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 Acchantika » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:27 pm

Beatzen wrote: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...


Keep in mind the distinction between transmigration and rebirth. I believe Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said something to the effect of, "Rebirth happens, just not to you."
...
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby ronnewmexico » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:31 pm

The circumstance of the rebirthing percipitating the occurance of the you which we perceive rebirthing.
The you presenting with retentive aspects of awareness tendency and all the rest..... nevertheless it is not the same you.

Due to such composite factors of our particular aware aspect it appears as the same...it is not.
Does awareness exist without such precipitating circumstance....I would say not, but probably it is not so important that.
Nevertheless in this context...you never rebirths nor comes or goes anywhere.
Though you are welcome to your opinion of those things. :smile:
"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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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Beatzen » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:34 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Beatzen wrote: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...


Keep in mind the distinction between transmigration and rebirth. I believe Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said something to the effect of, "Rebirth happens, just not to you."


I am quite fond of Trungpa, thank you for the quote.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:49 am

Beatzen wrote: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.


I didn't say start doing ngondro I said spend some time with
some of these masters... Maybe this is a good one, but maybe not..
it is important to discern for oneself...but you won't know after a quick casual meeting..
but one advantage of a forum
like this is that people with many more years of experience may be able to
give recommendations about some teachers that are well worth making
the effort to connect with.. even if they aren't already living in your town...
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:52 am

Oh and the fact his students are all well-practiced
older people is a good sign I think...
Anyway, spend some time...If you can, ask him questions..
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:28 am

Adamantine wrote:Oh and the fact his students are all well-practiced
older people is a good sign I think...
Anyway, spend some time...If you can, ask him questions..


I would, but I'm afraid that only encourage me to waste his time asking him pointless questions, pointlessly hoping that he'd give me some kind of ground under my feet, or trying to impress myself with how sophisticated what little knowledge I have is. Either way, I know I'd come out of the interview feeling demoralized.

About Rebirth:

Dogen [in the Genjokoan] explains, in the course of the seasons, the spring does not "become" the summer. And when wood burns it does not "become" the ashes. There is the state of wood, and there is the state of ashes. There is the state of spring, there is the state of summer. The spring does not become the summer, the wood does not become the ashes. [...]

I believe in rebirth. I don't believe that I'll be reborn though. And so, as I am not the same person writing this as the person "I" was when I sat down to the computer, I discern right actions for the benefit of the being who will become in a future lifetime. That's my current understanding. And I think it's cool that my understanding gives support to "wanting enlightenment for the sake of others"
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:10 pm

Beatzen wrote:
Adamantine wrote:About Rebirth:

Dogen [in the Genjokoan] explains, in the course of the seasons, the spring does not "become" the summer. And when wood burns it does not "become" the ashes. There is the state of wood, and there is the state of ashes. There is the state of spring, there is the state of summer. The spring does not become the summer, the wood does not become the ashes. [...]


Hi Beatzen,

As you know, this doesn't mean Dogen denied literal rebirth:

    What we call the three temporal periods are the three time periods in which we receive the retribution from our good and evil acts. These are, first, the retribution experienced in one’s present life; second, the retribution experienced in one’s next life; and third, the retribution experienced in some later future life.Through your practice of the Way of the Buddhas and Ancestors you learn, first off, to clarify what the principle of karmic retribution in these three time periods is.If you do not do so, you will make many errors and fall into false views. You will not just fall into false views, you will also give rise to evil ways and undergo suffering for a long time.

    - Dogen - On Karmic Retribution in the Three Temporal Periods (Sanji-Go)

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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:09 pm

Jono wrote:
AlexanderS wrote:
Karma wouldn't really apply without rebirth


Why not? Why do you think that there is no cause and effect without literal rebirth?



Hi Jono,

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I'd like to remark on this one part of it only.

Dependent origination as presented in any form of Buddhism I have been exposed to does not hold up to scrutiny without appeal to previous and future lifetimes, previous and future world-systems, and so on: the endless endlessness of samsara. It just doesn't hang together: where do the causes of birth come from if not from causes external to that birth, e.g., from something previous to that birth? Where are the effects of causes still present in the mindstream after death expressed if not in something subsequent to death?

For myself and for my own reasons I am convinced that rebirth is as real as anything else in samsara. I'm also convinced of the truth of dependent origination.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:43 pm

Jono wrote:
Jikan wrote:Dependent origination as presented in any form of Buddhism I have been exposed to does not hold up to scrutiny without appeal to previous and future lifetimes, previous and future world-systems, and so on: the endless endlessness of samsara. It just doesn't hang together: where do the causes of birth come from if not from causes external to that birth, e.g., from something previous to that birth?


Certainly from something previous. Nobody has suggested that there is no cause and effect. All things have causes. Surely we all agree on that?

The disagreement seems to be with regard to exactly what the previous causes are.

A believer in "literal rebirth" would argue that a human being must necessarily be caused by, say, another human being in a past life, or an animal, preta, hell being, etc. But a person who doesn't believe in literal rebirth doesn't specify the exact cause, even though they know there must be causes. Those causes might include, say, genetics, and countless other things.

Where are the effects of causes still present in the mindstream after death expressed if not in something subsequent to death?


All things have effects. When firewood is turned into ash, the firewood is gone, but there is ash.


Yes: the firewood of the five skandas disintegrate, leaving behind the ash of the body. What happens to the other four skandas?

What other causes are sufficient to cause a birth in any realm (human, animal, preta...) than the residual karma of a previous life (it's not clear to me that a mass of genetic information constitutes such a cause)? What effects are sufficient to account for the residual karma of a lifetime of one who has not yet accomplished the path apart from a future birth?

I'm asking because I'd like to understand your position better. Thanks.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:27 pm

Jono wrote: I was taught that Samsara is ignorance, and when ignorance is removed there is enlightenment (Nirvana). There can be ignorance (Samsara) without literal rebirth, can there not? And there can also be a path to be rid of ignorance, without literal rebirth, can there not?


Unless you know absolutely that the Buddha taught the literal version of rebirth, then there should be doubt, should there not? Were you there at the time he taught it? And if you were, are you sure you interpreted his teaching correctly? And are you sure that you are recalling things accurately?


If you're enlightened, you've stopped rebirth. Have you read this entire thread and seen the suttas where Shakyamuni Buddha clearly states rebirth is literal?:

    "Of course you are befuddled, Vaccha. Of course you are uncertain. When there is a reason for befuddlement in you, uncertainty arises. I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance, Vaccha, and not of one without sustenance. Just as a fire burns with sustenance and not without sustenance, even so I designate the rebirth of one who has sustenance and not of one without sustenance.""But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?""Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time.""And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?""Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time." - Kutuhalasala Sutta SN 44.9


    "Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father... the death of a brother... the death of a sister... the death of a son... the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth... loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans."Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released." - Assu Sutta SN 15.3

    Which do you think is more: the streams of blood that, through your being beheaded, have flowed upon this long way, these, or the waters of the four oceans? Long have you been caught as robbers, or highway men or adulterers; and, through your being beheaded, verily more blood has flowed upon this long way than there is water in the four oceans. But how is this possible? Inconceivable is the beginning of this Sa.msaara; not to be discovered is any first beginning of beings, who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths. - S. XV. 13

    "He recollects his manifold past lives,[3] i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction & expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he remembers his manifold past lives in their modes & details. - Iddhipada-vibhanga Sutta SN 51.20

    a man, after the disappearance of the 3 mental chains personality-belief, skeptical doubt, attachment to rules and ritual; see: samyojana has entered the stream to Nibbāna, he is no more subject to rebirth in lower worlds, is firmly established, destined to full enlightenment. After having passed amongst the divine and human beings only seven times more through the round of rebirths, he puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called 'one with 7 births at the utmost' sattakkhattu-parama. - Pug. 37-39; A. III, 87:

    "Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me. "This is the greater: the blood you have shed from having your heads cut off while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time, not the water in the four great oceans."The blood you have shed when, being cows, you had your cow-heads cut off: Long has this been greater than the water in the four great oceans."The blood you have shed when, being water buffaloes, you had your water buffalo-heads cut off... when, being rams, you had your ram-heads cut off... when, being goats, you had your goat-heads cut off... when, being deer, you had your deer-heads cut off... when, being chickens, you had your chicken-heads cut off... when, being pigs, you had your pig-heads cut off: Long has this been greater than the water in the four great oceans. - Timsa Sutta SN 15.13


Even if the Buddha did teach rebirth, there are different interpretations of the teaching, and the literal interpretation is only one interpretation.


He did teach literal rebirth, and to interpret it otherwise is disingenuous.

As I wrote elsewhere, there are many so-called Buddhists that don't believe in literal rebirth and karma. However, the central tenet behind Buddhism is to end rebirth through Buddhist practice. And I'm not talking about one line out of the suttas/sutras. There is a large amount of suttas/sutras that are completely clear that rebirth is literal. So Buddhism, especially in the U.S., ends up being a form of psychotherapy where meditation is used to make people feel better about themselves. Yes, that's fine, but it's incidental to it's main purpose. This is prevalent in the current movement of Zen in America. This is what happens when modernity meets Buddhism. Ideas like rebirth and karma end up being watered down psychological terms. Yidams become archetypes and eventually Shakyamuni Buddha will end up being a symbol as opposed to a living contemplative that lived in the past

Let's face it, people are embarrassed to admit they are religious. They would rather co-opt Buddhism to suit their own preconceived materialist notions rather than risk personal embarrassment discussing the supra-mundane aspects.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:33 pm

Jono wrote:
It's not at all clear, which is why different people interpret these teachings in different ways.


The general consensus by scholars, teacher's, and practitioners states otherwise. The interpretations that say otherwise do not match up to any sutta/sutras. This disconnect is an issue that has not been addressed reasonably.

That's the situation with the teachings on rebirth. That is, they're not a literal, scientific explanation of events, but are an attempt to point to something that is difficult to express.


And yet, it was expressed quite clearly by Shakyamuni Buddha in the suttas I provided.

In a sense I also interpet the rebirth teaching literally, but the teaching literally means something different to me that it does to you.

That's because you see them all through a particular lens. When you see those same teachings through a different lens, they mean something entirely different.


You are dodging the question.

I would say that the central tenet behind Buddhism is to end ignorance, so perhaps we are practicing two different kinds of Buddhism.


And what do you think the ending of ignorance entails?

    "If a monk abandons passion for the property of form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no base for consciousness. Consciousness, thus unestablished, not proliferating, not performing any function, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

    — SN 22.53

    "But when one doesn't intend, arrange, or obsess [about anything], there is no support for the stationing of consciousness. There being no support, there is no landing of consciousness. When that consciousness doesn't land & grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress."

    — SN 12.38

    "One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (doesn't cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

    — MN 140

    Gone to the beyond of becoming, you let go of in front, let go of behind, let go of between. With a heart everywhere let-go, you don't come again to birth & aging.

    — Dhp 348

    Consciousness without surface, without end, luminous all around: Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & short coarse & fine fair & foul name & form are all brought to an end. With the cessation of [the aggregate of] consciousness each is here brought to an end.

    — DN 11

    Some are born in the human womb, evildoers in hell, those on the good course go to heaven, while those without effluent: totally unbound.

    — Dhp 126


I agree with your sentiments about the new-age, feel-good nonsense,


It doesn't seem so.

I have met people - human beings - who suffer terribly because of their karma. Some of them suffer so greatly that they have to kill themselves to put an end to the extreme pain. There's nothing "watered down" about their suffering. Their torment and horror is very real.


You have taken my comment out of context. It means that the central tenets of Buddhism have, and will further be watered down in the future.

Remember that all material things are expressions of Sunyata, and lack intrinsic existence, so be careful how you knock material things. They are the body of ultimate reality.


I haven't knocked materialism. I have knocked how so-called Buddhists in this age have preconceived material notions which is the lens through which they view Buddhism.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:44 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Jono wrote:I agree with your sentiments about the new-age, feel-good nonsense,


It doesn't seem so.


what is the point of trying to aggrivate the other person by casting aspersions on their spiritual practice.

I see rebirth as real, and that I do believe in karmic retribution. But do you have to denigrate someone else for not accepting it? You're no better than some evangelical christian holding the big stick of "you're going to hell if you don't accept jesus"

Buddhists don't excommunicate eachother.
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:57 pm

Beatzen wrote:
what is the point of trying to aggrivate the other person by casting aspersions on their spiritual practice.


When communicating through a forum, a lot of nuances can be lost. I wasn't trying to aggravate anyone.

I'll add that I see rebirth as real, and that I do believe in karmic retribution.


I see you've changed your original position.

But I find my faith in it based on what I perceive in my own experience, not from all the suttas that you have so much time (too much?) to pour over and give citations from.


I thought other members would have appreciated the understanding of where rebirth is derived from. Sometimes members say things and don't have the citations for them, hence things are left questioned. The suttas/sutras can be referenced in minutes...no time at all. I also thought you would have enjoyed the Dogen quote.

Buddhists don't excommunicate each other.


I haven't done so.
    How foolish you are,
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Re: are karma and rebirth for real?

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:00 pm

Beatzen wrote:
Mr. G wrote:
Jono wrote:I agree with your sentiments about the new-age, feel-good nonsense,


It doesn't seem so.


what is the point of trying to aggrivate the other person by casting aspersions on their spiritual practice.

I see rebirth as real, and that I do believe in karmic retribution. But do you have to denigrate someone else for not accepting it? You're no better than some evangelical christian holding the big stick of "you're going to hell if you don't accept jesus"

Buddhists don't excommunicate eachother.


Heh, that would be nice. If Buddhists actually communicated instead of talking to each other.
Anyway, you clearly didn't experience the inquisition at e-sangha.... :spy:
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:05 pm

I didn't change my position, you misunderstood it.

I was trying to reconcile ultimate from relative truth when it comes to rebirth. I think it's simple to understand. From the relative perspective, the body/mind that lives now is going to die and rot in the field like a mouse. The ultimate truth is that the mind that "dies" is only undergoing a transformation and continuing on in a seamless continuity. It's like the difference from particles and waves when we look at light. Relatively, we are in particle form now. But if you look at our continuity over a couple of lifetimes, we look more like waves.

I don't believe that we are the same "person" who is reborn. The mind is the same, but the contents are more or less [dis]similar, though influenced by past karma.
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:20 pm

Abhidharmakosa:

We said that the world, in all its variety, arises from action.
Now it is by reason of the anusayas or latent defilements, that
actions accumulate. In the absence of the anusayas, actions are not
capable of producing a new existence. Consequently

    1a. The roots of existence, that is, of rebirth or of action, are the
    anusayas
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby Beatzen » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:34 pm

Mr. G wrote:Abhidharmakosa:

We said that the world, in all its variety, arises from action.
Now it is by reason of the anusayas or latent defilements, that
actions accumulate. In the absence of the anusayas, actions are not
capable of producing a new existence. Consequently

    1a. The roots of existence, that is, of rebirth or of action, are the
    anusayas


For some reason this made me think about a story that Ajahn Brahm told about a couple of Zen monks. The teacher dies, and a monk weeps. A fellow monk harshes on him "you should not be so attached!" The weeping monk answers: "don't be stupid! I'm crying because I want to."
"Cause is not before and Effect is not after"
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Jan 04, 2012 11:10 pm

Beatzen wrote:
Mr. G wrote:Abhidharmakosa:

We said that the world, in all its variety, arises from action.
Now it is by reason of the anusayas or latent defilements, that
actions accumulate. In the absence of the anusayas, actions are not
capable of producing a new existence. Consequently

    1a. The roots of existence, that is, of rebirth or of action, are the
    anusayas


For some reason this made me think about a story that Ajahn Brahm told about a couple of Zen monks. The teacher dies, and a monk weeps. A fellow monk harshes on him "you should not be so attached!" The weeping monk answers: "don't be stupid! I'm crying because I want to."


I like Ajahn Brahm :namaste:

Your story reminded me of Chapter 18 of the Kudensho where Shinran is recorded as saying:

    One should never comfort mourning people by adding
    more sadness to their grief. If so, you are not comforting
    them. Rather, you make them more lonely. Shinran says,
    "Sake is also 'boyu' (anxiety remover). You should pour
    some as a comfort until the person smiles, and then you
    should leave. That is the real mourning". We should
    remember this.

:anjali:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby Mr. G » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:25 am

And a Happy New Year to you Kevin Solway! :lol: Are you going for a world record for most User ID's to get banned for trolling? :lol:

Seriously, your behavior is really disturbing.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Are Karma and Rebirth Real?

Postby Losang » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:38 am

Mr. G wrote:And a Happy New Year to you Kevin Solway! :lol: Are you going for a world record for most User ID's to get banned for trolling? :lol:

Seriously, your behavior is really disturbing.


Think of each user id as a new "birth". ;-)

Life cannot be stamped out, no matter how hard you try.
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