What is reborn after death?

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Wayfarer
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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:17 am

My reading is that it is unwise to speculate about the nature of after-death states. On one level I’m agnostic about it, but agnosticism also means accepting that it’s something I don’t understand. I think when we try and visualise or imagine what such states must consist of we will invariably fail, as our imaginings will be based on what we know (or think we know).

There’s an expression in the ancient texts that you encounter all the time. It is the ‘triple-world’, which means, the desire realm, the realm of form, and the formless realm. I only have a very dim appreciation of what that means, but I think when we try and imagine after-death states, then we instinctively imagine it in terms of the ‘desire realm’ in which we as living beings exist. But the mode of existence in the other realms is quite unimaginable to us. At best it can be spoken of in terms of analogies and metaphors, but I think if those analogies and metaphors are intepreteted too literalistically they don’t stand up very well, because the form realm and formless realm don’t exist in any place. But our terrestrial imagination can conceive of things in terms of them having a definite location and duration. That is a condition of the terrestrial mind.

That is why, I think, it is good to hold ideas and beliefs about such matters very lightly. The fundamentals of practice remain the same regardless.

:namaste:
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Norwegian » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:50 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:17 am
My reading is that it is unwise to speculate about the nature of after-death states. On one level I’m agnostic about it, but agnosticism also means accepting that it’s something I don’t understand. I think when we try and visualise or imagine what such states must consist of we will invariably fail, as our imaginings will be based on what we know (or think we know).

That is why, I think, it is good to hold ideas and beliefs about such matters very lightly. The fundamentals of practice remain the same regardless.
Perhaps for you. These things are taught extensively and with great clarity and detail in other traditions.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:13 pm

clyde wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:58 pm

When you say that the gandharva’s “physical body is principally the air element,” do you mean that literally or that it’s a gaseous body composed of what?
Yes, it is meant literally. The air element is the most subtle kind of matter in Buddhist cosmology.
When you say that “[o]ne’s mind immediately appropriates this "subtle" body” (the gandharva), what does that mean and how does that occur?

Since a gandharva is a kind of apparitional birth, after one mind has separated from the physical body in this life, one reappears instantly in a subtle body which resembles the coarse physical body one possessed during life, but this lasts only for three weeks, after the third week, one begins to adopt the form of the coarse physical body one will possess in the next life. One undergoes this process of rebirth in the bardo seven times, once a week. Each week one's connection with and memory of one's past life becomes more and more weakened.
When you say that the gandharva has sense organs, does that mean the gandharva has eyes? Ears? Nose? And if not, what?
Yes, the gandharva bardo being possesses all five senses, eyes, etc.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by clyde » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:11 pm

I have some understanding of how our senses work, but how does a body composed of air have eyes that see, ears that hear, etc?

So, upon death, one’s mind separates from one’s physical body and instantly reappears in the gandharva. And then, upon conception, one’s mind leaves the gandharva and enter the embryo. Since the gandharva exists in our world (as it must be present at conception), is it subject to the physical laws of our world?


Aside: When is death; i.e., when does the mind leave the body? At the last breath? At the last heart beat? When all neurological activity ceases?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:53 pm

clyde wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:11 pm
I have some understanding of how our senses work, but how does a body composed of air have eyes that see, ears that hear, etc?

So, upon death, one’s mind separates from one’s physical body and instantly reappears in the gandharva. And then, upon conception, one’s mind leaves the gandharva and enter the embryo. Since the gandharva exists in our world (as it must be present at conception), is it subject to the physical laws of our world?


Aside: When is death; i.e., when does the mind leave the body? At the last breath? At the last heart beat? When all neurological activity ceases?

I will answer the last question first. Death, from a traditional Buddhist point of view, is reckoned from the moment the mind and body of this life separate. That takes place generally within 72 hours of the last breath.

Your problem with the first question is that you are taking the word "air" too literally. You can understand here that "air refers to physical matter that is in a very motile state, what you earlier described as gaseous, but that really does not grasp the concept here.

As for your second question, when your mind separates from the body in this life, it immediately appropriates a subtle body, and this being, which you have now become, is called a gandharva. The Gandharva, according to the ancient Buddhist conception of it, can pass through more coarse matter, is clairvoyant, etc., so not entirely confined by what we call "physical laws."
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by clyde » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:00 pm

Please explain. I asked.
When you say that the gandharva’s “physical body is principally the air element,” do you mean that literally or that it’s a gaseous body composed of what?
And you answered, “Literally.”

Now you say, I’ve taken your answer “too literally” and that it is “physical matter that is in a very motile state”. So, what is it composed of?

And since it’s physical matter, how is it not subject to the physical laws of our world?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by conebeckham » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:02 pm

clyde wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:24 am
Malcolm; Thank you again. However, while I understand your explanation, it doesn’t answer my questions.

The Buddha is reported to have spoken of the three conditions necessary for the birth of a human being which includes the presence of a gandharva, but what are the conditions for the arising of a gandharva or does it simply arise at the death of a being? And is it only the death of a human being or any sentient being? And what are the conditions for the passing away of a gandharva; i.e., does the gandharva cease a conception?

It seems that the gandharva is a bodiless being (“spirit”), yes? And the gandharva is composed of the five skandhas, yes? How is that possible without a body and the sense organs?


p.s: Given a succession of states from gandharva to human to gandharva to human . . ., one could just as easily call the human state the intermediate state!
Indeed, it is taught as a Bardo. Every state until enlightenment is just "bardo," or "between," from my understanding.
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It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:48 pm

clyde wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:00 pm
Please explain. I asked.
When you say that the gandharva’s “physical body is principally the air element,” do you mean that literally or that it’s a gaseous body composed of what?
And you answered, “Literally.”

Now you say, I’ve taken your answer “too literally” and that it is “physical matter that is in a very motile state”. So, what is it composed of?

And since it’s physical matter, how is it not subject to the physical laws of our world?
Clyde, I have only agreed to explain to you what the traditional teachings say on the subject, not to engage with you in a debate.

Ancient Buddhist conceived of all matter being as being composed of four states or qualities: earth (solidity), water (liquidity), fire (heat), and air (motility). A rock for example, will be understood to be predominately composed of the earth element, etc.

If you ask me what a gandharva's body is made up of beyond the subtle matter of the air element, I cannot give you that answer, because no such answer is supplied in the ancient literature. If this does not satisfy your wish to understand what ancient Buddhists understood about gandharvas, I am afraid our conversation is now at an end.

M
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by clyde » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:57 am

conebeckham wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:02 pm
clyde wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:24 am
p.s: Given a succession of states from gandharva to human to gandharva to human . . ., one could just as easily call the human state the intermediate state!
Indeed, it is taught as a Bardo. Every state until enlightenment is just "bardo," or "between," from my understanding.
Yes!
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by clyde » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:59 am

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:48 pm
Clyde, I have only agreed to explain to you what the traditional teachings say on the subject, not to engage with you in a debate.

Ancient Buddhist conceived of all matter being as being composed of four states or qualities: earth (solidity), water (liquidity), fire (heat), and air (motility). A rock for example, will be understood to be predominately composed of the earth element, etc.

If you ask me what a gandharva's body is made up of beyond the subtle matter of the air element, I cannot give you that answer, because no such answer is supplied in the ancient literature. If this does not satisfy your wish to understand what ancient Buddhists understood about gandharvas, I am afraid our conversation is now at an end.

M
Malcolm; Thank you for the explanation of the ancient texts. I get that they say no more.

If I may ask a personal question: How do you, a modern person, understand the nature of the gandharva?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by DGA » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:00 pm

What is a "modern person"? Who counts as a modern person? For that matter, what is modernity?

What or who is the opposite of a modern person?

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:12 pm

clyde wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:59 am

If I may ask a personal question: How do you, a modern person, understand the nature of the gandharva?
Precisely the way it is taught in the Abhidharma.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Crazywisdom » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:27 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:48 pm
clyde wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:00 pm
Please explain. I asked.
When you say that the gandharva’s “physical body is principally the air element,” do you mean that literally or that it’s a gaseous body composed of what?
And you answered, “Literally.”

Now you say, I’ve taken your answer “too literally” and that it is “physical matter that is in a very motile state”. So, what is it composed of?

And since it’s physical matter, how is it not subject to the physical laws of our world?
Clyde, I have only agreed to explain to you what the traditional teachings say on the subject, not to engage with you in a debate.

Ancient Buddhist conceived of all matter being as being composed of four states or qualities: earth (solidity), water (liquidity), fire (heat), and air (motility). A rock for example, will be understood to be predominately composed of the earth element, etc.

If you ask me what a gandharva's body is made up of beyond the subtle matter of the air element, I cannot give you that answer, because no such answer is supplied in the ancient literature. If this does not satisfy your wish to understand what ancient Buddhists understood about gandharvas, I am afraid our conversation is now at an end.

M
I think there’s some tantric teaching about all elements being present in any prana. All the elements are prana. Só wind prana, earth prana, etc. wind prana has the earthiness of the prana also, something like that.
I got my Chili Chilaya.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:53 pm

Crazywisdom wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:27 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:48 pm
clyde wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:00 pm
Please explain. I asked.

And you answered, “Literally.”

Now you say, I’ve taken your answer “too literally” and that it is “physical matter that is in a very motile state”. So, what is it composed of?

And since it’s physical matter, how is it not subject to the physical laws of our world?
Clyde, I have only agreed to explain to you what the traditional teachings say on the subject, not to engage with you in a debate.

Ancient Buddhist conceived of all matter being as being composed of four states or qualities: earth (solidity), water (liquidity), fire (heat), and air (motility). A rock for example, will be understood to be predominately composed of the earth element, etc.

If you ask me what a gandharva's body is made up of beyond the subtle matter of the air element, I cannot give you that answer, because no such answer is supplied in the ancient literature. If this does not satisfy your wish to understand what ancient Buddhists understood about gandharvas, I am afraid our conversation is now at an end.

M
I think there’s some tantric teaching about all elements being present in any prana. All the elements are prana. Só wind prana, earth prana, etc. wind prana has the earthiness of the prana also, something like that.
Anything material has all four elements in some mixture, and yes, the there are also elemental vāyus in the body.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Queequeg » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:36 pm

Given the activity in this discussion, I am removing this to the Mahayana Buddhism forum from the Discovering Mahayana forum to remove the moderation restrictions (and make moderator life easier).
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And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by boda » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:52 pm

DGA wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:00 pm
What is a "modern person"? Who counts as a modern person? For that matter, what is modernity?

What or who is the opposite of a modern person?
Perhaps a person who values science, reason, humanism, and progress.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Aryjna » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:59 pm

boda wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:52 pm
DGA wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:00 pm
What is a "modern person"? Who counts as a modern person? For that matter, what is modernity?

What or who is the opposite of a modern person?
Perhaps a person who values science, reason, humanism, and progress.
Or a person clinging to the views that they have come to adopt as a result of their karma and environment, just as they did 500 or 2000 years ago, with the only exception that these differ in flavor.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by boda » Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:09 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:59 pm
boda wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:52 pm
DGA wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:00 pm
What is a "modern person"? Who counts as a modern person? For that matter, what is modernity?

What or who is the opposite of a modern person?
Perhaps a person who values science, reason, humanism, and progress.
Or a person clinging to the views that they have come to adopt as a result of their karma and environment, just as they did 500 or 2000 years ago, with the only exception that these differ in flavor.
This describes pretty much everyone who’s ever lived, with the only exception being a Buddha, I suppose.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by Aryjna » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:05 pm

boda wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:09 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:59 pm
boda wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:52 pm


Perhaps a person who values science, reason, humanism, and progress.
Or a person clinging to the views that they have come to adopt as a result of their karma and environment, just as they did 500 or 2000 years ago, with the only exception that these differ in flavor.
This describes pretty much everyone who’s ever lived, with the only exception being a Buddha, I suppose.
Yes, but this is something that people who think that we are modern and extremely 'advanced' compared to the average person 2000 years ago often miss.

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Re: What is reborn after death?

Post by DGA » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:08 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:05 pm
boda wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:09 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:59 pm


Or a person clinging to the views that they have come to adopt as a result of their karma and environment, just as they did 500 or 2000 years ago, with the only exception that these differ in flavor.
This describes pretty much everyone who’s ever lived, with the only exception being a Buddha, I suppose.
Yes, but this is something that people who think that we are modern and extremely 'advanced' compared to the average person 2000 years ago often miss.
Very often, appeals to modernity reveal a kind of arrogance. It's self-congratulation. And its logic necessarily puts others in a negative light. If we are modern, what are you? The opposite of modern. Unfortunately, this kind of logic permeates a lot of English-language Buddhist discourses.

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