Reincarnation... have you a handle?

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Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:23 pm

Hello one and all!
Excuse me for popping into your forum, but I wondered if anyone could assist me?

I have this thread running on another forum, but I feel it would be of more benfit to me, if I could perhaps address the questiuon directly, to the "right" people as it were:

This is how it begins.....

I once posited (on another forum) that although Buddhists do not ascribe to a concept of Reincrnation, as a fundamental Buddhist premise, some schools, such as Tibetan schools, consider Reincarnation to be a valid concept with regard to Lamas being re-born as quasi-recognisable manifestations of their former selves, as tulkus.
These are obviously not exact reincarnations, because the Tulkus are individuals in their own right, but that these tulkus are considered reincarnations of previous living Lamas.

re-birth is quite different......

well, I got slapped down for that, as being guilty of propagating misleading and inaccurate information gleaned from a dubious website. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/tibet/reincarnation.htm Well in my ignorance of Tibetan Buddhism, it looked perfectly bona fide to me.....

After discussion on said other forum, I now understand the premise and basics of re-birth, as opposed to reincarnation.

......In short, rebirth is a moral or kammic principle, whereas reincarnation is a meta-physical principle.
(May I immediately clarify that this was a response from a Theravadan Buddhist. I too, am Theravadan.)

But my quest for clarification, therefore continues....

This is the crux of my investigation into the matter, as it stands:

Saying that Buddhism does not ascribe to the notion of reincarnation, is actually not factually accurate.
it would be better to say that Theravada Buddhism does not ascribe to the process of reincarnation, although other schools, chiefly in the Tibetan traditions, do.....

I'm not aiming to start an inter-tradition flame war here. I'm merely attempting to clarify the positions of the different schools.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who could perhaps clarify how Tibetan Buddhists manage to reconcile the notion of Reincarnation with anatta and anicca.

As I said - and I must emphasise:
This discussion is not intended to be inflammatory or argumentative.
I am not here to start bickering.
My questions are genuine and driven by curiosity and the desire to lear, broaden and expand my knowledge, and come to understand these concepts.

Thank you all most kindly for any help you might be able to give.
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:12 pm

Before we get started on the meat and potatoes of the discussion, I was thinking that in the Buddha's own life story, his birth was marked by wonders and extraordinary signs, at a young age he displayed many wonderful capacities and talents. Kind of parallels Tulkus in Tibetan Tradition also.

something to consider perhaps?
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:01 pm



Broadly speaking, in Tibetan tradition we have three possible avenues for understanding continuation or rebirth if one trains in Tibetan practices. ( reincarnation is too gross, heavy and loaded in connotation and conception to be of use ).

1. Of awareness of bardo process, during conception, but then absence of awareness during fetal development.
2. Recognition or awareness during conception, fetal development, but not birth.
3. Awareness without disruption during conception, gestation and at birth.

The third is of interest because then there is no discontinuation of awareness for those with strong practice and realization, they can be reborn without the stains of ignorance that accompanies most conditional rebirth of karmic cycle.
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:26 pm

"I'd be interested to hear from anyone who could perhaps clarify how Tibetan Buddhists manage to reconcile the notion of Reincarnation with anatta and anicca".


HH Dalai Lama.

Different Explanations of Selflessness

From a philosophical point of view, the criterion for distinguishing a school as Buddhist is whether or not it accepts the four seals: that all composite phenomena are impermanent by nature, contaminated phenomena are of the nature of suffering, all phenomena are empty and selfess and nirvana alone is peace. Any system accepting these seals is philosophically a Buddhist school of thought. In the great vehicle schools of thought, selflessness is explained more profoundly, at a deeper level.
Now, let me explain the difference between selflessness as explained in the second turning of the wheel and that explained in the first.
Let us examine our own experience, how we relate to things. For example, when I use this rosary here, I feel it is mine and I have attachment to it. If you examine the attachment you feel for your own possessions, you find there are different levels of attachment. One is the feeling that there is a self-sufficient person existing as a separate entity independent of your own body and mind, which feels that this rosary is 'mine'.
When you are able, through meditation, to perceive the absense of such a self-sufficient person, existing in isolation from your own body and mind, you are able to reduce the strong attachment you feel towards your possessions. But you may also feel that there are still some subtle levels of attachment. Although you may not feel a subjective attachment from your own side in relation to the person, because of the rosary's beautiful appearance, its beautiful colour and so forth, you feel a certain level of attachment to it, that a certain level of attachment to it, that a certain objective entity exists out there. So, in the second turning of the wheel, the Buddha taught that selflessness is not confined to the person alone, but that it applies to all phenomena. When you realize this, you will be able to overcome all forms of attachments and delusion.

Just as Chandrakirti said in his Supplement to Nagarjuna's 'Treatise on the Middle Way', the selflessness explained in the lower schools of tenets, which confine their explanation of selflessness only to the person, is not a complete form of selflessness. Even if you realize that selflessness, you will still have subtle levels of clinging and attachment to external objects, like your possessions and so forth.
Although the view of selflessness is common to all Buddhist schools of thought, there were differences of presentation. That of the higher schools is more profound in comparison with that of the lower schools of thought. One reason is that even though you may have realized the selflessness of persons, as described by the lower schools, in terms of a person not being a self-sufficient or substantially existent entity, you may still cling to a certain misconception of self, approaching the person as inherently, independently or truly existent.
As realization of the selflessness of persons becomes increasingly subtle, you realize that the person lacks any form of independent nature or inherent existence. Then there is no way you can apprehend a self-sufficient person. Therefore, the presentation of selflessness in the higher schools is much deeper and more profound that of the lower schools.
The way the higher schools explain selflessness is not only more powerful in counteracting the misconception of the true existence of persons and phenomena, but also does not contradict phenomena's conventional reality. Phenomena do exist on a conventional basis, and the realization of emptiness does not affect this.
The Buddha's different presentations of selflessness should be viewed in order as providing background for the Buddhist view of dependent arising. When Buddhists speak of dependent arising, they do so in terms of afflictive phenomena that are causes of suffering, whose consequences are suffering. This is explained in terms of 'the twelve links of dependent arising', which comprise those factors completed within one cycle of rebirth within the cycle of existence. Therefore, dependent arising is at the root of the Buddhist view.
If you do not understand selflessness in terms of dependent arising, you will not understand selflessness completely. People's mental faculties are different. For some, when it is explained that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence, it may seem that nothing exists at all. Such an understanding is very dangerous and harmful, because it can cause you to fall into the extreme of nihilism. Therefore, Buddha taught selflessness roughly for persons with such mental faculties. For practitioners of higher faculties, he taught selflessness on a subtler level. Still, no matter how subtle the realization of emptiness may be, it does not harm their conviction in phenomena's conventional existence.
So, your understanding of emptiness should complement your understanding of dependent arising, and that understanding of emptiness should further reaffirm your conviction in the law of cause and effect.
If you were to analyze the higher schools' presentation from the viewpoint of the lower schools, you should find no contradiction or logical inconsistencies in them. Whereas, if you were to consider the lower schools' presentation from the viewpoint of the higher schools, you would find many logical inconsistencies.


http://www.buddhistlounge.com/tibetan-buddhism-f4/a-survey-of-the-paths-of-tibetan-buddhism-t123.htm
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:03 pm

sherab zangpo wrote:

Broadly speaking, in Tibetan tradition we have three possible avenues for understanding continuation or rebirth if one trains in Tibetan practices. ( reincarnation is too gross, heavy and loaded in connotation and conception to be of use ).

I apologise. it's the only way in my mind I can differentiate between the kammic aspect of re-birth, and the metaphysical aspect of reincarnation.

1. Of awareness of bardo process, during conception, but then absence of awareness during fetal development.
2. Recognition or awareness during conception, fetal development, but not birth.
3. Awareness without disruption during conception, gestation and at birth.

The third is of interest because then there is no discontinuation of awareness for those with strong practice and realization, they can be reborn without the stains of ignorance that accompanies most conditional rebirth of karmic cycle.

So essentially, you are telling me there are different states of awareness when one enters into the Bardo of death and then re-birth, and a person with a higer state of awareness is likely to be re-born as a Tulku (let's say for argument's sake)...?
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:13 pm

sherab zangpo wrote:From a philosophical point of view, the criterion for distinguishing a school as Buddhist is whether or not it accepts the four seals: that all composite phenomena are impermanent by nature, contaminated phenomena are of the nature of suffering, all phenomena are empty and selfess and nirvana alone is peace. Any system accepting these seals is philosophically a Buddhist school of thought. In the great vehicle schools of thought, selflessness is explained more profoundly, at a deeper level.

So the Great vehicle would be Mahayana, correct?

Now, let me explain the difference between selflessness as explained in the second turning of the wheel and that explained in the first.

This second Turning is applicable only to Mahayana teachings, not Theravada, am I right?

So this is where things diverge.....

As for the remainder of the quotation, - You're going to have to clarify in simple lay terms, manageable chunks and simple terminology.

I can't get my head round it.

Sorry. Embarassed
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:14 pm

Were basically discussing the pure alaya-jnana and the impure alaya-vijnana.
Awareness or wisdom, and unawareness or consciousness.
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:41 pm

sherab zangpo wrote:Were basically discussing the pure alaya-jnana and the impure alaya-vijnana.
Awareness or wisdom, and unawareness or consciousness.

Is this the same as discussing Reincarnation and rebirth, vis-a-vis anicca and anatta?

Because that's what I am seeking to clarify.
How Tibetan Buddhists reconcile reincarnation (the transmigration of this Awareness from one definitive being to the next) in consideration of the concept of anicca and anatta. and rebirth, which is not the same.
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by LauraJ on Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:10 pm

Geishawhelk wrote:Hello one and all!

Excuse me for popping into your forum, but I wondered if anyone could assist me?

Dear Geishawhelk,

You are always more than welcome here. Thank you for a very worthwhile and interesting topic 👍

Kindly,
Drolma

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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:16 pm

Geishawhelk wrote:
sherab zangpo wrote:Were basically discussing the pure alaya-jnana and the impure alaya-vijnana.
Awareness or wisdom, and unawareness or consciousness.

Is this the same as discussing Reincarnation and rebirth, vis-a-vis anicca and anatta?

Well wisdom is not conditioned, and consciousness is conditioned because it dissolves upon states of sleep, death etc, it loses its supports, and attachment, so is dependent upon moments and external stimuli, which of course is karmic formation.
Karma gives rise to becoming or cyclic rebirth. You die and your elements dissolve, that is anicca etc. Consciousness moment to moment continuity, gives rise to the relative notion of a continuity of a self, but is empty of that experience (anatta).
So what is to reconcile?
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by LauraJ on Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:26 pm

sherab zangpo wrote:

Broadly speaking, in Tibetan tradition we have three possible avenues for understanding continuation or rebirth if one trains in Tibetan practices. ( reincarnation is too gross, heavy and loaded in connotation and conception to be of use ).

1. Of awareness of bardo process, during conception, but then absence of awareness during fetal development.
2. Recognition or awareness during conception, fetal development, but not birth.
3. Awareness without disruption during conception, gestation and at birth.

The third is of interest because then there is no discontinuation of awareness for those with strong practice and realization, they can be reborn without the stains of ignorance that accompanies most conditional rebirth of karmic cycle.

Dear Zangpo la,

Perhaps it would be of benefit to our Theravadan friend if you were to give a very brief explanation of the bardo of death?

🐝

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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:31 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Store_consciousness

Its not a great explanation but it gives a pretty good overview of yogacara ( mind only school ).

Also the Skandhas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandhas

So a broad overview of the mind/body condition.
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:42 pm

Drolma wrote:
sherab zangpo wrote:

Broadly speaking, in Tibetan tradition we have three possible avenues for understanding continuation or rebirth if one trains in Tibetan practices. ( reincarnation is too gross, heavy and loaded in connotation and conception to be of use ).

1. Of awareness of bardo process, during conception, but then absence of awareness during fetal development.
2. Recognition or awareness during conception, fetal development, but not birth.
3. Awareness without disruption during conception, gestation and at birth.

The third is of interest because then there is no discontinuation of awareness for those with strong practice and realization, they can be reborn without the stains of ignorance that accompanies most conditional rebirth of karmic cycle.

Dear Zangpo la,

Perhaps it would be of benefit to our Theravadan friend if you were to give a very brief explanation of the bardo of death?

🐝


Dear Khandro Drolma.

http://www.shenpen-osel.org/issue5.pdf

This is a very good presentation of the Bardo stages by the Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

May it benefit all, a cause for liberation, for all whom see, and understand.

with warmth

sherab
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:54 am

sherab zangpo wrote:
Geishawhelk wrote:
sherab zangpo wrote:Were basically discussing the pure alaya-jnana and the impure alaya-vijnana.
Awareness or wisdom, and unawareness or consciousness.

Is this the same as discussing Reincarnation and rebirth, vis-a-vis anicca and anatta?

Well wisdom is not conditioned, and consciousness is conditioned because it dissolves upon states of sleep, death etc, it loses its supports, and attachment, so is dependent upon moments and external stimuli, which of course is karmic formation.
Karma gives rise to becoming or cyclic rebirth. You die and your elements dissolve, that is anicca etc. Consciousness moment to moment continuity, gives rise to the relative notion of a continuity of a self, but is empty of that experience (anatta).
So what is to reconcile?

So what you're telling me is that the Awareness of a Lama is heightened by Wisdom, and he can decide to come back in a specific being, whereas the "ordinary" man in the street is subject to the ordinary rules of re-birth and must take his chances, so to speak?
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:38 pm

Geishawhelk wrote:So what you're telling me is that the Awareness of a Lama is heightened by Wisdom, and he can decide to come back in a specific being, whereas the "ordinary" man in the street is subject to the ordinary rules of re-birth and must take his chances, so to speak?

I'll take that as a "Yes", then.
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by LauraJ on Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:44 pm

Hi Geishawhelk,

I can't answer for Sherab Zangpo, nor do I know as much as he does. But what you've written so far seems accurate according to my understanding.

/\

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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:26 pm

Geishawhelk wrote:
So what you're telling me is that the Awareness of a Lama is heightened by Wisdom, and he can decide to come back in a specific being, whereas the "ordinary" man in the street is subject to the ordinary rules of re-birth and must take his chances, so to speak?

Simply, yes. One enters the path, then, depending on stages of bhumi and lifetimes left until enlightenment, remember that on the bodhisattva path there are 16 lifetimes ( less or more ) for example, depending on ones practice. Also the two aspects of the path, accumulation of merits and purification.


Last edited by sherab zangpo on Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:07 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:06 pm

To expand a little on the above post, there are a few key points that Mahayana paths share in common, which is to purify the nature of samsara, which has its roots in the truth of suffering and its source, and to also bring buddhahood, to the path as fruition.
We can say that the truth of suffering comes in many forms,but pricipally it is rooted in birth, and what naturally follows is death. So these two, birth and death, there, on the path, are two stages, purification and merit.

All the time when we are on the path, we are purifying and gaining merit, wisdom and so on, to close the four types of birth:

Miraculous birth, birth through heat and moisture and birth from egg. These four also pertain to the capacity of the practitioner, and their approach to buddhahood, complete simplicity, simple, extensive elaborate approach, and the very extensive elaborate approach.



Sherab
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by LauraJ on Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:01 am

sherab zangpo wrote:To expand a little on the above post, there are a few key points that Mahayana paths share in common, which is to purify the nature of samsara, which has its roots in the truth of suffering and its source, and to also bring buddhahood, to the path as fruition.
We can say that the truth of suffering comes in many forms,but pricipally it is rooted in birth, and what naturally follows is death. So these two, birth and death, there, on the path, are two stages, purification and merit.

All the time when we are on the path, we are purifying and gaining merit, wisdom and so on, to close the four types of birth:

Miraculous birth, birth through heat and moisture and birth from egg. These four also pertain to the capacity of the practitioner, and their approach to buddhahood, complete simplicity, simple, extensive elaborate approach, and the very extensive elaborate approach.



Sherab

Hi Zangpo la,

Can you please explain these?

Miraculous birth
Birth through heat and moisture

Thanks! 🐢

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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:55 am

skye gnas bhzi four types of birth.

Generally from tantric perspective, all beings can be born in four ways, miraculous, heat moisture, egg and womb and are related to various karmic forms and visions of existence.
Humans and animals can take birth in any of the four ways. Hell beings, deities, bodhisattvas and those in the bardo are born miraculously. Formless beings can enter the womb or be born miraculously. The purifications are related to ones path, mahayogas purify egg and womb. Heat/moisture purified through anuyoga, and miraculous birth is purified by atiyoga. So again to tie that in with the capacity of atiyoga (miraculous) complete simplicity. Heat/moisture Anuyoga, simple. Egg and womb, through Mahayoga's,
extensive elaborate, and very extensive elaborate approach.
In terms of capacity we have instantaneous perfection, recollection of the bliss emptiness of the yidam, non supported and supported, and stages and purification through rituals such as sadhanas and so forth.



Sherab
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:30 am

Flower Ornament scripture.

the boundless oceans of realms that [I] have described,
have been purified by the illuminators own qualities
this buddhas world of pristine wisdom is inconceivable
as are his blessings and miraculous displays.
The bodhisattvas inconceivable oceans of vows,
cultivated in response to the inclinations of beings,
and the inconceivable oceans of beings actions,
cause oceans of realms to manifest in all directions.

the miraculous powers of the bodhisattvas
and their intention to attain omniscience
cause their oceans of vows to reach fulfillment,
and limitless realms to appear throughout infinite space.

While cultivating boundless oceans of excellent conduct
bodhisattvas enter the infinite sphere of the joyful ones
they spend countless eons in each realm,
and purify all oceans of realms in all directions.
actions generated by the inconceivable range of beings mentalities,
cause oceans of realms to arise.

sherab
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by LauraJ on Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:41 am

Thank you, Zangpo la. Very wonderful information!

How does anuttarayogatantra fit in with the kinds of births described?

Best,
Drolma


Last edited by Drolma on Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by Geishawhelk on Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:06 pm

And here I will bow out. Having received the reply I was seeking, I have ventured into waters far too deep and alien for my comprehension.
I thank all those kind enough to devote their time, effort and knowlege and imparting same, to me, with patience and acceptance.
Enjoy your discussion. It looks interesting anyway!!

With much Metta,
Until the next time,

GW XX
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:05 am

Drolma wrote:

How does anuttarayogatantra fit in with the kinds of births described?

Best,
Drolma

It blocks certain lokas, of course one can also live a life of complete fantasy about these things. This is why it is vital to gain experience from the practices, train under a supreme teacher, where one will excel, ripen within the stream of the empowering flow. Then one can have a real understanding and knowledge of these, and work with any condition that arises. Sutra is the path of renunciation, Tantra is the path of transformation.

ps. You can think of miraculous birth as that of a deva.

sherab
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Re: Reincarnation... have you a handle?

Post by sherab zangpo on Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:32 am

Geishawhelk wrote:




(May I immediately clarify that this was a response from a Theravadan Buddhist. I too, am Theravadan.)


Dear GW, first let me say that you introduced a very nice topic, and apologies for the technical stuff. I think that if you have gained some little understanding then thats great. Now it appears these days that rebirth is a topic that seems to be losing favour in modern world, it seems that a few vocal proponents have decided to omit it from buddhist path, to make it easier to swallow to new people interested in Buddhism as a new twist on self improvement. The teachings about rebirth is in my humble opinion of central concern to the buddhist path, whether one studies Theravadan or Mahayana, or vajrayana. People may not believe in rebirth, yet suffer birth nether the less. All buddhist paths have ethics, conduct, purification and maintaining concentration or awareness as a way to gain liberation, from the cycle of consecutive births.

All the best for the future.

Sherab
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