Author Topic: Self and Re-incarnation  (Read 3907 times)

Offline zencat999

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Self and Re-incarnation
« on: August 11, 2018, 05:55:56 am »
I've been listening to some old recordings of a teacher talking about 'voidness' or 'wisdom' and I must admit to being very confused.

If there is no 'fixed, permanent self' then what gets re-incarnated? A quantum 'stream of consciousness' or what?  :pray:

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 04:26:49 am »
The old original Pali scriptures generally did not teach "anatta/sunnata" ("not-self"/"voidness") and "kamma & rebirth" together and generally referred to a "self", "person", "being", "man" or "woman" that is "reborn". However, over time, later-day Buddhists manufactured different theories to negate the "self" being "reborn". Therefore, its all generally convoluted and confusing.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2018, 08:21:01 am »
I've been listening to some old recordings of a teacher talking about 'voidness' or 'wisdom' and I must admit to being very confused.

If there is no 'fixed, permanent self' then what gets re-incarnated? A quantum 'stream of consciousness' or what?  :pray:

As I understand, it is character traits and tendencies which are transmitted through the processes of reincarnation, rather than a composite self or identity.

However, the precise methods by which such tendencies are passed on to future generations are most likely mere speculation when they are addressed and explained in the scriptures.

One should bear in mind that people in ancient times had no understanding of modern genetics. However, they were able to observe that people seemed to inherit certain traits, and the mystical, spiritual, process of reincarnation was one of their explanations, which is perhaps a better explanation than Christianity can provide.

One of the puzzles of the belief in a Creator God, which is never fully explained, is why a loving and caring God could allow an innocent child to be born into suffering due to genetic deformities, disease, an abusive environment, and so on.

The Buddhist explanation seems more rational. All our actions have consequences. Bad behaviour has bad consequences, and good behaviour has goood consequences, and such consequences are passed on from generation to generation.

There's a branch of modern genetics called 'epigenetic inheritance', which offers a possible explanation for how character traits resulting from our behaviour in this life, might be passed on to our children. Following is a link which tries to explain the process. However, the field of genetics is enormously complicated.
https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/inheritance/

Offline Chaz

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2018, 08:30:06 am »
I've been listening to some old recordings of a teacher talking about 'voidness' or 'wisdom' and I must admit to being very confused.

If there is no 'fixed, permanent self' then what gets re-incarnated? A quantum 'stream of consciousness' or what?  :pray:

I've always like the story about Trungpa Rinpoche when he was asked this question:

"With rebirth what is "reborn"."

Trungpa answered:

"Our bad habits."

Offline zencat999

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2018, 12:50:10 pm »
From this site:

http://www.freesangha.com/forums/general-buddhism-discussion/rebirth-resources-and-links-only-please-post-opinions-in-the-danger-zone/

The above uses Professor Ian Stephenson's 'research' as the main source of evidence for re-incarnation but then many are skeptical about this research. Where does that leave us?

http://skepdic.com/stevenson.html

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2018, 01:21:58 am »
The old original Pali scriptures...

Which ones are you referring to exactly?
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2018, 01:48:21 am »
There are a number of ways of dealing with rebirth. You can accept it, reject it, remain puzzled by it, ignore it, spend your life trying to understand it, you can even wait until you die to see whether you get the 'bright/dull' light choice (always the bright light apparently). I rephrase a famous zen saying, 'There is neither rebirth nor not rebirth', and this pretty much covers it for me.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2018, 03:53:03 am »
'Birth' ('jati') means the production of the view or idea of 'a being', 'self' or 'person'. 'Death' is the idea that 'being' will cease (which is painful). '

'Re-birth' is merely the perpetuation of these 'self' ideas based on kamma (action). For example, a person, who thinks they are a person, does a good action and delights in the results of that good action, thinking: "I did good; I am happy". This is "re-birth" of the idea of "I" or "self". "Happiness" is "heaven".

If a bad action is performed, the mind (or idea of "person") suffers with regret or unhappiness. This is "re-birth" of the idea of "I" or "self". "Unhappiness" is "hell".

Thus, the old Buddhist scriptures teach "a being" or "self" is "reborn" because that is actually what is "born" again, namely, the idea of "self" or "me".

Quote
There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — assumes the five aggregates to be self. That assumption is a fabrication. Now what is the cause, what is the origination, what is the birth, what is the coming-into-existence of that fabrication? To an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person, touched by that which is felt born of contact with ignorance, craving arises. That fabrication is born of that.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.081.than.html

Quote
When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech & mind, who reviled noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, & mind, who did not revile noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.004.than.html

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Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn05/sn05.010.bodh.html




Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2018, 07:52:21 pm »
Raptor, what you're saying makes sense in regards to assuming and getting attached to an "identity" in this very life, but the OP asked,
Quote
"If there is no 'fixed, permanent self' then what gets re-incarnated?
You say it's the "idea of self" that continues into another life? Isn't that just a mental fabrication or collection of thoughts? How does something so superficial and bound up in the circumstances of this present life continue, when the individual brain, the source of thinking, is dead and gone? Or is there something beyond the physical body and brain? If so, what is it?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 08:31:03 pm by zafrogzen »
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 http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2018, 01:26:04 am »
'Birth' ('jati') means the production of the view or idea of 'a being', 'self' or 'person'. 'Death' is the idea that 'being' will cease (which is painful). '

This is incorrect.  In the suttas birth, aging and death are clearly described as physical events and processes, not as views.

See for example the nidana "definitions" in SN12.2:

"Now what is aging and death? Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging. Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death.
"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html

And of course birth arises in dependence upon bhava ( existence ) in the three realms, as explained in the same sutta.

Quote
When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings.  ....with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.004.than.html

Quote
Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn05/sn05.010.bodh.html

It's clearly the convention "a being" which is being referred to in the first passage.  So your argument falls flat here.

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Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2018, 07:23:38 pm »
'Birth' ('jati') means the production of the view or idea of 'a being', 'self' or 'person'. 'Death' is the idea that 'being' will cease (which is painful). '

This is incorrect.  In the suttas birth, aging and death are clearly described as physical events and processes, not as views.

See for example the nidana "definitions" in SN12.2:

"Now what is aging and death? Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging. Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death.

"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.002.than.html

And of course birth arises in dependence upon bhava ( existence ) in the three realms, as explained in the same sutta.

Best wishes with those fruitless studies....  :curtain:

As for "bhava", it is an "asava" or mental defilement.  :smack:

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2018, 07:27:48 pm »
This is incorrect.  In the suttas birth, aging and death are clearly described as physical events and processes, not as views.

"Birth" is not physical at all. Each adjective word in the Pali is mental.

As for "aging" & "death", it is when "self" or "a being" is imputed upon those aggregates that are greying, wrinkling, lifeless, etc.  :curtain:

For example, a doctor calls you to a hospital and shows you a corpse. When you identify the corpse as "my mother", "my wife", "my son", "my daughter", you suffer over the laying down of that corpse. Its not the corpse or aggregates that result in suffering but the identification of those aggregates as "my mother", "my wife", "my son", "my daughter".

Please try to avoid the kamma of misguiding others away from the True Dhamma.  :namaste:

Quote
“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time—crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing—are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father… the death of a brother… the death of a sister… the death of a son… the death of a daughter… loss with regard to relatives… loss with regard to wealth… loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time—crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing—are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

https://suttacentral.net/sn15.3/en/thanissaro
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 07:36:46 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2018, 01:14:55 am »
This is incorrect.  In the suttas birth, aging and death are clearly described as physical events and processes, not as views.

"Birth" is not physical at all. Each adjective word in the Pali is mental.

Yet another unsupported claim.   I have just quoted SN12.2 which clearly describes birth, aging and death as physical events and processes.
 
Please try to avoid the kamma of misguiding others away from the True Dhamma.

This is pure projection on your part, given that your interpretations are idiosyncratic, and unsupported by the suttas.   You continually try to bang square pegs into round holes, and end up with a mess.  You continually draw false conclusions, and misrepresent what the suttas actually describe.

« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 01:34:11 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2018, 01:25:32 am »
As for "bhava", it is an "asava" or mental defilement.  :smack:

"Bhava" is continued existence, or becoming. 

"And what is continued existence? There are these three states of existence. Existence in the sensual realm, the realm of luminous form, and the formless realm. This is called continued existence."
https://suttacentral.net/sn12.2/en/sujato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhava
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Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Self and Re-incarnation
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2018, 01:51:28 pm »
Since there is no permanent abiding entity and a separate self is just a concept, Raptor indicates that that is what is reborn -- the "idea of self." But even when the concept of “self” is forgotten there is still an actual separate five-skandha movie or mind-stream running. That individual mind-stream arises within a larger stream and then disappears back into it with death, like a bubble in a stream. That should be obvious.

Does that separate, individual “movie” keep on running somehow after death due to the propelling energy of karma, even though the  empty five-skandha “chariot” of the body is no more? A lot of religions are preoccupied with guaranteeing that the individual bubble appears again downstream someplace. Buddhism by contrast says that it is always re-arising (rebirth) again and again, which is a real pain. Then the task is to find a way to cease that process.

I'd say that every bubble is always also the larger stream and the point is to realize that right now, in this very life -- because ignorance of that fact is suffering.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 08:47:26 pm by zafrogzen »
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 http://www.frogzen.com

 


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