How to believe in rebirth

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Matt J
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Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Matt J » Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:34 pm

Usually you have two issues to address: their likely unexamined belief system, and how to present reincarnation.

First, I would recommend loosening them up. I find that most atheist types give some credence to science, but the science that dominates the field is old Newtonian physics. Most materialist beliefs are based in a worldview that predates the quantum revolution. So one thing that would be important would be to brush up on quantum physics. It is hard to find good resources, but they are out there. Avoid stuff like Deepak Chopra, Fred Allan Wolf, and Amit Goswami as it will only damage your credibility.

The Quantum Enigma is a good primer for a non-scientist written by physics professors:

You can also rely on smart atheists like Sam Harris to help do some of the work:

Rely on smart atheists like Sam Harris to do some of the heavy lifting for you:

I found that David Bentley Hart presents some good withering critiques of materialism in his book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness and Bliss. One powerful argument he uses is the pleonastic fallacy. He says that materialists believe that a sufficient number of quantitative steps can be sufficient to explain or justify a qualitative shift. In other words, matter is insentient, but if you get enough of it and arrange it is a certain way, suddenly we have consciousness, which is unlike matter is every way.

If you really want to push the issue with them, you can use age old Western skeptical arguments against materialists in the vein of Berkeley: ... ogue-1.pdf

Once you have undercut their attachment to their beliefs, you might begin by presenting evidence from science:

Transcript here: ... oduced.pdf

You may also wish to look into some of the cases investigated by Jim Tucker at the University of Virginia. ... ncarnation

Vasana wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:54 am
Here is an open question for all of you:

If a non-buddhist or atheist asks you why you believe in karma and rebirth, how would you reply to them?

I ask this because I'm at a junction where certain friends are noticing mebattempt to align with dharmic perspectives or behaviours instead of our 'business-as-usual', senseless worldy chatter. I must seem less friendly to them. I've tried to explain to them why it is that I'm making efforts to weaken my engrained habits of worldy chatter and 'off-colour' humour but they have expressed they think I'm claiming a moral high-ground or that I'm somehow 'limiting' myself by ascribing to my dharma views. This doesnt correspond with my experience but I find myself unsure of what to say to them so that there is mutual respect and understanding, even if it seems they're not really open to consider the views and implications of karma and transmigration any time soon.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Vasana » Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:27 pm

Thanks, Matt. I appreciate the time you put into that post!

One of the said friends is very scientifically minded so reminding him of the shortcomings of materialist theory is a good shout.

I particularly liked this transcript you shared in that it mentions evidence tthat undercuts the theory that the mind is just an emergent property of the brain. I didn't know that some people with dementia have sudden returns to lucidity before death! I've also mentioned near-death and out of body experiences to them before but skepticism still prevails. I still wonder why anecdotal evidence is so widely discredited if it's even acknowledged in the first place! Even the verifed O.B.E's are ignored. ... Produced.p

Heard of Rupert Sheldrake? A lot of his work is centered around uprooting the materialist empiricist paradigm. He proposes morphogenetic feilds as a means in which extra bodily perceptions can occur such as the distinct sensation of being stared at from a distance or when you look at someone else from a distance and they instinctively turn around to face you. ( Very basic summary but worth looking in to) ... troduction
Fields of the mind

Morphic fields underlie our mental activity and our perceptions, and lead to a new theory of vision, as discussed in The Sense of Being Stared At. The existence of these fields is experimentally testable through the sense of being stared at itself. There is already much evidence that this sense really exists. Read about the results of the online staring experiment conducted through this site.

The morphic fields of social groups connect together members of the group even when they are many miles apart, and provide channels of communication through which organisms can stay in touch at a distance. They help provide an explanation for telepathy. There is now good evidence that many species of animals are telepathic, and telepathy seems to be a normal means of animal communication, as discussed in my book Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home. Telepathy is normal not paranormal, natural not supernatural, and is also common between people, especially people who know each other well.

In the modern world, the commonest kind of human telepathy occurs in connection with telephone calls. More than 80% of the population say they have thought of someone for no apparent reason, who then called; or that they have known who was calling before picking up the phone in a way that seems telepathic. Controlled experiments on telephone telepathy have given repeatable positive results that are highly significant statistically, as summarized in The Sense of Being Stared At and described in detailed technical papers which you can read on this web site.

The morphic fields of mental activity are not confined to the insides of our heads. They extend far beyond our brain though intention and attention. We are already familiar with the idea of fields extending beyond the material objects in which they are rooted: for example magnetic fields extend beyond the surfaces of magnets; the earth's gravitational field extends far beyond the surface of the earth, keeping the moon in its orbit; and the fields of a cell phone stretch out far beyond the phone itself. Likewise the fields of our minds extend far beyond our brains.
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Lucas Oliveira
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Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:33 pm

maybe it helps in your belief


I participate in this forum using Google Translator.

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