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Thread: Different approaches to rebirth beliefs

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    One's emotions, imagination and mental hallucinations can be very powerful when one is convinced one can see or feel something unusual or special .

    People with religious beliefs of all descriptions claim to have "visions", talk to angels, deities, or even fairies, or get transported to heaven to get special messages from a supreme deity (or the future Buddha)and so on....

    .....and I 've mentioned this before somewhere, but even my late Tibetan teacher said that "people can make things up" as far as thinking they're experiencing past life regression is concerned.

    It's actually another good example of where the lines start to blur between subjective and objective. In those scenarios 'real' starts to lose its meaning in terms of experience, and that's what we're up against.

    I'd say your Tibetan teacher is right to urge caution though, I maintain a healthy scepticism towards most if not all of the accounts I hear, (including my own as I mentioned previously). I can only imagine the genuine article is extremely rare, and it's unlikely those who are sufficiently adept, would come talking about it in these venues.

    I'm aware of the irony.

  2. #12
    I've plucked the following from a book review I came across accidentally - because I think its relevant to the discussion here:


    With the many advances in scientific understanding since the formulative days of the reincarnation story, it has become increasingly difficult even to conceive of a reasonable mechanism whereby a bodily attribute (such as a birthmark or deformity, which are afforded much attention in reincarnationist circles) or a mental property such as knowledge, a personality trait, or an inclination, could be packaged up at the end of one person’s lifetime, held in abeyance in non-physical form between incarnations (the “interregnum problem”) and finally implanted in a fetus in its mother’s womb in preparation for another revolution of the eternal carousel.

    It likewise strains credulity to accept the requirement that detailed tallies of every good and bad deed committed by every person who ever lived could be kept somewhere and weighed, let alone harnessed to transgenerational retributive mechanisms as diverse as earthquakes, bacteria, raging bulls, lightning bolts, or a large, ill-tempered bar patron named Bob.

    https://www.csicop.org/si/show/a_cog..._reincarnation

    .

  3. #13
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    I think the key issue is that even if rebirth occurs, then unfortunately it's not 'you' that's rebirthing, it's a totally new set of aggregates which will develop their own personality etc. Which puts you back to square one; ie. deal with it in this life - it's the only one "you" (As Mr/Ms now) are ever going to have.

    In this respect, rebirth is an utterly irrelevant topic. Nothing is gained by asserting either POV.

    Reincarnation, on the other hand; as asserted by Tulkus etc. is a whole different ball game. They claim that yogic power enables them to hold it together during the stages of death and on into a new birth. Can't comment on that, as I'm unable to maintain any awareness when falling asleep, so, best case scenario, I'm coming back as a dolphin. I hate tuna too.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya
    Reincarnation, on the other hand; as asserted by Tulkus etc. is a whole different ball game. They claim that yogic power enables them to hold it together during the stages of death and on into a new birth.
    Well my late Tibetan teacher was a tulku and I asked him if he remembered his past lives and he said "No."

    As for tulkus and the Bardo teachings (The Tibetan Book of the Dead), the idea of "tulkus" started in Tibet with the Kagyu Karmapa lamas in 12th -13th century.

    The actual Bardo teachings for the 49 days when one is said to be floating around between death and rebirth seeing peaceful and wrathful deities and so on, weren't taught by the historical Buddha but were composed by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) an Indian who went to Tibet in the 8th century. (They also include specific Bardo prayers and practices)

  5. #15
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Interestingly though, the teachings on absorption of the winds into the central channel, inner heat etc. are ancient Hindu practices. There's little doubt that Buddha would have know about them and even taken sangha into his order who were familiar with them. Obviously he didn't promote it himself, though there are suttas which reveal he taught mind-made body and such like. I imagine as a means of integrating those who already had such empowerments or teachings.

    Much of the Tulku system is about politics and patronage, so plenty of them will not be able to recall past lives. I very much doubt whether anyone I'll ever meet has such meditative ability. So as such, it's existence is speculative. I keep an open mind on the issue though.

  6. #16
    Something definately worth considering from Gil Fronsdal's essay "Should I Believe in Rebirth"(which I've mentioned before somewhere):


    In the records we have of the Buddha approving of the teachings of his disciples, none of these teachings make reference to ideas of rebirth. In contrast, one of the Buddha’s strongest denunciations of a disciple’s teachings was of Ven. Sati’s idea that consciousness is reborn (Middle Length Discourse #38).

    And finally, when the Buddha encouraged his disciples to memorize specific teachings, none of these teachings mention rebirth. In fact, the teachings of a text called An Auspicious Day so strongly emphasizes this life that it advises against longing for the future (The Bhaddekaratta Sutta, Middle Length Discourse #131).

    Not only do the most central teachings and realizations of Buddhism not require belief in rebirth, some seem to raise doubt about it. The prime example is the teaching and insight into not-self. The Buddha quite clearly taught that self cannot be found in the body, feelings, perceptions, mental fabrications, and most significantly for this essay, in consciousness. What is it, then, that persists so that it is possible to speak about someone being reborn? So far in my studies of Buddhism I have not discovered an adequate theory of how rebirth is supposed to occur. Nor does it make sense to talk about personal continuity when everything we customarily use for establishing our sense of self (convincing as it might be), is not really “self.”

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.o...ve-in-rebirth/


  7. #17
    ...and from Ajahn Sumedho in the chapter "Ideals", in his book"The Sound of Silence" - which is volume 4 of a 5 volume anthology:


    The thing that attracted me to Buddhism was that you didn’t have to believe in anything. You didn’t need to take positions. But these are terms that are used. So what is kamma now, rebirth now? Always bringing attention to the here and now rather than deciding whether you believe in the concepts or not. The concepts are just conditions, words. The word ‘kamma’ sounds exotic; if you instead use ‘cause and effect,’ it sounds more Western and scientific. ‘Kamma’ tends to sound like an Asian mystical thing.

    ‘It’s my kamma’ seems like a kind of fatalism, or the reincarnation style. That’s a kind of unquestioned belief in past lives: you will be reborn according to the merit or demerit that you have done in this life. So that’s how kamma is generally defined, but looking at kamma in the reality of now, it’s kamma-vipāka, the result of kamma. The result of having been born seventy years ago – the result of this is old age. If I had never been born, I’d never be seventy years old, obviously.


    https://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content...of-Silence.pdf


  8. #18
    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Something definately worth considering from Gil Fronsdal's essay "Should I Believe in Rebirth"(which I've mentioned before somewhere):
    Not only do the most central teachings and realizations of Buddhism not require belief in rebirth
    True, belief or disbelief make no difference either way.

    ...some seem to raise doubt about it.
    Which ones I wonder? Perhaps they correct misconceptions but plenty of suttas mention past lives, it's impossible to brush this slightly (superstitious for some) facet of dhamma under the carpet. Of course we can consider other more 'logical' interpretations for our own use, but if it's not important, why bother?

    The prime example is the teaching and insight into not-self.
    Here he conflates two things. Not-self is not the same thing as No-self, nor does it preclude rebirth. It only becomes a problem for people who get fixated on metaphysics - like there must be 'something' which gets reborn etc. Why? We know 'self' is an owner-less process. Without liberation, that process will not cease at death. Buddhism is clear on this. Well, as far as I understand it.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    Which ones I wonder?
    Gil Fronsdal has studied and practised with both the Theravada and Zen traditions.

    This is an excerpt from the website of the Zen Centre, Georgia USA:


    The Chan and Zen views of Rebirth are not the same. These schools make no assumptions or hold beliefs as to what happens after one dies. Because of this, rebirth is seen as being born into each moment, dying and being reborn into the next moment. This isn't something to be taken on faith, but to understood through your own practice.



  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Gil Fronsdal has studied and practised with both the Theravada and Zen traditions.
    Yeah well, I can read a book too, but such does not make experience. I have read Fronsdal's vanilla Buddhism and am under-impressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    This is an excerpt from the website of the Zen Centre, Georgia USA:
    "The Chan and Zen views of Rebirth are not the same. These schools make no assumptions or hold beliefs as to what happens after one dies. Because of this, rebirth is seen as being born into each moment, dying and being reborn into the next moment. This isn't something to be taken on faith, but to understood through your own practice."

    This must be given as a joke as we know that isn't true. These 'schools' definitely make assumptions about 'rebirth' (whatever that is to them) like all the rest. To be fair, I too take the useful approach of moment-to-moment rebirth but such would be intellectually dishonest to back-read into the core teachings.

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