Author Topic: Rebirth and the self.  (Read 402 times)

Offline Philosopher

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Rebirth and the self.
« on: August 07, 2017, 06:38:22 am »
Hi there, I’m a 26 year old guy from Belgium and a couple of years ago I discovered something incredible. I was always a secular guy, and growing up I considered the concept of rebirth to be the same as any religious afterlife theory: Just some fantasy. This was until I began thinking about death for myself and discovered the exact opposite is the case. Rebirth in fact is based purely on logical deduction and honestly makes an incredible amount of sense.
I’ve written out the theory as best as I can below. I know it is quite lengthy but I promise it explains exactly that which Buddha meant with rebirth (99.99% sure)


1.THE PREMISES
-----------------------

I will start with the two premises that this theory is based on:

Premise 1: The body or brain does not contain a soul/ there are no souls in the universe.

Premise 2: This isn’t how conscious experience and death works:

Conscious experience follows continuous streams, and when a stream ends or is cut a ‘person’ dies.
To give an example; Cryonics wouldn’t be possible. This is the practice of freezing a human and reviving them at a later time. The person getting revived at a later time would be a different. In this case there is also a significant chance that the ‘person’ changes after coma, narcosis or even sleep.


2.THREE QUESTIONS
----------------------------


I want you to quickly think about the following three questions:

1: Teleportation:


This is an old question, if you teleport a human, will the same ‘person’ experience the experiences created by the brain before and after teleportation?
Let’s say we have Bob. Bob is frightened to use the teleport but is forced to. He will travel from Earth to Mars.
When Bob steps out of the teleport on Mars the first thing he thinks is “Thank God it worked!”, however a minute or so later he realizes that it might not have worked, and that in fact he might just got ‘born’ a minute ago.
He seems to remember his childhood memories, and remembers stepping in the teleport, and the next thing he knew he was right there on Mars. But did ‘he’ actually experience his childhood, was it ‘he’ who stepped into the teleport?


2: Worm-butterfly:


I don’t know how many people know this, but in the cocoon, a caterpillar doesn’t “grow wings onto its body”, but rather dissolves its whole body into a mush of cells which then reform into a butterfly
Are the butterfly and the worm the same person? You could say, are the experiences of the worm and the butterfly experienced by the same  ’experiencer’?


3: Conscious robot.

It’s the far future and humans are capable to create conscious robots. We have a robot which is conscious just like you and me. It has a bunch of sensors as input signals and multiple mechanic arms and tripod like legs as output possibility’s. Its central ‘brain’/‘computer’ logically processes the input signals and creates a proper output to guide it through the world. Much the same way our brain logically processes its incoming signals (our senses) to generates a proper output (to our muscles etc.) to guide its biological robot though the world.
Off course the scientists want to make sure that throughout time, all the conscious experiences are experienced by the same ‘experiencer’ or ‘person’ but at which point do we kill one?  Are we allowed to alter our robot? And in which ways?


3. THE SELF/SOUL/EXPERIENCER
----------------------------------------------


The following is a quote from Sam Harris:

“I’m not arguing that consciousness is a reality beyond science or beyond the brain or that it floats free of the brain at death. I’m not making any spooky claims about It’s metaphysics . What I am saying however is that the self is an illusion. The sense of being an ego, an I, a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts. An experiencer in addition to the experience. The sense that we all have of riding around inside our heads as a kind of a passenger in the vehicle of the body. That’s where most people start when they think about any of these questions. Most people don’t feel identical to their bodies. They feel like they have bodies. They feel like there inside the body. And most people feel they are inside their heads. Now that sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion. It makes no neuro-anatomical sense. There’s no place in the brain for your ego to be hiding. We know that everything that you experience – your conscious emotions and thoughts and moods and the impulses that initiate behavior – all of these things are delivered by a myriad of different processes in the brain that are spread over the whole of the brain. They can be independently erupted. We have a changing system. We are a process and there’s not one unitary self that’s carried trough from one moment to the next unchanging. And yet we feel that we have this self that’s just this center of experience.” – Sam Harris- Neuroscientist ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fajfkO_X0l0 )

Probably the first historical figure who discovered and mentions the illusion of the self is Buddha,
“In Buddhism, the term anattā (Pali) or anātman (Sanskrit) refers to the doctrine of "non-self", that there is no unchanging, permanent self, soul or essence in living beings.[1][2]” - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta

This concept of non-self is the absolute foundation of rebirth.
When we use names like Bob or Lisa, we use them to identify groups of cells (body’s) or the evolution thereof however this body or
robot doesn’t contain an effective ‘person’, ‘soul’ or “thinker of thoughts”

The feeling of the self
Although an effective ‘experiencer’ or ‘self’ is invisible, we can logically deduct at which point the feeling of the self will emerge .

1 Information

When ‘Bob’ has an experience (A) in which he thinks about what he ate yesterday (B)
This experience (A) is an experience that exists. In it is visual and other information encoded recorded by (B).
(A) also knows that the recording of this information was coupled with experience.
Naturally (A) will think it also experienced (B) and the feeling of a self emerges.

If we would teleport a human, then naturally the experiences that are created after teleportation will have the feeling of a ‘self’, an ‘I’ with the experiences before teleportation, given the information encoded in the experiences.

Simply put: Conscious experience which share information will naturally have the feeling of a common ‘Self’ or ’I’

I quickly want to make a definition, in the next chapter I will talk about “information chains of experience”.  I’ll explain this with an example: If we would teleport a human every day from earth to mars and back, then overtime the laws of physics create an information chains of conscious experience.
In other words, conscious experience which share information and follow each other up in time are what I call information chains of experience.

2.The body

The most logical place for consciousness to be created in a law based universe is in the form of life.
Because of this, conscious experience that share information are bassicly always found in the same body or evolution thereof. We are therefore inclined to identify with our body’s.

Take the worm-butterfly example. If butterflies had any decent thinking ability. Then it wouldn’t be unnatural for it to have the feeling, or the inclination to think that ‘he’ was also the worm, because we are talking about the same group of cells or evolution thereof.
The same probably counts for you, sure ‘you’ were also the baby your mother gave birth to all these years ago, ‘you’ experienced it’s experiences.

Simply put: Conscious experience which are found in the same group of cells /body or evolution thereof, will naturally have the feeling of a common ‘Self’

4. REBIRTH
-----------------


I will try to explain rebirth using two different  (thought) experiments.

Experiment 1:

We have scientists who create 10 conscious robots. They let them live for a while, and then from time to time they destroy some of the robots, and from time to time they create new ones.

I’ll describe this experiment different; The laws of physics starts off creating, over time,  ten information chains of experience, and then, from time to time information chains will end, and from time to time new information chains will start. However there are no literal souls, selves or experiencers who experience the different chains, and there are no such entities to die.

Experiment 2: The apartments thought experiment.

The following experiment visualizes rebirth.

We have a drug which is capable to regulate to which part of the brain memory is written/read.
We put Bob in the following building; It consists of a central room with a bed, and surrounding it are 10 different apartments which Bob can access from the central room.

Each of these 10 apartments are different, and has different things to do in them.

We will label the apartments with numbers 1,2,3 etc.
Bob will live a day in apartment 1, then goes to sleep in the central room, after which he spends a day in apartment 2 and again sleeps in the central room.
He does this with all the apartments after which he starts again with apartment 1 and continuous this loop during the experiment.
Depending in which apartment Bob will live in the next day, he will be given the correct drug so that he can read/write the memories of that specific apartment. Memories of different apartments are not saved in the same part of the brain.
Because of this when Bob participates with the experiment, he appears to be experiencing the life of only one apartment.
When he lives a day in apartment 1, and goes to sleep, the next thing he knows is that he once again needs to go to apartment 1.
When Bob experiences apartment 5, it seems to him that he only experiences apartment 5. When apartment 5 is boring or has bad living conditions he can say it was just bad luck that ‘he’ ended up in apartment 5.

Also when Bob participates with the experiment, there isn’t a chance that he is going to die doing it. It is not that because there could’ve been 11 apartments, 10/11 of him will survive, and there is a 1/11 chance that Bob will die and be in some sort of ‘eternal nothingness’ because apartment 11 does not exist. In essence Bob can’t end up or ‘collapse’ with a non-existing apartment.

We can also expand the experiment:

Bob can communicate with the different apartments via email and we could give each apartment a different  job, for example Bob from apartment 1 is a mailman, apartment 2 is a cashier, apartment 3 a taxi driver etc.  Each will have different salaries, coworkers and friends. In essence each apartment will have their own live.

As a last addition, the scientist who run the experiment will let the original ten apartments live for a while, after which from time to time they end some apartments from existing, and from time to time they create new apartments.

It is very important to take your time with this experiment, and most importantly  that you visualize it from a first person perspective.

For example, imagine you live in apartment 10, During the day you work at a local bakery and in the evening you eat and relax in your apartment. You also regularly mail with the other apartments to see how they’re doing. Bob from apartment 5 mails you and explains how boring his apartment is; It doesn’t contain a TV, computer, radio, any books, etc. Maybe you can help out? Your apartment is filled with those goodies; You could leave some of your stuff in the central room for Bob from apartment 5 to take. Also best to notify the other apartments so they don’t take it.

It’s a couple of months later and apartment 5 mails you. The scientists who run the experiment have notified him that they will stop apartment 5 from existing next week (the apartment 5 drug won’t be given anymore, we are talking 70 days in reality).
During those last seven days you mail every evening. He explains that he’s quite scared and doesn’t know what will happen next.
You also quickly arrange some practical stuff, he gives you back all the stuff you once gave him and on the 6th or 7th  day you say a final goodbye. The 8th day you mail again, but no responds this time.
Some weeks pass bye and now the scientists contact you. They will stop apartment 10 from existing. What do you imagine?

I’ll describe this experiment  once again different; The laws of physics starts off creating, over time,  ten information chains of experience, and then, from time to time information chains will end, and from time to time new information chains will start. However there are no literal souls, selves or experiencers who experience the different chains. You probably think “Well Bob experiences the ten apartments, Bob experiences the ten chains”. This is not true, Bob the locus of consciousness/ soul/ self/ experiencer does not exist.

Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 06:43:57 am »
What is rebirth?
It is the anew arising of what has ceased before. The basis of rebirth is identity, i.e. that which arises is that which has ceased before.


How can rebirth be validly known?

It can be validly known through having directly perceived a thing before its cessation and through directly perceiving its anew arising. Thus one can validly know 'This has existed before it ceased and now it has arisen again.' based on direct perception.


Can a living being be reborn?
A living being cannot be reborn. Why? Because although a living being can be directly perceived before it ceases to live a living being that is newly born cannot be traced back to a living being that has ceased to live before through direct perception. There is no directly perceptible sign of a living being that would necessarily indicate that it had existed before it was born.


What can be inferred?
The word 'rebirth' that occurs in authentic buddhist texts in the context of the birth of living beings is a metaphor because there is no directly perceptible basis for its non-metaphorical use.

Quote
"Monks, be islands unto yourselves, be your own refuge, having no other; let the Dhamma be an island and a refuge to you, having no other. Those who are islands unto themselves... should investigate to the very heart of things

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.043.wlsh.html


Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2017, 07:06:28 am »

Can a living being be reborn?
A living being cannot be reborn. Why? Because although a living being can be directly perceived before it ceases to live a living being that is newly born cannot be traced back to a living being that has ceased to live before through direct perception. There is no directly perceptible sign of a living being that would necessarily indicate that it had existed before it was born.

So Ground is no living being, since there "is" no direct sign that he exist for one minute, yesterday, 20 years ago. Or does he hold the body for being the self?

And yes, it would be good to investigate a little better, although the Buddha told it's better for a normal person to assume the body as being the self because an untrained mind is not capable to investigate much further for a good.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 07:10:48 am by Samana Johann »
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Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2017, 07:10:28 am »

Can a living being be reborn?
A living being cannot be reborn. Why? Because although a living being can be directly perceived before it ceases to live a living being that is newly born cannot be traced back to a living being that has ceased to live before through direct perception. There is no directly perceptible sign of a living being that would necessarily indicate that it had existed before it was born.

So Ground is no living being, since there "is" no direct sign that he exist for one minute, yesterday, 20 years ago. Or does he hold the body for being the self?

Either you express yourself rationally or I must conclude that you are not really interested in communicating with me.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2017, 07:14:49 am »
As told, even if spoken simple an easy question, not capable to answer, or where lies the complication aside of fear that a philosophical struction breaks down again. Do what ever you like, Ground. Others may be capable to read and investigate.

So where is Cosmologist (Materialist) Grounds nessesary direct perceived sign between his first and his secound post here? (assumed that he is not an Arahat for now as he claimed, in regard of living being)

"So Ground is no living being, since there "is" no direct sign that he exist for one minute, yesterday, 20 years ago. Or does he hold the body for being the self?"
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 07:22:45 am by Samana Johann »
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Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2017, 07:26:15 am »
As told, even if spoken simple an easy question, not capable to answer, or where lies the complication aside of fear that a philosophical syruction breaks down again. Do what ever you like, Ground. Others may be capable to read and investigate.

So where is Grounds nessesary direct perceived sign between his first and his secound post here? (assumed that he is not an Arahat for now as he claimed, in regard of living being)
you behave like an absolute  beginner. That is sad because it is you who wants to teach a 'true dhamma' and you will necessarily fail. Do you think your words appear trustworthy to others if they do not even comply with conventional language?
Why do you alway have to perform a lunatic's show when expressing yourself verbally? Why can't you apply language the way everybody else applies language? Even the buddha did apply language in the same way the world applies language.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2017, 07:34:44 am »
Why does Ground never answer simple question but seeks refuge in meta discussions. He understands well if he does not understandable block like it is standard for Arahats taking the four elements and "accident" as the self.

If grounds mind can not subsist on short simple questions but needs a book of construction to hold it, my person will not be able to entertain it for 2 or 3 rebirthes. Amazon will do that, or youtube, better.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 07:38:24 am by Samana Johann »
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Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2017, 07:39:57 am »
Why does Ground never answer simple question but seeks refuge in meta discussions. He understands well if he does not understandable block like it is standard for Arahats taking the four elements and "accident" as the self.
you are asking inappropriate questions since I am applying conventional language. It is inappropriate to challenge the conventional with questions aiming at the ultimate. This is a beginners fault since a beginner is unable to see that the ultimate does not negate the conventional. you are merely displaying not-knowing.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2017, 07:51:28 am »
Overestimation is difficult... Especially if taking ones thought then as the self, never reborn... so let's try it again:

In context of his direct sign statement:

So Ground is no living being, since there "is" no direct sign (perceivable for him or anybody else) that he exist for one minute, yesterday, 20 years ago. (=statement, conclusion to his idea)
(That is a question in connection with the conclusion, derived from his idea:) Or does he hold the body for being the self?
(Guessing he either remembers his ideas or can read again as if it would be written from someone else, so that hindrences do not arise)
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Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2017, 07:57:26 am »
Why does Ground never answer simple question but seeks refuge in meta discussions. He understands well if he does not understandable block like it is standard for Arahats taking the four elements and "accident" as the self.
you are asking inappropriate questions since I am applying conventional language. It is inappropriate to challenge the conventional with questions aiming at the ultimate. This is a beginners fault since a beginner is unable to see that the ultimate does not negate the conventional. you are merely displaying not-knowing.

Having said that there is nevertheless a conventional that is valid because it is based on direct perception and valid inference and a conventional that is mere belief. If that would not be the case then social life, economy and science would not exist and function.

In this sense I have shown rebirth to be merely a metaphor since non-metaphorical rebirth cannot be inferred by means of directly perceptible signs.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 07:59:40 am by ground »

Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2017, 08:02:19 am »
So Ground is no living being, since there "is" no direct sign (perceivable for him or anybody else) that he exist for one minute, yesterday, 20 years ago. (=statement, conclusion to his idea)
Of course I do exist. There is the directly perceptible body of mine, there are my voice, my face, my ID card.  My certificate of birth. I do exist as you do exist. We have been born. :)

But no directly perceptible signs of non-metaphorical rebirth.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 08:05:12 am by ground »

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2017, 08:06:48 am »
As told in you "original" rebirth topic of your today's ideas. If that counts as direct perceived that ones persons perception "I was a hungry ghost in last life" is as valid as well. So what is between you (a living being) now and ... now?
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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2017, 08:08:52 am »
So Ground is no living being, since there "is" no direct sign (perceivable for him or anybody else) that he exist for one minute, yesterday, 20 years ago. (=statement, conclusion to his idea)
Of course I do exist. There is the directly perceptible body of mine, there are my voice, my face, my ID card.  My certificate of birth. I do exist as you do exist. We have been born. :)

But no directly perceptible signs of non-metaphorical rebirth.
That is why I asked to get sure. So you simply take the body as the self. That's fine. Cosmologist. And was it difficult to answer?
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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2017, 08:12:26 am »
So let how ever try a little...

What is the direct vicible perception between the body 20 years ago and now? Where is a single connection that Ground assumes it to be the self and is not reborn?
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Offline ground

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Re: Rebirth and the self.
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2017, 08:13:26 am »
As told in you "original" rebirth topic of your today's ideas. If that counts as direct perceived that ones persons perception "I was a hungry ghost in last life" is as valid as well. So what is between you (a living being) now and ... now?
It is simply not general perception in humans and - more serious - it is not independent of religious belief. That is why the perception "I was a hungry ghost in last life" is not valid. Also how could it be a direct perception? It would be impossible to directly perceive oneself in another life as another person.

 


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