Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

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nichiren-123
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Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by nichiren-123 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm

So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
He argues that the earliest and probably the most faithful sutra's never support or mention rebirth and also notes that there is no mention of rebirth in the edicts of king Asoka.

Now I've always found the idea of rebirth difficult to wrap my head around and rationalise. If it does happen then in my opinion it must happen in a very subtle way.
Regardless, any explanation of rebirth I've heard has been rather convoluted - especially when Anatta is accounted for.

Thoughts?

tatpurusa
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by tatpurusa » Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:53 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
He argues that the earliest and probably the most faithful sutra's never support or mention rebirth and also notes that there is no mention of rebirth in the edicts of king Asoka.

Now I've always found the idea of rebirth difficult to wrap my head around and rationalise. If it does happen then in my opinion it must happen in a very subtle way.
Regardless, any explanation of rebirth I've heard has been rather convoluted - especially when Anatta is accounted for.

Thoughts?
Typical Western arrogance from J.G. Jennings.
The concepts of anatta and rebirth are indeed difficult to understand. It is nothing new and no wonder that some frustrated by this intellectual difficulty try to attack it.
This is about the same level of misunderstanding like someone saying that emptyness equals nothingness and nonexistence.
Or like stating that enlightenment (awakening) being nonconceptual is the death of intelligence.

It is just plain too stupid to even argue against it. At least one needs an inmeasurable amount of compassion in order to try to answer so many profound misunderstandings.

Your personal doubt about rebirth is something different, more natural. But if you think a little bit about it, it is still the most logical explanation.
Without rebirth you have to invent even weirder and more illogical stuff like the following:

1. Everything is always transforming (matter - energy - matter..) and nothing gets lost and nothing comes into being from something inexistent.
The only exception to this rule in this world are life and consciousness. They appear randomly after absolutely unconscious and lifeless energy-matter gets organized in a specific way creating them without losing anything from its "matterness" or "energyness". After some time passing, this consciousness / life completely disappears and again becomes inexistent, nothing, as it originally used to be or rather not be.

2. Some ever existing god creates energy-matter, soul, time-space, consciousness, life and everything.

3. Theory of multiverse and parallel realities.

For all these provides Buddhism though intellectually not so easy-to-understand, but more realistic an more logical explanation with
anatta, emptyness, rebirth, avidya, illusion, samsara, nirvana and nature of mind.

Just some thoughts ... a real answer would need hundreds or even thousands of pages. Or years of meditative practices with mauna (silence)

tp

Malcolm
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Malcolm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:13 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
It is the opposite actually, rebirth, or rebecoming, punarbhāva, is incompatible with the idea of self.

nichiren-123
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by nichiren-123 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:14 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:13 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
It is the opposite actually, rebirth, or rebecoming, punarbhāva, is incompatible with the idea of self.
How so???

AJP
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by AJP » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:41 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:14 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:13 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
It is the opposite actually, rebirth, or rebecoming, punarbhāva, is incompatible with the idea of self.
How so???
Because, in Reality, there is nothing of substance that abides anywhere

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:41 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:14 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:13 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
It is the opposite actually, rebirth, or rebecoming, punarbhāva, is incompatible with the idea of self.
How so???
Hmmmmm, I wanna guess.

I am going to guess that the degree of change implied behind punarbhāva is unacceptable to the ātmologist.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:13 am

tatpurusa wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:53 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
He argues that the earliest and probably the most faithful sutra's never support or mention rebirth and also notes that there is no mention of rebirth in the edicts of king Asoka.

Now I've always found the idea of rebirth difficult to wrap my head around and rationalise. If it does happen then in my opinion it must happen in a very subtle way.
Regardless, any explanation of rebirth I've heard has been rather convoluted - especially when Anatta is accounted for.

Thoughts?
Typical Western arrogance from J.G. Jennings.
The concepts of anatta and rebirth are indeed difficult to understand. It is nothing new and no wonder that some frustrated by this intellectual difficulty try to attack it.
This is about the same level of misunderstanding like someone saying that emptyness equals nothingness and nonexistence.
Or like stating that enlightenment (awakening) being nonconceptual is the death of intelligence.

It is just plain too stupid to even argue against it. At least one needs an inmeasurable amount of compassion in order to try to answer so many profound misunderstandings.

Your personal doubt about rebirth is something different, more natural. But if you think a little bit about it, it is still the most logical explanation.
Without rebirth you have to invent even weirder and more illogical stuff like the following:

1. Everything is always transforming (matter - energy - matter..) and nothing gets lost and nothing comes into being from something inexistent.
The only exception to this rule in this world are life and consciousness. They appear randomly after absolutely unconscious and lifeless energy-matter gets organized in a specific way creating them without losing anything from its "matterness" or "energyness". After some time passing, this consciousness / life completely disappears and again becomes inexistent, nothing, as it originally used to be or rather not be.

2. Some ever existing god creates energy-matter, soul, time-space, consciousness, life and everything.

3. Theory of multiverse and parallel realities.

For all these provides Buddhism though intellectually not so easy-to-understand, but more realistic an more logical explanation with
anatta, emptyness, rebirth, avidya, illusion, samsara, nirvana and nature of mind.

Just some thoughts ... a real answer would need hundreds or even thousands of pages. Or years of meditative practices with mauna (silence)

tp
I'm having trouble with your suggestion that rebirth is the most logical explanation and to dismiss it requires some illogical alternative.

I've considered rebirth extensively for years and the best I can come up with is that its an article of faith. I have no personal memory of past births, so personal experience is not there for me.

Maybe I'm missing something, but there is nothing about the nature of my mind that I've observed that would necessitate rebirth is part of the equation. This observation actually seems to find confirmation in the assertion as to the non-arising of phenomena - whatever I think is me I've observed is not any basis of my self. Long story short... the only thing I have not been able to reduce is not a thing at all, but simply, awareness. Something is happening, but it defies all definition. As best I can tell, awareness has no memory, no cognition, no linearly constructed anything.

If there is rebirth, my personal inquiry ends there - at mere awareness. I can intuit awareness arising with the confluence of certain causes and conditions again... just "riding" the causes and conditions.

It could also just be the meta effect of atomic particles bumping off of each other with no moral import.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

smcj
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by smcj » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:18 am

Reincarnation says that there is continuity.

Anatta says that there is no consistency, that there is nothing to limit the metamorphosis.

The two ideas are not mutually exclusive.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:47 am

Queequeg wrote:Maybe I'm missing something, but there is nothing about the nature of my mind that I've observed that would necessitate rebirth is part of the equation. This observation actually seems to find confirmation in the assertion as to the non-arising of phenomena - whatever I think is me I've observed is not any basis of my self. Long story short... the only thing I have not been able to reduce is not a thing at all, but simply, awareness. Something is happening, but it defies all definition. As best I can tell, awareness has no memory, no cognition, no linearly constructed anything..
There is a strong cultural taboo against ‘reincarnation’ (however conceived) in Western culture. The idea was tabooed by the Christian church in ancient times, and also goes undercuts scientific materialism. So it's always regarded as fringe in mainstream Western culture. A lot of people will just completely refuse to consider it.

Personally I think there’s a good argument for the idea that children are born with imprints from previous lifetimes. By that I mean talents, attributes, pre-dispositions and archetypes. I don't think there's any convincing Darwinian explanation for such things but of course nowadays everything is supposed to be explicable in those terms (mind you Alfred Russel Wallace didn't agree - see Darwinism applied to man.)

And I still find Ian Stevenson's data persuasive, although that wasn't about traits, archetypes or talents, but often about physical marks:
A Turkish boy whose face was congenitally underdeveloped on the right side said he remembered the life of a man who died from a shotgun blast at point-blank range. A Burmese girl born without her lower right leg had talked about the life of a girl run over by a train. On the back of the head of a little boy in Thailand was a small, round puckered birthmark, and at the front was a larger, irregular birthmark, resembling the entry and exit wounds of a bullet; Stevenson had already confirmed the details of the boy’s statements about the life of a man who’d been shot in the head from behind with a rifle, so that seemed to fit. And a child in India who said he remembered the life of boy who’d lost the fingers of his right hand in a fodder-chopping machine mishap was born with boneless stubs for fingers on his right hand only. This type of “unilateral brachydactyly” is so rare, Stevenson pointed out, that he couldn’t find a single medical publication of another case.
From here

As for the 'who is reborn' - that misunderstands the entire point of the Buddhist analysis. It is not a 'substance and attribute' system where there is a subject who has attribute X. But we have an almost irresistible tendency to think in those terms. There is no persisting being or subject who continues from life to life or even one day to the next; you can never step in the same river twice.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

tatpurusa
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by tatpurusa » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:23 am

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:13 am
I'm having trouble with your suggestion that rebirth is the most logical explanation and to dismiss it requires some illogical alternative.

I've considered rebirth extensively for years and the best I can come up with is that its an article of faith. I have no personal memory of past births, so personal experience is not there for me.
I understand your "trouble". It arises from the fact that you seem to think I suggest rebirth is real. Of course it is not. The whole of samsara is an
illusion by definition. Rebirth being part of samsara is also a part of this illusion originating from avidya, by definition.
But rebirth is the most logical explanation to the nature of this illusion.
Maybe I'm missing something, but there is nothing about the nature of my mind that I've observed that would necessitate rebirth is part of the equation.
Noone is suggesting nature of mind would necessitate rebirth. On the contrary, nature of mind is never ever born, let alone "reborn".
Nature of mind is reality, emptyness, as opposed to the illusion of samsara/rebirth, beyond the dualism of nirvana/samsara.
It could also just be the meta effect of atomic particles bumping off of each other with no moral import.
Right. Rebirth and karma have nothing to do with morality, only with the illusion of "cause and effect" based on the illusion of time and concepts.

tp

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:36 am

Tatpurusa wrote:Rebirth and karma have nothing to do with morality...
Generally agree with your post, but I find that a pretty odd statement. Look at the first two verses of the Dharmapada. What we do, determines what we become. Selfless actions lead to happiness, as the wheel of the cart follows the ox. And so on. That has a direct bearing on 'morality' doesn't it?

The thing is, we can't assume to speak from the viewpoint of the ultimate reality if we're not actually in it, and who is?
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:06 pm

tatpurusa wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:23 am
Right. Rebirth and karma have nothing to do with morality...
Of course they have to do with morality, with Right Action for example and if one takes the Theravada view of the (at most) seven rebirths before Arhathood after Stream Entry. And let us not even get into how the Buddha links rebirth to the effects of karma in a variety of Sutta.
...only with the illusion of "cause and effect" based on the illusion of time and concepts.
Two Truths: Ultimate and Relative. Remember?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

tatpurusa
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by tatpurusa » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:08 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:36 am
Tatpurusa wrote:Rebirth and karma have nothing to do with morality...
Generally agree with your post, but I find that a pretty odd statement. Look at the first two verses of the Dharmapada. What we do, determines what we become. Selfless actions lead to happiness, as the wheel of the cart follows the ox. And so on. That has a direct bearing on 'morality' doesn't it?

The thing is, we can't assume to speak from the viewpoint of the ultimate reality if we're not actually in it, and who is?
You are right, moral action is a tool leading out of illusion.
But this does not change the fact that all these are still part of illusion. Of course we cannot speak from the viewpoint of ultimate reality, but neither
should we speak as if appearances of samsara were ultimately real. Thinking, speaking and acting as if they were real we have already all too strong habits.


tp

tatpurusa
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by tatpurusa » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:14 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:06 pm
tatpurusa wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:23 am
...only with the illusion of "cause and effect" based on the illusion of time and concepts.
Two Truths: Ultimate and Relative. Remember?
Yes I do. The thing is, "relative truth" exists within the framework of illusion.

tp

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:38 pm

tatpurusa wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:14 pm
Yes I do. The thing is, "relative truth" exists within the framework of illusion.

tp
I don't know about you, but I exist within the framework of illusion about 98% of the time. That makes relative truth rather important for me.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

tatpurusa
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by tatpurusa » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:02 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:38 pm
tatpurusa wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:14 pm
Yes I do. The thing is, "relative truth" exists within the framework of illusion.

tp
I don't know about you, but I exist within the framework of illusion about 98% of the time. That makes relative truth rather important for me.
It is not only important, it is overwhelming. This is why we are looking for a way out of it ...
And Buddhism is all about it (rather than about making the best possible use of relative truths in order to get a better life. For this do exist other practices).
Do you see any other hope?

tp

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Malcolm » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:17 pm

nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:14 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:13 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
It is the opposite actually, rebirth, or rebecoming, punarbhāva, is incompatible with the idea of self.
How so???
An atman, conceived as an uncompounded entity, cannot under go rebirth or reincarnation because rebirth is a conditioned process. Therefore, rebirth is incompatible with the idea of a self.

tatpurusa
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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by tatpurusa » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:17 pm
An atman, conceived as an uncompounded entity, cannot under go rebirth or reincarnation because rebirth is a conditioned process. Therefore, only conditioned entities can undergo rebirth.
Very logical and true.

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Crazywisdom » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:33 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:13 pm
nichiren-123 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:46 pm
So I've come across the work of J.G. Jennings and his book 'the vendantic Buddhism of the Buddha' who argues that the idea of rebirth is incompatible with Anatta (non-self) and that rebirth is an idea which was accomodated by Buddhists under pressure from Hinduism.
It is the opposite actually, rebirth, or rebecoming, punarbhāva, is incompatible with the idea of self.
This is the deepest topic. Wisdom awareness purity and evenness shining forth in colors and shapes.
Vajra fangs deliver vajra venom to your Mara body.

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Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by DNS » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:13 pm

Rebirth is very logical and rational -- if you start with a premise that the world, the cosmos is at least in the final analysis -- just and balanced. I realize that is a tall order, beginning with that premise as many people believe it's all just chaos and random chance; but if you believe otherwise, then rebirth makes complete sense. Otherwise how could the life and death of an infant who dies of SIDS or some other illness, be his whole existence for all eternity?

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