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Rebirth, Time Between Lives, and Dr. Ian Stevenson

I've recently started looking into Buddhism and I have a question concerning rebirth. I've noticed several Buddhist authors that refer to Dr. Ian Stevenson's research as "proof" of rebirth. However, he comments that the vast majority of his cases involve several years of time between lives. In the Buddhist material I've seen it says, depending on the school, that rebirth either happens immediately or after 49 days. If Dr. Stevenson's research shows years, how do Buddhists reconcile their "proof" with what is normally taught in Buddhism with regard to the time between lives?

Comments

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited June 19

    Good question. I haven't looked into it in detail but apparently there are stories of memories of past lives that can be verified and not easily explained through more mundane reasons. In the spirit of scientific skepticism though I wonder if aside from the explanation of proving past lives if it couldn't be some kind of psychic vision or the spirit who actually lived the life communicating from heaven with the individual.

    I'm not saying I believe in those explanations but they haven't been ruled out so maybe valid past life recall is some other phenomena that "proves" Christian or some new age dogma instead.

    Maybe the past life explanation ends up being logically more reasonable but in the end it isn't really a sound scientific explanation, even if true it's more a case of motivated reasoning.

    To answer your question directly, I haven't heard any explanation that I can remember. They say it is possible to remember many past lives though so a memory of one wouldn't have to be limited to just the most recent life.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    @person said:
    To answer your question directly, I haven't heard any explanation that I can remember. They say it is possible to remember many past lives though so a memory of one wouldn't have to be limited to just the most recent life.

    Thanks for the reply. In the cases in question, which are the vast majority of his research that some Buddhists appeal to, there are only a few years between the two lives. So, unless each of these cases involve them having tied as toddlers such that they only remember the life before the toddler one, this doesn't seem likely.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    Just to be clear, they identify the date of the death of the one they remembered, which is normally several years before the birth of the one remembering the past life.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Dubitator314 said:

    @person said:
    To answer your question directly, I haven't heard any explanation that I can remember. They say it is possible to remember many past lives though so a memory of one wouldn't have to be limited to just the most recent life.

    Thanks for the reply. In the cases in question, which are the vast majority of his research that some Buddhists appeal to, there are only a few years between the two lives. So, unless each of these cases involve them having tied as toddlers such that they only remember the life before the toddler one, this doesn't seem likely.

    Well, if you wanted the fact of several years passing between lives to be an iron clad refutation I don't think it is, lots of young children die.

    I think it's good enough to want sound evidence to believe in things as a reason to not believe in rebirth. If more than that you want to definitively prove it doesn't exist, I'm not sure you can ever completely prove a negative. The best you can probably do is establish it's opposite, so something like the mind is just the brain.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New
    edited June 19

    Well, I'm not, at least in this thread, looking for proof of rebirth. I'm just curious how Buddhists, especially those that appeal to the research of Dr. Stevenson, explain that several years go by between death and rebirth when their canonical teaching, depending on the school, appears to state that this happens immediately or on the 49th day.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Dubitator314 said:
    I've recently started looking into Buddhism and I have a question concerning rebirth. I've noticed several Buddhist authors that refer to Dr. Ian Stevenson's research as "proof" of rebirth. However, he comments that the vast majority of his cases involve several years of time between lives. In the Buddhist material I've seen it says, depending on the school, that rebirth either happens immediately or after 49 days. If Dr. Stevenson's research shows years, how do Buddhists reconcile their "proof" with what is normally taught in Buddhism with regard to the time between lives?

    Rebirth of this kind is always under scrutiny and open to question, even by the most ardent and dedicated Buddhists, @Dubitator314. It is always good material for debate, but in the end, the most comprehensive and accurate answer is "we don't know".

    The common response here, is that we are reborn every day, in a way.
    The person you are today bears no resemblance, for example, to the '10-year-old you who was on a huge learning curve and out of childhood, but opening the door to adolescence.
    Who you are tomorrow, wil l not be who you are today.

    The other thing to note is that entering a Bardo of anything up to 49 days is a Tibetan Buddhist concept. It is not generally agreed upon or recognised in other traditions, as being the case.
    And if I am not mistaken, Tibetan Buddhism is also the only School which recognises both re-birth and re-incarnation.
    The two - while in everyday discussion, interchangeable - are two completely different processes, to some Buddhists....

    So frankly, re-birth and reincarnation are as imponderable to most of us, as are many questions regarding Life, the universe and Everything....

    The Buddha spoke of rebirth.
    Take a look at some of these discourses.
    See what you think.
    As ever, the ultimate conclusion has to be yours....

    Dubitator314lobsterKannon
  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    @federica said:
    The person you are today bears no resemblance, for example, to the '10-year-old you who was on a huge learning curve and out of childhood, but opening the door to adolescence.

    Actually, I still have blue eyes and an unhealthy attachment to chocolate. =)

    In all seriousness, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I don't believe anyone has irrefutable proof of rebirth. I've had experiences with my children that seems to suggest it. But in any case, it is a minor part of my focus as a Buddhist. Our focus (human beings, not Buddhists) on what happens after death is largely fear of dying and wanting to know something happens after. My knowing or not knowing isn't going to influence what happens. I just try to live the best life I can.

    That said, I do think we likely make a mistake in thinking the human construct of time on earth passes the same on other planes (for lack of better term, since if time elapses between rebirths it seems there is "somewhere" otherwise to go if a stream of consciousness isn't present in a human body). The people who believe they know when a master has reincarnated, for example (Tibetan Tulkus) might suggest it's 49 days, but just because 49 days passed here doesn't mean it passed the same otherwise.

    In the end, I don't look for proof from anyone else about any of my beliefs. One of Buddha's major teachings was to examine everything for yourself and determine it's validity. We can use information from others but in the end it is up to us to use our faculties to determine what is true, no matter who else says it's so or not. I believe in rebirth. But I do not worry about it or focus on it. It just simply is the only thing that makes sense to me based on experiences I have had with people very close to me. No more, no less.

    Kannon
  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    @karasti said:
    The people who believe they know when a master has reincarnated, for example (Tibetan Tulkus) might suggest it's 49 days, but just because 49 days passed here doesn't mean it passed the same otherwise.

    Thanks for the reply. I agree completely. I'm just curious to know how those who believe in 49 days here, or immediately here, explain when neither of those occur here.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    There is a lot of...mysticism related to numbers in some cultures. 108 for example. 49 days is 7 weeks of 7 days, and 7 is considered a "magic" number in a lot of cultures, including Christianity as well. A lot of it goes back to Pagan/folk times with relation to phases of the moon that were observed. The 49 day idea is mostly a Tibetan one (as far as I know) and is related to the Tibetan view of the Bardos. I don't even entirely understand them myself, but you might find some help reading about them online. There is a lot of ritual and belief that comes from Tibet's previous religion of Bon that goes into Tibetan Buddhism. But it is not remotely representative of Buddhism as a whole. Tibetan Buddhism is quite different from, say, Zen or Terevada Buddhism. Bardos and such are not discussed anywhere else that I know of. So really it doesn't have to be a concern of yours unless you are looking to be a Tibetan Practitioner. Even as a TB it isn't something I concern myself with much. You are unlikely to find a science-based or logical explanation to it. It likely doesn't exist. It is just a cultural belief.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    True, with respect to the 49 days, but with respect to an immediate rebirth, I'm told that's a Theravada belief.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Dubitator314 said:

    @federica said:
    The person you are today bears no resemblance, for example, to the '10-year-old you who was on a huge learning curve and out of childhood, but opening the door to adolescence.

    Actually, I still have blue eyes and an unhealthy attachment to chocolate. =)

    In all seriousness, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Just as an aside, every single cell in your body - bar those in your brain, and give or take a few others - is renewed and regenerated. (The brain actually increases in size as you grow....) This apparently takes between 7 - 10 years, so, blue eyes - think again.

    (You may be right about the chocolate bit, though....)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I'm not Theravadan so I couldn't say. But you won't find a consensus among different Buddhist schools if that is what you are looking for. Even within the schools, different teachers teach different things. Because no one knows. It's just a matter of what one thinks based on their own experiences which are colored, of course, by what they are taught and their cultural leanings. Therevadans might believe rebirth is immediate. Tibetans don't believe that, generally. Zen doesn't spend a lot of time on rebirth, from what I understand. I believe either is possible, depending on a lot of factors. My teacher might not agree, I never asked him. But what are you looking for, exactly? I guess I am unclear on your question, it kind of sounds like you are looking for a general Buddhist consensus. But it doesn't exist. Just like Catholics believe some things different from Presbyterians, so to different schools of Buddhism believe different things.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    @karasti said:
    But what are you looking for, exactly? I guess I am unclear on your question

    I just wanted to know how the Buddhists who appeal to Dr. Stevenson's research reconcile what he says about the duration of time between lives in our time versus what appears to be the claims of those in some Buddhist traditions with respect to an immediate rebirth and the Tibetan 49 day belief.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Dubitator314 said:

    @karasti said:
    But what are you looking for, exactly? I guess I am unclear on your question

    I just wanted to know how the Buddhists who appeal to Dr. Stevenson's research reconcile what he says about the duration of time between lives in our time versus what appears to be the claims of those in some Buddhist traditions with respect to an immediate rebirth and the Tibetan 49 day belief.

    This probably isn't the best forum to get that answer. In general this is a pretty practical group that doesn't spend much time concerning itself with unprovable metaphysics or cosmology like that.

    Bunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I think an expert Buddhist learned in the teachings of rebirth/reincarnation would be the best person to answer that. But I'd bet if you got ten of them in a row, they'd all have different opinions....

    That said, I have little or no idea whence Dr Stevenson's research stems, or how he has 'proven' it. I am not well-versed in his work, at all.
    But as @Karasti points out, the number has a mystical slant, and although it's a significant number, it is also symbolic.

    Just as Christ's sojourn in the desert for 40 days and nights actually means, according to the interpretation of theological scholars, 'a long time'.

    49 days.. it may not be anywhere near that time. It could also be a lot more.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    @federica said:
    I think an expert Buddhist learned in the teachings of rebirth/reincarnation would be the best person to answer that. But I'd bet if you got ten of them in a row, they'd all have different opinions....

    Yep, I'm getting that impression. Thanks for your and others' insight. It was actually helpful to understand how lay Buddhists grapple, or don't, with such matters.

  • KannonKannon Ach-To Veteran
    edited June 19

    As a Pure Land Buddhist my ideas of rebirth and reincarnation are focused on Amidas Pure Land. I am not sure if when I die I really will enter Nirvana. I just know through my devotion to Amida my life right now is better, and I am sowing the seeds for the next chapter after death. Whether that Pure Land is another human life on this Earth or something beyond I do not know. When I recite the nembutsu and make visualizations Amida joins me instantly and I have a fraction of his Pure Land with me always, as Gautama Buddha said in the Visualization Sutra. As I keep building my practice I will find what awaits me today tomorrow and after...

    I used to be extremely suicidal, but I was terrified of death. Now that I love life death isn't as scary. I do not know what will happen. It's just another thing to overcome. Our teachings can help us prepare ourselves, but what happens beyond only the dead know.

    Namu Amida Butsu

    Bunkslobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    OP, I've never heard of any kind of time frame given to rebirth in Buddhism. Where did you get the 49-day thing?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    It's a given, in Tibetan Buddhism that a Bardo, for the unenlightened returner, is 49 days.
    I heard it myself from a Visiting Lama in France. Went to a talk by him, and it was a question he was asked by a member of the audience.....

    The period between death and rebirth lasts 49 days and involves three bardos. The first is the moment of death itself. The consciousness of the newly deceased becomes aware of and accepts the fact that it has recently died, and it reflects upon its past life. In the second bardo, it encounters frightening apparitions. Without an understanding that these apparitions are unreal, the consciousness becomes confused and, depending upon its karma, may be drawn into a rebirth that impedes its liberation. The third bardo is the transition into a new body.

    From here.

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Too focused living in the moment to ever spend time contemplating if rebirth even exists.....just live well in the now...the rest will take care of itself....

    DhammaDragonlobsterkarasti
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran
    edited June 19

    @Dubitator314 said:
    It was actually helpful to understand how lay Buddhists grapple, or don't, with such matters.

    HH the Dalai Lama always says that if a new scientific discovery contradicts a Buddhist teaching, then the Buddhist teaching will have to be updated.
    So should Dr Ian Stevenson's research happen to be duly backed up -which some scientists find is not- I guess the corresponding change would be introduced, or at least taken into account, in the corresponding teaching, at least in the school where the Dalai Lama has some influence.

    As to how lay Buddhists grapple with such matters, truth is many Buddhists do not care to indulge in metaphysical speculation, but rather prefer to concentrate in the cessation of dukkha dilemma, since "whether you believe this world to be eternal or not eternal, there is still birth, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, grief and distress." (MN I 428-432)

    KannonHozanFosdickKerome
  • @federica said:

    The period between death and rebirth lasts 49 days and involves three bardos. The first is the moment of death itself. The consciousness of the newly deceased becomes aware of and accepts the fact that it has recently died, and it reflects upon its past life. In the second bardo, it encounters frightening apparitions. Without an understanding that these apparitions are unreal, the consciousness becomes confused and, depending upon its karma, may be drawn into a rebirth that impedes its liberation. The third bardo is the transition into a new body.

    Wondering if it is Theravada or Vajrayana that waits three days after one has deceased to allow all consciousness to exit the body before cremation according to Buddhist funerary practice? Three bardos, three days; interesting. Rebirth? I can't even remember where I put my keys.....

    lobsterDakiniDhammaDragonHozan
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    To me, it's as simple as there is the Dharma wood, and there are the trees.

    Either we grasp the whole picture of what Buddhadharma really stands for, aka cessation of dukkha, or we get lost in the trees of minutiae such as squandering time on pointless smoke speculation that leads us nowhere and perpetuates the entanglement.

    Your choice.
    Skillful or unskilful choice...

    Hozanlobsterkarasti
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited June 20

    There are actually a few different sources for the time between lives possibly being quite extensive, look at Michael Newton's investigations. None of it is scientifically proveable to a high standard though.

    @DhammaDragon said:

    @Dubitator314 said:
    It was actually helpful to understand how lay Buddhists grapple, or don't, with such matters.

    HH the Dalai Lama always says that if a new scientific discovery contradicts a Buddhist teaching, then the Buddhist teaching will have to be updated.

    This for me is key, and proof that Buddhism is a religion for sensible people. If science can begin to prove things about the afterlife then a lot of things will have to change, and it is up to religion to move with the times.

    As to how lay Buddhists grapple with such matters, truth is many Buddhists do not care to indulge in metaphysical speculation, but rather prefer to concentrate in the cessation of dukkha

    For me, there is a clear separation between the Buddha talking about the cessation of dukkha and a lot of the more esoteric things in the lore, such as reincarnation, karma, cosmology and the Tibetan Bardo's. I find the latter teachings beautiful and useful but I regard them as currently unprovable.

    The Buddha said, test my teachings and if you find them to be untrue, discard them. On certain other topics he refused to speak, saying speculation was unbeneficial. Different Buddhist groups put varying emphases on these teachings, so it's a question of finding the stream you resonate with. Personally, I'm with the pragmatic side.

    DhammaDragon
  • NMADDPNMADDP SUN Diego, California Explorer

    The Earth Store Sutra (also known as the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Purvapraṇidhana Sutra is a Mahayana sutra)

    http://www.cttbusa.org/ess/earthstore_contents.htm

    In chapter 7 it mentions about 49 days.

    http://www.cttbusa.org/ess/earthstore7.htm
    ...

    “The arrival of the Great Ghost of Impermanence is so unexpected that the deceased ones’ consciousnesses first roam in darkness and obscurity, unaware of offenses and blessings. For forty-nine days the deceased are as if deluded or deaf, or as if in courts where their karmic retributions are being decided. Once judgment is fixed, they are reborn according to their karma. In the time before rebirths are determined, the deceased suffer from thousands upon thousands of anxieties. How much more is that the case for those who are to fall into the bad destinies.

    “Throughout forty-nine days, those whose lives have ended and who have not yet been reborn will be hoping every moment that their immediate relatives will earn blessings powerful enough to rescue them. At the end of that time, the deceased will undergo retribution according to their karma. If someone is an offender, he may pass through hundreds of thousands of years without even a day’s liberation. If someone’s offenses deserve Fivefold Relentless Retribution, he will fall into the great hells and undergo incessant suffering throughout hundreds of millions of eons.
    ...

    Amitofo

    KannonKeromeDakini
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Rebirth proven yet? Not to my satisfaction ... or even interest ...
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/48dijw/what_in_your_opinion_is_the_best_argument_for/

    DhammaDragonHozan
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Rebirth proven yet? Not to my satisfaction ... or even interest ...
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/48dijw/what_in_your_opinion_is_the_best_argument_for/

    An interesting discussion... I think Gil Fronsdal's article about rebirth in Buddhism was particularly good, it gels with some of my thinking around how some of the Sutra's seem very practical but in Buddhism as a whole you find quite a lot of esotericism.

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/should-i-believe-in-rebirth/

    personDhammaDragonShoshin
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @lobster said:
    Rebirth proven yet? Not to my satisfaction ... or even interest ...
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/48dijw/what_in_your_opinion_is_the_best_argument_for/

    An interesting discussion... I think Gil Fronsdal's article about rebirth in Buddhism was particularly good, it gels with some of my thinking around how some of the Sutra's seem very practical but in Buddhism as a whole you find quite a lot of esotericism.

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/should-i-believe-in-rebirth/

    I really appreciated that article. It sort of coalesced a lot of my feelings around rebirth as well.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    So when arrives at a conclusion they don't believe in rebirth, do you just let the question go completely, @person and @Kerome? For me, the times I have been entirely unsure what I thought happened, I just kept coming around to the question over and over again. Feeling I arrived at an acceptable answer for myself made me feel less crazy :lol: I suppose as long as we are ok with whatever we've arrived at at any point then we don't revisit it.

    Not trying to convince just sharing for fun. Some of the most interesting examples to me came from my children when they were very young. Too young to know about the things they were talking about.

    When my oldest was about 2.5 he was almost entirely non-verbal. He used sign language and maybe 6 words. One day he was climbing in his room and fell and bumped his head. When I was comforting him, he looked at me and said "It's ok mom. We're always ok. The last time I lived, I was wearing red shoes and I fell from a high tree and I died. And I was ok then, too." A kid who had never spoken more than a few words. And never did again for another year. When he was about 4 years old, I was doing homework for a criminal forensics class and left my book on the table to make dinner. When we sat down to eat, he said "I saw that lady when she died. 2 men killed her and her friend." I asked how he saw, he said he wasn't sure but that he watched from outside, like watching fish in a tank. He was talking about the famous crime scene photo of Nicole Simpson laying on her sidewalk. Her friend wasn't in the photo, and he wasn't alive when the crime happened.

    But my favorite story is from my youngest. He's 8 now, but when he was about 4, he told me "I sure am glad to have a family and a nice place to live this time. Last time, I lived in a very hot place. I had no parents, just my sister. We had a dirt floor and no one was very happy." In further discussing, he said he knew his sister's name, he could see it, but it was a language he didn't know anymore. He tried to pronounce it but I don't recall anymore. He said he had been a girl and their parents died in a fire and that her name at the time was An, pronounced Ahn.

    Just very strange conversations from children who would have had no exposure to such things at their ages. Calvin was very set on talking about how important a nice family is from the time he was 2 until just recently as he's started to grow away from it. To the point it would bring him to tears to think about his supposed previous family. He was very sad for a long time the conditions they lived in and the lack of parents and the overall sadness of their community. He barely remembers it anymore, but the last time we talked about it, about 2 years ago, he said "If other people remembered how they lived before, they wouldn't be so mean to each other."

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Ok, could I just say that plurals have no apostrophe.
    Sutras, books pages, stories, Lamas Monks..... no apostrophe.

    The apostrophe appears in possessive sentences.

    The sutra's title is...

    The book's cover is hard

    This is the story's end (note that the plural ending differs from that of the singular, as is the case with most singular words ending in 'y')

    These teachings are the Lama's speciality.

    This is a Monk's begging bowl.

    If you're doing it to wind me up though, I'm surprisingly calm for a pedantic Grammardian Angel.... :D

    DhammaDragon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @federica I forget to leave out the apostrophe in "its" so so often. It just looks wrong to me to type "its" without an apostrophe :anguished: i always go back and fix it, but it bothers me :lol:

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    There is a tangible but occasionally confusing distinction between "its" and "it's".

    It's hard to explain, so I'll just put it this way:

    It's

    It's is short for it is or it has. This is a 100% rule. It cannot be used for anything else.
    If you cannot expand your 'it's' to it is or it has, then it is wrong! It's just wrong!

    Its

    Its is like his and her. (They are all possessive adjectives.)

    Jennifer's book - Her book.
    John's overcoat - His overcoat.
    The dog's paws - Its paws

    When 'its' has no apostrophe - it counts as being possessive.

    When 'it's' HAS an apostrophe - it's a contraction. (It is. see?)

    Kerome
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Yeah, I know, it still looks wrong to me and I don't like it one bit :lol:

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    It's tough, but that's its rule! But I love you @karasti and would forgive you anything...!

    (Doesn't mean I won't comment - there's my OCD pedantry kicking in!)

    karasti
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    This article, and Fronsdal's book by extension, @Kerome, confirms many suspicions I had about the Buddha's original teachings, especially around rebirth.

    Personally, I cannot say I do not believe in rebirth.
    But given all the workload I already with the 4NT and N8P, not to mention all the "Rights," especially Right Speech🙂, in this present lifetime, I can still sleep at night without finding out if I was Cleopatra several lives before or will be a bat in the next one...🐉

    lobsterHozan
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    This is kind of tangent but if Buddha is dead and completely gone what does it mean to take refuge in the Buddha? It could be refuge in what he taught i.e. the dharma.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    It's like admiration. Mahayana has 'Buddha Nature' so it's like wishing to emulate him, and literally follow in his footsteps...

    Jeffrey
  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    Although I recall in one of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's books that he actually had prayers of intercession directed to Buddha Shakyamuni asking for his help. I think that some believe that the Buddha nature is dispersed throughout creation or something, and therefore the prayers can be heard and responded to.

  • Dubitator314Dubitator314 U.S.A. New

    @DhammaDragon said:
    I can still sleep at night without finding out if I was Cleopatra several lives before or will be a bat in the next one...🐉

    No need to worry about that anyways. I think Shirley MacLaine has already claimed that distinction. =)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Jeffrey it was explained to me that it is a nod of appreciation for who Buddha was and what he accomplished in order to teach the rest of us, and also yes, that Buddha Nature exists all around us. It means we see what Buddha did as inspiration that exists within us to also do the same.

    Jeffrey
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @karasti said:
    So when arrives at a conclusion they don't believe in rebirth, do you just let the question go completely, @person and @Kerome?

    With all the information available with the internet I found it necessary to adopt an attitude of skepticism and a need for sound evidence to really accept something as true.

    Also, I don't agree with the cynical, smug attitude that many in the skeptical world take, I think there is a lot that we don't understand about the universe (probably more than we know). So as much as I want good evidence for things I try to remain open to possibilities that haven't been ruled out.

    And then I do my best to remain unattached to views and let things go.

    So, having said that if someone says they don't believe in rebirth I will often bring up anecdotal stories or reasons it could be true. If someone says they do believe in rebirth I will bring up reasons why our perceptions deceive us or arguments against religious thinking. In my own mind I often find myself explaining events that happen to me in terms of past lives or karma but realize that I could be wrong and don't really act in a way as if it definitely were true or I will act in a way that sort of hedges my bets (if there is my future lives will be good, if there isn't my future this life will be good)

    Dubitator314lobsterkarastiDhammaDragon
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @person, I think you've captured most of my reply as wel. Keeping an open mind and not being afraid to acknowledge areas of uncertainty is important, as is the need for sound evidence in defining what is the truth.

    Unlike a lot of the buddhadhamma, doctrines on reincarnation, karma, the Bardo cannot be tested or experienced except one assumes by learning the most rigorous meditation practices.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @person thanks for the response :) For me, there aren't a lot of beliefs I hold that I am strongly attached to. My experience has led me to believe in rebirth, but I am open to proof for or against it, and other options as well (though if the pearly gates are the way it is, I'm probably screwed :lol: )

    Hozan
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Dubitator314 said:
    how do Buddhists reconcile their "proof" with what is normally taught in Buddhism with regard to the time between lives?

    Not all Buddhists recognize Dr. Stevenson's evidence as "proof". Not all Buddhists need proof. =) Although, 49 days is just an average so to speak, not an exact science.

    For example

    In the Mahayana Buddhism, especially, Vietnamese tradition we pray for the dead for 49 days after passing away, 49 being the estimated time it takes to be reborn again into a new life. Some are reborn 3 days, 21 days, 49 days or 100 days after death, and in some cases even 7 years.
    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma5/viewdeath.html

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Dubitator314 said:
    how do Buddhists reconcile their "proof" with what is normally taught in Buddhism with regard to the time between lives?

    For me...It's nothing special....

    Hozanlobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I think the instruction in the Bardo is to regard what you see as projections of your own mind as in a dream. You don't have to know what day it is to do that.

  • LionduckLionduck Veteran

    As time is a temporal relativity, it is irrelevant if you measure in your perceptive of days or years.
    The blink of time we call sentience can be but a moment or a century. It is still but a blink. The same can be said for our period(s) of insentience as well.

    Peace to all

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