Life, Death and Rebirth

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Nicholas
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Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:07 pm

An important, even essential topic that everyone could gain by pondering on. This thread will be mainly from a Buddhist viewpoint, but other spiritual insights will appear, from me and any others who wish to share.
The day of death is the most crucial time for every person, universally. Whether you are from the East
or the West, whether you are a Buddhist or a follower of some other teaching, a believer or a nonbeliever
—it makes no difference. The moment when consciousness departs from your most cherished body will
be a momentous turning point of your life, for death will launch you on a journey into an unknown world.

When the last hour is at hand, you will stand at a crossroad. If you have prepared in advance, you will
be ready to move on with great ease and confidence, like an eagle soaring into the sky. If not, according to
Buddhist teachings, you will journey again and again through the passages of life, death, and rebirth.

Most people do not like to be reminded of their inevitable death, which may arrive at any moment.
They are scared even to think about it, let alone discuss it. To some, the notion of contemplating death
never even arises, absorbed as they are in the affairs of daily living. Although people of faith express
confidence in an afterlife, many others insist that there is nothing at all after death.

Today, we are in the golden age of science and technology. But the scope of our amazing knowledge
about life ends where our breathing stops. Science and technology cannot offer the slightest clue to
whether there is any continuity of our consciousness after our last breath. Researchers who study the
question seriously are dismissed by the medical and scientific mainstream. In these skeptical times,
people are often reluctant to believe in an afterlife, for fear of being labeled irrational, unsophisticated, or naive.

Dramatic images of death greet us whenever we turn on the television—whether they are fictional
deaths in a movie or news clips of people around the world succumbing to disease or violence. Yet real,
natural images of ordinary individuals who are dying or deceased are seldom visible. We are more likely
to witness rosy eulogies and bodies all made up in flowery caskets. If only we dared to gaze at the
realities of life and death with open eyes, we would receive a powerful demonstration of the everchanging
cycles of existence that all beings must endure, from life to death and back to life again.
Tulku Thondup, Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth, Introduction.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Sun Aug 11, 2019 3:49 pm

The world’s major religions agree that death is not the end, that “something” survives, although they
differ in details and interpretation. Mind, consciousness, soul, spirit—whatever we call it—will continue
to exist in one form or another. Buddhism identifies “mind” (Tib. sem, Sems; Skt. chitta) as the
fundamental nature that survives the death of the physical body. Though our bodies will dissolve back into
the elements of which they are formed, we will continue as mind and consciousness, which will
transmigrate into another existence.

As long as we are alive, the mind cohabits together with the body, which provides an earthy structure
that gives us a sense of identity. Thus, we feel more or less like the same person throughout our life span.
Environmental influences and cultural habits also impart a continuity of experience. We have a sense of
solidity about our bodies and the phenomenal appearances of the material world around us; all the things
and happenings that arise within our awareness, perceived by our senses, seem totally real, external, and
separate from our minds.

But at the moment of death, all these appearances will vanish. The mind will separate from the physical
body, which will begin to decay. As soon as consciousness departs from the body, the things that we saw
and the feelings that we had in life will change utterly. What we experience after death will depend solely
on our mind, on the habitual mental tendencies and thoughts that we created and fostered while we were alive.

If our mind is peaceful and joyful, then whatever we do physically will be an expression of peace and
joy. Whatever we say vocally will be words of peace and joy. Then all our activities will become
virtuous, and we will be a source of peace and joy to everyone we come into contact with. At the time of
death—when we are released from the constraints of the physical body, cultural restrictions, and
environmental influences—we will be free to enjoy peace and joy, the true dispositions of our own mind.
Similarly, if we train our minds in the proper way during life, then, at the time of death, all the phenomena
before us will arise as a world of peace, joy, and enlightenment.

But if our mind is immersed in negative emotions such as hatred, then whatever we think will be
afflicted by thoughts and feelings of burning anger. Whatever we say or do will be an explosive
expression of hatred and anger. Then the day of peace may never have a chance to dawn in our hearts. Our
pain will become a source of hatred and pain for those close to us. At the time of death, we may encounter
a world burning in the flames of hell—the manifestation of our own anger and hatred
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:01 pm

A final, for now, quote from the wise Tulku Thondup:
The world’s great religions agree that a kind and helpful life will lead to a happy and peaceful
existence after death, whereas a hateful and harmful one will bring harsh consequences. Christianity, for
example, extols good works and acts of charity, and Judaism urges the performance of good deeds
commanded by the Torah. Buddhists speak of merits, which we accumulate by cultivating positive
thoughts and deeds. These and other traditions accept that a natural law of causation operates in our
universe. Karma is the word that Buddhists use for this law, which governs every event. Every mental and
physical action initiated by mental volition becomes a cause that precipitates an individual effect as the
result; Buddhism, in particular, teaches in great detail what exact consequences will follow from what
specific acts. Generally speaking, the patterns of positive thoughts, emotions, words, and deeds cause
happiness, while negative mental and physical actions cause suffering—the events of life’s cycle.

All our destructive emotions, as well as our habitual mental concepts and patterns of thought, are
rooted in what Buddhism calls grasping at “self” and the dualistic notion of subject and object. As stated
by Nagarjuna, one of the great philosophers of Buddhism: “All beings have come from grasping at
‘self.’” That is, the mind’s tendency to grasp at and become attached to objects of thought and perception
is the very cause of our coming into existence in the world of duality.

Grasping at self is the mind’s way of perceiving mental objects by apprehending them as truly existing
entities. Mental objects include all the phenomena that arise in our awareness, such as “myself,” “you,”
“he,” “she,” “money,” or “table,” as well as ideas, feelings, and sensations such as “pain.” As soon as we
have grasped a mental object and held on to it as real and solid, we have formed a subject-object duality.
Then comes the concept of liking or disliking the mental object, and that tightens the mental grip of
grasping. In the end there is the feeling of excitement or pain, full of stress and pressure.

In the Buddhist view, “self” includes “me” and “mine,” but it also encompasses all phenomena arising
in our consciousness. However, according to the highest understanding of Buddhism, there is no “self”
that truly exists as a solid, fixed, unchanging entity. Our grasping attitude is thus based on delusion.
However, because we are in the grip of karma, our delusory thinking and behavior result in pain and
suffering that are all too real to us.

That cycle of grasping goes on repeating itself continuously as the causal order, the karmic law of life.
It produces and enflames the afflicting emotions (Skt. klesha) of confusion, hatred, miserliness, greed,
jealousy, arrogance, and fear. These afflicting emotions rooted in grasping at self are the causes of rebirth,
while positive states of mind are the means of liberation.

The changing theaters of life, death, and afterdeath take place neither by choice nor by chance. No one
else has created them for us. They are reflections and reactions of our own thoughts, words, and deeds.
Therefore, we must train our minds and practice steadily to secure a happy and peaceful death and rebirth.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:41 am

Today, we are in the golden age of science and technology. But the scope of our amazing knowledge
about life ends where our breathing stops. Science and technology cannot offer the slightest clue to
whether there is any continuity of our consciousness after our last breath. Researchers who study the
question seriously are dismissed by the medical and scientific mainstream. In these skeptical times,
people are often reluctant to believe in an afterlife, for fear of being labeled irrational, unsophisticated, or naive.
Yes, scholars and professors often don't want to take a firm stand in favor of rebirth / reincarnation because they don't want to be labeled irrational, unsophisticated, etc. Skepticism is good, but some take it too far and don't even consider the possibility of some doctrine, if they believe it has the slightest tinge of religion attached to it.

Ajahn Brahm states that the skeptics, including scientists, have placed the bar too high and won't account for any possibility of rebirth being true even when there exists some evidence (in his opinion), since it is considered a concept of religion.

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:45 am

"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...
AN 5.57

"You reap what you sow"
the Bible

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Science from,
Newton's Third Law of motion

They all sound the pretty much the same to me . . .

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by tkp67 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:34 pm



Living Buddha, Living Christ Thich Nhat Hanhto

My own .02

The christian notion of rebirth is not a promise of a repeat of THIS corporeal existence at some other time with full recollection and cognizance but a rebirth in the likeness of Christ consciousness here and now.

The christian notion of an after life is not the promise to repeat THIS corporeal existence but rather a reconciled conscious is reborn into the realm of Heaven.

It seems like conscious stream reconciliation to me.

On a personal level I was never able to grasp an afterlife that was in any way a replacement for this very gift of life we are experiencing in this existence. I have had experiences of consciousness past this existence but it was not a replacement for this existence but rather seemed to serve as the basis. I practice to repay the debts to the Buddhas out of my reverence for the gift of life I am experiencing not to prepare for the life afterwards as it is the motivation.

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:37 pm

The idea of reincarnation is replete with misconceptions, beginning with the very source of the notion which so many mistakenly believe to be a foreign, unJewish idea. Reincarnation, in fact, is deeply rooted in Jewish thought, from the ancient Kabbalists to modern Chasidic philosophy. Reincarnation was, and continues to be, a fundamental tenet in Jewish
belief.
From Reincarnation and Judaism by D. Pinson, page viii. Will try to post more from this valuable book.

A good look from an online article:

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_ ... nation.htm
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:25 pm

The mainstream, exoteric Western religions, reject the idea of reincarnation. Despite this, they generally agree with Buddhism on two important points: if you have been selfless and served others with loving-kindness, a happier condition awaits you after death—and if you have committed hateful acts and harmed other beings, you will face unpleasant consequences.

No matter what we have done up until this present moment, most religions hold out the hope of improving our future situation. Whatever name or description the various traditions use for this potential change—such as repentance, forgiveness, conversion, redemption, salvation, or liberation—it generally means that through our own intentions and efforts, combined with reliance on a sacred source of blessings, the way is open for us to uplift ourselves and others to a happier, more spiritually conscious life.

LIBERATION OR REBIRTH?

According to Buddhism, everyone inevitably takes rebirth after death, unless they transcend the cycle of birth and death by attaining enlightenment through meditation. Once you have attained fully enlightened buddhahood, you will never again be reborn in any of the mundane worlds, since you will no longer be subject to the karmic cycle that causes rebirths.
Tulku Thondup
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:39 pm

When Rabbi Shimon left the cave (circa 138 CE), he established his school of mysticism, and some 70 years later, his disciples wrote down his main teachings, forming the holy Zohar. This school survived for many years after Rashbi's demise, during which time some minor additions were made.

For more than 1,000 years, these teachings remained mostly in notes. In addition, it was restricted to secret societies of Kabbalists, until it finally came into the hands of a man who was one of the most preeminent mystics of his times, Rabbi Moshe De Leon. He edited and published the Zohar sometime in the 1290s. The first kabbalistic books mentioning the concept of reincarnation are the Bahir and Zohar. The most detailed text written on reincarnation is by the master mystic Rabbi Hayim Vital (1543-1620), who was the prime disciple of preeminent mystic, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (known as the holy Ari Zal). The book he wrote is titled Sefer "Shar HaGilgulim"-the gates of reincarnation. It is from this lofty text that I have based this book.
Reincarnation and Judaism, 13-14.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by DNS » Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:38 am

Good find, good quotes from Kabbalah tradition.

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by DNS » Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:47 am

In spite of being a controversial religious concept, it is a fairly common belief in major religions and philosophies throughout history. Here are just some of the religious traditions which accept reincarnation or rebirth, listed from oldest to newest (traditions):

Upanishads (Brahmanism - precursor to Hinduism) 1100 BCE
Jainism 777 BCE
Buddhism 563 BCE
Early Greek philosophers
Celtic pagans, Druids
Taoism
Christianity (Gnostics)
Islam (Sufis)
Druze
Native American nations
Yoruba (West African religion)
Judaism (Kabbalah)
Sikhism
Theosophy
Modern New Age beliefs and groups

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by tkp67 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:59 pm

I think the problem that causes this confusion is the dynamic of all belief being developmental.

In this context, a majority of belief systems require sole focus to manifest theory into realization putting many adherents in the proper stance to dispute all foreign belief at face value. Sadly this seems the case with many atheists as well.

I don't see it as an attachment per se, but rather as a necessary to manifest belief into true understanding (enlightenment). Once a belief manifests into true understanding (enlightenment) then one can look at other belief without fear and bias.

Many belief systems foster very important human characteristics such as equanimity and compassion. Once true equanimity is realized it is not longer subjective but simply absolute. This is not to say all belief leads to the same conclusion but rather the aspects of our nature revealed are not unique to a belief system but rather part of the fabric of human nature.

To put ownership on one method of evoking beneficial aspects of humanity such as equanimity, selflessness, oneness and altruism works against recognition and manifestation of spirit among humanity. Strife among disparate belief is the last frontier to cross in order to realize humanitarian harmony.

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Re: Life, Death and Rebirth

Post by Nicholas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:14 pm

tkp67 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:59 pm
I think the problem that causes this confusion is the dynamic of all belief being developmental.

In this context, a majority of belief systems require sole focus to manifest theory into realization putting many adherents in the proper stance to dispute all foreign belief at face value. Sadly this seems the case with many atheists as well.

I don't see it as an attachment per se, but rather as a necessary to manifest belief into true understanding (enlightenment). Once a belief manifests into true understanding (enlightenment) then one can look at other belief without fear and bias.

Many belief systems foster very important human characteristics such as equanimity and compassion. Once true equanimity is realized it is not longer subjective but simply absolute. This is not to say all belief leads to the same conclusion but rather the aspects of our nature revealed are not unique to a belief system but rather part of the fabric of human nature.

To put ownership on one method of evoking beneficial aspects of humanity such as equanimity, selflessness, oneness and altruism works against recognition and manifestation of spirit among humanity. Strife among disparate belief is the last frontier to cross in order to realize humanitarian harmony.
Good post tkp67!

The key to harmony is for individuals to notice and understand that differing motives & methods evoke similar harmless or altruistic qualities. Therefore beliefs about the exclusive truth of said motives & methods fade away. Yet that does not mean the different motives & methods disappear themselves. Humanity begins to see that harmony requires differences, not identity.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- Buddha

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