Rebirth and morality.

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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:22 pm

Clueless Git wrote:And in Christianity and Islam too, in fact I don't know a religion that doesn't teach that. 'Cept for Satanism, mayhaps?


This might strike some people as odd, but to a certain extent we can affirm the validity of other religions. A devout Christian who lives a moral life of charity and good will, and behaves in a Christ-like way while aspiring to be reborn in heaven stands a good chance of attaining that goal from a Buddhist perspective. We would call it the "Heavenly Vehicle". We naturally deny their claim that their god created time and space and is responsible for its eventual destruction, but their methods of attaining rebirth in a heaven is actually valid: if you want to be Brahma, act like Brahma. The problem with this is that while heavenly realms are quite enjoyable, they are still samsara and their dwellers upon exhausting their merit fall down into a lower realm eventually.

One problem with the interpretation of post-mortem judgement in many religions is that you're free from any consequences if you take refuge in the right being or say the right phrase. In the case of Christianity some people think they can nuke countless innocent people and be spared any retribution in the end just by having faith that Jesus died on the cross for them. You have the right membership and went through baptism, so you're guaranteed a place in heaven regardless of whatever you do in life. In some extreme cases people believe violence and harming others will be rewarded in the afterlife. This is an opposite extreme to what the materialists propose, but still in the same category. The materialists insist at death you become nothing, so any and all potential consequences of your actions die forever with you. You could kill millions of people, but in the end you go unconscious and stay that way forever. You're spared any and all consequences, just as in some interpretations of Christianity you're spared any and all consequences to your sins because Christ died on the cross for you.

Now in most traditions of Buddhism, with some exceptions, the idea is that you get what you deserve.

I am thinking that post mortem punishishment/reward does not provide a motivation to be moral that differentiates buddhism from every other religion. That that which does not differentiate one thing from another cannot be that which makes one thing better or worse than another.


As I outlined above, the post mortem retribution is quite different from the models proposed by other religions or materialism.

M'personal feeling (which does not discount rebirth) is that what makes people moral in this life is simply wanting to be moral in this life whether or not there is another/other life/lives to follow.


Sure, but if there is a personal stake in it for you and your welfare, you'll think twice about doing a lot of negative actions, no? I mean authority in any society or system of law is predicated on the use and/or threat of violence. This is what keeps the majority of people in line when the opportunity to misbehave arises and temptation is strong. There are exceptions, yes, but most people don't consciously want to follow the law, but they do because the consequences of not doing so usually result in undesirable circumstances.

I can't help linking that to Jap buddhists often caring less about not being a cause of suffering to others than they care about being free to have the direct products of suffering which they prefer to dull old veg'n'rice for their dinners.


Please refrain from using the word "Jap" as it is offensive to most Japanese people.

The decline of vegetarianism in Japan I think has something to do with the decline of Buddhism, but a lot has to do with the rise of consumerism, the westernisation of diet and maybe even post-war school lunch programs. McArthur's wife instituted a beef stew and bread program in schools. Japanese kids got a taste of meat and it seems to have taken off from there. People are brought up eating certain things and the rest society likewise eats the same thing with companies and advertising constantly pushing meat and meat products, so any attempt to step away from such patterns results in a lot of friction.

So most people, including Buddhists, fall in line and when asked why they eat meat they just say, "I thank the animal for its sacrifice!"

Well, sorry, the cow or fish hardly of its own will sacrificed its life so you could pig out on fried animal flesh at the drinking party and later vomit it all out.
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