Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

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

Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby dude » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:15 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
dude wrote:If you believe in karma, it only follows logically that rebirth is real.
If you don't believe in karma, you have not accepted the Buddha's teaching.

The Buddha taught many things, to many people.


In accordance with their capacities.

"Because I knew that living beings are not alike in their natures and desires. And because their natures and desires are not alike, I preached the Law in various different ways. Preaching the Law in various different ways, I made use of the power of expedient means. But in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth. Therefore the ways they gained were not uniform but differed in different cases, and they have not been able to quickly attain unsurpassed enlightenment."
- Immeasurable Meanings Sutra.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:29 pm

dude wrote:"Because I knew that living beings are not alike in their natures and desires. And because their natures and desires are not alike, I preached the Law in various different ways. Preaching the Law in various different ways, I made use of the power of expedient means. But in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth. Therefore the ways they gained were not uniform but differed in different cases, and they have not been able to quickly attain unsurpassed enlightenment."
- Immeasurable Meanings Sutra.

That says it all. Great quote, Dude.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby smcj » Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:24 pm

This quote is from the "Safe Bet Sutra", where Sakyamuni advises people that have doubts about rebirth to take it as a working hypothesis.

"With regard to this, an observant person considers thus: 'If there is no next world, then — with the breakup of the body, after death — this venerable person has made himself safe. But if there is the next world, then this venerable person — on the breakup of the body, after death — will reappear in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell. Even if we didn't speak of the next world, and there weren't the true statement of those venerable contemplatives & brahmans, this venerable person is still criticized in the here-&-now by the observant as a person of bad habits & wrong view: one who holds to a doctrine of non-existence.' If there really is a next world, then this venerable person has made a bad throw twice: in that he is criticized by the observant here-&-now, and in that — with the breakup of the body, after death — he will reappear in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell. Thus this safe-bet teaching, when poorly grasped & poorly adopted by him, covers (only) one side, and leaves behind the possibility of the skillful.
(formatting mine)

So my position is to keep an open mind about the possibility, and not automatically dismiss it. We have open minds about 11 dimensions and parallel universes, which are also hypotheses unsupported by evidence, so why not reincarnation?

And as dude said:
The Buddha taught many things, to many people.

In accordance with their capacities.

So choose your Sutra, and go with it!
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby catmoon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:38 am

All you have to do to establish karma is real is to use the weakest definition of it. To wit:

Karma is cause and effect.

You can test this one right now. Drop something and see if it falls.

Let's try firming up the definition a little. There is an idea in karma doctrine that there exists a certain likeness between causes and effects. For example, if you plant carrots you get more carrots, not oak trees. Or, if you smile at someone they are likely to smile back. If you stand on their foot, the reaction will not be so good. And interestingly, if you stand on their foot and mock them, you might get hurt physically. So not only is there this tendency of effects to follow the nature of their causes, its even semi-quantitative, immediate reactions seem to vary in proportion to the strength intention in the cause.

Nothing to remarkable yet, no metaphysics, just experiment and observation. But it is interesting that you can get this far, and go a bit farther if you consider secondary and tertiary effects. All very pragmatic and difficult to argue with.

Now if you add in the proposition that karma is somehow cumulative, and that it will affect the form of your next rebirth, all bets are off. There is no way to establish that karma is real in this sense. First you would have to establish the reality of rebirth and the best that can be done there is to accumulate some vaguely convincing anecdotal evidence. This is neither proof nor disproof. I think we have to accept the reality of karma in this sense is an unknown. So all we can do is believe what seems most sensible to us as individuals and realize there will be many who disagree, or only agree to a limited extent.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:16 am

catmoon wrote:Nothing to remarkable yet, no metaphysics, just experiment and observation. But it is interesting that you can get this far, and go a bit farther if you consider secondary and tertiary effects. All very pragmatic and difficult to argue with.

Now if you add in the proposition that karma is somehow cumulative, ...

It seems that you may have left out the aspect of karma that relates to the formation of mental habits. The more we habitualise ourselves toward a certain behaviour, the more likely we are to behave that way in the future.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby dude » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:30 am

I have no knowledge of my past lives or life after death, but I came to believe in karma by personal experience.
It didn't take me long to see that doing consistent sitting practice brought results in not only my internal state of life but in everything around me and my relationship with it. It's my subjective experience and open to question, but I've seen it prove itself to where it would be "unscientific" to doubt it. For me anyway.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby undefineable » Sat Nov 30, 2013 7:39 pm

catmoon wrote:if you smile at someone they are likely to smile back. If you stand on their foot, the reaction will not be so good. And interestingly, if you stand on their foot and mock them, you might get hurt physically. So not only is there this tendency of effects to follow the nature of their causes, its even semi-quantitative, immediate reactions seem to vary in proportion to the strength intention in the cause.
It's also interesting to consider, here, how any action that harms living creatures has to be backed up by force in order to sustain the proverbial apple seed's sterility in the 'physical' world alone. When the actualised potential of those creatures is not so inferior to one's own, a lot of deliberate effort to forestall retaliation is likely to be involved :evil: :) .
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:42 pm

Hi, leinas.

The Buddha didn't teach "immutable" suffering or pessimism. He taught a "path leading to the cessation of suffering." Buddhism is highly optimistic. This is taught in what is traditionally called "The First Discourse of the Buddha."

The Buddha didn't support the caste system. He accepted and praised outcastes who had good within them, such as Sunita the flower gatherer. He repeatedly taught that it is actions and not one's birth that matter. The monastic society that he founded ignored all caste distinctions. The Śakya clan that he had been born in was a self-governing republic that made decisions in assemblies and did not have a caste system. Eventually, the Buddha similarly empowered the monks to vote on candidates for higher ordination, "the presiding monk putting the proposal to the assembly three times."

The Buddha did not use the doctrines of karma and rebirth to oppress others. He used them to encourage good deeds, compassion, and the acceptance of what one cannot change. He never said that one should let everyone suffer because it is their karma. When the Buddha and his cousin Ananda saw a monk suffering from dysentery, lying in filth, they bathed him. (Pali Vinaya I.301 f) He prevented a war between the Sakyas and Koliyas over water (Dhammapada-atthakatha, commenting on Dhp. vv. 197-199)

If religious doctrines can only be understood in the ways they are misused in religious societies or by religious governments, then I would say that all major religions look bad by that criterion.

In 2011 the "14th Dalai Lama handed over his leadership of the Tibetan government-in-exile to the democratically elected Lobsang Sangay, a 42-year-old Harvard-trained lawyer..." Clearly, Tibetan Buddhism is not inherently anti-democratic. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... -down.html
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby smcj » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:59 pm

The Dalai Lama learned Democratic election from Western tradition for there was no democracy, no voting, no equal opportunity, no human rights and no equality before the law in traditional Tibet.

In America slavery was legal up until 150 years ago. Black people were the property of the whites, which could torture or kill them at a whim. The doctrine of 'separate but equal' was still in effect when I was a child. The values you hold pre-PRC Tibet to are extremely modern. Our own society of 100 years ago would fail by today's standards. If you want to hold what was, for all intents and purposes, a 14th century society to modern standards, you might at well mention that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were both slave owners. And that Jefferson's children by his black sex-slave were owned by his children of his white wife. They were siblings, yet his white children owned his black children. And this by the man that penned "…all men are created equal"!

But in no way do the problems criticisms of America diminish the incredible contributions it has made to the world. And, in the same sense, in no way do the problems and criticisms of Tibet diminish the contribution it has made to the world.

Times change. The Renaissance happened earlier in Italy than England. The modern world happened earlier in America than Asia, fwiw.
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Re: Life is holy, not suffering.

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:37 pm

leinas wrote:Life is holy because it is a manifestation of holy infinite Nature. Infinite Nature is holy because it is infinite life and the source of all life, life viewed as holy not as suffering. ....
It is therefore not at all surprising that the Tibetans have been so severely repressed within the Tibetan caste system. To the extent that Buddhism rests on idolatry the entire edifice of its superstructure is suspect. Suffering, karma and reincarnation are relevant in this wretched framework of idolatry and social repression. Therefore, to the extent that idolatry is falsehood and democracy is real, the Buddhist conceptual structure collapses in a heap of suffering, karma and reincarnation.

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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby smcj » Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:49 pm

The Buddha taught that life is suffering, inherently suffering, incorrigibly suffering and immutably suffering (First Noble Truth) because the very fabric of samsara is contaminated, fragmentary and illusory. Gautama Buddha taught that the cessation of suffering is the extinction of life and its basis in desire and that is a pessimistic doctrine.

Well, yes and no. My analogy is to someone with a substance abuse problem. They have to see, in no uncertain terms, that they are checkmated, that there is no possibility that they will be able to make it work. If you can actually see that there is no way to have happiness you can more easily stop trying to do it the wrong way. There isn't any internal struggle involved if you can see the hopelessness of it. The fact that the Buddha does not give any type of alternative at this level just means that he doesn't want to give someone any straws to grasp at. Later, after a number of lifetimes, the person is allowed the Mahayana, with its more positive spin on things. Then later the Vajrayana is even more positive, and of course Dzogchen says that everything is perfect 'just as it is'.

But it all starts with letting go of doing it the wrong way.
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Re: clarification

Postby sukhamanveti » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:38 am

leinas wrote:The Buddha taught that life is suffering, inherently suffering, incorrigibly suffering and immutably suffering (First Noble Truth) because the very fabric of samsara is contaminated, fragmentary and illusory. Gautama Buddha taught that the cessation of suffering is the extinction of life and its basis in desire and that is a pessimistic doctrine.


This is a Western interpretation of Buddhism that apparently originated with Arthur Schopenhauer and seems to have influenced Weber, Freud, Marx, and Durkheim. It is clear that it is an interpretation, because nowhere in the discourses does the Buddha actually say, "life is immutable suffering" or "the cessation of suffering is the extinction of life." This is not how ancient Buddhists understood the discourses, according to many Buddhist authorities. A number of Buddhist scholars, such as Walpola Rahula and Robert Thurman, have thoroughly refuted this misinterpretation. I highly recommend What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula, because he specifically addresses this therein.

It is true that samsaric existence is unsatisfactory. When one attains enlightenment or awakening (bodhi), one attains nirvana, the extinction of craving, attachment, ill will, and delusion, then and there and one is free. One is at peace. As Walpola Rahula points out, nirvana "can be realized in this very life." The Buddha's disciples were described as "joyful and elated," "jubilant and exultant," "free from anxiety," "serene," etc.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby invisiblediamond » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:39 am

http://www.dalailama.com/biography/reincarnation

There are many different logical arguments given in the words of the Buddha and subsequent commentaries to prove the existence of past and future lives. In brief, they come down to four points: the logic that things are preceded by things of a similar type, the logic that things are preceded by a substantial cause, the logic that the mind has gained familiarity with things in the past, and the logic of having gained experience of things in the past.




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Re: Life is holy, not suffering.

Postby Sherab » Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:52 am

leinas wrote:The more fundamental truth is: Life is holy. Yes life is suffering but that comes later; more fundamentally, life is holy. Karma and rebirth are topics that interface with the view of life in terms of immutable suffering. The view of life as holy is incompatible with the view of life as suffering in terms of karma and reincarnation.

Life is holy because it is a manifestation of holy infinite Nature. Infinite Nature is holy because it is infinite life and the source of all life, life viewed as holy not as suffering. This view interfaces with conditions conducive to the development of democracy. The view of life as suffering interfaces perfectly with conditions conducive to the development of fascism. I say, enough of Buddhist bitching and whining about suffering.

If you examine life itself, I don't know how you could come to such a lop-sided conclusion.

In the animal kingdom, life is a struggle. That struggle is brutal. Look at how the praying mantis will eat another insect alive. The praying mantis itself can become a pray to other insects and to certain spiders. Look at how animals in other to live, have to learn and/or evolve various defence mechanisms and how the predators in order to survive have to learn and/or evolve strategies to overcome the defence mechanisms of their prey. Imagine yourself as an insect slowly munched to death by a praying mantis. Imagine yourself as a small fish being eaten alive by a bigger fish and slowly suffocated to death in the stomach of the bigger fish. Imagine yourself being a rat and poisoned by snake venom that dissolves all your internal tissues. There are many examples of the brutality of life if you only care to look.

The infinite nature that you talked about care not for suffering as it itself being the source of all life necessary means that it itself is the source of all sufferings.

If you so-called view "interfaces with conditions conducive to the development of democracy", it must also interfaces with conditions conducive to the development of tyranny, dictatorship, facism etc.

Given what one can see and observe of the world, I would think that the thesis life is unholy because it is infinite death and the source of all death is probably a more reasonable one than yours. Not that I subscribe to this thesis though. There is a better explanation in Buddhism.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby smcj » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:24 am

...because nowhere in the discourses does the Buddha actually say, "life is immutable suffering"...

Impermanence means everything changes. Nothing is immutable (except perhaps black holes). However if you can show me an example of something that isn't contaminated by dukha, I will concede the point.

As a refresher, the Buddha taught that there was the suffering of suffering, which is actual pain and misery.

He taught that there was the suffering of change, where the answer to any problem itself gives rise to a new set of problems.

And he taught the suffering of conditioned existence, which is the illusion of self. This is an umbrella condition, which is present in every aspect of unenlightened life.

The answer to this was to escape samsara, which was the cycle of life and reincarnation.

...or "the cessation of suffering is the extinction of life."

The Buddha did not recommend suicide. It wouldn't help because you'd just come back. The answer he gave was to stop the cycle of reincarnation--samsara. When describing his own spiritual accomplishment he said, "I have ceased the outflows that made me human."

******************************

As I've said before the later schools amended this, so Tibetan Buddhism can claim that this life in the material world is a better opportunity for spiritual growth than other conceivable scenario. (My apologies to Pure Land practitioners.}
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby invisiblediamond » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:30 am

No Leinas. Buddha said birth, old age, sickness and death is suffering. He didn't say life was suffering.
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby invisiblediamond » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:33 am

Leinas. "Life is holy because life is holy, because life is infinite, because infinity is the source of infinity, and that's life, just because. Yay! Life. Aw look, a baby."
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby sukhamanveti » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:49 am

smcj wrote:
...because nowhere in the discourses does the Buddha actually say, "life is immutable suffering"...

Impermanence means everything changes. Nothing is immutable (except perhaps black holes). However if you can show me an example of something that isn't contaminated by dukha, I will concede the point.

As a refresher, the Buddha taught that there was the suffering of suffering, which is actual pain and misery.

He taught that there was the suffering of change, where the answer to any problem itself gives rise to a new set of problems.

And he taught the suffering of conditioned existence, which is the illusion of self. This is an umbrella condition, which is present in every aspect of unenlightened life.

The answer to this was to escape samsara, which was the cycle of life and reincarnation.

...or "the cessation of suffering is the extinction of life."

The Buddha did not recommend suicide. It wouldn't help because you'd just come back. The answer he gave was to stop the cycle of reincarnation--samsara. When describing his own spiritual accomplishment he said, "I have ceased the outflows that made me human."

******************************

As I've said before the later schools amended this, so Tibetan Buddhism can claim that this life in the material world is a better opportunity for spiritual growth than other conceivable scenario. (My apologies to Pure Land practitioners.}


The Pali texts teach that the realization of nibbāna (nirvana), which can occur "here and now," is permanent and that it is peace, the "supreme peace" in fact. One who has attained this state can still experience a painful sensation in the body, physical dukkha such as a back ache, but there will no longer be any accompanying mental suffering, according to the texts. The mind is no longer touched by suffering, because the causes of mental suffering (and rebirth, yes), have been uprooted. There is no more craving, attachment, ill will, or delusion. Thus the emotional states that these give rise to do not occur.

EDIT: I fixed a typo.
namo bhagavate śākyamunaye tathāgatāyārhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya | namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ ||

"Bodhisattva-mahāsattvas love all beings in the world equally, as if each were their only child..." Buddhāvataṃsakamahāvaipulya Sūtra
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby leinas » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:59 am

invisiblediamond wrote:No Leinas. Buddha said birth, old age, sickness and death is suffering. He didn't say life was suffering.


Life = birth, youth, old age, sickness and death
birth, youth, old age, sickness and death = suffering
Therefore, life = suffering.
qed

In addition to the original texts, there are also the following:

http://www.buddhanet.net/cbp1_f6.htm

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm

http://sourcesofinsight.com/buddha-quotes/

http://buddhism.about.com/od/thefournob ... xplain.htm

http://www.nst.org/articles/basics-of-s ... -theorems/

http://www.patheos.com/Library/Buddhism ... -Evil.html

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... ed_in_Pali

http://philosophycourse.info/lecsite/le ... -budd.html
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby reddust » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:11 am

Isn't suffering (edit dukkha) from our reaction to what we like or don't like and ignorance regarding self? Life is indifferent, it just goes on no matter what :shrug: Edit: I found it...Three patterns, Dukkha of ordinary suffering, Dukkha produced by change, Dukkha of conditioned states
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