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.
User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3877
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Jun 25, 2016 10:02 am

There is a Biblical saying 'be in the world but not of it', although actually it is a universal truth. 'Of the world' is like everything in nature, which is driven by causes and also by the thirst for becoming. When we play host to all of those drives and passions (which as born beings we are bound to do) then they will continue on their merry way, continually giving rise to 'me and mine', our sense of self-identity and so on. And that is the wheel of cause and effect right there, it is operating all the time.

Ask yourself this question: all your ancient ancestors - not your grandparents and those you know, but those going back thousands of years - what drove them? Who were they? I think they are not really different from you. They went through all you are going through, marriage and childbirth - obviously! - and all of the woes and joys that are part of that. Now you're carrying the torch, or the burden.

Those might be some ways to think about the queation.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

davidbrainerd
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:06 am

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:52 pm

pael wrote:So, how to disprove soul?
Is it easier to believe in rebirth than in anatta?
The point of anatta is rebirth. The body is anatta, the body is not the self becsuse the immaterial mind(which you could just as well call 'soul') is the self. Someone will respond that Buddha said there is no self, but he did not. The 'self-view' he doesn't want us to have is a dogma of the self's origin (is it eternal, is it created). He never says we don't exist. He also never says we are only the aggregstes, but the exact opposite: the aggregates are not the self.

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 6915
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Astus » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:10 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:The 'self-view' he doesn't want us to have is a dogma of the self's origin (is it eternal, is it created). He never says we don't exist. He also never says we are only the aggregstes, but the exact opposite: the aggregates are not the self.
The self-view means any of the views that posit a self that identical with the aggregates, that is contained in the aggregates, that is independent of the aggregates, or that owns the aggregates. In other words, there is not any kind of self possible.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6961
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Ayu » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:17 pm

Astus wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:The 'self-view' he doesn't want us to have is a dogma of the self's origin (is it eternal, is it created). He never says we don't exist. He also never says we are only the aggregstes, but the exact opposite: the aggregates are not the self.
The self-view means any of the views that posit a self that identical with the aggregates, that is contained in the aggregates, that is independent of the aggregates, or that owns the aggregates. In other words, there is not any kind of self possible.
:good:
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

smcj
Posts: 5709
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by smcj » Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:23 pm

Hey, this is Mahayanaland. We can say the 8th consciousness goes from lifetime to lifetime. It's not a "self" because it is infinitely mutable. It does not have a limitation on how it expresses itself, there is nothing about it that is inert and unchangeable.

It's not that complicated for a Mahayanist.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27743
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:23 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:the immaterial mind (which you could just as well call 'soul') is the self.
The mind is one of the aggregates. So when you say "the aggregates are not the self," you are directly contradicting yourself.
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

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27743
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:24 pm

smcj wrote:Hey, this is Mahayanaland. We can say the 8th consciousness goes from lifetime to lifetime. It's not a "self" because it is infinitely mutable.
It is not a self because it is just a name for the aggregate of consciousness and because it is momentary.
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

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Anders » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:30 pm

Malcolm wrote: Rebirth is not a soul thing. [Cue: great rebirth thread]
I think rebirth is fine to treat as a soul thing some part of the way.

It makes about as much sense as it does treating this life as 'my life'.

In fact, I think at around the point where asserting no-self views on one's life become a denial of how life actually is lived to oneself is about the same for asserting no-self on the rebirth process.

Ok, maybe it makes a a bit less sense, since there is no real continuity of the 'personality' we fabricate over a lifetime and often associate as that which meaningfully distinguishes one 'soul' from another. But not that much less, practically speaking.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Anders » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:
smcj wrote:I advocate simply having enough of an open mind to say to oneself "well, maybe..." Then take it as a hypothetical and look at it intellectually to see if there are internal inconsistencies. Then, without having dismissed it and with an open mind, do your sadhana. One of the signs of progress in sadhana practice is a better understanding and more confidence of karma and rebirth.

Insisting on coming to a firm conclusion about it before you start means you never start imo.
Personally, I found that having doubt about rebirth was interfering with my practice, so I just accepted it, and I still do.
How did it interfere? I am curious.

For me, rebirth was the for the first while, a bit of a non-entity. I went with a basic 'could be true, but doesn't matter much'. I think my route to conviction followed a similar one to many Zen Buddhists who don't dwell much on it in their initial period - As my practise deepened, my conviction in the Buddha's teachings also deepened as they mirrored the way my understanding was unfolding to exactly. As my understanding changed, the premises for rebirth also seemed more likely. And I began to figure that if the Buddha was right on all that other stuff, he was probably also right on this.

It was only really years later that rebirth took on a practical dimension for me, when I began to integrate all the implications of Bodhisattva vows on something other than a conceptual level.

I don't think it is that difficult to pick up past life memories with a bit of application though - Though you'd probably have to dip into non-buddhist lore as the only method I've seen in Buddhism seems to be "get to the Dhyanas and you will be able to figure out how to remember them from there."
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Anders » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:54 pm

Boomerang wrote:
Astus wrote:
Boomerang wrote:I've believed in rebirth longer than I've believed in Buddhism. Still, I feel that I could believe in rebirth more. Then I would have more samvega and bodhicitta.
If you accept rebirth and you want to improve your motivation, contemplate the six realms and the drawbacks of samsara.
I've been trying to do that, visualizing myself burning, freezing, being eaten alive, and so on. That was what prompted me to start this thread. The more I do it the less serious it seems, like I'm just imagining a fantasy. So then I thought, "I must not believe in rebirth enough."

I think the contemplations also make me neurotically self-critical and pessimistic. In fact, reading over Words of My Perfect Teacher, it seems like Patrul Rinpoche encourages readers to contemplate the faults of samsara until they are complete neurotic messes who never want to smile or sleep.
To be honest, if you just go with the medieval representations, it is not surprising it strikes you as contrived. There are limits to how immersive such a view can be to the modern mind that has been immersed in the vast complexity of the universe at biological, chemical and physical levels, from the atomic to the pan-galactic. When really, we should expect that the world beyond the physically observable is even more fantastically diverse, surprising and complex than quantum physics.

IMHV, there is plenty about this reality that has been left unsaid over the centuries. Hence the continual revelation of sutras and termas over the centuries. Rebirth, the six realms, karma and such is one of those areas that is still couched in somewhat simplistic terms and prone to magic/mythic language and could do with a Dharmic update that reflects 21st century intellectual sensibilities.

There is plenty of non-buddhist modern literature on shamanism, astral projection, etc that provides more up-to-date witness reports on the state of affairs beyond the Saha world. Of course, these don't come with Buddhist lenses. So expect 'soul' talk, teleology, and the like. Hypnosis is also a frequent method for regression to see a few kaleidoscopic fragments of this for yourself.

FWIW, it was upon reading The 3rd Chapter of Longchenpa's Great Chariot with immersive attention that it really hit home for me how urgent it was to take Bodhisattva vows genuinely and dedicate my life to it. I have a great deal of appreciation and respect for these medieval authors and the deep care with which they bring their points across.

The bottomline for me is - It's a great big dreamworld out there. And this Saha world is a great example of where help is both needed and possible to give, right here and now.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

pael
Posts: 520
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:49 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by pael » Sat Jul 02, 2016 3:55 pm

Is 8th consciousness part of aggregates? I heard conscious does not reborn.
Now on that occasion this pernicious viewpoint (diṭṭhigata) had arisen in the monk Sāti the Fisherman's Son: "As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on [from birth to birth], not another."
And
'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
What is requisite condition of 8th consciousness?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Anders » Sat Jul 02, 2016 4:24 pm

pael wrote:Is 8th consciousness part of aggregates? I heard conscious does not reborn.
Now on that occasion this pernicious viewpoint (diṭṭhigata) had arisen in the monk Sāti the Fisherman's Son: "As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on [from birth to birth], not another."
It is not the same consciousness. Consciousness+desire is still the carrier for rebirth.

As for how it is not the same - Well, the body completely changes all cells in its body after seven years. It may no longer be the same body after a decade, but there is nonetheless an apparent continuity of the body over the years. In the same way, there is an apparent continuity of consciousness. As for how 'the same' it really is. Well, I always liked this description on how changeable consciousness really is compared to other phenomena (such as, for example, the body).
  • "Bhikkhus. I don't envision a single thing that is as quick to change as the mind — so much so that there is no feasible simile for how quick to change it is."
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

pael
Posts: 520
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:49 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by pael » Sat Jul 02, 2016 6:31 pm

I have as definition of 'soul' that which leaves the body at death'. Is it bardo being which takes rebirth?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 6915
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Astus » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:14 pm

Rebirth is as illusory and unfounded as this present body and mind. If we try to find what is there to be born again and again, we can only realise that there is no such entity. Similarly, there is no entity passing on from one moment to the next. That's how the true nature of birth is no birth, and of death is no death. When it becomes clear that there is neither birth nor death, it is also obvious how the illusion of existence occurs: by identification with concepts and feelings. Then it is only natural that there is running up and down all over the six realms.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

smcj
Posts: 5709
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by smcj » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:38 pm

I dare ya to say that to yo momma.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

BuddhaFollower
Posts: 602
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:41 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by BuddhaFollower » Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:56 pm

Anders wrote: I don't think it is that difficult to pick up past life memories with a bit of application though - Though you'd probably have to dip into non-buddhist lore as the only method I've seen in Buddhism seems to be "get to the Dhyanas and you will be able to figure out how to remember them from there."
On the 4th jhana, you are supposed to access the divya caksus and use that to see previous lives.
Just recognize the conceptualizing mind.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3877
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:13 am

Astus wrote:When it becomes clear that there is neither birth nor death, it is also obvious how the illusion of existence occurs: by identification with concepts and feelings.
That identification with concepts and feelings is real for anyone other than the enlightened, isn't it? In other words, to see 'beyond birth and death' is to realise the Deathless. So for the enlightened, there is neither birth or death. But we can't kid ourselves in the meantime, as by the very fact that we are born beings, also means we are subject to death - doesn't it?

In Bikkhu Bodhi's commentary on the Brahmajala Sutta, he says (in brief) that the 'eternalists' were those yogis and renunciates who had formed the view that there was a self that was self-existent ('like a post set firm or mountain peak'), that was reborn from one life to the next. So this view was that, given the right practices and conduct, the yogi could be reborn in perpetuity or indefinitely, for ever and ever - for eternity, in fact. The corollary is that there is a solitary or immutable self that 'transmigrates from life to life'. But as is acknowledged by all schools of Buddhism, there is nothing in the world that is solitary or self-existent or exists in its own right. Also liberation is not 'being re-born in perpetuity' but liberation from samsara altogether. So that is the meaning of 'eternalism', which is the opposite mistake to 'nihilism' (i.e. that there are no consequences of actions and no further lives).

But from the earliest teachings it is also said that beings are reborn in one of the six realms according to their karma, until such time as they realise enlightenment. There is no self that migrates, but the causes that are set in motion during this life, give rise to consequences in future, which are experienced as a self, even though there is not actually a self. That, I believe, is the meaning of 'citta-santāna'. Grasping the non-reality of what we normally take as 'self' is the path itself.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

davidbrainerd
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:06 am

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by davidbrainerd » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:08 am

Malcolm wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:the immaterial mind (which you could just as well call 'soul') is the self.
The mind is one of the aggregates. So when you say "the aggregates are not the self," you are directly contradicting yourself.

Its not as simple as that. There are clearly two minds. In Pali you have nama and citta and it seems to me nama is physical and citta is non-physical. Bodhidharma says (Red Pine's translation, page 21) "But this mind is subtle and hard to see. It's not the same as the sensual mind."

If there is a material/sensual mind and an immaterial/subtle mind, which of the two is reborn? Its obvious. And which is part of the aggregates? The other one. So one mind is not part of the agggregates of which it is said "these are non-self."

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3877
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Jul 04, 2016 4:21 am

queue Sāti, the Fisherman's Son:
This sutta concerns a monk — Sāti, the Fisherman's Son — who refuses to heed the Buddha's care in treating all the elements of the process of wandering on from birth to birth as processes. Sāti states that, in his understanding of the Buddha's teachings, consciousness is the "what" that does the wandering on. His fellow monks and then the Buddha treat him and his erroneous view in a way that parallels the way they treat Ariṭṭha Formerly-of-the-Vulture-Killers in MN 22. First the narrator notes that the view is not merely wrong, but actually evil and pernicious: To adopt it would be to place an obstacle in one's path. The monks try, unsuccessfully, to dissuade Sāti from his view, after which they report the case to the Buddha. The Buddha calls Sāti into his presence, and after ascertaining that Sāti will not abandon his view even when reprimanded by the Buddha himself, he abandons Sāti as too recalcitrant to teach, and turns to cross-question the monks as to the relevant right view of how consciousness functions in the process leading to repeated birth.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: How to believe in rebirth

Post by Anders » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:02 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:the immaterial mind (which you could just as well call 'soul') is the self.
The mind is one of the aggregates. So when you say "the aggregates are not the self," you are directly contradicting yourself.

Its not as simple as that. There are clearly two minds. In Pali you have nama and citta and it seems to me nama is physical and citta is non-physical. Bodhidharma says (Red Pine's translation, page 21) "But this mind is subtle and hard to see. It's not the same as the sensual mind."

If there is a material/sensual mind and an immaterial/subtle mind, which of the two is reborn? Its obvious. And which is part of the aggregates? The other one. So one mind is not part of the agggregates of which it is said "these are non-self."
You are really tripping yourself up here. What Zen sometimes refer to as the true mind beyond the aggregates, Vajrayana refers to as beyond the mind. And just as often, Zen will also refer to it as no mind. If you think of it as something that exists, you've already done it a disservice. It is most certainly not a mind beyond the aggregates that gets reborn. This shrenika doctrine has been refuted by all these schools.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

Post Reply

Return to “Mahāyāna Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Kunzang Tobgyal and 71 guests