

The phrase is unique to this sutta.

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:13 am

cjmacie wrote:.
I put this question (as in the OP) to both Bhikkhu Bodhi and Thanissaro Bhikkhu in post-talk Q/A sessions over the last couple of years. Both replied, in effect, that craving is reborn.
Or is that craving causes rebirth, and therefore suffering?
In the standard formula for dependent origination craving and clinging lead to becoming ( bhava ) in the 3 realms. From this it would seem that bhava is a cycle of birth and death, "powered" by craving and shaped by kamma.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I'm not sure that anything is "reborn" though. Looking at DN15, it's more like a re-appearance of consciousness.

"Name-and-form
"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"
"No, lord."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: According to Classical Theravada, what is reborn?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:56 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
cjmacie wrote:.
I put this question (as in the OP) to both Bhikkhu Bodhi and Thanissaro Bhikkhu in post-talk Q/A sessions over the last couple of years. Both replied, in effect, that craving is reborn.
Or is that craving causes rebirth, and therefore suffering?
In the standard formula for dependent origination craving and clinging lead to becoming ( bhava ) in the 3 realms. From this it would seem that bhava is a cycle of birth and death, "powered" by craving and shaped by kamma.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I'm not sure that anything is "reborn" though. It's like saying that the wind is "reborn". ;)
Good points, Spiny. There is also the problem that if it is craving that is reborn, then we still cannot account for the personalised nature of that craving. If we are heirs to our kamma, etc., then who or what is associated with (owns? experiences?) the craving that is reborn? Just as I am not heir to anyone else's kamma, I don't inherit anyone else's craving.

Two other points, if I may, for anyone to pick up.

1) What here (i.e. in the terms of the OP) counts as "Classical Theravada"? I would have thought that there are so many different views expressed on rebirth (Abhidhamma, "three-life", "one-life", simultaneous, etc.) which could all count as Theravadan.

2) Is rebirth always held to occur against a conception of absolute time? (i.e. time that is universal and one-directional). In suttas, "past lives" are talked about as occurring in the historical past, occurring prior to the current life. Rebirth is taked about as occurring in the future. This is, of course, the only way that we can understand causality and conditioning, and suttas frequently divide time up into past, present, and future. Does this mean that time is absolute? That the Buddha merely talked as if it were? Is there any reason why our kamma could not cause us to be reborn in an age which we - in this life - would consider to be in the historical past?

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