Rebirth Attempt 1 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 18, 2022, 16:18 (543 days ago) @ dhw

Again I am editing for the sake of clarity.

Xeno: 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. […] 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.

dhw: If our current identity is transient, and our former identities were transient, what exactly is the point of having had former identities? The one I am lumbered with now is the one that has to get rid of its “cravings”, and if in my next life I can’t even remember the mess I made of my previous life, I might just as well not have led it. But see later for the astonishing and seemingly pointless revelation I shall one day be granted. Meanwhile, a personal question: have you yourself ever been aware of any of your past lives?

Xeno: There is something I would call a "store" consciousness that sometimes gets interpreted as "stream" consciousness, but it is not a *mind*. […] 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.

dhw: It’s not a mind or a soul, it’s immaterial, and in most cases it does NOT store memories of past lives. You might as well call it a something. Now we have hell or heavenly realms, which I can only assume means that you have entered your new life with different degrees of misery which you can’t remember, so you haven’t a clue why you’re suffering, except when you know the causes that have occurred in this life. I’ll change the pronoun: I am now a miserable selfish bastard. What makes me want to be a happy, philanthropic angel? Here is the rather strange answer:

Xeno: 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."

dhw: What desires to be reborn if the body is dead, and “I” haven’t got a mind or a soul. What has this immaterial store of past memories which I shan’t be able to remember got to do with anything? Is it my previous life’s dying wish to be reborn? What will happen to me if I don’t believe in rebirth and therefore don’t desire to be reborn? (Answer coming up in a moment.) What is the point of recalling past lives once I’ve purified myself of all the cravings I can’t remember I had in my previous lives? Just to tell myself what a fine fellow I’ve become? Ugh, that doesn’t sound like the enlightened selfless fellow I’m supposed to be now. And finally, now that I’ve achieved Enlightenment, but I am only transient and there is no such thing as eternal life, what possible future can I have other than eternal death – the same as the me who never asked to be reborn in the first place?

I hope these questions won’t make you angry, and they are not meant to deter you from the highly beneficial path you are on. It’s perfectly clear that there are certain aspects of Buddhism that would do all of us good to embrace, as is also the case with other religions (though I’m not sure that Buddhism should be classified as a religion). I just kick against certain forms of dogma which for me distract from the essence of the “Golden Rule”. And I strongly suspect that you do too. I don’t think you started this fascinating discussion with a view to proselytising. But I have very limited knowledge of the subject (indeed, of most subjects), and perhaps you or your teacher will enlighten me. Meanwhile, I’d like to join David in thanking you for bringing us into your personal life and also opening new doors for us. This in itself is a heartwarming experience.

Agreed. I'm following and trying/hoping to learn

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