Yeshe D. wrote:It's not like Reggie Ray is writing books denying rebirth and running around talking to anyone who will hear him talk about denying rebirth.
Hi Yeshe D,
No, I haven't come across that in any of his books, however in the comment that Ray made as provided by Chaz and Heruka:
“The whole belief in past lives is something that Buddhism inherited from Indian Tradition. And I think, as with many things in Asian Buddhism, we need to take a critical look at this and see…you know, the Buddha said to his own students “…anything that I teach you, don’t take it at face value, don’t believe it just because even I said it– you have to look at it and evaluate it within your own framework and see if it makes sense. And if it doesn’t make sense, dump it, get rid of it.” And I think that incarnation, ah… reincarnation, as a literal teaching, I don’t find it helpful for anybody because it takes your focus away from this life. But if incarnation is viewed as a sort of metaphor for the fact that we humans are on some kind of extremely long spiritual journey that happened before we were born, and it’s going to keep on going, then I think it’s helpful.”
I can't imagine that is a statement other than denying rebirth. Like I said, it's not like Ray said "If you don't believe in rebirth, put it aside for now". It's another to say "You can drop rebirth from Buddhism and there is no problem". Now, if the context of his statement is wholly taken out of context, then I have no issue retracting my statement.
Trungpa Rinpoche "psychologized" the teachings on the six realms in order to make them more meaningful to his students. Ray is one of those students. Ray is apparently continuing with this same approach. (As is often the case with Ani Pema and other senior students of Trungpa Rinpoche who are now teachers.)
Ah, but you see Trungpa Rinpoche did not maintain he denied rebirth...his equating of different realms to psychological states to me was skillful means, and at the same time was not a decisive stance against the validity of different realms as literal either.
What would be laughable -- if it weren't so utterly lamentable -- is the almost palpable sense of self-righteous indignation and arrogance pulsing behind your statement.
I am self-righteous and arrogant because I know that rebirth is to be taken literally in Buddhism? Sorry, but I don’t play to the post-modern western neo-Buddhist views of the likes of Brad Warner, Stephen Batchelor and it seems, Reginald Ray. I don’t shape Buddhism to fit my needs of likes and dislikes. I don’t tell people to follow the 7-1/2 Fold Path instead of the 8 Fold Path because they don’t agree with the full 8 Fold Path. It is precisely this see-as-you-deem-fit mentality that is diluting Buddhism. Laughable and sad.
Do you find the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche to be "almost laughable"?
Trungpa Rinpoche is not Ray as I explained above.
In all honesty, Buddhism is about confronting and challenging oneself and one's beliefs on every level. It's not about merely replacing an atheistic worldview or a Judeo-Christian worldview with an Indian worldview. As Ray says in Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body:
Buddhism, in its most subtle and sophisticated expression, is not a tradition that seeks to provide answers to life's questions or to dispense "wisdom" to allay our fundamental angst. Rather, it challenges us to look beyond any and all answers that we may have found along the way, to meet ourselves in a naked, direct, and fearless fashion.
The role of tradition, at least according to Buddhism, is thus not to limit the search, the experience, the journey, but to open us to it — tradition here is inspiration, challenge, and provocation, and some helpful practices, not a set of answers.
This is by far a more refined and challenging approach than your "[W]hy practice Buddhism if one doesn't believe in rebirth?"
When you say challenging, you mean what? That Ray offers a more flowery exposition that allows one to pick and choose the major tenets that are in Buddhism? I don’t feel the need to dress my words up with euphemistic language in order to misinform people in reference to the core ideas that are in Buddhism.