Author Topic: First birth?  (Read 3580 times)

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: First birth?
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2016, 01:58:12 pm »
I really liked what pragmatic had to say on a previous thread --

I agree that rebirth definitely operates in life, moment to moment. I also agree that the literal idea of rebirth is incoherent. We’re asked to believe that there is no true continuity and yet simultaneously to care, intensely, about the arising of some new being.

I also like what the Buddha is reported to have said about someone coming to a physician with an arrow in his side. Do you ask where the arrow came from, who shot it, what tribe he was from, etc, or do you ask how to remove it?

Any talk of rebirth by me would be idle speculation, since I have little memory of prior births. My intuition leads me more towards belief in "eternal re-occurrence" where the entire universe is reborn again and again and we relive our previous life in a slightly different way, until we finally awake and all our lives are merged into one. That more resembles a revolving "wheel" than the usual linear model which I find rather naive. Re-occurance of just one life would also account for those delicious feelings of having been here before, or deja vu, because we have been here before -- many times.

Here's something I wrote on a previous thread myself --

I Think rebirth would depend upon either a separate individual entity or "soul" to transmigrate, or a transcendent, impersonal oversoul (Atman) from which the phenomena of birth could re-arise. Since both concepts are anathema to traditional Buddhism, it would appear that the concept of rebirth was tacked onto Buddhism at some point by the popular belief in reincarnation prevalent in India. It's a way to get people to behave themselves and to justify inequities such as the caste system.

If rebirth is looked at as a re-occurrence of ones current life, then there are lots of are other intriguing possible modes of rebirth -- life withing life, like those Russian nesting wooden eggs, or parallel lives as in the "strings" of theoretical Physics.

But, if one actually has an insight into this PRESENT life, such speculative, conceptual models loose their appeal.

A visiting monk asked Master Bankei: "If one truly realizes the Unborn, after the four elements of the physical body have dispersed, will one be born again or not? The Master replied: "In the place of the unborn the whole question of being born or not being born is irrelevant."

"There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded. If there were not this unborn… then there would be no deliverance visible for what is born, become, made, compounded. But sincerely, there is an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded, therefore a deliverance is visible for what is born, become, made compounded." (Repeated in both the Udana and the Itivuttaka texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya, translated by Maurice Walshe, slightly modified.)

My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at


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