Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

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BrianG
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby BrianG » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:18 pm

I'm a bit late to this party, but as someone who started off not-beliveing in rebirth, then became agnostic about it, then firmly believed in the doctrine of rebirth, perhaps my comments could be of some value.

1. Even from a purely materialistic point of view, matter does not warp into and out of existence. Every atom in the Universe has existed at least since the start of the Universe. When someone dies, the mattter that makes up their body does not warp out of existence.

2. The mind(or inner experience) is immaterial. When I was agnostic about rebirth, the argument that the mind needed an immaterial cause, in addition to material causes, did not make sense to me. This is because I did not believe that the mind was purely immaterial. What eliminated my doubt, was reading the conversation between the Buddha and Ananda in the Shurangama sutra. In a nutshell, the Buddha states that the mind can not be found inside the body, outside the body, both inside and outside the body, or not inside the body and not outside the body. Since that makes the mind obviously immaterial, then it obviously needs an immaterial cause, in addition to material causes.

3. Since the material does not warp out of existence upon death, why would the Universe have special rules for the immaterial?

4. The exact mechanics for rebirth are a matter of dispute. Where I live now, Thailand, it is believed that rebirth is instantaneous. In Tibet however, they believe that there is an intermediate period before rebirth. I find both views are acceptable. The Buddha didn't teach "facts". He taught pragmatic truths that are useful for liberation, and nothing else. It's interesting that rebirth always seems to be what is brought out as "unscientific", but no one bats an eyebrow at matter being described within the system of Indian elements. Matter being described with Indian elements is sufficient for liberation, even though it may not be scientifically accurate.

5. Privately, being a nerd, I view what is reborn as being the remainder of an unbalanced equation. Balancing the equation results in Nirvana. Dogen sought to achieve balance, in this very life, by the practice of Shikantaza.

Thanks,
Brian

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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby floating_abu » Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:59 pm

Sara H wrote:I feel like I have something I may be able to add to the discussion here.

Past lives coming up during training, is something I've experienced, as has my spouse, and other laypeople and Monastics that I know personally.

It is, can be, a normal, if irregular part of training.

For me, this sortof thing comes up maybe 3-4 times a year.

Very, once in a while, maybe more than that.

A good example would be my transgender thing that I have talked about on this forum.

In my experience, my reason for being transgender is due to Karma.

I've had several past lives come up in my training regarding this.

In one case there was an Indian girl (from India, not native american) who was very much in the prime of her youth and sexuality as a woman, and was doing drugs in what appeared to be the sixties or seventies. She died of an overdose, and, believing in reincarnation, (not rebirth) she simply believed she could choose to be reborn as a woman and try again.
It didn't work out that way. Much to her intense frustration.

In my case, I can say that my Gender Identity is directly related to Karma and Dependent Origination, that there are consequences for people's actions and choices, that carry over from life to life.
though I can only speak for my own experience, and not for other people.

This is not the only thing that has come up regarding a particularly intense behavioral tendency, or other such thing coming up in my training.

Intense fear, intense aggression, anger, and other things,
in certain situations I've had past lives come up regarding these that helped explain them and helped me better learn not to repeat their mistakes.

In some cases it was through no fault of their own, simply something happened that was done to them by other people, or circumstances.

It can be a very helpful part of training, if, not a particularly normal one, in the sense of it happening every single day.

The best thing I have been taught is that if these things arise, to remember that you are not them, what is left of them is apart of us, and just to love them and bow to them and see what's really good to do, and not just get caught off-center by the emotional pull or intensity of things.

They just want love and help and to go back to the Eternal by way of our sitting. That's why these things come up.
And so that we can learn from them.

I'd be happy to talk about this with anyone if one wishes.

In Gassho,

Sara H


Thankyou, Sara.

gassho,

Abu

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Sara H
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby Sara H » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:27 am

You are welcome, Abu. *smiles*

In Gassho,

Sara
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy

illarraza
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby illarraza » Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:36 am

Greg_the_poet wrote:I saw a youtube video of Brad Warner, and he claims that Dogen never advocated reincarnation, or re-birth, that it wasn't a Buddhist concept and was only grafted on later.


Yes and no...

The Buddha, in a Hinayana Sutra, states:

'Thus I remembered my various past lives -
the first life, the second life, the third life,
the fourth life, the tenth life, the twentieth
life, the thirtieth life, the fortieth life, the
fiftieth life, the hundredth life, the thousandth
life, the hundred thousandth life, the countless
formations of the universe, the countless destructions
of the universe, the formations and destructions of
the universe. I remembered what my given names had
been, what my surnames were, what my tribal names
were, what I ate, what pleasures and sorrows I experienced.'

And in the culmination of the Buddhas lifetime teachings:

THE TATHAGATA ANNOUNCES THAT HE HAS ENTERED NIRVANA -- 'Saddharmapundarika,' [Lotus Sutra] Chapter XVI

But the time since I really attained Buddhahood
is as long ago and distant as that.
It is just in converting the mass of beings by expedients
and causing them to enter the Buddha Way
that I create such a preaching as this. You good sons.
The Sutra Canons which the Tathagata expounds
are all for saving and liberating the mass of beings
I either preach my own body
or preach the body of another or show my own body
or show the body of another or show my own matter
or show the matter of another. The various words I preach
are all true and not empty. What is the reason?
The Tathagata knows and sees the appearance
of the Three Worlds in accordance with reality:
there is no Birth-and-Death,
whether backsliding or emerging;
likewise there is neither existence in the world
nor extinction; they are not real; they are not void,
they are not thus; they are not different.
It is not as the Three Worlds
see the Three Worlds. In such a matter as this
the Tathagata sees clearly
and is without error. Because the various beings
have distinctions of various types of natures
and various types of recollections, I, desiring
to cause various good karmic roots to be produced
by means of considerable causalities,
parables, and words, preach various kinds of dharmas:
The work of the Buddha which I perform
I have never once abandoned even for a brief time.
Thus the time since I attained buddhahood
is very great, long and distant. My life is immeasurable
asemkheyas of kalpas
and I abide forever and am not extinguished.
You good sons. The life which I
achieved by originally practicing the bodhisattva way
is not yet extinguished
and it is twice the above number.
However, though it is not now real extinction,
yet I thereupon proclaim, I am going to take extinction.'
the Tathagata thus converts
the masses of beings by expedients. What is the reason?
If the Buddha were to abide for a long time in the world,
people of poor virtue would not plant good karmic roots
Being poor and lowly
and greedily attached to the five desires
they would fall into the midst of the net of thought
and wrong views. If they saw the Tathagata
ever present and not extinguished
they would then give rise to arrogant licentiousness
and nourish a disdainful idleness and could not produce
the thought that I am difficult to encounter
nor the mind of reverence. For this reason the Tathagata
preaches by expedience. The Bhikshus should know:
it is difficult to encounter
the Buddhas' coming forth in the world."
What is the reason? Of the various people poor in virtue,
having passed through immeasurable hundreds of
thousands of tens of thousands of tens of millions of
kalpasthere are those who see the Buddha
and those who do not see. Because of this fact
I say these words: Bhikshus!.
It is difficult to be able to see the Tathagata."
These beings having heard such words
will necessarily produce
the thought that I am difficult to encounter
and nourish affectionate longing in their hearts
and adoring the Buddha, will then plant good karmic roots.
For this reason although the Tathagata is not extinct
yet He says that He is extinct. Furthermore, good sons,
with the various Buddhas, the Tathagatas,
the Dharmas all are thus.
Because they are for saving the masses of beings
they are all true and not empty.

Illarraza

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jundo cohen
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby jundo cohen » Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:37 pm

It seems that this is an old thread brought back to life from the dead just now by Illarraza. It looks like I never had a chance to comment then, so I would like to offer my small viewpoint.

Have read Dogen for a long time, I am sure that Dogen believed in post-mortem rebirth and spoke of it, as would be expected of a Buddhist teacher of the 13th century. Likewise, I believe that Dogen held a very standard view of Karma, with effects felt in this life or lives to come. This Shobogenzo section, entitled "On Karmic Retribution in the Three Temporal Periods", makes that about as clear as can be.

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/ ... anjiGo.pdf

Such was the world view of the time. However, even so, he and other Zen teachers tended to de-emphasize, or not focus or be concerned so much about, future rebirth because of the emphasis in Zen teaching on Realization, and the pivot point for practice, as available and happening in this current life. The objective of Practice was not really to obtain a better rebirth, but more that one could escape from rebirth by Enlightenment in this life. In some of his later writings such as the above, Dogen did seem to take more interest in Karma and rebirth, but his views seem still to have been rather mixed on the issue (e.g., his writings on the famous "Fox Koan" emphasize that ethical conduct is vital because we never escape from Karma, however when we realize this we might escape from Rebirth!)

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Dog ... putney.htm

I also believe that the pivot point for Karma is this life and moment here and now. So, I am not so very concerned about whether there is or is not post mortem rebirth. do not find the question so important or central to Buddhist Practice for myself or like minded practitioners. I am fine whatever the case, remaining in either case focused on my words thoughts and acts here and now.

I sometimes tell members of our Sangha:

Like many modern teachers, I do not find the question so important or central to Buddhist Practice. I neither run toward or away, affirm nor deny, and focus on my words thoughts and actions in this life as the pivot point of Karma.

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

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

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

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

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

Thus I do not much care if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... 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.



I believe the historical Buddha certainly taught post-mortem rebirth as well some 2500 years ago, but I believe he likely did so as a man of his society and time in Iron Age India. And even so, Buddhists all through history, including Guatama himself, always spoke of our escape from the cycle of birth and death, heaven and hells ... and that largely involves emptiness, and tasting a realm beyond all such states. So, in that way, the Buddha himself implied and often directly said that "Karma" and "Rebirth" only exist so long as sentient beings in delusion see the world that way, and they each vanish when we pierce through the dream in Wisdom. Nonetheless, as the fox koan reminds us, we must continue to honor Karma, and seek the good, in our every volitional word, thought and act in this life.

Of course, I celebrate all other folks who hold differing interpretations on these issues which they would consider more traditional and orthodox.

Gassho, Jundo

PS - I just caught a podcast by a Tibetan teacher, Yeshe Rabgye, who seems to hold a similar view:

http://secularbuddhism.org/2012/05/12/e ... h-a-snake/

Today, after 35 years of study and practice I still cannot buy into the concept of rebirth. However, it does not bother me any more. I now understand that it does not matter if I believe it or not. What matters is that I am a good, kind and caring person in this life.

I honestly do not know if I have been born before or will be born again. What I do know is that I am alive now and so this life is what is important. Gautama Buddha stated this in the Apannaka Sutra:

‘Even if one believes there is no other world, no future reward for helpful actions or punishment for harmful ones, still in this very life one can live happily, by keeping oneself free from anger, ill will and anxiety’.
http://buddhismguide.org/rebirth-doesnt-matter/
Last edited by jundo cohen on Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:22 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

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Malcolm
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 03, 2016 3:55 pm

jundo cohen wrote:So, in that way, the Buddha himself implied and often directly said that "Karma" and "Rebirth" only exist so long as sentient beings in delusion see the world that way, and they each vanish when we pierce through the dream in Wisdom. Nonetheless, as the fox koan reminds us, we must continue to honor Karma, and seek the good, in our every volitional word, thought and act in this life.


But it is not so simple as merely deciding, on the basis of a conceptual apprehension of emptiness, that there the nature of reality is free from arising and ceasing. Sentient beings are delusion. As my signature points out, "So called “sentient beings” are merely delusions self-appearing from the dhātu of luminosity."

The point is to realize that true knowledge, the light of which dispels the darkness of delusion. Then we can talk about freedom from birth and death, and the solutions to the other primary existential questions that spur us on the path that leads to awakening.
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


So called “sentient beings” are merely delusions self-appearing from the dhātu of luminosity.

-- Ju Mipham

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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby DGA » Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:17 pm

Malcolm wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:So, in that way, the Buddha himself implied and often directly said that "Karma" and "Rebirth" only exist so long as sentient beings in delusion see the world that way, and they each vanish when we pierce through the dream in Wisdom. Nonetheless, as the fox koan reminds us, we must continue to honor Karma, and seek the good, in our every volitional word, thought and act in this life.


But it is not so simple as merely deciding, on the basis of a conceptual apprehension of emptiness, that there the nature of reality is free from arising and ceasing. Sentient beings are delusion. As my signature points out, "So called “sentient beings” are merely delusions self-appearing from the dhātu of luminosity."

The point is to realize that true knowledge, the light of which dispels the darkness of delusion. Then we can talk about freedom from birth and death, and the solutions to the other primary existential questions that spur us on the path that leads to awakening.


Malcolm, do you use the word "knowledge " in this context as a direct translation for the Sanskrit jnana? I'm asking because this may be relevant to a parallel discussion

viewtopic.php?f=107&t=22352
DGA's PhD dissertation, a history of "mindfulness," is available here:

https://www.academia.edu/25482900/WHAT_ ... _OF_STRESS

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Malcolm
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:24 pm

DGA wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
jundo cohen wrote:So, in that way, the Buddha himself implied and often directly said that "Karma" and "Rebirth" only exist so long as sentient beings in delusion see the world that way, and they each vanish when we pierce through the dream in Wisdom. Nonetheless, as the fox koan reminds us, we must continue to honor Karma, and seek the good, in our every volitional word, thought and act in this life.


But it is not so simple as merely deciding, on the basis of a conceptual apprehension of emptiness, that there the nature of reality is free from arising and ceasing. Sentient beings are delusion. As my signature points out, "So called “sentient beings” are merely delusions self-appearing from the dhātu of luminosity."

The point is to realize that true knowledge, the light of which dispels the darkness of delusion. Then we can talk about freedom from birth and death, and the solutions to the other primary existential questions that spur us on the path that leads to awakening.


Malcolm, do you use the word "knowledge " in this context as a direct translation for the Sanskrit jnana? I'm asking because this may be relevant to a parallel discussion

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=22352


Sure, the idea of transcendent knowledge applies here, lokottarajñāna.
http://www.atikosha.org
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


So called “sentient beings” are merely delusions self-appearing from the dhātu of luminosity.

-- Ju Mipham

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Alex123
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Re: Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

Postby Alex123 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:04 pm

Hello BrianG,

BrianG wrote:I'm a bit late to this party, but as someone who started off not-beliveing in rebirth, then became agnostic about it, then firmly believed in the doctrine of rebirth, perhaps my comments could be of some value.

1. Even from a purely materialistic point of view, matter does not warp into and out of existence. Every atom in the Universe has existed at least since the start of the Universe. When someone dies, the mattter that makes up their body does not warp out of existence.


Lets say a vehicle weights 5,000 pounds. If you take it apart into 1000 of pieces, the total mass of all those components will still be 5,000 pounds. This mass didn't disappear - But the complex, emergent function did.

Similar in the case with humans and other beings.

BrianG wrote:2. The mind(or inner experience) is immaterial. ... In a nutshell, the Buddha states that the mind can not be found inside the body,


If you drink alcohol, that will affect your mind. if someone else, in another city, else drinks alcohol, then that person's mind will be affected, not yours. These bodies are located in space... Thus, the mind does have spatially located cause.
Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks can find its way to the ocean"


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