Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

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Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Ogyen » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:29 am

I do NOT want to hash out a whole argument on rebirth. I have often been asked this one question that I honestly don't know how to answer because I'm not qualified, but it has been bugging me now for some time. According to my own studies (Nyingma tradition) there is no solid 'self' thing or anything to call a 'soul.' So when I'm asked about 'reincarnation' by non-buddhists I flat out deny it, "Buddhism does not ascribe to 'reincarnation'' then they say, "What about rebirth" at which point I just say I'm not qualified to speak on the matter-because I'm not. I'm a newb. It's good practice for reducing self-importance to look like an dolt on a regular basis in showing you don't know something. In my studies I've come to understand that there is nothing to 'reincarnate' - however the issue is complex because of the 12 links of DO we have ignorance as the cause and desire and nama and rupa etc etc, so something continues to grasp for form, for being...

I beg our members here to please NOT make this into a thread about rebirth's validity or not (as threads around this questions often degenerate and polarize), I'm not interested in that - in this sense, I have no questions around validity, in practice i just want to understand what is being asked and perhaps gain better insight myself in terms of "what moves on" into new form in rebirth - and how the cycle goes on and on... Is it the deepest part of consciousness (alaya)? What is it in me that will continue to grasp with desire out of ignorance into new form and find new ways to compound new karma?
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:45 am

Hi Ogyen,

If you don't mind a fellow newb weighing in, let me just say that from what I've seen, when the Buddha is asked questions such as these, he typically replies "from ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness..." etc.

In other words, what moves on is the process of dependent origination, and "we" are the recurring products of that process. And that seems to have been about all the Buddha would say on the matter.

Alaya consciousness, if I remember rightly, was proposed by the Yogacara philosophers in order to address certain logical problems regarding "mind moments", and it also provides an elegant model of how psychological/karmic continuity can operate over multiple lifetimes (or even one lifetime) in the absence of a permanent Self.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:45 am

Ogyen wrote:I do NOT want to hash out a whole argument on rebirth. I have often been asked this one question that I honestly don't know how to answer because I'm not qualified, but it has been bugging me now for some time. According to my own studies (Nyingma tradition) there is no solid 'self' thing or anything to call a 'soul.' So when I'm asked about 'reincarnation' by non-buddhists I flat out deny it, "Buddhism does not ascribe to 'reincarnation'' then they say, "What about rebirth" at which point I just say I'm not qualified to speak on the matter-because I'm not. I'm a newb. It's good practice for reducing self-importance to look like an dolt on a regular basis in showing you don't know something. In my studies I've come to understand that there is nothing to 'reincarnate' - however the issue is complex because of the 12 links of DO we have ignorance as the cause and desire and nama and rupa etc etc, so something continues to grasp for form, for being...

I beg our members here to please NOT make this into a thread about rebirth's validity or not (as threads around this questions often degenerate and polarize), I'm not interested in that - in this sense, I have no questions around validity, in practice i just want to understand what is being asked and perhaps gain better insight myself in terms of "what moves on" into new form in rebirth - and how the cycle goes on and on... Is it the deepest part of consciousness (alaya)? What is it in me that will continue to grasp with desire out of ignorance into new form and find new ways to compound new karma?


Delusion and nothing more, that is what "moves". Which delusion? The delusion "I am".
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:48 am

Greetings,

Namdrol wrote:Which delusion? The delusion "I am".

:good:

Maitri,
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Wesley1982 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:24 am

I imagine the Buddha would simplify it for you. Other ppl make it more complicated than it seems
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:08 am

Ogyen wrote:In my studies I've come to understand that there is nothing to 'reincarnate' - however the issue is complex because of the 12 links of DO we have ignorance as the cause and desire and nama and rupa etc etc, so something continues to grasp for form, for being...


Collectively it is the mental aggregates, which are a dependently-originated karmic reaction fundamentally driven by ignorance of reality (hence subject to perishing), that are reborn. There is no "self" in a concrete sense, but there is a reaction between causes and conditions which leads to the continued existence of a sentient being.

In explaining such things a general audience it is best just to say the mind is reborn. The mind, however, is not absolute either and is dependently originated just as much as a physical body is.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Paul » Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:06 am

Huseng wrote:In explaining such things a general audience it is best just to say the mind is reborn. The mind, however, is not absolute either and is dependently originated just as much as a physical body is.


Indeed.

I often see that there is a big thing made about a difference made between rebirth and reincarnation. IMHO, both are fine terms to use in a Buddhist explanation of things. The mind is reincarnated in another body (asuming it's in a form realm). It's just that the mind is not a self/soul etc. - just a deluded continuum.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Tilopa » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:40 am

Ogyen wrote: Is it the deepest part of consciousness (alaya)? What is it in me that will continue to grasp with desire out of ignorance into new form and find new ways to compound new karma?

According to Highest Yoga Tantra it's the most subtle level of consciousness - clear light - which moves from life to life and which also carries the seeds of karma and delusion.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Aemilius » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:05 pm

Ogyen wrote:I do NOT want to hash out a whole argument on rebirth. I have often been asked this one question that I honestly don't know how to answer because I'm not qualified, but it has been bugging me now for some time. According to my own studies (Nyingma tradition) there is no solid 'self' thing or anything to call a 'soul.' So when I'm asked about 'reincarnation' by non-buddhists I flat out deny it, "Buddhism does not ascribe to 'reincarnation'' then they say, "What about rebirth" at which point I just say I'm not qualified to speak on the matter-because I'm not. I'm a newb. It's good practice for reducing self-importance to look like an dolt on a regular basis in showing you don't know something. In my studies I've come to understand that there is nothing to 'reincarnate' - however the issue is complex because of the 12 links of DO we have ignorance as the cause and desire and nama and rupa etc etc, so something continues to grasp for form, for being...

I beg our members here to please NOT make this into a thread about rebirth's validity or not (as threads around this questions often degenerate and polarize), I'm not interested in that - in this sense, I have no questions around validity, in practice i just want to understand what is being asked and perhaps gain better insight myself in terms of "what moves on" into new form in rebirth - and how the cycle goes on and on... Is it the deepest part of consciousness (alaya)? What is it in me that will continue to grasp with desire out of ignorance into new form and find new ways to compound new karma?


There is the Salistamba sutra, which is a mahayana sutra that explains the twelve links of dependent origination. It answers the question 'what reincarnates?' with several metaphors, one of the metaphors is that the moon in the sky doesn't move into the pond where it is reflected, yet it is accurately reflected there, and the sutra continues that nothing moves from this life to the next, yet the consequences of deeds are never lost but appear accurately in a new life.
Salistamba sutra is available in two english translations. David Ross Reat has done a life time of work for his translation, it is a piece of meticulous translation.
They say that in the past hundreds of commentaries were written for this sutra, and that it had more commentaries than any other sutra.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby catmoon » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:14 pm

One candle lights another. What goes forward?
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Aemilius » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:32 pm

In the commentaries of the Salistamba sutra I have heard, it says that the third link, vijñana, is the alaya, so it arises dependently, and so on...
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:06 pm

Huseng wrote:Collectively it is the mental aggregates, which are a dependently-originated karmic reaction fundamentally driven by ignorance of reality (hence subject to perishing), that are reborn. There is no "self" in a concrete sense, but there is a reaction between causes and conditions which leads to the continued existence of a sentient being.

In explaining such things a general audience it is best just to say the mind is reborn. The mind, however, is not absolute either and is dependently originated just as much as a physical body is.


Nagāgarjuna opines:

    Although the aggregates are serially connected,
    the wise are to comprehend nothing has transmigrated

In that respect, the aggregates are the aggregates of matter, sensation, ideation, formations and consciousness. Those are termed ‘serially connected’. Not having ceased, they produce another produced from that cause. Nevertheless, not even a subtle particle of an existent has transmigrated from this world to the next. That being the case, the wheel of samsara is created by the traces of erroneous concepts.


The so called "Prasanga" branch of Madhyamaka generally rejects the idea that consciousness transmigrates.

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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:08 pm

Cool thread :smile: . Could be pinned, I guess.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby 5heaps » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:52 pm

does a brick need an enduring self in order for it to continue and function from one moment to the next?
if not then whats the problem with the mind functioning from one moment to the next, even if we're talking about the last moment of this life and the first moment of the next life
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:29 pm

Namdrol wrote:Nagāgarjuna opines:

    Although the aggregates are serially connected,
    the wise are to comprehend nothing has transmigrated

In that respect, the aggregates are the aggregates of matter, sensation, ideation, formations and consciousness. Those are termed ‘serially connected’. Not having ceased, they produce another produced from that cause. Nevertheless, not even a subtle particle of an existent has transmigrated from this world to the next. That being the case, the wheel of samsara is created by the traces of erroneous concepts.


The so called "Prasanga" branch of Madhyamaka generally rejects the idea that consciousness transmigrates.

N


This is one perspective. Vasubandhu had a different idea (see 18a-d):

Image

However, I don't think these two ideas are mutually exclusive. On one level skandhas carry on as Vasubandhu explains, but at a deeper level the process is fundamentally a result of avidyā. On a conventional level there is a person. On a deeper level, there are the skandhas and no person. Going further, there are no skandhas to be found under analysis.

I think when addressing questions from a general audience it is best to use Vasubandhu's explanation because people are prone to ask, "If there is no self, what is it that is reborn?"
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby plwk » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:47 pm

The so called "Prasanga" branch of Madhyamaka generally rejects the idea that consciousness transmigrates.

Reminds me of this (really worth reading imo)
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:54 pm

Huseng wrote:This is one perspective. Vasubandhu had a different idea (see 18a-d):


Vasubandhu's perspective is vastly inferior to that of Nāgārjuna in my opinion.

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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby asunthatneversets » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:10 pm

Seems to make sense to regard rebirth as occurring moment to moment, anytime the "I" arises and subsequent imputation (predicated on said "I") proliferates. Due to this initial misapprehension a resultant chain of imputed conceptualization gives rise to varying notions of duality. These apparent dualities in turn manifest all conceivable distinctions and designations (time, space, existence, nonexistence, self, other and any other form of dichotomous misconception). Apart from the utter delusion these (apparently obscuring) factors create, every imaginable aspect of this inconceivable reality (which is beyond the 4 extremes) is unborn.

"The actual essence, pristine rigpa,
cannot be improved upon, so virtue is profitless,
and it cannot be impaired, so vice is harmless;
in it's absence of karma there is no ripening of pleasure or pain;
in it's absence of judgement, no preference for samsara or nirvana;
in it's absence of articulation, it has no dimension;
in it's absence of past and future, rebirth is an empty notion;
who is there to transmigrate? And how to wander?
What is karma and how can it mature?
Contemplate the reality that is like the clear sky!

Constantly deconstructing, investigating keenly,
not even the slightest substance can be found;
and in the undivided moment of nondual perception
we abide in the natural state of perfection."

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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby 5heaps » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:25 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:Seems to make sense to regard rebirth as occurring moment to moment

nope, otherwise you would be an entirely different person each moment, and thats not true. nor is it true that when you eat a french fry you end up eating 100s of them the longer you chew that one fry.
the tough part of this basic version of dependent arising is understanding is that while things are momentary, nevertheless objects function over time.
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Re: Question about "what moves on" in rebirth

Postby tk_leaf » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:32 pm

I have assumed that there is no specific "thing" that remains from moment to moment, but rather my existence is a sequence of a multitude of "things", which all share a common property of belonging to (and constituting) my mind-stream. This is why my consciousness is separate from others, etc. There is nothing special about death, just things disappearing and appearing, which it what they constantly do anyway. Am I wrong?
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