Cause_and_Effect wrote: ↑Sat Nov 11, 2023 10:39 am
The actual data and observations should be seen as the criteria by which spiritual teachings on rebirth are contextualised and understood, not the reverse in my view.
There can be rebirth instantaneously or with an interval period as the being is in the gandabha state. It's a complex process well beyond our comprehension so these cases are all perfectly feasible from the Buddhist perspective.
Hi, Cause_and_Effect welcome to the forum!
Glad you are familiar with the works of the late Dr. Stevenson. As you might have noticed already, the departure from the traditional Buddhist model involves far more aspects than the mere interval of time from one existence to the next one. To give a few examples:
- The issue of the last thoughts before dying.
It is accepted by almost all Buddhist traditions that the last thoughts before dying can steer you towards a favorable or unfavorable rebirth based on whether your thoughts are virtuous or unvirtuous. Yet, among the cases examined in Dr. Stevenson’s books there is a great deal of instances where the previous personality suffered a very painful death (such as being burned alive), or was murdered or died by suicide or murder/ suicide or other types of situations where I would imagine it would be impossible for you to think Bambi thoughts and yet, the current personality got a human existence and generally lived his/her current life without much drama and trauma. In the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions in particular, suicide is viewed as your guaranteed ticket to the lower realms of otherwise a very miserable existence; yet none of the cases involving suicide seem to reflect this view.
- The absence of any statistically significant correlation between the current personality’s social and economic status and the saintliness - as they call it- of the previous personality.
Buddha taught that there is kamma that ripens here and now, kamma that ripens in the next life and kamma that ripens in the next future lives; yet there is no evidence pointing at the first two.
- The nature of the intermediate state.
At least in the Tibetan tradition the bardo state is understood to be a very unstable state of existence (one of the things which makes it a rather frightening experience), yet the picture that the subjects that recall the period between death and rebirth describe is far different.
- The degree of choice one has when reincarnating.
Traditionally it is understood that the gandabha or bardo being is helplessly carried by the karmic winds into its next existence but again, the subjects recalling the intermediate state, tell a different story. It looks like they got a bit of choice in selecting the circumstances of their next birth, some were given the option to choose between several pairs of potential parents and so on.
There are also other aspects diverging from the traditional Buddhist model but I am stopping here as I don’t want to make this post too long. I opened this thread hoping that there are other Dharma practitioners who took their time to study the works of Dr. Stevenson, Dr. Satwant Pasricha, Dr. Tucker and so on and wanted to discuss their findings in the context of traditional teachings. If there are such people here, I am sure they will bring up those aspects, too.
"You have to make the good out of the bad because that is all you have got to make it out of."
- Robert Penn Warren -