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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    Earl,

    Thank you for your post.

    You said,

    "...it's all simply about returning to the realm we call this human life in order to "learn."

    --> I remember what a great psychic one told me. She said that physical life is like going on a field trip. We do experiments 'out in the field.' We then go back to 'Heaven' and glean as much information as we can from our field trip. We sift through and pour over everything that happened to us on Earth. Then, when we have gleaned as much as we can, it is time for another 'field trip.'

    "...traditional Buddhists always speak of the rare opportunity to be born into the human realm...."

    --> I have heard this idea before. I prefer the idea that humans are always reborn as humans (not as animanls). This idea makes much more sense to me than people being reborn as animals.

    "...either you're dead and gone view or the dead and immediately returned to this realm view."

    --> The idea that we spend time in 'Heaven' between reincarnations (rather than immediately reincarnating after a physical death) makes a lot of sense to me. Some Buddhists agree with me on this, others do not.
     
  2. TheKhan

    TheKhan All Natural

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    Are you sure Buddhists don`t believe in souls?

    First when it gets into the details I don`t think I know what a soul is. But I am not aware of anything that would suggest that Buddhists don`t believe in souls.

    Reincarnation vs. Rebirth == Tomatoe vs. Tomato == Potatoe vs. Potato

    This would be the way I see it.
     
  3. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    TheKhan,

    You asked,

    "Are you sure Buddhists don`t believe in souls?"

    --> Absolutely. This is one of the strongest Buddhist doctrines. This is also the one and only reason why I have trouble calling myself a Buddhist.

    "... I am not aware of anything that would suggest that Buddhists don`t believe in souls."

    --> This is very easy to prove. I am sure all Buddhists on this Forum will be glad to confirm this. And, if you want quotes from sources, please feel free to ask.

    "Reincarnation vs. Rebirth == Tomatoe vs. Tomato"

    --> As I said before, the only difference between the two words is a distinction that Buddhists want to make.
     
  4. TheKhan

    TheKhan All Natural

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    It is my understanding (from where I don`t know) that we are usually reborn as humans unless something drastic happens.

    If a traditional Buddhist spoke the word "rare" in this context, it might just be that he is showing his appreciation and respect for being born into the human realm, that got directly translated.

    I am not aware of any Buddhists who would rather promote the idea that we will be reborn as something other than human. If that is the case, I might knock them out the moment they said that.
     
  5. TheKhan

    TheKhan All Natural

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    I think every buddhist in Japan is aware of a word called "tamashii" pronounced "tama-shee". This word can roughly be translated in English as "spirit" or "soul".

    Again I wouldn`t know the difference between a spirit and a soul. But tamashii is what leaves our bodies after death.

    I`m not aware of any Buddhist institution that operates closely to Hinduism, but what you`re describing sounds like something that either got screwed up in translation, or some sort of rivalry between Hinduism and Buddhists in that local region.

    When I get a chance I will ask a professional, and try to get to the bottom of this.
     
  6. earl

    earl ?

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    Actually, I once got into a friendly debate with a traditional Buddhist at a mega-Buddhist discussion forum re this once: I do not believe human beings ever were or could be born to the "animal" realm literally. She did. So, in my jocular way I responded that then perhaps I would have the experience of being born a rascally rabbit in a future life though with my degree of wisdom suspected more likely daffy duck. As to that whole rebirth-reincarnation thing, Nick is right in saying Buddhists do not believe in a "soul" but what is a "soul?" They like to speak of a "mindstream" being reborn from round to round as their way of saying "something" fairly central to a being is reborn without calling it a soul. Like that makes a useful distinction.:p Potatoe-potato indeed. earl
     
  7. TheKhan

    TheKhan All Natural

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    I could understand why in English the word "mindstream" would be used if the Christian definition of a "soul" was different from the word "mindstream".

    After checking this out on wiki(pretty cool Mindstream - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), it does seem like mindstream is technical lingo of what Buddhists think of what a soul is (continuous stream of consciousness). That, I wouldn`t be surprised if someone knowledgeable in Christianity staunchly denied over word definitions.

    But clearly if prominent Buddhists happen to insist that the word mindstream be used instead of the word soul, they are not the brightest when it comes to marketing skills in the English language. They should just say their definition of "soul" is different from Christianity.

    "mindstream" sounds like some newage stuff, I can already imagine what a stubborn old Christian would think.

    in the wiki, it explains that mindstream could be translated as soul, and why not in some cases.

    But I don`t think it is entirely accurate if one were to say that Buddhists don`t believe in soul. It sounds like something evil whether Buddhists who speak two bit English understand that or not.
     
  8. earl

    earl ?

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    Tis a bit of major heresy to use the word "soul" with Buddhists, though as you noted doesn't seem like a hill of beans difference between notions of mindstream and soul.:D earl
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Khan-san ga kaite aru no wa,

    "I think every buddhist in Japan is aware of a word called "tamashii" pronounced "tama-shee". This word can roughly be translated in English as "spirit" or "soul".

    --> Khan-san ga Nihongo no dekiru koto wo shirimasen desh'ita. Bikkuri sh'ite shimaimash'ita yo!

    Just because a Japanese Buddhist person knows the word 'tamashii' does not mean they believe in it. (I believe 'tamashii' is a Shinto word.) Also, there are millions of Buddhists who are not Japanese.

    "I could understand why in English the word "mindstream" would be used if the Christian definition of a "soul" was different from the word "mindstream".

    --> Dogma is dogma. Buddhist dogma does not allow them to use the word 'soul,' so they had to come up with a different word.
     
  10. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Earl,

    You said,

    "Tis a bit of major heresy to use the word "soul" with Buddhists, though as you noted doesn't seem like a hill of beans difference between notions of mindstream and soul."

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Pardon my intrusion here, but am I right in reading 'mindstream' as synonymous with the soul? Is not the idea of the soul all part of the illusion of which Buddhism speaks?

    I only ask because I am always confused by the idea of reincarnation in Buddhist terms — who, or what, is it that reincarnates, exactly?

    According to my Christian paradigm, a belief in the 'soul' as the core constituent of the existential 'person' that renders that person (or hypostasis) a unique manifestation of a universal nature (or ousia), so the doctrine of reincarnation is contradictory and illogical.

    I though that everything that constitutes the 'I' in Buddhism is declared ephemeral, transitory and illusory ... ?

    So I assume that reincarnation, in Buddhist terms, refers more to a process — a nature — than an individual, and that it is an error to assume that the 'I' reincarnates in any sense other than my life to some degree shapes the world our children shall inherit?

    Thomas
     
  12. Dharmaatmaa

    Dharmaatmaa New Member

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    Thomas

    "who, or what, is it that reincarnates, exactly?"

    I would re-address this question sooner to Nick the Pilot, for he's the one who asserts again and again upon this strange statement (as if Buddhists reject soul). It's incorrect. And I agree with you, that in this interpretation of Buddhism as looking at the soul as at "ephemeral, transitory and illusory", we really find little logic in SUCH Buddhism.

    Soul IS in Buddhism. In any case, who will incarnate again?! I'm not pure Buddhist. I study so-called esoterical Buddhism - Theosophy. In this viewpoint, every religion is finally closely connected with science, and every scientific statement can be found in religions (if the statement is correct), and - on another hand - every religious statement can be proved from scientifical standpoint.

    What's the soul? Take a look: it's our psychical activity. I mean this activity is activity of the soul. If a man looses a hand or a leg - he stays a man, a humane being in full sense of the word. And what if he looses mind? What if he goes crazy, mad? It isn't a human anymore. It's body which eats, sleeps, says something stupid... So, the most important part of a human is his Soul. In Bible, it is said God gave "free will" to Adam and Eve - He gave them mind (one of psychical (i.e. "of a psyche" - of a soul) parts).

    Maybe some statements of Buddhism may look like rejecting soul. They say it's a mirage... So what? They also say our body, and all the Universe is just a mirage! They never say soul is less real as other world.

    Good Luck in your spiritual search.
     
  13. earl

    earl ?

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    "who or what" is reborn? The one who asks that question.:) In all seriousness Thomas, the Buddhists are quite clear and correct when they say that all thoughts, sensation, feelings and beliefs about "self-identity" are merely ephemerous transitory things and they constantly exhort their followers to find that which is beyond all of it. But that "it" that is beyond all of that seems to me to be the container which carries all of that transitory flotsam from birth to birth. Buddhist lore speaks of course about Gautama remembering all 500 or so previous lives in process to his ultimate enlightenment. He was remembering "his" lives however many other previous identities he had lived. Does it matter whether we call that mindstream or soul? What real difference does it make? earl
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Sort of like "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it?"
     
  15. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    (As is often the case, one needs to say or determine which Buddhist tradition one is referring to, even before one starts to ask which school, or even individual. “Mindstream” for instance seems to belong to Tibetan Buddhism.)


    Reincarnation and rebirth can be used interchangeably but it is confusing, I can see. The distinction between rebirth and reincarnation is not necessarily a trivial matter, as it can be taken as a reflection of a fundamental distinction between Buddhism and all other religions and philosophies. This would be if “reincarnation” is understood to mean the re-incarnation of something that has permanent, continuous, existence.


    At the core of all Buddhist traditions are the four seals of the dharma. It is these that crucially distinguish Buddhism from all other teachings (e.g. Hinduism and Christianity). If a teaching is based upon them you can use the label “Buddhism” if you like. If a teaching denies them or does not include them, it isn’t “Buddhism”.


    Of relevance here is the seal often referred to as anatta:

    This states that “all phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence. This is the main difference between Buddhism and other religions. Every other religion accepts the impermanence of man and the world, and the suffering inherent in being in this world, while also espousing the existence of a solid, eternal, everlasting principle in man. The eternal principal in man has been called soul, atman, jiva, anima, and thetan. The eternal principal in the universe has been called God, Jaweh, Allah, the Creator. Buddhism denies the eternal principle in both man and the universe.”

    The Four Seals of the Dharma


    s.
     
  16. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    No intrusion dear boy. :)

    As I said above, "mindstream" I think seems a Tibetan Buddhist term, at least I'm unfamiliar with it. And also as above, I see no soul in Buddhism. So on that basis mindstream is not synonymous with soul. :)


    I could be wrong but it sounds to me like you'd appreciate some snappy answers to some snappy questions on this by a respected Theravadan monk. Of course it may just add to your confusion; it's not something I spend much time conjecturing over (all that madness and vexation). Better to try and live a compassionate life now and let the future take care of itself. ;)

    REBIRTH - Bhikkhu Bodhi

    (PS if any of this contradicts what I've said...I don't want to know!!!)

    s.
     
  17. earl

    earl ?

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    Yeah, Snoopy, it's primarily the Tibetan Buddhists I've seen use the term mindstream. It's always amused me to observe those practitioners on a particular mega-Buddhist forum discussing how, while they hope to attain enlightenment in this life, at the least they're hoping for a "favorable rebirth." Some of the more traditional ones discuss fearing being reborn a pig or such. Simply substitute Christian lingo and you'd swear you were listening in on a fundamentalist Christian dialogue about concerns of the "soul" post-mortem with images of damnation or such.:) They are clearly believing that there is a "them" to be concerned about in a future birth. earl
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    OINK!:p OINK!:p

    s.
     
  19. earl

    earl ?

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    A concise statement of how the Tibetan Buddhists look at it:

    Netscape Search earl

    While there may be subtle philosophical distinctions to be made betwen mindstream and soul, I don't see much functional difference in the concepts.
     
  20. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Snoopy,

    You said,

    "(As is often the case, one needs to say or determine which Buddhist tradition one is referring to, even before one starts to ask which school, or even individual. “Mindstream” for instance seems to belong to Tibetan Buddhism.) Reincarnation and rebirth can be used interchangeably but it is confusing...."

    --> I have heard Buddhists from many different Buddhist traditions indicate quite clearly that they do not believe in a soul, and therefore do not believe in reincarnation. I am positive this is true of all branches of Buddhism.
     

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