Aloka wrote:Hi mikenz66,
in your quote from 'The Mind and the Way' you missed out a chunk of what Ajahn Sumedho had to say on page 55 -56
I quoted the part relevant to showing that Ajahn Sumedho doesn't deny
rebirth. You've already explained how he doesn't see it as particularly relevant to everyday practice.
I'm not sure why you seem to take this so personally. My point was simply that Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho seem, from their writings, to acknowledge that the Buddha taught some sort of post-mortem rebirth.
Now, what one does with that teaching is a more interesting question. What relevance does it have to my practice? I don't know. Not a lot at the the moment. I don't actually think about it much. In fact, I only post this stuff to balance out the interminable posts denying that the Buddha taught post-mortem rebirth and to correct gaps in the picture that some paint of the teachings of Ajahns Buddhadasa and Sumedho.
I'm not really taking things personally, even if it seems that way. Personal practice is certainly all important in the midst of all these internet interactions !
The funny thing is that I bought Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree back in 2007 when I was in Hong Kong and read it without realising that he was considered to be a denier of literal rebirth. Since a large chunk of that book (actually, a collection of talks) is devoted to advice on how to attain nibbana at the instant of death (not to have a good life before death), the whole book would seem to be a little pointless if nothing persisted after death.
I have read quite a lot of Buddhadasa so I feel able to comment.
Death is an occassion where people ordinarily suffer. In fact, death is ordinarily where human beings suffer the most. It is really vital that human beings have Nibbana at death (as well as at other times). Buddhadasa gave Nibbana at death the highest urgency. I think he was unconcerned with what occurs after death.
Your statement "the whole book would seem to be a little pointless if nothing persisted after death", with respect, Mike, appears to me to be an inaccurate one.
Buddhadasa gave a teaching to assist people to end the suffering that occurs with the death & dying process.
Have you never witnessed a human being dying, full of fears, full of struggles? I have seen relatives dying and this was particularly evident when I watched my grandfather dying from cancer.
The Buddha himself taught Nibbana at ordinary times as well as specifically at death, as follows:
When a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to, he directly knows everything; having directly known everything, he fully understands everything; having directly known everything, he fully understood everything, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither pleasant or painful, he abides contemplating (observing) impermanence in those feelings, contemplating (observing) fading away, contemplating (observing) cessation, contemplating (observing) relinquishment (letting go). Contemplating (observing) thus, he does not cling to anything in the world. When he does not cling (think about), he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbana.
When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'
This second teaching by the Buddha for death is also something we need to practise before death, so we are prepared. It is another form of Maranasati.
You have possibly misunderstood what Buddhadasa is saying. Perhaps in connection with what Buddhadasa is actually refering to by the word "birth". Heartwood From The Bodhi Tree opens as follows:
Take the question of whether or not there is rebirth. What is reborn? How is it reborn? What is its kammic inheritance? These questions are not aimed at the extinction of Dukkha. That being so they are not Buddhist teaching and they are not connected with it. They do not lie in the sphere of Buddhism. Also, the one who asks about such matters has no choice but to indiscriminately believe the answer he's given, because the one who answers is not going to be able to produce any proofs, he's just going to speak according to his memory and feeling. The listener can't see for himself and so has to blindly believe "the other's words. Little by little the matter strays from Dhamma until it's something else altogether, unconnected with the extinction of Dukkha.
Concerning death, there's no need to speak about what happens after the people language version. Why talk about what happens once we're in the coffin? Instead, please deal with this most urgent issue of ego-birth, that is, don't get born and there will be no suffering. Without the feeling of being born, there is no person anymore and all the problems disappear with it. That is all. When there isn't this continual being born, there is no longer a "somebody" to have problems. It's as simple as that.
NO RELIGION by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu