Thread: Rebirth and the West

  1. #1

    Rebirth and the West

    I came across this article by Bhikkhu Analayo on the website of the Barre Centre for Buddhist Studies USA - and wondered if anyone had any comments.

  2. #2
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    to me, the below is an illogical gibberish

    also, the below is actually contrary to what the suttas teach about 'rebirth', namely, the suttas teach the same 'being' or 'person' is 'reborn'.

    Rebirth and Not-self

    From the perspective of the Christian belief in an eternal soul, the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth and the teaching of not-self can easily be perceived as incompatible with each other. Given that Buddhists deny the existence of such a soul, it seems natural for a Christian to come to the conclusion that thereby the agent required for continuity beyond the present life has also been denied.

    However, this is not the implication of the early Buddhist conception of not-self. This teaching only denies the existence of a permanent agent; it does not deny continuity. Such continuity relies on causes and conditions, rather than on some unchanging entity.

    An illustration provided in a discourse in the Saṃyutta-nikāya concerns a flame that, with the support of wind, can set fire to something that is not immediately contiguous to it. An example would be a forest fire, where even trees standing some distance apart from each other will be consumed by the flames.

    Similar to the flames transiting from one tree to another without any material support other than the wind, the early Buddhist conception of rebirth envisions a transition from one body to another without any support other than craving. This is similar to the continuity of the flames, which do not contain some permanent substance, but are simply a succession of causes and conditions.

    In sum, a proper understanding of early Buddhist doctrine makes it clear that the teaching of not-self is compatible with the belief of some form of continuity beyond the death of the body.
    also, since the suttas say not-self is supramundane dhamma and 'rebirth' is mundane dhamma, it appears, as the suttas show, the two doctrines are not compatible with each other

    simply, from the kammic viewpoint, if non-self phenomena are 'reborn', there appears no incentive for a person to do kamma because there is no person inheriting the results of the kamma. This is nihilism.

    In summary, the suttas teach mundane dhamma as follows:

    I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma

    MN 4
    The Blessed One said: "There is the case, student, where a certain woman or man is a killer of living beings, brutal, bloody-handed, given to killing & slaying, showing no mercy to living beings. Through having adopted & carried out such actions, on the break-up of the body, after death, he/she reappears in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, hell.

    MN 135
    'I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' ...

    AN 5.57
    Also, the suttas teach supramundane dhamma as follows:

    "Master Gotama, is stress self-made?"

    "Don't say that, Kassapa."

    "Then is it other-made?"

    "Don't say that, Kassapa."

    "Then is it both self-made and other-made?"

    "Don't say that, Kassapa."

    "Then is it the case that stress, being neither self-made nor other-made, arises spontaneously?"

    "Don't say that, Kassapa."

    "Then does stress not exist?"

    "It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress does not exist. Stress does exist."
    If the West can offer something to this subject, it is the phrase: "Never the twain shall meet".
    Last edited by Element; 29 Jul 21 at 01:53.

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