Reasons for Rebirth

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Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:42 am

Here is the best straightforward explanation of rebirth I've met so far. From the book The Center of the Sunlit Sky: Madhyamaka in the Kagyü Tradition by Karl Brunnhölzl, p. 183-185.

"Result reasons are used to establish the functioning of cause and result in general. This refers not only to outer or material causes but, more important, to the inner level of causality, which is the operation of karmic causes and results. Karma means that all our physical, verbal, and mental actions or impulses are causes that have effects in the same way any other causes do. In Buddhism, this principle of causality is also employed to establish the continuity of former and later lifetimes. In any case, result reasons infer prior material or mental causes from the observation of certain material or mental conditioned phenomena in the present that are the results of these causes. Basically, Buddhism says that the functioning of cause and effect means both that something cannot come from nothing and that something cannot become nothing. Otherwise, anything could randomly happen at any time or nothing would ever happen. Moreover, without cause and effect, all intentional actions, such as farming to produce the result of a harvest, would be completely unpredictable or pointless.
Therefore, in Buddhism, it is not really a question of just believing or not believing in the law of karma or former and later lifetimes. Rather, if we generally accept the process of cause and effect, we must acknowledge that it does not make sense to arbitrarily exclude some causal phenomena—that is, certain or all of our physical, verbal, and mental actions—from this general principle. This holds true even if we do not see an immediate result of these actions and hope to have avoided their consequences. In fact, we generally do experience the effects of our impulses, emotions, and thoughts, since our physical and verbal actions are constantly driven by them. When we plan a project or do our work, we do not think at all that our mental activities have no results; we take it for granted that our thoughts and imagination will result in visible actions and products. Also, we know very well the strong and possibly devastating effects of certain mental impulses, such as falling in love or declaring war. That it might take a long time for the effect of some action to ripen cannot be a basis for claiming that this action has no effect. Otherwise, it would equally follow that the movements of the original continents on earth are not the causes for the location and shape of the present continents, since the beings at that time did not experience the effect at present, nor do we at present observe these causes.
It would be highly inconsistent to say that some things or experiences have causes while others do not. This would also imply that there are some causes that have results and others that have no results. How could we reasonably define and distinguish between such phenomena? (In addition, for those phenomena that do not have causes, all the above absurd consequences would apply.) Whenever someone discovers the cause of something that was previously considered a random event—as has happened and continues to happen in science—the entire notion of causelessness or randomness is fundamentally questioned. Moreover, how could uncaused phenomena interact with phenomena that do have causes? If they interacted in a purely random way, even phenomena within an established causal continuum would become random phenomena. And if they interacted in a way that is determined by causes, random phenomena would enter the realm of causality. If there were, however, two entirely separate realms of phenomena, they could not interact at all.
As for the classical proof for the existence of past and future lives, we must first realize that if we accept the principle of causality as functioning in an all-encompassing way, then there have to be infinite chains of specific causes and results. For example, a tree that we see now has a beginningless “case history” of causes and conditions, each of which again entails its own causes and conditions. Likewise, according to Buddhism, the present moment of our mind does not come out of nowhere but arises from the immediately preceding moment of this mind. In other words, mind does not depend on anything other than mind as its specific substantial cause.455 By extending this backward and ahead in time, we naturally arrive at a mental continuum without beginning or end, which manifests as what is called the different lifetimes of cyclic existence. To arbitrarily postulate any starting point or a total extinction of this continuum—such as the beginning or the end of this life—amounts to nothing more than saying that something can come from nothing or something can become nothing. Yet this openly contradicts the notion of cause and result as such in the first place.
Further indications that are adduced for the existence of other lifetimes include facts such as newborn mammals immediately knowing without learning where and how to drink milk from their mothers.456 Furthermore, what would account for the immense range of differences just among human beings even at birth, such as being born healthy or with a severe disease, being intelligent or dumb, being born rich or in a slum, in a loving family or a violent one? How else could one explain that some people “have success” or get rich almost without any effort and others always “have bad luck” or stay poor even if they work hard? Why is it that some children can play complex pieces of classical music at an early age without training or excel at sports, while others are never able to do nearly as well even with a lot of training? Even conventionally, none of these facts can be sufficiently explained by causes that can be found in this present life, but this usually just leads to subsuming them under rubrics such as “fortune,” “fate,” or “talent.” The most fashionable category these days seems to be that “it’s all in the genes.” This is not the place to discuss this issue in detail, but if we just consider how little the genetic code of human beings differs from that of chimpanzees and some primitive worms—by just 1 percent and about 30 percent respectively— it is quite amazing to assume that the genes alone can serve as an explanation for all the differences between humans and other beings. To be sure, these differences do not consist of only physical features, but include the entire range of the human mind and its expressions, such as culture, science, philosophy, and religion, not to mention all the mental and behavioral diversity of human beings themselves, who have even less genetic variance from one another."
"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: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:08 am

Not that impressive, IMO.

Also it is a strictly sutrayāna approach.

Somehow, there is this tendency among the Sarma schools to make Sutrayāna the standard by which every thing is measured, even though, for example, the trenchant mind/body dualism of Sutra is discarded in Anuttarayoga tantra, especially in Dzogchen.
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Enochian » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:34 am

Namdrol wrote:Not that impressive, IMO.

Also it is a strictly sutrayāna approach.

Somehow, there is this tendency among the Sarma schools to make Sutrayāna the standard by which every thing is measured, even though, for example, the trenchant mind/body dualism of Sutra is discarded in Anuttarayoga tantra, especially in Dzogchen.



So when Madhyamaka says that the self is imputed upon the aggregates of body and mind, it is unnecessary to speak of mind since the mind is merely a wind in the physical body?
There is an ever-present freedom from grasping the mind.

Mind being defined as the thing always on the Three Times.
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Fruitzilla » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:22 am

The piece reads like the reasoning was set up to support the conclusion, instead of the conclusion following from the reasoning.
The analogies are quite forced sometimes, there's nice case of "God of the gaps" in the newborn mammal argument, and the genetics argument is just silly.

All in all, not impressed.. :sage:
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:30 am

If anyone knows something better I'm really open to it. If possible please copy it here.
"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: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Anders » Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:47 am

Trust/confidence in the witness reports of people who claim experience of it (the Buddha, ancestors, your teachers, reports from fellow Dharma practitioners, the extensive cases documented from the likes of Stevenson and so forth)
natural inference from understanding of dependent origination (which would eliminate the possibility of the mind having the body as its originating cause)

Are basically the only main reasons for justified belief in rebirth that I can see. It's not that complicated really, but those are factors that often take a fair bit of time of soaking in Buddhist practise before they mature.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:51 pm

Enochian wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Not that impressive, IMO.

Also it is a strictly sutrayāna approach.

Somehow, there is this tendency among the Sarma schools to make Sutrayāna the standard by which every thing is measured, even though, for example, the trenchant mind/body dualism of Sutra is discarded in Anuttarayoga tantra, especially in Dzogchen.



So when Madhyamaka says that the self is imputed upon the aggregates of body and mind, it is unnecessary to speak of mind since the mind is merely a wind in the physical body?


There is a mind, it is simply a function of vāyu. Nāmarūpa is still a fact. Just not in the Cartesian sense imagined by those who adhere to the sūtrayāna view.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby adinatha » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:37 pm

Because it happened before.

Your nature is not conditioned by time. It can measure time, because it is other than it. But it conceptualizes time and an I to which it is subject. It did so before, now and so will again continuously, until you no longer grasp time and I. If you want to know how it is that past memories and "your" personality traits are reborn, because causality's nature is for all to arise. This "you" and all that makes it up is not a discrete entity, but a heap of various things, a set in the matrix if you will, a number representing your graspings. When your number comes up, so do you. At the subatomic level, so to speak, as brother Namdrol said, a wind-mind blows into the heart of a zygote complete with all the genetic code and social conditions for the twelve links of dependent origination and all those traits to arise.

Consider as food for thought...
Questioner: This that I am - and the consciousness which is time-bound - what is
the relationship?
Maharaj: What is the concept of "I" with which you are trying to find a
relationship? This is exactly where the misconception arises.
In this concept of space and time there is total manifestation, in that
you consider that you are something separate. There is nothing separate,
you are part of the function of the total manifestation.
As Absolute, I am timeless, infinite, and I am awareness, without
being aware of awareness. As infinity I express myself as space, as timeless
I express myself as time. Unless there is space and duration I cannot
be conscious of myself. When space and time are present there is consciousness,
in that the total manifestation takes place and various phenomena
come into being.
I, by Myself, Awareness, descend into this consciousness, and in this
consciousness I express Myself in manifold ways, in innumerable
forms. This is the crux, the framework of manifestation; there is no
question of any individuality.
What is this? [Holding up a bag of apples] There is no difference
between this fruit, a goat, or a human being. They are all food products,
all three are food.

--Nisargadatta Maharaja "Prior to Consciousness"
Last edited by adinatha on Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Will » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:58 pm

This is simple and clear and the nut of it:

In Buddhism, it is not really a question of just believing or not believing in the law of karma or former and later lifetimes. Rather, if we generally accept the process of cause and effect, we must acknowledge that it does not make sense to arbitrarily exclude some causal phenomena—that is, certain or all of our physical, verbal, and mental actions—from this general principle.


In other words, "karma works during this life, but not before nor after" is an arbitrary & silly argument against rebirth.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:15 pm

Will wrote:This is simple and clear and the nut of it:

In Buddhism, it is not really a question of just believing or not believing in the law of karma or former and later lifetimes. Rather, if we generally accept the process of cause and effect, we must acknowledge that it does not make sense to arbitrarily exclude some causal phenomena—that is, certain or all of our physical, verbal, and mental actions—from this general principle.


In other words, "karma works during this life, but not before nor after" is an arbitrary & silly argument against rebirth.



Right negate rebirth, you negate karma. Materialists by definition, since the earliest days of Indian religion, negate karma.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Anders » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:11 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Enochian wrote:
Namdrol wrote:There is a mind, it is simply a function of vāyu. Nāmarūpa is still a fact. Just not in the Cartesian sense imagined by those who adhere to the sūtrayāna view.


this is a bit 'whoosh' for me (no pun intended). How is sutrayana's bodymind view Cartesian? Or should I ask how it is Cartesian in contrast to Vajrayana?
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:28 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
this is a bit 'whoosh' for me (no pun intended). How is sutrayana's bodymind view Cartesian? Or should I ask how it is Cartesian in contrast to Vajrayana?



Nāma is imagined to have no material causes, as we can see from the above reasoning by Brunholz. In Sutrayāna, mind and matter are regarded as different substances.

Vajrayāna begins to move away from mind/body dualism, and finally in Dzogchen, it is completely abandoned.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Anders » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:55 pm

Is this really novel though? Hasn't Yogacara already covered this?
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:03 pm

Anders Honore wrote:Is this really novel though? Hasn't Yogacara already covered this?



Nope. Yogacara accepts matter and mind conventionally as distinct and separate phenomena.
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http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:23 pm

Namdrol,

You say that in Vajrayana they add a third - not known before component, vayu, what makes a dualist view monist? I'm not sure if monism is really a better concept than dualism when both are pretty much substantialist. Also, if dharmas are understood not as ultimate realities but provisional categories of multiform functions within the realm of experience there is neither dualism nor monism.
"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: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:27 pm

Astus wrote:Namdrol,

You say that in Vajrayana they add a third - not known before component, vayu, what makes a dualist view monist? I'm not sure if monism is really a better concept than dualism when both are pretty much substantialist. Also, if dharmas are understood not as ultimate realities but provisional categories of multiform functions within the realm of experience there is neither dualism nor monism.



Vāyu is the material element of air (part of the rūpaskandha). Specifically, the mind and the prana vāyu are merged and inseparable.

The Mind/body problem is one that plagues rebirth explanations because Sutrayāna Buddhists are unable to give an account of the medium through which a mind passes from one body to the next. Vajrayāna in general solves that problem through vāyu. Such an account simply does not exist in sutra.

In sutrayāna mind and matter are different substances.

N
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http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby adinatha » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:45 pm

Forgive me for butting in, but I feel there are various philosophical schools going on here. I come from a one vehicle standpoint. There are different modes of explanations, but to say one vehicle has some knowledge the other does not is inaccurate. Each wheel is contains each wheel. Practitioners emphasize different things because some can handle more or less immediateness. Lineages have arisen that conceptualize the Buddha's teaching in different ways. But the main point of maya-consciousness is the common thread from Hinayana to Ati. There is no mind-body dualism anywhere in the Buddha's sutras, tantras or upadeshas. Shastras are another story. Whether Shravaka, Arhat, Pratekabuddha, Bodhisattva or Buddha, there is one reality, one view. Period. From the very beginning the Buddha Shakyamuni has declared "Mind is the chief." Then, from there levels of subtlety have been refined to reveal the maya of skandhas, concepts, the subtlest graspings of wind-mind and the nonduality with pure awareness.
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:54 pm

Namdrol wrote:Vāyu is the material element of air (part of the rūpaskandha). Specifically, the mind and the prana vāyu are merged and inseparable.

In sutrayāna mind and matter are different substances.


If it is just the wind element that is material, does Vajrayana take mind to be immaterial or material? If it is immaterial the same problem stands that you said about sutrayana. If it is material, well, then it is an interesting form of materialism.
"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: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Anders » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:02 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:Namdrol,

You say that in Vajrayana they add a third - not known before component, vayu, what makes a dualist view monist? I'm not sure if monism is really a better concept than dualism when both are pretty much substantialist. Also, if dharmas are understood not as ultimate realities but provisional categories of multiform functions within the realm of experience there is neither dualism nor monism.



Vāyu is the material element of air (part of the rūpaskandha). Specifically, the mind and the prana vāyu are merged and inseparable.

The Mind/body problem is one that plagues rebirth explanations because Sutrayāna Buddhists are unable to give an account of the medium through which a mind passes from one body to the next. Vajrayāna in general solves that problem through vāyu. Such an account simply does not exist in sutra.

In sutrayāna mind and matter are different substances.

N


This doesn't really solve the problem as much as move it to a different sphere. From what you present here, you still have the problem of explaining how something physical, a wind, can produce or translate into something mental. It's the same old issue that gnaws at modern psychology and neuroscience and we still haven't come up with much better than 'it's magic'. Incidentally, immaterialism seems to be the only position that neatly sidesteps this issue. Well, radical physicalism would too if it were even actually imaginable, let alone moderately coherent.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Reasons for Rebirth

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:39 pm

I find the view I've already mentioned briefly above that if we understand dharmas as instances of experience without trying to imagine behind them any self, self-nature or substance, the whole issue of mind-body is solved. In fact, the question of the sameness and difference of body and mind is among the unanswered questions, that were actually answered by the Buddha (SN 44.7-8) by saying that only those have such concepts who think of the six entrances and five aggregates as self or pertaining to a self.
"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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