Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:46 am

Ethics and morality have a social and historical development. Somebody that is an atheist and does not believe in an afterlife may have a strong ethical/moral code, but that code didn't just spring out of nowhere now did it? (well, at the relative level at least)

And if you take a look at countries where the underlying social (and thus moral) and legal fabric has been destroyed then you can see that punishment and reward (physical or metaphysical) actually play a major role in human behaviour. I'm not out to clearly define the effects, just to take them into account.

But this (and the whole argument around rebirth and afterlife) is irrelevant within the context of the above quoted teaching by the Buddha. Wouldn't you agree?
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Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby AlexanderS » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:10 am

Did you watch the interview on link I put out on NDE´s?

Doing your own research on these topics, perhaps in conjunction with some buddhist practice will open your mind to such things. Also reading about and meeting highly reliased beings might spark your interest. The existence of siddhi's(supranormal abilities) of course does not equate that rebirth is true, but it can prove that many people's cynical materialistic view on reality and the mind, does not correlate with everything we know and experience.

Of course getting clear cut evidence on this is hard, which is why personal experience is invaluable. I have personally witnessed what we would call a miracle/supernatural event, which went on for 2-3 hours right before my own eyes by a great bodhisattva. I have never in my life witnessed anything, beyond what we usually experience in our mundane lives. Of course I am just some guy in the internet, so my word probably doesn't mean much.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby edearl » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:27 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Ethics and morality have a social and historical development. Somebody that is an atheist and does not believe in an afterlife may have a strong ethical/moral code, but that code didn't just spring out of nowhere now did it? (well, at the relative level at least)

And if you take a look at countries where the underlying social (and thus moral) and legal fabric has been destroyed then you can see that punishment and reward (physical or metaphysical) actually play a major role in human behaviour. I'm not out to clearly define the effects, just to take them into account.

But this (and the whole argument arounf rebirth and afterlife) is irrelevant within the context of the above quoted teaching by the Buddha. Wouldn't you agree?
:namaste:

Yes, I agree.
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby edearl » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:49 am

AlexanderS wrote:Did you watch the interview on link I put out on NDE´s?


I did watch and responded.

AlexanderS wrote:Of course I am just some guy in the internet, so my word probably doesn't mean much.


I try to follow the Right Way, to see things as they are, which means to me I must see (i.e., sense) and see (i.e., understand) what I have seen, heard, felt, etc. Though, third person accounts are often helpful as a guide.

Currently, my inclination is to study Zen, wherein reincarnation is not a pivotal belief.

Metta
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:26 pm

Currently, my inclination is to study Zen, wherein reincarnation is not a pivotal belief.
Not pivotal? It's not really pivotal in any system. Right Action though... Now that is pivotal!
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"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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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby edearl » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:33 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Currently, my inclination is to study Zen, wherein reincarnation is not a pivotal belief.
Not pivotal? It's not really pivotal in any system.

It seems very much encouraged, though.
gregkavarnos wrote: Right Action though... Now that is pivotal!

Yes!
HHDL: "My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims."
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Kyosan » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:15 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Currently, my inclination is to study Zen, wherein reincarnation is not a pivotal belief.
Not pivotal? It's not really pivotal in any system. Right Action though... Now that is pivotal!
:namaste:

I agree with that. Some people say that not believing in reincarnation hinders your Buddhist practice, but I don't think so. I have never really believed in reincarnation and have made progress in Buddhism. I don't see any connection at all between the doctrine of emptiness, which is the essential Buddhist doctrine, and the belief in reincarnation. Understanding emptiness doesn't dependent on belief in reincarnation. I think that persons who sincerely practice Buddhism and try to be good and compassionate advance in the way regardless of whether they believe in reincarnation or not.

In the sutras, you see mention of past lives. Some people might say that you should believe every word you read in the sutras. Well, I don't take every word literally. Much of it is metaphorical and part of it may not be true at all. In some people, that might shake their faith in Buddhism. To me it doesn't, because I understand it well enough that I am convinced that the essential Buddhist doctrine is of tremendous value. I'm sure that even if I knew for sure that reincarnation does not happen, that wouldn't shake my faith in Buddhism.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:42 pm

I think nobody should force himself to believe in anything. It shouldn't work that way and I have some doubts that such line of action bares good fruit. If we deal with ideas that seems strange or difficult to accept, we can consider them as working hypothesis or put them in the shelf until we find important to analyse them. What I don't find productive is dismissing them without serious reasoning, study and practical investigation. If we recognize our unenlightened stance and still start picking apart a tradition in order to choose what best suits our preferences, we risk throwing away the baby with the bath water and losing what makes it work. Sometimes an honest "I don't know" is enough. And if we don't know, what's the problem? This is not about beliefs, but about ripening the fruits of Dharma practice. Beliefs don't cut it. Forcing ourselves to believe doesn't seem to work because we won't act upon the ideas we forced upon ourselves. Denying them because they contradict another set of metaphysical beliefs doesn't help either. I think the best to do is going through the hard work of knowing why such ideas are accepted, which means study, and then hitting the cushion to really find out. :smile:
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:12 pm

Also another point, "doing good deeds" and even following the 5 precepts is the bare minimum requirement for a human rebirth. Hence it's not a case of you being better than other people, rather a case of you doing what your suppose to be doing as a human. Everyone who is doing otherwise are already accumulating junk in their system.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Kyosan » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:03 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:I think nobody should force himself to believe in anything.

If we do, we are probably not being honest with ourselves.

Dechen Norbu wrote:If we deal with ideas that seems strange or difficult to accept, we can consider them as working hypothesis or put them in the shelf until we find important to analyse them. What I don't find productive is dismissing them without serious reasoning, study and practical investigation.

I think it is reasonable to put ideas such as these on the shelf and later you might find good reason to either believe or disbelieve them. You don't have to believe all the doctrine and you can still be a good Buddhist. I'm sure there are some people who consider being Buddhist but reject it because they don't believe in reincarnation. I think that is unfortunate, because had they become Buddhists, they may have been very good Buddhists and Buddhism may have been very beneficial to them. It has been very beneficial to me even though I neither believe nor disbelieve in reincarnation. You might say that they had thrown away the baby with the bath water by rejecting Buddhism.

Dechen Norbu wrote:If we recognize our unenlightened stance and still start picking apart a tradition in order to choose what best suits our preferences, we risk throwing away the baby with the bath water and losing what makes it work.

I think you are being somewhat condescending which I don't like. If I believed that tradition should always be followed I wouldn't be a Buddhist, I would be a Christian as I was brought up to be. I rejected Christianity because what they were saying didn't make sense to me. Now I am saying that a certain part of the Buddhist doctrine doesn't make sense to me but am not outright saying it's false. It is not a matter of "preference"; it's what makes sense to us. We all have to practice the way in a manner that makes sense to us.

Dechen Norbu wrote:I think the best to do is going through the hard work of knowing why such ideas are accepted, which means study, and then hitting the cushion to really find out. :smile:

I'm not convinced that the answer will be found that way. And as I said above, I've come pretty far in Buddhism without believing in reincarnation, and as far as I can tell that belief is not essential to Buddhism.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Kyosan » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:21 pm

Food_Eatah wrote:Also another point, "doing good deeds" and even following the 5 precepts is the bare minimum requirement for a human rebirth. Hence it's not a case of you being better than other people, rather a case of you doing what your suppose to be doing as a human. Everyone who is doing otherwise are already accumulating junk in their system.

Are you saying that Buddhists who don't believe in reincarnation don't behave well?
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:52 pm

Kyosan wrote:
Food_Eatah wrote:Also another point, "doing good deeds" and even following the 5 precepts is the bare minimum requirement for a human rebirth. Hence it's not a case of you being better than other people, rather a case of you doing what your suppose to be doing as a human. Everyone who is doing otherwise are already accumulating junk in their system.

Are you saying that Buddhists who don't believe in reincarnation don't behave well?
:namaste:

I'd say they are definetly more influenced by other people than vice versa.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Kyosan » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:37 am

Food_Eatah wrote:
Kyosan wrote:
Food_Eatah wrote:Also another point, "doing good deeds" and even following the 5 precepts is the bare minimum requirement for a human rebirth. Hence it's not a case of you being better than other people, rather a case of you doing what your suppose to be doing as a human. Everyone who is doing otherwise are already accumulating junk in their system.

Are you saying that Buddhists who don't believe in reincarnation don't behave well?
:namaste:

I'd say they are definitely more influenced by other people than vice versa.

Certainly desire for a good rebirth will motivate some people, but not everyone needs that motivation. Some people might be good because they believe it will benefit themselves and others. Or they might be good because it helps one advance in the dharma. Some might believe in that part of the Buddhist Dharma (the part that says we should be moral and care about others) but still not believe in reincarnation.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:48 am

I failed to see how one can advance in the Dharma when they refuse to believe one of the most basic teaching of rebirth.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:17 am

If we do, we are probably not being honest with ourselves.

We lie to ourselves many times, unfortunately. There are reasons for us to act like that, fear being one among them. The fear of death can lead to denial: people end up needing to believe in rebirth and actually skipping the part where they should try to understand the rationale supporting it. As I said above, beliefs don't cut it, but at least if someone acts morally because of fearing a bad rebirth that's better than nothing, I guess. Still, morality based on compassionate wisdom seems more solid, but not all people are alike, so I won't be judging.

I think it is reasonable to put ideas such as these on the shelf and later you might find good reason to either believe or disbelieve them. You don't have to believe all the doctrine and you can still be a good Buddhist. I'm sure there are some people who consider being Buddhist but reject it because they don't believe in reincarnation. I think that is unfortunate, because had they become Buddhists, they may have been very good Buddhists and Buddhism may have been very beneficial to them. It has been very beneficial to me even though I neither believe nor disbelieve in reincarnation. You might say that they had thrown away the baby with the bath water by rejecting Buddhism.

Well... I don't really know what to say to this comment, I mean... what is a good Buddhist? I think we could find a lot of answers depending to whom we ask. Is it someone who accepts the doctrine hypocritically? Is it someone who acts with compassion towards the fellow beings? Is it a mix of both, at some extent? It's hard to define. People need to be honest and investigate why they think the way they do. When we face new ideas that go against our preconceived worldview, a clash is to be expected. We need to leave our comfort zone sooner or later. If we don't, we are kidding ourselves and paying lip service to the teachings. Of course one can practice while rejecting (yes, rejecting, not simply being agnostic) the theory of rebirth. That, per se won't be the problem. The problem lies deeper and is entangled with the whys of such rejection. Now, I assume we shouldn't label others as good or bad Buddhists. We just need to be honest and admit our discordance with the teachings. I remember when I encountered Dharma 15 years ago or something, I had to struggle with a few concepts and ideas. It was a very nice challenge which I embraced gladly. I can say that if I had swallowed hook, line and sinker without investigating the reasons supporting the teachings more exotic to my culture, I would have suffered a great loss. It's a bit as it is said: "great doubts, great realizations; small doubts, small realizations". If we just accept the teachings blindly, we will miss a lot. We may also end up mistaking the cup with the water.

I think you are being somewhat condescending which I don't like. If I believed that tradition should always be followed I wouldn't be a Buddhist, I would be a Christian as I was brought up to be. I rejected Christianity because what they were saying didn't make sense to me. Now I am saying that a certain part of the Buddhist doctrine doesn't make sense to me but am not outright saying it's false. It is not a matter of "preference"; it's what makes sense to us. We all have to practice the way in a manner that makes sense to us.

Am I? I'm sorry if it sounded that way. It wasn't meant like that. I wasn't talking about you in particular. I was just speaking of. The thing is, if we start picking apart a tradition according to our own likes and dislikes, can you imagine what a, let's say, "Paris Hilton" would do to Dharma? :shock: I doubt it would worth a dirty dime after she was finished with it according to her own tastes. There are reasons for our experience being samsara. We need to investigate them. Not always we like what we see and then we go to the first paragraph. People sometimes lie to themselves. Notice that I am not saying you do. I'm saying it happens.
And you are right, we need to practice in a manner that makes sense to us. But perhaps we should investigate why there are parts that don't. Some really don't make sense and are more cultural ornaments than anything else. But we need to be careful before throwing away main tenets like rebirth. I don't think it is wise.
Let me tell you why I think this way. It's not a matter of adhering to doctrine or anything like that. I'm a Dzogchen student, so my own view and practice could be fiercely criticized by many other schools. A teaching beyond causality? Malediction! :lol: No, my point is that we should cultivate right view the best we can. This also means not harboring, for instance, competing metaphysical systems of beliefs, like nihilism. There will come a time when our practice will be deeply influenced by the view that guided it. If the view isn't constantly revised and updated, we may end up going astray. Having a nihilist or annihilationist view, for instance, will seriously hinder one's practice and halting one's progress. This is the reason where a say we should draw a line somewhere. It's not a matter of judging people as good or bad Buddhists based in their beliefs. The practitioner himself and himself alone is responsible for his path. So it's up to him. :smile:

I'm not convinced that the answer will be found that way. And as I said above, I've come pretty far in Buddhism without believing in reincarnation, and as far as I can tell that belief is not essential to Buddhism.
:namaste:

Well, in Buddhism we talk about rebirth and not reincarnation. It's a crucial difference right there. Reincarnation assumes that there is a self, which is permanent, going from one body to the other and so on. That would be eternalism, the opposite of nihilism and an extreme we should avoid.
The answer, definitively, can only be found that way, through practice. Every other option, so far, is no more than speculation or hearsay. Now, we can choose to believe people we take as honest, but that's up to each practitioner. To know for sure, there's only one way and that way is practice. Of course you are not sure about it, otherwise we wouldn't be having this pleasant conversation! :lol:

Best wishes! :namaste:
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby coldmountain » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:29 am

Food_Eatah wrote:I failed to see how one can advance in the Dharma when they refuse to believe one of the most basic teaching of rebirth.


This may be more or less true, I don't know, since I can't say I've advanced very far in the Dharma. But the problem here is with your idea that somehow people just 'refuse' to believe in the teaching of rebirth. That's the same line of thought that other religious sects use. Belief is not a choice. You're either convinced of something or you're not. I can't make myself believe in rebirth. The best I can do is remain open to the possibility. I don't reject rebirth, I can only confess the truth that it at this point presents itself as rather fantastic to my sensibilities.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:30 am

Food_Eatah wrote:I failed to see how one can advance in the Dharma when they refuse to believe one of the most basic teaching of rebirth.



It's simple. There are many things that come before faith in Buddhism. Kindness. Wisdom. The eightfold path. Eventually the rebirth issue might become a roadblock, but there is enough in Buddhsim to keep people busy for years before they come to it.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Josef » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:33 am

coldmountain wrote:
Food_Eatah wrote:I failed to see how one can advance in the Dharma when they refuse to believe one of the most basic teaching of rebirth.

But the problem here is with your idea that somehow people just 'refuse' to believe in the teaching of rebirth.

Thats exactly what they do.
They cling to their refusal/denial of rebirth a thousand times harder than any Buddhist clings to the rebirth teachings.
No rebirth, no Buddhism, and you know what? Thats totally ok. Not everyone has to be a Buddhist, but if you dont accept the teachings on karma and rebirth (which are far more rational than a single life theory) then you are absolutely not a Buddhist.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Josef » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:33 am

catmoon wrote:
Food_Eatah wrote:I failed to see how one can advance in the Dharma when they refuse to believe one of the most basic teaching of rebirth.



It's simple. There are many things that come before faith in Buddhism. Kindness. Wisdom. The eightfold path. Eventually the rebirth issue might become a roadblock, but there is enough in Buddhsim to keep people busy for years before they come to it.

Kindness and wisdom are not exclusive to Buddhism and you are not following the eightfold path if you deny rebirth.
Denying rebirth is definitely wrong view.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Josef » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:36 am

edearl wrote:
Currently, my inclination is to study Zen, wherein reincarnation is not a pivotal belief.

Metta

Maybe in Americanized Zen, which barely resembles Buddhism.
Dogen would disagree with this rebirth is optional approach that we so often encounter in American "Zen".
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