Rebirth and morality.

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:52 am

The Heart Sutra is hardly a good reference for different Buddhist teachings. It's like saying that the Mani Mantra says nothing about the seven factors of enlightenment. The Lankavatara Sutra, on the other hand, is all about there being only mind and no external things. So it is not just that there is an immaterial mind but actually there is nothing like a physical body.

For this basic teaching of nama-rupa better look at some introductory material, like the book "What Buddhists Believe?". See here the relevant part: Mind and Matter (Nama-Rupa)

For further study of the subject there are the abhidharma teachings. Here's some intro starting with discussing nama and rupa a bit: The Four Paramattha Dhammas
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:23 am

m0rl0ck,

Let me add here a quote from Jinul whom you're probably familiar with:

"The physical body is the temporary collation of four elements; soil, water, fire and wind. The essence is rigid and insensible. How can each of them in themselves possibly see, hear, feel, or be conscious?" (Golden Teaching of the Mind Cultivation, ch. 4)

Also:

"You should know that what is capable of seeing, hearing, moving, and acting has to be your original mind; it is not your physical body. Furthermore, the four elements which make up the physical body are by nature void; they are like images in a mirror or the moon's reflection in water. How can they be clear and constantly aware, always bright and never obscured― and, upon activation, be able to put into operation sublime functions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges?" (Secrets on Cultivating the Mind, ch. 6)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:48 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
kirtu wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:And that is the heart of the whole matter. Do you beleive your experience or indulge in the comfort of faith?


That also is complex.



But it neednt be. it only becomes complex when you suborn your practice in service of views and ego. Its called spiritual materialism.


As I understand spiritual materialism (and I'm not so fond of Trungpa Rinpoche's presentation), spiritual materialism addresses acquisition of spiritual forms for ego purposes or acquisition of spiritual power for ego based purposes or generally wrapping oneself in spiritual forms for entertainment purposes or for some kind of validation purposes (again more psychological speak all the way around but one is using spirituality or spiritual forms for other than cutting suffering of self and others). An example of this is any of the forms of spiritual charlatanism that can be seen sometimes or ego based spiritual "empires" that can be seen. Another example is a kind of spiritual tourism.

What I was addressing has nothing to do with spiritual materialism (it seems that some charges of spiritual materialism are perceptions that a person is indulging in a costume party of sorts - so for example if I went around in robes or in some kind of costume that people thought I was wearing in order to draw attention to myself this sort of appropriation would be a form of spiritual materialism at least in part because people have strong cultural identifications and expectations. Some people would say the same if I visited Buddhist temples [which I do] and offered incense [which I do too] because they prejudicially think that this is a foreign acquisition of an Asian cultural form and that I am trying to draw attention to myself or act Asian*).

And that is the heart of the whole matter. Do you beleive your experience or indulge in the comfort of faith?

That also is complex. The Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism definitely says that true knowledge comes from scripture, holy teaching and also from one's experience. Of course experience (and also interpretation of scripture and teachings) can be interpreted too.


In the above exchange I think you set up a false dichotomy. Experience and faith as polar opposites (or as you put it, the indulgence in the comfort of faith - you seem to actually be advancing the thesis that people have experience on one side and the acquisition of a form of faith or a [possibly foreign] belief system on the other side - through which you are passing judgment on others [an unfortunate tendency that so-called Westerners and so-called Asians very much have in common]).

Experience and faith are not poles and are not in opposition. They inform one another and reinforce one another. Faith in Buddhism is confidence - confidence in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha or if one likes just in Buddha and Dharma or just in some Dharma and not in other Dharma, etc. depending on where one is. Different people can be in different places even if any two people say they have full faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

In my response above I specifically mention what the Sakya school specifically asserts: truth is known through scripture (sutra and tantra), commentary and personal experience (thus similar to the Christian Catholic view). However scripture, commentary and esp. personal experience are all interpretable and interpretations are made from the standpoint our our own mind and our minds are deeply deluded.

This is a serious problem in any tradition purporting to be a wisdom tradition: humans are deeply deluded by definition - how can we make valid assertions about truth (and would we even recognize truth)? In the West this sparked the whole Enlightenment enterprise. However the Buddhist response is different and part of the answer is that humans are not just deluded but also have some innate perception of truth (in fact this innate perception of truth created different religions as different medicines). Still human and Buddhist history is replete with examples of people doing exactly the wrong thing and not enough examples of people doing the right thing (it would be better if people just dropped their negativity regarding others but these patterns are deeply rooted and not even easily recognized).

My experience has always been that the mind survives death. Always. When I was steeped in a primarily Christian context (I was raised with both Christian and Buddhist influences although the later did not seem to affect others in my family much) the interpretation of this experience although that was inconsistent with the Buddhist interpretation that I also knew and held (thus holding two completely different and contentious interpretations of the experience at the same time). This then begs the question - how does one have an interpretation of death, survival of mind and rebirth in any way esp. as a young person [these are usually seen as topics of intellectual dissection arising in late teenhood]? And the answer is that I personally, my personal experience, always had the intuitive perception of mind surviving death and rebirth as long as I can remember. Later of course I was "educated" to suppress intuition (esp. as a male). It just comes down to that as a basis.

Then, examining the Buddhist scriptures literal rebirth really is always asserted - not a metaphorical rebirth. Increasingly this is discounted as a medieval construct - "we now know better of course". "Here be Dragons" is transmuted into "Here be No Dragons".

If people don't like rebirth (and it often just comes down to an assault on their modernist idolatry) then that is fine (esp. Zen people as the standard response from a Zen master about after death existence is "How would I know - I'm not dead yet?). However Shakyamuni in life after life based his lives fundamentally upon karma and the results of good and bad actions over many lifetimes. This is really key and can be seen irrespective of whether one "believes" in rebirth or not. Just in this life - if we indulge in negative actions we really create negative results. Usually if we create positive actions eventually we will see positive results. The truly blind are those who deny any such connection between action and result (and many people are like that too).

I would assert that if you restrict yourself to just your experience then you loose the benefit of the accumulated wisdom of any given spiritual tradition. In the case of Buddhism this means that you are actually asserting that the sublime masters of generations past were actually really restricted by the straitjacket of their times and cultural expression. And I personally don't buy that.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:56 am

m0rl0ck wrote:My buddhist morality comes from the inside and is based on compassion and the recognition that all sentients are of the same true nature i am.


:twothumbsup:

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:07 am

Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 03, 2010 4:13 pm

kirtu wrote:
I would assert that if you restrict yourself to just your experience then you loose the benefit of the accumulated wisdom of any given spiritual tradition. In the case of Buddhism this means that you are actually asserting that the sublime masters of generations past were actually really restricted by the straitjacket of their times and cultural expression. And I personally don't buy that.

Kirt


I like what you've said here.

When Dharmakirti refuted the materialists, one argument he made for rebirth was that the Buddha was a valid source of knowledge and the Buddha did indeed teach rebirth. If the Buddha can be demonstrated as a valid source of authoritative knowledge (perhaps better understood as knowing through a valid source), then from his valid testimony we can infer that indeed rebirth is real even if we personally lack that knowledge or experience. We can know something through a testimony of a valid source.

That argument would be a tough sell to anyone but Buddhists and those favourable towards the Buddha, but I think such reasoning might be put to use when discussing rebirth.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:09 pm

Astus wrote:The Heart Sutra is hardly a good reference for different Buddhist teachings.


Emptiness is pretty much the core of the mahayana. Where you been dude?
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:13 pm

Huseng wrote:When Dharmakirti refuted the materialists, one argument he made for rebirth was that the Buddha was a valid source of knowledge and the Buddha did indeed teach rebirth.


Is Dharmakirti actually accessible? Is this text available? One of the issues is that people don't necessarily have access to the analyses of the great masters of the past.

And another is different POV's based on the different Mahayana traditions (i.e. many Western Zen people will have a very different POV from an otherwise mostly common Mahayana POV).

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:17 pm

kirtu wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
Actually the heart and lankavatara sutras (and others for all i know) dont present one with this kind of duality.


The Lanka does although you might not read it that way. The Heart Sutra addresses itself to the path of insight itself and doesn't address how form and mind relate.

Kirt


I hate to undermine the whole contentious nature of the thread, seems to go against the whole spirit of the thing. Whats even more shocking (especially to me) is that im about to quote Astus as an authority. :D

Astus wrote:The Lankavatara Sutra, on the other hand, is all about there being only mind and no external things. So it is not just that there is an immaterial mind but actually there is nothing like a physical body.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:23 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
Astus wrote:The Heart Sutra is hardly a good reference for different Buddhist teachings.


Emptiness is pretty much the core of the mahayana. Where you been dude?


That's the Western Zen view and even within the Zen schools it's only part of the story.

Emptiness alone is not the core of Mahayana. Emptiness alone can lead to nihilism.

If you assert this then it's wrong even in Zen. Bodhicitta is the core of Mahayana - and in this context this means that both relative truth (compassion, lovingkindness, the practice of the Six Perfections) combined with ultimate truth (emptiness). Not emptiness alone. The Heart Sutra is the summation of the Prajnaparamita teachings and addresses the ultimate wisdom side while still touching the relative (form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form. But in Zen teaching compassion is not thrown overboard.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:27 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
kirtu wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
Actually the heart and lankavatara sutras (and others for all i know) dont present one with this kind of duality.


The Lanka does although you might not read it that way. The Heart Sutra addresses itself to the path of insight itself and doesn't address how form and mind relate.

Kirt


I hate to undermine the whole contentious nature of the thread, seems to go against the whole spirit of the thing. Whats even more shocking (especially to me) is that im about to quote Astus as an authority. :D

Astus wrote:The Lankavatara Sutra, on the other hand, is all about there being only mind and no external things. So it is not just that there is an immaterial mind but actually there is nothing like a physical body.


I have to go but while the Lanka asserts a Cittamatrin POV it also does assert the relative side. It's overlooked. But Cittamatra doesn't overlook the relative as the relative is the result of the fruition of karmic seeds ripening.

If I haven't shipped my copy off to someone since I'm moving I will post the references tonight.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby shel » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:29 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
kirtu wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:
Actually the heart and lankavatara sutras (and others for all i know) dont present one with this kind of duality.


The Lanka does although you might not read it that way. The Heart Sutra addresses itself to the path of insight itself and doesn't address how form and mind relate.

Kirt


I hate to undermine the whole contentious nature of the thread, seems to go against the whole spirit of the thing. Whats even more shocking (especially to me) is that im about to quote Astus as an authority. :D

Astus wrote:The Lankavatara Sutra, on the other hand, is all about there being only mind and no external things. So it is not just that there is an immaterial mind but actually there is nothing like a physical body.

:smile: Yep, not such a polar divide between the material and the immaterial, it would seem.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:33 pm

kirtu wrote:
Huseng wrote:When Dharmakirti refuted the materialists, one argument he made for rebirth was that the Buddha was a valid source of knowledge and the Buddha did indeed teach rebirth.


Is Dharmakirti actually accessible? Is this text available? One of the issues is that people don't necessarily have access to the analyses of the great masters of the past.

And another is different POV's based on the different Mahayana traditions (i.e. many Western Zen people will have a very different POV from an otherwise mostly common Mahayana POV).

Kirt


There is a translation of Dharmakirti's work yes.

http://books.google.com/books?id=SfoKAA ... ider_thumb

Roger Jackson also provides a nice review of religious thought and correspondence theory. It is quite a heavy work, but for anyone wanting the highest calibre of Buddhist philosophy, then Dharmakirti is a suitable canditate.

The commentary in this work is Tibetan. I don't think Dharmakirti was ever studied in East Asia until a few decades ago.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:37 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
Astus wrote:The Lankavatara Sutra, on the other hand, is all about there being only mind and no external things. So it is not just that there is an immaterial mind but actually there is nothing like a physical body.


The Lanka is rooted in the view that there is a seemingly externally appearing and experienced world while asserting the Mind-Only position and the whole sutra is a teaching on how this is possible and how this teaching can lead to enlightenment.

One of the short statements about this is:
Then the Blessed One again speaking to Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva said this: The reasons whereby the eye-consciousness arises are four. What are they? They are: (1) The clinging to an external world, not knowing that it is of Mind itself; (2) The attaching to form and habit-energy accumulated since beginningless time by false reasoning and erroneous views; (3) The self-nature inherent in the Vijnana; (4) The eagerness for multiple forms and appearances. By these four reasons, Mahamati, the waves of the evolving Vijnanas are stirred on the Alayavijnana which resembles the waters of a flood. The same [can be said of the other sense-consciousnesses] as of the eye-consciousness.


from http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm

The external world arises due to clinging and karmic seeds ripening like a flood. It is an self-arising karmic vision. And this applies to arisings through all the sense doors.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:38 pm

Setting up karma and rebirth as some kind of mechanism to enforce good behaviour is an error imo. Just makes karma out to be Jehovah in drag, i think the reality of the situation is alot simpler, subtler, and at the same time more complex than that, mostly because "you" dont survive death to be rewarded or punished. Karma is about cause and effect and imo any moral valence you want to add to that is probably more a result of ego attachment than anything else.

I actually beleive in rebirth myself, extracted from any sort of "karma as cosmic enforcer" idea and the only bit of "me" (to the extent that it can be dissected that way) thats going to survive my death (other than that which was never born anyway) wont be recognizable or cognizable in any way as "me" or this ego. So the idea of karma as cosmic punishment and reward just doesnt make alot of sense.

I think catmoons post had wisdom in it. Belief in rebirth isnt a show stopper either way. So if it has no value in the application of the path and buddhist morality is intrinsic, based on compassion, rather than extrinsic, based on force and punishment, why waste the effort in debate (other than of course the sheer guilty pleasure of it :) ) ?

EDIT: This looks interminable and following my rule that if im sitting on my cushion thinking about a thread i retire from it, im retiring from this thread. :) Fight the good fight boys, but you will have to carry on without me.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:42 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Setting up karma and rebirth as some kind of mechanism to enforce good behaviour is an error imo. Just makes karma out to be Jehovah in drag, i think the reality of the situation is alot simpler, subtler, and at the same time more complex than that, mostly because "you" dont survive death to be rewarded or punished. Karma is about cause and effect and imo any moral valence you want to add to that is probably more a result of ego attachment than anything else.


Your remarks on this have already been refuted -- "ego attachment" and so on are not Buddhist and your assertion that "you do not survive death" smells of ucchedavada.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:51 pm

Huseng wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:Setting up karma and rebirth as some kind of mechanism to enforce good behaviour is an error imo. Just makes karma out to be Jehovah in drag, i think the reality of the situation is alot simpler, subtler, and at the same time more complex than that, mostly because "you" dont survive death to be rewarded or punished. Karma is about cause and effect and imo any moral valence you want to add to that is probably more a result of ego attachment than anything else.


Your remarks on this have already been refuted -- "ego attachment" and so on are not Buddhist and your assertion that "you do not survive death" smells of ucchedavada.


Oh man, you suckered me back in :)

If you think you survive death, isnt that a violation of a core buddhist teaching?

What do you think survives death? Wishful thinking?

Ok im really out of here. At this point its just whack a mole with vocabulary.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:53 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:I hate to undermine the whole contentious nature of the thread, seems to go against the whole spirit of the thing. Whats even more shocking (especially to me) is that im about to quote Astus as an authority. :D

Astus wrote:The Lankavatara Sutra, on the other hand, is all about there being only mind and no external things. So it is not just that there is an immaterial mind but actually there is nothing like a physical body.


Another superquick reference is :
45. The Buddhas do not discriminate the world as subject to the chain of origination; but they regard the causation which rules this world as something like the city of the Gandharvas.


So even from the POV of ultimate wisdom causation is not denied as appearance - causation happens - but it is ultimately illusory (like the city of Gandharvas). However we cannot just tell a person undergoing terrible and experienced suffering that everything is a mere illusion. From the side of sentient beings they really experience birth, sickness, old age and death.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:56 pm

kirtu wrote: Bodhicitta is the core of Mahayana


Dam this thread is like crack.

Bodhicitta and emptiness are (like all else) interdependent. From the realization that all is inextricably interrelated and interdependent comes the knowledge that all others are not separable from you. Thus arises compassion.

EDIT: spelling errors
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rebirth and morality.

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:00 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Setting up karma and rebirth as some kind of mechanism to enforce good behaviour is an error imo. Just makes karma out to be Jehovah in drag,


Jehovah in drag? Jehovah is asserted to be permanent, omniscient, all-powerful, eternal, creator of the universe, punisher in some Abrahamic traditions (not all versions agree on this punisher aspect although it does cross Islamic, Jewish, Christian traditions).

Karma is the creator of the universe but can be purified, is not permanent, has no perception, and is not eternal. Karma is a dependent arising.


Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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