SuttaCentral

Can reincarnation be scientifically proven?


#62

I don’t see it as a logical axiom, the Buddha was not a logician or rationalist. Rather, it is a useful perspective to take on the afterlife which can have results on one’s ethical lifeworld. How one interprets it doesn’t matter much as long the core impulse of the idea is retained, that one’s actions have consequences which should matter to us, even after our deaths.


#63

This is true of course, but nobody starts “in the end” (ie as arahants), so right view is still important. If not, then right view would simply equal no views at all, but this is not the definition of right view as per EBTs.


#64

Here’s a question: If reincarnation cannot be proved or disproved either way, why would a Buddhist deny its existence?


#65

I was reacting to the idea that rebirth is a “pillar” of Buddhist thought. I would say that it is at best a crutch, for those who cannot let go of their fear of mortality and craving for perpetual survival.


#66

There is a lot of epistemically territory between the “proven” and “disproven”. There is also the realm of the probable and improbable.


#67

The EBTs represent numerous strata of texts composed at different times. They are not all mutually consistent, so one must decide which ones to take as more important.


#68

I’m not sure how much of “pillar” it is, but I also would not say it is just a “crutch”, both interpretations sound a bit too extreme for me. I’d say its just a useful tool (yes even a belief is just a tool).

The EBTs represent numerous strata of texts composed at different times. They are not all mutually consistent, so one must decide which ones to take as more important.

But instead of just picking what agrees with our predispositions, and cutting out what we don’t like, I think a more holistic view which looks at as many early texts as possible (and yes even later texts, buddhist philosophers, etc) is a better way to engage with the tradition. And it is pretty clear that EBTs of many different types contain numerous references to right view as something more than just having no views.


#69

Says every Buddhist ever! :speak_no_evil::hear_no_evil::see_no_evil::person_in_lotus_position:

Sorry, I don’t mean to be contrarian, I just couldn’t resist. :sweat_smile:


#70

When texts contradict themselves, there is no choice but to make selections. I read widely in the suttas, but not as a fundamentalist who treats them as something like a revelation approaching infallibility.

I treat the Buddha as a human being - a great, but necessarily imperfect and limited human being who learned something from important about the nature and causes of suffering - not a deity with supernormal powers.


#71

Sorry, but I don’t think that taking rebirth seriously makes me a fundamentalist who sees the suttas as a revelation.

One can read the suttas seriously and critically and yet not hold your particular agnostic position, you know.

Just because to you it seems like an irrational view, does not mean that it is.


#72

That’s not the point. If everyone assumes that one needs to use yeast in baking (axiom) all bread-related discussions will go a certain way.


#73

hello,

interesting and controversy topic. I don’t post to argue for or against reincarnation because my experience< with the intent to truly look as deep as possible, couldn’t give me any conclusive answer. The entire topic is very theoretical and seems often coming out of the desire to not disappear/die.
but that sad did I found a text in the sutras from a more practical viewpoint. Pointing to the practise of the dharma rather then only studying texts and books. This is only a small section, please read the entire sutta for clarification.

Middle discourse
text from the Mūlapariyāya Vagga

All the Defilements
Sabbāsava Sutta
And what are the things they shouldn’t focus on and they don’t? They are the things that, when focused on, give rise to unarisen defilements of sensual desire, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. And when such defilements have arisen, they make them grow. These are the things they shouldn’t focus on and they don’t.
And what are the things they should focus on and they do? They are the things that, when focused on, don’t give rise to unarisen defilements of sensual desire, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. And when such defilements have arisen, they’re given up. These are the things they should focus on and they do.


#74

Rebirth contrary to the view from non-dharmic eyes isn’t similar to eternal life. It’s the drudgery of repeating puberty, work, old age, death etc. in case the lessons to be learnt wasn’t learnt in one life - so it’s a useful tool even if only as a contemplation to understand suffering, as craving and attachment might paint a lifetime as wonderful etc.


#75

I agree. One doesn’t have to like or agree with everything, but IMO it is difficult to understand the bigger picture without an open mind.


#76

I don’t see a lot of contradiction in the suttas, but I do see a lot of ambiguity.


#77

In terms of getting rid of the ambiguity a model of Buddhism with rebirth accounts for the whole teaching and an account without rebirth only partially accounts for the Buddha’s dhamma. I assume he was able to think his teachings through!

There’s no ‘belief or eternal damnation’, nor is there a situation where much progress in the practice can’t be made without belief in rebirth- in fact he says in the kalama sutta about safely practicing without having to believe but it is part of Right view. The Buddha’s teaching is a gradual one- it allows for patchwork progress until it gels together and it is deep and gradual effort must be put in.


#78

Yes, this is a bit cheeky. I don’t have a problem with people talking about “energy” in a non-scientific sense, the difficulty comes in their inability to define what they actually mean by using the word. It’s often so vague as to be meaningless.


#79

It depends whether the choice is made in an objective manner, or merely on the basis of personal likes and beliefs.


#80

Yes, in making these decisions it is necessary to bring to bear all of the knowledge and critical tools one possesses. Mere preferences are not important.


#81

There are two questions coming up again and again…

  1. How does it come that the ‘souls’ increased that much in the last 50-100 years? Do our ‘short coming’ energies or whatever there is transmigrating does split up? Do more come into existence? Are there any EBTs or other scriptures concerning this?
  2. How does this actually fit in with impermanence?
    I can see/feel very clearly the flux of everything I experience, it is without any exception in my opinion. The metaphysics of a transmigrating part of our selfs somehow contradicts this to a certain degree.