Sunrise wrote:He does not explicitly reject comments on it because that's not the point of the discussion. The point of the sutta is that such realizations (either eternalist or nihilist) have an underlying sense of self in them which is wrong view. Remove that and questions of rebirth will be irrelevant. The Buddha said "the eternalist assumes something is born again and again and the nihilist assumes something is annihilated." What the Buddha says is that there is no something. Thus questions of rebirth are irrelevant.
He detailed how these views arise, and, in doing so, he seems to specifically refer to rebirth as if it is a given. Many of these views arise based on the ability to recall rebirths and the process by which people stumble in to these views based on their ability to recall past lives is described in detail. If "questions of rebirth are irrelevant" I don't see why the Buddha would have gone in to such detail describing the experience of past life recollection and how some people, based on misapprehension of the way things are, come to wrong conclusions based on such experiences.
As to the veracity of whether these people were actually recalling past lives, I would merely mention that the Buddha himself refers to his own ability to recall past lives in various suttas.
Sunrise wrote:Kamma and it's effects should not be speculated like "all bad/good deeds of this life should be punished/rewarded or returned. So if it didn't happen in this life it should happen in the next life" etc. This is unskillful and the Buddha himself advised against it.
I haven't claimed that kamma is a system which "punishes" or "rewards," (the Buddha warns against this type of fatalism in the Devadaha Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya) nor was I asking anyone to speculate about the mechanism of kamma. My rhetorical question merely brought to light the implication of actively taking a view against rebirth. There is fruition of kamma. Until one is enlightened, one continues to create kammic tendencies which may come to fruition in the present or far in the future. If there is some kammic tendency which has not come to fruition or been "reversed" by a counteracting action and the inheritor of kamma dies and there is no continued birth/aging/death process, the implication would be that the effect of this kamma would not come to fruition. Thus, explicit denial of rebirth carries denial of kammic fruition.
Sunrise wrote:You can practice for the here and now and leave rebirth aside as undecided right? It is unskillful for complete relinquishment to "believe" in a life after death.
Well, sure. I'm talking about an explicit rejection, either outwardly or within the confines of one's own mind. Rebirth is a truth which is experientially known at a certain level of meditation, from what I know based on my reading of the suttas and discussions on this board. However, I don't think that it is "unskillful" to take the Buddha at face value whenever he speaks of rebirth in the literal sense of a process by which ignorant, aggregated "beings," [quotation to emphasize that I am not claiming that there is a self or soul or eternal substance being the aggregates] bound to kamma, are born, age and die only to give rise to more ignorant, aggregated "beings" who are born, age and die, ad infinitum until enlightenment, the ending of kamma. And I would contend that the suttas are rife with examples of the Buddha speaking about this process in distinctly non-metaphorical terms. For instance, quoting the Saleyyaka Sutta, it seems rather odd for the Buddha to group "the other world and mother and father and spontaneously (born) beings" together if he is not describing a literal process of rebirth. Or, language in the Kutuhalasala Sutta:
Kutuhalasala Sutta wrote:This contemplative Gotama — the leader of a community, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, honored and famous, esteemed as holy by the mass of people — describes a disciple who has died and passed on in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." But when the disciple is an ultimate person, a foremost person, attained to the foremost attainment, Gotama the contemplative does not describe him, when he has died and passed on, in terms of places of rebirth: "That one is reborn there; that one is reborn there." Instead, he describes him
thus: "He has cut through craving, severed the fetter, and by rightly breaking through conceit has made an end of suffering & stress."'
So I was simply befuddled. I was uncertain: How is the teaching of Gotama the contemplative to be understood?"
"Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance."
"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."
"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"
"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."
That is the nature of faith in Buddhism. We take refuge in the Buddha and the truth of his teaches, practice based on what the Buddha claims is true and fruitful, experience the results of his teachings, and then accept the truth of his teachings based on direct experiential understanding. In the case of rebirth, this would occur whenever one gains the ability to recall past lives (fourth jhana, I hear?), or cultivates insight to a certain point, or verifies other teachings of the Buddha experientially to the point where you don't lack faith in his other teachings, or attains sotapatti (thereby eliminating doubt). Verifying the Dhamma in the here and now doesn't mean that, at any given point town, we can directly experience a certain aspect of the Dhamma. Verification takes mental cultivation over time.
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi
With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.- Snp. 1.3