Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Jikan » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:48 pm

Serenity509 wrote:
Will wrote:What puzzles me is, why bother calling oneself a "Buddhist" when rebirth & karma have little or no value to one? If a good life thanks to a tamed mind is what one wants, then any theistic religion will do fine. If "God" is another notion one does not like, then a righteous secularist life, with some meditation thrown in, should satisfy.

It is rather like saying your favorite soup is minestrone, but you always tell the waiter to remove the vegetables, pasta & spices.


Why is belief in reincarnation a requirement of following the Buddha? Must one believe in reincarnation to attain supreme joy and peace of mind?


caveat: I'm not particularly interested in the question of who is or who is not a Buddhist.

I will say, though, that to the best of my understanding dependent origination doesn't really hold up without recourse to positing previous & future births, previous & future world systems, &c. And if you cut dependent origination off at the knees, what do you have?
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:49 pm

Mag761138 wrote: But, if we are aware that this whole self-other dichotomy is not absolute, then the above is nonsensical.
There are two truths you know? Absolute AND relative.
If somebody says person A had cancer because in a past life they were a murderer or whatever, I'd have to be extremely skeptical of that. It implies good things only happen to good people and bad things only to bad people, and life just doesn't work that way.
Karma is not about good and bad, it is about actions and their outcomes. It is not about punishment and reward, it is about the natural consequences of actions of body sppech and mind.
Rather it is suggestive of how the human mind has a tendency to see purpose where there is none, similar to how some theist want to see God having a grand purpose or design, it is a reflection of the way the human organism has evolved to try to find reasons for things happening instead of truely looking into the actual causes (and accepting honest mystery and doubt where none can be found).
It is not about purpose and design, you prick a balloon with a pin, it pops. Not because God wanted it to pop, not because it is being punished, not because of some grand scheme or cosmic plan.

Your view of karma is way off my friend. Time to go do some research and then come back with a reasoned and intelligent argument instead of throwing up straw men.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:54 pm

Mag761138 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Mag761138 wrote: There is no "my mental continuum" or "your mental continuum", there's just a mental continuum.


If you accept that there is a mental continuum, and you accept that mental continuum is afflicted, you have a sufficient basis for accepting rebirth without any need to imagine an integral self driving the process.

N


Not at all. I am thinknig far more of A.N. Whitehead's concept of "Objective Immortality" in his Process metaphysics far more than Buddhist notions of rebirth.


The doctrine of Karma in Buddhism is an aesthetic moral theory. Moral actions garner pleasant results, immoral actions garner unpleasant results. Therefore, all happiness and all suffering is result of one's own moral or immoral acts in this or in past lives.

If you can't accept that, than Buddhism will be a constant source of frustration for you and you will waste a lot of intellectual energy trying to get Buddhism to fit your needs. In the end, you will give up Buddhism. So, it is better perhaps not even to start. One does not need to be a Buddhist to meditate, or be a nice person,or even a profoundly spiritual, compassionate person etc.

If you wish to be free of suffering and its causes, however, then Buddhism is your only solution.

N
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Paul » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:22 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Mag761138 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:If you accept that there is a mental continuum, and you accept that mental continuum is afflicted, you have a sufficient basis for accepting rebirth without any need to imagine an integral self driving the process.

N


Not at all. I am thinknig far more of A.N. Whitehead's concept of "Objective Immortality" in his Process metaphysics far more than Buddhist notions of rebirth. This also tosses out the whole need to explain inequality via karma as a need for retribution for wrongs, since every individual person is a reflection of the drive of creativity and selfhood, the good and the bad person equally contribute to that end (there really are no inferior or superior persons).

I am on a spiritual quest at the moment, exploring both Process theism and Buddhism, not having decided which is the more spirituality fulfilling or coherent. For what it's worth, I'm mostly oriented towards humanistic Buddhism (Zen and Pure Land), Tibetan Buddhism is largely unappealing for this reason.

Compassion for others really comes from acceptance and openness (a lack of defensiveness), not from worrying about future reincarnations. I could even see that as distracting and leading to a weak sense of ethical behavior, one that confused self-interest with the common good.


As a more mature (IMHO) explanation of karma from a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, I always liked this one from Ken McCleod:

Karma doesn't explain anything: http://www.unfetteredmind.org/articles/explain.php


I've listened to a lot of Ken's talks over the years, and as far as I can tell he doesn't believe in rebirth. His views on karma are shaped by that - and I think the notion that he just doesn't like some of the issues it raises.

Karma according to the Buddhist view certainly does explain everything - just not to his taste. In my opinion it tastes bad because it's samsara. And samsara tastes disgusting.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Fruitzilla » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:10 pm

Hayagriva wrote:I've listened to a lot of Ken's talks over the years, and as far as I can tell he doesn't believe in rebirth. His views on karma are shaped by that - and I think the notion that he just doesn't like some of the issues it raises.

Karma according to the Buddhist view certainly does explain everything - just not to his taste. In my opinion it tastes bad because it's samsara. And samsara tastes disgusting.


Saying "he just doesn't like some of the issues it raises" suggests that his views on karma are a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. If you read the articles I think what comes across is that what isn't to his taste is the way religious teachings are often quite childish in intent and execution. I find not many religious teachers dare to approach people as adults, playing to their strengths as opposed to their fears you might say....

Besides, I was trying to get across to Mag that there are alternative opinions out there that carry just as much weight as the ones that are put across here as absolute truths. Which actually backs up my previous statement.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:52 pm

Why does an apple suddenly fall from a branch at the very second that it does, and not one second earlier and not one second later? The wind, the Sun, the season, all these and millions of other factors interact, and these are all the causes that result in that apple dropping. Oh yes, and let's not forget gravity. This, in the simplest sense of the word, is karma.

Likewise, in the uncountable flickerings of mental activity that we regard as ongoing consciousness, millions of causes lead up to this very second, and continue to propel (what we imagine to be as a constant) us in the direction we are headed, unless we are suddenly steered into a different path.

If one has cancer in this lifetime, it is often more likely due to smoking than to being evil in a previous lifetime. This doesn't mean that the repercussions from actions in past lives are not still causing things to occur now, nor does it preclude the possibility that many of the activities which happened simultaneously, and in close relation to each other at one time are not also occurring together now, and for the same reasons that they did then.

But the 'self' that experiences these karmic effects is no more real than the 'self' that caused them.

But it is impossible to say that one's condition in this lifetime is fortunate or unfortunate, because you do not know what pleasures or miseries might have occurred had the situation been any different. We may not prefer to have the conditions we experience in this lifetime, but we do not know if they are better or worse than what they might have been.

There is the story before of a person who is rushing to the airport and misses his flight, and blames his misfortune on bad karma, of negative actions in the past. Maybe he was delayed because he was angry at someone and got into a fight and lost track of the time. But the plane crashes and everybody is killed. So, instead of being burned to death in a horrible crash, he is alive. So was missing the plane the result of positive or negative actions? the answer is too often a matter of convenience.

When people equate karma with reward and punishment of an independently existing "self", they miss the point. But when we understand it to be a constant reshuffling of the deck, then we can see where causes that we regard as negative produce results we regard as negative, and the causes that we regard as positive produce results we regard as positive, at least for the moment, and we experience these effects as very real because we experience this human realm as very real.

But unless we remember that these dualistic classifications are all projections of the imagination, we run the risk of using karma as a scapegoat.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:53 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Why does an apple suddenly fall from a branch at the very second that it does, and not one second earlier and not one second later? The wind, the Sun, the season, all these and millions of other factors interact, and these are all the causes that result in that apple dropping. Oh yes, and let's not forget gravity. This, in the simplest sense of the word, is karma.


This is not karma, this is cause and condition.

Karma, the Buddha said, is volition and what proceeds from volition.
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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: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:05 pm

Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Why does an apple suddenly fall from a branch at the very second that it does, and not one second earlier and not one second later? The wind, the Sun, the season, all these and millions of other factors interact, and these are all the causes that result in that apple dropping. Oh yes, and let's not forget gravity. This, in the simplest sense of the word, is karma.


This is not karma, this is cause and condition.

Karma, the Buddha said, is volition and what proceeds from volition.


But what causes someone to make a choice to do something?
I am not disagreeing with you that in terms of samsara, karma is the manifestation of volition.
Outside the context of grasping to a 'self' there is no karma.
For sentient beings, it is the force of desire, rather than the wind.
The apple doesn't choose to fall at a particular time. We have a choice about our actions.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby platypus » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:19 pm

Will wrote:
S509: Why is belief in reincarnation a requirement of following the Buddha? Must one believe in reincarnation to attain supreme joy and peace of mind?


To follow the Buddha's Dharma or teachings superficially, that is, without understanding them, is surely possible and popular. The answer to your second question is - no.

Therefore, you answer my question now - why call yourself a Buddhist if you ignore his core teachings and you mainly want joy & peace of mind? Attaining joy & peace of mind does not require Buddhism or any religion, for that matter.
if its cool with the Buddha its cool with me. The dhamma has many stages and is suitable for many kinds of people.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Enochian » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:23 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Enochian wrote:The divya caksus IS used from within dhyāna, the fourth dhyāna to be exact.


The divine has to do with seeing gods, not recalling past lives.



What about past lives of others?

A lot of books on google books mention this...
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Paul » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:26 pm

Fruitzilla wrote:
Hayagriva wrote:I've listened to a lot of Ken's talks over the years, and as far as I can tell he doesn't believe in rebirth. His views on karma are shaped by that - and I think the notion that he just doesn't like some of the issues it raises.

Karma according to the Buddhist view certainly does explain everything - just not to his taste. In my opinion it tastes bad because it's samsara. And samsara tastes disgusting.


Saying "he just doesn't like some of the issues it raises" suggests that his views on karma are a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. If you read the articles I think what comes across is that what isn't to his taste is the way religious teachings are often quite childish in intent and execution. I find not many religious teachers dare to approach people as adults, playing to their strengths as opposed to their fears you might say....

Besides, I was trying to get across to Mag that there are alternative opinions out there that carry just as much weight as the ones that are put across here as absolute truths. Which actually backs up my previous statement.


I've heard many, many hours of his teachings and read his comments on karma several times before. I really don't think his arguments against it hold water as a successful criticism of Buddhism. After a long time I eventually decided I wasn't interested in listening to any more of his stuff.

Once we accept the idea that karma ensures that the universe is a just place, the prevailing political system can use karma to "justify" the inequities that it produces. If you are born into a ruling family, you enjoy the results of the good you did in past lives. If you are born a slave, then your fate is the result of what you did in past lives.


So we return to the children killed in the civil war. How do we explain this event if we believe in karma? Our only explanation is that, yes, these children did commit horrendous actions in past lives and the karma has now ripened.

For me that "explanation" is not only unconvincing but also unnecessary. The children died. They did nothing to "deserve" such deaths. The reason I look for an explanation is to avoid the mystery of their deaths, to protect myself from the pain it brings up in me, a pain that reminds me that I, too, am subject to tragic and arbitrary death, that my life could end at any time, and that I have no idea what the future holds for me. That is the mystery of life.


With respect to these two quotes, my reaction is 'sorry, that's how karma works'. Pain and suffering are a result of karma. That's how samsara is. Ken says that it 'removes the mystery of life'. This is quite a weird argument in my opinion, based on aesthetics rather than anything else. Suffering is the starting point of Buddhist analysis of experience and the end conclusion to the origin of suffering isn't "Gee, who knows?" Karma is complex but can certainly be 100% understood by a buddha.

As for:

it can be used to justify horrific inequities and rigid moral positions


that would be a complete failure on the person who lost compassion as a result. That would be acting in a childish way. Looking at the Buddha, the lineages of teaching and Buddhist masters you most certainly don't find this kind of reaction to suffering - it seems to be more of an argument that starts with its own conclusion.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Will » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:29 pm

Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Why does an apple suddenly fall from a branch at the very second that it does, and not one second earlier and not one second later? The wind, the Sun, the season, all these and millions of other factors interact, and these are all the causes that result in that apple dropping. Oh yes, and let's not forget gravity. This, in the simplest sense of the word, is karma.


This is not karma, this is cause and condition.

Karma, the Buddha said, is volition and what proceeds from volition.


Somewhat offtopic (but what else is new). I have not seen this breakdown in any Mahayana work, but it is an explanation of "causes & conditions" that are not volitional karma.

According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (niyama) which operate in the physical and mental realms.

They are:
Utu Niyama - physical inorganic order, e.g. seasonal phenomena of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc., all belong to this group.
Bija Niyama - order of germs and seeds (physical organic order), e.g. rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits, etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.
Karma Niyama - order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results. As surely as water seeks its own level so does Karma, given opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun and the moon.
Dhamma Niyama - order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisattva in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature. The natural reason for being good and so forth, may be included in this group.
Citta Niyama - order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including telepathy, telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading and such other psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science.
Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves. Karma as such is only one of these five orders. Like all other natural laws they demand no lawgiver.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby denice » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:31 pm

the id.....or the ego is what seeks praise or what makes someone wonder if missing a doomed flight was good karma .
if in the now in this mindfull moment with ego cast aside for personal praise ,merit,good karmic flux .you care more about all other sentient beings with regard to your volition/action/reaction of this present moment that is a path well paved .just as truly loving another without expecting love back in return .
stilling ones mind & non attachment is letting go of ego of thinking of self(which correctly said by a previous post does not exist) you ,i ,me ,he, she labels ....and falsehoods.
oneness/sameness this was clearly shown in the diamond sutra chapter 1 .at the time for breaking the fast the world honored one put on his robe carrying his bowl and walked into the city going door to door to beg for his food according to rule.this done he returned to his retreat and took his meal quietly ,when he finished he put away his robe ,and begging bowl,washed his feet and arranged his seat and sat down . the buddha himself did what all others did ,his simple act of having his lunch showed "sameness" no ego .involved ...mindful of his every move he went to 6 doors ,not the doors that only had the "best food" etc. no discrimination ,which shows being mindful of offending .....that moment at each door . not as some plan that was premeditated for him to gain something awesome. some doors had spoiled food ,some food better ...all food eaten .that is all .
keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and free from any attachment to appearances."
"So I say to you -
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:"
"Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."
"So is all conditioned existence to be seen."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:37 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:I am not disagreeing with you that in terms of samsara, karma is the manifestation of volition.


Karma is only volition. Apples don't have that.
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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: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:46 pm

Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:I am not disagreeing with you that in terms of samsara, karma is the manifestation of volition.


Karma is only volition. Apples don't have that.

have you ever asked one?
:tongue:
Just kidding. Yes, you are right!
My point was the fact that there are multiple causes and conditions for the appearances that are our experiences, and that you can't just point to one thing and say "look at that ...he must have done something bad in a past life"
...a statement which seems all too common.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:00 am

denice wrote:the id.....or the ego is what seeks praise or what makes someone wonder if missing a doomed flight was good karma .
It is the dualising deluded mind that considers actions and their outcomes good and bad. Just to clarify terminology the example you cited concerns karma vipakka (outcome of action) not karma (action). As for the id/ego, there is no need to refer to or utilise western pseudo-scientific (Freudianism is pseudo scientific) theory when you can just utilise Buddhist Abhidharma to (effectively) explain the human psychological condition.
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby denice » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:00 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
denice wrote:the id.....or the ego is what seeks praise or what makes someone wonder if missing a doomed flight was good karma .
It is the dualising deluded mind that considers actions and their outcomes good and bad. Just to clarify terminology the example you cited concerns karma vipakka (outcome of action) not karma (action). As for the id/ego, there is no need to refer to or utilise western pseudo-scientific (Freudianism is pseudo scientific) theory when you can just utilise Buddhist Abhidharma to (effectively) explain the human psychological condition.
:namaste:


hi there ...what i "cited " was a post from another page on this subject where someone said basically people tend to use karma (good or bad) to explain things away ,instead of really understanding karma ,meaning non buddhists freely using the term karma to explain something away ,hence why i used a psychology explanation .i wasnt saying thats what it was ..i was saying thats how they perceive it to be .i should have quoted the passage and chosen my wording more carefully .thank you for the tips i am new to this site ,not a new buddhist i had noticed how posters do quote (some reply post contain a few quotes wich thread )i tired simplifying by typing it out .i have found the quote button lol so i shall use it .
:smile:
keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and free from any attachment to appearances."
"So I say to you -
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:"
"Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."
"So is all conditioned existence to be seen."
Thus spoke Buddha.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:38 pm

denice wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
denice wrote:the id.....or the ego is what seeks praise or what makes someone wonder if missing a doomed flight was good karma .
It is the dualising deluded mind that considers actions and their outcomes good and bad. Just to clarify terminology the example you cited concerns karma vipakka (outcome of action) not karma (action). As for the id/ego, there is no need to refer to or utilise western pseudo-scientific (Freudianism is pseudo scientific) theory when you can just utilise Buddhist Abhidharma to (effectively) explain the human psychological condition.
:namaste:


hi there ...what i "cited " was a post from another page on this subject where someone said basically people tend to use karma (good or bad) to explain things away ,instead of really understanding karma ,meaning non buddhists freely using the term karma to explain something away ,hence why i used a psychology explanation .i wasnt saying thats what it was ..i was saying thats how they perceive it to be .i should have quoted the passage and chosen my wording more carefully .thank you for the tips i am new to this site ,not a new buddhist i had noticed how posters do quote (some reply post contain a few quotes wich thread )i tired simplifying by typing it out .i have found the quote button lol so i shall use it .
:smile:
Okay, I understand now. Sorry! :emb: No hard feelings I hope.
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby denice » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:14 pm

NO HARD FEELINGS EVER GREG :smile: IT'S ALL GOOD
keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and free from any attachment to appearances."
"So I say to you -
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:"
"Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."
"So is all conditioned existence to be seen."
Thus spoke Buddha.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:22 pm

denice wrote:NO HARD FEELINGS EVER GREG :smile: IT'S ALL GOOD
Especially the "BAD" bits!
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Sherab Dorje
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