Author Topic: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning  (Read 2791 times)

Offline Ron-the-Elder

  • Member
  • Posts: 4533
  • May all beings live rightly and harmoniously.
    • View Profile
Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #75 on: June 13, 2017, 10:07:08 am »
Quote
VincentRJ:  "However, it's true that during the lifetime of any organism there are continual changes taking place within the organism, so I would agree that the concept of impermanence is largely true with just a few exceptions such as the proton and electron.  :wink1:"


Yes.  Interesting facts about the electron and proton duration of life, but it has no relevance as to Buddha's teachings.  He was clear that he taught only about the fact of suffering (dukkha) as being the normal condition for the living, the cause of suffering, that suffering could be ended, and that there was a sure-fire means to end suffering.  He made this clear in  The Simsapa Sutta.

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.031.than.html
Quote
"What do you think, monks: Which are more numerous, the few simsapa leaves in my hand or those overhead in the simsapa forest?"

"The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, lord. Those overhead in the simsapa forest are more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them.

"And what have I taught? 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress': This is what I have taught. And why have I taught these things? Because they are connected with the goal, relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. This is why I have taught them.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

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 VincentRJ

  • Member
  • Posts: 261
    • View Profile
Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #76 on: June 13, 2017, 06:21:45 pm »
Quote
VincentRJ:  "However, it's true that during the lifetime of any organism there are continual changes taking place within the organism, so I would agree that the concept of impermanence is largely true with just a few exceptions such as the proton and electron.  :wink1:"


Yes.  Interesting facts about the electron and proton duration of life, but it has no relevance as to Buddha's teachings.  He was clear that he taught only about the fact of suffering (dukkha) as being the normal condition for the living, the cause of suffering, that suffering could be ended, and that there was a sure-fire means to end suffering.  He made this clear in  The Simsapa Sutta.

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.031.than.html



Yes, of course. That's a perfectly rational position to take. If I visit a doctor because I have a pain in my knee, I don't expect the doctor to give me a piano lesson, or discuss the latest theories about the origins of the universe. Nor would I assume that the doctor was an expert on playing the piano or on the latest cosmological theories, but he might be. All teachers will likely have some knowledge of matters outside the range of their teaching subject.

My point is, I think it is reasonable to suppose that the Buddha was wise enough to realize that he didn't have any clear understanding of many imponderable issues such as the origins of the universe and the existence of a Creator God, and that it wouldn't have served any purpose for him to have admitted or emphasised that he didn't know because explanations of such imponderables were a part of the existing Vedic religious culture of the times, and he was wise enough to realize that such an admission would have created problems of faith for his disciples.

The Agganna Sutta sounds very mythical to me. Richard Gombrich is of the view that the Sutta was conceived as a satire of the Vedic "Hym of the Cosmic Man", in order to debunk the divine nature of the caste system.

One might cherry-pick certain phrases in the Sutta, such as the concept of an expanding and contracting universe, and think how prescient that concept was considering our modern theory of the Big Bang. However, our latest observation of the outer reaches of the universe imply, or at least raise the possibility, that the universe might continue to expand forever.

It used to be thought that the universe was static, then it was discovered through observation of a 'red shift', that the universe was expanding, but at an increasingly slower rate so that eventually the expansion would come to a halt and the universe would begin to contract upon itself. Then recently, through the increased power of the Hubble telescope, it was observed that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating.

For all we know, the universe might expand forever and eventually result in a 'Big Freeze'. The most distant galaxies might already be travelling faster than the speed of light, which means we might never be able to detect them.

Speculating on such matters during the times of the Buddha would have been pointless, I agree. They didn't even have a basic, optical telescope in those days. However, speculating or hypothesising about such matters in our modern society, using increasing sophisticated instruments, is a different kettle of fish. There have been many instances in the past when purely theoretical investigations into matters, of no immediate practical use, have resulted in great benefits later as new understandings arise which can be put to practical use.

As the Buddha would have said, 'Everything is connected.'  :wink1:

Offline Rahul

  • Member
  • Posts: 191
    • View Profile
Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #77 on: June 13, 2017, 08:34:57 pm »
The philosophy of Buddhism relates to an examination of one's own mind through processes of meditation and attempts to still one's mind and eliminate suffering. That's what it's about. It's not about examining in detail the processes of nature, matter and energy, and the universe.

Is that all you can say about Buddhism? If it's all about just eliminating suffering, what about the concepts of anatta, anicca, sunnatta? What about Madhyamica school of philosophy, what about Abhidhamma Pitaka? To save your time, let me tell you that a great deal of Buddhist literature and practices are centered towards understanding the 'phenomena' around us.

However, there are certain broad concepts in Buddhism that seem to resonate with our understanding of modern science, and that is impressive, but also not really surprising. Just as there's a biological evolution of species, there's also an evolution of ideas and concepts.

So someone talks about cosmic contractions and expansions and evolution of plants from mushrooms and evolution of animals from gender-less primordial beings, etc. 2500 years ago and you can confidently give your verdict that it was 'wild guess/speculation' without evidences. How close was this 'speculation' to the Adam-Eve and 'God created all' kind of stories of that time, or how does it even fit in this 'evolution' of ideas of origins? Or, to being with, what kind of hypotheses were prevalent in that period?

I am not claiming that he knew it all. But it is totally irrational to call it a speculation or a part of the 'evolution of hypotheses' in the history of mankind.

It would be biased to declare Buddha's description of origins of Earth 'nonsense'. What facts have we (not just you, but yes specifically you) verified about origins of the earth? So someone read a few scientific articles and took it to be true and then goes around evaluating other theories 'right' or 'wrong'? What happens if tomorrow scientists find new clues and come to a conclusion that earth was a stray planet, and the heat from the core of the earth gave birth to primordial microbes, and later on the sun caught up with the earth?

Even the very scientists who concluded theory of origination of the earth and the life are open minded to the fact that new evidences may change their thinking. But at least they studied, experimented and verified whatever data they had before coming to their present day conclusion. What have we verified to take it as a yard-stick to evaluate other ideas?

Even if we just indulge in declared scientific facts, you should know that there was life on earth more than 1 billion years BEFORE the photosynthetic microbes came into existence. Does that give you a hint that life could have emerged without Sun as a necessity?

Offline VincentRJ

  • Member
  • Posts: 261
    • View Profile
Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #78 on: June 13, 2017, 10:48:14 pm »
The philosophy of Buddhism relates to an examination of one's own mind through processes of meditation and attempts to still one's mind and eliminate suffering. That's what it's about. It's not about examining in detail the processes of nature, matter and energy, and the universe.

Is that all you can say about Buddhism? If it's all about just eliminating suffering, what about the concepts of anatta, anicca, sunnatta? What about Madhyamica school of philosophy, what about Abhidhamma Pitaka? To save your time, let me tell you that a great deal of Buddhist literature and practices are centered towards understanding the 'phenomena' around us.

These are all concepts about the person and the illusion of self, and are related to the elimination of suffering through control of the mind.

Quote
So someone talks about cosmic contractions and expansions and evolution of plants from mushrooms and evolution of animals from gender-less primordial beings, etc. 2500 years ago and you can confidently give your verdict that it was 'wild guess/speculation' without evidences. How close was this 'speculation' to the Adam-Eve and 'God created all' kind of stories of that time, or how does it even fit in this 'evolution' of ideas of origins? Or, to being with, what kind of hypotheses were prevalent in that period?

One of the unfortunate states of affairs that inhibits certainty and a full understanding about the evolutionary progression of ideas, is the lack of written evidence from the distant past, especially in India.

I suspect the foundations of Buddhism go back a few millennia to the time of the Indus Valley Civilization which flourished in the region which is now Pakistan and West India. This civilization appears to have been very egalitarian, very advanced for the times, very peaceful in the sense there is no evidence of kingly palaces and fighting among war lords of different tribes.

The caste system which the Buddha was clearly opposed to, was introduced by the Aryans from Eastern Europe. We don't have any clear evidence of fighting between the invading Aryans and the Indus Valley people, but we do have evidence that climate change caused people to disperse and spread further afield around 1900 BC, about 1400 years prior to the times of the Buddha.

There's also archaeological evidence in the form of statues which look like Hindu Yogis sitting in the 'lotus pose' meditating. My own feeling is that the ideas and concepts from this civilization would have been passed on through word of mouth, for many centuries, in opposition to the ideas of the invading Aryans and their caste system, and would have indirectly influenced the thinking of the Buddha.

It's also interesting to note that the Indus Valley civilization, or Harappan Civilization, seems to have created a written text with many different symbols. Nobody has yet been able to decipher it. It might not even be a fully formed written language. Nobody knows, but there are certainly enough different symbols to form a written language.

The lack of a written language in India for long periods before the times of the Buddha, and for a couple of centuries after the times of the Buddha, makes it difficult to be certain about anything.
One can only go by what makes sense, as the Kalama Sutta advises. What makes sense to me might not make sense to you. I accept that. The best I can do is explain my position and the reasons behind it.

Online Chaz

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 898
    • View Profile
Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #79 on: June 14, 2017, 03:36:57 pm »
The permanence of living organisms is much less but varies considerably. The Mayfly has a lifespan of just 24 hours whereas the Bowhead whale can have a lifespan of over 200 years. Certain species of tree can have a lifespan of 5,000 years or more.

There ya go again, saying something egregiously incorrect.

I'm an amateur entomologist, specializing in insects found in cold-water environments.  This includes Mayflies.

Mayflies have a complete lifespan that lasts from several months to about a year depending on species.  In a number of cases, it's longer.

It's the winged phases of that cycle don't last very long - from a an hour or two, to a couple days.  It's interesting to note that winged adults have no mouth parts or digestive tract.  These adults exist only to reproduce.

For someone who touts science and scientific method, you sure do play fast and loose with fact when trying to make a point.

Offline VincentRJ

  • Member
  • Posts: 261
    • View Profile
Re: Cycle of rebirth is impossible since there is a beginning
« Reply #80 on: June 14, 2017, 05:36:08 pm »
The permanence of living organisms is much less but varies considerably. The Mayfly has a lifespan of just 24 hours whereas the Bowhead whale can have a lifespan of over 200 years. Certain species of tree can have a lifespan of 5,000 years or more.

There ya go again, saying something egregiously incorrect.

I'm an amateur entomologist, specializing in insects found in cold-water environments.  This includes Mayflies.

Mayflies have a complete lifespan that lasts from several months to about a year depending on species.  In a number of cases, it's longer.

It's the winged phases of that cycle don't last very long - from a an hour or two, to a couple days.  It's interesting to note that winged adults have no mouth parts or digestive tract.  These adults exist only to reproduce.

For someone who touts science and scientific method, you sure do play fast and loose with fact when trying to make a point.

Thanks for the correction. However I don't see how that diminishes the point I was making in relation to the issue I raised, which is the great variability of the degree of permanence of both animate and inanimate substances?

As I now understand, the Mayfly as a recognizable fly has a lifespan of around 24 hours. However, it's complete life cycle, from initial fertilization till death is longer, as you point out.

Should we now discuss the difference in meaning between lifespan and life cycle, or discuss whether your use of the term 'egregiously incorrect' is egregiously inappropriate within the context?

Should we modify our estimate of the human lifespan as being approximately 100 years, and claim that is egregiously incorrect because we can now freeze human sperm and embryos for long periods of many decades, thus increasing the potential life cycle of certain humans?  :wink1:

 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal