Imagining Consequences: Rebirth and Ethics

Here’s a view that apparently is out there:

These difficulties in your life are because of bad kamma from a past life, therefore you’ll get little sympathy from me, perhaps neglect at best is what I’ll offer.

And another:

Past lives and kamma are intertwined… I’d better behave myself and be kind and good so’s I can get myself a good rebirth.

And another:

Rebirth and kamma, anatta and dependent origination and craving and the 4 Noble Truths are linked! What! Really? Okay, well, I’m not believing it but I’ll be open to it and have a ‘maybe approach’…

A few possible and negative consequences of View 1:

  • The growth of depression and negativity in the world.

  • The justification of cruelty and the growth of selfishness in the world.

A few possible consequences of View 2:

  • Fear may become a motivator for decision making. ==>

  • Thus, the growth of clarity and peace is impeded.

  • Courage is lacking.

  • And in the secret places of the heart, self-interest continues to grow in an unwholesome manner.


  • People do act more ethically in the world and it becomes a safer place.

  • People notice that a safer world is more pleasant and act to promote this.

  • People notice that ethics/kindness feel nice for their own sake and thus continue to cultivate them.

Possible consequences of View 3 (a more specifically oriented exploration of possible outcomes):

  • An investigation into the Buddha’s teachings which may become an interesting and pleasant addition to one’s life.

  • Which might lead to Buddhism becoming a bit like a form of pyschological assistance in this modern world.

  • Buddhism dropping away as a major interest in one’s life.

  • Buddhism being something interesting to think about and discuss and argue over - a pleasant intellectual diversion which can offer some opportunities to make daily life more liveable and also offers a neat way of thinking about the world in general.

  • Similar to the previous consequences, but one becomes discontented with one’s lot. And angered and depressed about the world and it’s faults. One sinks into depression.

  • One practices and learns and questions. One, within one’s capacity to do so, seeks out sincere practitioners and teachers and communities. One finds a sense of relief in finding that one’s problems in spiritual life are common and others are in the same boat. One continues to practise, enjoying a sense of connection with others. One learns from others as well as from one’s own experiences.

  • As above, except, as one’s practice deepens, one becomes more successful in dealing with the “non-Buddhist” world, i.e. what most would characterise as “ordinary” or “daily” life.

  • As above, but one’s practice deepens further and includes long periods on retreat. One continues to reflect and question and feel.

  • As above, but one has a shift in perspective. One is no longer just “open” to the idea that rebirth is intertwined with those deep, core teachings. One is now deeply accepting of this. The manner in which one perceives one’s life, the world and practice is immersed in this view, and increasingly so as one practices according to it too.

  • As above. Due to this, one begins to have a greater appreciation of the overarching mechanisms of Buddhism. They are no longer points of reflection but begin to impact and be the background, pre-verbal perceptions that operate during the minutiae of daily life and formal meditation practice. They radically open up understanding of oneself and others. As understanding grows, as insight and wisdom grows and is informed by these big views…these understandings open the mind’s ability to manipulate itself (for it sees itself more clearly) towards greater, ease and natural skill in being kind, forgiving, tolerant and gentle. Peace flows more easily as a natural consequence of a mind that has such control and flexibility at it’s disposal because letting go is a function of such insight and wisdom. As peace and kindness flow, they reinforce each other, creating the basis for even more clarity and ease of heart. Ease of heart, born of greater skill in kindness, leads to even more peace and clarity. And all this, feeds back into the growth of even more understanding/insight/wisdom… One’s impact, in a natural, causal way, on one’s society and surroundings is both significant and positive - regardless of how much or how little one is known in the wider world.

  • The cycle of the 10 fold path continues pleasurably, until it’s completion.

The 8 or 10 Fold Path is headed by Right View. It’s end game, (whether it’s mentioned explicitly like in some of the Anguttara suttas or is mentioned after the listing of the more commonly know 8 factors) is wisdom, and then liberation.

View conditions wisdom and more freedom and peace in our lives.

View matters. Working out what “Right View” means is, for a Buddhist, truly one of the most important things they could do in their spiritual lives.

For Right View to bear it’s consequences upon Right Wisdom, it has to shift it’s kammic, or causal, power on to the factor next to it in a deeply powerful way, and then this passes down the rest of the path factors until it bears fruit in deep wisdom and final liberation.


I’ve made a few changes to


Would like to point out the massive importance in present kamma in relation to one’s current life situation.

Past kamma is typically associated with being the cause of one’s rebirth(sandhiyaṃ) circumstances either being pleasant or unpleasant depending on the rebirth-linking kamma accumulated in the preceding life/lives depending on it maturing at the time of the actual rebirth.

While once reborn we can’t change the rebirth-linking kamma that dictated our present state of birth, we have enormous latitude with regards to our ongoing present-kamma that we are constantly producing while we live out this current life. Choosing to follow the Noble Eight Fold Path is one of highest present kammas that anyone can create, with far reaching affects on this life.

Great poker players can be dealt horrible hands and still win the game.

Maybe it’s a bad analogy, but it’s just the obvious one that came to mind immediately. I’m not implying one should bluff through life. Lol. Just that you play the hand life dealt you and make the most positive outcome possible.



I think it’s a most appropriate analogy!

There are many aspects to Right View that need to be understood by us. You’ve pointed to another.

I sometimes feel like I’m “living inside” a particular perception or view. It’s not perfected, but it’s vibrant and full of life. Some how, it’s the sort of way of looking at life that seems to naturally encourage more presence - more present moment living. Inherent in these notions:

…is the idea that one becomes naturally, without force or much effort or fanciful idealism or sense of what one “should” do…one becomes naturally able to be present to one’s life as it is right now… Thus one does indeed become able to skillfully deal with the hand that’s dealt. Thus automatically, as it were, creating beautiful kamma for this life and any future ones.

I do think that as one gets a handle on what Right View is and as this view comes alive in one’s life (not as some theory), the more these sorts of practises begin to have a real impact. It must be rather fun being a Stream Winner!!

It’s a strange sort of paradox that a teaching that encourages and celebrates endings, views death as something that is repeated and experienced often, and has suffering as the central pillar of it’s teachings, should cause vibrancy and presence and a greater “aliveness” to the raw experience of existing - which it states is problematic in and of itself! Yet it can, and it does. I think the person that does perfect View must be such an alive sort of person… Non-Returners or Fully Awakened beings must not experience a heck of a lot of boredom! Though I suppose, going on the theory we’ve got, Stream Winners and Once Returners may experience the occasional twinge… Which gives me hope really…it means I don’t have to stress too much about all my flaws!!

This is what the sense of “a long way to go” can do too (and it’s also one of the cards most of us have been dealt with)…I mean if even a Stream Winner has still not perfected some things that we find problematic, then clearly the very nature of this path is to be gradual…which means we can relax a bit, be gentle with ourselves and not be in such a hurry to force change. Personally, for me, such a shift in gears (however humble) has come about through immersing and accepting particular Views, which I consider to be the right ones in terms of increasing wholesome qualities in the most skillful ways and thus leading to Awakening.

I think what you’re essentially saying is that one crucial aspect of the teaching of kamma (an aspect of Right View) is that we need to realise where our effort needs to go:

Into creating the causes. Not focusing to an impractical/useless degree on the results or lamenting woefully about the lack thereof!

Thanks so much for your valuable comments @Lokantara ! :slight_smile:

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There is also a possible positive consequence of view 1:
I realize that the sympathy of others just holds me back and I start to stand up for myself and take responsibility without looking for the pity of the people around me…

That’s the thing with views: if I’m good in believing in my view I can find a good justification for anything. When we look for good arguments for our views we should also at times imagine if there are good arguments for the opposite.

In the end, why do I have to become a politician of my own beliefs and to sell them at the speaker’s corner? It’s subjective, biased, leads necessarily to friction.

There is a slogan that works only in German if anyone understands it “An meinem Wesen soll die Welt genesen”…

Views are a part of life, but what place do I give them?

That’s awesome! I love that…thanks so much for sharing this perspective.


I completely value and honour that we must make choices for ourselves, choose what works for us. Such tolerance is an essential corner stone of ethics and peace in this world. However, that doesn’t mean I personally need to look into everything. I must confess a distinct lack of interest in certain views now. I feel happy with the ones I’ve got. They work for me. They lead in the direction I’m happy to go in.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t share. And people don’t have to read or listen to me. I certainly don’t read or listen to everyone! That’s up to them, as it is up to me. Others also have the freedom to share. We should never be afraid to share. Or disagree…nicely. However, I have no burning need to explore the opposite view at all…I’ve done that, for me it was a dead end. But it might be full of life for others - and that’s fine.

As I said:

You don’t have to at all.

I promise you, I am not as you describe here. I don’t mind what you choose to believe. But I think I’ve struck gold, that’s all. I just wanted to share something and some way of looking at something that perhaps hasn’t been done yet…

I do feel compelled - despite a desire to not be bothered and stay quiet - to offer something and share something that I truly believe might be of use to someone, might inspire someone.

Or as I said elsewhere:

And again, the fact that we all have a choice in what we believe and the freedom to civilly share these beliefs, is very important. It doesn’t make me a politician. Though perhaps you meant it as a compliment…afterall politicians are committed hard working folk…no? :slight_smile:

Only you if you find issue with me speaking my truth. I give you leave to speak yours, or not…as you wish.

That’s the point though… I’ll just quote myself

But, ironically, and as I see it, tragically, those who are completely closed to the notion of Rebirth will only come to view the validity of my view if they give it a chance in an active sort of way, and over time.

It’s like swimming in a lane at the local swimming pool. You can’t get to the end of Lane 1, if you’re in Lane 2. You need to be in Lane 1 to get to the end of Lane 1.

At the end of the day, my writing here is just words on a screen, no need to let them upset you.

Peace :cherry_blossom:

@Gabriel, I think I need to clarify this.

I was motivated by a sense of both frustration and compassion in writing the OP. Frustration at knowing and seeing something and not being able to find the words to communicate them. I wrote a long essay, spent hours on it editing and then deleted it. Then I did it again because it just felt important to do. And deleted that too… (This is what sometimes ends up happening on my day off…the house is a mess!!) Then I came upon this idea…it just helped me make a point that I could think of no other way of making. I wanted to share a humble aspect of my own development in a way that felt okay to me. Compassion was a motivator because as I said, I feel I found gold…I just wanted to offer it up for anyone that was interested in checking it out for themselves…

However, in the end…and please, I don’t mean this harshly, only with a sense of contentment and goodwill towards you and even mudita for however you may choose to find happiness and meaning… but…well… I don’t really feel any sort of investment in what anyone else chooses to believe. It makes no difference to my life. I don’t need to go to war - even verbally - for my beliefs or someone else’s. I can dwell easy knowing that not everyone believes in rebirth!! :slight_smile:

But I still, felt moved to share.

Again…peace my Dhamma friend…my sincerest apologies if I unintentionally gave offense… But I was just being, well, “me”. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I thank you for your reply and your questioning of me and your courtesy.

With metta


Thanks for your kind words! I was not taking your post that seriously, rather embarked on a general observation.

To be honest, I don’t even know what my views on rebirth are, probably somewhere in my mind there is some basic agreement with it, but - to up your statement - I’m not even that interested in what my view is :slight_smile: I know the mind’s views will change so I’m more interested in the structure of views in general than to erect a pillar with an edict in my living room (to use an Asokan image).

I have no doubt that the way you present your understanding has a positive impact on some people, and see? that’s even independent from what the content of your view is!


Exactly! It’s important to address this fundamental aspect of present kamma as it relates directly to Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech and Right Action which is what allows the Path to begin to work. The entire Noble Eightfold Path hinges on present kamma being made in the proper direction.

I think it’s in human nature to hold firmly to deeply ingrained views due to our individual conditioning factors, but it’s necessary to question and ultimately break out of many of them in order to practice the ‘dhamma inline with the dhamma’ and adopt the practices of the noble ones.

The Kalamas, for instance, were battling confusion with different opposing views and might not have been concerned with there being a more correct Path to practice than another, but just looking for a world view to hold to and give explanation. The Buddha tells them to use self-inquiry as it relates to Right Effort to test and see whether a particular dhamma leads to wholesome or unwholesome results. Pretty simple solution.

Remember the Buddha said he didn’t argue with the world; the world argued with him. :slight_smile:

Metta :heart:


Thank you for yours too :slight_smile:

Lol… :slight_smile: We come at these things - Dhamma Practice I mean - from different angels…

They sure do.

And I couldn’t help remembering the story of Ven Ananda crying at the Buddha’s Parinibbana and how he said afterwards that mindfulness had been absent.

Which sort of begs the question, mindful of what…'cos no consciousness without an object right? And I guess, as he was a Stream Winner, it meant that his Right View (although perfected) was absent at that time and some other view, based on some other conditioning was in operation…

Interesting stuff.

Ha! I like that image!!

That reminds me of a course when I was at Uni: Structure Thought, Reality or something like that… Being an immigrant, I chose the one about my new country but I remember wondering what that was all about…

You sound like you’re easily able to step back and look at things. With lots of meta - and no doubt metta too :slight_smile: I’d be so happy if I had a bit more of this kind of quality. Are there any other posts/threads where you explore your particular interest in the structure of views?

The use of the word “structure” conjures images of lots of Ashokan pillars. Which kind of makes me think for some reason of the space between the pillars and the eventually crumbly nature of them. Kind of cool… Is that the sort of thing you mean?

:relaxed: yup :slight_smile: I see what you did there! Nice one :slight_smile:

With metta

Oh heck…one doesn’t realise how much reading suttas might be secretly conditioning one’s use of language… Um…I think I want to make it clear, when I’m referring to “knowing and seeing”…I mean at a very, very, very, very, very humble level… !!

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Definition of right view is given in SN 12.15.
One should know properly what “world” means (SN 35.68 - SN 12.44); and what existence (atthitañceva / as-ti, ) is in context.
Khandhas exist and non-exist, through kama loka; through dependant origination.
Right view is to see there is no self in attraction to world (SN 35.107 - SN 35.65).
“So loko, so atta”, is wrong view (MN 22- SN 22.152- SN. 24.3). 'attā me’ti (“my self”,) is wrong view.
The world is empty of self (SN 35.85).

Lord Buddha does not see existence OR non-existence of self. Lord Buddha sees existence AND non-existence - of khandhas, to which we cling (AN 4.23).

“I”, “I”, “I”, and “you”, “you”, “you” are views; not right view.

And as far as rebirth and ethics are concerned; another round of brand new khandhas are put in gear - determined by what you have done in previous life.

That’s seems to be Law of Karma.

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I usually understand it as ‘mindful of the teachings in general’, or in this case, and related to the OP, ‘mindful of death’, i.e. maranassati.

I don’t think so, but it’s not overly complex either: A generalized thought (or formula) comes up in the mind (“just let go” or “it’s all about dependent origination”…), meets a feeling of satisfaction, paired with the excitement of ‘understanding’, paired with the thrill of self-importance, creating the desire for more of the same, projecting this new thought-feeling onto many other topics in order to get a copy of the original understanding-satisfaction-feeling, incorporating the desire for re-experiencing into the ‘self’-structure (personality), and voila: a nicely established attachment to a view.

And when I live this particular view and communicate it I have forgotten that me being an ambassador for my thought is based on a very specific experience, the particular revelatory feeling-excitement-satisfaction. I explain my ‘insight’ to others, but by now I have a libidinous (or to put it bluntly ‘masturbatory’) relationship with ‘my’ view, and when I see a disinterest of the other to my precious view I get sad, frustrated and eventually angry over the ‘stupidity’ (or better: lack of excitement, lack of confirmation) of the other, and the second voila, we get: aversion based on attachment to view…

I think this process can be more or less subtle, but it seems to me that the mind does these things rather automatically because of the basic needs for feelings and affirmation it has. Any observations on this one?


Hi @Gabriel :slight_smile:



The first thing I couldn’t help thinking was that when you said

we’re probably “viewing” this differently and so the experience you’re referring to might not be what I’m perceiving…I don’t know…anyway…

Ha! That’s pretty funny. Yes, we can get like this. Even if we have reason to believe our view is Right View, we can get like this because, as I see it, it isn’t perfected and that aspect of deeply seeing into Anatta hasn’t come into force.

Yeah for sure. And then just acknowledging that this is a part of our humanity. I mean, we’re not robots right?

I like the way you’ve described how we can get attached to a particular view. You’ve skillfully described how our ways of viewing can become imbued with the most extraordinary investment.

For me, at least, currently - because as you pointed out, stuff changes…

There’s a sense of wanting to understand the world, myself, even to some degree other ways of seeing things; but crucially, I seem to do so within the paradigm of (obviously on a mundane sort of level) “Right View” - mainly as I remember it from that little book “The Word of the Buddha”, which drew together teachings on Right View from various Suttas from the Pali Canon. That was one of my first introductions to Sutta study and it sort of stayed with me.

I’m not denying our/my conditional nature. But as I see it, there’s one particular form of conditionality that leads to a final ending; and I happily (libidinously? perhaps in a not so 5 senses oriented way though) feel completely caught in it - but not in a “help, I’m trapped way”…more in a “cool, I feel freer and freer way…”

So I guess I don’t see a problem with having a “libidinous” relationship with Right View!! To me that’s just my Unenlightened effort to do my best to cultivate it.

In doing so I’m using craving - I may as well use the thing, I’m swimming in it any way. And yes, I actually allow myself to become attached to certain views…because I’m convinced, and indeed have to a limited degree experienced, the paradox of how this particular attachment can actually lead to a detachment from not only more harmful views, but worldly practises that aren’t in line with the goal.

Last night I was watching this children’s film called “I Kill Giants”.

In a nutshell, it used mythology to help a child deal with trauma and grief and loss. It didn’t advocate YOLO or rebirth. But it certainly found a way of using connection with primal forces and nature, to encourage a more whole, full connection to life and living.

It made me remember what you and others have said and I could suddenly see how you could live through the perception of YOLO and still have this sense of richness and fullness. I felt a sense of the beauty and strength one must have to believe this and still to live, believing that death was the ending…

And yet, for me, I couldn’t help seeing more… (But only because of my own particular conditioning.) The movie was just a movie. Such experiences as the movie attempted to portray, are not enough to take away the depth and breadth of suffering, reducing them to something poetic.

And I can’t get away from my firm acceptance of that one specific aspect of Right View: Rebirth. Such grace and beauty and strength are all very well… but what next? The little girl in the movie, continued living her life, going about her business…

Now if this little girl were a Buddhist, who believed in rebirth, she might be moved to let go of sensuality and cultivate things beyond the material, like the causes and conditons for Jhanas and Right View, so that she could become a Stream Enterer and never be subject to a birth within which she was hampered by the ignorance of not knowing what she was, how she ocurred, and why she was suffering.

Because I view things the way I do (and not all the time because, as you alluded to, it comes and goes…that’s it’s nature until, I think, according to the texts, the stage of Non-Returning)…I can’t help thinking that the very wonderful, kind YOLO Buddhists around were conditioned to be wonderful and kind, and Buddhist, by not only the conditioning of this life, but of past ones too… Going back to the OP, when people talk about rebirth causing people to be more ethical, this is, as far as YOLO Buddhists are concerned, how I think this still applies to them.

But let’s go beyond the shores of Buddhism and it’s influences. If rebirth were to become a mainstream idea, the ramifications on how people approached social justice, economic inequality, inclusivity and climate change - to name a few - would be potentially transformative for the greater good. They would just see it as a given that they would probably be back to experience whatever kind of society they create. They’d have to stop just thinking about themselves and their families. And this is without any notions of Buddhist Rebirth theory; just Rebirth theory on it’s own would be enough.

And as the Buddha said, even if rebirth wasn’t right. At least the people in this world, acting as if it were, would make this world far more beautiful. Basically out of self-interest!

But, as the Buddha said, if it was right, rebirth that is…then they’d make this world far more beautiful…sure out of self-interest…but that’s how we are…

And that’s just without bringing in Buddhist theories on Right View. That’s a whole other ball game.

Practise was once likened to a ladder, or rather the climb up a ladder. As you reached out for the highest rung, you attached to it, so you wouldn’t fall off (the Path) but then as you went further up, you had to let go of the rungs below. This was a similie I heard Ajahn Brahm give. It really struck me.

I have no problem attaching to and cultivating what I perceive to be the Correct or Right View of the world/self…etc… However, and weirdly, I’ve become less (and you probably won’t believe me, but then, why should you, these are just words on a screen, we’re just online!) less closed/judgemental and dogmatic. My husband was making this comment recently. When he first met me, about 15 years ago, I was very rigid and wouldn’t even read something that wasn’t “Buddhist”. He had on his bookshelf, the Celtic/Christian book called “Anam Cara” which I sort of turned my nose up at 15 years ago… But I’m finding myself reading it with much interest - not agreeing with it all, but seeing the common ground and also the different (and as I see it, just as valid) perspectives/angles on how to feel the world and know it (to some degree), offered up by someone who views/sees the world very differently to me. It’s a weird paradox, that slowly growing and focusing on Right View, has made me eager and open to learning from others in a way I never thought I ever would have been… I can’t, as verbose as I know I get, really explain why…

Oh…that’s what you meant by “structure of views”.

I guess, I do get the odd insight into how the mind does such things but I don’t think I go looking for them in an active sense as you’ve done here. They sort of seem to find me as a natural consequence of practice but the system of training I’ve mainly associated with (Ajahn Brahm’s style mostly) generally discourages the dwelling over much on our “insights”. Yes, they’re useful sometimes (as alluded to in the OP), but they’re seen as becoming distractions in and of themselves (which is reminding me that I’m spending too much time swimming in words here)…they are not the ultimate goal and as you’ve very rightly pointed out, we can get stuck in them in an unwholesome way:

Yes, this is a danger for us all. I admitted elsewhere that I used to get upset:

:slight_smile: I think I should edit that…it would be more accurate if I’d said, “I don’t feel personally upset, as often as I used to”! :slight_smile:

It’s kind of natural and I tend not to judge myself or others too harshly if we do get upset. And if I do fall into judgement, I do try to discourage myself from staying there. Though I admit, it takes some doing at times… We’re all still learning, aren’t we?

However, the reason for my passion around this topic was reading, some years ago, that some people are trying to suggest that what is written in the EBTs, that the Buddha taught rebirth, was not true: that he didn’t teach it.

I was upset, not because I feel my view challenged. I was already a firm believer in rebirth and little/nothing could shake that. Certainly not such writings.

I was upset because I felt, as a committed, sometimes very passionate Buddhist, that it was misrepresenting the Buddha and the Dhamma. And I could, for the many reasons I and others have outlined, see the potential harm in it. And I was also astounded at the way in which such notions swept aside all sincere, hardworking scholarship that had gone into and still goes into, establishing which texts are the earliest and where the parallels are and so on… These are the things that upset me the most greatly. So my passion doesn’t come from feeling upset that “my” views aren’t accepted - I don’t mind people believing what they want to :yum: But I do mind (though thankfully, for my own sake, not to the same degree as before) people suggesting, for whatever reason and with whatever skill, that the Buddha’s teachings don’t include something that it, well, actually does. Telling people who’ve been Practising for years, as well as studying for years that they don’t know what they’re on about was, to me, a bit like telling eskimos that they don’t know what snow is…

Which is why, with I admit, some passion, I stated:

:slight_smile: Sorry…I do go on and on… I thank you for your patience if you managed to get through all that!

Thanks for your reply Gabriel.

Much metta

Aim of EBTs is to avoid corruption of Teaching by sectarian view. No one should rely on writings by bhikkhus full of biased views of their sects; based on very doubtful suttas. Particularly on compendium with no reference whatsoever.
This is door for very wrong view. And ingrained pollution of mind.

Just, what is the mainstream idea? ‘Idea’ is probably the wrong word - what is at the center of the common discourse? What is the view that the mainstream is not aware of yet coordinates the way in which publicly negotiated perspectives are processed?

In spite of all the noise and the best-selling titles in the ‘spiritual book’ section, i.e. in spite of what most people believe they believe - I am quite sure that the dominant metaphysical stand that people have (and always had) is: fear.

Before advocating any specific affirmative stand, like rebirth or one-life-view, I would find it important that people (mind you, I am ‘people’ too) can take any stand. I can talk rebirth all day long, it doesn’t matter, because it’s just talk and not walk. That’s why I don’t think it changes anything on a large scale if just the idea of rebirth spreads and people start ‘believing’ it.

To put it in lacanian terms: Our mortality falls into the register of the ‘Real’ - just the Real is in its nature traumatic. It cannot be represented in our mind. The whole structure of the mind is built around avoiding this traumatic reality. Realizing this is therefore not a realization of the mind. Rather the realization necessarily ‘punctures’ the mind and lies beyond it…

There is not much practical application to what I just described, but personally it makes me more critical to the ‘insights’ that my mind produces. I see in it a diversion, a perfidious displacement.

Yes, I reckon you’re quite right.


I’ve tried to make a case for not closing the door to rebirth. But regardless of whether people believe in rebirth or not, the main thing I’ve wanted to advocate for is that regardless of our beliefs, the Buddha taught rebirth. And while I don’t deny my own acceptance of it as being a part of reality, I want to be clear, I’m not suggesting everyone does the same. Personal development/spiritual life, has to be about taking responsibility for ourselves, making our own choices and setting our own directions.

I’m certainly not suggesting people put all other aspects of personal development down in order to focus exclusively on rebirth!! It may appear that way as I’ve been rather focused on this one aspect here and also elsewhere on D&D… But it’s not the only important thing to focus on… And indeed, should be, and is, for the vast majority of us, something, set aside. I imagine it is set aside quite naturally - as we don’t go about our daily business or practise even, thinking “rebirth, rebirth!!” There are more important things directly to hand.

Also, I don’t think people “taking a stand”, necessarily, precludes an exploration of metaphysical possibilities:

For me, being a Buddhist means Buddhism and Dhamma and most things connected with these are major focuses of my life. That means that sometimes I just enjoy exploring topics within the scope of Buddhism/Dhamma, like rebirth for example, just for their own sake. Mostly just for fun, but there have been times when this play has helped to create a change of perception or view which has influenced how I live or Practise. Basically, for me, it’s normal to find rebirth stories fascinating. It’s not my main Practise. But it’s cool and fun and sometimes extremely informative…just because for me, it’s part of the territory of “being Buddhist”.

I am not convinced of this, I’ve to admit. But it’s a hypothetical… Though I do feel you’re right in what you say about “fear”…doubtless it would still colour our perceptions and thus how we act.

That’s very nice. I’m not familiar with Lacan’s work at all so I’m not sure I’m understanding these terms as you intend them to be understood. But in a general sense I probably 'am in agreement.

Yes, I agree. This is mostly how I view these things.

Occasionally there are turning points where these things can go deeper and cause changes in one’s life… But then, one just carries on, one doesn’t keep thinking about it. I suppose any useful insights just become integrated and we don’t really notice them after a while. Perhaps it would be accurate to say that they become the “new normal” for us.

Well… I can kind of see some…

The practical application would be to influence the approach to meditation and also to motivate me to meditate and to continue to make it a part of my daily life; and also to continue to develop virtue/kindness so that it forms a basis for meditation. Then hopefully these processes will give me some tools to deal with that fear… And thus empower and enable me to take a stand.

I suffered from anxiety for a lot of my life. My friends and family and a couple of trustworthy professionals, and of course, my monastic teachers helped me…

But ultimately it was me taking responsibility for my life that allowed me to overcome this anxiety; and it was my Dhamma/meditation Practise that helped me to do this. I now only suffer from the more ordinary anxieties, but I’ve found, as long as I keep Practising, even these ordinary fears aren’t a major issue. So far anyway :slight_smile: It’s a miracle to me that I can experience happiness - in daily life, upon waking, before sleeping, in meditation - it’s just amazing. That I bounce back after a hard day, is wonderfully strange and only a novelty that has been experienced in the last decade or so! These are extraordinary things for me. If I sound like a crazy person when talking about Practise with a capital “P”, this is why.

When you write about the “Real”…I read: “Suffering”…because reality can be traumatic. When you talk about puncturing the mind and seeing beyond it, I read: meditation practise that has the potential of transforming our lives; but also meditation practise that goes beyond the ordinary and also has a traumatic impact in a positive way…

In the Dhammapada, the Buddha said that mind is the forerunner… As I view, perceive and think, so I will act (mentally, verbally, physically). There are practical applications.

Anyway, Gabriel, it’s been a pleasure conversing with you here. Thank you for taking the time to have this exchange - and with such honesty and courtesy. It’s very much appreciated.

With metta


Thanks for weaving in parts of your life story. It’s a good reminder that our views and experiences come in a context (that is rarely shared).


Have your views about the above content changed at all since 2018?

Conventional wisdom: “Do or die” :japanese_ogre:
Buddhist wisdom: “Be done or die again” :scream_cat: