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Thread: No Rebirth or Reincarnation?

  1. #51
    Thank you all for a very nice thread on a very important topic. My two cents;

    I am an agnostic atheist. To me dharma is something to be utilized now and not a tool to alter some hypothetical future existence which may or may not be there. This have been said before by others and I'm just voicing my consent on that.


    What I say next is not meant to offend anyone. I suspect this might be a sensitive issue since it's so fundamental for some people’s take on Buddhism. But I've chosen Treeleaf precisely because I think the vibe here is right for me to talk about stuff like this and not feel guilty for "disturbing the peace" or whatever.

    Simply saying "the world and the cosmos is miraculously complex and wonderful!" is in my view not a good reason to believe anything and is not a valid argument to be as proof for any claim. All is does is reaffirm the fact that as of yet we have very little idea of what is actually doing on. It is merely an articulation of our ignorance regarding our own situation. The cavemen felt the same way when they saw a solar eclipse. That does not proof that a god ate the sun. It simply proves that we don't really know.

    I'm all for the mundane principle of cause and effect. I see that at work daily. That traditional take on karma as a transcendent cosmic thing makes no sense to me at all. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough on here but it seems the implications following such a cosmic phenomenon are being overlooked.

    What proof is there backing up this grand claim regarding the way your life, everybody else's life and indeed the entirety of the universe supposedly functions? If you want to have a rational discussion arguments that amount to things like "I feel it in my gut" or "I'd really wish it to be so" do not count. I can't give you (- rhetorical you. Not a specific person.) any credit for that and I hope you understand why.

    Okay. Let's go with it. Let's say we're part of some cosmic game. Whether cosmic karma is the rules of the game or not it's still pretty cruel. I am made to suffer just by being here. We are then slaves of some cosmic Matrix or being. I do not wish to be a slave; to be owned or played with. I’m just here and trying to roll with life as it is. There are tribes in Africa who have never heard of the Precepts and others elsewhere who chose not take them up. Does this mean that by the rules of the game they deserve to suffer? One cannot inherit immoral actions. It is the equivalent of convicting me of a crime my distant ancestor committed. There's no way I could possibly have prevented it.

    Just so with past lives. I am not involved with them and I do not remember them. How can you state that punishing me for something I did not do and could not possibly have prevented is okay? I cannot take you morally serious. It seems karma requires literal rebirth itself to be true in order to work out. In Buddhism there are no true “self” or soul. For the system to work it also requires some metaphysical repository where my moral records are stored and carried over. It must somehow be distinct from both the body and the mind since these stop at death. Can you prove that and if so how does it work? Who or what sets up the judging criteria for the morality of actions? Do we have objective moral values all of a sudden? How come they're set like that? Who gave whatever it is rights over my future existence that's still not really “me” according to Buddhism?


    In conclusion: Following the reasoning of the traditional karma-doctrine as I see it is likely to lead to dark places that make no sense.
    Also WAY too much thinking and missing of the point. But! It can never hurt to think an opinion properly through before deciding to adopt it or not.

    Anyway. Each to his own. My big elephant in the room at Treeleaf has left.

    Now the grumpy guy will go sit. Gassho all!
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Aske

  2. #52
    Hello,

    I am not a proponent of traditional ways of presenting Karma and re-birth as some of you might know. What does strike me as interesting however is how very seldom I come across anyone who has actually deeply analysed traditional Buddhist karma models before dismissing them with modern intellectual glee.

    How many of those criticising Karma can refer to sources in the Nikayas, how many have read and studied Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosa and his Karma model?

    Please don't get me wrong on this one, I'd personally (and I'm a nobody) much rather have people sit Zazen than to see them spend their time to discuss ancient philosophical "how many angels can dance on a pin" type of questions which can't be proven empirically anyhow, but what I am highlighting is the fact that with most modern Buddhist practitioners, the criticisms are often based on very superficial encounters with the actual source material. And that smacks of arrogance once in a while.

    Vaibhashika views are not Madhymaka views are not Yogacara views are not necessarily Dogen's views. Do we need all these fancy words and all the historical hair splitting?

    IMHO, no Shikantaza is complete in itself, but we should intimately know something before we criticise it openly.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  3. #53
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you for this thread everyone. I personally do believe in reincarnation, but not in the conventional sense. I have decided not to get into it, because pondering it is really just a distraction to the work at hand. Right now we are here. I agree that viewing rebirth may be comforting to some in the sense that maybe we are "immortal", but for me I think I will side with Buddha's original premise that the cycle of rebirth is something to be passed over. If you want to be reborn, have you passed over it? Or are you still attached to a reason to be here or anywhere. Happy to be HERE. That is enough.

    Gassho
    C

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Aske View Post

    Simply saying "the world and the cosmos is miraculously complex and wonderful!" is in my view not a good reason to believe anything and is not a valid argument to be as proof for any claim. All is does is reaffirm the fact that as of yet we have very little idea of what is actually doing on. It is merely an articulation of our ignorance regarding our own situation. The cavemen felt the same way when they saw a solar eclipse. That does not proof that a god ate the sun. It simply proves that we don't really know.

    ...

    What proof is there backing up this grand claim regarding the way your life, everybody else's life and indeed the entirety of the universe supposedly functions? If you want to have a rational discussion arguments that amount to things like "I feel it in my gut" or "I'd really wish it to be so" do not count. I can't give you (- rhetorical you. Not a specific person.) any credit for that and I hope you understand why.
    Hi Aske,

    I disagree a little bit about the structure I pointed out because I believe that, in keeping with scientific method, it consists of a set of propositions about which real evidence is obtainable and ... more vitally ... which have predictive power and may be testable.

    First, as to the evidence, researchers in astro-physics, chemistry, biology (including genetics, physiology and neurology), atomic and sub-atomic physics and a great array of other fields will continue to uncover ... without a single exception ... a long and consistent string of properties and apparent "happenstances" in each of their fields which will have little to link them and no seeming necessity to have occurred in just such ways except ... without a single exception ... each was a necessary prior condition to life, intelligent life and our particular lives in the universe. From the structure of the Periodic Table to the strengths of the fundamental forces of the universe to the balances found in the planetary climate to the workings of genetics, there are endless factors which seemingly (1) could easily have been otherwise (2) need not have been how they are, yet (3) are just how they are, which happens to be the way we would need them to be for us to be sitting here arguing the question. The reason I say "without a single exception" is merely because, if there were even "a single exception" we would not be here to note the fact. Because we are here to note the fact, there cannot be a single exception.

    Second, we will be able to make predictions about the properties of theorized, yet not yet discovered, properties of the universe based on nothing more than that the existence of such an yet unknown property (with very specific and narrow characteristics about it) would be necessary to our lives. Suppose, for example, there were an as yet undiscovered theoretical "Particle X" or "Force Y", with very specific properties, the existence of which is seemingly indispensable in order to allow intelligent life in the universe. Perhaps it is a Particle or Force that otherwise seems unnecessary to exist, and let us assume that the universe would be able to get on just fine in its absence. Let us further assume that, even if it did exist, it could easily have a wide range of characteristics, strengths and other properties most of which would prevent (by not being just as we need) our human existence. However, based on little more than our own existence as human beings, we will be able to predict the existence of such particles and forces with specific properties and, amazingly, such particles and forces of just such properties will be found upon search. Again and again, the universe will show itself to be just the way needed for life like ours even though, again and again, there will appear no need for it to have been so at all.

    Third, a set of coincidences may just be coincidence. On the other hand, sometimes a set of coincidence proves to have a cause that make them no "coincidence" after all. In fact, the more strange and unlikely a set of coincidences, the more likely that they are not as coincidental as it seems. Imagine that one goes into a shady casino run by a fellow named "Rocko", and notices that the roulette wheel comes up 1000 times in a row on the very specific numbers and combinations of numbers that Rocko has bet for himself. Rocko wins spin after spin after spin then, moving over to the Blackjack table, he wins every single deal of cards there too. Well, it could just be a line of coincidences (after all, some numbers need to come up, so why not those?). However, at a certain point and looking at the overall situation, I would start to suppose that magnets in the roulette wheel and loaded decks were a more likely explanation. It could just be chance, but it could also just as easily (in fact, much more easily after a certain point) be a cheat. Sure enough, on a search, I might discover just such a mechanism.

    Well, how much more amazing is our human birth, the equivalent of winning every single turn of the wheel and hand of cards (without one exception) needed for our births, at every crossroads of history and natural events for 13.7 Billion years? While it may all be chance and "just the way the ball bounced", a better explanation is the equivalent of "cosmic magnets and loaded biological decks". There may be a mechanism to explain why the ball bounced so strangely and, if there is a mechanism, it may be theorized about, tested for and perhaps discovered (much as we have done for countless previously unknown mechanisms which science has found).

    What I am proposing is, perhaps, the first set of "religious" claims about the original of mankind and our connection to the universe which might actually be testable and explainable, not to mention seem (unlike a lot of the fantasy that appears in religious myth and dogma) to actually describe how the world really seems to work.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-25-2014 at 12:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #55
    Someone wrote me for my "best take" on why ... if the universe is so specially hospitable for our lives as I describe ... we still live in a world of wars, cancer and other diseases, children born with all manner of defects and the like.

    Traditionally, Buddhists might argue that children born with defects were just "paying the price" for some Karmic debt from a prior life. Christians might suppose that there was some mysterious "God's Plan" at work.

    Either of those could be the reason. Or, it could all just be what happens, random nature and bad luck. But I offer a fourth proposition, and furthermore, it is a proposition very much in keeping with both modern scientific discoveries and traditional Buddhist views of causation and freedom of human action.

    I believe that our lives manifested in the universe because some mechanism has guided the events and properties of physics, chemistry, biology and all the rest in the direction necessary for life, intelligent life and maybe our very human lives (as evidenced by human life arising as the outcome of an amazing series of prior circumstances and seeming happenstances). It is possible that there are certain laws, mechanisms, physical properties, restrictions and the like which guided universal events into just such a direction (as evidenced by us sitting here discussing the matter despite/as the seemingly hyper-unlikely outcome).

    As anyone who has a garden or farm field is well aware, various very restrictive factors of biology such as seed structure, soil and weather restrict what will grow in the garden and when. One cannot get apples from tomato seeds. Tomatoes grow, not by random chance, but because a gardener or farmer (a mechanism) place tomato seeds onto the ground and water is added. If one plants tomato seeds, tends and waters, it is no surprise at all that tomatoes, and not apples, will appear in the garden a few weeks later precisely where the seeds were placed. The growing of the tomatoes is not a totally random event, but an event brought about by the gardener's choices and the nature of the seeds.

    Nonetheless, though the growth of tomatoes themselves proves to be a determined outcome given that tomato seeds were planted and tended, still, the actual tomatoes which appear ... big and little, round or strangely shaped, healthy or deformed, tasty or bitter etc. ... demonstrate a great deal of randomness and variety within the parameters. The universe seems to grow things based on a shotgun process, by which some of the growth of the garden will run very wild. Despite the gardener's best efforts, nature does not always turn out "perfect" crops each time and, unfortunately, I believe that something similar happens with children in the womb too. Likewise with our human bodily cells which grow and divide according to very restricted and mechanical principles, yet with sufficient freedom to have the potential to sometimes run amuck as cancer. Nature sometimes "miscopies" a chromosome, hits a dead end or runs wild.

    Turning from nature to machines again ...

    Assuming that there are limiting laws and mechanisms which somehow made our human births somehow more than pure dumb luck, nonetheless, there is also found amazing freedom of behavior and randomness of outcome within the confines of those limitations. In other words, something may have led to our births as "loaded dice", but once born we choose and act with a degree of free will and autonomy. To return to MARIO: The parameters of the game are written in the program ... what the characters can and cannot do is subject to various restrictions, and when the characters will appear in the game may also be part of the program. However, once a character appears in the game, there is a surprising amount of freedom and flexibility to what MARIO and the other characters can do, the directions they may head, the "choices" they can make. If anyone has every played an urban simulation game called "Simcity", the parameters within the programming are very narrow and restrictive about how the game is played. However, within the confines of those restrictions, countless choices and patterns are possible in designing one's unique city ...



    Again, if such a mechanism exists in such way, I think that someday soon we may be able to test for it. The code underlying our "Simcity" will not always be hidden from sight.

    War, violence and the harms we do to each other within this "video game we call 'this life'" are also matters of free choice, just as some games ... within certain parameters ... allow all manner of violence, greed and mayhem (as anyone who has ever played an unfortunate game like "Grand Theft Auto" can experience).



    So, as the Buddha taught ... I think the world is bound by causation, yet simultaneously very free. And, thus, we find ourselves in this world with freedom enough to make a violent and greedy mess of things should we wish.

    Are my propositions silly? Well, no more silly than what one might find in the Tibetan Book of the Dead or Book of Genesis. But, in contrast, I feel that what I describe is so much closer to how the world can be seen and experienced to work with our own eyes, and the propositions may even be testable and demonstrable.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-25-2014 at 04:35 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #56
    Hi Aske, just want to mention that there are human repositories like the genes and mind-body habits and reflexes which for better or worse control us. But the good news is that with practice a certain presence can be developed to enable us to change if change is required. And I'm still working on that - the practice and the change.



    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  7. #57
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    Awesome teaching! Many thanks for using the tree and its leaves to help clarify this. Helps me to see the path through the woods

    After further thought, I am going to edit this and give my take on birth and death...please remember that this is only my opinion.

    I believe that karma fits in to the "birth" and "death" of us in each moment. I am not the same as I was yesterday, and I will not be the same as I am today tomorrow - therefore I am "born" and "die" in each moment.

    My actions before my new "birth" (this moment) can affect this moment, and can also affect me after my "death" (the end of this moment). For example - if I choose to rob a blind man, then karma may very well catch up with me and affect my "re-birth" in another moment - or many moments for that matter (how about 15-20 in the slammer!). Or, let's say I choose to abuse drugs - this could very well have a lasting affect on my future "re-births", and cause my "karma" to be "bad". The opposite, I believe, can be true for the good choices we make.

    As far as what happens to the "self" when the body finally gives in -whether from old age, accident, or disease - is something I do not know, nor do I believe any of us knows. So, with this in mind, I choose to live in this moment and not dwell on that which I do not know.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    Last edited by TimF; 06-24-2014 at 09:42 PM.
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  8. #58
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Nice, Tim
    迎 Geika

  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by TimF View Post
    Awesome teaching! Many thanks for using the tree and its leaves to help clarify this. Helps me to see the path through the woods

    After further thought, I am going to edit this and give my take on birth and death...please remember that this is only my opinion.

    I believe that karma fits in to the "birth" and "death" of us in each moment. I am not the same as I was yesterday, and I will not be the same as I am today tomorrow - therefore I am "born" and "die" in each moment.

    My actions before my new "birth" (this moment) can affect this moment, and can also affect me after my "death" (the end of this moment). For example - if I choose to rob a blind man, then karma may very well catch up with me and affect my "re-birth" in another moment - or many moments for that matter (how about 15-20 in the slammer!). Or, let's say I choose to abuse drugs - this could very well have a lasting affect on my future "re-births", and cause my "karma" to be "bad". The opposite, I believe, can be true for the good choices we make.

    As far as what happens to the "self" when the body finally gives in -whether from old age, accident, or disease - is something I do not know, nor do I believe any of us knows. So, with this in mind, I choose to live in this moment and not dwell on that which I do not know.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    Hi Tim,

    This is my way of seeing too.

    But I would like to point out one kind of "rebirth" and "reaping of Karmic effects after the 'body finally gives in" that we might learn to see even if skeptical of many views of "rebirth".

    Go back to the tree and leaves ...


    Pick one to represent yourself. Now show me where where is your particular leaf but not the Tree? Try.

    You cannot. (You may point to parts of the tree that seem not to be the leaf, but you cannot point to your leaf without pointing to the tree). That is because, while you are you (leaf is leaf), the tree is also what you are in the most intimate sense (leaf is tree). You are 100% tree. And so are all the other leaves, the bark, the sap and wood and roots. In the Mahayana Buddhist view of interpenetration and mutual-identity, you are the tree in the most intimate sense ... all the rest is tree in the most intimate sense ... and ultimately since all is tree, all is you too in the most intimate sense.

    But we "human being" leaves have some special properties, making us very special leaves with some amazing abilities: First, we are sentient beings who are conscious and self-aware (in fact, we are 'self-aware' in a way by which our brains tend to divide our self-identity as being separate and independent from the "not me rest of the tree". We think there are basically two subject/object categories in the world: "me" and "everything else." Much of Zen Practice is to re-unite ourselves mentally with the "just who we are all along" tree and all it contains which we falsely think is somehow "not me, apart, out there and kinda scary").

    Next, our actions impact the tree and all it contains ... in some ways right to the root (modern physics tells us that our every movement and action has some impact and force which reaches ... however subtly ... right to the farthest reaches of the cosmos, much like tugging on one corner of an ordinary bed sheet will cause some change ... however subtly ... at the far reaches, so it is even light years away). But our actions most directly and strongly impact all the neighboring leaves that share one's branch. Let us look at our planet and society as "our branch" filled with all the other "human leaves" with which we share this world. The violence we do can scar and maim our "branch" of society and the fellow humans with which we share it, the pollution and excess consumption driven by greed can damage or destroy our planet, the bow to which we cling for life. Likewise, love and caring can make a better society, and nurturing of this planet can make a more healthful environment for the future ... much like watering and nurturing our corner of the tree. Our actions ... whether of greed, anger and ignorance or of generosity, peace, moderation and wholeness ... have effects that may last well after our little leafs (you and me) seem to tumble from the branch when (in your words) "this body finally gives in".

    That is all true.

    But now recall that you are the tree in the most intimate sense, as well as all the other leaves in the most intimate sense. You are even the little leaf which will come to "take your place" on the branch when spring comes, and you are so in the most intimate sense. It is Tree and so are you and you are it. (To emphasize: I do not mean simply that "we all share a common branch or are parts of the same tree with other parts. Rather I mean that, from one beautiful perspective, they are you and you just that.).

    Thus, in such way, it can be said that your good and bad actions in this life will impact and be felt as the "you" who will appear on the branch in the future, long after this "leaf" you are now drifts to the ground. You actions will also impact all the other leaves of the branch, and they are you too (and you they). Your actions now are bound to be felt in your future lives on this planet!

    BY THE WAY, let me explain what is going on with these posts in this thread by me (especially for folks who may be wondering where all this is coming from):

    I have been interested for a long time in seeing if any aspects of traditional Buddhist views of "rebirth" can be salvaged and re-expressed in ways perfectly compatible with the views and methods of modern science. I believe some can, as I am trying to present here. Although many aspects of traditional interpretations of rebirth are hard to salvage (often even silly) and seem to me nothing more than fantasy and creative religious imaginings, there are perspectives by which we can see that ... like the leaves on the tree ... you and I "continue on" with the totality which we are, share self-identity with all other things in the cosmos, and our actions have effects which impact all of it ... including the "future us's" which will someday spring from its branches. I do not think it necessary to "throw out the Baby Buddha with the bathwater" on the subject of "post-mortem rebirth".

    Furthermore, most of the ideas I present are NOT original to me, even though I am speaking in modern terms of "video games" and such. In fact, they are based on Teachings of Mahayana Buddhism which have been for centuries and remain vital to Zen Buddhism, including our Dogen ... the Teachings of "Hua-yen" or the "Flower Garland".



    The teaching [of the Hua-yen School] maintains the interdependence and equality of all appearance, the ‘teaching of totality’. Appearances may be in different states, but they are necessarily interdependent in constituting the universe of phenomena, and in equally manifesting the Buddha-illumination of enlightenment.

    ...

    The basic idea of the Avatamsaka [Flower Garland] Sutra is the unity of the absolute and the relative: All in One, One in All. The All melts into a single whole. There are no divisions in the totality of reality ... the cosmos viewed as holy, as "one bright pearl," the universal reality of the Buddha."

    ...

    When Fazang [one of the principle Teachers of the school] first lectured on the Flower Garland Sutra ...he used metaphors such as Indra’s Net of Jewels and the Golden Lion. ....

    A frequently cited expression of this vision of reality is the simile of Indra’s Net from the Avatamsaka Sutra, which was further elaborated by the Huayan teachers. The whole universe is seen as a multidimensional net. At every point where the strands of the net meet, jewels are set. Each jewel reflects the light reflected in the jewels around it, and each of those jewels in turn reflects the light from all the jewels around them, and so on, forever. In this way, each jewel, or each particular entity or event, including each person, ultimately reflects and expresses the radiance of the entire universe. All of totality can be seen in each of its parts.

    Fazang [further] llustrated the Huayan teachings for Empress Wu by constructing a hall of mirrors, placing mirrors on the ceiling, floor, four walls, and four corners of a room. In the center he placed a Buddha image with a lamp next to it. Standing in this room, the empress could see that the reflection in any one mirror clearly reflected the reflections from all of the other mirrors, including the specific reflection of the Buddha image in each one. This fully demonstrated the unobstructed interpenetration of the particular and the totality, with each one contained in all, and with all contained in each one. Moreover, it showed the nonobstructed interpenetration of each particular mirror with each of the others.
    Such Teachings of Interpenetration and Mutual Identity were at the heart of Master Dogen's worldview, such as in his Teaching of the One Bright Pearl ...

    All the universe is one bright pearl—we do not speak of two pearls or three pearls. The whole body is one right Dharma eye. The whole body is the Real body. The whole body is One Expression. The whole body is light. The whole body is Mind in its totality. When it is the whole body, the whole body knows no hindrance. Everywhere is perfectly round, turning over, rolling smoothly. ....

    Thus, though its face seems to keep on changing, turning, and stopping, it is one bright pearl. Knowing that one bright pearl is indeed like this—that is one bright pearl. The colorations and configurations of one bright pearl are encountered in this manner. When it is thus, there is no reason to worry that you are not one bright pearl because in confusion you think, “I am not the pearl.” Worrying and doubting, grasping and rejection, action and inaction are all but temporary views of small measure. Moreover, this is only one bright pearl appearing as small-scale notions.

    Should we not cherish such infinite colorations and brilliance? Each of the many facets of its radiant variegations are the quality of the entire universe—who can take them away? There is no one casting a tile in the marketplace. Do not trouble yourself about not falling into or not being blind to the cause and effect of mundane existence. Being essentially unobscured from first to last, one bright pearl is the original face and the enlightened eye.

    http://dharmafield.org/resources/tex...-bright-pearl/
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-25-2014 at 12:06 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #60
    On origins, I find that one is actually perfectly capable of holding both positions if one discards the notion that 'random chance' and 'not random chance' are mutually exclusive positions. They are, indeed - or at least can be - complementary views.

    It might be interesting to examine the reasons why one feels the need to grasp too tightly to either of these views.

    Chet
    Last edited by Peacemouse; 06-25-2014 at 02:33 AM.

  11. #61
    Hi Universal Lottery Winners!

    I was asked if I believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution and "Survival of the Fittest" since I also posit that somehow the "dice may be loaded" to explain the "hyper-lucky" happenstance of each of us being born.

    The answer is that, yes, I am a Darwinian ... but I do not believe that such is the only way to look at things, or a complete description of what is going on.

    You know, one could imagine scenarios in which there is the appearance of random process in what is actually a fully or highly determined system. For example, a movie of dice rolling looks exactly like dice rolling to someone who does not realize they are watching a film. A computer program and a bit of animation could create the appearance of dice rolling randomly even though the program fully determined the outcome and sequence of each roll. The magnetized roulette wheel at Rocko's Casino looks highly random, although it is anything but. Nature may have ways (as yet unknown, although that does not mean that they cannot someday be known) to guide processes down certain directions over others.

    As I said, I personally believe that life in the universe is a lovely combination of necessity and freedom. I can think of several possible means or explanations for how Darwin's system could be right, yet our existence as who we are also something of a foregone conclusion. (That does not mean that any of these means and explanations are, in fact, what is going on. However, each is possible and, I would wager, eventually a mechanism in some way similar will someday be discovered).

    One is that the universe functions like some kind of computer program or natural process that wholly or partially guides evolution in certain directions, or wholly or partially limits potential outcomes.

    Another is something that Buddhists have been teaching so for 2500 years: Namely, that our experience of the world is wholly or partly like a dream or illusion of the mind in which more is possible that we know. In fact, life may be something like a "movie" or "video game" that we are all characters in, although we do not realize so.

    Another possibility is that the universe (or universes in a multiverse, as Buddhists have describe for millenia) is so incredibly vast that truly almost anything is possible. Because almost anything is possible in such a universe, when the particular circumstances and necessary factors come up to create your life then you experience it. For example, imagine that there was a playerpiano that hit every combination of notes randomly without any limitation. Eventually, given sufficient time, the piano would happen to play perfectly Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata" just by hit and miss. In like fashion, one might suppose that when the universe finally got around to your notes by hit and miss, "you" got played. You are like the "Moonlight Sonata", ringing out when your times has finally happened to come. (I actually do not care for this explanation, as it seems to explain better why there might be endless copies of Jundo in this poor universe popping up in various times and places, than why there is this particular Jundo ... the one Jundo this Jundo needs to be Jundo now ... in this particular time and place that I need to be me.)

    Anyway, my point is not that any of the foregoing are going to prove to be true, but merely that there could be many ways in which Evolution would appear to work, yet things are not all quite what they seem. There may be an additional, complementary mechanism at work which we may also someday discover working parallel to Evolution. I very much doubt that it will be much like the traditional image of "Karma", but it may yet exist to explain how our human lives seemingly beat all the odds to be here.

    As the Diamond Sutra reminds us ...

    So you should view this fleeting world --
    A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
    A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
    A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Just for reference, to show that much of this kind of argument fits well with traditional Buddhist views ...


    Nagarjuna (1st-2nd cent. CE), one of the founding “fathers” of Mahayana Buddhism, in his Mahaprajñaparamitopadesa, gives the following explanation for the usefulness of the dream-simile:

    “A) There is no reality in a dream, and yet, while one dreams, one believes in the reality of the things
    one sees in the dream. After one has woken up one recognizes the falseness of the dream and laughs at
    oneself. Just so a man who is plunged into the dreamy state which results from his fettered [egocentric]
    existence, has a belief in things which do not exist. But when he has found the Path, then, at
    the moment of enlightenment, he understands that there is no reality in them and he laughs at himself.
    “B) A dreamer, by the force of his dream, sees a thing where there is nothing. Just so, a man, by the
    force of the dreamy state which results from ignorance, believes in the existence of all sorts of things
    which do not exist, such as “I” and “mine,” male and female, etc..
    C) In a dream one rejoices although
    there is nothing enjoyable, one is angry although there is nothing to annoy, one is frightened although
    there is nothing to frighten. So do the beings with regard to the things of the world.”[7]
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-25-2014 at 04:27 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #62
    The Buddha's emphasis on Karma/Rebirth was itself his attempt at a system (although largely inherited from earlier Indian beliefs prevalent during his age) to explain the happenstance of being born in the circumstances we are. Karma seeks to explain the happenstance of human birth despite the odds (and why things work out the way they do). I do not personally believe in many of the overly literal ancient systems of Karma, but as I have said, feel that certainly something is afoot. The Buddha spoke of the blind turtle ...

    The story behind this reference is found in the parable of the blind turtle, which appears in the [Lotus Sutra and] Āgama Sutra. A blind turtle, whose life span is immeasurable kalpas, lives at the bottom of the sea. Once every one hundred years, it rises to the surface. There is only one log floating in the sea with a suitable hollow in it. Since the turtle is blind and the log is tossed about by the wind and waves, the likelihood of the turtle reaching the log is extremely remote. It is even rarer, says Shakyamuni, to be born a human being; having succeeded in doing so, one should use the opportunity to master the four noble truths and attain deliverance.
    Gassho, A Fellow Winner in Life's Casino
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #63
    Thank you very much for that Jundo. Lots to ponder there. I'm so glad and grateful that we can discuss stuff like this in a fruitful manner!

    Much respect and Gassho
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Aske

  14. #64
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    A very interesting thread.

    Gassho, Kantai

  15. #65
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    One Pearl / One Way: It all begins with an irritant.^^


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  16. #66
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    This thread is great! Again, the use of a tree to help provide a visual (both in sight and mind) to explain how we are one (and show how karma can affect beyond the body finally giving in) sits perfectly in me.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  17. #67
    There are a lot of reasons the Buddha may have propounded a faith in rebirth and karma. I tend to dismiss the ones based on the supposition that he was merely devising a system of morality regardless of truth. I can't think of a single instance (admittedly, my reading of scripture is far from comprehensive) where he knowingly lied. Whatever the truth of rebirth is, I think we can be fairly sure that the Buddha himself had a very firm faith or belief in its veracity. I also have a hard time believing that he simply kept the beliefs of his time because he shows a pattern of discarding practices and views that he felt were demonstrably wrong regardless of how conventionally held to they were at the time.

  18. #68
    Hi there,

    interesting thread - thanks for your comprehensive input Jundo.

    Gassho

    Willow

  19. #69
    Junior Member Rick's Avatar
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    Excellent thread. I don't have any beliefs about what happens when we die. I don't know and don't really think about it all that much. I am trying to focus on my moment to moment experience. That being said, I am not at a very advanced stage in my development in this area. When I am completely honest with myself, I find that I am still at the Woody Allen stage (i.e., I'd prefer to achieve immortality by not dying).

    Gassho,

    Rick
    Last edited by Rick; 06-26-2014 at 04:18 PM.

  20. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by Myosha View Post
    Hello,

    Am blessed in birth/rebirth every moment. A finger-snap takes 65 moments.

    If you'd like to know every moment of a day snap your fingers 98,463,077 times in row.

    There's only 6,400,099,980 moments a day. Can't waste One.^^


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    I have been searching for this a few days ago... where does it come from? Who thought it up and what is it based on? Just out of curiosity... Isn't there just now?

    For the rest, I don't know, and loving it

    Gassho

    Vincent
    For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

  21. #71
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Chapter 26, Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo.

    A Fun Fact! Now.

    Master has an awesome sense of humor.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  22. #72
    I for one tend to live as if rebirth/reincarnation were true, without the belief that they are. Maybe there is nothing after this life, maybe there is. Whatever happens, I believe that our lives/deaths are infinitely more complex, and subtle, than any of us really begin to understand and causation/rebirth/karma are a way for us to begin to comprehend that infinite interdependence. The energy of life has to go somewhere, even if all I do is feed worms with a decaying body, isn't that in some small way a part of life after I die? Personally, I think that there is more to it, but that none of us are capable of understanding it, so I practice my life as if the historic teachings on rebirth are true. It can't hurt me, and it can only make things better. It is a simple faith in the Dharma, that the teachings are true in their essence, even if all of the mechanics are not fully explainable.

    Gassho, Neika
    Neika / Ian Adams

    寧 Nei - Peaceful/Courteous
    火 Ka - Fire

    Look for Buddha outside your own mind, and Buddha becomes the devil. --Dogen

  23. #73
    Hello,

    Did I just see Super Mario 3D world in a Zen forum?

    Now I want to buy a Wii U.

    Gassho,

    Chet

  24. #74
    Hi,

    When I first started exploring Buddhist teachings and practice, some of the first areas I sought to understand were kamma and rebirth.

    As was suggested with all the teachings, I explore them by seeing if they hold up to my experience of reality (I have never held with the idea of blind faith without scrutiny)

    For me the explanation that was taught very clearly is to be found in the Pali Canon (Culakammavibhanga Sutts; III 202-6)

    My understanding from this is that the situation you will reborn into is random, regardless of positive/negative actions in previous lives. However, the 'mind' you bring forward into that life and situation will be moulded by those previous actions.

    At no point do I see reference to being born physically challenged or in bad circumstances as a result of kamma.

    Terms such as being reborn to sickliness or ugliness are clearly defined as:

    '....wherever he is reborn he is sickly. This is the way,student, that leads to sickliness, namely, one is given to injuring beings with the hand,with a clod, with a stick, or with a knife'

    '....wherever he is reborn he is ugly. This is the way, student, that leads to ugliness, namely, one is of angry and irritable character'

    As to holding the whole concept to scrutiny, I have. Without a long discourse explaining all my exploration of this, my own experience shows me that babies are born with character traits (often very different to their parents). Consciousness cannot be bound to a physical form which completely renews over ten years (look at a picture of yourself when you were seven!). Issues such as behaviour found in all sentient beings (migration etc) as yet unexplained satisfactorily by science other than to define it as instinct and consider it a closed matter. Personal experience, for example, I witnessed my baby niece becoming terrified the first time she saw someone unrealing a hose and it 'snaked' around on the grass. It seems she had gained this apparent fear of a snake from somewhere. And much much more..

    In a broader aspect, I find it very interesting to see that Buddhist concepts are being confirmed by discoveries in fields such as quantum physics.

    However, I've done much of this exploration of the 'big' concepts early on in my experience of Buddhism and , satisfied with what I've found, I don't feel the need to keep digging over them. As I learn new things, I just do what was taught and weigh them up against my own experience, then move on and try to concentrate on practice.

    I feel very fortunate in that I've so far been able to continue without carrying doubts over the teachings of the Buddha. I'm not one for posting much but I hope my take may be of some interest

    Gassho,

    Rich

  25. #75
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    The future is a complete fabrication of your mind. What you do right now is most important and precepts make a lot of sense as a guide if you need guidance. I think rebirth and reincarnation is an explanation of something unknowable because we can't stand not knowing.



    Kind regards. /\
    Wonderful, Rich. I liken the future to an imaginary friend or fable.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  26. #76
    There is a saying that goes like this:

    "If I have one leg in the past and one leg in the future then I'm pissing all over myself."

    Gassho, Jishin


    If you got one leg
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

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