Kyosan wrote: Dechen Norbu wrote:
.......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......
Are you saying that I harbor competing metaphysical systems of beliefs? If so, how is that so? How would it prevent me from realizing the Buddha way?
Fellows, relax a little...
I like to think we are among friends. As friends we don't need to agree about everything. Being honest with each other is great.
I don't see why we should get heated up each time this debate occurs. People have the right to do what they like as long as they don't harm others.
For instance, if someone says that rebirth isn't his cup of tea and he prefers to focus in other aspects of the teachings, he is his own right. It's his path
so it's up to him and we have nothing to do with it. We don't have the right to force upon him our opinions. Now, if someone comes along and starts saying that Buddha never taught rebirth or that others should reject that teaching, then I have a beef with such person because he is spreading what most schools consider wrong view and, in my opinion, risking harming others. But people shouldn't be harassed by honestly doubting some teachings. People shouldn't either be harassed for believing them without critical examination. In my opinion, these are two faces of the same coin. If I consider the second to be more beneficial, it's because after some years of study, practice, establishing bridges with several teachers and so on and so forth I came to realize that the theory of rebirth, as many others, actually made a lot of sense to me, by many different reasons. Still, people have the right to do what they want and my suggestion is keeping an open mind until they have certainty. There are those who adhere to a more orthodox stance and don't consider those people Buddhist. They are in their own right, since rebirth is not a negotiable tenet according to mainstream Buddhists. Others will consider them Buddhist anyway and that's perfectly OK. None of this should concern those who don't believe in teaching X or Y. It really doesn't matter if others consider us Buddhist or not. That's just a worldly concern.
Of all my answer to you this is the only thing you have to say? Gezzz I must be pretty boring then. Listen friend, as I said, I'm not speaking particularly about yourself, so you don't need to get defensive. I can't read your mind, but there may be the case you harbor competing metaphysical beliefs. Not believing in rebirth is a metaphysical predilection. If you tell me why you doubt rebirth, perhaps I can have a better idea about what's going on over there. It's not my concern, but if you wish...
Let's assume you are a nihilist or an annihilationist. Then, you will never get to realize anatman or sunyata correctly because they are incompatible with annihilationism. If you want to know why, study Madhyamaka for instance. This will translate in a poorly guided practice that may end in taking realization for what it isn't. Let me give you an example. There's a state, very pleasant when we take a wrong turn in our practice. A state without thoughts, but also without clarity (although we may fail to notice it). It's almost a halt in each and every worry, very pleasant, very relaxing and we can (and if such happens we may even wish or crave for it) to spend hours in such state.
We may become very boring to others, over sensitive and easily disturbed, and our desire will be to sit and get there again and again. It is like we reach a void, a nothingness, but this is far from realizing emptiness. To those with nihilist views (and others) this can be a huge trap. While abiding for too long in that state, we destroy our intelligence and plant the seeds for a lower rebirth (now it's up to you to discover the rationale supporting this statment). If such happens, if we have a view well grounded we won't take that nothingness, that void, as emptiness and will "inject" a jolt of energy in our practice, becoming more aware, more vivid. This may happen in different practices, but it happens easily in shamatha if we are not careful and spend enough time practicing. So it's not likely to occur to those who practice one or two hours a day and then plunge distractedly into samsara, but for those who dedicate a little more time to the cushion, it's a plausible scenario. This was just as example, that may even not apply to yourself, but one that illustrates my point.
I hope I am not offending you in any way. I am not trying to convince you of anything. Sincerely, I am convinced you should dig deeper about this rebirth issue, but that's up to you. If you decide not to do it, I have nothing to do with it and wish you the best in your practice. There may be the case that there are ways to awaken without needing to ponder each and every teaching. Stranger things have happened if we are to trust some Buddhist stories regarding the success of less conventional students.
All the best,