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  • hardie karges 11:51 am on September 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , nidanas, past lives, rebirth   

    The Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising reconsidered… 

    Everything is a cause. Everything is an effect. We are in the middle. Find happiness there. And I think that this is very close to the original intention of the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising, that there are strict causal connections between events and their aftermaths, even if the connections are maybe not as precise as some may imagine.

    Formally known in Sanskrit as प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद pratītyasamutpāda or in Pali (the related Theravada canonical language as पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda, it simply means: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. Which is all well and good, as far as it goes, whether you take the doctrine as an ontological principle, on the subject of being, or as an epistemological principle, on the subject of knowledge.

    The problem arises (pun intended) when we get down to the twelve links (nidanas), which supposedly articulate this process, basically: 1) ignorance (tabula rasa?), 2) mental formations (first mental activity?), 3) consciousness (of baby-self?), 4) name-and-form (language?), 5) six senses (as distinguished from each other and mind?), 6) contact (look, listen, touch?), 7) sensation (see, hear, feel?), 8) craving, 9) clinging, 10) becoming (ch-ch-changes?), 11) birth (of a higher consciousness?), and 12) aging and death (all question marks indicate my tentative interpretations).

    The problem is that the ‘rebirthers’ (my term and slightly riffing on Trump), have long since appropriated the whole concept as justification for the predetermination and ‘multiple feedback loops’ of karma, that they find necessary to lock one into a system that rewards and punishes with future retribution and prevents the possibility of suicide as a convenient ‘one way out.’

    This notwithstanding the fact that the whole concept apparently predates Buddhism and manifested in various forms before its final version which has become the standard. But ancient terms are always subject to re-interpretation, a current fashion among pseudo-sorta-Buddhas, and of course—shazam and voila! That changes everything. Or does it?

    So I’ve always enthusiastically accepted the general concept, while remaining agnostic on the particulars as if the excessive list-making of wannabe Abhidharmists and johnny-come-lately bloggers, and left it right there unfinished, since modern physics could hardly support a version of empirical reality so obviously simplistic. But a science of mind might. And since psychology is not a science of mind, now, but a science of behavior, then the filed is wide open for speculation.

    The main problem is the first half, the interpretations of which vary widely, as evidenced from the Wikipedia source material. But I see this as a child opening his eyes for the first time and discovering the world, ‘giving names to all the animals,’ (thanks, Bob) etc., and then finally realizing that he is not only an actor on a new stage, but also a toucher, feeler, craver, clinger, thinker, and hopeful bodhisattva—all before he or she has even had his or her first romance (when it really kicks in)!

    Everything else comes after and comprises the final item in the list of mutual dependences. And only in this way do the twelve links make sense to me, though I doubt that the ‘rebirthers’ will buy it. What do you think? Birth is a product of Nature. Rebirth is a product of imagination. I try to do re-invent myself every day…

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratityasamutpada

     
  • hardie karges 11:18 am on August 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , birth, , , , rebirth,   

    Buddhism and Nature: the Law of Birth… 

    Nature is ธรรมชาติ, ‘dhammachaht,’ dharma jati, the dharma of birth, not the law of rebirth, in at least a few Asian languages, and likely a few more. And that is probably as good a definition of it as I could come up with, notwithstanding the fact that such a ‘birth’ does indeed become for many a ’round’ of which there are many, and which can neither be proven or disproven, ultimately, but for which there is no intrinsic logic, nor empirical evidence…

    But when we Westerners think of Nature, what do we think of, if not something wild and free, and so a tight fit into our narrative of liberty, and the delightful disobedience which that implies, for we love nothing so much as breaking the rules, ALL the rules, if not all the time, then at least as often as we can get away with it…

    But does Nature do that? Not hardly, I don’t think, and the typical Asian view, by invoking ‘dharma,’ is certainly likening it to a law, and therefore something which we disobey only at great risk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that Nature is something written in stone, or on crinkled crackling paper, and the ink stains that have dried upon some lines…

    No, nature is something changing, even if the laws invoked may indeed be unchanging—or not. Thus the first rule of DNA—sh*t happens, i.e. mutations occur, and that becomes the raw material for evolution. Now the central dogma of the science of genetics is that these mutations are random, which may or may not be true, but there is much anecdotal evidence that there may indeed be more to it than that, but for which firm and verifiable evidence is heretofore lacking…

    And that doesn’t even consider the fact of so-called ‘genetic drift,’ which no one can or will deny, but only damn by the faint praise of its ‘driftiness,’ thus removing it from any consideration as something maybe far more serious in terms of cause and/or effect…

    All of which is to say that the role of consciousness in evolution cannot be ruled out, even if some commentaries may have jumped the gun in ascribing to it more than its genuine worth, i.e. “consciousness affects evolution; evolution affects consciousness…”

    But this does nothing to minimize the miracle of birth, regardless, which is certainly not random, even if the product of the most random and brutal orgy, which is fortunately not usually the case, even if the Latin-inspired ‘romance’ may indeed often be lacking on cold dark nights in tight cramped corners….

    But Buddhism is more concerned with the suffering implicit, and it is certainly a fact that death is implied in the ‘law of birth’ and that is the proof of the prevalence of suffering, if only by a 51-49% advantage in the scores and statistics. For the world may be defined by its limits and its suffering, but there is much beauty, also, in Nature and Art, and the consciousness of it…

     
  • hardie karges 7:36 am on July 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , rebirth,   

    Buddhism: Religion or Philosophy? 

    Many wars are fought in the name of religion. Very few are fought in the name of philosophy (Yes, I know there’s Communism and Capitalism and Democracy, etc., but I still maintain that the numbers are less). And this is an important distinction, especially with regards to Buddhism, which is essentially an open doctrine, and so has taken on many different forms, depending on the prior belief systems, and the general lay of the land, genetic predisposition, and special needs.

    It should be no surprise, though, that what any one people need is often far from what they think they want, indeed often the opposite, so this is a decision sometimes best left to high priests and palace intellectuals, who can see beyond the crass cravings and narrow proclivities of the mass populace and serve them the medicine they deserve, rather than the sweet nothings they crave.

    So violent Europeans get a religion of peace and love, sex-obsessed Arabs get a veil and no lipstick, while Asians obsessed with possessions and prestige get religions of renunciation. But they all get future options, one way or another, whether it’s eternal life, rebirth, or six dozen virgins all waiting with bated breath. In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

    The stated goal is nirvana, often described as escape from the ‘wheel of rebirth.’ In other words, we Buddhists should be working to liberate ourselves from this realm of suffering, which is usually best mitigated, and seldom for celebration, and certainly not for clinging to. This is why many Christians criticize Buddhism as ‘life-denying’, in sharp contrast to their version of Christianity, touted as ‘life-affirming.’ This distinction and dichotomy can even be further cheapened as one of pessimism vs. optimism.

    But is that really intellectually and spiritually honest for a culture that lives for aggression and competition and whose history is replete with slavery? Or is it more like an emotional see-saw that wastes lives and centuries over the litigation of passions, striving and struggling, and is never truly ‘life-affirming’ except when victorious over the other contenders to power?

    Not so many centuries ago, Christianity, too, was a religion of renunciation, as can be claimed for both Hinduism and Buddhism, with or without a belief in an eternal self or soul. In other words, we are all afraid of death, and the religion—or philosophy—that can answer that basic need will have a leg up on all the rest. So Buddhism attempts the impossible, to have rebirth with no soul, eternal life with no clinging, all with mixed results.

    And agnosticism is often criticized as a non-decision, but intellectually it is probably the only honest way, and thus in that sense, more philosophy than religion. Because religion depends upon divine intervention for spiritual fulfillment, and that is certainly not necessary in Buddhism. Here’s a thought experiment: Would you believe in soul or self if you had never looked in a mirror? Try to imagine what life was like before those long preening sessions gazing upon your reflection became central to your self-perception…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:49 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “But they all get future options … In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

      I’m sure this is right, though wonder if the promised release of Buddhism in effect makes the future an irrelevance?

      • hardie karges 1:39 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        It should be irrelevant, certainly, but old habits die hard, I guess, and I’m not sure why there is a clinging to personality, to be honest. I can understand the fear of death, just like the fear of anything new and uncertain. But if I were to be reborn I’d hope to be someone entirely disconnected from the present incarnation. Honestly a dimension of light sounds quite nice, and that is my definition of heaven…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:10 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink

          Sounds good to me, whether or not consciousness persists. As to ‘personality’, hope you forgive this upload of a DH Lawrence poem …

          Trust

          Oh we’ve got to trust
          one another again
          in some essentials.

          Not the narrow little
          bargaining trust
          that says: I’m for you
          if you’ll be for me. –

          But a bigger trust,
          a trust of the sun
          that does not bother
          about moth and rust,
          and we see it shining
          in one another.

    • Alexis Adder 1:25 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      The thing I found with American Christians (Not all forms of Christianity) is that it denies death and ignores it. While this sounds harmless, it is in fact dangerous. We have created a culture which sees sex as worse than death and violence. A culture where death is not taken seriously enough and creates sociopathy among the regular population. Where violence is no big deal. But people being born gay, that certainly is!

      In my Shin Buddhism path, one of the things I say to myself everyday is “I am of the nature to die”, “I am of the nature to be ill.”, and “I am of the nature to grow old.”. I accept reality as it is. (I also am a bit morbid and love gothic stuff!) I found the way Buddhism as a whole focuses on death, everything from being eaten by vultures to being mummified, to be much more realistic.

      But because of my Christian indoctrination I used to have the same hang ups about violence and sex. It took me exposing myself to real violence, even if it was on video, to realize just how bad violence is. It made me accept sex more and become more tolerant. And made me appreciate life as it is. This sounds stupid, but it has a lot to do with my cultural programming by Christians from an early age.

    • hardie karges 3:36 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, there is no fact more central to life than death, which is proof of the Buddhist recognition of the prevalence of suffering, IMHO. Violence, fortunately, can be mitigated, but death cannot. I don’t accept violence as normal. It’s not. Any two species can coexist peacefully if raised together since birth, and provided adequate food. Thanks for your comments.

    • Norbert 1:01 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I guess this whole conversation needs a sober reality check, based on solid empirical data instead of wild speculation. For a useful start, see https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2020-08-11/religion-giving-god?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=twofa&utm_campaign=Giving%20Up%20on%20God&utm_content=20200821&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017

      • hardie karges 10:31 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Good article, especially the parts about reliance on high birthrates, which I feel is necessary to overcome, if there is to be a future. The fact that world population has tripled in my lifetime is not lost on me. i’m not sure if they have fully accounted for the changes that may come with Covid-19, though, especially if it goes on for 2-3 years. There certainly won’t be any normalcy for that length of time, if not longer. It’s fine by me either way, since I need no creator God, and the world is my family. Buddhism is largely an open doctrine, so it can be secular or God-filled, and still work for many adherents. The important thing is for the individual to step back and acknowledge his smallness in the midst of vastness, and act accordingly. Thanks for your comments, Norbert…

    • quotidian2911 3:13 am on September 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Very deep insights!!!! Loved it

      • hardie karges 10:12 am on September 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks!

  • hardie karges 11:48 am on July 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Koran, rebirth,   

    Rapping on Rebirth and Reincarnation, in the Failed State of a Rental Car Nation… 

    The best rebirth is the one that occurs every day. That’s the one that comes right after the Koranic ‘little death’ that occurs each night, and right before the large plate of bangers, beans, and mash with which we submit to break our fast…

    And that little baptism indeed feels better than mere goodliness, a splash in the face, and a new start to the race, and no shame short of crying that we have to go and spoil it all by a mad dash to some sh*t-stained place of work, four corners and a stool from which to count more beans and pretend that this is what drives our evolution…

    Language loses all logic in transmission and translation, so what we strive for becomes strife, and the passion we suffer becomes the passion we love, and we fool ourselves into thinking that it’s all from above, when in reality we struggle to make sense of the simplest things—life, love and the happiness of pursuit, in the face of disease, pestilence, and a plenitude of nemeses…

    So let’s call it the ‘little rebirth’ so as not to confuse it with the big ‘R’ of karmic retribution, and reincarnation, jumping generations and landing on layered platforms, slathered thick with that special sauce of multiple feedback loops, such that we can never escape the prison of consciousness, creating enough past lives to fill volumes of pre-history, such that bad karma apparently extends before the birth of the human race, by conservative estimate…

    But can we be blamed for something that predates the birth of consciousness and so intent, by extension? I hope not, since intent is the basis of all guilty verdicts, and if there is no veridiction to the sentences that we are dealt, then it’s probably better to simply say nothing at all…

    The Buddha’s 100,000 lives, more or less, would extend back at least three million years, more or less, probably more if indeed good lives those of his certainly would be, so probably better to simply write it off as metaphor, and get on with our own lives…

    For we waste time in counting, and more precious time in the combat of exposition, stipulating silly syllogisms for the sake of argument, when the only recourse to recognition is through those labyrinthine passageways of the heart…

    Logic falls flat. Reason lies bleeding. Slide rules are antiquated and calculators require batteries, not always included. There is no path forward when the pathway is circular, and no convenient exit when the doors are all closed. Dharma requires no dogma. Dialog requires no debate…

     
  • hardie karges 11:46 am on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , rebirth,   

    Mixing Buddhism and Christianity to find a Middle Path that is free and equal… 

    To see the goodness in everyone sometimes requires special eyeglasses and extra effort, but that is the task to which we must put ourselves, because it is central to our thesis that life is worth living and no one is cast off, no matter how deep the suffering or how egregious the past, that one can be reformed, and forgiven, and can start all over with a clean slate, and no misgivings, and a future fresh and untrammeled, without the dirty footprints of yesterday defining a crooked mile, that goes nowhere, and is only fated to return. And in this sense Christianity may have a vast advantage over some sects of Buddhism that insist that we must relive our lives over and over with only small hope of actually making the quantum leap to a higher ‘type of person’, hopefully human (and male), lighter skin the better, in this last-ditch lottery of human salvation, when theoretically there is nothing really there to be saved anyway, in Buddhism, so why bother? Because people want magic and fantasy and the supernatural presence of divine intervention in their little lives, rather than slug it out in the coal mines and canary cages of the material world, with little hope of improvement, that’s why. Supposedly. Because we all know that many of the most knowledgeable people really believe none of that reincarnation nonsense, anyway, but know that it’ll put the fear of Mara and Mount Meru in the average village person, such that he’ll be much more obedient, and ultimately better off in this life of few rewards, and even fewer gains, in the quantum leap upward to a better ‘type of person’. Because this is central to the Hindu Brahmanic thesis, that there are different ‘types of persons’, most specifically those genetically shuffled Brahmins on top of a rapidly descending ladder to the bottom level, of those who must toil and trouble in the bubbling vats of sacred colors, ready to adorn the fashioned features of the fated few, while the vast unwashed steady the ladder that suppresses them. But for many the need for absolute certainty is preferable to the remote possibilities for hypothetical advancement, so acceptable in a belated sort of way. And that’s okay, if that’s what you want, but it doesn’t have to be that way, whether you’re Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Jew, because you can mix and match philosophies however you want, regardless of what anyone says, as long as you’re honest about it, and true to your own heart and mind, however changing and impermanent. Because ‘skillful means’ can select its topics, and its targets, but not its truths, so I may preach limits to Americans and freedom to Asians, with no contradiction in the least, because there is a sweet spot in the middle that is not only logically inferred, but existentially real. Everyone has equal value. All sentient beings have equal worth. This is no accident of fate or karma, color or birth…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 5:32 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Some healthy cross-fertilisation, with us as the bee … makes perfect sense to me! A little green awareness thrown into the mix …

      • hardie karges 5:35 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave. If a free-associative piece somehow manages to attain perfect sense, then that is words choosing their own proper course instinctively, I suppose…

        • Dave Kingsbury 3:08 am on February 25, 2020 Permalink

          Absolutely agree, Hardie, rather like a stream finding its way – I’ve resolved to explore similar, er, territory in my own writing.

  • hardie karges 9:38 am on January 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rebirth   

    MODERN BUDDHISM 2020: One Life, One world (พุทธศาสนารักวิทยาศาสตร์) 

    This is to announce the formation of a new Facebook group, under my moderation. The main inspiration for this group is to explore the possibilities for a Buddhism without rebirth or reincarnation, past lives, and the generation-jumping karma of retribution. For me that it is the elephant in the room of Buddhism, which nobody really seems to want to talk about (or maybe they do, but it gets contentious, so goes nowhere). ‘Secular’ Buddhists don’t talk about it, and ‘Western’ Buddhists don’t talk about it. So what makes them secular; what makes them Western? Beats me. Stephen Batchelor certainly talked about it in his book ‘Buddhism Without Beliefs’, though he skillfully left any conclusions open for discussion. And that’s the way it should be, really, a cozy middle path between ancient beliefs and modern, with plenty of wiggle room for everyone to feel comfortable, without confrontation, as orientations modernize at their own pace. There’s only one problem: the ‘re-birthers’ are doubling down. They’re writing books about the ‘case for rebirth’ and postulating ‘multiple feedback loops’ of karma.

    So it needs to be discussed, defined, and decided, at least individually, because with unscientific beliefs Buddhism relegates itself to the status of a superstitious faith-based religion, rather than an empirical science-based philosophy and psychology. As the name of this group implies, this is the only life and the only world that I know, so I don’t want to speculate too much on any other. Thus, for me at least, scientific method is the best way to know the external world, subject to ongoing revision, and Buddhist insight is the best way to live my life, certain and inviolable, if forever evolving. They are two separate aspects of my reality: internal and external. This is my preference, since neither rebirth, past lives, nor karma can be proven any more than the Christian Heaven, Hell, or God, which the current Pope freely admitted. When will a Buddhist senior monk admit the same? If your feelings are similar, then you are welcome here, to post, comment, or just hang out. If you are just curious, feel free to participate politely. If you are contrary, please be careful and don’t step on anyone else’s feelings.

    C U there:https://www.facebook.com/groups/196544654825092/

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:34 pm on January 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      sounds a worthwhile project will investigate and perhaps see you there excuse lower case arm in sling

      • hardie karges 3:36 pm on January 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You’re in, brother. Let’s hang out. (But take care of that arm)…

  • hardie karges 6:41 am on August 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , rebirth, , ,   

    Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam 101: Religion on the Rebound, Religion on the Run… 

    img_1893All three major international religions have carried their original premises to ridiculous extremes, along with their adherents, whether cause or effect, those original premises all quite similar, and compatible, variations on the themes of love, righteousness, and perseverance, each with a different focus, Christianity on the love, Islam on the righteousness, and Buddhism on the perseverance…

    And from these humble commendable compatible and civilizing influences, each has gone their own ways, Islam to the extremes of religious fundamentalism, holy wars and unholy alliances; Christianity drenched in sex, drugs, and all that rap; and Buddhist perseverance easily given over to passivity, even in the face of the most egregious assaults on basic human rights, individuals reduced to fit in cages, self-imposed prisons of consciousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 3:32 pm on July 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Agonistes, , , fashion, , Ginza, Giza, John Milton, rebirth, , Samson, superman   

    Eyeless in Ginza, Superman Agonistes… 

    IMG_0258Would that this were but the latest manifestation of many cycles of rebirth, each if only slightly better than the last, so that I could know that things were improving, if only gradually, if only incrementally, but in the right direction, something to indicate the ascent of man, not the descent, and maybe more in the manner of smiling Teilhard than grumpy Darwin, for then I could take solace in that fact and be happy…

    But I can see nothing of the sort, I limited to these eyes, and this life, in this world, the only one I know, though there may be others out there somewhere, but I know them not. I only know that this is not the pure land of prophecy, we sentenced here to gravity, and suffering, because the pure land of prophecy is surely one of the purest white light, these spectral colors of the most seductive hues begging me to come down to their world of solidity, to get down and dirty with sounds, phenomena, percussion and repercussions… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:32 pm on July 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      This seeks to burst the limitations with a very effective experimental edge, Hardie. At the same time, down to earth …

    • hardie karges 4:52 am on July 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thanx for the vote of confidence, Dave. Experiment is risky but necessary, for me at least, to clear out the cobwebs that clog consciousness. Sometimes I feel I’ve sacrificed my life to it, though, not sure if it’s for better or worse, haha…

  • hardie karges 8:21 am on May 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , kilesa, , , rebirth, samma sankappa, , , transmigration   

    Buddhist Mindfulness as Mindlessness? Wait a minute… 

    IMG_0959Okay, so I admit it: I’m going through a crisis of confidence with my newfound love of Buddhism, and all that entails. The devil is in the details, of course, as even the ever-tricky Buddha himself well knew, just like Jesus after him, that you pick and choose what to tell the initiates and laypeople at any one time, subject to their capacity to comprehend, assimilate, or even fathom, concepts which may just be a bit difficult to swallow at first, or maybe forever…

    Compounded by the fact that the Buddha himself was just a bloke, not a God, nor even his son, and so not omniscient, and subject to the limitations thereof, to most of which he himself spoke, the profound limits which define our existence on this blue-green orb of light color and sound which we call earth, the world, home, samsara, all we’ve got, except what we can make for ourselves, given time, energy, and the raw materials to work with, including consciousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:45 am on May 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , rebirth, system, Triple Gem   

    Update on the Buddhist Update: Hard work… 

    img_1935

    Now the last thing I expected when I ‘finally got serious about Buddhism’ a few years ago was that there were people still decidedly attached to the three-in-one concept of rebirth-past lives-retributive karma, to the extent that without it Buddhism was simply not functional, and would never survive. Others of us, on the other hand, think that WITH it it’s simply not functional and will never survive…

    But Buddhism is just like any other religion derived from the remote past, bedraggled with the baggage of preceding generations, and left to fend for itself against the challenges of the future. So many self-described atheists would simply prefer to call the whole thing off, while at the same time affirming their own belief systems—whether secular humanism, democracy, socialism, but mostly materialism—without seeing the slightest bit of irony, even if they prefer to ignore the logical inconsistencies… (More …)

     
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