Author Topic: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???  (Read 10512 times)

Morning Dew

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What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« on: August 06, 2011, 02:16:14 PM »
I spoke to a friend and he is into dogmas and belief systems. He feels comfortanble with it.
Any who, he believes in reincarnation and karma too. Buddha spoke of those but I cant find anything on the net. Does any of you fine ladies know any Sutta talking about this specific issue.

If there is no I, me, mine then who the f... is reincarnating? If such thingy exist that is.

Jeepers chime in me mate :) I know you always have a few Suttas up your sleeve ;)

Thank you all
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 03:40:47 PM by Che Guebuddha »

thelastrich

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Re: What Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 03:08:41 PM »
I think Buddha avoids to answer that question, at least in anapanasati sutta, for the very reason that knowing this will not help you to be free in any way.

Masauwu

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Re: What Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 03:25:58 PM »
Maybe it doesn`t have to be tied to a self-type identity. Even if you are not a self, you are still something happening in an endless ocean of happenings, and waves and tides in that ocean keep stirring its happenings back and forth. Westerners adopted the term "reincarnating" but i don`t think it means the same as the original one, "rebirth".

Evidently i have no clue what i`m talking about. ;D
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Purple

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2011, 05:14:14 PM »
Back in my Shambhala days I read quite a bit of literature on rebirth and karma.  Of course, Tibetans are more into the notion of reincarnation rather than rebirth, but some of the stuff made sense both ways.  I mean, as much sense as this stuff can make.

The best explanation I ever got was in regards to karmic debt.  The basic premise was that since there is no enduring self, no soul, a being's karma was what carried over into another life.  Since karma is what binds us to samsara, once it is extinguished, then birth is extinguished.  Someone compared it to credit card debt once.  If I die, then my credit card debt must be shouldered by my wife, as my next of kin.  The credit card debt isn't me, but it was created by me and someone has to take care of it. 

So essentially your package of created karma carries over into another form, which, of course, begins creating new karma as well as realizing previous karma.  Eventually, meditation practice is supposed to lead to a state where we have realized all of our previous karma and are not creating any new.  In that case, no more birth for you.

This is how I understood rebirth, though it may not jibe with what the Buddha taught in the suttas.

Matthew

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 10:04:18 PM »
These knowledges were reported by the Buddha as directly discerned, revealed, and not speculative. It may be wiser to concentrate on practice on and off the cushion than to speculate about matters such as this.

Much love,

Matthew
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Jeeprs

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2011, 12:45:06 AM »
It is indisputable, in my view, that Buddhism has accepted rebirth, or what we popularly know as 're-incarnation', from the beginning of the teaching, and belief in it is part of the traditional cutlure of India.  During the night of the Enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have recalled every one of his previous thousands of existences, including all the names and actions of those re-births. I find attempts to explain this away by saying it was added later by the monks, quite unconvincing. I don't think it is just mythologizing.

But it is a field that is ripe for delusion and wishful thinking. And some people, especially us Westerners, are very disturbed by the idea, it is a cultural taboo in the West. It is associated with occultism and fringe thinking, perhaps with good reason.

If you read accounts of conversations with Ramana Maharishi (Vedanta rather than Buddhist, but a fully realized being), if he was asked about rebirth, he was always very dismissive of it. "Find out who is asking", is what he would always say. "Once you know this, the question will trouble you no more". And that, I think, is the best advice. So I would say, keep an open mind, but don't engage in speculation about it; if we practice to the best of our ability, the consequences will always be positive, whether there is a next life - or not!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 12:49:36 AM by Jeeprs »

Morning Dew

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2011, 07:48:03 AM »
Thank you all :)
Now! Lets carefuly go back to the original question. I was asking about What or Who this phenomena is that re-incarnates (let alone the reincarnation).

Does Buddha say anything in Suttas about this phenomena?

If there is no-self then is there a collective conciousness (what taoists call Universe).

This being i call Me is indeed walking on its own. Eating on its own. Sleeping on its own. Having a reptilian brain to make it fight or flight, etc...

If there is no entity like a soul or spirit or even Mind then what is it? Intuitive Wisdom maybe, which is tapped into the Collective Conciousness?

So the question is;
Does The Buddha mention what is that which was living all his thousands of lives in the Suttas? I care little about re-incarnation rather interested in what Buddha said about it.

Can you point out a Sutta talking about this? Thanks

Matthew

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2011, 09:35:44 AM »
Dusko,

Thank you all :)
Now! Lets carefuly go back to the original question. I was asking about What or Who this phenomena is that re-incarnates (let alone the reincarnation).

Does Buddha say anything in Suttas about this phenomena?
....
So the question is;
Does The Buddha mention what is that which was living all his thousands of lives in the Suttas? I care little about re-incarnation rather interested in what Buddha said about it.

Can you point out a Sutta talking about this? Thanks

Yes the Buddha talks about this in many Suttas.

"Reincarnation" is the Hindu/Brahmanic (and some other religions) version, whereby a "soul" is reborn again and again.

Buddhist "rebirth" as described by the Buddha is categorically different. It is conditioned mind states that lead to conditioned rebirth - so there is some continuity but also no "entity" being reborn (as we have no soul). The state of mind at death, the summation of one's Kamma up to the point of death and at the point of death kindles the next consciousness.

Googling "Buddhist Sutta rebirth" would lead you to this wikipedia page which contains some references:

Quote from: wikipedia
There are many references to rebirth in the early Buddhist scriptures. These are some of the more important; Mahakammavibhanga Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 136); Upali Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 56); Kukkuravatika Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 57); Moliyasivaka Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 36.21); Sankha Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 42.8 ).

Some English-speaking Buddhists prefer the term "rebirth" or "re-becoming" (Sanskrit: punarbhava; Pali: punabbhava) to "reincarnation" as they take the latter to imply a fixed entity that is reborn. It is said to be the "evolving consciousness" (Pali: samvattanika viññana, M.1.256) or "stream of consciousness" (Pali: viññana sotam, D.3.105) that reincarnates. The early Buddhist texts make it clear that there is no permanent consciousness that moves from life to life. The lack of a fixed self does not mean lack of continuity. In the same way that a flame is transferred from one candle to another, there is a conditioned relationship between one life and the next: they are neither identical nor completely distinct.

While all Buddhist traditions seem to accept some notion of rebirth, there is no unified view about precisely how events unfold after the moment of death. The medieval Pali scholar Buddhaghosa labeled the consciousness that constitutes the condition for a new birth as described in the early texts "rebirth-linking consciousness" (patisandhi). Some schools conclude that karma continued to exist and adhere to the person until it had worked out its consequences. For the Sautrantika school each act "perfumed" the individual and led to the planting of a "seed" that would later germinate as a good or bad karmic result. Theravada Buddhism generally asserts that rebirth is immediate while the Tibetan schools hold to the notion of a bardo (intermediate state) that can last up to forty-nine days. This has led to the development of a unique 'science' of death and rebirth, a good deal of which is set down in what is popularly known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Theravada Buddhism generally denies there is an intermediate state, though some early Buddhist texts seem to support it. One school that adopted this view was the Sarvastivada, who believed that between death and rebirth there is a sort of limbo in which beings do not yet reap the consequences of their previous actions but may still influence their rebirth. The death process and this intermediate state were believed to offer a uniquely favourable opportunity for spiritual awakening.

Rebirth as cycle of consciousness

Another view of rebirth describes the cycle of death and birth in the context of consciousness rather than the birth and death of the body. In this view, remaining impure aggregates, skandhas, reform consciousness.

Buddhist meditation teachers suggest that observation reveals consciousness as a sequence of conscious moments rather than a continuum of awareness. Each moment is an experience of an individual mind-state such as a thought, a memory, a feeling or a perception. A mind-state arises, exists and, being impermanent, ceases, following which the next mind-state arises. Thus the consciousness of a sentient being can be seen as a continuous series of birth and death of these mind-states. Rebirth is the persistence of this process.

In the practice of Vipassana meditation, the meditator uses "bare attention" to observe the endless round of mind-states without interfering, owning or judging. This limits the power of desire which, according to the second noble truth of Buddhism, is the cause of suffering (dukkha) and leads to Nirvana (nibbana, vanishing (of the self-idea)).

In the Maha-kammavibhanga Sutta (The Great Exposition of Kamma) the Buddha repeatedly says "in consequence of ardour, endeavour, devotion, diligence, and right attention, some monk or brahman attains such concentration of mind that, when his mind is concentrated, he sees with the heavenly eyesight, which is purified and surpasses the human"

I have highlighted the relevant phrase to the other part of your question:

...
If there is no-self then is there a collective conciousness (what taoists call Universe).
...
If there is no entity like a soul or spirit or even Mind then what is it? Intuitive Wisdom maybe, which is tapped into the Collective Conciousness?....

The only answer I can offer right now, without the direct realisation of these knowledges myself is: probably yes, perhaps.

Search Access to Insight for "rebirth", then choose "Suttas only" and there are 68 results where you can read the source.

Additionally I would repeat my advice that it is direct realisation that matters, not speculation or intellectual pondering: "in consequence of ardour, endeavour, devotion, diligence, and right attention, some monk or brahman attains such concentration of mind that ...."

Strive diligently for your own salvation, ardently, devotedly and with right attention!

Matthew
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Jeeprs

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2011, 12:39:24 PM »
Quote
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

"Then is there no self?"

A second time, the Blessed One was silent.

Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question by Vacchagotta the wanderer?"

"Ananda, if I were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness].

This passage is also connected with the 'simile of the poison arrow', which I think we have discussed previously, so won't repeat here. The point of the simile of the poison arrow is to avoid speculation about questions that cannot be answered. The existence or non-existence of self is one of these questions. The self, like everything else 'arises on account of conditions, and on account of conditions, will also cease'.

Obviously, understanding how rebirth takes place in the absence of an abiding self is a difficult question.  The orthodox answer is that one life has set in train a series of causes, which will then give rise to a future existence, out of ignorance and clinging. The simile that is given for this is like 'the passing of the torch'. There is also a question that is asked: 'are you the same person now as you were when you were 7 years old? Or are you a different person?' The aim of this question is to show how one is 'both the same and different'.

So, obviously, these are very deep questions. Overall, I agree with Matthew, it is an area that really can sidetrack us into the kind of speculation the 'poison arrow' simile warns about.  It is philosophically interesting, but I don't dwell on it that much, although I will add, I have my doubts about the orthodox view of the question. But my views on all of it are provisional and always subject to revision.

So - I don't really expect that gives you the answer you are seeking, but maybe that is because it is something that can only be answered at the end of the search!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 12:42:22 PM by Jeeprs »

Morning Dew

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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2011, 02:04:55 PM »
Thank you lads.
It helps it all helps indeed :)

I have found what i was looking for;
http://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/resources/The_Wheel_of_Life.html

« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 03:40:53 PM by Che Guebuddha »

Morning Dew

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2011, 06:06:26 PM »
Quote
. If I were to think & ponder in line with that even for a night... even for a day... even for a day & night, I do not envision any danger that would come from it, except that thinking & pondering a long time would tire the body. When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.' So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed.

Quote
"Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with non-ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with non-ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmlessness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmfulness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmlessness.



"Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking" (MN 19), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 14 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 06:10:19 PM by Che Guebuddha »

Andrew

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2011, 05:21:33 AM »
I was thinking about this the other day, and I defaulted the the wisdom a kid gave me years ago.

It's all true. One size doesn't fit all.

some are reborn, some reincarnate, some go to heaven forever, and some, hell. Some cease to exist, some barely hang in there, becoming ghosts of beings barely more than automated memories.

Why do all beings have to be equal? It is enough to say that no-one escapes their own story.

Great new forum look by the way! Would we call that forum rebirth or reincarnation?  :D

A

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Jeeprs

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2011, 06:49:11 AM »
A confession: I have real problems around the idea that "Buddhism says you have no soul'. I don't think it does say that. At the time of the Buddha, the word for 'soul' was not even in circulation, and it is actually derived from a completely different tradition, namely, the Judeo-Christian tradition. Certainly, the Buddha disputed the 'atma- view of the Brahmans - that the self was eternal. That is the meaning of the quote I gave above. But if you think about Tibetan Buddhism, as an example, with it many 'incarnate rinpoches' (HH The Dalai Lama being one), I find the idea of 'no abiding soul' impossible to reconcile with this view of life. I  have studied the doctrines and so on, and realize what the orthodox view is - but I am not convinced I accept it. Again, all my views are provisional - I might not understand anything about it at all - so I am not making a strong assertion. I am just saying, still undecided about this doctrine at this time. I might make it the subject of study in the Tibetan Buddhism unit that I am doing this semester.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 06:51:28 AM by Jeeprs »

Andrew

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2011, 02:58:43 AM »
Enlightenment isn't necessarily THE ultimate state, but rather the pinnacle of human states. So anyone claiming to hold ultimate truths is claiming themselves not to be not human already. Quite a claim really.

When the late Kerry Packer (Media mogul billionaire) had a NDE, he claimed that there was nothing there. While he was technically dead on the operating theatre bench, he experienced nothing but blackness. He was very pleased to report that the afterlife was all bullshit in the media (he owned!).

I think the joke is on him actually. Perhaps there is no afterlife for him.

Perhaps the rest of us get a few more goes and he was just like a prop in a stage production, just providing the setting and circumstances for those with souls!

I know that it is true that I cannot claim to know where and what I am, whether I've been here before or this is the first and last time around. Certainly holding anything as 'ultimate truth' is the antithesis of buddhas teaching anyway.

This Path is real and works, if nothing else it will be worth the ride!  ;)
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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2011, 06:49:35 AM »
Jeeprs,

Tibetan Buddhism is a cross-breed of Buddhism and the Bon religion of old Tibet - an animist belief system where everything from rocks to trees had spirits.

Like most forms of Buddhism it is not likely very true to Buddha's teachings. Also the Rinpoches all come from the 21 families that ruled feudal Tibet ... the incarnation system they have is a continuation of the feudal control system.

Regards,

Matthew
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Vivek

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2011, 09:26:40 AM »
@Dusko: Regarding who is reincarnating, there is no "one", no body. There is only a continuity of the mind-matter phenomenon, which again is unreal. When the body has aged completely, it is cast off, but the phenomenon continues. The very purpose of Vipassana is to witness this truth; One interpretation of "Vipassana" is, "to see things as they really are".
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Jeeprs

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2011, 10:04:39 AM »
I have no reason to think that Buddhism as practiced by Tibetans is any less authentic than Buddhism practiced by the English.

It is more a matter that I don't think 'the Buddha teaches there is no soul'. This is something that is often said, but I don't think it is correct. The Buddha doesn't teach there is, either. But the popular opinion is 'no soul' - and I don't think it is correct.

Vivek

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2011, 11:43:52 AM »
Quote from: Jeeprs
It is more a matter that I don't think 'the Buddha teaches there is no soul'. This is something that is often said, but I don't think it is correct.
Buddha taught "Anatta", which literally means there is no entity or soul.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2011, 12:02:43 PM »
Jeeprs, how do you interpret the teaching of Anatma, if not as 'no soul'? Warmly, Matthew
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Jeeprs

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2011, 12:39:05 PM »
I think that anatta means that 'everything is without self', as the orthodox teaching says. Anatta is one of the three marks, the other two being dukkha and anicca. And every single phenomenon, feeling, perception, habitual tendency, and judgement has these three marks. So in that sense, everything in experience is indeed anatta, 'without self', or 'non-self'.

But everything being not-self, is not the same as there not being a self. The passage I referred to a few posts back shows that when the Buddha was asked if there was self or not, the answer was the noble silence.  He said to answer 'yes' is to side with 'eternalist' views - those who say there is an eternal self (and which would have been referring to the Brahmins). To answer no is to side with those who have nihilist views - those who say that at death, everything ceases and there is no re-birth in one of the six realms (these would be the Carvakas, the materialists). He says, neither view is correct, but it is not an easy matter to understand what is wrong with them.

Furthermore, there are some references in the Pali, such as at the Mahaparinirvana Sutta, which presents the last words of the Buddha as 'making the self a refuge'. There are one or two similar expressions at other places in the suttas. So I don't know if the view of rejecting the idea of self or soul is correct, although I am aware that almost everyone says that it is.

On the notion of 'soul' in normal language,  I understand this as representing 'the deepest aspirations or aspects of the living being'. It is like the totality of their being, and is something much deeper than the conscious ego. I would say in modern terms that it includes the subconscious and unconscious aspects of the personality, and also perhaps their archetypal form. So there are musical souls, and philosophical souls -  and some people are 'old souls'. You feel that they have been here before. But in all that, 'soul' can still be seen as a process, and not as substance.

The reason I don't like the 'Buddha teaches there is no soul' idea is that soul-less-ness usually connotes an attitude of coldness, absence of empathy, and even nihilism. (In this day and age, many are nihilist without realizing it).  In fact, many Indian philosophical schools accused Buddha and Buddhism of nihilism - especially the Middle Way teaching of the Mahayana. It is a very subtle question, but I don't believe the Buddha was nihilist. But I think he always wanted to avoid our human tendency to cling to ideas - ideas of God, ideas of the soul, ideas that we take comfort in, shelter behind, or cling to. 'Don't worry, God will make it right', and so on.  I am sure this is what he was opposed to. He was extremely critical of ideas that are used in this sense, which would later become ideologies and metaphysical systems of various kinds. So this is why he would never teach anything like the soul idea, same as he wouldn't teach anything about a God idea. The Buddha was a very critical and extremely rigourous thinker in all these questions. He was very precise, and never vague or careless in the use of words. But what the Buddha didn't say is also as important, in regards to these questions, as what He did. So I am inclined to think that the idea that 'the Buddha teaches there is no soul' is actually reading something into the teaching which isn't there.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 12:42:38 PM by Jeeprs »

Vivek

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2011, 02:10:48 PM »
I contend that the three marks (Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta) refer to phenomena within the frame-work of the body, not about everything. If, for reference, we take Satipatthana Sutta, all enquiries pertaining to the body, sensations, mind as well as mental contents center upon realizing that there is no entity as substratum for these phenomena; the continuity of the phenomena just creates the illusion of an enitity. The prevalent school in India during Buddha's time was Dvaita Vada (Samkhyans, Mimamsakas and Nyaya Vaiseshikas belong to this category) which contend that there is an entity within which undergoes transmigration and which bears the fruits of the actions it performs. It is to be noted that this stance is not accepted by Advaita school. However, the proponents of Advaita school were far more obscure and their teachings did not gain acceptance among the majority during those times. Even now, Advaita is vehemently opposed by the vast majority in Northern India. It is this idea of a permanent entity that the Buddha also negated. Where Buddha's teachings triumphed, is the introduction of a technique of self-observation, which actually takes the practitioner stage-by-stage to the realization of Anatta, and to something that is beyond all comprehension, Nirvana. The Advaitins did not have any technique as such to help others develop their insight and progress to higher stages. Even today, their basic tool is self-enquiry and contemplation.

 I think the Buddha's statement "Atta saranam" (one self as refuge) does not refer to any self dwelling within. The Enlightened One only points out that it is useless to depend on someone else for our salvation; one must strive for one's own salvation (note parallel in Gita: "Udharet atmana atmaanam"). So, if the interpretation be made that Buddha is here referring to an entity as self dwelling within, I contend that it is out of context and contradicts what the Selfless One has said elsewhere in many other Suttas. The statement is to be interpretted as a practical advice, not as indicating the truth of whether there is in-dwelling entity.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

chintan

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2011, 06:23:28 PM »
There are beautiful similes given by Thich Naht Hahn (I think) when he tries to answer this question "What is reborn if there is no soul / self / atman?"

- when you shout into a cave and hear an echo - is the echo the same sound which went in - is it different than the sound which went in?
- take a candle and light another candle - now is the flame in the second candle same as the first one? is it different to the first one?

The answer to both the questions is indeterminate - it is neither same nor different.. maybe that is why Buddha refused to answer the straight question if there is soul / slf / atman or not.

Personally for me the acceptance of Anata was the most difficult one to make and my panna for Annata is still at second level chintamaya panna.. i.e. through reflection - I am yet to experience it during meditation. Buddha was very clear about no self - he had to be clear as this was one of the basic differences from Vedanta / Brahminical belief systems which were prevalent then. Atman and Paramatman are cornerstones. And the interpretation of Atman is very clear - Atman is ajar amar - it is eternal and indestructible - I was brought up on these concepts as a kid (my parents followed Arya Samaaj).



Jeeprs

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2011, 08:16:49 AM »
Quote from: chintan
I am yet to experience [anatta] during meditation.

Who would be there to experience it? ;)

Vivek

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Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2011, 03:34:50 PM »
An excellent illustration from Milinda Panha on this subject:

Now Milinda the king went up to where the venerable Nâgasena was, and addressed him with the greetings and compliments of friendship and courtesy, and took his seat respectfully apart. And Nâgasena reciprocated his courtesy, so that the heart of the king was propitiated.

And Milinda began by asking,  'How is your Reverence known, and what, Sir, is your name?'

'I am known as Nâgasena, O king, and it is by that name that my brethren in the faith address me. But although parents, O king, give such a name as Nâgasena, or Sûrasena, or Vîrasena, or Sîhasena, yet this, Sire,--Nâgasena and so on--is only a generally understood term, a designation in common use. For there is no permanent individuality (no soul) involved in the matter.'



Then Milinda called upon the Yonakas and the brethren to witness: 'This Nâgasena says there is no permanent individuality (no soul) implied in his name. Is it now even possible to approve him in that?' And turning to Nâgasena, he said: 'If, most reverend Nâgasena, there be no permanent individuality (no soul) involved in the matter, who is it, pray, who gives to you members of the Order your robes and food and lodging and necessaries for the sick? Who is it who enjoys such things when given? Who is it who lives a life of righteousness? Who is it who devotes himself to meditation? Who is it who attains to the goal of the Excellent Way, to the Nirvâna of Arahatship? And who is it who destroys living creatures? who is it who takes what is not his own? who is it who lives an evil life of worldly lusts, who speaks lies, who drinks strong drink, who (in a word) commits any one of the five sins which work out their bitter fruit even in this life? If that be so there is neither merit nor demerit; there is neither doer nor causer of good or evil deeds; there is neither fruit nor result of good or evil Karma. If, most reverend Nâgasena, we are to think that were a man to kill you there would be no murder, then it follows that there are no real masters or teachers in your Order, and that your ordinations are void.--You tell me that your brethren in the Order are in the habit of addressing you as Nâgasena. Now what is that Nâgasena? Do you mean to say that the hair is Nâgasena?'

'I don't say that, great king.'

'Or the hairs on the body, perhaps?'

'Certainly not.'

'Or is it the nails, the teeth, the skin, the flesh, the nerves, the bones, the marrow, the kidneys, the heart, the liver, the abdomen, the spleen, the lungs, the larger intestines, the lower intestines, the stomach, the fæces, the bile, the phlegm, the pus, the blood, the sweat, the fat, the tears, the serum, the saliva, the mucus, the oil that lubricates the joints, the urine, or the brain, or any or all of these, that is Nâgasena?'

And to each of these he answered no.

'Is it the outward form then (Rûpa) that is Nâgasena, or the sensations (Vedanâ), or the ideas (Saññâ), or the confections (the constituent elements of character, Samkhârâ), or the consciousness (Vigññâna), that is Nâgasena?'

And to each of these also he answered no.

'Then is it all these Skandhas combined that are Nâgasena?'

'No! great king.'

'But is there anything outside the five Skandhas that is Nâgasena?'

And still he answered no.

'Then thus, ask as I may, I can discover no Nâgasena. Nâgasena is a mere empty sound. Who then is the Nâgasena that we see before us? It is a falsehood that your reverence has spoken, an untruth!'

And the venerable Nâgasena said to Milinda the king: 'You, Sire, have been brought up in great luxury, as beseems your noble birth. If you were to walk this dry weather on the hot and sandy ground, trampling under foot the gritty, gravelly grains of the hard sand, your feet would hurt you. And as your body would be in pain, your mind would be disturbed, and you would experience a sense of bodily suffering. How then did you come, on foot, or in a chariot?'

'I did not come, Sir, on foot. I came in a carriage.'

'Then if you came, Sire, in a carriage, explain to me what that is. Is it the pole that is the chariot?'

'I did not say that.'

'Is it the axle that is the chariot?'

'Certainly not.'

'Is it the wheels, or the framework, or the ropes, or the yoke, or the spokes of the wheels, or the goad, that are the chariot?'

And to all these he still answered no.

'Then is it all these parts of it that are the chariot?'

'No, Sir.'

'But is there anything outside them that is the chariot?'

And still he answered no.

'Then thus, ask as I may, I can discover no chariot. Chariot is a mere empty sound. What then is the chariot you say you came in? It is a falsehood that your Majesty has spoken, an untruth! There is no such thing as a chariot! You are king over all India, a mighty monarch. Of whom then are you afraid that you speak untruth? And he called upon the Yonakas and the brethren to witness, saying: 'Milinda the king here has said that he came by carriage. But when asked in that case to explain what the carriage was, he is unable to establish what he averred. Is it, forsooth, possible to approve him in that?'

When he had thus spoken the five hundred Yonakas shouted their applause, and said to the king: Now let your Majesty get out of that if you can?'

And Milinda the king replied to Nâgasena, and said: 'I have spoken no untruth, reverend Sir. It is on account of its having all these things--the pole, and the axle, the wheels, and the framework, the ropes, the yoke, the spokes, and the goad--that it comes under the generally understood term, the designation in common use, of "chariot."'

'Very good! Your Majesty has rightly grasped the meaning of "chariot." And just even so it is on account of all those things you questioned me about-- the thirty-two kinds of organic matter in a human body, and the five constituent elements of being--that I come under the generally understood term, the designation in common use, of "Nâgasena." For it was said, Sire, by our Sister Vagirâ in the presence of the Blessed One:

'"Just as it is by the condition precedent of the co-existence of its various parts that the word 'chariot' is used, just so is it that when the Skandhas are there we talk of a 'being.'"'

'Most wonderful, Nâgasena, and most strange. Well has the puzzle put to you, most difficult though it was, been solved. Were the Buddha himself here he would approve your answer. Well done, well done, Nâgasena!'

Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

chintan

  • Maun
  • Member
    • Vipassana - Goenka
Re: What (Who) Is Reincarnating???
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2011, 07:14:55 PM »
Who would be there to experience it? ;)

I get the underlying fallacy but was referring more to the awareness which comes through meditation.. when you really get it.. as against having intellectualized it.