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 Beatzen » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:48 pm

Virgo wrote:
Beatzen wrote:
Kevin wrote:How about karma. Do you believe in cause?

Kevin


yes.

So let me present you with a scenario. Two girls are born. One is impoverished, and one has a very good and happy life. The impoverished girl is unhappy because she has no resources. The rich girl has a great life in a good area, good education and so on. These are just two people. If things arise because of causes, why should one have to suffer and why should one have an advantage if causes put down in past lives were not having their effects in these girls lives now. Surely, the young girl who is poor, did not steal or rob from people, etc. as a baby and have to suffer for it now. So what is the reasoning behind the difference of events that happen in their lives?

Kevin


My brain says 'cause and effect.' But my inner sceptic took off on a tangent and asked whether we are sometimes affected by other peoples' karma as well.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
- Eihei Dogen Zenji
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:49 pm

Just saying that the global situation isn't very stable to say the least; and the U.S. and many other countries don't exactly have a light karmic burden to deal with.

Not to say that we should have fear because of this.

Although we ought to be diligent and make use of the best means that we have access to.

Yet at the same time, this doesn't mean that we should always be jumping from practice to practice and from school to school.
Last edited by Lhug-Pa on Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reincarnation, Zen, etc.

Postby Acchantika » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:51 pm

Beatzen wrote:I'm simply open about the fact that I haven't had an insight into it's reality while in meditation, which is the way to investigate it, is it not?


In observing the world around you, do things that arise continue, even upon apparent destruction?

Why should we presume a mind to be an exceptional case?
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:52 pm

Beatzen wrote:I haven't made up my mind.


So you're agnostic on it. This is very different from your original statement outright denying it.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Virgo » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:59 pm

Beatzen wrote:My brain says 'cause and effect.' But my inner sceptic took off on a tangent and asked whether we are sometimes affected by other peoples' karma as well.

So I can die an early death because you kill someone, or because my cousins do?

Kevin
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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:04 pm

Beatzen wrote:I have to say, I've got a lot of flak, particularly from the tibetan people on this board, for saying this.


In addtion to Chan, Pure Land, Nichiren, Tendai, and some Theravadan practitioners here.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Acchantika » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:11 pm

Virgo wrote:
Beatzen wrote:My understanding will change, and I may come to trust in the reality of rebirth for myself. I don't see how admitting that I don't understand it yet makes me a heretic.
Forgive me if I have missed a post or two that might contain the answer, but, do you believe that nothing happens at death? It's just "black"? or do you believe in some form of permanent afterlife (perm heaven or hells)?

Either way, there is no point in spiritual (Buddhist) practice if you believe either of those.

Kevin


Liberation is for the suffering of all beings, which is the case in this life, so there is still very much a point in Buddhist practice if you believe either of those, I think.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Virgo » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:14 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:
Beatzen wrote:My understanding will change, and I may come to trust in the reality of rebirth for myself. I don't see how admitting that I don't understand it yet makes me a heretic.
Forgive me if I have missed a post or two that might contain the answer, but, do you believe that nothing happens at death? It's just "black"? or do you believe in some form of permanent afterlife (perm heaven or hells)?

Either way, there is no point in spiritual (Buddhist) practice if you believe either of those.

Kevin


Liberation is for the suffering of all beings, which is the case in this life, so there is still very much a point in Buddhist practice if you believe either of those, I think.

If they only need to suffer in this one life, their suffering will be over soon. If, however, as Buddhism shows, they will have an indefinite stream of lifetimes with the 4 kinds of suffering, then dedicating your life/lives to helping this alleviate this is far more important. That's my opinion.

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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Acchantika » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:31 pm

Virgo wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:Either way, there is no point in spiritual (Buddhist) practice if you believe either of those.

Kevin


Liberation is for the suffering of all beings, which is the case in this life, so there is still very much a point in Buddhist practice if you believe either of those, I think.

If they only need to suffer in this one life, their suffering will be over soon. If, however, as Buddhism shows, they will have an indefinite stream of lifetimes with the 4 kinds of suffering, then dedicating your life/lives to helping this alleviate this is far more important. That's my opinion.

Kevin


What I mean is that there are reasons that Buddhist practice is meaningful whether one believes in rebirth or not. Quite a lot of people find it difficult to initially believe in rebirth, particularly Westerners. If we say that there is no point practicing without believing it, we encourage them either to adopt an arbitrary belief, which is an obstacle, or abandon Buddhism entirely due to what is otherwise a healthy skepticism. In fact, since beings suffer presently, and Buddhism presents a method to alleviate this suffering in this life, it is not necessary to appeal to future lives to rationalise Buddhist practice, without denying that they nevertheless form an integral part of its eventual worldview.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Adamantine » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:34 pm

If someone believes in only this life alone, that nothing follows, or precedes it-- and feels certain about this, than that person is exactly following blind faith. There is no proof at all that nothing precedes or follows this life. What's more, as Robert Thurman points out-- there is no such thing as "nothing". It is a merely a faulty concept. Just as physical matter doesn't ever disappear into so-called "nothing", nor arise from so-called "nothing", so too one should see the mind. There is no combination of chemicals that can produce a mind, as much as geeky materialist-futurists like to fantasize about doing such with their android fantasies...

And finally, there is convincing anecdotal evidence for past-lives, an impressive amount was systematically compiled by the scientist Ian Stevenson. Look into it.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Beatzen » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:41 pm

Virgo wrote:
Beatzen wrote:My brain says 'cause and effect.' But my inner sceptic took off on a tangent and asked whether we are sometimes affected by other peoples' karma as well.

So I can die an early death because you kill someone, or because my cousins do?

Kevin


actually, yes.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
- Eihei Dogen Zenji
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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Beatzen » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:42 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Beatzen wrote:I have to say, I've got a lot of flak, particularly from the tibetan people on this board, for saying this.


In addtion to Chan, Pure Land, Nichiren, Tendai, and some Theravadan practitioners here.


Is there a reason that you're still commenting on this? isn't forbearance a buddhist virtue, or are you just well versed in dogma?
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:44 pm

If you don't mind me asking Beatzen, how long exactly have you been practicing?
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: How is Dzogchen/Mahamudra different from Zazen Samadhi

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:56 pm

Beatzen wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
Beatzen wrote:I have to say, I've got a lot of flak, particularly from the tibetan people on this board, for saying this.


In addtion to Chan, Pure Land, Nichiren, Tendai, and some Theravadan practitioners here.


Is there a reason that you're still commenting on this? isn't forbearance a buddhist virtue, or are you just well versed in dogma?


I'm commenting on this because you jump from one position to another. One post you deny rebirth, the next you're unsure.

You can't say I'm dogmatic when it is clearly evident that rebirth was spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha. I'm claiming there are tenets that the Buddha spoke, and there are Buddhists who claim otherwise. This disconnect is an issue, is it not? I'm not force-feeding Buddhist tenets down your throat, I'm attempting to understand how your position is derived. If you state you believe in investigating an issue before making a judgement, how do you outright deny literal rebirth? You make it seem like you have directly experienced this. Is this not dogmatism?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Beatzen » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:04 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:If you don't mind me asking Beatzen, how long exactly have you been practicing?
:namaste:


Well, i'm twenty four years old now. I started studying when I was in middle school, about seventh grade. My best friend was from a zen buddhist family, and they would invite me over every day to watch stuff like prem rawat maharaji and we would talk about the dharma in very simple ways that a seventh gader would understand.

Then I graduated highschool, lived life a little bit. My practice has really become confident and consistent over the last few years. I make a habit of sitting every day, but I don't like to time myself. I just go two rounds on my mala and that's one session for me. I don't claim to be an authority on zen buddhism, or buddhism in general. I do enjoy listening to the teachings, particularly those of Pema Chodron, Tenzin Palmo, Chogyam Trungpa, Thich Naht Hahn.

I think it's a mark of my youth that I am so wary of religious authority, especially because my spirituality is very precious to me. As Tenzin Palmo pointed out, it is very rare to find yourself incarnate in a situation where you may become educated, and follow a spiritual discipline.

But my personal thinking is more tinted by my following of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Alan Watts. I know Alan Watts was quite controversial due to his alcoholism... but IMO, trungpa rinpoche was a great teacher, and he was also an alcoholic.

I just get riled up when I see spiritual practitioners judging eachother. I think my own personal emphasis on the experience, rather than acceptance of thoughts or beliefs, is why I gravitated further toward Zen. I also have an affinity for their "No mind, true mind" position. But I am still learning. I don't like being so closely cross examined. I don't think it's fair.

Mr. G: My position is derrived from the fact that I have not become certain of the truth of transmigration. I am not closed off to the belief. I have thoughts that deny it, but those are just thoughts, and I know that there is the knowing of those thoughts that arises as if behind them. I did not make it seem as if I have directly experienced the falsity of transmigration. If it seems that I did, then I apologise, otherwise...
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:18 pm

Beatzen wrote:I have not become certain of the truth of transmigration. I am not closed off to the belief.


Understood. Not being closed off is very good. Like us all, more practice and study. All the Buddhist traditions are rich and deep on their own merits. :smile:
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Adamantine » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:37 pm

Beatzen wrote:Well, i'm twenty four years old now.

My practice has really become confident and consistent over the last few years. I make a habit of sitting every day, but I don't like to time myself. I just go two rounds on my mala and that's one session for me. I don't claim to be an authority on zen buddhism, or buddhism in general. .



Beatzen, you are still very young, both in age and in experience of the Dharma. Practicing for a couple years, a bit every day, will most likely not rapidly give you a sudden recollection of your past lives.

I suggest you think about investing in some significant time in strict retreat. This is a mainstay of both Zen and Vajrayana Buddhist practice. I also can not highly recommend enough that you seek out qualified and ideally realized Lamas of the Vajrayana tradition to meet and spend time with. The Guru is absolutely fundamental to the Vajrayana tradition just as the Roshi is to the Zen tradition. Many students of Vajrayana have strong convictions because they have or have had close contact with genuine masters whom are far beyond ordinary, and who have the clarity to recognize or remember aspects of their prior incarnations and are always speaking from a state of profound awareness. This first hand contact will bring you beyond the mere theoretical.

When I was your age I was also quite inspired by J. Krishnamurti. During one trip to India I even spent more time reading him than Buddhist texts when given free reign of a Tibetan scholastic institutions library. The Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath is quite close to Krishnamurti's school he created in Varanasi, and the monk-teachers at the school and students were all friends with Krishnamurti. They all though highly of eachother, and they used to have him over for lively debates. Krishnamurti has some very valid points, but there is not much to do with them. His lectures in the end still reside in the realm of the conceptual, although of course they point beyond it. Perhaps knowing him would have been different, but realization does not come from a book... The thing about Buddhist lineage is that although texts are considered important, the most essential is that it is a transmission of realization: beyond the conceptual. True lineage means this. A teacher that can point out to you how you're lying to yourself, tricking yourself, or getting stuck in habitual patterns.... this is essential to really make any progress... Krishnamurti would not admit this I don't think. The taste of realization can be felt from a true teacher, and a student can discover their own based on this taste, although it will never be the same meal. That said, knowing your affinity towards Zen and Krishnamurti I think you would also find an affinity with Dzogchen, if you take the time to look into it. I recommend Tulky Urgyen's book "Rainbow Painting" as well as Thinley Norbu's "Magic Dance" and Namkhai Norbu's "Dzogchen: the self-perfected state" as different types of introductions into this field.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Beatzen » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:54 pm

There is a Nyingmapa lama who lives in my town. I have met with him, but I don't think I was in a state where he thought it would be beneficial to do ngondro with him. His students are all long-practiced, older people.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby catmoon » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:06 pm

As far as direct knowledge goes we have a shortage of information here. In the absence of such information, in the presence of reasoned skepticism, any hypothesis about the afterlife is about as likely to be true as any other. However, your goals and the goals of Buddhism seem to be in alignment concerning the ending of suffering. That could be used as a criterion in selecting a belief. Might as well choose one the that reduces suffering right?

While I'm spouting random thoughts on the topic, there is a problem with believing death is The End. Suddenly one is short an explanation of where one came from. I'd guess that you consider an external Creator is a non-starter, and if some form of reincarnation is out, there is the difficulty of consciousness arising from unconcious matter. If you are composed of ordinary matter, the same stuff rocks are made of, how is it that your consciousness popped into being? Can something come from nothing? There is this very awkward qualitative difference between the world of sensations and the nature of the perceived, material universe. Rocks don't say "ouch" when you step on them.

There is also the problem of Pol Pot. If one can lead a life such as his, killing millions and enjoying wealth and well being, then die, it means life is a pretty meaningless affair. Do well, do badly, it doesn't matter because you and all the people you have affected are headed for the void anyhow, it's all just a strange and tiny blip in the statistics of the universe.

These are not conclusive arguments, but there are enough of them to make one wonder, hm?
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby ronnewmexico » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:17 pm

If you have any personal experience of a other.......... rebirth cannot be discounted.
Seeing perhaps a intution of the future of any sort...who can deny such a thing, nor that others, do so on occasion.

So we search for a perfect complete example as a pure pure absolute thing we can then rely upon...well yes we will find such a thing nonexistant..

but who denies we do not occaionally do the other....see or know of the other...that things are not as they seem.
Do you?....then you are not as I am.
So If you do not know or feel these things then perhaps there is not this thing for you.

The you that sees no thing of other will have no part of a other incompletely known....so as nothing is completely formed...never does it present.
So for you....you will not rebirth. Rebirth it will be nevertheless.
But to know this thing of other to know it is not completely formed and thusly never known completely. So partial as human it must always be as that is as human is....composite.
But on such basis to claim such is not evidenced nor existant....silly that be.
It is in the way of things to be in this fashion perceived.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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