Author Topic: Questions on rebirth  (Read 1154 times)

Offline Antonio1986

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Questions on rebirth
« on: September 12, 2015, 11:54:54 am »
Hello Everyone,
I was born in a Christian country were Buddhism does not exist at all.
For this reason be kind with my ignorance and help me answer the following questions.
1. What religion was the dominant in India when Buddha has living. Does this religion still exists?
2. As I understood in the Buddhist tradition there are many Gods
(a) The Gods can die?
(b) A God can be reborn as something inferior (e.g. animal)?
3. If in this life I am a good and modest person what will be the consequence for my next life. I can become for example a God or Buddha?
4. Siddhartha Gautama has achieved enlightenment. What this means? When he died he was reborn again as a Buddha or as a God?
4.a. Buddha can be born with this inherent quality or he must become Buddha during his life after practice and effort?
5. What are the usual practice for a Buddhist. For example we orthodox christians:
(a) We pray before we sleep
(b) We make our cross
(c) We light a candle in the church.
(d) We go on church on Sunday
(e) We burn olive leaves in a small plate and we do our cross above it.
(f) We say all the time: "God bless you!" or "With the Grace of God we will do this"

Thank you for your time.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2015, 12:34:47 pm by Antonio1986 »
“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free!"

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2015, 09:27:16 pm »
1. The religion of the Vedic period (also known as Vedism, ancient Hinduism, Brahmanism and Vedic Brahmanism) was the religion of the Indo-Aryans of northern India --- it's the historical predecessor of modern Hinduism, though significantly different from it.

2. They're not "gods" in the Judaic-Christian sense, but run-of-the-mill supernatural beings, also known as "devas" --- for example, Brahma is mentioned in the Pali Canon and, as with all devas, he is subject to change, decline and death, ect, just like all other sentient beings in saṃsara, however they're stuck in samsara for a long while.

3. Although the consequences would be much more favorable than if one were not good and modest in this life, it needs to be kept in mind that there is no guarantee that that a human birth will occur in the next life --- in other words, human birth is considered to be a rare blessing, one that should not be squandered in a reckless or foolish manner, so it is better to strive toward bringing an end to the cycle of birth and death, or to extinguish the flame, so to speak.

4. Enlightenment can be summed up as perfect quiescence and the perfection of merit and virtue. As for Siddhartha Gautama, he achieved perfect illumination and wisdom in this life under the Bodhi Tree, hence his parinirvana. In Buddhism, the term parinirvana (Sanskrit: parinirvāṇa; Pali: parinibbāna) is commonly used to refer to nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during their lifetime. It implies a release from the Saṃsāra, karma and rebirth as well as the dissolution of the skandhas.

5. There are many different practices depending on which branch of Buddhism one practices, but the following will give you a basic outline:

Quote
Buddhism has changed and adapted to every culture it encountered after it began in the north of India. As such, Buddhism practices change depending upon the tradition and society. Tolerance is a key Buddhist virtue, whilst maintaining integrity to one’s core beliefs. Some rituals are important if only to define one’s motivation and give expression and definition to one’s religion. There is even a growing ‘western’ Buddhism, which can be said to encourage environmental acts, respect for human rights, and social equality. However, below we will outline some of the more well known Buddhism practices from traditionally Buddhist cultures.

Most Buddhist practices have the central aim of avoiding future karmic problems (by avoiding harming others), karmic benefit (through helping others), as well as various practices and ritualized activities that focus the mind, help to purify it and to assist in one’s attainment of enlightenment and ridding of suffering for oneself and others.

Meditation

Perhaps the key Buddhist practice, it is central to most traditions, and the only means to enlightenment for some. An excellent introduction to Buddhist meditation practices is available at MeditationInstructions.com (coming soon). The benefits of meditation are many, including physical and mental health, relaxation, improved relaxation and mental ability, and happiness. It is primarily the ability to understand and control the mind and its use for practices that lead to enlightenment that is considered the most important.

Prayers

The position of prayer in Buddhism varies from tradition to tradition. A Buddhist solution to this may be to try each approach, and see which not only makes intellectual sense, but which leads to a better understanding of oneself and benefits to one’s well being.

In Tibet particularly, prayer to various deities (influenced by the indigenous religion Bon, as well as various Indian practices) featured prominently, with prayer focusing the mind. With the ‘merit’ of a prayer affecting one’s future reality, and the number of times a prayer is said being important, Tibetans have developed ‘machinery’ to magnify the quantity of prayers. Prayer wheels can contain a prayer written down many thousands of times – turning a wheel thus has a magnified – physical or mental – effect. Similarly, prayer flags ‘activate’ their written prayers with each flapping of the wind, sending their good wishes far and wide.

In contrast, Therevada emphasizes the fact that Buddhism does not posit the existence of a separate creator god, and that the Buddha himself discouraged his own worship. Indeed, Therevada believes the Buddha is outside of any call of prayer and it is wrong practice to pray to the Buddha (Tibetan Buddhism, by contrast, equates enlightenment with a heightened, intimate awareness of all beings). In both traditions, various rituals allows one to reflect on the qualities of the Buddha, and all of these practices are mutually reinforcing in internalizing true Buddhist beliefs.

Rituals have a cumulative affect of training one’s mind and systematizing one’s practice. The act of bowing and prostrating is a challenge to one’s egoism itself and may be beneficial merely on that level.

Chanting

Chanting is a common sound in Buddhist communities from Zen monasteries in Japan, to communities in Laos, Thailand, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Originating in India, where writing was rare, chanting enabled important texts to be passed from person to person. Later, the ritual of chanting was found to be a useful way to focus the mind, and remember and internalize key Buddhist ideas. In some communities it may even be said to have a protective aspect, with Buddhists chanting during important life events, or during or before times of danger or otherwise personal importance.

As with all of these rituals, the benefit is seen as less the result of an external agent, and more in the personal effort and resulting benefits from focusing one’s good intentions, motivations, and purifying the mind from wrong views and understandings.

Vegetarianism

Many Buddhists are vegetarian, however it must be said that the Buddha himself did not prohibit the eating of meat. Many monasteries still serve meat today, and in Tibet, a high protein and fat diet was important in such a cold, often snow-covered environment. Buddhism acknowledges that rigid rules are often counterproductive, individual medical situations mean that vegetarianism may not always be the best course of action for one’s spiritual practice. However – one is not immune from the karmic consequences of eating meat, particularly if it is killed for you. Some choose to eat only ethically raised and well treated animals, offer prayers and thanks to the deceased creature, or limit meat eating to a minimum. As always, Buddha’s teachings leave ultimate responsibility with the individual, and so do not remove the obligation of finding one’s own answer to the wisest course of action for a person to follow.

http://buddhismbeliefs.org/buddhism-practices


For more on Buddhist rituals and practices, you might wish to read the following article:

http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/rituals-in-buddhism/
« Last Edit: September 12, 2015, 09:29:29 pm by Dharmakara »

Offline Antonio1986

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2015, 12:14:13 am »
So when Buddha dies and he is released by Samsara ... what happens? What parinirvana means practically?
He stops to get reborn?
He just remains a spirit who/that leaves eternal on the skies and does not face suffering anymore?
“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free!"

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2015, 12:43:26 am »
The question of what happens to an enlightened being after death is one of the unanswered questions i.e. does the Tathagata (Buddha) exist after death. The Buddha refused to address metaphysical issues such as these. He teaches one thing and that thing is liberation. He views other issues such as this, the nature of the universe, the nature of the 'soul' as a distraction.

More here on the unanswered questions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_unanswered_questions

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level4_deepening_understanding_path/interferences/fourteen_questions_which_buddha_rem.html

Quote
When a group of ascetics came and asked the same question from certain disciples of the Buddha, they could not get a satisfactory answer from them. Anuradha, a disciple, approached the Buddha and reported to Him about their conversation. Considering the understanding capacity of the questioners, the Buddha usually observed silence at such questions. However in this instance, the Buddha explained to Anuradha in the following manner:

'O Anuradha, what do you think, is the form (Rupa) permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, Sir.'

'Is that which is impermanent, painful or pleasant?'

'Painful, Sir.'

'Is it proper to regard that which is impermanent, painful and subject to change as: 'This is mine; this is I, this is my soul or permanent substance?'

'It is not proper, Sir.'

'Is feeling permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, Sir.'

'Is that which is impermanent, painful or pleasant?'

'Painful, Sir.'

'Is it proper to regard that which is impermanent, painful and subject to change as 'This is mine, this is I, this is my soul'?'

'It is not proper, Sir.'

'Are perfection, formative tendencies and consciousness, permanent or impermanent?'

'Impermanent, Sir.'

'Is that which is impermanent, painful or pleasant?'

'Painful, Sir.'

'Is it proper to regard that which is impermanent, painful and subject to change as: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my soul?'?'

'It is not proper, Sir.'

'Therefore whatever form, feeling, perception, formative tendencies, consciousness which have been, will be and is now connected with oneself, or with others, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near; all forms, feelings, perceptions, formative tendencies and consciousness should be considered by right knowledge in this way: 'This is not mine; this not I; this is not my soul.' Having seen thus, a noble, learned disciple becomes disenchanted with the form, feeling, perception, formative tendencies and consciousness. Becoming disenchanted, he controls his passion and subsequently discards them.'

'Being free from passion he becomes emancipated and insight arises in him: 'I am emancipated.' He realizes: 'Birth is destroyed, I have lived the holy life and done what had to be done. There is no more birth for me.'

'What do you think, Anuradha, do you regard the form as a Tathagata?'

'No, Sir.'

'O Anuradha, what is your view, do you see a Tathagata in the form?'

'No, Sir.'

'Do you see a Tathagata apart from form?'

'No, Sir.'

'Do you see a Tathagata in feeling, perception, formative tendencies, consciousness?'

'No, Sir.'

'O Anuradha, what do you think, do you regard that which is without form, feeling, perception, formative tendencies and consciousness as a Tathagata?'

'No, Sir.'

'Now, Anuradha, since a Tathagata is not to be found in this very life, is it proper for you to say: 'This noble and supreme one has pointed out and explained these four propositions:

A Tathagata exists after death;
A Tathagata does not exist after death;
A Tathagata exists and yet does not exist after death;
A Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death?'

'No, Sir.'

'Well and good, Anuradha. Formerly and now also I expound and point out only the truth of Suffering and cessation of Suffering.'

(Anuradha Sutta - Samyutta Nikaya)


Offline Antonio1986

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2015, 10:12:56 pm »
So we don't know what happened with a Buddha after his death.
So we can say that it is possible for a Buddha to be reborn as simple person with inclination to become a sinner?
I read that when you become a Buddha you are released from samsara.
This is just temporary? It is not eternal?
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 10:20:44 pm by Antonio1986 »
“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free!"

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2015, 04:44:08 am »
So we can say that it is possible for a Buddha to be reborn as simple person with inclination to become a sinner?

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure you've already answered that question (see below) LOL:

I read that when you become a Buddha you are released from samsara.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2015, 06:28:10 am »
So when Buddha dies and he is released by Samsara ... what happens? What parinirvana means practically?
He stops to get reborn?
He just remains a spirit who/that leaves eternal on the skies and does not face suffering anymore?


Here is the definition you seek:
Quote
In Buddhism, the term parinirvana (Sanskrit: parinirvāṇa; Pali: parinibbāna) is commonly used to refer to nirvana-after-death, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during their lifetime.


Now, your logical next question is, "What is nirvanna?"  That you must experience for yourself in order to understand.  There are many inadequate definitions, but you have to be there to truly know.

Here is a reference which may help, but probably not:

Nibbana:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/nibbana.html

...and this will give you something to ponder.  Keep in mind that after pondering you still will not know unless you are in that state called "nibbana":

Quote
Nibbana
nibbana
(Skt: nirvana)
© 2005
Nibbana names the transcendent and singularly ineffable freedom that stands as the final goal of all the Buddha's teachings.

Defined in terms of what it is...
"This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Nibbana."

— AN 3.32


There's no fire like passion,
no loss like anger,
no pain like the aggregates,
no ease other than peace.

Hunger: the foremost illness.
Fabrications: the foremost pain.
For one knowing this truth
as it actually is,
   Unbinding
is the foremost ease.

Freedom from illness: the foremost good fortune.
Contentment: the foremost wealth.
Trust: the foremost kinship.
Unbinding: the foremost ease.
— Dhp 202-205


The enlightened, constantly
   absorbed in jhana,
   persevering,
   firm in their effort:
they touch Unbinding,
the unexcelled safety
   from bondage.
— Dhp 23

...and in terms of what it is not
"There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress."

— Ud 8.1

"There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned."

— Ud 8.3


Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine,
   the sun is not visible,
   the moon does not appear,
   darkness is not found.
And when a sage,
   a brahman through sagacity,
   has known [this] for himself,
then from form & formless,
   from bliss & pain,
      he is freed.
— Ud 1.10

One's first breakthrough to Nibbana puts an end to so much suffering
Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth — this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail — when compared with the great earth."

"In the same way, monks, for a disciple of the noble ones who is consummate in view, an individual who has broken through [to stream-entry], the suffering & stress that is totally ended & extinguished is far greater. That which remains in the state of having at most seven remaining lifetimes is next to nothing: it's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth, when compared with the previous mass of suffering. That's how great the benefit is of breaking through to the Dhamma, monks. That's how great the benefit is of obtaining the Dhamma eye."

— SN 13.1

What happens to one who has fully realized Nibbana?
[Aggivessana Vacchagotta:] "But, Master Gotama, the monk whose mind is thus released: Where does he reappear?"

[The Buddha:] "'Reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

"In that case, Master Gotama, he does not reappear."

"'Does not reappear,' Vaccha, doesn't apply."

"...both does & does not reappear."

"...doesn't apply."

"...neither does nor does not reappear."

"...doesn't apply."

"How is it, Master Gotama, when Master Gotama is asked if the monk reappears... does not reappear... both does & does not reappear... neither does nor does not reappear, he says, '...doesn't apply' in each case. At this point, Master Gotama, I am befuddled; at this point, confused. The modicum of clarity coming to me from your earlier conversation is now obscured."

"Of course you're befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you're confused. Deep, Vaccha, is this phenomenon, hard to see, hard to realize, tranquil, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. For those with other views, other practices, other satisfactions, other aims, other teachers, it is difficult to know. That being the case, I will now put some questions to you. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, Vaccha: If a fire were burning in front of you, would you know that, 'This fire is burning in front of me'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, Vaccha, 'This fire burning in front of you, dependent on what is it burning?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"...I would reply, 'This fire burning in front of me is burning dependent on grass & timber as its sustenance.'"

"If the fire burning in front of you were to go out, would you know that, 'This fire burning in front of me has gone out'?"

"...yes..."

"And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

"Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.

"Any feeling... Any perception... Any mental fabrication...

"Any consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea."

— MN 72

The victory cry of the arahants
"Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world."

— SN 22.59

The end of samsara

Some are born   in the human womb,
evildoers   in hell,
those on the good course go
      to heaven,
while those without effluent:
      totally unbound.
— Dhp 126


What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Amara

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Re: Questions on rebirth
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2015, 07:15:41 am »
Hello Everyone,
I was born in a Christian country were Buddhism does not exist at all.
For this reason be kind with my ignorance and help me answer the following questions.
1. What religion was the dominant in India when Buddha has living. Does this religion still exists?
Yes. One of them is "Jainism" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism
2. As I understood in the Buddhist tradition there are many Gods
(a) The Gods can die? Yes
(b) A God can be reborn as something inferior (e.g. animal)?  Yes, even can go to hell
3. If in this life I am a good and modest person what will be the consequence for my next life. I can become for example a God or Buddha? Yes
4. Siddhartha Gautama has achieved enlightenment. What this means? When he died he was reborn again as a Buddha or as a God? No, attainment of Nibanna will free from Born again
4.a. Buddha can be born with this inherent quality or he must become Buddha during his life after practice and effort? No, attainment of Nibanna will free from Born again
5. What are the usual practice for a Buddhist. For example we orthodox christians:
(a) We pray before we sleep - We will make protection by paying respect to three jewel of Gems and elders.
(b) We make our cross - We will make protection by paying respect to three jewel of Gems and elders.
(c) We light a candle in the church - Lighting is a symbol of giving light to darkness who can't see the truth - we do make donation (lighting candles) to Buddha
(d) We go on church on Sunday - Buddha's teaching is to do Good practise/good actions all the time
(e) We burn olive leaves in a small plate and we do our cross above it. - I read about burning olive leaves is for "love and of charity". Buddha's teaching is to do "Loving Kindness" on all beings.
(f) We say all the time: "God bless you!" or "With the Grace of God we will do this" - Buddha's teaching is saying "May you be free from suffering" when you do loving kindness.

Thank you for your time.

 


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