Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Sunrise
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Sunrise » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:31 pm

Lazy_eye wrote: After all, Buddhism does teach that beings (or mindstreams or individuated dependent origination processes or whatever term we prefer) re-arise in the various realms.

.....

Just thinking back on the stuff that confused me when I first encountered it, perhaps it would be helpful to clarify as follows:

-- Beings re-arise, life after life, among the different planes of existence.
"individuated dependent origination processes"?? :?:

As far as I know and I can verify, realms are mental states very well experienced in the present life. Explaining realms to a beginner as planes of existence that you are reborn after death is no better than what he is already suggesting IMO. Wouldn't it be more productive to tell them to observe the mental states moment to moment and observe how their minds experience these "realms" moment to moment? I'm just saying you know...
Lazy_eye wrote:
beings can move up and down through the realms in accordance with their kamma (moral decisions). One could attain the heavens, only to fall back into lower realms in a subsequent life after one's celestial kamma is all used up. :cry:
:roll:

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JeffR
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by JeffR » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:16 pm

Sunrise,
I think Lazyeye gave a better description of general cycle of dependent origination.
Therein what are 'six (types of) disrespect'? One dwells without respect, without deference for the Teacher; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Teaching; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Order; one dwells without respect, without deference for the precepts; one dwells without respect, without deference for heedfulness; one dwells without respect, without deference for hospitality. These are six (types of) disrespect.
:Vibh 945

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Aloka
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Aloka » Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:39 pm

.
As far as I know and I can verify, realms are mental states very well experienced in the present life. Explaining realms to a beginner as planes of existence that you are reborn after death is no better than what he is already suggesting IMO. Wouldn't it be more productive to tell them to observe the mental states moment to moment and observe how their minds experience these "realms" moment to moment? I'm just saying you know...


Sunrise's wise words above make complete sense to me, and in fact are totally in accord with what I understand from Ajahn Sumedho's offline teachings .(Forest Tradition)


.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:09 pm

The OP was asking specifically about karma and rebirth/reincarnation in the sense of multiple lives. Why, instead of answering his question, are we going into other topics such as moment-to-moment rebirth and anatta?

Speaking as a beginner, what I've found most helpful is when the Buddhist teachings are presented in a straightforward way, as the Buddha taught them. We can then make our own decisions about how to relate to/understand the teachings on rebirth, the cosmology and so on. There's no need to hide away the fact that the Buddha taught a multiple-lives model, as though this information will damage our tender non-souls.

Present life/present moment: anatta, annica, dukkha applies to it.
Infinite lives: anatta, annica, dukkha applies to them.

Therefore anatta has no bearing on the question "should we believe in post-mortem rebirth?"

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Aloka
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Aloka » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:05 pm

.

Hi Lazy-Eye, the teachings you speak of are clearly for the purpose of morality. However,the Buddha also said :

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

MN2

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Last edited by Aloka on Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sunrise
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Sunrise » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:08 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Therefore anatta has no bearing on the question "should we believe in post-mortem rebirth?"
Should we believe in post-mortem rebirth???
Super mundane practice has very little or no place for beliefs. Beliefs are for morality and the mundane cultivations. Thus, Buddhists "beliefs" and Hindu/christian beliefs all have a common cause. IMO, one is no better than the other.

While it is true that we need to answer the OP's question, I think it makes sense to at least nudge them in the right direction if possible. Stating unverifiable beliefs as ultimate truths and presenting them as "Buddha taught" can be misleading. It makes sense to direct them to things they can observe and verify for themselves here and now. It is important for a beginner to establish some amount of faith in the Dhamma by direct observation of what the Buddha has taught to be applied moment to moment. When a beginner asks about a belief in the forum and we answer with more belief theories, what difference would it make? Not much

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Aloka
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Aloka » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:17 pm

Sunrise wrote:

While it is true that we need to answer the OP's question, I think it makes sense to at least nudge them in the right direction if possible. Stating unverifiable beliefs as ultimate truths and presenting them as "Buddha taught" can be misleading. It makes sense to direct them to things they can observe and verify for themselves here and now. It is important for a beginner to establish some amount of faith in the Dhamma by direct observation of what the Buddha has taught to be applied moment to moment. When a beginner asks about a belief in the forum and we answer with more belief theories, what difference would it make? Not much

:goodpost: Absolutely agree yet again !

If I may quote Ajahn Sumedho at a recent offline talk
"What happens after death? We all have our opinions, all the religions - but the fact is we don't really know"


.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:35 pm

Aloka wrote:.
Hi Lazy-Eye, the teachings you speak of are clearly for the purpose of morality.
And morality is not an important part of the dhamma?

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Aloka
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Aloka » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:38 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Aloka wrote:.
Hi Lazy-Eye, the teachings you speak of are clearly for the purpose of morality.
And morality is not an important part of the dhamma?
Did I suggest it wasn't?

.

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Lazy_eye » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:59 pm

Both you and Sunrise seem to be minimizing its significance and insisting, instead, that we direct the OP to the supramundane teachings. But for the majority of laypeople, myself included, these "mundane" aspects of the dhamma are quite important, maybe even more so than the "yogic" aspects which, traditionally, were often limited to renunciants.

Also, it's not correct to say that all the religious morality systems are alike. There are some important distinctions. For example, my Christian friends have no problem with the butchering of animals because they believe it is sanctioned by the Bible.

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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Sunrise » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:09 pm

Lazy_eye wrote: Also, it's not correct to say that all the religious morality systems are alike. There are some important distinctions. For example, my Christian friends have no problem with the butchering of animals because they believe it is sanctioned by the Bible.
Most religious beliefs are for morality; that's what I said. Christians believe in God and do good in the hope of heaven after death don't they? I remember a Muslim friend once told me that after death their good and bad actions are accounted for like in a court and punishment is given accordingly. Buddhists believe that good kamma will gain favorable rebirths and bad kamma will give lower births in lower realms as you said. I don't see a big difference here. Do you?
Last edited by Sunrise on Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Aloka
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Aloka » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:21 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Both you and Sunrise seem to be minimizing its significance and insisting, instead, that we direct the OP to the supramundane teachings. But for the majority of laypeople, myself included, these "mundane" aspects of the dhamma are quite important, maybe even more so than the "yogic" aspects which, traditionally, were often limited to renunciants.

I can't speak for Sunrise I don't even know him/her. However I can speak from my own experience and understanding.

Is that not allowed here ? It almost appears as If you wish to to suppress me, a mere helpless woman, in the manner of the Spanish Inquisition, Lazy-Eye !

Whips and handcuffs at dawn ?? :D
Last edited by Aloka on Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sunrise
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Sunrise » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:28 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Both you and Sunrise seem to be minimizing its significance and insisting, instead, that we direct the OP to the supramundane teachings.
No. Read my original post again. I have not minimized the significance of moral conduct. What I meant was that a Buddhist disciple doesn't necessarily need motivations like "favorable future rebirths" to be in merit. Such motivations direct the mind to building up more and more rather than letting go. It makes sense to direct someone to be in merit even if he got to know that there is no rebirth. It makes sense not to push too many beliefs into a beginner's mind. It makes sense to direct them to practice moment to moment.
Last edited by Sunrise on Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JeffR
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by JeffR » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:35 pm

Rybak303,
Back to your original question; here is a link
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... /loka.html

There are links on that page that will take you into further explanation on Kamma, human birth, etc. Please note that Buddha refuted the idea of reincarnation, the rebirths we experience is more of continual existence of a stream of consciousness which is reborn into various realms of the (or lack of) senses. Don't spend to much time wrapping your head around what the difference is, it takes awhile to grasp the concept.

A quote from the link given that may benefit others:
"It is pointless to debate whether these realms are real or simply fanciful metaphors that describe the various mind-states we might experience in this lifetime. The real message of this cosmology is this: unless we take steps to break free of the iron grip of kamma, we are doomed to wander aimlessly from one state to another, with true peace and satisfaction forever out of reach."

-Jeff :buddha2:
Therein what are 'six (types of) disrespect'? One dwells without respect, without deference for the Teacher; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Teaching; one dwells without respect, without deference for the Order; one dwells without respect, without deference for the precepts; one dwells without respect, without deference for heedfulness; one dwells without respect, without deference for hospitality. These are six (types of) disrespect.
:Vibh 945

Sunrise
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Re: Confusion about Karma and Reincarnation

Post by Sunrise » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:47 pm

Just to be fair to the OP please also note that "stream of consciousness" does not appear in pali suttas. They appear in later essays.

It is not pointless to observe the realms as mind states as it is perfectly verifiable in the here and now if you are mindful enough. So please observe the way your mind experiences these realms day to day.

:anjali:

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