Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:36 am
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I was taught that Samsara is ignorance, and when ignorance is removed there is enlightenment (Nirvana). There can be ignorance (Samsara) without literal rebirth, can there not? And there can also be a path to be rid of ignorance, without literal rebirth, can there not?
Unless you know absolutely that the Buddha taught the literal version of rebirth, then there should be doubt, should there not? Were you there at the time he taught it? And if you were, are you sure you interpreted his teaching correctly? And are you sure that you are recalling things accurately?
If you're enlightened, you've stopped rebirth. Have you read this entire thread and seen the suttas where Shakyamuni Buddha clearly
states rebirth is literal?:
"Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance.""But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?""Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time.""And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?""Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time." - Kutuhalasala Sutta SN 44.9
"Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father... the death of a brother... the death of a sister... the death of a son... the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth... loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans."Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released." - Assu Sutta SN 15.3
Which do you think is more: the streams of blood that, through your being beheaded, have flowed upon this long way, these, or the waters of the four oceans? Long have you been caught as robbers, or highway men or adulterers; and, through your being beheaded, verily more blood has flowed upon this long way than there is water in the four oceans. But how is this possible? Inconceivable is the beginning of this Sa.msaara; not to be discovered is any first beginning of beings, who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths. - S. XV. 13
"He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he remembers his manifold past lives in their modes & details. - Iddhipada-vibhanga Sutta SN 51.20
a man, after the disappearance of the 3 mental chains personality-belief, skeptical doubt, attachment to rules and ritual; see: samyojana has entered the stream to Nibbāna, he is no more subject to rebirth in lower worlds, is firmly established, destined to full enlightenment. After having passed amongst the divine and human beings only seven times more through the round of rebirths, he puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called 'one with 7 births at the utmost' sattakkhattu-parama. - Pug. 37-39; A. III, 87:
"Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me. "This is the greater: the blood you have shed from having your heads cut off while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time, not the water in the four great oceans."The blood you have shed when, being cows, you had your cow-heads cut off: Long has this been greater than the water in the four great oceans."The blood you have shed when, being water buffaloes, you had your water buffalo-heads cut off... when, being rams, you had your ram-heads cut off... when, being goats, you had your goat-heads cut off... when, being deer, you had your deer-heads cut off... when, being chickens, you had your chicken-heads cut off... when, being pigs, you had your pig-heads cut off: Long has this been greater than the water in the four great oceans. - Timsa Sutta SN 15.13
Even if the Buddha did teach rebirth, there are different interpretations of the teaching, and the literal interpretation is only one interpretation.
He did teach literal rebirth, and to interpret it otherwise is disingenuous.
As I wrote elsewhere, there are many so-called Buddhists that don't believe in literal rebirth and karma. However, the central tenet behind Buddhism is to end rebirth through Buddhist practice. And I'm not talking about one line out of the suttas/sutras. There is a large amount of suttas/sutras that are completely clear that rebirth is literal. So Buddhism, especially in the U.S., ends up being a form of psychotherapy where meditation is used to make people feel better about themselves. Yes, that's fine, but it's incidental to it's main purpose. This is prevalent in the current movement of Zen in America. This is what happens when modernity meets Buddhism. Ideas like rebirth and karma end up being watered down psychological terms. Yidams become archetypes and eventually Shakyamuni Buddha will end up being a symbol as opposed to a living contemplative that lived in the past
Let's face it, people are embarrassed to admit they are religious. They would rather co-opt Buddhism to suit their own preconceived materialist notions rather than risk personal embarrassment discussing the supra-mundane aspects.
How foolish you are,
grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!