Is Anatta incompatible with 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
Global Moderator
Posts: 4220
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:37 am

clyde wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:22 am
But what are you proposing? Are you proposing that because someone lost a limb in an accident in a previous life, they’re born deformed in this life??
I'm not proposing that myself - simply commenting on Stevenson's cases where he documents such things. The article from which I quoted is this Scientific American blog post. And a while ago, I actually borrowed a copy of Stevenson's book, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (which you can read about here) - and in that, he painstakingly documents many such cases.

We ought to recap who Stevenson was and what he did.
In 1958 and 1959, Stevenson contributed several articles and book reviews to Harper's Magazine about parapsychology, including psychosomatic illness and extrasensory perception, and in 1958, he submitted the winning entry to a competition organized by the American Society for Psychical Research, in honor of the philosopher William James (1842–1910). The prize was for the best essay on "paranormal mental phenomena and their relationship to the problem of survival of the human personality after bodily death." Stevenson's essay, "The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations" (1960), reviewed forty-four published cases of people, mostly children, who claimed to remember past lives. It caught the attention of Eileen J. Garrett (1893–1970), the founder of the Parapsychology Foundation, who gave Stevenson a grant to travel to India to interview a child who was claiming to have past-life memories. According to Jim Tucker, Stevenson found twenty-five other cases in just four weeks in India and was able to publish his first book on the subject in 1966, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation.

Chester Carlson (1906–1968), the inventor of xerography, offered further financial help. Tucker writes that this allowed Stevenson to step down as chair of the psychiatry department and set up a separate division within the department, which he called the Division of Personality Studies, later renamed the Division of Perceptual Studies. When Carlson died in 1968, he left $1,000,000 to the University of Virginia to continue Stevenson's work. The bequest caused controversy within the university because of the nature of the research, but the donation was accepted, and Stevenson became the first Carlson Professor of Psychiatry.
As for Chester Carlson:
Carlson devoted his wealth to philanthropic purposes. He donated over $150 million to charitable causes and was an active supporter of the NAACP. Carlson's wife Dorris got him interested in Hinduism, particularly the ancient texts known as the Vedanta, as well as in Zen Buddhism. They hosted Buddhist meetings, with meditation, at their home. After reading Philip Kapleau's book The Three Pillars of Zen, Dorris invited Kapleau to join their meditation group; in June 1966, they provided the funding that allowed Kapleau to start the Rochester Zen Center.
(Both from Wikipedia.)

I think it's perfectly acceptable to be skeptical about Stevenson's research, and indeed about the idea of re-birth. Stevenson himself never claimed to have proved it, he simply said his cases 'suggested' it. And he did endeavour to conduct his research quite scrupulously, however, if you believe what is said about him in the same Wikipedia article quoted above, under 'skepticism', he was simply a gullible enthusiast who was hoodwinked by opportunists.

Having read a bit about Stevenson, I really don't accept that, but it's an 'all-or-nothing' proposition from the perspective of scientific materialism - one bit of evidence that such things occur, and their whole worldview is challenged. As Stevenson comments in the article, 'the will not to believe can be just as powerful as the will to believe'. (Actually it's the same thing, just pointed in another direction.)

Anyway, when the subject comes up in my infrequent talks at Buddhist Library, I always say that scepticism is perfectly fine, however I do point out that arguing against the possibility - as Stephen Bachelor does - is another matter. 'Suspension of judgement' is just that, whereas arguing against the possibility is another thing altogether.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

User avatar
Empty Desire
Posts: 124
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:48 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Empty Desire » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:52 am

Both aspects of the question can't be understood intellectually.

The first is either experienced directly or not.

The second is accepted directly as part of the path of practice or through some other advanced means. For example when you practice for 6 months and develop an unshakeable Faith in the Law of Karma, which is only going to be of benefit.

Anatta especially is something if you haven't experienced and try to think into Reality until you've exhausted your intellectual capacity for a period.

So there is literally no argument.

If someone asks an experienced practitioner respectfully if they choose to they can answer the question.

The Buddha said the Dharma is Ehipassiko!
No Beginning, No End, Just Mind......

Attachment's True Face is Aversion....

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:02 am

Please, Wayfarer, I know Ian Stevenson seems to confirm our beliefs as Buddhists but let's try not to oversell him.

http://skepdic.com/stevenson.html

User avatar
Wayfarer
Global Moderator
Posts: 4220
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:31 am

Quite familiar with the sceptic’s view thank you.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:21 am

clyde wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:24 am
I wrote that rebirth wasn’t the only explanation for so-called “former life memories”.
So you believe in rebirth AND other explanations? What, in your opinion are the other explanations and how do they fit within the model of Dependent Origination? Can they be reconciled with the apparent fact that the Buddha taught rebirth and karma vipaka?
But to answer your question more directly: I don’t know. Do You?
For now, I don't know from personal experience. I can surmise from what I see happening around me and I trust my teachers.

If one supports a materialist/nihilist doctrine it makes a mess of Dharma. One needs to then tweak this and that in order to have it make sense. For me it is not worth the effort.
"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

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:30 am

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:47 pm
Offer skepticism, reap the wrath! And condescension.
This is not a Skeptics forum and asking a person to explain their position is not condescension.
I understand people have their beliefs. Those beliefs may even be founded on evidence one finds personally satisfactory. There is no incontrovertible evidence that settles the issue, though. As such, faith will be part of the equation for most people, acknowledged or not.
Faith (saddha), for a Buddhist, is the first of the "Beautiful Factors" (sobhanacetasika): "It's function is to clarify...It is manifest as non-fogginess, ie the removal of the mind's impurities..." Abhidhammattha Sangaha.
"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

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:37 am

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:30 am
This is not a skeptics forum
We should think critically no matter our religious beliefs.

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:45 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:31 am
Quite familiar with the sceptic’s view thank you.
Why so dismissive?

User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 1120
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Aryjna » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:53 am

Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:37 am
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:30 am
This is not a skeptics forum
We should think critically no matter our religious beliefs.
This is not what 'skeptic' means.

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:24 am

There is a difference between being skeptical and being a Skeptic.
"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

WeiHan
Posts: 538
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by WeiHan » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:27 am

Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:02 am
Please, Wayfarer, I know Ian Stevenson seems to confirm our beliefs as Buddhists but let's try not to oversell him.

http://skepdic.com/stevenson.html
In my opinion, the critics' views should be taken positively so that they can be used in advantage for improving the methodology. For example, the criticism on the part that the translators could have been biased can be rectified by having audio records of the investigation interviews. That said, I do not agree on the criticism that it is Stevenson's methodology weakness that there will be nothing that can disproved the proposition (that rebirth does not exists) because actually many scientific experiments carry the same weakness. For example, the experimental design to discover Higgs boson will never prove its (Higgs boson) non-existence. Many other experiments such as the one that discover gravitational waves carry the same weakness. These experiments are meant to discover the phenomena but not designed to disprove the existence of the phenomena. Maybe a non-discovery for a long time can be construed as a prove of the non-existence of these phenomena but other than this, their weakness is similar to stevenson's methodology. One more point that i would like to raise is that to prove such para-phenomena, one just require ONE case that is irrefutable, nevermind that the rest are all found be be fraud, cheats, manipulation etc...

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:33 am

Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:37 am
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:30 am
This is not a skeptics forum
We should think critically no matter our religious beliefs.
According to the Abhidhammata Sangaha doubt (vicikiccha) is classed as a Consciousness Rooted in Delusion (mohamulacittan) and is defined as: "(i)vexation due to perplexed thinking; and (ii)being devoid of the remedy consisting in knowledge. Both these explanations indicate that vicikiccha, doubt, means perplexity, skepticism or indecisiveness, due to the prevalence of delusion. The citta associated with this doubt is the first type of consciousness rooted in delusion."
"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

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:48 am

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:33 am
Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:37 am
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:30 am
This is not a skeptics forum
We should think critically no matter our religious beliefs.
According to the Abhidhammata Sangaha doubt (vicikiccha) is classed as a Consciousness Rooted in Delusion (mohamulacittan) and is defined as: "(i)vexation due to perplexed thinking; and (ii)being devoid of the remedy consisting in knowledge. Both these explanations indicate that vicikiccha, doubt, means perplexity, skepticism or indecisiveness, due to the prevalence of delusion. The citta associated with this doubt is the first type of consciousness rooted in delusion."
Sure, but that's taking the top-down approach. When Q earlier mentioned taking rebirth by faith, here you are saying "yes."

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:08 am

Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:48 am
Sure, but that's taking the top-down approach.
??? :shrug: ???
When Q earlier mentioned taking rebirth by faith, here you are saying "yes."
Your point is unclear.
"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

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:46 am

Top-down means taking a religious text as authoritative first and finding evidence that fits. Bottom-up is finding evidence first and developing a big picture from that, like in the sciences.

Denying karma and rebirth is a "sin" in Buddhism, so that is also something to keep in mind on how that influences the way we find and interpret data about those issues.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Global Moderator
Posts: 4220
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:03 pm

When it comes to being ‘dismissive’ in relation to this matter, it is the sceptics who dismissive. Stevenson spent many years at his research tasks, conducting thousands of interviews and investigating thousands of cases, many of which he also dismissed. But many of those that remain are quite well-documented and cross checked. But from the viewpoint of ‘the sceptic society’, then it simply cannot be the case that any evidence exists, because they believe as a matter of principle that there is no means by which such things could occur. Ergo, cannot be true, there must be something wrong with the researcher - there’s no other possibility. That’s ‘being dismissive’.

There’s a classic statement of this kind of attitude in scientist Richard Lewontin’s review of a book by Carl Sagan in the New York Review of Books, 1997, when he wrote:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:13 pm

Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:46 am
Top-down means taking a religious text as authoritative first and finding evidence that fits.
So you think that the Buddha developed a religion first and then went about fitting all experience and phenomena to that view?
Bottom-up is finding evidence first and developing a big picture from that, like in the sciences.
Nonsense. In the science one posits a hypothesis and then one develops a experimental method to test the hypothesis. The evidence produced then supports or counters the hypothesis.
Denying karma and rebirth is a "sin" in Buddhism...
No, it is not.
...so that is also something to keep in mind on how that influences the way we find and interpret data about those issues.
Following on from your initial mistaken proposition: Nope!
"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

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:25 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:03 pm
When it comes to being ‘dismissive’ in relation to this matter, it is the sceptics who dismissive. Stevenson spent many years at his research tasks, conducting thousands of interviews and investigating thousands of cases, many of which he also dismissed. But many of those that remain are quite well-documented and cross checked. But from the viewpoint of ‘the sceptic society’, then it simply cannot be the case that any evidence exists, because they believe as a matter of principle that there is no means by which such things could occur. Ergo, cannot be true, there must be something wrong with the researcher - there’s no other possibility. That’s ‘being dismissive’.

There’s a classic statement of this kind of attitude in scientist Richard Lewontin’s review of a book by Carl Sagan in the New York Review of Books, 1997, when he wrote:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
You're right, and that's a problem, but that does not make Stevenson's work definitive. clyde mentioned that other explanations are possible. I think so too. Earlier, you wrote:
...if you believe what is said about him in the same Wikipedia article quoted above, under 'skepticism', he was simply a gullible enthusiast who was hoodwinked by opportunists.
Your quotation marks, your adjectives - you're being unnecessarily dismissive and condescending. Those are plausible explanations. We just don't know.

Snowbear
Posts: 291
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:41 am

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Snowbear » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:36 pm

Grigoris wrote:So you think that the Buddha developed
Did "he" develop anything? Another contentious point.

http://www.academia.edu/36121418/The_Id ... JIABS_2017_
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:13 pm
...and then one develops a experimental method to test the hypothesis.
Null hypothesis.

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 18195
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Anatta incompatible with rebirth?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:46 pm

Snowbear wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:36 pm
Did "he" develop anything? Another contentious point.

http://www.academia.edu/36121418/The_Id ... JIABS_2017_
Contentious for historical materialists. Not contentious at all for Buddhists.

But now you have shifted the goal posts.

You said: "Top-down means taking a religious text as authoritative first and finding evidence that fits."

And I replied: So you think that the Buddha developed a religion first and then went about fitting all experience and phenomena to that view?"

Are you going to answer the question to your assertion, or are you going to engage in ingenious smoke screens?

It is your assertion so you need to prove/defend it.
"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

Post Reply

Return to “Mahāyāna Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: conebeckham, daocheng, TrimePema and 63 guests