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Thread: Buddhism and Rebirth, a History

  1. #1
    A video of secular Buddhist Doug Smith talking about "Buddhism and Rebirth, a History"

    (approx 18 minutes)





    Any thoughts about what he had to say in the video?



  2. #2
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    The video doesn't really say much about "rebirth" in Buddhism. Also, Doug places himself in a hypocritical position when he claims "the Buddha believed in rebirth" because Doug, himself, chooses to not believe in "rebirth" yet he claims to be a Buddhist.

    In reality, it seems there is actually no word in the Pali suttas that means "rebirth". The most common word found in the suttas, translated as "rebirth", is "upapajjati/upapanno". "Upapajjati" does not mean "rebirth". It means "to follow from" or "to proceed from", as found in the following suttas:
    ‘Cakkhu attā’ ti yo vadeyya taṃ na upapajjati

    If anyone says, ‘the eye is self,’ that does not follow/proceed.

    Cakkhussa uppādopi vayopi paññāyati.

    The arising and vanishing of the eye is evident,

    MN 148
    What four? A person may have:

    Katame cattāro?

    Little learning and does not proceed to the point of learning.
    Little learning but does proceed to the point of learning.
    Much learning but does not proceed to the point of learning.
    Much learning and does proceed to the point of learning.

    Appassuto sutena anupapanno, appassuto sutena upapanno, bahussuto sutena anupapanno, bahussuto sutena upapanno.

    AN 4.6
    Therefore, where the terms "upapajjati/upapanno" are mostly found in the suttas, pertaining to what happens after acts of kamma, these suttas simply say a person proceeds to (upapajjati/upapanno) Y state due to X action. From X action follows (upapajjati/upapanno) Y state. This does not necessarily mean "rebirth", as in "reincarnation".

    Regards

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    Doug, himself, chooses to not believe in "rebirth" yet he claims to be a Buddhist.
    Hi Element

    In my non-internet experience of Vajrayana and Theravada centres I don't think I've ever heard any teachers saying people couldn't practice Buddhism if they didn't believe in rebirth. In fact I remember a Tibetan teacher saying to someone who said they didn't believe in reincarnation/rebirth: "Never mind about other lives, this is the one that counts!"

    Here's another 18 minute Doug Smith video "Buddhist Rebirth - Some Reflections" in which he says he doesn't particularly believe in rebirth but he'd "love to be reborn" and is " not an annihilationist" and that we "can't rule out rebirth but there's not much evidence" (He also mentions Jhanas, and conversations with gods/devas in the suttas).





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  4. #4
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Hi Element
    I don't think I've ever heard any teachers saying people couldn't practice Buddhism if they didn't believe in rebirth.
    The above is obviously false because all Arahants declared in the suttas that "birth has ended". Therefore, like Doug, if you believe "birth" means "rebirth" means "reincarnation" then you cannot ever practise Buddhism, let alone reach its goal; because the goal of Buddhism is to end "birth", which is Nibbana.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Here's another 18 minute Doug Smith...
    Myself & others have previously discussed Dependent Origination extensively with Doug. My recollection was Doug was both unable and unwilling to depart from the common understanding of Dependent Origination, despite our explaining to him the words "birth" & "death" do not refer to physical birth & death. If a person cannot practise ending the arising of dependent origination, they cannot practise Buddhism.

    Regards

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka
    I don't think I've ever heard any teachers saying people couldn't practice Buddhism if they didn't believe in rebirth.
    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    The above is obviously false because all Arahants declared in the suttas that "birth has ended". Therefore, like Doug, if you believe "birth" means "rebirth" means "reincarnation" then you cannot ever practise Buddhism, let alone reach its goal; because the goal of Buddhism is to end "birth", which is Nibbana.
    I was refering to life/death/then rebirth in a different body, in my above sentence about teachers - and not moment to moment re/birth in the same lifetime.

    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    Myself & others have previously discussed Dependent Origination extensively with Doug. My recollection was Doug was both unable and unwilling to depart from the common understanding of Dependent Origination, despite our explaining to him the words "birth" & "death" do not refer to physical birth & death.
    Maybe he would have benefitted from reading the section "Dependent Origination — the source code" on page 6 of the PDF of Ajahn Amaro's "Theravada Buddhism in a Nutshell".

    https://www.abhayagiri.org/media/boo...a_nutshell.pdf



  6. #6
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Maybe he would have benefitted from reading the section "Dependent Origination — the source code" on page 6 of the PDF of Ajahn Amaro's "Theravada Buddhism in a Nutshell".
    Unlikely. It is obvious Doug does not want to depart from the mainstream view of Buddhists; which is why he continues to claim the Buddha believe in rebirth/reincarnation.

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