Rebirth/Reincarnation

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Nick the Pilot, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi everybody!

    A new member, Seeker of Truth, has expressed an interest in discussing the idea of rebirth/reincarnation. Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion. I believe in the idea of reincarnation, and it makes absolute, perfect, logical sense to me. I cannot find any flaws in the concept whatsoever. If anyone has questions or observations about rebirth/reincarnation, please feel free to list them here.
     
  2. quakeyjase

    quakeyjase New Member

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    It is an interesting idea intellectually, but I find it rather too speculative to seriously consider.

    qj
     
  3. Seeker of Truth

    Seeker of Truth New Member

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    WONDERFUL! Thank you Nick!
    I have found the following quote on the Buddha Dharma Education Association & Buddhanet A Basic Buddhism Guide: On Reincarnation

    And would like to put it out there. I have put the section I find confusing in blue - it is towards the end of the quote...

    On Reincarnation by Takashi Tsuji
    "A gross misunderstanding of about Buddhism exists today, especially in the notion of reincarnation. The common misunderstanding is that a person has led countless previous lives, usually as an animal, but somehow in this life he is born as a human being and in the next life he will be reborn as an animal, depending on the kind of life he has lived.

    This misunderstanding arises because people usually do not know-how to read the sutras or sacred writings. It is said that the Buddha left 84,000 teachings; the symbolic figure represents the diverse backgrounds characteristics, tastes, etc. of the people. The Buddha taught according to the mental and spiritual capacity of each individual. For the simple village folks living during the time of the Buddha, the doctrine of reincarnation was a powerful moral lesson. Fear of birth into the animal world must have frightened many people from acting like animals in this life. If we take this teaching literally today we are confused because we cannot understand it rationally.

    Herein lies our problem. A parable, when taken literally, does not make sense to the modern mind. Therefore we must learn to differentiate the parables and myths from actuality. However, if we learn to go beyond or transcend the parables and myths, we will be able to understand the truth.

    People will say "If such is the case why not speak directly so that we will be able to come to an immediate grasp of the truth?" This statement is understandable, but truth is often inexpressible. [Ed comment: we as human beings are limited in understanding "Buddha Knowledge". We cannot speak TRUTH, only words ABOUT Truth] Thus, writers and teachers have often resorted to the language of the imagination to lead the reader from a lower to a higher truth. The doctrine of reincarnation is often understood in this light.

    What Reincarnation is Not

    Reincarnation is not a simple physical birth of a person; for instance, John being reborn as a cat in the next life. In this case John possesses an immortal soul which transforms to the form of a cat after his death. This cycle is repeated over and over again. Or if he is lucky, he will be reborn as a human being.
    This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely does not exist in Buddhism."

    So my question is: what notion of transmigration does exist in Buddhism?
     
  4. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    I'd have to agree. Buddha mentioned 4 things that would lead to madness and vexation if you conjectured about them, one of them being conjecture regarding the results of kamma.
    Acintita Sutta

    That said, here's something from the old testament to think about, especially the last part of the chapter:
    Ecclesiastes 3
     
  5. earl

    earl ?

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    There's cetainly a fair bit of suggestive evidence to support the possiblity of reincarnation. Am unsure of the its practical relevance to one's spiritual growth to either believe or disbelieve in the concept. Does though suggest various models of metaphysics may be more accurate than others, such as the traditional views of monotheistic religions which do not posit a model theoretically adaptable to that possiblity may be less "complete" that other possiblities. earl
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I suppose that is a possibility earl. The flip side as I see it is that without the presumptive inclination of a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth...) chance, the traditional view of monotheism compel one to live for a better karmic result to begin with.

    If all I expect to get is one shot, and one shot only, I am more inclined to make the most of it. If I expect to redo over and over again, I have no incentive to do better and tend to lean towards ethical leniency and laziness.

    Modified Pascal's wager...if I'm wrong, I still win. :D
     
  7. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Seeker,

    My, my, this discussion has gottn very complicated very quickly. Let's take it back to the beginning.

    Reincarnation vs. Rebirth

    Most people do not know the difference between reincarnation and rebirth. The difference is because Hindus believe that each person has a soul (they call it Atman) and Buddhists believe that each person does not have a soul. Buddhists prefer to use the word 'reborn' only because they feel it highlights their belief in no-soul. Therefore, people who believe we have a soul usually say 'reincarnation,' while people who believe we do not have souls (Buddhists) usually say 'rebirth.'

    Transubstantiation

    The word Transubstantiation means different things to different people. The example you quoted comes from Buddhism, which does not believe that a soul travels from rebirth to rebirth. Your quote,

    "This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely does not exist in Buddhism."

    ...merely refers to the idea that no soul travels ("transmigrates") from rebirth to rebirth.

    You asked,

    "what notion of transmigration does exist in Buddhism?"

    --> Good question. What object travels from rebirth to rebirth, carrying the record of good and bad karma that still needs to be balanced out? Buddhists are adamant about not calling it a soul, so they call it a "mind-stream" instead.

    So you see, Seeker, your choice between saying 'reincarnation' and 'rebirth' depends on your belief in a soul. Do you believe in a soul? I do, so I prefer to use the word reincarnation.
     
  8. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Earl,

    You said,

    "Am unsure of the its practical relevance to one's spiritual growth to either believe or disbelieve in the concept."

    --> I think it is hugely relevant to one's spiritual growth. My belief in reincarnation and karma have completely changed my belief system. Once a person starts believing in reincarnation and karma, in my opinion, every religious idea they believe changes.
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    seattlegal,

    A great deal has been written about whether the Bible teaches reincarnation. I certainly believe Jesus originally taught reincarnation, but I also believe that such teachings were later deleted from Christian writings.

    But if you are interested in more information on the relationship between Christianity and reincarnation, I can post several links.
     
  10. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Like I posted earlier, its not something I really care to conjecture about. If there is, there is, if there isn't, there isn't. The exact details really don't matter that much to me. *shrugs*
     
  11. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Where Christendom asserts a ready made soul and Buddhism, at least in the west, asserts no soul, I believe that we are capable of housing the seed of a soul. It can mature to become a soul. However this is very difficult and like most seeds, never mature and are eaten by life itself just like an acorn is eaten by animal life. Very few acorns become oaks and very few God seeds become their potential.

    I do believe in partially developed souls reincarnating. They have not matured enough and need more experience at our level.

    As much as I've been studying Simone Weil, I believe she possessed a partially developed soul. I can find no other explanation for her knowledge and willingness to live without imagination as she did as she required the raw experience of life without rose colored glasses for her soul to continue its maturity.

    What is the soul when it matures? Not something we can understand.

    Only the soul has this potential which is inconceivable for us.
     
  12. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Nick,

    You said,

    "I do believe in partially developed souls reincarnating."

    --> I think we are all partially developed souls. I think we all have a bit more reincarnating that we need to do. Just like a football coach says, we have to keep running that play over and over until we get it right.

    "They have not matured enough and need more experience at our level."

    --> I think this describes each and every one of us here in this physical world.

    "Only the soul has this potential which is inconceivable for us."

    --> When we think of the ultimate potential of the soul, it is too high of a level for us to imagine (just like you say). That is why we should not concentrate on the ultimate goal, we should only concentrate on taking ourselves to the next level.
     
  13. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    As some have already said, it is too speculative to warrant concern.

    Worrying about what may occur after death is as useless as worrying about what might happen tomorrow morning.

    Just wake up and see!
     
  14. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    citizenzen,

    I guess that is one way to look at it. In my case, I have always wondered what happens to us after we die. I can say with ease that finding my answer to that question has changed my life.
     
  15. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    I think I can say the same thing.

    Taking each moment as it comes has changed my life too.

    We're two very lucky people.
     
  16. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    I remember reading once that I would be surprised to learn how much my life was being governed by dead people. Of course this meant spiritually dead but not physically dead. I know it is not politically correct and appears elitist but I still don't believe that everyone has a soul that has gone beyond a seed and is worth reincarnating. When seeds die for whatever reason they die including seeds of the soul.
     
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Nick A,

    Reincarnation is the absolute cornerstone of my belief system, while it is not a part of your belief system at all. That is the fun of it -- exchanging religious ideas with people who do not necessarily agree with us.
     
  18. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    I agree. I'm not being critical but just asserting that as I understand it, reincarnation is a rare event considering the population of physical bodies on earth
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it, reincarnation is an event that happens to every human 'soul' on earth.
     
  20. earl

    earl ?

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    Seems when folks speculate on this topic many assume that if rebirth/reincarnation occurs, it's all simply about returning to the realm we call this human life in order to "learn." Traditionally, Buddhism speaks of 6 different realms possible including this human life but also what they term the "deva" realm. That latter realm to me roughly corresponds to descriptions of the "heavens" of after-life descriptions I've seen in near-death accounts as well as some of those fascinating communications received by a few a parapsychologists from the deceased via instrumental transcommunication technologies. Those communications suggest one's learning journey continues in those other realms, (a very "New Age" view). Of course, those same traditional Buddhists always speak of the rare opportunity to be born into the human realm as an opportunity to learn given they see it as the most optimal realm to the pursuit of enlightenment due to having the optimum balance of conscious awareness and suffering available to beings. The deva realm is just is too easy according to both Buddhists and New Agers.:p But both the Buddhist and the New Age view puts a more interesting spin on issues of rebirth/reincarnation than the simple black & white either you're dead and gone view or the dead and immediately returned to this realm view. Perhaps we're reborn endlessly into many different realms. earl
     

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