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 catmoon » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:57 am

deepbluehum wrote:I'm not sure you are, but I would find it troubling that someone who is a global moderator for a Buddhist forum not only ascribes to but espouses that kamma, phala and rebirth are not necessary Buddhist teachings.



I'm not quite that extreme. Although I do note that Soto Zen is widely accepted as Buddhism and last I heard many practitioners do not subscribe to rebirth. I'd have to check that tho.

Here's where I sit at the moment.

1. kamma as cause and effect is really, really hard to deny on any grounds.
2. rebirth is unproven, by the criteria of the Kalama sutra. I do not hold it to be true or false, but reserve judgement pending hard data. Because it is unproven, I hold it to be most unwise to profess opinions on the matter.
3. The results of good practice I believe in, simply because I have seen them.
4. These are just my personal views. Everyone has the right to their views and maybe even to claim their view is Right View. As a moderator it is not my job to pass judgement on correct or incorrect doctrine, but I am still a part of the community and participate in discussions. No one need fear moderator actions because their doctrine differs from mine. As a matter of fact, the other mods wouldn't stand for that kind of abuse of position, not for a second.
5. My opinions are my own: they may or may not be the same as positions of David Snyder or Dharma Wheel. I have no interest in propagating The Right View, since I view that as the prerogative of fully accomplished Buddhas.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:22 am

catmoon wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:I'm not sure you are, but I would find it troubling that someone who is a global moderator for a Buddhist forum not only ascribes to but espouses that kamma, phala and rebirth are not necessary Buddhist teachings.



I'm not quite that extreme. Although I do note that Soto Zen is widely accepted as Buddhism and last I heard many practitioners do not subscribe to rebirth. I'd have to check that tho.

Here's where I sit at the moment.

1. kamma as cause and effect is really, really hard to deny on any grounds.
2. rebirth is unproven, by the criteria of the Kalama sutra. I do not hold it to be true or false, but reserve judgement pending hard data. Because it is unproven, I hold it to be most unwise to profess opinions on the matter.
3. The results of good practice I believe in, simply because I have seen them.
4. These are just my personal views. Everyone has the right to their views and maybe even to claim their view is Right View. As a moderator it is not my job to pass judgement on correct or incorrect doctrine, but I am still a part of the community and participate in discussions. No one need fear moderator actions because their doctrine differs from mine. As a matter of fact, the other mods wouldn't stand for that kind of abuse of position, not for a second.
5. My opinions are my own: they may or may not be the same as positions of David Snyder or Dharma Wheel. I have no interest in propagating The Right View, since I view that as the prerogative of fully accomplished Buddhas.


I doubt Soto Zen has given up on the doctrine of rebirth. Individual practitioners don't count.

You misunderstand the Kalama Sutta to be saying that rebirth must be proven by objective scientific data. It is not saying that. It is saying that you should judge whether kamma and phala are verified in one's own experience by engaging in the four immeasurables and then see how you feel. If these mental states are liberative, then one can understand that rebirth can end.

I find it your positions to be untenable. Your position would mean that when the Buddha said he remembered all his past lives, and when he made predictions about the future births of various folks he was lying. This comes back to faith. One does not take up the Buddhist path and practice if one thinks the Buddha is a liar. There are internal contradictions in your ideas. I think deep down you must believe in the Buddha's enlightenment, the eyes and omniscience. Otherwise, you wouldn't bother.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:48 am

deepbluehum wrote:I doubt Soto Zen has given up on the doctrine of rebirth. Individual practitioners don't count.

You misunderstand the Kalama Sutta to be saying that rebirth must be proven by objective scientific data. It is not saying that. It is saying that you should judge whether kamma and phala are verified in one's own experience by engaging in the four immeasurables and then see how you feel. If these mental states are liberative, then one can understand that rebirth can end.

I find it your positions to be untenable. Your position would mean that when the Buddha said he remembered all his past lives, and when he made predictions about the future births of various folks he was lying. This comes back to faith. One does not take up the Buddhist path and practice if one thinks the Buddha is a liar. There are internal contradictions in your ideas. I think deep down you must believe in the Buddha's enlightenment, the eyes and omniscience. Otherwise, you wouldn't bother.


I did not say rebirth must be proven by objective scientific data. For instance, if I were to recall past lives, that would, for me, constitute proof. However, since no one else has any way of verifying my experience, it certainly would not constitute proof for them, and they would have to seek verification for themselves as taught in the Kalama sutra. It would be pointless and even harmful to ask someone to believe my experiences and adopt a belief based on them, because it could prevent them from finding out for themselves.

"It is saying that you should judge whether kamma and phala are verified in one's own experience by engaging in the four immeasurables and then see how you feel. " It sounds like you are advocating judging the truth or falsehood of a thing based on whether or not it makes you feel good. I don't think the sutra is saying anything even remotely like that. By that criterion the ultimate fount of wisdom would be crack cocaine and LSD cocktails. Plz tell me that's not what u are saying.

My position doesn't make out Buddha as a liar. He taught all sorts of things. The idea is that he then expected followers to go out and replicate his experiences, verifying them first hand. He explicitly instructed them not to believe what he said on the basis that it was a Buddha that said it, for the very reason that uncritical acceptance would kill the motivation to verify by replication.

He was rather in the position of a math teacher confronted by a student who has discovered all the answers are in the back of the book. Although the student's answers are perfect, he has no understanding of the math. Good teachers do not encourage this.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Acchantika » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:54 am

coldmountain wrote:While it is common sense that actions have consequences, this is a general principle and says little about any concrete situation. Physics also describes cause and effect but says nothing about mind surviving death and taking rebirth. I think we need to be clear in our terms. Cause and effect does not mean rebirth, for it is just as easy to affirm cause and effect without rebirth. Rebirth requires cause and effect, but not the other way around.


Heat energy from a fire continues in an apt conduit, like a hand held beside it, beyond the life of the fire itself.

Perhaps then, in exactly the same way, mental volition, as a form of energy, must also continue, and this continutation necessitates an apt conduit (a mind).

So, really, rebirth/karma is "just cause and effect" that doesn't exclude mentation.

Metaphysical reasoning cannot serve as a substitute for empirical verification. The question is whether rebirth and karma are ideas justified by the weight of empirical reality.


Empiricism is based on metaphysics ;)

If we apply cause and effect only to physical phenomena (such as the "rebirthing" of heat energy) but not mental phenomena, we must either negate the mind completely (monism) or posit multiple ontological subtances (dualism) to explain why we are applying a fundamental principle exclusively, simply because it is beyond the scope of our current measurements.

As such, it can be argued that Buddhist rebirth, while not verified experimentally, is both more parsimonious and rational than its alternatives, and is less contradictory to current evidence.

In my opinion, if it continues to bother you, just forget about it. The point of karma/rebirth is simply that personal actions have interpersonal consequences. If we understand this, we act accordingly. "Believing" things is meaningless, and claims of "necessary belief" is dogma by definition. Saddhā means conviction, not faith.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:12 am

Westerners tend to rely out of hand on the Kalama Sutta to deny rebirth. Right View is the first of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha explicitly states that denial of rebirth is wrong view. Kammic fruit of virtue is pleasant. Kammic fruit of non-virtue is unpleasant. So one judges the actions of four immeasurables based on an internal gauge of whether these are liberative, meaning beyond pleasant into the realm of bliss. This is what it means to verify on one's own experience whether the karma, phala and rebirth are true or not, because if a mind of loving kindness and compassion reaps a blissful reward in the here and now (as the Kalama Sutta says they will), then, it stands to reason that upon the breakup of the body, one will not be reborn, or at least reborn into the brahma abodes. This is what the Kalama Sutta is about. I hope this is clear.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:30 am

If it was clear, this discussion would not be occuring.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:34 am

catmoon wrote:If it was clear, this discussion would not be occuring.

Homes, it's not the Buddha thats not making things clear. It's always the practioners. I really don't know what Japanese Zen masters are teaching, but you will have difficulty finding any Chinese masters from all 8 schools saying anything to make their student doubt rebirth?

As far as I can see, disbelief for rebirth arise from fear. Fear that our delusional mind maybe wrong and we should not be controlled by the desires!
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby ground » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:01 am

Why are you so attached to "rebirth"? Just let it be [an expression of Buddha's wisdom inaccessible to you]. Maybe he applied it as metaphor, maybe he meant "another birth", maybe he meant "being born again" ...

... maybe this or maybe that ...

You will never know anything other than your own views ...


Kind regards
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:11 am

TMingyur wrote:Why are you so attached to "rebirth"?


It is a core Buddhist tenet. A tremendous amount of new-age psychobabble has infiltrated, and is now being passed off as dharma. I agree with Bhikkhu Bodhi that certain conceptual underpinnings are necessary for taken up the path of nonconceptual wisdom. I don't buy into your brand of solipsism, and I certainly don't agree that Buddhism is solipsistic. Utter nonsense.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Thug4lyfe » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:10 am

Overall, this forum is pretty good, at least half of the posters holds solid right views. Really respects Dechen Norbu's eloquence and tolerance expressed on his posts.

I guess Buddhism is hard to accept, because as it's said on the heart sutra: "Escaping up side down-dream like thinking" Because our thinking are so upside down, our 5 poisons actively drowns out every good medicine thats trying to get through out ear.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:34 am

deepbluehum wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Why are you so attached to "rebirth"?


It is a core Buddhist tenet. A tremendous amount of new-age psychobabble has infiltrated, and is now being passed off as dharma. I agree with Bhikkhu Bodhi that certain conceptual underpinnings are necessary for taken up the path of nonconceptual wisdom. I don't buy into your brand of solipsism, and I certainly don't agree that Buddhism is solipsistic. Utter nonsense.


There's a lot to agree with here. Psychobabble is everywhere, as North American psychology influences the movement at large, and a belief in rebirth might well be necessary for the path you mention. But there are other North American influences at work. From the fundamentalist churches comes the idea that unquestioning faith is some kind of virtue. From the football field comes the idea that there is Our Team and Their Team, and thus a battle must ensue. There is an endemic tendency to disrespect logic, reason and education. And as you may have noticed, there are some people who are pursuing Buddhism for fun and profit! Buddhism has to contend with all of that, plus a cultural disbelief in rebirth. To make things worse, this core doctrine has only a handful of anecdotal stories to support it, plus some my-Bible-told-me-so types of reasoning. It's hardly the sort of thing you can readily demonstrate to someone in a month of lessons.

Now the sword cuts both ways; rebirth is neither provable nor disprovable. But the answer surely cannot be to arbitrarily decide the issue one way or the other without evidence. The would be yielding to another western influence - the idea that every question must be decideable one way or the other, even if there is no evidence.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby edearl » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:14 pm

This discussion has been interesting to follow, and demonstrates several awesome characteristics of Buddhists, including tolerance and mindfulness.
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 Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:09 pm

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?
:namaste:

Fellows, relax a little... :lol: 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.

Kyosan,

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. :meditate: 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. :smile:

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,

DN
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:30 pm

edearl wrote:This discussion has been interesting to follow, and demonstrates several awesome characteristics of Buddhists, including tolerance and mindfulness.
I'm warnin' yah buddy, you call me tolerant one more time I'm gonna kick... what waz it we wer' talkin' about again?
"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 ground » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:43 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Why are you so attached to "rebirth"?


It is a core Buddhist tenet. A tremendous amount of new-age psychobabble has infiltrated, and is now being passed off as dharma. I agree with Bhikkhu Bodhi that certain conceptual underpinnings are necessary for taken up the path of nonconceptual wisdom.

I see ...

deepbluehum wrote:I don't buy into your brand of solipsism, and I certainly don't agree that Buddhism is solipsistic. Utter nonsense.

?
You know that in solipsism there is a conceptualized core which is "I" and "mine". Never have I positted "I" and "mine". Quite the contrary "I" and "mine" are just mere thought like "the horn of the hare".

Solipsism (play /ˈsɒlɨpsɪzəm/) is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from Latin solus (alone) and ipse (self). Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism




"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Kind regards
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:45 pm

My set of photos is better than y'all set of photos so neener. Plus I like chocolate ice cream better than vanilla so neener.

Realize emptiness.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby ground » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:07 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Realize emptiness.


... of the term "rebirth" I guess :D
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Paul » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:42 pm

Everyone seems to forget the Gatehouse Sutra in these discussions: http://buddhasutra.com/files/pubbakotthaka_sutta.htm
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"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby zangskar » Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:35 pm

In my opinion it's not a very big issue to accept the teachings of rebirth. I don't find the idea in any way harder to accept than the competing ideas of a) we go to heaven or hell after one life only, or b) we die and it's all gone, there is nothing that goes on, etc. All that is really needed is to accept that we don't know, and neither are we likely to be able to know - well not until we actually die. So it is not a big issue and we can simply give it the benefit of the doubt.

But it's a very different issue once it gets down to actual claims of previous lives. This is where something that was a relatively abstract notion all of a sudden becomes very concrete, for everyone to see, if claims are made public.
If an empirical claim is made, it is only reasonable that people will want to scrutinize and investigate. If some "fault" appears here then it is not difficult to see that it may feed the fire of doubt, and not just the teaching of rebirth but the entire teaching possibly brought in question. So I think it is important that people do not stretch claims to concrete knowledge, and do not confuse knowledge with some subjective feeling, or with having faith in the teaching.

Best wishes
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:42 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Realize emptiness.


... of the term "rebirth" I guess :D


Of anything. If we realize emptiness we'll be free of rebirth, of resurrection, of heaven or hell, of earth-mommy or sky-daddy, of Democrat or Republican, of every systematic system-y system that ever system-ed a system.
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