Soto-zen, Dogen and reincarnation

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.

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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.


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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,

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

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