Rebirth Deniers

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

Post by nowheat » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:36 pm

vinasp wrote:I am a rebirth denier and I am free of that delusion. Perhaps the "rebirth fanatics" would kindly explain how belief in rebirth differs from a delusion.
Perhaps that invitation would be better extended to continuation in the big rebirth thread, vincent? Here I am hoping we can stick to discussing our use and choice of labels.

What category of rebirth denial do you put yourself in, vincent?

A. someone who denies the Buddha taught rebirth
B. someone who does not personally believe in post-mortem continuance
C. someone who denies the Buddha taught and does not personally believe in post-mortem continuance

:namaste:

P.S. and, oh please, vincent, "rebirth fantatics"? Let's not add more prejudicial language to the pot.
Last edited by nowheat on Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by nowheat » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:39 pm

first retrofuturist wrote: Is a "Rebirth Denier" someone who denies the Buddha taught post-mortem continuance, or who does not believe personally in post-mortem continuance despite what the suttas say?
then BlackBird wrote: 1. Could be both, could it not? I must admit I have never seen an instance of the latter, is their a brief summary of their reasoning?
So now we have three definitions of “rebirth denier”?
A. someone who denies the Buddha taught rebirth
B. someone who does not personally believe in post-mortem continuance
C. someone who denies the Buddha taught and does not personally believe in post-mortem continuance

Are there any “deniers” of any kind in this forum willing to speak up and say what category they are in? I am in A, myself. I'm hoping we can get the proponents of each of these views to come up with their own labels to use as short-hand for their positions.
separately BlackBird wrote: If one wanted to get polemical then it's easy and effective to link 'rebirth denial' with 'holocaust denial' especially in light of the scriptural evidence of rebirth. Eg. "There is a lot of evidence of the holocaust too, but it doesn't stop people from denying it happened."
I would note that scriptural evidence for rebirth is on an entirely different level from factual evidence of the holocaust. Comparing denial of rebirth to denial of the holocaust is using the rhetorical device of prejudicial language and I suspect right speech would require that we be a little more circumspect in our choice of metaphors. If there were factual evidence for rebirth that your category B folks were denying, I'd still say comparing that to holocaust denial was a bit much, but at least it would be a little closer analogy, since “fact” would be in use in both cases. As it is you're comparing denial of factual evidence for a horrifying series of events to denial of one interpretation of scripture that has been passed on by humans for two thousand plus years.

:namaste:

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:02 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

I am a rebirth denier and I am free of that delusion. Perhaps the "rebirth fanatics" would kindly explain how belief in rebirth differs from a delusion.

Best wishes, Vincent.
Are you the same Vinasp that does not practice meditation either ? All in all Its a marvel to me that we detain you.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by kayy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:57 pm

Manapa wrote:
kayy wrote:oh dear.

I think it's worth being very careful indeed if one decides to step into the stormy territory of drawing comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust!

:thinking:
not necessarily, it depends on the use, and what it is trying to prove, or in some cases do.

There are several reasons that I can see why one should take great care:

1. The Holocaust is an event that happened less than 80 years ago, that is historically verifiable (insofar as anything can be proven!) by thousands, millions of individual, governmental and societal testimonies. The people who deny it have a particular political motivation. The same cannot be said of rebirth.

2. Aside from proof, evidence and all the rest of it, the most important question is DOES IT MATTER? Does rebirth really matter? Would you behave differently if you knew you were to be reborn than if you just accepted that you didn't really know what would happen after your death? IMHO the question of rebirth is secondary to Buddhist practice. The Holocaust, on the other hand, is of great importance on many different levels. It happened, and it matters.

3. There may be people on here who are in some way personally connected to the events of WW2, particularly those with family members taken into concentration camps and killed by the Nazis. I spent last year living in Krakow, Poland, and learnt that it is necessary to be sensitive to this fact, and not make random comparisons to make a point that isn't really important anyway.

best wishes
Katy

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:40 pm

I will stick to my first reasoning! don't underestimate the importance of rebirth within Buddhism, or think people don't understand some will be sensitive to certain subject or words, this is an international forum after all.
:focus:

EDIT: for a perspective on how important rebirth is to members, and to Buddhism have a look at this thread which has been going on over a year!
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... it=rebirth
Last edited by Cittasanto on Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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vinasp
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by vinasp » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:50 pm

Hi everyone,

What is my position? I will try to explain.

1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.

I am a "rebirth denier" in the sense that I oppose those who posit post-mortem existence. My name for this position is "strategic rebirth denial".
I also oppose those who posit no post-mortem existence. My name for this position is "strategic no-rebirth denial".

One must free the mind from delusions.

Best wishes, Vincent.

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by BlackBird » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:26 pm

kayy wrote:oh dear.

I think it's worth being very careful indeed if one decides to step into the stormy territory of drawing comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust!

:thinking:
I was drawing up a hypothetical polemical debate between a rebirth affirmer and rebirth denier, for the purpose of analyzing why the term 'rebirth denier' has become the label to describe someone who does not believe in our (thus far) 3 definitions. It was not an expression of my own feelings, but perhaps I should have been more clear on that.
kayy wrote: 2. Aside from proof, evidence and all the rest of it, the most important question is DOES IT MATTER? Does rebirth really matter?
To me, yes.
Would you behave differently if you knew you were to be reborn than if you just accepted that you didn't really know what would happen after your death?
To me the process of Kamma-vipaka and re-birth are two peas of the same pod. It's hard for me to accept the purpose of morality if there is no ultimate fruits of good or bad actions. Yes I behave differently taking rebirth on faith than I would if I took up a view of agnosticism, it highlights the importance of moral training which makes up one of the three platforms of practice.

metta
Jack
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:18 pm

vinasp wrote: 1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.
So you're a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier :juggling: who thinks that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, although you think that he could not have had knowledge of it, as you believe that it doesn't exist? :cookoo:
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kayy
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by kayy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:29 pm

BlackBird wrote:
kayy wrote:oh dear.

I think it's worth being very careful indeed if one decides to step into the stormy territory of drawing comparisons with Hitler and the Holocaust!

:thinking:
I was drawing up a hypothetical polemical debate between a rebirth affirmer and rebirth denier, for the purpose of analyzing why the term 'rebirth denier' has become the label to describe someone who does not believe in our (thus far) 3 definitions. It was not an expression of my own feelings, but perhaps I should have been more clear on that.
kayy wrote: 2. Aside from proof, evidence and all the rest of it, the most important question is DOES IT MATTER? Does rebirth really matter?
To me, yes.
Would you behave differently if you knew you were to be reborn than if you just accepted that you didn't really know what would happen after your death?
To me the process of Kamma-vipaka and re-birth are two peas of the same pod. It's hard for me to accept the purpose of morality if there is no ultimate fruits of good or bad actions. Yes I behave differently taking rebirth on faith than I would if I took up a view of agnosticism, it highlights the importance of moral training which makes up one of the three platforms of practice.

metta
Jack

Hi Jack

Nice to meet you, by the way :smile:

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know! I'm trying to accept that, rather than take a view on the matter. I don't know!!!! :jumping:

As far as morality goes, is a compassionate action truly compassionate if we do it purely because we think we'll suffer negative karmic consequences by doing otherwise? Would you perform kind deeds if you knew you would not be rewarded for it? If the answer is no, I don't think that's true morality.

Obviously, I'm totally perfect and all my deeds are out of the kindness of my heart.... ;)

Best wishes

Katy

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by BlackBird » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:54 pm

Hi Katy, nice to meet you too.

No indeed, for me and for most others I imagine that the carrot does not lie solely in a personal cosmic reward, although for some it is probably a motivating factor. What is a strong incentive however is the idea that if we act in a heedless and unskillful manner, there will be painful results.

On a further a-side, motivation for such things tends to go deeper than we probably realize at first. For instance quite a few people in the world give to charity because it makes them feel good, it generates a peace-of-mind. Now imagine how many of those people would give to charity if instead of feeling good, the received a sharp pain in the stomach every time they gave their money away...

Here is a good sutta on the motivations for giving, which you might find interesting:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Jack :heart:
Last edited by BlackBird on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by kayy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:58 pm

BlackBird wrote:Hi Katy, nice to meet you too.

No indeed, for me and for most others I imagine that the carrot does not lie solely in a personal cosmic reward, although for some it is probably a motivating factor. What is a strong incentive however is the idea that if we act in a heedless and unskillful manner, there will be painful results.

On a further a-side, motivation for such things tends to go deeper than we probably realize at first. For instance quite a few people in the world give to charity because it makes them feel good, it generates a peace-of-mind. Now imagine how many of those people would give to charity if instead of feeling good, the received a sharp pain in the stomach every time they gave their money away...

metta
Jack :heart:

Lol, sure... I'm in agreement with you on all that.

Anyway, I'm off to bed.

Na-night :meditate: (this looks a bit like a sleeping person with their hands sticking out over the top of the duvet).

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Ben
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Ben » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:31 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
vinasp wrote: 1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.
So you're a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier :juggling: who thinks that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, although you think that he could not have had knowledge of it, as you believe that it doesn't exist? :cookoo:
Well said, Bhante!
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Paññāsikhara » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:58 am

Ben wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
vinasp wrote: 1. Do I believe in post-mortem existence? - No.
2. Do I believe that there is no post-mortem existence? - No.
3. Did the Buddha teach literal rebirth? - Yes.
So you're a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier :juggling: who thinks that the Buddha taught literal rebirth, although you think that he could not have had knowledge of it, as you believe that it doesn't exist? :cookoo:
Well said, Bhante!
While my own position is different from that of Vinasp, I think that this explanation may very well misrepresent Vinasp's position.

To "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

Taking his first two statements as "a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier" is a logically incoherent deduction from what he has written. To neither believe in X nor believe in not-X does not equate to "deny belief in X while believing X".

And his statements don't provide enough to conclude that he "thinks that [buddha] could not have had knowledge of it, as [Vinasp] believes that it does not exist". Vinasp has not stated that he believes rebirth does not exist.
Again, to "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

It could simply be that Vinasp does not personally believe either way (~~ agnostic) but believes that the Buddha did teach it. But I'll let Vinasp clarify that for himself.
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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Dan74 » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:30 am

It could simply be that Vinasp does not personally believe either way (~~ agnostic) but believes that the Buddha did teach it.
Not sure about vinasp, but this sums up my view pretty well, (though somewhat leaning to believing on the basis of the scriptures, other people's stories and some very flimsy personal evidence).

Go agnostics! :twothumbsup:

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Re: Rebirth Deniers

Post by Prasadachitta » Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:11 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
While my own position is different from that of Vinasp, I think that this explanation may very well misrepresent Vinasp's position.

To "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

Taking his first two statements as "a rebirth denier who denies he's a rebirth denier" is a logically incoherent deduction from what he has written. To neither believe in X nor believe in not-X does not equate to "deny belief in X while believing X".

And his statements don't provide enough to conclude that he "thinks that [buddha] could not have had knowledge of it, as [Vinasp] believes that it does not exist". Vinasp has not stated that he believes rebirth does not exist.
Again, to "not believe in X" does not mean to "believe that X is false" or "believe in not-X".

It could simply be that Vinasp does not personally believe either way (~~ agnostic) but believes that the Buddha did teach it. But I'll let Vinasp clarify that for himself.
Hi Bhante,

Put that way there seems to be a lot of congruity between Vinasp and what can be said about how I relate to rebirth. However I still think the most accurate label for me is that I am one who accepts rebirth. I accept rebirth on the level of a heart felt devotion. I accept that the Truth which cannot be called existent or non existent is outside of conceptual norms. I dont think meaning is ontologically grounded. It is grounded in how it shapes our motivation and it is accurate to the degree that our motivation is congruent with our well being. I accept that those who do believe in rebirth are better off than those who reject it. I accept that we are all better off when more people believe in rebirth than reject it. I am not saying that everyday meaning like the difference between a cat and a dog is under question. I am saying that the value of what is communicated comes from the actual effect that communication has. This is the value which I am most concerned with when it comes to discerning what is true. This of course must include conforming to delineations such as "cat" or "dog". The effect of communicating in a way that does not conform to this level of meaning would be that no one would listen to anything you said and therefore it would not be True by any measure. :juggling:

I accept that the post mortem effect of a stream of consciousness can for all practical purposes be said to result in "rebirth"

It would be impractical to call a dog a cat. They are both furry creatures who are kept as pets and adored by many. :P

Love

Gabe
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