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Aloka
22 Dec 10, 08:10
Was the emphasis that some Buddhist schools placed on the doctrine of rebirth intended mostly for the purposes of morality ?

What do you think?

Do you think contemplation of post-mortem rebirth is useful to you ?

plogsties
22 Dec 10, 12:51
Was the emphasis that some Buddhist schools placed on the doctrine of rebirth intended mostly for the purposes of morality ?

What do you think?

Do you think contemplation of post-mortem rebirth is useful to you ?


It is plausible to me that the ideas of rebirth and, even moreso, karma had as their aim producing a concern about morality. I don't know enough of the details of Buddhist teaching to be able to support this comment with specific references.

Post-mortem rebirth, and especially its link to karma, reminds me of the Christian obsession with "living a good life" to ensure entry into heaven ( analogous to nirvana in some sense?). It seems to me that, at best, the idea is a distraction and is of no use to me in my day-to-day life, and, at worst, is an attachment that hinders being in the here and now.

In short, neither karma nor rebirth are ideas which have any influence on me. Ruminating about the truth or non-truth of rebirth is equivalent, to me, to the same activity about the existence or non-existence of God - a waste of energy and time.

Esho
22 Dec 10, 19:07
Post-mortem rebirth, and especially its link to karma, reminds me of the Christian obsession with "living a good life" to ensure entry into heaven ( analogous to nirvana in some sense?).

True, and the difference is given because through living a good life, if there is not heaven, there is, for sure (sure for those convinced about rebirth) a better becoming and in a sophisticated degree a evolution toward better conditions of life and mind so to practice Dhamma.

Rebirth is the most beautiful elegant and congruent metaphysical speculation I have ever met, but it is, for the purpose of the Dhamma teachings a double blade weapon. Soto Zen is very cautious handling this weapon. It can bring you into the defilement given by a solid self. I think that rebirth doctrine is beyond the "be good" shortness of any practice. It gives a sense of evolution but not well understood it can be a painfull pitfall anytime it moves away from the here and now and gets into useless speculations about future and past lives that are meaningless for the practice of Buddhadhamma.

;)

Ngawang Drolma
22 Dec 10, 23:31
Hi Aloka,

Contemplation on impermanence, for example, is personally more constructive for me and my practice. But thoughts about post-mortem continuation don't hurt either because they're indirectly related in my mind.

I think it can be a help, depending upon the person. But other people who consider it a fallacy might think it leads to fantastical thinking :)

Again, just some two cents I'm throwing around here.

Best,
laura

clw_uk
24 Dec 10, 19:06
hello

During the Buddhas time there were many speculative metaphysical theories going around, India at the time being a Hot Bed of religious and philosophical sects


It must be remembered that the Buddha was concerned with how our out look effects out mental well being, for example Noble Right View (4NT's) leads to a healthy mind


Now Buddha knew that A) Not everyone would easily understand the Dhamma and B) Not everyone could, and so he needed to advise them on how to live a good life in accordance with what works best for them


In terms of A, the Buddha used rebirth view as a spring board for some onto his own teachings, since it fosters a good wholesome mind that is conductive to walking the path


In terms of B, since not everyone could walk the path, and had a predisposition or a history of holding metaphysical doctrines, he taught in terms of reincarnation (it actually was reincarnation he taught, its always the same person being reborn)


Now even though rebirth view is tainted (and so not part of his own teachings) and leads to dukkha, it does lead to a relatively happy life in those who adopt it since it leads to wholesome behaviour


Suttas that are relevant





Anuruddha, for what purpose does the Thus Gone One tell the disciples, without wasting time, before you die, be born in something higher. Stating one is born there, another there. (* 2) The Teaching’s origin is the Blessed One, its lead is from the Blessed One, and its refuge is the Blessed One. Good that the meaning occurs to the Blessed One. We, bhikkhus, hearing it from the Blessed One, will bear it in mind. Anuruddha, the Thus Gone One tells the disciples, without wasting time before you die, be born in something higher. Telling them one is born there, another there. Not to deceive people, not for prattling, and not for gain honour or fame and not thinking may the people know me thus. Yet, Anuruddha, there are sons of clansmen who are born in faith and are pleased, to hear it. Hearing it they would arouse interest and direct their minds to that and it would be for their good for a long time.

...

Anuruddha, a bhikkhuni hears, the venerable bhikkhuni of this name has passed away, and the Blessed One has declared that with the destruction of the three lower bonds and lessening greed, hate and delusion, she has become a once-returner. Coming here once more will make an end of unpleasantness. Now, this venerable bhikkhuni happens to be a person seen by that bhikkhuni, or not seen. She hears, these were the virtues and thoughts of the venerable bhikkhuni, such her wisdom, she developed these abidings, and was released. So this bhikkhuni recollects that faith, those virtues, her learnedness, benevolence and wisdom and directs her mind to it.[/size]


http://www.mahindarama.com/e-tipitaka/Majjhima-Nikaya/mn-68.htm


It is a wholesome view that leads to a wholesome mind here and now


However such a view point does not lead to the ending of dukkha, since it is tainted which means its caught up in Self view, clinging and dukkha. The Buddhas own teachings are just the 4NT's, which dont contain rebirth view (since they are taintless and lead to cessation, not more dukkha)



"And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents [asava], siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; and there is noble right view, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view that has effluents, sides with merit, & results in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening, the path factor of right view of one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is free from effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.



metta

Esho
24 Dec 10, 19:40
Suttas that are relevant

Thanks Craig,

I really have found this one usefull for the practice of Buddhadhamma. It seems to be clear and well grounded avoiding any sort of metaphysical speculation; even when the speculation of rebirth could be found elegant, beautiful and congruent it is a speculation and because of it, useless for a grounded here and now practice of the teachings:



"These four types of action have been understood, realized, & made known by me. Which four? There is action that is dark with dark result; action that is white with white result; action that is dark & white with dark & white result; and action that is neither dark nor white with neither dark nor white result, leading to the ending of action.

"And what is action that is dark with dark result? There is the case where a certain person fabricates an injurious bodily fabrication... an injurious verbal fabrication... an injurious mental fabrication... He rearises in an injurious world where he is touched by injurious contacts... He experiences feelings that are exclusively painful, like those of the beings in hell. This is called action that is dark with dark result.

"And what is action that is white with white result? There is the case where a certain person fabricates an uninjurious bodily fabrication... an uninjurious verbal fabrication... an uninjurious mental fabrication... He rearises in an uninjurious world where he is touched by uninjurious contacts... He experiences feelings that are exclusively pleasant, like those of the Ever-radiant Devas. This is called kamma that is white with white result.

"And what is action that is dark & white with dark & white result? There is the case where a certain person fabricates a bodily fabrication that is injurious & uninjurious... a verbal fabrication that is injurious & uninjurious... a mental fabrication that is injurious & uninjurious... He rearises in an injurious & uninjurious world where he is touched by injurious & uninjurious contacts... He experiences injurious & uninjurious feelings, pleasure mingled with pain, like those of human beings, some devas, and some beings in the lower realms. This is called kamma that is dark & white with dark & white result.

"And what is action that is neither dark nor white with neither dark nor white result, leading to the ending of action? The intention right there to abandon this action that is dark with dark result... this action that is white with white result... this action that is dark & white with dark & white result. This is called action that is neither dark nor white with neither dark nor white result, leading to the ending of action."

— AN 4.232


Through the sutta we can read the phrase "He rearises in an [the condition] world..." followed by the experiences of that mental condition that has been established in the mind... that is what is most important for the practice of the teachings of the historical Buddha. The here and now rearise of our mental defilements.

Isn't this clear enough to practice?

;D

Aloka
25 Dec 10, 09:26
If someone lives with awareness and mindfulness in the here and now, with a peaceful, quiet mind, without any speculation about past or future, and they die letting go of any clinging to this present life, or desire for the future, who or what is reborn?





"The desire for rebirth at the time of death is a desire to be reborn again in the human form. We can only know this through watching how our mind works. If you were dying and you didn't want to die what would be the most likely thing to arise in your mind ? It would be a desire to cling to some form of life.

Some passion of your life would arise in your dying moment and that desire would be for some form of materialisation. The momentum of your habits are always materialising in forms, arent they? You're always seeking what you desire, either a sense desire, or an intellectual desire, or a desire to repress something you dont like.

But if you are mindful when you die, if there's no longing to have another rebirth or to take some action, what is there to be reborn again ?"

(Ajahn Sumdho - The Mind and the Way)

Esho
25 Dec 10, 19:03
who or what is reborn?


"And what is action that is neither dark nor white with neither dark nor white result, leading to the ending of action? The intention right there to abandon this action that is dark with dark result... this action that is white with white result... this action that is dark & white with dark & white result. This is called action that is neither dark nor white with neither dark nor white result, leading to the ending of action."

-AN 4.232

;)

Esho
25 Dec 10, 19:30
If someone lives with awareness and mindfulness in the here and now, with a peaceful, quiet mind, without any speculation about past or future, and they die letting go of any clinging to this present life, or desire for the future[...],


43. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that by realization myself with direct knowledge, I may here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of the heart and the deliverance by wisdom that are taint-free with exhaustion of taints!' it is possible that, by realization himself with direct knowledge, he may here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of the heart and the deliverance by wisdom that are taint-free with exhaustion of taints. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct."

MN41

;)

Aloka
31 Dec 10, 16:04
These comments from Ajahn Buddhadasa's "Essential Points of the Buddhist teachings," made a lot of sense to me, so I thought I'd add them to the thread.





"To call something the foundation of the Buddhist Teachings is only correct if firstly, it is a principle which aims at the extinction of Dukkha (the suffering, unsatisfactoriness or imperfection of every experience or state clung to as being "I" or "mine") and, secondly, it has a logic that one can see for oneself without having to believe others. These are the most important constituents of a foundation.

The Buddha refused to have any dealings with those things which don't lead to the extinction of Dukkha. Take the question of whether or not there is rebirth. What is reborn? How is it reborn? What is its kammic inheritance? (kamma-is volitional action by means of body, speech or mind.)

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, one who asks about such matters has no choice but to indiscriminately believe the answer he is 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 its something else altogether, unconnected with the extinction of Dukkha."

http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Essential_points_of_the_Buddhist_teachings_by_Budd hadasa_Bhikkhu

Esho
31 Dec 10, 17:41
made a lot of sense to me,

Yes Aloka, when it comes to what the historical Buddha taught it resonates deeply because that of "making sense".

;)

Jechbi
01 Jan 11, 18:01
From the Sabbasava Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.002.than.html)
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?'One key is appropriate attention, which has to do with understanding dukkha and its conditions. We're going to have our opinions about rebirth, perhaps believing "I" will end at death, or "I" will continue after death. It's worth recognizing the underlying "I" fixation associated with these beliefs. We don't have to worry about these beliefs or defend them if we don't cling to them too tightly. We can recognize, other people also have beliefs that they might cling to. In that way, we can see ourselves in others. Appropriate attention is recognizing this, just as it is, and being able to say to our beliefs: I see you for what you are.