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Thread: Yep, rebirth again...

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Yep, rebirth again...

    Ok, Treeleafers, what's your take? I 'believe' in rebith, but oddly, my description of what I think it is would probably pass muster with 'non-rebirthers'. Stephanie and I had a long, detailed, and entirely civil discussion about this and I wondered what sort of conversation we could have about it here.

    Gassh,

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I wouldn't say I necessarily believe in rebirth. It's not that I don't, or that I can't, it's that I've never really given any sort of weight to the post-death experience. IMHO it's a bit strange to worry about it. I spent a year at a tibetan center where all everyone talked about was preparing for their next life. Accumulating good karma now to have a more fortunate rebirth later. Seemed to me like they were missing out on the fortunate life they had right now!

    But anyways, to keep it simple, no I don't believe in rebirth in the literal sense. When I go I'll be eaten up by all the little microbes which will eventually nourish bigger and bigger organisms so in that sense I will be "reborn" I suppose. But as everything! All my little atoms will be all over the place :P

    Gassho,
    Taylor

  3. #3

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Hello Chet,

    Since you asked, I believe in the literal, scriptural definition of rebirth. Not because it's "traditional" or "exotic" or what have you, but because I've had enough time to verify the teachings that I can accept things that I don't necessarily have proof of; I know that the teachings are correct and this verification can be done in the here-and-now. Once one realizes that, over and over again, what's being taught is correct and true in one's own life, it becomes easier to entertain the notion of things that you can't prove or disprove right this second.

    Having said that, when I die Perry/Saijun is gone forever. I am a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done, I'm gone. I am a result of everything that has happened to me in this life, and when this life is done, that's all she wrote for me.

    Having said that, it also follows that this human birth is fortunate. Meeting the Dharma is fortunate. Meeting a teacher of the Dharma and a Sangha that practices in accordance with the Dharma is fortunate. So it's very important to not waste this chance.

    This life has conditions stretching back into beginningless history, and as such it's important for me to practice as diligently as possible.

    Just my view.

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  4. #4

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I guess I believe in rebirth, that we continue on after this life, as what, I'm not sure. It just makes sense to me. I mean every action we take has effects that go on long into the future, so maybe our whole being too goes on. But like Taylor said, I was also(and still am to some degree) looking at the Tibetan tradition, and it does seems that they pay more attention to the next life rather than looking at the fortunate life we all have in front of us. As Brad Warner said if you believe in rebirth than you have to believe that this very life is the after life.

    I do think rebirth is possible, but in the big scheme of things I don't think it is as important as some Buddhist make it out to be.

    I wish to be fully present in this life, in this moment. If there is a next life, I wish to be full present there as well.

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  5. #5
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Hi Chet,

    As a Zen priest and through my very limited experience, I learned to spit metaphysics. Why? Where? Who? are simply questions that don't make sense to me anymore. I don't say life doesn 't carry on, consciousness doesn 't carry on, I don't say it does. I don't know and keep open to whatever takes place. But what is this now is not conditioned by this tomorrow.
    On top of this, this body is arising and disappearing every split second. What people call begining cannot be seen, end cannot be fathomed. The metaphor of the wave and the water or the drop of rain and the sea usedto describe the relationship beteween life and death sound great but are mere metaphors.
    Brad is right again. If any rebirth is taking place it is but here and now.
    Anything else feeds fears and hopes, food for dogs, religious fanatics, egodriven shaking guys ( and there is a bit os all these aspects in what is called "me").

    The true self is really big and embraces all aspects, in doing so it also swallows birth and death.

    Birth, death and rebirth are born, live and pass away and through the gate of the true selfless self.

    gassho

    Taigu

  6. #6
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun


    Having said that, when I die Perry/Saijun is gone forever. I am a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done, I'm gone. I am a result of everything that has happened to me in this life, and when this life is done, that's all she wrote for me.
    This is similar to my view, but you know that already.



    Chet

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi Chet,

    As a Zen priest and through my very limited experience, I learned to spit metaphysics. Why? Where? Who? are simply questions that don't make sense to me anymore. I don't say life doesn 't carry on, consciousness doesn 't carry on, I don't say it does. I don't know and keep open to whatever takes place. But what is this now is not conditioned by this tomorrow.
    On top of this, this body is arising and disappearing every split second. What people call begining cannot be seen, end cannot be fathomed. The metaphor of the wave and the water or the drop of rain and the sea usedto describe the relationship beteween life and death sound great but are mere metaphors.
    Brad is right again. If any rebirth is taking place it is but here and now.
    Anything else feeds fears and hopes, food for dogs, religious fanatics, egodriven shaking guys ( and there is a bit os all these aspects in what is called "me").

    The true self is really big and embraces all aspects, in doing so it also swallows birth and death.

    Birth, death and rebirth are born, live and pass away and through the gate of the true selfless self.

    gassho

    Taigu
    I wholeheartedly concur, Taigu.

    Chet

  8. #8
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    My most urgent thought about rebirth is that Batchelor and others seem to try to squeeze Buddhism into a scientific materialist worldview, as if rebirth isn't something that needs to be considered 'real' Buddhism, when for a great many Buddhists, it is quite real - and not just a folk-Buddhist sense of rebirth that is really more like reincarnation, but rebirth in a more sophisticated sense that doesn't rely on mind/body dualism or cheap metaphysics.

    Great respect,

    Chet

  9. #9

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    One funny thing about this practice, for me anyway, has been that the very questions that I was wanting to have answered by Buddhism/Zen have now been rendered immaterial. The questions were the problem . . . I see it now, but it took a while, and I still revert to worrying about them from time to time. Like Taigu said, who, what, where, when, and why are not the questions I get worked up about much anymore. Sure, I'd enjoy learning an answer to them, but they simply are not a real priority anymore.

    That being said, my gut tells me we are a process and are in a constant state of simultaneous death and rebirth. So, when the end comes, I imagine it will be no different than the millions of other times that my little sparks I call consciousness forgot themselves for a moment and just did what was natural for them to do at the time. Firewood does not become ashes. Death can't really be that big of a deal . . . look at all the other idiots who've done it! If they can do it, so can I. Seriously, I think the short-term period right before death might really suck if one was in terrible pain, confusion, etc., but death itself is nothing other than the normal functioning of me/universe. I'm just not in any hurry to do it . . . I've got kids to raise and see through their ups and downs. Whatever happens after that, at least I'll be out from under my mortgage.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  10. #10

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Hi,

    I do not believe in literal post-mortem "come back as a bunny rabbit or wild fox" or "go to a heaven or hell" views of rebirth. Or, better said, I am an open minded but skeptical agnostic on the subject (and think it probably superstition). I do know we are reborn constantly, moment by moment. I sometimes write this:

    If there are futures lives, heavens or hells ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

    If there are no future lives, heavens or hells ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

    I do not know if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell or allow a better rebirth ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

    And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

    In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.
    Certainly, we are passing away and reborn in every instant ... and the effects of our actions, good and bad, spread out in ripples of effect far into the future ... impacting us and those around us in this world (not two).

    Actually, the very best evidence I can muster for literal rebirth is this:

    Since something so seemingly unlikely, unnecessary yet wondrous happened once ... despite all the seeming chances in universal history for events to meander off in a very different direction away from any possibility for our birth ... and despite all the seeming "just right" happenstances of physics and universal development over the billions of years if not more, the "just what we needed" balances of chemistry, good fortunes of biology, hospitable planetary development of this world, twists and turns of evolution and human history ... yet, despite how ridiculous it seems that things worked out right even once to allow our fragile birth on this world even once ...

    ... since such a silly and apparently unlikely thing happened even once (so unlikely that it might be seen, from one perspective, as you and I having won every lottery of every moment through the 13.7 billion years of post-big bang history when things might have turned out quite otherwise at any cross-road of events or crucial point) ...

    ... since such an unbelievably fortunate and lovely thing (even though, sometimes, nature seems a very imperfect creative power) happened despite all that EVEN ONCE ...

    ... WELL, IT MIGHT AS WELL RIDICULOUSLY HAPPEN AGAIN! :shock:
    I mean that sincerely. It makes me sense quite securely, in my bones, and feel quite sure that "this ain't all there was/is/will be".

    Yes, these are BIG QUESTIONS ... and I ask folks to look at these two threads in particular in our "BIG QUESTIONS" series ...

    viewforum.php?f=24

    especially this one:

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VI (Karma)
    viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1281

    and this one:

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - VII (Life After Death?)
    viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1429

    Gassho, J

  11. #11

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    My most urgent thought about rebirth is that Batchelor and others seem to try to squeeze Buddhism into a scientific materialist worldview, as if rebirth isn't something that needs to be considered 'real' Buddhism, when for a great many Buddhists, it is quite real - and not just a folk-Buddhist sense of rebirth that is really more like reincarnation, but rebirth in a more sophisticated sense that doesn't rely on mind/body dualism or cheap metaphysics.

    Great respect,

    Chet
    As I reread my last post I realized I came across sounding like I had somehow "moved beyond" such questions. That was not my intention as I've certainly done no such thing. I was trying to say that I've sat with and dropped the sort of questions that Batchelor keeps bringing up so many times that I've just grown tired of thinking about them. I've surrendered. I'm, today anyway, resigned to be an idiot on such things. So, to that extent I'm not fit to comment on his question, valid as it may be, because I simply don't have anything resembling a conclusive thought on the matter . He has forgotten more about Buddhism than I will probably ever know, so I'm content to continue sitting with the myriad perspectives that everyone brings to me regarding Buddhism and leave it be. Sorry, it's been a rough week at work.

    Peace,
    Eika

  12. #12
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    My most urgent thought about rebirth is that Batchelor and others seem to try to squeeze Buddhism into a scientific materialist worldview, as if rebirth isn't something that needs to be considered 'real' Buddhism, when for a great many Buddhists, it is quite real - and not just a folk-Buddhist sense of rebirth that is really more like reincarnation, but rebirth in a more sophisticated sense that doesn't rely on mind/body dualism or cheap metaphysics.

    Great respect,

    Chet
    As I reread my last post I realized I came across sounding like I had somehow "moved beyond" such questions. That was not my intention as I've certainly done no such thing. I was trying to say that I've sat with and dropped the sort of questions that Batchelor keeps bringing up so many times that I've just grown tired of thinking about them. I've surrendered. I'm, today anyway, resigned to be an idiot on such things. So, to that extent I'm not fit to comment on his question, valid as it may be, because I simply don't have anything resembling a conclusive thought on the matter . He has forgotten more about Buddhism than I will probably ever know, so I'm content to continue sitting with the myriad perspectives that everyone brings to me regarding Buddhism and leave it be. Sorry, it's been a rough week at work.
    And, reading Batchelor, I disagree that he "tr[ies] to squeeze Buddhism into a scientific materialist worldview."

    His view, in the last book of his I read, is more that of Elka's; he can't know anything about it, no more than anyone else can. He's not ready to take it on faith, but if others want to, that's up to them. That's the way I've always felt myself. There's no proof that rebirth/reincarnation exists, and these are, it should be pointed out, pre-Buddhist concepts, that were grafted on to early Buddhism. I just try and worry about the here and now.

  13. #13
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    To give my opinion, I can just give re-birth to the thoughts already shared...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    I've never really given any sort of weight to the post-death experience. IMHO it's a bit strange to worry about it. ......missing out on the fortunate life they had right now!
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    it's important for me to practice as diligently as possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    I wish to be fully present in this life, in this moment. If there is a next life, I wish to be full present there as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I don't know and keep open to whatever takes place. But what is this now is not conditioned by this tomorrow. ...The true self is really big and embraces all aspects, in doing so it also swallows birth and death.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Firewood does not become ashes. Death can't really be that big of a deal . . .

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  14. #14
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    My most urgent thought about rebirth is that Batchelor and others seem to try to squeeze Buddhism into a scientific materialist worldview, as if rebirth isn't something that needs to be considered 'real' Buddhism, when for a great many Buddhists, it is quite real - and not just a folk-Buddhist sense of rebirth that is really more like reincarnation, but rebirth in a more sophisticated sense that doesn't rely on mind/body dualism or cheap metaphysics.

    Great respect,

    Chet
    As I reread my last post I realized I came across sounding like I had somehow "moved beyond" such questions. That was not my intention as I've certainly done no such thing. I was trying to say that I've sat with and dropped the sort of questions that Batchelor keeps bringing up so many times that I've just grown tired of thinking about them. I've surrendered. I'm, today anyway, resigned to be an idiot on such things. So, to that extent I'm not fit to comment on his question, valid as it may be, because I simply don't have anything resembling a conclusive thought on the matter . He has forgotten more about Buddhism than I will probably ever know, so I'm content to continue sitting with the myriad perspectives that everyone brings to me regarding Buddhism and leave it be. Sorry, it's been a rough week at work.
    And, reading Batchelor, I disagree that he "tr[ies] to squeeze Buddhism into a scientific materialist worldview."

    His view, in the last book of his I read, is more that of Elka's; he can't know anything about it, no more than anyone else can. He's not ready to take it on faith, but if others want to, that's up to them. That's the way I've always felt myself. There's no proof that rebirth/reincarnation exists, and these are, it should be pointed out, pre-Buddhist concepts, that were grafted on to early Buddhism. I just try and worry about the here and now.
    That's my point - Batchelor considers teachings about rebirth to be an error. I don't think it's as simple as that. Also, I see Dogen's famous line as a clarification of rebirth, not a repudiation.

    Chet

  15. #15

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I'm thinkin if I give my practice a good go maybe I'll be reborn in the next week or two closer to a Buddha who uses skillful means to lesson suffering for himself and others. But if that doesn't work out, taking a long term view of things I'm very interested in the Pure Land where all the Buddhas hang out. Now I'm not so naive to think that Rich the body/mind could be there but there is something that seems to go on forever. But then again not knowing seems to be enough so maybe this is just a figment of my imagination. :?:

  16. #16
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Saijun wrote:
    Having said that, when I die Perry/Saijun is gone forever. I am a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done, I'm gone. I am a result of everything that has happened to me in this life, and when this life is done, that's all she wrote for me.
    Hi Saijun,

    I like how you word it here as a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done bye bye. The only thing I have a hard time wrapping my mind around is this. After stripping away the mental being(Perry's mind) and the physical being(Perry's body) what exactly is left over to even be carried over into a new body/mind? Let alone how it would get in there and where it would reside once there? I wonder if the Buddha ever clearly defined what he felt is carried over from old life to new? I hope this doesn't come off as challenging your beliefs, it's not my intention, I'm really just curious.


    Gassho,
    John

  17. #17
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I've had enough time to verify the teachings that I can accept things that I don't necessarily have proof of; I know that the teachings are correct and this verification can be done in the here-and-now. Once one realizes that, over and over again, what's being taught is correct and true in one's own life, it becomes easier to entertain the notion of things that you can't prove or disprove right this second.
    Hi Saijun,

    After re-reading your post this may very well be enough to answer my questions!

    Gassho,
    John

  18. #18

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Saijun wrote:
    Having said that, when I die Perry/Saijun is gone forever. I am a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done, I'm gone. I am a result of everything that has happened to me in this life, and when this life is done, that's all she wrote for me.
    Hi Saijun,

    I like how you word it here as a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done bye bye. The only thing I have a hard time wrapping my mind around is this. After stripping away the mental being(Perry's mind) and the physical being(Perry's body) what exactly is left over to even be carried over into a new body/mind? Let alone how it would get in there and where it would reside once there? I wonder if the Buddha ever clearly defined what he felt is carried over from old life to new? I hope this doesn't come off as challenging your beliefs, it's not my intention, I'm really just curious.


    Gassho,
    John
    Hello John,

    Not at all; it's a good question.

    The best way that I can put it conceptually is that the ego carries on; the three "poisons," i.e., greed, aversion, and ignorance make up the ego and propel it on. For one to be reborn again and again, there have to be conditions, just as for one to awaken, there have to be conditions (that bring you to the gate of the unconditioned).

    So, it's like an etch-a-sketch (remember those?) The drawing is subject to knobs being twiddled. When we die, it's like someone shaking the picture out (except for the purposes of this simile, it's a very bad etch-a-sketch and there is residue [karma/vipaka] still sort of left on after the shaking). Awakening is when the etch-a-sketch is put down. No more holding on to it, no more twiddling the knobs to make the picture just so. Just set it down and don't bother trying to make things anymore.

    It's a weak simile at best, but that's basically all I've got at the moment.

    Hope it clarifies my thoughts for you (lord knows they're murky enough for me...)

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  19. #19
    disastermouse
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Saijun wrote:
    Having said that, when I die Perry/Saijun is gone forever. I am a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done, I'm gone. I am a result of everything that has happened to me in this life, and when this life is done, that's all she wrote for me.
    Hi Saijun,

    I like how you word it here as a conditioned being, and when those conditions are done bye bye. The only thing I have a hard time wrapping my mind around is this. After stripping away the mental being(Perry's mind) and the physical being(Perry's body) what exactly is left over to even be carried over into a new body/mind? Let alone how it would get in there and where it would reside once there? I wonder if the Buddha ever clearly defined what he felt is carried over from old life to new? I hope this doesn't come off as challenging your beliefs, it's not my intention, I'm really just curious.


    Gassho,
    John


    Hello John,

    Not at all; it's a good question.

    The best way that I can put it conceptually is that the ego carries on; the three "poisons," i.e., greed, aversion, and ignorance make up the ego and propel it on. For one to be reborn again and again, there have to be conditions, just as for one to awaken, there have to be conditions (that bring you to the gate of the unconditioned).

    So, it's like an etch-a-sketch (remember those?) The drawing is subject to knobs being twiddled. When we die, it's like someone shaking the picture out (except for the purposes of this simile, it's a very bad etch-a-sketch and there is residue [karma/vipaka] still sort of left on after the shaking). Awakening is when the etch-a-sketch is put down. No more holding on to it, no more twiddling the knobs to make the picture just so. Just set it down and don't bother trying to make things anymore.

    It's a weak simile at best, but that's basically all I've got at the moment.

    Hope it clarifies my thoughts for you (lord knows they're murky enough for me...)

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun
    I'm fascinated by your description, as I've often described it as a stain when trying to describe my own understanding.

    Chet

  20. #20
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Saijun wrote:
    So, it's like an etch-a-sketch (remember those?) The drawing is subject to knobs being twiddled. When we die, it's like someone shaking the picture out (except for the purposes of this simile, it's a very bad etch-a-sketch and there is residue [karma/vipaka] still sort of left on after the shaking). Awakening is when the etch-a-sketch is put down. No more holding on to it, no more twiddling the knobs to make the picture just so. Just set it down and don't bother trying to make things anymore.
    Wow that's a great simile! Thank you!

    Gassho,
    John

  21. #21

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Saijun wrote:
    So, it's like an etch-a-sketch (remember those?) The drawing is subject to knobs being twiddled. When we die, it's like someone shaking the picture out (except for the purposes of this simile, it's a very bad etch-a-sketch and there is residue [karma/vipaka] still sort of left on after the shaking). Awakening is when the etch-a-sketch is put down. No more holding on to it, no more twiddling the knobs to make the picture just so. Just set it down and don't bother trying to make things anymore.
    Wow that's a great simile! Thank you!

    Gassho,
    John
    I second that! what a great way to look at him.

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  22. #22

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    For my two bits, I I think that if we are observant of it we can see for ourselves that we are born and die each moment. so yes we have a constant cycle of rebirth. But your ego might not recognize it as it sees itself as a constant. Even before the “you” that your ego recognizes was ever around the stuff that makes you up was here. And long after anything that could be recognized as you is around (you decompose) the stuff that made you up will still be here and get incorporated into something else.

    So yes we are constantly reborn, the you that existed before you read this little tidbit is already dead. Now in this moment you are reborn, woops, your dead again…oh look at that your reborn, ad nausea. But at the same time you were always here, and always will be.

    *Edit* Always is used loosly; as I have no idea what always looks like.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I don't know what will happen when I die. Maybe I'll find out when I die. Maybe I won't. Maybe I won't "die". All I have are various ideas and imaginings, which may or may not look like the "truth".

  24. #24
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    For my two bits, I I think that if we are observant of it we can see for ourselves that we are born and die each moment. so yes we have a constant cycle of rebirth. But your ego might not recognize it as it sees itself as a constant. Even before the “you” that your ego recognizes was ever around the stuff that makes you up was here. And long after anything that could be recognized as you is around (you decompose) the stuff that made you up will still be here and get incorporated into something else.

    So yes we are constantly reborn, the you that existed before you read this little tidbit is already dead. Now in this moment you are reborn, woops, your dead again…oh look at that your reborn, ad nausea. But at the same time you were always here, and always will be.

    *Edit* Always is used loosly; as I have no idea what always looks like.
    But that sort of metaphor is _not at all_ what is intended by rebirth. You can explain it away if you want, but read some of the old texts that discuss rebirth and you'll see that this is not what they're getting at.

    Interestingly, the Dalai Lama has said that he wonders if there will, indeed, be another Dalai Lama. This comes in the context of discussions about rebirth, suggesting that he isn't fully convinced.

  25. #25

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    For my two bits, I I think that if we are observant of it we can see for ourselves that we are born and die each moment. so yes we have a constant cycle of rebirth. But your ego might not recognize it as it sees itself as a constant. Even before the “you” that your ego recognizes was ever around the stuff that makes you up was here. And long after anything that could be recognized as you is around (you decompose) the stuff that made you up will still be here and get incorporated into something else.

    So yes we are constantly reborn, the you that existed before you read this little tidbit is already dead. Now in this moment you are reborn, woops, your dead again…oh look at that your reborn, ad nausea. But at the same time you were always here, and always will be.

    *Edit* Always is used loosly; as I have no idea what always looks like.
    But that sort of metaphor is _not at all_ what is intended by rebirth. You can explain it away if you want, but read some of the old texts that discuss rebirth and you'll see that this is not what they're getting at.

    Interestingly, the Dalai Lama has said that he wonders if there will, indeed, be another Dalai Lama. This comes in the context of discussions about rebirth, suggesting that he isn't fully convinced.
    Interesting that you say that. Maybe I read the old texts differently. But maybe my understanding will change in my next life. :wink:

  26. #26
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Fuken wrote:
    Interesting that you say that. Maybe I read the old texts differently. But maybe my understanding will change in my next life.
    :lol:

    Gassho,
    John

    P.S. I like the new avatar photo Fuken!

  27. #27
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Ah one of the great topics in Buddhism.

    I for one, am a skeptic. I think what matters is that you live by the precepts here and now, no matter what lies for after death.

    Until rebirth can be replicated in controlled conditions in a lab, under the scientific method, I remain a skeptic.

  28. #28
    disastermouse
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by chocobuda
    Ah one of the great topics in Buddhism.

    I for one, am a skeptic. I think what matters is that you live by the precepts here and now, no matter what lies for after death.

    Until rebirth can be replicated in controlled conditions in a lab, under the scientific method, I remain a skeptic.
    Ah, a common theme of Scientific Materialism is that all 'internal' events are the effects of external process (Reducing the subjective and intersubjective to objective processes without remainder). However, there is a performative contradiction and a queer lack of acknowledgement in making that value judgment. When you say that all subjective experiences are due to objective causes, you are making a subjective leap that the facts do not support. We can say that a brain and a mind arise together, but not that one causes another. There is correlation not causation. Indeed, it can be shown that either one can affect the other. Furthermore, you are failing to acknowledge the subjective and intersubjective processes required to arrive at the judgment that subjective and intersubjective phenomena can be attributed to wholly to objective phenomena without remainder.

    But the subjective and intersubjective can be validated scientifically if you can relent that 'scientific' need not require 'external'. Post-Kuhnian understanding of what he termed 'paradigm' (the term has been rendered meaningless by decades of misuse) has shown how previous scientific models, although functional, although meeting all of Popper's requirements for validation, are nonetheless shown later to be, if not outrightly 'wrong', certainly incomplete. This isn't a repudiation of Popper, merely an acknowledgment that although useful, Popper's process is not the whole story. This is why both Newtonian physics and Einsteinian physics can both be 'correct' even though they fundamentally oppose one another in many, many aspects. Each is a different paradigm. Hell, post-modernism says they're both driven by power dynamics and inherently untrue, although this is ALSO a performative contradiction since if all means of arriving at truth are simply the result of power, so is post-modernism! :shock:

    Further, take mathematics. Following your line of reason, mathematics is not 'scientific'. Show me the square root of -1 in a lab. I'll wait.

    Finally, there CAN be a scientific method of internals - in fact, Zen Buddhism proposes one of the most sound of these that you can find. Following the Scientific Method:

    Zazen (injuction/experiment)
    Realization (direct apprehension/result)
    Dokusan/Transmission (communal validation/peer evaluation)

    None of this proves that rebirth is real. However, it goes a long way toward showing that rebirth is not invalid simply because it can not be replicated in a lab.

    (Much of this argument is not original - I owe much of this to Ken Wilber.)

    Chet

  29. #29

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I was going to say it doesn't matter because it's just belief and speculation, but I think the way we live our lives always comes down to our belief systems. In the end, it really is all subjective isn't it?

    I have no idea, by the way, in regard to the question. I don't really believe in rebirth I guess like I'll come back as a chicken, and I'm not going to say I believe we'll be reborn as plants as our body is destroyed after we die; I think it's a cop out. hahahah

    P.S. I have 'i' in the imaginary lab. :mrgreen:

    P.P.S. my typing is questionable; long day at work

  30. #30

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Also never fail to pierce that ... whether we come back or do not come back, whether every moment-by-moment or as Napoleon or a donkey ...

    ... there is simultaneously, always and most intimately, that other perspective which is True as True and beyond all argument ...

    ... that there never was any death from the start, nor birth either.

    For those who have some problem in seeing this, some teachers will point to the sea ... where the waves seems to rise up and fall away, yet all is sea through and through, all along. Such is you and me. Is the sea "born" with each wave, does the sea vanish with each vanishing wave?

    Sit Zazen and become water gettin' soaking wet!

    Gassho, J

  31. #31
    disastermouse
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    ... that there never was any death from the start, nor birth either.
    This is a pretty profound realization, IMHO, especially if you get a glimpse of it. Oddly, there can still be terror of death at times.

    We want everything settled.....but it's already sttled, even as it's unsettled. That IS settled.

    Once again, IMHO.

    Chet

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Chet,

    I very much appreciate and respect that folks like you and Stephanie consider questions like this, but when I start doing this myself I find that I tend to be getting away from my practice. And when I jump back into practice they tend to fall away. The questions are always there, in that monkey mind of ours, but even when I spend a whole day considering such questions I have never found that I do anything differently. It is one of the oldest go to metaphors that one can go to in zen (and one that is apt for the mountain environment in which I was raised) but no matter what the answer I will continue to fetch water and chop wood.

    That's really all I have to say.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  33. #33
    disastermouse
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Chet,

    I very much appreciate and respect that folks like you and Stephanie consider questions like this, but when I start doing this myself I find that I tend to be getting away from my practice. And when I jump back into practice they tend to fall away. The questions are always there, in that monkey mind of ours, but even when I spend a whole day considering such questions I have never found that I do anything differently. It is one of the oldest go to metaphors that one can go to in zen (and one that is apt for the mountain environment in which I was raised) but no matter what the answer I will continue to fetch water and chop wood.

    That's really all I have to say.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    That's a good point, Dosho, but (and although I could be misguided), so much of what I've failed to grasp in this path has specifically to do with matters outside of zazen. You've seen me struggle with Right Speech specifically. Karma and rebirth, as troublesome as the concepts are in our modern times, were and for many still are an integral part of the Buddha's teachings on morality. Before we discard them as the folly of a superstitious culture, it may do to examine why they were considered so important as to survive so long.

    When I go to sleep, my mind first has dreams but then descends into deep, dreamless sleep. Egoically, I'm effectively dead. When I wake up, there is an illusion that there is some thread of consciousness that is consistent from the Chet who goes to bed and the one who wakes up the next morning, but is there really? Per Nagarjuna, everything is such flux that nothing can even be said to exist, so on one level, the idea that there is a persistent entity even from moment to moment is an absurdity. You can see this during zazen, when so much of what we consider to be the workings of 'our' mind is random non sequitur - coming from conditions that form the basis of the next random thought, although the connections are anything but immediately evident. Still, the illusion is so persistent! The Chet who drinks sixteen beers before he passes out is wholly different from the Chet who wakes up to a real humdinger of a hangover. They are not the same person, but the actions of the former have a very negative effect on the latter. I can't be certain that some shred of this illusion passes from death to rebirth, but taking into account what effects the actions and thoughts I have today may have on some unfortunate creature in the future certainly gives me pause - a pause that is not so powerful as the idea that I'm simply gone and my actions have no more than the relatively immediate effects in the here and now.

    Firewood does indeed become ashes and ashes do not become firewood...but neither do they remain ashes for an eternity.

    Chet

  34. #34
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I would contest your assertion that in "deep, dreamless sleep" you are "egoically, ... effectively dead." The brain, while not dreaming, is doing a lot of other things, which are consolidating your memories, and (re)constructing your "self." There is no break in the thread of consciousness; it's just that you can't detect that consciousness.

    Chet, you use a lot of words. (I know, I'm like that myself.) Have you read James Austin's Zen and the Brain? I think you would find it interesting. He's a Zen practitioner and neurologist, and he looks at both meditation and neuroscience in the book. It's not an easy read, but it covers a large number of issues that you raise. He also has two other books on the subject, written more recently, which may be easier to approach as a first read, but they do build on Zen and the Brain.

  35. #35

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I would contest your assertion that in "deep, dreamless sleep" you are "egoically, ... effectively dead." The brain, while not dreaming, is doing a lot of other things, which are consolidating your memories, and (re)constructing your "self." There is no break in the thread of consciousness; it's just that you can't detect that consciousness.

    Chet, you use a lot of words. (I know, I'm like that myself.) Have you read James Austin's Zen and the Brain? I think you would find it interesting. He's a Zen practitioner and neurologist, and he looks at both meditation and neuroscience in the book. It's not an easy read, but it covers a large number of issues that you raise. He also has two other books on the subject, written more recently, which may be easier to approach as a first read, but they do build on Zen and the Brain.
    Ooh! I listened to a series of lectures from Upaya from him. Fascinating stuff. Actually If I recall he makes a lot of correlation's to the Mahayana sutras.

  36. #36
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Lectures by Austin? Do you have links? His work is fascinating.

    He has a new book due out in September which looks interesting:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262015870

    I find all of this stuff very interesting. In part because I've long been interested in consciousness and cognitive science (since I read Gödel Escher Bach back in the early 80s), and because I have a brain condition that has led me to look much more closely at how the brain works.

  37. #37

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Lectures by Austin? Do you have links? His work is fascinating.

    He has a new book due out in September which looks interesting:


    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262015870

    They are hidden in the "Zen brain" podcasts from Upaya. If you have iTunes you shoul be able to find them by looking up Upaya. I'd link it but I am not cleaver enough to figure out how to do it from my iPad.

  38. #38
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    None of this proves that rebirth is real. However, it goes a long way toward showing that rebirth is not invalid simply because it can not be replicated in a lab.
    Hi!

    I never said rebirth isn't real or invalid. It's just that at this time it can't be studied under controlled conditions. Who knows, maybe in time we develop enough understanding to go further into the mystery of death.

    There are a lot mind processes like happiness or meditation that can be studied and replicated, thus giving us a bigger picture and a lot more to study.

    I am a skeptic because I think no matter how much you believe in rebirth, it's just a very nice idea with no proof of existence.

    To me it doesn't matter. I couldn't care less about what will happens after I die. I guess I'll know when I'm there.

    What matters is living by the precepts and the dharma, right here, right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Sit Zazen and become water gettin' soaking wet!

  39. #39

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Hello,

    what I found interesting in the rebirth debate between Mr. Batchelor and Mr. Thurman a few years ago (used to be available online - but not for free anymore it seems) was the fact that the bottom line for the very conservative Robert Thurman seems to have been that only a belief in rebirth can give practitioners the needed extra push to take dharma practise and the results of their actions seriously.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  40. #40
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Lectures by Austin? Do you have links? His work is fascinating.

    He has a new book due out in September which looks interesting:


    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262015870

    They are hidden in the "Zen brain" podcasts from Upaya. If you have iTunes you shoul be able to find them by looking up Upaya. I'd link it but I am not cleaver enough to figure out how to do it from my iPad.
    Got it. I have them, and haven't listened. There were, I think, two series of "Zen brain" podcasts. I'll give them a listen.

  41. #41

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Hi Chet,

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    ... that there never was any death from the start, nor birth either.
    This is a pretty profound realization, IMHO, especially if you get a glimpse of it. Oddly, there can still be terror of death at times.
    Not "odd" really. There are parts of the mind/brain that can pierce "no life/no death" ... there are other parts of the mind/brain that get very scared, whimper like a baby in the face of a hungry tiger. All can happen, and be part of our humanity, at once. Even though I no longer "fear death" in some ways ... my knees will shake at appropriate times too.

    There are a few Koans on that in fact.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    so much of what I've failed to grasp in this path has specifically to do with matters outside of zazen. You've seen me struggle with Right Speech specifically. Karma and rebirth, as troublesome as the concepts are in our modern times, were and for many still are an integral part of the Buddha's teachings on morality. Before we discard them as the folly of a superstitious culture, it may do to examine why they were considered so important as to survive so long. ... The Chet who drinks sixteen beers before he passes out is wholly different from the Chet who wakes up to a real humdinger of a hangover.
    I agree that Karma, like the concept of "sin" in Christianity, served as an integral part of personal and social morality ... besides any cosmic aspects. Fear of hell fires/an unpleasant rebirth kept the citizens well behaved and obedient. I do feel, however (like many "humanists" who have pointed out that atheists and agnostics tend to behave just as morally, if not more so, than many religious folks) that we can still maintain Buddhist ethics and morality without a concept of "1 to 1 payback" Karma and literal rebirth.

    On the other hand, I would not say the same about Right Speech and the Precepts. One cannot nurture the fruits of this Buddhist Way if regularly stepping on the Precepts by wallowing in greed, anger and ignorance. Gentle Right Speech is one component of that which should not be neglected too. Same for over drinking and indulging without moderation and non-craving, non-attachment. So, please do not consider these "dispensible".

    Gassho, J

  42. #42
    disastermouse
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I would contest your assertion that in "deep, dreamless sleep" you are "egoically, ... effectively dead." The brain, while not dreaming, is doing a lot of other things, which are consolidating your memories, and (re)constructing your "self." There is no break in the thread of consciousness; it's just that you can't detect that consciousness.
    Do you see what you did there? I never implied that the brain was effectively dead, I argued that the ego was effectively dead. It's not that I can't detect the consciousness, it's that during deep dreamless sleep, there is no 'I', regardless of the minimal reparative activities of the brain. Brain activity =/= mind without remainder, because although the two are correlative, not all brain activity results in self-awareness. Also, the two realms although correlative, are nowhere near the same. Serotonin is powerful in feelings of well-being, but the internal experience of happiness is not registered as "Wow, I have increased levels of certain brain chemicals today!". Likewise, each realm affects the other, which is why antidepressants do not effectively render cognitive or other forms of psychotherapy utterly useless. This is to say that although the temptation is to reduce mind to a one-way projection of brain, this is hardly the full truth of it - altering the mind's landscape through subjective (meditation) and intersubjective (therapy) means can at times have a pronounced effect on the functions of the brain.


    Jundo,

    Consider metta - do we know conclusively that our thoughts have an effect on the 'recipients' of our metta? Hardly - but the exercise has profound effects on the practitioner. So it may be with rebirth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    On the other hand, I would not say the same about Right Speech and the Precepts. One cannot nurture the fruits of this Buddhist Way if regularly stepping on the Precepts by wallowing in greed, anger and ignorance. Gentle Right Speech is one component of that which should not be neglected too. Same for over drinking and indulging without moderation and non-craving, non-attachment. So, please do not consider these "dispensible".
    Did I give the impression that I thought this was dispensable, or are you making the point that the precepts are more primary since you can have a Buddhism without rebirth but not a Buddhism without the precepts?

    Chet

    Chet

  43. #43
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    On the other hand, I would not say the same about Right Speech and the Precepts. One cannot nurture the fruits of this Buddhist Way if regularly stepping on the Precepts by wallowing in greed, anger and ignorance. Gentle Right Speech is one component of that which should not be neglected too. Same for over drinking and indulging without moderation and non-craving, non-attachment. So, please do not consider these "dispensible".
    Sure, these are moral values, not superstitions (in the sense of things that cannot be proven). They have nothing to do, in my opinion, with any religion, spirituality or philosophy. They were grafted onto many religions, because pre-modern humans had no difference between religion and societal structures. And now, many religions claim that without their god, such moral values can't exist. Alas, they tend to cite statements from people like Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche, as if they were prophets, claiming that since god is dead, all is permitted...

  44. #44
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I would contest your assertion that in "deep, dreamless sleep" you are "egoically, ... effectively dead." The brain, while not dreaming, is doing a lot of other things, which are consolidating your memories, and (re)constructing your "self." There is no break in the thread of consciousness; it's just that you can't detect that consciousness.
    Do you see what you did there? I never implied that the brain was effectively dead, I argued that the ego was effectively dead. It's not that I can't detect the consciousness, it's that during deep dreamless sleep, there is no 'I', regardless of the minimal reparative activities of the brain. Brain activity =/= mind without remainder, because although the two are correlative, not all brain activity results in self-awareness. Also, the two realms although correlative, are nowhere near the same. Serotonin is powerful in feelings of well-being, but the internal experience of happiness is not registered as "Wow, I have increased levels of certain brain chemicals today!". Likewise, each realm affects the other, which is why antidepressants do not effectively render cognitive or other forms of psychotherapy utterly useless. This is to say that although the temptation is to reduce mind to a one-way projection of brain, this is hardly the full truth of it - altering the mind's landscape through subjective (meditation) and intersubjective (therapy) means can at times have a pronounced effect on the functions of the brain.
    Because the brain does create the mind, which, in turn, creates the self (or, since we're in a Zen buddhist forum, the illusion of the self). The consciousness during sleep is below the level that you can notice. And I'd see that even during dreams this is the case. You only remember them when you awaken during a dream, yet you dream many times during the night.

    Reminds me of something; I don't know who said it. Descartes was wrong. It shouldn't be "I think, therefore I am," but rather, "I am, therefore I think."

  45. #45
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    That's a good point, Dosho, but (and although I could be misguided), so much of what I've failed to grasp in this path has specifically to do with matters outside of zazen. You've seen me struggle with Right Speech specifically. Karma and rebirth, as troublesome as the concepts are in our modern times, were and for many still are an integral part of the Buddha's teachings on morality. Before we discard them as the folly of a superstitious culture, it may do to examine why they were considered so important as to survive so long.
    Perhaps dropping the idea that you are struggling with Right Speech is something else to drop? If I have learned nothing else from this practice it is that I was far too concerned about doing things "right" or "wrong" in a very intellectual "let's debate everything" way. Of course if I swore like a sailor (not saying you do) that might present a problem at Grandma's bingo night (or not if she's winning)...but I would not be inherently "bad" even if I did so.

    So, it may be a minor distinction, but I think it might help to say that you are working with Right Speech (as are we all) rather than struggling with it.

    Just a thought.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  46. #46
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    I've never thought that "right" and "wrong" were meant to be "correct" and "incorrect," but rather "appropriate" and "inappropriate." In other words, there are no absolutes, but rather the rightness and wrongness of what is ideal, but relative to circumstances...

  47. #47

    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Let me just say that some of these kinds of discussions can turn into "chicken or the egg" debates, so let me just say this ...

    1 - Whether the mind is in the brain or somewhere else, there is no doubt of such interconnection of the so-called "outer" world, the senses and the "inner" experience of 'self and the world' which results ... that we might really also drop the idea of "mind" as "inside" or "outside" from a Buddhist perspective. You are not just what you experience behind your eyes, but the eyes and what is in from of the eyes too! Nor does it matter if one is awake or asleep, alive or dead! :shock:

    2 - Whatever the Precepts are ... whether commandments writ eternally in the fabric of the universe, or something natural to the human experience, or something that some guys made up ... they express a simple truth: If we fall into anger, we create an angry life within us and anger outside. Same with greed, violence, jealousy, divisions and all the rest. Live in peace, ease, gentleness, harmony, yielding ... and so becomes life and the world.

    So, give up some of the debating and just live this way. It ain't rocket science! 8)

    Gassho,J

  48. #48
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Thank you Jundo

  49. #49
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Whatever the Precepts are ... whether commandments writ eternally in the fabric of the universe, or something natural to the human experience, or something that some guys made up ... they express a simple truth: If we fall into anger, we create an angry life within us and anger outside. Same with greed, violence, jealousy, divisions and all the rest. Live in peace, ease, gentleness, harmony, yielding ... and so becomes life and the world.

    So, give up some of the debating and just live this way. It ain't rocket science! 8)
    That's exactly what I mean with my little rambling up there.

    Thank you Jundo Sensei.

    Deep gassho

  50. #50
    disastermouse
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    Re: Yep, rebirth again...

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    I would contest your assertion that in "deep, dreamless sleep" you are "egoically, ... effectively dead." The brain, while not dreaming, is doing a lot of other things, which are consolidating your memories, and (re)constructing your "self." There is no break in the thread of consciousness; it's just that you can't detect that consciousness.
    Do you see what you did there? I never implied that the brain was effectively dead, I argued that the ego was effectively dead. It's not that I can't detect the consciousness, it's that during deep dreamless sleep, there is no 'I', regardless of the minimal reparative activities of the brain. Brain activity =/= mind without remainder, because although the two are correlative, not all brain activity results in self-awareness. Also, the two realms although correlative, are nowhere near the same. Serotonin is powerful in feelings of well-being, but the internal experience of happiness is not registered as "Wow, I have increased levels of certain brain chemicals today!". Likewise, each realm affects the other, which is why antidepressants do not effectively render cognitive or other forms of psychotherapy utterly useless. This is to say that although the temptation is to reduce mind to a one-way projection of brain, this is hardly the full truth of it - altering the mind's landscape through subjective (meditation) and intersubjective (therapy) means can at times have a pronounced effect on the functions of the brain.
    Because the brain does create the mind, which, in turn, creates the self (or, since we're in a Zen buddhist forum, the illusion of the self). The consciousness during sleep is below the level that you can notice. And I'd see that even during dreams this is the case. You only remember them when you awaken during a dream, yet you dream many times during the night.
    How can you be so certain that the brain creates the mind? All we know of the brain is, sad to say, filtered through subjective and intersubjective processes. When we observe the brain, it doesn't just lie there given - see Sellars 'Myth of the Given' - the data is interpreted wholly through internal processes first. This isn't to say that nothing is there, but that what we ultimately think it is is highly dependent on non-'objective processes.

    Chet

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