Rebirth Attempt 1 (Agnosticism)

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Saturday, December 17, 2022, 22:16 (585 days ago) @ xeno6696

In the interest of at least offering the Buddhist take on rebirth, what follows is what I've been able to piece together.

Before I get terribly far, I think its best to begin with the two modes of thought in ancient India that predominated at the time of the Buddha.

Before I do this however, I'm waiting for the last book in my Nikaya collection to arrive. The very first Sutta in the entire Pali canon is a teaching the Buddha gave that was refuting Eternalism and Nihilist Materialism.

My 2c before I dig into the primary sutta designed to tackle these subjects is that the Buddha will contradict the eternalist view (the self or soul is eternal) by demonstrating that there is no aspect of our identity that isn't transient. Rebirth was already an automatic given in Indian discourse--Hence why in the Gotami Sutta the Buddha didn't offer the teaching on rebirth because part of the scope of THAT story was that she came to the Buddha distraught and mad. She came from a rich family and there's no way Brahmins didn't already know about rebirth.

If you were a deer in a prior life, and then a rich lady, and then a poor male beggar as a part of your story, there is nothing eternal about your "self" or your identity, because every incarnation is different. I think that to refute the nihilist materialists he would point to some of the same evidences of Rebirth that Ajahn Brahm gave in that other podcast I shared. (his teachings don't elevate to 'proof' in my view, but I think that's between him and I.) At any rate, Veridical NDEs certainly existed and would have been taken for granted as evidence of rebirth or at least a "detachable mind."

There is something I would call a "store" consciousness that sometimes gets interpreted as "stream" consciousness, but it is not a *mind*. For a mind to exist, there has to be a body, and its important to note that Hinduism didn't develop an idea of a God without a body. (They could project their minds places, sure, but all Hindu Gods had bodies.) So the Judeo-Christian idea of the ineffable or inscrutable doesn't make much sense to Hindu/Buddhist peoples. And in fact, all of the Hindu people I've met are inquisitive about how a "nothing" could be a "something." The Buddha would point out that Gods had lifetimes and could die. Therefore, they were not eternal either.

So upon death, the unenlightened seed consciousness is driven forward to a new body either on this plane of existence, or in one of the hell or heavenly realms based on the levels of purification conducted in that life. Standard Hindu Cosmology would posit that the whole mind transfers, Buddhism says "nope," just the 'store consciousness.' The desire to be reborn is enough to cause the store consciousness to enter a new being. The store consciousness holds only the memories of past lives. This allows the Buddha to explain how those who reach very high meditative states can "recall past lives."

That's my attempt, pre-teacher evaluation.

\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

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