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Thread: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

  1. #1

    Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi,

    I wanted to "rebirth" this as its own topic ...

    Quote Originally Posted by robert

    I haven't seen a damn shred of anything in the Soto worldview that addresses this need. Saying that a person can experience wonder in the world is great and all, but what about all the people out there who don't get to that point? If you don't believe in some sort of soul that continues beyond death, it means that you have to accept that a lot of people out there just lead sad lives and die.
    This is the crux of the problem, isn't it? I personally am coming from a materialist/skeptical background and for a long time didn't want to hear anything about "afterlife" or "rebirth". But the more I learn about Buddhism, the more I see how such teachings are essential, for the reasons you describe. Whether we take them literally, devotionally, philosophically or figuratively is not so important. I also see that my resistance is a kind of intellectual bigotry, steeped in unexamined assumptions. There are plenty of reasons to doubt a purely materialist explanation for consciousness, whether or not things work exactly to the specifications laid out in ancient Buddhist sutras. You might find Douglas Hofstader' work interesting -- a rational, science-grounded, 21st century argument for the "soul". The choice, to paraphrase your own words, isn't between a) some ultra-literal, empircally testable, neuroscience-friendly view of these questions or b) nihilism.

    Have you read Thurman's "Infinite Life"? What did you think of it?
    ...

    Gassho, Rob
    In my view, teachings of an "afterlife", or very mechanical view of "rebirth" or "reincarnation" (not the same thing, by the way), are not essential (to use your word) to Buddhist practice. That does not mean that there is no "afterlife" etc. (I'll drop you a postcard from the next life if there is one :wink: ), only that such a process is not essential.

    Let me give an analogy:

    Without resort to an afterlife, we can see through suffering in life via the lens of emptiness: ultimately, there is no one to suffer, no victim or victimizer by suffering. Think of this life as something of a stage play in which the actors on stage think it is all real (and it is, in a sense) but do not realize that they are acting, while some of us see it all from the perspective back stage ... where the cardboard scenery, lights and curtains are shown to be what they are. On stage, there is some comedy and much tragedy, and the play is one of greed, anger, jealously, violence and laughter, but it is all a bit of theatre. The actors do not know that they are acting (Stephanie? Hear me? :wink: ).

    (I do not want to get into, by the way, whether there is a playwright for this fiction ... or whether it is just some 'off-off-off Broadway', experimental "theatre of the absurd" in which we make it up as we go along, and the script is not written. In either case, it is just a story, and a play).

    In emptiness (the "good" kind of emptiness, not the emptiness that is just empty), when the lights come up and the actors come to take their bows, all the "suffering" washes away.

    So, no need for life after life during which, hopefully, the actors will get their "act together".

    Now, that being said (and skeptic though I am on the subject of "reincarnation"), I will tell you that there is absolutely, positively one form of "rebirth" that I can attest to, have seen, see and taste, and can describe to you logically. You may not be able to taste it now, but you can understand it. Some forms of "Kensho" involve seeing a corner of this (I do not think that the human brain can really taste all its infinite aspects).

    To wit:

    If you can see through the hard borders and divisions your brain creates between your separate "self" and all the world that you consider "not my self", then you see that all the blades of grass, mountains, other sentient beings, stars and atoms are just "You" ... as much as the hairs on your head, your bones and teeth, the cells of your skin and neurons of your brain are just "you" too ... each and all while also being its own object. Thus, with each sunrise, spring or fall, baby's birth, you are reborn (and I am not speaking figuratively). Even now, when a baby is born while you are still "alive".

    As much as "you" are still "you", though the hairs on your head and cells of your very marrow come and go. Why are your fingers you? Your whole left hand? The thoughts you are having right now that you consider "I am thinking"? So it is with all that is the world! (You are an actor in that play, and the playing is just you). And I am not speaking only of material objects ... your very mind is just the world, the world is precisely your mind.

    That much I taste of "rebirth", that I know. I hope that, if you keep practicing Rob, you will have a glimpse of that too.

    The Buddha was a man of his times, and they were Hindu times. He borrowed that way of seeing the world that was prevalent in his religion and culture. But he also said, time and time again, that the point of his practice was to see through, and be free from, mechanical rebirth. He also said, time and again, that his "ultimate" teachings were much like I have described above.

    Gassho, The mountains, trees ...

  2. #2

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    My problem with folks that believe in a mechanistic rebirth is that, often when I read their comments in forums, is that they tend to be very selective. Often I'll read that while in meditation, they will "see" their past lives. Of course, they usually talk about past human lives, but never do they say, "Oh, I remember when I was a cricket" or "Yeah. I hated when I was a dung beetle, but...eh...I am back." :mrgreen:

  3. #3

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Gassho, Chugai, Amen and Gassho

  4. #4

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi.

    I know this isn't a "zenbuddhist book", but in the swedish buddhist forum we have a bookclub currently reading Wisdom Energy.
    http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Energy-Lam ... 184&sr=8-3

    In which they state that because of "the twelvefoldchain" we need at least two/three lives we can't complete the "rebirthprocess".

    This is somewhat true, but as stated earlier people tend to "misinterpret" the meaning of it.
    A lot if you liste to some people...

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  5. #5

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi.

    And just a question, where does it mention reincarnation in the sutras?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  6. #6

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    And just a question, where does it mention reincarnation in the sutras?
    It depends what part of the Pali Canon you look at. If you have a look, rebirth is mentioned frequently.

    I can't think of anything specific off the top of my head except the talk with the soldier and actor. Buddha said that they would be reborn in the animal womb if they pursue this field.

    Jundo posted a bunch of references in a thread earlier. Can't remember which one.

    Gassho Will

  7. #7

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi again,

    I've noticed that discussions of karmic rebirth tend to harden into a familiar pattern: yes, no, partial yes, partial no. It could be a little unproductive because people aren't going to deviate much from the basic set of lenses they use to view the cosmos, and the discussion thus ends up being a exhausting battle among sensitivities and worldviews.

    Maybe another approach would be to ask: what is the function of rebirth teaching within Buddhism. What does it do, what does it provide practitioners? And what if anything is lost if it's dropped or reinterpreted?

    Also on a more practical level, what percentage of Buddhists see it as important? For example, in Japan?

    Best regards,
    Rob

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    If you can see through the hard borders and divisions your brain creates between your separate "self" and all the world that you consider "not my self", then you see that all the blades of grass, mountains, other sentient beings, stars and atoms are just "You" ... as much as the hairs on your head, your bones and teeth, the cells of your skin and neurons of your brain are just "you" too ... each and all while also being its own object. Thus, with each sunrise, spring or fall, baby's birth, you are reborn (and I am not speaking figuratively). Even now, when a baby is born while you are still "alive".

    As much as "you" are still "you", though the hairs on your head and cells of your very marrow come and go. Why are your fingers you? Your whole left hand? The thoughts you are having right now that you consider "I am thinking"? So it is with all that is the world! (You are an actor in that play, and the playing is just you). And I am not speaking only of material objects ... your very mind is just the world, the world is precisely your mind.

    That much I taste of "rebirth", that I know. I hope that, if you keep practicing Rob, you will have a glimpse of that too.
    Thank you, this is useful. I'm reading Thich Nhat Hanh's "No Death, No Fear" right now, and his overall take seems to be along those lines.

    Gassho,
    Rob

  8. #8

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi.

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    I can't think of anything specific off the top of my head except the talk with the soldier and actor. Buddha said that they would be reborn in the animal womb if they pursue this field.
    Reference?

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Jundo posted a bunch of references in a thread earlier. Can't remember which one.
    Ehrm... does anyone?

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  9. #9

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi all,

    Here is Jundo's post from awhile back -- he gives examples and links. Gassho, Rob

    Gautama Buddha, at least through the Suttas attributed to him, could be quite specific about the effects of our Karma (volitional actions) "after death, upon dissolution of the body". Some have tried to explain this away as just his teaching method employing expedient means, as a teaching tool (for speaking to students coming from a Hindu background). Others have tried to take it as pure metaphor for the states we encounter (my words) "at each moment, here and now and through all time, a constant process of birth and death". Some have said the Buddha did not really say such things (these Sutta were first written down many generations after Buddha died in this life ... and were preserved as an oral tradition until then).

    But it is quite likely that, as a man living amid a Hindu world view some 2500 years ago, he said what he meant ... and meant what he said ... (References like the following appear many places in the old Sutta):

    "So, householders, it is by reason of conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, by reason of righteous conduct, that some beings here, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world.

    15. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of the warrior-nobles of great property!' it is possible that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he may do so. Why is that? Because he observes conduct that is in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.

    16. "If a householder who observes conduct is accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of the brahmans of great property!' it is possible...

    17. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma,...'... I might reappear in the company of householders of great property!' it is possible...

    18. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of the gods of the Four Kings!' it is possible that on the dissolution of the body, after death, he may do so. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.

    19. ...of the gods of the Realm of the Thirty-three...3
    20. ...of the gods that have Gone to Bliss...
    21. ...of the Contented gods...
    22. ...of the gods that Delight in Creating...
    23. ...of the gods that Wield Power over others' Creations...
    24. ...of the gods of Brahma's Retinue...
    25. ...of the Radiant gods...
    26. ...of the gods of Limited Radiance...
    27. ...of the gods of Measureless Radiance...
    28. ...of the gods of Streaming Radiance...
    29. ...of the Glorious gods...
    30. ...of the gods of Limited Glory...
    31. ...of the gods of Measureless Glory...
    32. ...of the gods of Refulgent Glory...
    33. ...of the Very Fruitful gods...
    34. ...of the gods Bathed in their own Prosperity...
    35. ...of the Untormenting gods...
    36. ...of the Fair-to-see gods...
    37. ...of the Fair-seeing gods...
    38. ...of the gods who are Junior to None...
    39. ...of the gods of the base consisting of the infinity of space...
    40. ...of the gods of the base consisting of the infinity of consciousness...
    41. ...of the gods of the base consisting of nothingness...

    42. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of the gods of the base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception!' it is possible that, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he may do so. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.

    43. "If a householder who observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct, should wish: 'Oh, that by realization myself with direct knowledge, I may here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of the heart and the deliverance by wisdom that are taint-free with exhaustion of taints!' it is possible that, by realization himself with direct knowledge, he may here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of the heart and the deliverance by wisdom that are taint-free with exhaustion of taints. Why is that? Because he observes conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html


    But, as I have said many times, it is not a big deal to me. I don't demand that the Buddha be correct on every darn thing out of his mouth. Jesus! (Another character, by the way, that folks demand perfection of in every utterance, and then interpret countless different ways). Even Buddha does not need to be right all the time ... just most of the time ...

    And he might be right. He might be accurately reporting something he saw that really was real. I will try to let you know if reborn in hell, as a snake or (worse) a lawyer (my former life in this life) ...

    "Now, for one of wrong view, Lohicca, I tell you, there is one of two destinations: either hell or the animal womb.
    http://www.http://www.accesstoinsight.o ... .than.html

  10. #10

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Sometimes, for me, it is just nice to know that regardless of whether or not I have a soul, or even something that can rebirth, from a scientific vantage, my atoms will continue on. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, whatever I am now will be something else in the future. Maybe a frog? Frog turd? :lol:

    When I can't believe anything else, at least I know that I will be a good ecologist and be recycled in death.

    I always hope there is more. :idea:

    Peace,
    Sunshine

  11. #11

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunshine
    Sometimes, for me, it is just nice to know that regardless of whether or not I have a soul, or even something that can rebirth, from a scientific vantage, my atoms will continue on. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, whatever I am now will be something else in the future. Maybe a frog? Frog turd? :lol:

    When I can't believe anything else, at least I know that I will be a good ecologist and be recycled in death.

    I always hope there is more. :idea:

    Peace,
    Sunshine
    Hi.

    there's always hope...

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  12. #12

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunshine
    Sometimes, for me, it is just nice to know that regardless of whether or not I have a soul, or even something that can rebirth, from a scientific vantage, my atoms will continue on. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, whatever I am now will be something else in the future. Maybe a frog? Frog turd? :lol:

    When I can't believe anything else, at least I know that I will be a good ecologist and be recycled in death.

    I always hope there is more. :idea:

    Peace,
    Sunshine
    I can see other elements of the self being recycled too. Ideas, perceptions, sensations, consciousness... we pass these things along to each other all the time. If I dump my anger on someone, isn't something reborn? We could be good ecologists in no end of ways.

    Hard to identify much in anyone's consciousness that originates separately from others.

    I don't know either what does or doesn't happen as the wheel of existence turns. But compassion extended through action should arrive somewhere. Hope so at least!

    See ya in the frog pond/compost heap/next life/Buddha world/wherever


    Metta,
    Rob

  13. #13

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Rob, I agree.
    can see other elements of the self being recycled too. Ideas, perceptions, sensations, consciousness... we pass these things along to each other all the time. If I dump my anger on someone, isn't something reborn? We could be good ecologists in no end of ways.

    Hard to identify much in anyone's consciousness that originates separately from others.

    I don't know either what does or doesn't happen as the wheel of existence turns. But compassion extended through action should arrive somewhere. Hope so at least!

    See ya in the frog pond/compost heap/next life/Buddha world/wherever
    If I open a door for someone (a nice act), that may help make their day better and more likely to open the next door for someone else. Anger, too, will probably perpetuated. But, I've always wondered and hoped, although don't believe, that I will come back (whether rebirth, reincarnated, whatever). And yet, it seems useless or pointless to worry about something I cannot prove nor change. Whatever life I live now, whether I come back in some way or not, is what I have "now". Since "now" is the endless instant, I should live in that now for my sanity and not worry about what happens. If I live my life fully and well, I will become a better person for now and for the future. Of course, this is easy for me to say, and extremely difficult for me to do.

    In the end, all I can say is . . . Ribbit

    Sunshine

  14. #14

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    We love big daddies, big teachers gurus or super heroes. We treasure they promises, prophecies. We would like to believe in a better life, a better world for a transformed and better self. Hope. Don t we get all caught sometimes in its dazzling web? We often go from hope to despair and distress. The anger kicks in then. Well, you know really well how it works, don t you?

    Why? If I may say, hope is as poisonous as fear. It is insane. It just takes us away from the taste as-it-is of each moment. As Jundo said, we don t mind about after life after death, we mind about life before death, life and death seen as one, now.
    Life and death vanishing into this, just this.Dogen wrote a very beautiful chapter of Shobogenzo about it, Shoji, life and death and he says that there is a simple way to become a buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no designing thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Do not seek anything else. or Life-and-death is Buddha s life, which means that there is no need to seek anything else that what you are now. Shikantaza is the practice that gives up any hope, goal, Buddha-land, disney-land etc. In doing so, in being so, one just comes back home, instantly. Maybe there is a life after death. Just don t wait for it. We ll see in due time.

    Now, can we also look at the way we kill our life, we slaughter people s joy, we bring death into this. The precept ' do not kill also means refrain from killing suchness.

    Life after death? Just another toy. Like heaven or hell. Something we choose to play with. Something we are the only one to be able to drop.

    Gassho

    Taigu

  15. #15

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunshine
    But, I've always wondered and hoped, although don't believe, that I will come back (whether rebirth, reincarnated, whatever).
    It is worth mentioning that historically, the founder of this enterprise, Guatama Buddha, saw "coming back/rebirth" as a bad thing, this world to be escaped ... and the whole point of his teachings was to be free from the "cycle of rebirth". For example ...

    "(In Nibbana) where neither the element of cohesion, nor the element of extension, nor the element of heat, nor the element of motion has any footing, there the cycle of rebirth is halted; there the round of dukkha stops; there mental and physical phenomena cease without any remainder. (Sara Sutta)
    Or, at least, that is how his message came to be interpreted ...

    In the later Mahayana, and especially in the Zen teachings, "freedom from rebirth" came to be tasted as something which can occur even right amid birth and death ... nirvana (nibbana) is samsara, samsara precisely nirvana. When viewed in this way, "birth and death" are originally free of "birth and death" ... and birth is birthless death, death just deathless birth.

    Personally, I could use another go around ... although I will first focus on this "go 'round" right before me, here and now. And if there is no other go around, I will still focus on this "go around" right before me, here and now. As Taigu reminded us, "there is no need to seek anything else than what you are now."

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- And (not to put in requests or demands on the universe, as if asking for an aisle seat on a long flight) it would not be a bad thing if, on any future go 'round, I could taste there too that nirvana (nibbana) is samsara, samsara precisely nirvana ... and, anyway, What samsara? ... and all the other truths of the Buddha's teachings. It just makes for such a nicer way to spend samsara. All we can do is hope for the best. :wink:

  16. #16

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    A skeptic walks up to a Zen master and asks: “Is there life after death?”
    “How should I know?” the master replied.
    “But you’re a Zen master!”
    “Yes,” the Zen master says, “but not a dead one.”

    ZEN MONDO

  17. #17

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hello Folks,


    please excuse my ignorance, just in case someone already posted this link before:


    http://www.tricycle.com/feature/3857-1.html?page=0%2C0

    Stephen Batchelor and Robert Thurman have a friendly yet nevertheless challenging discussion regarding reincarnation and related topics. Since this is one of the topics that gives beginners and old time fools a headache alike, I though I should share this discussion with you. I personally have no issues with the whole notion of literal vs. metaphorical reincarnation (though I do have a whole waggonload full of useless opinions!) but since I enjoyed reading it I thought you might enjoy it too.

    Gassho,

    Mongen

  18. #18
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    I am confused.
    If there is no self, then who exactly is reborn/reincarnated/etc.?
    Someone somewhere most certainly has asked this question in relation to this discussion, right? So what is the answer?
    I guess it's a koan. I mean, doesn't the no-self concept cancel out the rebirth concept? And doesn't that just leave the experience of this life lived fully here and now action minus the confusing and contradictory concepts?
    Or am I missing something here? If so, please enlighten me.
    But in the mean time, while this may be a nice toy to play with, I got water to chop and wood to fetch.

  19. #19

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    I am confused.
    If there is no self, then who exactly is reborn/reincarnated/etc.?
    Someone somewhere most certainly has asked this question in relation to this discussion, right? So what is the answer?
    I guess it's a koan. I mean, doesn't the no-self concept cancel out the rebirth concept? And doesn't that just leave the experience of this life lived fully here and now action minus the confusing and contradictory concepts?
    Or am I missing something here? If so, please enlighten me.
    But in the mean time, while this may be a nice toy to play with, I got water to chop and wood to fetch.
    Hi Alan,

    The question of "rebirth" is reborn from time to time in our forum.

    Before tackling your main question, allow me to point folks back to this other thread which tackled the subject more generally ...

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI
    viewtopic.php?p=17953#p17953

    My basic position was summarized there as follows ...

    Ideas of Karmic Rebirth have been just as present throughout the history of Ch'an/Zen Buddhism as well. It varied from teacher to teacher, but there is no reason to believe that Zen Buddhists of old believed less in Karmic Rebirth than other Buddhists. HOWEVER, the emphasis in Zen Buddhism on "living in this life, in the present moment" quickly began to make the question less important to Zen Practitioners. Be a good human being here and now, seek to do no harm now in this life ... and what happens after this life will take care of itself.

    Based thereon, many modern teachers (me included ... and may I burn in a hot Buddhist hell if wrong) do not find the question so important or central to Buddhist Practice.

    Now, don't get me wrong: I believe that our actions have effects, and I believe that we create "heavens" and "hells". I see people create "hells" within themselves all the time, and for those around them, by their acts of greed, anger and ignorance. .I see people who live in this world as "Hungry Ghosts", never satisfied. I also believe that we are reborn moment by moment by moment, so in that way ... we are constantly reborn, always changing (the "Jundo" who began writing this essay is not the same "Jundo" who will finish it). Futhermore, I believe that our actions will continue to have effects in this world long after this body is in its grave ... like ripples in a stream that will continue on endlessly.

    But what about those future lives, heavens and hells? Will I be reborn as an Asura or a cocker spaniel?

    My attitude, and that of many other Buddhist teachers, is that ...

    If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.
    Now, on to your question of "rebirth" vs. "reincarnation" ...

    I have recently come across a few opinions by commentators that the real difference is semantic. Buddhist thinkers were interested in keeping the traditional Indian system of Karmic effects into future lives while somehow rectifying that with the Buddha's doctrine of "no self".

    The reason that this is said to be a system of "rebirth", and not "reincarnation", is based primarily on the very fine distinction that the Buddha denied an eternal "self" or "soul" that would pass on from life to life. Buddhist philosophers have struggled for generations, often bending over backwards, thus to explain how there can be a "you" which is reborn when there is no "you" ...

    Here are a couple of modern attempts, one from the London Buddhist Vihara ...

    The non-existence of a permanent soul or spirit that reincarnates from one life to another is fundamental to the Buddha’s teachings. A permanent soul cannot exist in the ever-changing, interdependent process of mind and matter which constitutes a living being. However, the momentum of accumulated kamma results in a new existence. The individual so born is neither the same nor different from the previous being. Buddhism, therefore, describes this process as ‘rebecoming’ or ‘rebirth’ in preference to reincarnation which implies a resurrection of the same entity. It is the force of one’s accumulated kamma which drives life onward from one existence to another. Only an enlightened being (arahant) creates no more kamma.
    http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/qa/qa_kamma.htm


    The modern Theravada scholar Walpola Rahulan, in his book What the Buddha Taught (1959), asked,

    "If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can't we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body?

    "When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some other shape or form, which we call another life. ... Physical and mental energies which constitute the so-called being have within themselves the power to take a new form, and grow gradually and gather force to the full."
    Paul Williams has this explanation of the "rebirth" mechanism in a book I mentioned yesterday, "Buddhist Thought" Please read from the middle of page 69 (where it says "The Buddha did not hold that ... ") through page 70 here ... Notice how he also comments that later Buddhists added various elaborations to the system, filling in all manner of details. However, the basic process is as follows:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=IDgZXl ... t&resnum=1

    I hope that helps. Now, back to wood chopping and water fetching.

    Gassho, Jundo

  20. #20
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Thanks Jundo. I get confused by this topic every time it comes up, so I finally decided to finally ask the questions that bug me about it. I need to reread all that bent over backwards logic in a bent over backwards position for it to make more sense. I will tackle it again, but my first impression is that there is a strong attachment to a concept here. Would Buddhism fall down if we dropped it? I think not, but who am I? and who cares what this non-I thinks? Apparently this dropping, or de-emphasis on it, is happening somewhat, but there are thousands of years of inertia behind that concept. Karma? I dunno. I'm curious at the same time unattached to the idea, seeing no reason for all that attachment.

    Fetching and carrying...

  21. #21
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Yet to tackle the Paul Williams piece again, but in the meantime how's this?

    Since we are all One (beyond one), then every time a baby is born I am (everyone is) also reborn. My/everyone's karma affects that/my/everyone's rebirth, and so on...

    This can't be that simple. Can it?

  22. #22

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Yet to tackle the Paul Williams piece again, but in the meantime how's this?

    Since we are all One (beyond one), then every time a baby is born I am (everyone is) also reborn. My/everyone's karma affects that/my/everyone's rebirth, and so on...

    This can't be that simple. Can it?
    Hi Alan,

    Well, lets keep in mind that we are just talking about ideas now.

    And, yes, by one view of Reality (remember, in our Zen perspectives, we always view many many simultaneously true perspectives on Reality, each true in its way ... some seemingly contradictory) every time a baby, or a blade of grass, a single ant or whole ant hill, or a distant star or entire galaxy is born ... in the future, past or right this instant ... you are/were/will be born and reborn.

    And your every volitional action sweeps out and has effects on all ... like ripples on a stream moving outward in many directions ...

    I like sometimes this image of who we really are (even though we cannot usually experience this apart from Zazen) ... and how what happens to one finger really has effect on all, one hand ... our Zen practice helps us to realize this too ...



    However, the traditional image of Karma and rebirth in Buddhism is a rather different (simultaneously true) perspective ... as Paul Williams describes it in the books pages I mentioned, for example ... and is more like separate streams of tumbling dominoes .... all connected, yet each separate and heading in different lines ... thus, there is no "self", just each our own particular line of cause/effect ...





    So, for example, AlanLa Age 6 is not the same AlanLa as AlanLa age 50 ... just the cause/effect sequence of momentary tumbling dominoes (which, in ignorance, causes AlanLa to actually think there is as "AlanLa") ... and the same for when AlanLa becomes JudyLa in the next life ... In this image, there is no "soul" or "self" that travels on ... just Alan's line of tumbling cause/effect which is separate from, for example, Jundo's tumbling line of cause/effect.

    (hey, don't blame me for this idea ... I am just explaining the traditional model 8) )

    And to make it even more complicated, it has been argued (by people who argue such things) that thus AlanLa might have several simultaneously incarnate rebirths from a single line of tumbling dominoes .... in other words, you will not necessarily be 'reborn' as just one person at one time ...

    And what do I have to say about all this ...

    I will let the dominoes fall where they may, try to lead a harmless and healthful life right this moment ... for myself and others (not two).

    As Taegu said so well on another Forum thread tumbling along this week parallel to this one ...

    At the same time just washing our bowl, or doing the dishes, is a complete and perfect expression of this understanding. Or...maybe neither nor :lol:

    viewtopic.php?p=25117#p25117

    Gassho, J

  23. #23
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    The bottom line is...

    Correct actions in each moment are also the correct actions for mitigating rebirth in the best possible way. That is to say, these purposes are in line. One could also argue that only by being intimately involved with this moment and it's 'correct action' can karmically advantageous action even be possible.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  24. #24
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    My Sunday school teachers did not like when I asked these kind of questions, so I really appreciate how they are tolerated and even welcomed here. Having them answered is a big plus, too. Also on that note, I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into these answers, Jundo.

    OK, so going with the rebirth idea as presented here, this means that Buddha is constantly being reborn all around us, right? Yet I also hear that Buddha was able to cease the rebirth process. Which is it? Or is this one of those holding two apparently opposed ideas at the same time? Or is it more like what you wrote here:
    In the later Mahayana, and especially in the Zen teachings, "freedom from rebirth" came to be tasted as something which can occur even right amid birth and death ... nirvana (nibbana) is samsara, samsara precisely nirvana. When viewed in this way, "birth and death" are originally free of "birth and death" ... and birth is birthless death, death just deathless birth.
    I think I have more, but my head hurts.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Alan

    You articulated many of my questions / doubts / confusions on this subject perfectly, thank you.

    If there's no soul nor even an unchanging essence of me, if what I experience as "me" is the coming together of these causes of these sensations at this moment in time, how can "I" be reborn? How can this moment be reborn, save in the sense that every moment is a rebirth of a new moment, each made from the causes and effects of the last one, intimately linked to it but different?

    Ouch. My head hurts too when I stray into this territory.

    Gassho

    Martin

  26. #26
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin
    Alan

    You articulated many of my questions / doubts / confusions on this subject perfectly, thank you.

    If there's no soul nor even an unchanging essence of me, if what I experience as "me" is the coming together of these causes of these sensations at this moment in time, how can "I" be reborn? How can this moment be reborn, save in the sense that every moment is a rebirth of a new moment, each made from the causes and effects of the last one, intimately linked to it but different?

    Ouch. My head hurts too when I stray into this territory.

    Gassho

    Martin
    It's easy to say 'there is no "me"' - but then, on a very fundamental level, we don't really believe that. It's why logical materialist types look askance at you when you start out with 'no self' if they have no meditative experience. On one level, there very much seems to be a self - and let's not forget that this appearance of self is very useful. In and of itself, it is not a mistake. There's a reason that it's become a universal human condition to believe in this self. The problem is that this appearance of self is not the whole story - not by a long shot. It's not even the fundamental, most true story.

    There's a quote or story I read somewhere..a Zen student had asked his teacher this question, "If there is no 'I', what is reborn?" The teacher answered, 'Your delusion'. There's a sort of shocking bluntness to this answer, as cutting through delusion is the 'solution' to both suffering and rebirth. No delusion, no self, no rebirth.

    The self is just a story, and it is we who perpetuate that story.

    Chet

  27. #27

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Martin
    Alan

    You articulated many of my questions / doubts / confusions on this subject perfectly, thank you.

    If there's no soul nor even an unchanging essence of me, if what I experience as "me" is the coming together of these causes of these sensations at this moment in time, how can "I" be reborn? How can this moment be reborn, save in the sense that every moment is a rebirth of a new moment, each made from the causes and effects of the last one, intimately linked to it but different?

    Ouch. My head hurts too when I stray into this territory.

    Gassho

    Martin
    It's easy to say 'there is no "me"' - but then, on a very fundamental level, we don't really believe that. It's why logical materialist types look askance at you when you start out with 'no self' if they have no meditative experience.
    Just a quick reminder that, although there is "no self" and you are a self-illusion ... that does not mean that there is no "self" (yes, both true at once). Self may be a fiction from one perspective, but it is a real fiction or "provisional truth" (who else is reading this?). Even as the Buddha rejected the self, he still got up each day to fill his begging bowl with food.

    One thing that the Mahayana came to emphasize, especially though perspectives such as by Master Dogen, is that your "self" may be a fiction, and quite the trouble maker (and we must see through it, and catch that trouble maker's mischief) ... but all "selfs" are also jewels, each perfectly what they are ... perfectly imperfect jewels.

    Do you see?

    So, yes, we are dreams ... but they are our miraculous dreams of life ...

    Something like that (written quickly, as this "fiction of a self" must catch a fictional train)

    Gassho, Jundo

  28. #28

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hello all,

    As a Catholic pastor, I struggle with the Buddhist concept of rebirth from time to time to time.

    I've just finished reading Dosho Port's book Keep Me In Your Heart a While: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri. In a chapter on Karma and Rebirth, he began with this exchange between Katagiri Roshi and a student:

    A student said, "Roshi, I've been thinking about rebirth for a long time and finally I've decided that I don't believe in it." Katagiri Roshi responded gently: "That's okay. Maybe next life you will."
    Dosho Port ends his reflection of the subject by quoting the Wild Fox koan and then writes:

    The Wild Fox koan is a call of the wild, beckoning us to broaden the limits of our capacity to allow for open-ended possibilities. When we grope for a fixed idea about any of the above questions, or about the precise effects of our own past karma, we meet manifold double-binds and are caught in sleeplessness, madness, and vexation brought on by conjecture about what is not to be conjectured about by one who is not interested in chasing his or her tail.

    The koan leaves no other way through than to relax into the periphery along the hedge row where the scent of the wild fox, the scent of the subtle meaning of karma and rebirth, diffuses harmoniously with this very birth and death.
    I think whether Christian or Buddhist, we all struggle to find out (or not find out) where this present life leads.

    Bowing...

    Fr. James.

  29. #29

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi Fr. James,

    Quote Originally Posted by frjames
    I think whether Christian or Buddhist, we all struggle to find out (or not find out) where this present life leads.
    I think all we can know with some degree of certainty is that each moment comes and goes. This present life unfolds in this present life.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  30. #30

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Bansho
    Hi Fr. James,

    Quote Originally Posted by frjames
    I think whether Christian or Buddhist, we all struggle to find out (or not find out) where this present life leads.
    I think all we can know with some degree of certainty is that each moment comes and goes. This present life unfolds in this present life.

    Gassho
    Bansho
    Yes, I like to think that ... if I act as a gentle person here and now, acting with kindness and avoiding harm ... it will do me well, and place me in good stead, to lead to a suitable "rebirth" (should there be such) or serve as a ticket to "Heaven" (should there be such).

    And even should there be no Rebirth, Heaven or such, it is a gentle and rich way to live this life, in this world, here and now.

    I like to think that, should there be a Heaven, and should Amida Buddha, King Yama, Brahma, St. Peter, Jehovah, Allah or who/whatever be running the show and standing at the Gates ... well, they will cut me some slack, let me pass through the door, for doing the (reasonably, let's face it) best that I knew to do. I meant no offense by not believing in each/all of you enough.

    And if I am wrong about that, well, I just did about the (reasonably, let's face it) best I could do. :-) I will try to do better too.

    Gassho, J

  31. #31

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Bansho wrote:
    I think all we can know with some degree of certainty is that each moment comes and goes. This present life unfolds in this present life.
    Jundo wrote:
    And even should there be no Rebirth, Heaven or such, it is a gentle and rich way to live this life, in this world, here and now.
    And therein lies the beauty of Zen practice: to be at this present life as it unfolds...gently and richly...here and now.

    When we sit, we bring with us the whole universe and I am one with you, you with me.

    As we sit then?

    Fr. James

  32. #32

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi,

    Here's an article from a non-Zen perspective that some might have seen;
    Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_46.html

    I found that the "stream of consciousness" idea made sense (to me) in terms of how things happen. Material things come from somewhere and go somewhere. Consciousness comes from somewhere and goes somewhere.

    JohnH

    PS: The material side was wonderfully described a while ago by Chugai:
    (http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewto...p=20852#p20852).

  33. #33

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by frjames
    And therein lies the beauty of Zen practice: to be at this present life as it unfolds...gently and richly...here and now.

    When we sit, we bring with us the whole universe and I am one with you, you with me.

    As we sit then?

    Fr. James
    Lovely, thanks very much. Yes, lets sit.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  34. #34

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Here's an article from a non-Zen perspective that some might have seen;
    Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_46.html

    I found that the "stream of consciousness" idea made sense (to me) in terms of how things happen. Material things come from somewhere and go somewhere. Consciousness comes from somewhere and goes somewhere.
    Interesting article. It's worth noting, however, that the whole "stream of consciousness" concept is not only a 'non-Zen perspective', but also non-Madhyamika, non-Yogacara, non-Mahayana, and - curiously enough, given the fact that Bikkhu Bodhi is a Theravadin monk - also a non-Theravadin perspective. To my knowledge, the first references to the concept in a Buddhist context were in the 7th/8th centrury C.E. in Tibet, i.e. it's a Vajrayana concept.

    Here's my translation of a statement from a highly regarded fellow Soto practitioner (Sogen) here in Germany on this subject:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sogen
    'Reincarnation' - more specifically, the tendency towards an infinitely repeated incarnation of an individual(!) mental continuum or 'stream of consciousness' is not a general Buddhist teaching, as opposed to anatta/anatman. Personally, due to this ... irreconcilable contradiction, I would even go further and describe it as a non-Buddhist teaching which is taught by some Buddhists.

    This [stream of consciousness] teaching is rather a Tibetan specialty which originated in northern India; it's earliest roots can be found ... in the Pramanavarttika of Dharmakirti (7th century C.E.) as well as in the Anuttara Yoga Tantra (whose origins are not prior to the 8th century C.E.). The Kagyupa (one of the four Tibetan Buddhist schools) like to refer to the Uttaratantra Shastra as well, which the future Buddha Maitreya is said to have personally dictated to Asanga. This is, of course, a blatant anachronism, when one compares it with the other texts of Asanga (born approx. 300 C.E.), the founder of the Yogacara school. This text was 'discovered' by Maitripa in the 11th century C.E.

    The 'stream of consciousness' theory was therefore developed more than one thousand years after Buddha Shakyamuni and a half-millenium after Nagarjuna (the most prominent teacher of the Mahayana) - quite obviously as a result of strong Hindu influence. It was hardly accepted in the Buddism of the Far East (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam) nor in the Theravada Buddhism of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, [Laos], Cambodia). The concept of 'rebirth' found there is, as it is in the West, almost completely of a folkloristic nature, i.e. a part of the popular religion, not Buddhist doctrine. Apart from it's Hindu influence, to a large degree it can be traced back to pre-Buddhist ancestor worship.

    http://www.dharma.de/dbu/forum/index.ph ... 6899#71447
    Just to be clear: references to 'rebirth' do indeed appear throughout the canonical texts, but not are not to be construed as an individual 'stream of consciousness' or any other such fixed, unchangeable entity (i.e. atman) which is propagated through successive incarnations. According to those canonical texts, it is not some individual 'self' which is propagated, but rather the results of karma.

    Fortunately, there's no need to speculate on all this in order to be able to uphold our Practice here and now. If this is the only life I have, I can't think of a better way to spend it than to put the Buddhadharma to practice. And if there should be something else beyond it - whatever that may be - I'll put the Buddhadharma to practice then as well, should "I" have any say in the matter.

    My apologies if I've bombarded you with more information than you cared to hear.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  35. #35

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Hi,

    Here's an article from a non-Zen perspective that some might have seen;
    Does Rebirth Make Sense? by Bhikkhu Bodhi
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...-essay_46.html
    Hi,

    In my view ... such a system of rebirth (like the Judeo-Christian vision of Heaven and Hell) may exist ... or it may not (my own beliefs and suspicions about their literal existence ... or lack thereof ... aside). In any case, it need not. Further, I tend to think that an overly mechanical explication of its workings, such as contained in the cited article, is primarily a product of human supposition and imagination. Even if the Buddha believed it, that does not make it so.

    The teaching of rebirth ... is so closely bound to a host of other doctrines that to remove it would virtually reduce the Dhamma to tatters.
    ... This is simply not the case. Other doctrines can stand quite on their own without the imposition of such a system.

    It need not be central to Buddhist practice.

    Gassho, J

  36. #36

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    gassho

    The world, and the minds with which we are equipped to perceive the world, are not structured in such a way that we can know what becomes of us at death. Therefore it seems simplest to be content with not knowing.

    gassho
    tobiishi

  37. #37

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Jundo wrote:
    such a system of rebirth (like the Judeo-Christian vision of Heaven and Hell)
    I personally think we eventually end up in the heavenly realm and hell is nearly empty.

    Fr. James

  38. #38
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    We love big daddies, big teachers gurus or super heroes. We treasure they promises, prophecies. We would like to believe in a better life, a better world for a transformed and better self. Hope. Don t we get all caught sometimes in its dazzling web? We often go from hope to despair and distress. The anger kicks in then. Well, you know really well how it works, don t you?

    Why? If I may say, hope is as poisonous as fear. It is insane. It just takes us away from the taste as-it-is of each moment. As Jundo said, we don t mind about after life after death, we mind about life before death, life and death seen as one, now.
    Thank you for posting this. Whenever I try to explain Buddhism to people who are not Buddhist, they inevitably tell me that it seems like a very hopeless religion (no permanent heaven, no soul, etc) - and then we get into 'hope as a problem'....they just lose all ability to relate. "How can you live with no hope for the future?", they ask.

    Gassho.

    Chet

  39. #39

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Thank you for posting this. Whenever I try to explain Buddhism to people who are not Buddhist, they inevitably tell me that it seems like a very hopeless religion (no permanent heaven, no soul, etc) - and then we get into 'hope as a problem'....they just lose all ability to relate. "How can you live with no hope for the future?", they ask.

    Gassho.

    Chet
    ...because I have This Moment. and This Moment is all there is. Right here, Right now.

    This does not mean that past moments did not happen, and the effect of all past moments is right here, right now. Even so, there is still only This Moment. But to know what is this This Moment is the big question.

    thank you for your time,
    gassho
    Jinho

  40. #40

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Taigu

    Hope.
    Yes. We can do away with hope. What's the use? However, there is sadness, confusion, and regret in the world; this we know.

    I'm sure we can see the good in someone, no matter how dire they may be. That is not hope, but life.

    Gassho

  41. #41
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Thank you for posting this. Whenever I try to explain Buddhism to people who are not Buddhist, they inevitably tell me that it seems like a very hopeless religion (no permanent heaven, no soul, etc) - and then we get into 'hope as a problem'....they just lose all ability to relate. "How can you live with no hope for the future?", they ask.

    Gassho.

    Chet
    ...because I have This Moment. and This Moment is all there is. Right here, Right now.

    This does not mean that past moments did not happen, and the effect of all past moments is right here, right now. Even so, there is still only This Moment. But to know what is this This Moment is the big question.

    thank you for your time,
    gassho
    Jinho
    I understand the answer - I simply cannot get others to understand it.

    Not that I have to...

    Yes, even the past is just a (faulty) recording taking place in THIS moment.

    Chet

  42. #42

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Great Bob Hope story in the news in 2003:

    Daughter Linda Hope said Monday that her father, who died Sunday at age 100, was recently asked by wife Dolores where he wanted to be buried and the wisecracking entertainer responded, "Surprise me."

    Like most everything in life, our expectations are rarely accurate. Death, too, will be a surprise.

    Peace,
    Bill

  43. #43

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    In my view ... such a system of rebirth (like the Judeo-Christian vision of Heaven and Hell) may exist ... or it may not (my own beliefs and suspicions about their literal existence ... or lack thereof ... aside). In any case, it need not. Further, I tend to think that an overly mechanical explication of its workings, such as contained in the cited article, is primarily a product of human supposition and imagination. Even if the Buddha believed it, that does not make it so.
    ...
    Other doctrines can stand quite on their own without the imposition of such a system.

    It need not be central to Buddhist practice.

    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for your reply. I realise that you do not believe in literal rebirth (and also, I suppose, the idea of individual karma, since my understanding is that both are closely related).

    In terms of the Zen lineage, do you know when those original literal beliefs were dropped or modified? (Not sure if 'dropped or modified' are the correct terms - what I mean is when less emphasis was placed on those beliefs). Was it at/before Dogen's time? Or is it recent?

    Thanks too to Bansho for your response, I do care to know more about the history of these ideas.

    (If BTW, I seem to be questioning the generally-accepted Treeleaf view, I hope that readers will understand that the comments or questions are never meant as a challenge, I'm just trying to explore and understand the ideas... as well as sitting...)

    gassho,

    JohnH :?

  44. #44
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    In my view ... such a system of rebirth (like the Judeo-Christian vision of Heaven and Hell) may exist ... or it may not (my own beliefs and suspicions about their literal existence ... or lack thereof ... aside). In any case, it need not. Further, I tend to think that an overly mechanical explication of its workings, such as contained in the cited article, is primarily a product of human supposition and imagination. Even if the Buddha believed it, that does not make it so.
    ...
    Other doctrines can stand quite on their own without the imposition of such a system.

    It need not be central to Buddhist practice.

    Gassho, J
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for your reply. I realise that you do not believe in literal rebirth (and also, I suppose, the idea of individual karma, since my understanding is that both are closely related).

    In terms of the Zen lineage, do you know when those original literal beliefs were dropped or modified? (Not sure if 'dropped or modified' are the correct terms - what I mean is when less emphasis was placed on those beliefs). Was it at/before Dogen's time? Or is it recent?

    Thanks too to Bansho for your response, I do care to know more about the history of these ideas.

    (If BTW, I seem to be questioning the generally-accepted Treeleaf view, I hope that readers will understand that the comments or questions are never meant as a challenge, I'm just trying to explore and understand the ideas... as well as sitting...)

    gassho,

    JohnH :?
    What would be wrong with a challenge?

    Chet

  45. #45

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    jrh001
    (If BTW, I seem to be questioning the generally-accepted Treeleaf view, I hope that readers will understand that the comments or questions are never meant as a challenge, I'm just trying to explore and understand the ideas... as well as sitting...)
    Forgeddaboudit.

    Gassho _/_

    W

  46. #46

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for your reply. I realise that you do not believe in literal rebirth (and also, I suppose, the idea of individual karma, since my understanding is that both are closely related).

    In terms of the Zen lineage, do you know when those original literal beliefs were dropped or modified? (Not sure if 'dropped or modified' are the correct terms - what I mean is when less emphasis was placed on those beliefs). Was it at/before Dogen's time? Or is it recent?

    Thanks too to Bansho for your response, I do care to know more about the history of these ideas.

    (If BTW, I seem to be questioning the generally-accepted Treeleaf view, I hope that readers will understand that the comments or questions are never meant as a challenge, I'm just trying to explore and understand the ideas... as well as sitting...)

    gassho,

    JohnH :?
    Hi John,

    First off, not only are you not questioning the "general view" (I do not believe there is one here on this issue), but nothing wrong with "questioning" anything. Never feel you can't speak and discuss something from your heart around here.

    Next, I do not think that there is any "official" view on these beliefs in the 'Western Zen world' (let alone in the wider Zen Buddhist world including Asian countries), and views and explanations currently are very much across the board from teacher to teacher. In other words, there is no one view on this now, and one can find many Zen teachers ... East and West ... with a rather literal view. Admittedly, in centuries past (and in Asian countries now), there have probably been many more Zen folks (not to mention other Buddhists) who hold what I would term a quite "literal" view than now to be found in the 20th and 21st Century West. But even the Westerners are quite a mixed bag.

    A recent informal survey I witnessed among the members of the "Zen teachers association" in the US to which I belong seemed to show that the majority of folks believe that life (how can I phrase this?) continues on in some way after this body dies (I think so too), although the details of that are not very specific and, again, vary very much in the eye of the beholder. How can I say this? I believe most Western teachers (me too) would say "some aspect continues".

    What that "aspect" is though ... opinions start to vary.

    Dogen seemed very much to believe in some literal and traditional form of rebirth (this week's reading in Zuimonki shows that), and I would say most Chinese, Korean and Japanese Zen teachers have in the past, and in a very literal and traditional fashion. Certainly, it is probably the mainstream view in most of Asian Buddhism (including but not limited to the Zen schools) even now. Over time, the Zen emphasis on "living in this moment, here and now" tended to make the question of rebirth less important in the Zen schools compared to traditional Buddhism, which was centered on the doctrine of gradual progress ... life after life ... to becoming a Buddha. This was especially true as Zen came to non-Asian countries. But, still, a belief in a more literal "rebirth" process remains present among Asian and non-Asian Zen teachers too.

    As I said, I also can be included among those folks who do not think we happened to pop up alive in the middle of time and space as a meaningless cosmic hick-up (it seems too ridiculous for us to be here by mere happenstance)... and I do not think that the death of this body is quite the end of the story (In fact, the name of this place ... Treeleaf ... derives from the image that the life of a Tree continues after the separate-yet-not-separate single leaves ... you and me ... fall away season by season). However, I do not feel the need to fill in too many of the details of the mechanics of that process, try merely to be a decent chap here and now, and trust the universe to take us where it will (it will anyway).

    So, the question is not so important to my particular practice.

    For those new around here, let me mention that we discussed Karma and Rebirth in greater detail here:

    viewtopic.php?p=17953#p17953

    and here

    viewtopic.php?p=20191#p20191

    The IZF had a thread on this issue too, with many opinions. Most members, however, tend to be Western modernists ... not literalists ... even those who said that some belief in rebirth in necessary to Buddhist practice.

    http://www.zenforuminternational.org/vi ... 964#p12964

    We can continue to discuss this topic ... either in this life, or the next! 8)

    Gassho, Jundo

  47. #47

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    Hi.

    The important thing is to start with explaining what you mean by "rebirth".
    What is "necessary" and what is "rebirthed" asf.
    Then we can start to bone out the problems, if there are any...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  48. #48

    Re: Split Thread: Afterlife/Rebirth

    when it comes to rebirth, I personally always took a jedi/quantum physics look to it..

    Our universe membrane is born after to other membranes collide ( part of M-theory) everything that spewed out created dark energy, dark matter and matter...

    the matter formed the first short lived stars...they cooked up more complex matter.. then they blow up and died...

    What they blew up fueled the birth of other stars ETC ECT ETC..

    This goes on for a few billion years... death leading directly to a birth...

    then suddenly there is enough complex matter to form solid mass...rock, minerals, etc.. terrestrial planets show up created from the birth and death of other stars... eventually organic compounds form.. and eventually life as we see our world...

    a human, or animal dies...it feeds scavengers, insects, eventually breaking down and giving perfect birthing places for fungus, and plants...

    those feed more complex animals... and so on and so on... like the earlier stars, our magnetic fields, and electrical fields disctarge, but it still has an effect...

    eventually Sol, our sun will die....and in it's death throws send out its mass of gasses, and radiation, which over time again will eventually have the ability to feed into the birth of yet a new star or new planet someplace else.



    we are born and reborn and die trillions of times in the workings of a universe..... and personally...I can't think of anything grander to be part of myself.

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