Well, you may be happy to hear, I am becoming more and more convinced that the rebirth the Buddha taught is actual rebirth. I guess you could say I never really doubted that, but my issues stemmed from another source.
Every time rebirth is spoken about, it has this idea of consciousness glued to it. The idea that each person is endowed in some way with a consciousness that is unique unto them. Now of course I’m not saying that everyone thinks this way, it’s just the way that rebirth has always been presented to me.
I’ve been reading some of the suttas, like SN12.38 and DN15. These two in particular give me a different perspective. It sounds more to me like consciousness is more of a potential that is always there, in anything; and it’s just when the right conditions come together that it is able to appear or arise. So it’s not that a person has a particular consciousness, but that the right conditions arise in them for it to appear.
In SN12.38, it says tendency toward something is the basis for the maintenance for consciousness, but I was wondering if there’s another way of translating that. Tendency sounds more intentional or volitional like the sutta has been translated to be called, but I think of tendency more as conditional or causal, just like gravity causes objects in the air to have a tendency toward falling to the ground.
The whole point of this is that I am inclined toward a temporary acceptance of rebirth (until I can actual see it for myself), but only in more complex way than what has been explained to me previously. Which is that there is a consciousness element at death that conditions the next consciousness element at the beginning of the next rebirth, and then namarupa forms around that element of consciousness or something like that. This way of thinking about rebirth seems only to have an interpretive basis in the suttas, an interpretation that just doesn’t seem right to me.
The moment of death conditioning the beginning moment of rebirth, that I see, but as soon as you get into the technical details of consciousness, you start to lose me. Not because I don’t understand, but because I just don’t see where that comes from. I think that the concept of consciousness already existing in a subtle but general way, and then the necessary conditions arising to allow it to become established in a being, or gain a footing as it says in DN15, makes just as much sense, if not more. Also, this is not a cosmic self, far from it, this is just another way of interpreting the suttas explanation of consciousness.
Of course, this idea is far from matured, but something like this seems more likely than the way I’ve heard it explained before. I think a big problem when it comes to rebirth is that people get too technical when trying to explain it. If the inner working are left a little broader and maybe even more vague, then, at least to me, it starts to sound a lot more reasonable. And not because it has to be totally rational in a scientific sense, but just because it only works off of exactly what the Buddha says in the text and no more. Any thoughts?