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Thread: What's the point?

  1. #1

    What's the point?

    This is an excerpt from the end of an article about rebirth and reincarnation in Buddhism.


    What's the Point?

    People often turn to religion for doctrines that provide simple answers to difficult questions. Buddhism doesn't work that way.

    Merely believing in some doctrine about reincarnation or rebirth has no purpose. Buddhism is a practice that makes it possible to experience illusion as illusion and reality as reality. When the illusion is experienced as illusion, we are liberated.

    https://www.thoughtco.com/reincarnat...uddhism-449994

    Any thoughts?


  2. #2
    Forums Member ancientbuddhism's Avatar
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    A monastic friend and I were discussing Buddhism as a cultural milieu vs a contemplative praxis toward Liberation. What he told me was like a slap in the face and what I knew but dared not say for years – “Cultural beliefs about rebirth and merit transference is not the teachings of the Buddha. If a “Buddhist” does not practice meditation they are weak minded and wasting time” – Yeah.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancientbuddhism View Post
    A monastic friend and I were discussing Buddhism as a cultural milieu vs a contemplative praxis toward Liberation. What he told me was like a slap in the face and what I knew but dared not say for years – “Cultural beliefs about rebirth and merit transference is not the teachings of the Buddha. If a “Buddhist” does not practice meditation they are weak minded and wasting time” – Yeah.
    I've chatted to people from different Buddhist traditions on a number of occasions, sometimes as part of a multicultural educational project, or sometimes because I visited them to ask questions as a fellow Buddhist interested in other traditions. I also spent a few weeks in Sri Lanka visiting Buddhist places and chatting to the locals. Most everyday Buddhists I met seemed happy that their monks did the meditation for them. Their culture worked that way for them. They weren't 'weak minded' or 'wasting time', at least not for them.

    Many Buddhists I spoke to seemed surprised that I was a meditating lay Buddhist, agreeably surprised, and said they wished more of their lay people did the same. Personally, organised religions tend not to want people to think for themselves or to meditate. It's not that people turn to religions for doctrine so much as these religions trumpet answers to such questions they themselves pose. Otherwise individuals would interpret things in their own way, to the detriment of the cohesion of the prevailing culture. They impose their questions on the culture and demand that their answers are accepted as correct. Most of the time they don't have to demand as such since enough people within the culture accept the 'official' version of reality to make it a 'given'.

    To take Aloka's point further, Buddhism does work in that way too, but doesn't have to. I once asked a devout Christian if Christianity could still work without miracles, and she said not. Buddhism, on the other hand, can work perfectly well without rebirth and merit and gods and magic, as it does for me.

  4. #4
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    From the article referred to in post #1, explaining that our sense of a "me" is nothing more than series of thought-moments:

    This is not easy to understand, and cannot be fully understood with intellect alone. For this reason, many schools of Buddhism emphasize a meditation practice that enables an intimate realization of the illusion of self, leading ultimately to liberation from that illusion.
    As this is the 'Beyond Belief' forum, for free enquiry and critical exploration, I want to pose the question "What if the realization arising in meditation is yet another construct of the mind?"

    Sure, the cultural accessories such as reincarnation beliefs, accumulation of merit, past-life karma are doctrinal and are not subject to the process of realisation in meditation.

    But the illusion of seeing reality in meditation is all too possible. It cannot be tested. It's a personal experience, and who knows what influences are at work to produce that experience?

    What remains is the natural cycle of birth, ageing and death. There can be nothing else, not even liberation.

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