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Buddhism question: no self vs cycle of birth, death, rebirth

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posted on May, 13 2012 @ 06:28 AM
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Here are a couple of quotes from the explanatory notes in the "The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha" translated by John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana, Oxford University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-955513-0.

samsara: in almost all Indian religious traditions there is the belief in a cycle of birth, death, rebirth, exit or transcendence from which is liberation, the final aim of the religious quest. (p 73)


self: the Buddhist teaching does not acknowledge the existence of an unchanging spiritual essence or self/soul in or behind consciousness (the mind in its most inclusive sense). (p 74)


I don't understand how these two beliefs can coexist.




posted on May, 13 2012 @ 06:45 AM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 

Good luck with this. You ask a very interesting question. I'll be looking forward to the answers.

Flag and star, obviously.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 06:52 AM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 


The common mistake that is made here is that people assume that "rebirth" is "reincarnation", whereas the two are entirely seperate. Reincarnation, an originaly Hindu concept, is the return of an eternal soul (atman), whereas rebirth is a next step based upon causes and attachments (karma) that are collected, not a soul.

To give an admittedly poor analogy here, the sun that shines upon you today (if your lucky!), is not the same sun that shone on you yesterday. That sun light/heat has gone, but still the sun remains. The same goes for our physical selves. For example:

You bring a wooden ship into a dry dock, there is an empty dry dock next to it. You remove a plank of wood from the boat and place it in the empty dock. You replace the piece you took with a new piece and repeat until you have two boats. Which is the original? At which point does the old boat become the new boat? (This is not my analogy)

If this seems to have an obvious answer, then apply it to yourself, you "replace your planks" everyday, you have almost no original cells in your body due to regeneration. The same goes for your self, it doesn't exist in and of itself (according to Buddhism), but is impermenant and in constant flux, as is everything.

So, when one dies, the collection of karmic forces that has been accrued will move on and have rebirth. But it isn't YOU. Just like the ship isn't the same ship and your current body is not the same as one you had 10 years ago. Nor is your mind, if you look back a few years, you will probably see a "different" you, this is pretty much the same with rebirth, just with death inbetween

Thats the best I can do to explain an incredibly difficult philosophy in a forum! Hope it helps!

CC

P.S. "Liberation" or "Nirvana/Nibbana" is achieved when these karmic attachments/causes are nullified.
edit on 13-5-2012 by CrazyCloud because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 06:58 AM
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Originally posted by cloudyday
Here are a couple of quotes from the explanatory notes in the "The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha" translated by John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana, Oxford University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-955513-0.

samsara: in almost all Indian religious traditions there is the belief in a cycle of birth, death, rebirth, exit or transcendence from which is liberation, the final aim of the religious quest. (p 73)


self: the Buddhist teaching does not acknowledge the existence of an unchanging spiritual essence or self/soul in or behind consciousness (the mind in its most inclusive sense). (p 74)


I don't understand how these two beliefs can coexist.


The first 'samsara' is a 'belief' that is not true. It is what is believed by humans and is the cause of suffering because it is a lie.
The self as eternal is the 'truth' and when realized all suffering ceases.
Humans believe that they are born and then will die. They believe they are objects in time. But really existence is continually dying and being reborn every second and always looks different. The seer and knower of the changing scene is what you are and the seer and knower never changes.
edit on 13-5-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:14 AM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 

The belief you express is not a Buddhist one.

It may well be correct, or it may be wrong. But this thread is really asking a question only Buddhists can answer. Why not wait and see what they come up with?

Speaking of which – star for you, too, CrazyCloud.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:17 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


How do you know i am not a Buddhist?



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:19 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by Itisnowagain
 

The belief you express is not a Buddhist one.

It may well be correct, or it may be wrong. But this thread is really asking a question only Buddhists can answer. Why not wait and see what they come up with?

Speaking of which – star for you, too, CrazyCloud.


There is no correct answer. This is a discussion forum.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:28 AM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 


There is no correct answer. This is a discussion forum.

Sure. Are you a Buddhist?

The question being asked in this discussion forum is one for Buddhists, or experts on Buddhism. I'm neither, so I'm very interested to hear what Buddhists or Buddhism experts have to say about it. I've asked the same question of Buddhist monks, face to face, and not understood their replies. I'm hoping this thread will shed some light on the subject.

By all means express your own beliefs, but please let's not turn this into an argument about whether or not the basic doctrines of Buddhism are true. That will always be, as you have correctly suggested, a matter of opinion.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:33 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by Itisnowagain
 


There is no correct answer. This is a discussion forum.

Sure. Are you a Buddhist?

The question being asked in this discussion forum is one for Buddhists, or experts on Buddhism. I'm neither, so I'm very interested to hear what Buddhists or Buddhism experts have to say about it. I've asked the same question of Buddhist monks, face to face, and not understood their replies. I'm hoping this thread will shed some light on the subject.

By all means express your own beliefs, but please let's not turn this into an argument about whether or not the basic doctrines of Buddhism are true. That will always be, as you have correctly suggested, a matter of opinion.


I expressed my opinion and it is you who told me not to. You tell me that only Buddhists know the answer, you asked one face to face and did not understand his answer. If you are not an expert in Buddhist beliefs then why do you assume what i have written is not appropriate.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:38 AM
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There are no experts in buddhist belief. Go have a cup of tea.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:41 AM
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A very good question and one that I have asked myself too.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:41 AM
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Originally posted by ezekielken
There are no experts in buddhist belief. Go have a cup of tea.


Buddha doesn't have beliefs. Buddha knows.
The Buddha knows the truth so he does not have to believe anything.
edit on 13-5-2012 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 07:42 AM
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reply to post by ezekielken
 


And if humanity could realize this as a whole, that life is a cup of tea; all is contained within, well...but we do know, in our hearts. This is why we cry when we drink bad tea.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 08:20 AM
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Originally posted by CrazyCloud
reply to post by cloudyday
 


The common mistake that is made here is that people assume that "rebirth" is "reincarnation", whereas the two are entirely seperate. Reincarnation, an originaly Hindu concept, is the return of an eternal soul (atman), whereas rebirth is a next step based upon causes and attachments (karma) that are collected, not a soul.

To give an admittedly poor analogy here, the sun that shines upon you today (if your lucky!), is not the same sun that shone on you yesterday. That sun light/heat has gone, but still the sun remains. The same goes for our physical selves. For example:

You bring a wooden ship into a dry dock, there is an empty dry dock next to it. You remove a plank of wood from the boat and place it in the empty dock. You replace the piece you took with a new piece and repeat until you have two boats. Which is the original? At which point does the old boat become the new boat? (This is not my analogy)

If this seems to have an obvious answer, then apply it to yourself, you "replace your planks" everyday, you have almost no original cells in your body due to regeneration. The same goes for your self, it doesn't exist in and of itself (according to Buddhism), but is impermenant and in constant flux, as is everything.

So, when one dies, the collection of karmic forces that has been accrued will move on and have rebirth. But it isn't YOU. Just like the ship isn't the same ship and your current body is not the same as one you had 10 years ago. Nor is your mind, if you look back a few years, you will probably see a "different" you, this is pretty much the same with rebirth, just with death inbetween

Thats the best I can do to explain an incredibly difficult philosophy in a forum! Hope it helps!

CC

P.S. "Liberation" or "Nirvana/Nibbana" is achieved when these karmic attachments/causes are nullified.
edit on 13-5-2012 by CrazyCloud because: (no reason given)


Thanks, I'll have to think about your answer and do some more reading. I think I need to find a book with more background explanation of the Buddhist beliefs than I have in the Dhammapada. Meanwhile I'll go for a walk.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 08:49 AM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 


Books are good, but don't get hung up on other peoples words, essentially your own truth is the right way. Even Buddha became enlightened only after finding his own path, my favourite quote of his is:

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense."

Enjoy your walk!

CC



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 08:51 AM
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Crazycloud said it well but here is a more direct way of looking at it:

The very fact of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth means that the "self" has changed in the same way that we are changed in life by our experiences. I very definitely am not the same person I was 20 years ago, how much different an entire lifetime?

Is there a string of continuity in that it is the same "soul entitity/group" that is going through lifetimes? Yes in the basic sense, no for reasons stated in the prior paragraph.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 09:01 AM
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reply to post by cloudyday
 


This is a great question!

I would try and think of it like this.

If you think of samsara as the ocean, and the person is a wave on the ocean; the water is moulded by various forces (karma) into waves, the wave appears for a while and then it breaks and seems to no longer be there, but the water and the energy from the wave return to the ocean and will later form another wave (rebirth).

It's a mind bender of a question op


edit on 13-5-2012 by davespanners because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 10:53 AM
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Originally posted by cloudyday
Here are a couple of quotes from the explanatory notes in the "The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha" translated by John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana, Oxford University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-955513-0.

samsara: in almost all Indian religious traditions there is the belief in a cycle of birth, death, rebirth, exit or transcendence from which is liberation, the final aim of the religious quest. (p 73)


self: the Buddhist teaching does not acknowledge the existence of an unchanging spiritual essence or self/soul in or behind consciousness (the mind in its most inclusive sense). (p 74)


I don't understand how these two beliefs can coexist.


The spirutual essance (core behind everything or souls) is changing and the change is the natural state of things. Something being the same/stagnant is an illusion. In the end the ego dissapears as the core you understand that is part of the whole and connect to something more. Every action you take changes both the things around you and have a reaction in yourself and changes yourself. Buddhism is the worship of evolution in it purest form. Everything evolves at its own speed towards a destination where everything is one and in harmony. And when you go the the next stage the real lesson begins and you relise how little you understand. Even when I feel totaly connected with everything I will still change by every action because the change I bring to the things around me changes me. Namaste
edit on 13-5-2012 by apushforenlightment because: spellchecking



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 12:06 PM
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Originally posted by davespanners
reply to post by cloudyday
 


This is a great question!

I would try and think of it like this.

If you think of samsara as the ocean, and the person is a wave on the ocean; the water is moulded by various forces (karma) into waves, the wave appears for a while and then it breaks and seems to no longer be there, but the water and the energy from the wave return to the ocean and will later form another wave (rebirth).

It's a mind bender of a question op


edit on 13-5-2012 by davespanners because: (no reason given)


So is the idea of Buddhism "don't make waves?"
I haven't finished the Dhammapada but there seems to be a preference for calm over storm. I suppose they are referring to calm inside our brains as opposed to physical calm.



posted on May, 13 2012 @ 10:37 PM
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reply to post by davespanners
 


If you think of samsara as the ocean, and the person is a wave on the ocean; the water is moulded by various forces (karma) into waves, the wave appears for a while and then it breaks and seems to no longer be there, but the water and the energy from the wave return to the ocean and will later form another wave (rebirth).

I've heard this metaphor used before. I'm not sure how it works. What kind of an ocean is samsara? In Sanskrit the term means 'wandering'. Is samsara wandering over the ocean, then, and not the ocean itself? In that case, what does the wave metaphor stand for?

If the ocean is perception or consciousness I can understand a single person or viewpoint being regarded as a standing wave in that ocean, but what contains the ocean? How can consciousness or perception endure when there is no conceiver or perceiver? If the same percepts are simply being passed back and forth between waves in the ocean, how is that being done and what does it actually mean in non-metaphorical terms?

Explanations given by Buddhists are invariably metaphorical. I understand this is to help those with no direct experience understand things by analogy; but analogies are confusing and never exact. Can no-one explain what is supposed to be happening in terms of itself, rather than through imperfect comparison with other things?



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