Author Topic: Reincarnation  (Read 22211 times)

WisdomBeing

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Reincarnation
« on: June 09, 2010, 03:05:15 AM »
I was just asked yesterday at lunch - what if people don't believe in reincarnation - i was quite perplexed. I thought that whether you believe in it or not, it exists. It's like if you think the earth is flat, it's still round!

So all those people who think that by not believing in reincarnation, they don't have to to reincarnate are simply ignorant. No two ways about it. I was happy to share various stories about reincarnation that I'd read about and also some videos i had watched from Tsem Lama's blog (http://blog.tsemtulku.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/2010/05/reincarnation.html) and I must say that even one 'staunch' Christian at lunch yesterday was gobsmacked!! Hope they'll want to know more... they were friends of me dad, so they're not getting any younger - time to be concerned about their next life, i hope!

Reincarnation is the cornerstone of Buddhism and the belief in the continuous spiritual lineage of our Gurus and Being such as Dorje Shugden. If we do not believe in reincarnation, we cannot believe in Karma either because karma explains everything in this incarnation, our previous and future lives.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 03:38:50 AM »

There is another point here that it's worth mentioning.
Quote
"Reincarnation is the cornerstone of Buddhism and the belief in the continuous spiritual lineage of our Gurus and Being such as Dorje Shugden."

Well, in a general way what we call "reincarnation" (or "rebirth") is the taking birth again and again without the slightest choice in the wheel of Samsara. We samsaric beings "reincarnate" blown by the winds of karma and mental afflictions.
Our Gurus and Beings such as Dorje Shugden, on the other hand, take birth where they decide to, for the sake of sentient beings, out of compassion. Not from karma and mental afflictions.

So we use the same terminology for two entirely different events.


Lineageholder

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 08:14:23 AM »
Dear WisdomBeing,

Thank you for raising this important subject.  If you look at other Buddhist sites, such as the Tricycle Blog, for example, it's shocking how many people deny rebirth and karma which are, as you say, the cornerstones of Buddha's teaching.  I know I need to increase my heartfelt conviction in karma until I can see everything I experience as the ripening of my previous intentions and to know, without doubt, that all my present intentions will bear fruit in the future as well.  When I believe this from the depths of my heart, I will be more interested in accumulating merit and purifying negativity.  :)

WisdomBeing

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 09:40:09 AM »
Thank you for all your contributions to this topic.. re convincing 'Western minds', i'd rather not go there because this issue was raised in the 'DS Brochure thread' and I think it is safe to say that we cannot generalise because in the West, even in different countries eg France and UK have vastly different perspectives, let alone America and Europe etc. And even within the same country - there are different attitudes in South England/London for example than the midlands. Anyway, I do take your point that some people will not be impressed by anecdotes and I like very much A Friend's comment re the same terminology for two different events.

Lineageholder - in one of Tsem Lama's teachings, he said that if we truly realise karma, we wouldn't be leading our lives the way we do now. This has always resonated with me because it's so true. As i jolly along on my little journey thru life, that comment keeps niggling away at the back of my mind. As you say, if we believe this from the depths of our hearts, we'd focus more on accumulating merit and purifying our negativity. Thank you for that reminder :)
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

emptymountains

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2010, 09:53:48 AM »
I don't agree with this, trying to show reincarnation through various anecdotes won't convince Western minds.  Implicit inference is one of the Buddhist methods of inquiry and is much stronger proof, this is Dharmakirti's way of proving it.


This was my attempted approach on the Understanding the Mind website: http://www.understandingthemind.org/. Please check it out and let me know if you have any suggestions for improving the presentation there.

LosangKhyentse

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2010, 10:37:25 AM »
Thank you for all your contributions to this topic.. re convincing 'Western minds', i'd rather not go there because this issue was raised in the 'DS Brochure thread' and I think it is safe to say that we cannot generalise because in the West, even in different countries eg France and UK have vastly different perspectives, let alone America and Europe etc. And even within the same country - there are different attitudes in South England/London for example than the midlands. Anyway, I do take your point that some people will not be impressed by anecdotes and I like very much A Friend's comment re the same terminology for two different events.

Lineageholder - in one of Tsem Lama's teachings, he said that if we truly realise karma, we wouldn't be leading our lives the way we do now. This has always resonated with me because it's so true. As i jolly along on my little journey thru life, that comment keeps niggling away at the back of my mind. As you say, if we believe this from the depths of our hearts, we'd focus more on accumulating merit and purifying our negativity. Thank you for that reminder :)



I like what you said here. Generalisations are too sweeping and to inconclusively conclusive.

TK


LosangKhyentse

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2010, 11:31:47 AM »


Whatever approach we use to Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern minds depends on that person, their background, their level.

Some would attempt to find Dharmakirti's proof very dry, boring and beyond what they could understand. Many Americans, Belgium people, and Italian people I have come across find various explanations helpful. There are times I attempt to assert more philosophical explanations, the doctors loved it, the housewives from the US I met tried to stay awake.

The subtle mind has no beginning and no end. At the end of our lives or during sleep for example the gross minds dissolves into the subtle mind. Hence in dreams we can 'see, feel, hear, etc' but it is without our gross aggregates..it is the mind seeing 'itself' in the case of dreams, the dreams arise from the mind and are viewed by this mind. That is one proof the mind can exist without it's physical corporeal form. Even with that scientists wouldn't be fully convinced, not that it matters, because they assert it is brain activitiy or memory activity or combination.

Since the continuity of the mind is like a film reel that it is constant and each picture frame is depending on the preceding and following frame to form a picture, our minds are similar. Hence if we are existent today, we must have been existent yesterday, the day before, the month before, the year, decade and even up to our birth. Even at birth when the red cell of mother and white of the father joins and becomes our first form that is when consciousness enters. Hence, if the two cells joined at 11pm, and the mind started to exist then, that would be illogical as the mind just doesn't exist and appear suddenly. Hence at 10:59 pm we must have had a mind, at 9pm, 6pm, the day before, the month before there was a continuity of the mind that continued up to our conception at 11pm. Hence there is memory. If the continuity of the mind was cut, there could be no memory. Since it is continuous, there can be memory. Even things that we experienced at 2 or 3 years old can be retrieved by meditation, regression therapy or hypnosis. That shows it is stored. Hence memories of previous lives can be tapped into especially when we are very young. As the 'distance' from the previous life to the current is not that far. Many incarnate lamas can remember clearly their previous existences. Many children can also. As remembering previous lives are not the exclusive domain of tulkus.
Scientists/skeptics would have many explanations against that as we have heard such as cultural, environmental and even genetic imprinting, etc etc..

Similarily, we can fast forward. If we were to die at 8pm, our mind having had prior functioning existence, will logically continue its existence. So If we die at 9am, then for example sake, after the process of dissolving of the winds our minds have to continue even after the body has ceased to function. So at 9:01pm our minds would have to continue and then 10pm, the next day, the next month, the next year. Hence this existence prior to conception and this continued existence after death is where we slot in karma. Something has to control where we came from and where we go. I have written in brief, but when we studied this from our glorious teachers decades ago, it worked for me. But it didn't work for the majority. It was too sublte and abstract. In the audience there were mixed crowd but minority of a few Easterners. Over the years I have elaborated this point many times in my travels, most was not interested and wanted stories, testaments of high reincarnated lamas and what they can remember, and or combination.

Even among many confirmed Buddhists, there is a superficial belief in the above or reincarnation. Proof? All Buddhists would lessen dramatically their production of negative actions based on karma leading to reincarnation. Lowest of the scopes, fear of future lives' sufferings would make people refrain from accumulating further negative karma hence hold their refuge vows, bodhisattva and or tantric vows more dearly than their lives.

There are many ways to approach people of all backgrounds. Generalisations of how to approach various people due to geography works sometimes. Many times not.

I appreciate all approaches. It would require the pliability of the speaker to suit the various types of listeners.


"Using skilfull means drawn by the strong force of compassion,
May I clear the darkness from the minds of all beings,
With the points of the path as I have discerned them,
May I uphold Buddha's teachings for a very long time." ~Lam Rim Dedication Prayer


TK


LosangKhyentse

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2010, 04:45:13 PM »
Quote
Some would attempt to find Dharmakirti's proof very dry, boring and beyond what they could understand. Many Americans, Belgium people, and Italian people I have come across find various explanations helpful. There are times I attempt to assert more philosophical explanations, the doctors loved it, the housewives from the US I met tried to stay awake.

I agree that Dharmakirti may be boring but in order to have a deep faith such a view is necessary.  Some folk Tibetans may not explicitly need to understand Dharmakirti either but they still benefit greatly from their belief.  For the majority of people who live in the skeptical societies, east and west, it will be very difficult to hold a steady view of reincarnation without first accepting the existence of a subtle mind (not necessarily a soul, which is not asserted in Buddhism).  Based on that it is possible to accept Dharmakirti's proof which is actually quite simple and not overly theoretical:  things arise from similar causes, mind only comes from mind and bodies arise due to a similar cause.  Otherwise, if the belief is held only on the basis of anecdotal or empirical evidence it is very easy to give up one's belief.  For example, there are a lot fakers out there that will claim to have some subjective knowledge of related to past lives and these types of charades will introduce a lot of doubt when considered.

Yes, I agree. We do need to understand Dharmakirit's exalted explanation. We just have to explain it perhaps in a more modern updated method to people as and when necessary.  It benefitted me tremendously to learn of it though. It made total sense to me and it really brought my faith to many levels higher. I did not find it boring, but many did. I loved it very much. Praise to Acharya Dharmakirti's exalted view.

TK

« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 04:49:10 PM by tk »

DSFriend

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2010, 05:07:18 PM »
Talking about "convincing western minds" these videos are actually done in the West! Not to generalize it, but I gather there must be interest in this phenomena shown through this anecdote. Could be just sheer coincidence, but I've met quite a few people (various races and nationalities) who would bring up the topic of reincarnation after realizing that I'm a Buddhist...which usually leads to other aspects of Buddhism related subjects and conversations around their search for spirituality.

I find Tsem Lama to be very skillful and compassionate to post these videos on his personal blogsite to introduce this topic to his worldwide followers.

Dangerously, uncontrollably blown by karma and afflictions,
May I quickly come to full realization that I am indebted to all beings, my kind mothers,
That I will completely turn around my destructive ways,
Only to live for others


in refuge to my kind lama, yidam and protector
DSFriend



« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 11:19:58 AM by DSFriend »

DSFriend

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2010, 05:18:38 PM »
Quote
Some would attempt to find Dharmakirti's proof very dry, boring and beyond what they could understand. Many Americans, Belgium people, and Italian people I have come across find various explanations helpful. There are times I attempt to assert more philosophical explanations, the doctors loved it, the housewives from the US I met tried to stay awake.

I agree that Dharmakirti may be boring but in order to have a deep faith such a view is necessary.  Some folk Tibetans may not explicitly need to understand Dharmakirti either but they still benefit greatly from their belief.  For the majority of people who live in the skeptical societies, east and west, it will be very difficult to hold a steady view of reincarnation without first accepting the existence of a subtle mind (not necessarily a soul, which is not asserted in Buddhism).  Based on that it is possible to accept Dharmakirti's proof which is actually quite simple and not overly theoretical:  things arise from similar causes, mind only comes from mind and bodies arise due to a similar cause.  Otherwise, if the belief is held only on the basis of anecdotal or empirical evidence it is very easy to give up one's belief.  For example, there are a lot fakers out there that will claim to have some subjective knowledge of related to past lives and these types of charades will introduce a lot of doubt when considered.

With folded hands, I love Acharya Dharmakirti's view (unfortunately with superficial understanding). However, I will lose Aunt Margaret the first 5 seconds if I were to present Dharmakirti's proof... I can relate well with what TK said about "explain it perhaps in a more modern updated method to people as and when necessary"




honeydakini

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2010, 06:12:27 PM »
There are some people who, even after you explain the logic and show them anecdotes or videos, will still not believe or find it hard to relate to.

I find that what often "works" or resonates with these people is to go with the level they are at for now. Say, okay theoretically, there IS no reincarnation... but there is still this life and how you act is how you are creating reputations about yourself, or creating good/bad situations around you. You don't need to look so far into the future of a future life to see that our actions, speech and thoughts have an effect RIGHT NOW. That in itself is already showing karma, at a more superficial, basic level.

My teacher, who is an highly recognised incarnate lama, has often shared with his students that he sometimes didn't believe that he was who he was when he was first recognised. He would think, "Am I really that being?" But then, he told us that he got to a point where he realised that it didn't matter who he was before because there was no 100% way he could prove that to people. He taught us that the best proof of who you really are/were is by your actions in THIS LIFE. If you were a great being in your previous life, but you're a total ass now, then no one is going to believe in reincarnation full stop! Again, what matters is what we're doing right now.

I like this approach and these teachings very much because it encourages people to look at their actions right now, and not get stuck on something that they might always have doubt in or not be totally sure of. Once someone gains a deeper understanding of this, and sees for themselves  the workings of karma just within this very lifetime, it opens up the mind to understand the larger of karma and eventually reincarnation.

WisdomBeing

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2010, 01:59:54 AM »
There are some people who, even after you explain the logic and show them anecdotes or videos, will still not believe or find it hard to relate to.

I find that what often "works" or resonates with these people is to go with the level they are at for now. Say, okay theoretically, there IS no reincarnation... but there is still this life and how you act is how you are creating reputations about yourself, or creating good/bad situations around you. You don't need to look so far into the future of a future life to see that our actions, speech and thoughts have an effect RIGHT NOW. That in itself is already showing karma, at a more superficial, basic level.

My teacher, who is an highly recognised incarnate lama, has often shared with his students that he sometimes didn't believe that he was who he was when he was first recognised. He would think, "Am I really that being?" But then, he told us that he got to a point where he realised that it didn't matter who he was before because there was no 100% way he could prove that to people. He taught us that the best proof of who you really are/were is by your actions in THIS LIFE. If you were a great being in your previous life, but you're a total ass now, then no one is going to believe in reincarnation full stop! Again, what matters is what we're doing right now.

I like this approach and these teachings very much because it encourages people to look at their actions right now, and not get stuck on something that they might always have doubt in or not be totally sure of. Once someone gains a deeper understanding of this, and sees for themselves  the workings of karma just within this very lifetime, it opens up the mind to understand the larger of karma and eventually reincarnation.


Fully agree with you there, HD.... skilful means is crucial to sharing Dharma... unfortunately a lot of us are not so skilful. Your teacher, on the other hand, sounds incredibly humble and skilful. (did he use the word 'ass'? LOL!) I guess that's why he's an incarnate Lama and we're not.. or rather, I'm not, anyway!

love
Kate

Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2010, 04:23:38 AM »

From the depths of my heart I bow to the Superior Reverend Dharmakirti.

Since we are sharing experiences with people from different backgrounds, here goes mine.
I've found that people with a very weak or even nul religious experience are more open to listen about rebirth the way we understand it. The problem comes rather with people who already believe in some type of rebirth, and most Judeo/Christian/Islam people do believe in that, because to believe in Paradise or Hell implies a continuation of ... spirit in their case, hence, a type of rebirth, even though definitive. There is also a type of belief in "karma" since they do believe in consequences of actions, happy or unhappy.

The problem is not so much the future life, but the previous life. They don't believe in a previous life. They think that a Supreme Being gave them life, complete with body and mind, at the time of conception. For them the wheel of samsara is unimaginable, beginningless time is unimaginable, an authentic law of karma is also unimaginable. They don't have the slightest explanation for the different situations of beings, human or non human, except the will of the Creator.

Now, an interesting thing is that even among them the idea of previous and unending future lives sounds great. They are tempted by the "eternel retour", by the samsaric wheel, not understanding that Lord Buddha's intent was to find for us a way out of it. Such is the clinging to self. The interesting part is that some people, because of this attraction to the idea of having more lives like the one we have, they end up relating to our blessed teachings.


Zhalmed Pawo

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2010, 07:12:40 AM »
There is a Sutra - Apannaka Sutta (MN 60) - that discusses this issue. It is a bit convoluted and long, but the point is clear.


The whole Sutta can be read here, as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Thanissaro's introduction is well worth a read.

There is also a two part mp3 teaching by Bhikkhu Bodhi about this Sutta here at the Bodhi Monastery website.

A summary of the points is presented by Bhikkhu Bodhi here (in pdf). Also from the same BM-website.



« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 07:18:23 AM by Zhalmed Pawo »

DSFriend

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Re: Reincarnation
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2010, 11:22:05 AM »
There is a Sutra - Apannaka Sutta (MN 60) - that discusses this issue. It is a bit convoluted and long, but the point is clear.


The whole Sutta can be read here, as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Thanissaro's introduction is well worth a read.

There is also a two part mp3 teaching by Bhikkhu Bodhi about this Sutta here at the Bodhi Monastery website.

A summary of the points is presented by Bhikkhu Bodhi here (in pdf). Also from the same BM-website.



Thank you for the links Zhalmed Pawo

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