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Query on rebirth

misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a HinduIndia Veteran

Hi All,
A query on rebirth - Is there some sutra/sutta or some teaching somewhere in Buddhism, which tells which actions we should do in order that we have a high chance to get reborn as a human being in next life? I understand since the working of karma is complex and we do not know how much backlog of bad karma we have, but still raising this query that how to have a good chance of being reborn as a human being. It is obvious that we should do good karma to get a good rebirth - but a good rebirth in a God realm is not really a good rebirth, so how to make sure that if we do lots of good karma, then we can get rebirth as a human being and not as a God. Any specific teaching in this regard in any tradition of Buddhism, please? Any information here please. Thanks.

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 29

    First of all, the Realms are largely viewed to be allegorical - they are more States of Mind than actual, existent physical Realms. And most of us visit at least three of those realms every day, sometimes more.
    We are all 'Gods', we are all 'Hungry Ghosts' we are all 'Animals' and we all exist and abide in those realms, on a daily basis. Depending on a person's decision, they can live in just one realm more than others....

    Secondly, the ONLY Kamma that matters is the Kamma you generate now. Forget past Kamma. You can't change that, you can only improve on it.
    Future Kamma is totally imaginary - there is nothing anywhere that can predict, improve or expand future Kamma.

    So your only avenue of choice, is to Be Present, Mindful and skilful in everything you think, say and do, Now.

    That's all that matters.
    Here, now, today, this moment.

    How you will be reborn, is anyone's guess. Including the Buddha's. We don't have a choice, and we cannot predict or pre-determine what kind of rebirth we will have.
    But you are re-born every day, every hour every minute.
    The 'you' you are today, is not who 'you' were yesterday, and is not the 'you' of tomorrow.

    Who know what the future will bring?
    None can say.
    Just generate Good Kamma now.
    The rest is an unknown.

    kandomisecmisc1
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited June 29

    Sounds like a loaded question to me. One to which you already know the answer.

    You are human right now so why not practice as if you are aiming for nothing but to be of help?

    What more is there?

    kandoScottPenKundoJason
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 29

    Being attached to pleasure or being special is more a desire realm God thing. And then there are God realms outside of the desire realm ( in the form or formless) that being attached to meditative concentration could bring about.

    But the greatest danger of either human or god realm is to go to the lower realms (hell, ghost, animal)

    To create karma to go to human or god realm then do the 10 virtuous actions: non-attachment, non-aggression, an unobscured mind.

    Avoiding the the ten nonvirtues constitutes the 10 virtues: taking life, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, harsh words, idle talk (false, worldly, true*), covetousness, harmful thought (hatred, jealousy resentment), and wrong views**

    *true idle talk is teaching the dharma to those with no respect or are improper vessels, worldly idle talk is useless chatter, false idle talk is heretical teachings

    ** wrong views categorized into 1 not believing virtue and non-virtue result in happiness and suffering, 2 is not believing the Truth of Cessation is realized by the Truth of Path, 3 is not believing in the three jewels or slandering them

    person
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    but a good rebirth in a God realm is not really a good rebirth, so how to make sure that if we do lots of good karma, then we can get rebirth as a human being and not as a God. Any specific teaching in this regard in any tradition of Buddhism, please? Any information here please. Thanks.

    I think teachings on overcoming attachment to peace. So loving kindness and compassion. In brief sometimes taught as all the hardships your mother went through during pregnancy and providing your needs. And that all beings at one times were mother beings. So you wouldn't want to see anybody fall into the lower realms and thus be kind and make effort to help others. =) <3

    misecmisc1
  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @misecmisc1, if anatta is true, then there isn't any sort of "us" as we know it that continues through rebirth. If this continuity doesn't exist, why is it relevant where your 5 aggregates end up after you die? The "you" that you are now will have no idea, and the "you" that you are in the next life might not even care.

    This concept of strategic and targeted karma-accumulation feels an awful lot like investing in the stock market. Greed, my friend, just with a different currency.

    How about you work on ending the suffering of other people and animals and see how that helps your inner peace?

    federicaKundo
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Hi @misecmisc1 - check out the Saleyukka Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya (see link below).

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.041.nymo.html

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    First of all, the Realms are largely viewed to be allegorical - they are more States of Mind than actual, existent physical Realms.

    The vast majority of Theravadan Buddhists in the world believe that these different realms are very real and not merely different states of mind.

    rocala
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Not this one. But hey, I'll find out if I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

    I'll let you know..... ;)

    Bunksyagrkando
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Bunks said:

    @federica said:
    First of all, the Realms are largely viewed to be allegorical - they are more States of Mind than actual, existent physical Realms.

    The vast majority of Theravadan Buddhists in the world believe that these different realms are very real and not merely different states of mind.

    Real ! Unreal (imaginary)! In the long run ... they are still states of mind:)

    Bunks
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    A query on rebirth - Is there some sutra/sutta or some teaching somewhere in Buddhism, which tells which actions we should do in order that we have a high chance to get reborn as a human being in next life? **I understand since the working of karma is complex and we do not know how much backlog of bad karma we have, but still raising this query that how to have a good chance of being reborn as a human being. It is obvious that we should do good karma to get a good rebirth - but a good rebirth in a God realm is not really a good rebirth, so how to make sure that if we do lots of good karma, then we can get rebirth as a human being and not as a God. **Any specific teaching in this regard in any tradition of Buddhism, please? Any information here please. Thanks.

    Why not follow the layperson's five precepts guide...and just back these up with being kind and generous ... :)

    ScottPen
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    @Bunks said:

    @federica said:
    First of all, the Realms are largely viewed to be allegorical - they are more States of Mind than actual, existent physical Realms.

    The vast majority of Theravadan Buddhists in the world believe that these different realms are very real and not merely different states of mind.

    Real ! Unreal (imaginary)! In the long run ... they are still states of mind:)

    Yes and no...

    Shoshin
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    I say this with no sarcasm or malice... you seem to ask a lot of questions expecting the answers to be given to you on a silver platter. Have you ever thought to even maybe Google them first?

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Bunks said:

    Real ! Unreal (imaginary)! In the long run ... they are still states of mind:)

    Yes and no...

    Real or unreal, both are perceived by Mind (and its states)
    I'm thinking along the lines of "dependent origination" and or

    "mind stream"

    I guess in the long run its all 'Anicca'

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 30

    In the Mahayana the question of 'this life' compared to 'after this life' is in the context of the prajnaparamita teachings like the Heart Sutra and diamond sutra where this life is empty anyhow so the next life is empty too. So it makes it a different context than 'is the afterlife real?' or 'are all worlds like this one?' as that context is in context of emptiness of being, life, and lifespan. At the same time people talk all the time in teaching about what 'being' is or what 'muchness' is or what have you.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited July 1

    @Kundo said:
    I say this with no sarcasm or malice... you seem to ask a lot of questions expecting the answers to be given to you on a silver platter. Have you ever thought to even maybe Google them first?

    Maybe he's giving us the opportunity to create some merit?

    "The greatest gift is the gift of the teachings" - The Buddha

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    This is why we need to be striving for stream entry

    Shoshin
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    Sounds like a loaded question to me. One to which you already know the answer.

    You are human right now so why not practice as if you are aiming for nothing but to be of help?

    What more is there?

    This.

    lobster
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Agreed that helping others is of much importance, but is it the only important thing to do? If helping others is the most important thing to do, then why in Therevada Buddhism the monks focus on their liberation first and then usually after becoming senior monks, they come out to teach others? Even in Zen, the monks do their practice in the monasteries and after they get some insight through their meditation practice, do they become teachers and then teach others? Correct me please if my understanding of Therevada Buddhism and Zen is incorrect in this scenario. Thanks.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 1

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Agreed that helping others is of much importance, but is it the only important thing to do?

    Yes.

    If helping others is the most important thing to do, then why in Therevada Buddhism the monks focus on their liberation first and then usually after becoming senior monks, they come out to teach others?

    Because you cannot help anyone else, until you yourself are complete. The way to become complete is to Help others.
    You're not a monk. Stick with the basics.

    Even in Zen, the monks do their practice in the monasteries and after they get some insight through their meditation practice, do they become teachers and then teach others? Correct me please if my understanding of Therevada Buddhism and Zen is incorrect in this scenario.

    It is correct for the ordained.
    You are not ordained.
    Therefore your primary prctice should be to serve others first, by putting their needs above yours.

    Thanks.

    Pleasure.

    So, what are you going to do today to put others' needs above your own?

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    My teacher, who is a dyed-in-the-wool Tibetan lama (actually born IN Tibet) tells us that the more we do our Practice, the more we set imprints that will propel us towards a human life where we CAN continue to practice the Dharma.
    Otherwise, the Tibetans say that a human rebirth is as rare as a sea turtle who happens to come up for air inside a ring of wood floating somewhere on the oceans of the world.

    Of course, that is exactly what you would expect them to say ... all belief systems try to engender loyalty and adherence. But from the standpoint of karmas (which are the imprints WE put into ourselves through all that we do), this also makes sense.
    According to the Tibetan teachings, our imprints push into our rebirth situation. So the person who is angry a lot ends up in Hell, those who crave are reborn as hungry ghosts, etc.
    Then there are also teachers who teach the realms as allegories (as frederica here pointed out).. for instance, if we are burning up with hatred inside are we not already living in a hell realm?

    Since Buddhism focuses on THIS moment, it doesn't matter much if there are realms or not, if they are real or allegorical, or even if rebirth exists. Although I like to think rebirth does exist.

    misecmisc1lobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    Sounds like a loaded question to me. One to which you already know the answer.

    You are human right now so why not practice as if you are aiming for nothing but to be of help?

    What more is there?

    This.

    Basically the entire point of SN 56.102-113.

    David
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Maybe he's giving us the opportunity to create some merit?

    "The greatest gift is the gift of the teachings" - The Buddha

    I'll leave the teachers to it then. I'm not that gifted

    Bunks
  • NMADDPNMADDP SUN Diego, California Veteran

    @misecmisc1
    To be reborn as human in next life, one should take the Five Percepts (as @Shoshin mentioned above) and uphold them.
    Below is the link the Master Hsing Yun talks about The Benefits of Upholding the Five Precepts:
    http://hsingyun.org/the-five-precepts/
    ...
    "By upholding the five precepts, we can eliminate our suffering, afflictions, and fear in this lifetime, and gain the freedom, peace, harmony, and joy of body and mind. In the future, we can escape from falling into the three lower realms, be reborn in the realms of humans and heavenly beings, and even become a Buddha. Taking and upholding the five precepts is like planting seeds in the field of merit. Even if we do not seek it, we will still have many benefits and immeasurable merit."
    ...

    @misecmisc1, you may also want to check out these two sutras:
    The Buddha Speaks The Sutra On
    Cause And Effect In The Three Periods Of Time
    http://www.cttbusa.org/cause_effect/cause_and_effect.htm

    Earth Store (Kṣitigarbha) Bodhisattva Sutra
    http://www.cttbusa.org/ess/earthstore_contents.htm
    Version with Commentary
    http://www.cttbusa.org/esscommentary/earthstore_preface.htm

    A Mi Tuo Fo

    Bunks
  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    Why is being a human so much better anyway? The hirearchy of sentient beings seems pretty suspicious to me. Humans aren't special. Our ability to think we're special is a byproduct of our brain's physiology- the cerebral cortex having evolved to be so large in size compared to the rest of the brain, and with much more surface area for it's size due to all the crevices.
    Actually, being human is what causes all the suffering and stress to begin with. Our ability to comprehend the existence of the future and our baffling insistence that there has to be some sort of inherent Justice in the universe that doles out rewards or punishment based on our behavior, those are just byproducts of our cognitive ability combined with our fear of death and insecurities.

    How about this: gimme the recipe for my next life as a whale. Ooo maybe a bear, I like bears. Matter of fact, I'd prefer anything non-human so I wouldn't have to spend so much time and effort philosophizing and detail oriented strategizing about how to act just to be satisfied with my life. My dog eats her own poop and I still treat her like a princess. Seems preferable to me.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 14

    ScottPen human is thought as special because there is enough intelligence to study the dharma unlike animals. Or even if not somewhere where the dharma exists humans can reason what is virtuous/wise at a greater degree than bears or dogs. On the other hand humans can ignore what is virtuous/wise and become horrible of course.

    kandoperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    how to act just to be satisfied with my life

    more princess love
    less poopy thinking

    o:)

    Iz plan!

  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    ScottPen human is thought as special because there is enough intelligence to study the dharma unlike animals. Or even if not somewhere where the dharma exists humans can reason what is virtuous/wise at a greater degree than bears or dogs. On the other hand humans can ignore what is virtuous/wise and become horrible of course.

    @Jeffrey, I appreciate your attempt but I think that you and I won't end up agreeing on this one. IMO, virtue and wisdom are constructs. They are subjective. Humans invented the Dharma because it made sense and helped to ease suffering as advertised. Animals don't need it because they don't cling and crave like we do. They have no use for it. That seems way.more special to me.

    Are humans really better? I say no. Our cognitive ability both causes our suffering and allows us to alleviate it. If the dukkha is the diagnosis and Dharma is the treatment, I'd say that rebirth into an animal that doesn't suffer like we do cures the sickness before it starts. Declaring humans as "better" is just confirmation bias, a platitude created by self important people who didn't realize how unimportant we are in the universe.

    Jeffrey
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 14

    Animals suffer by being used (like people), slaughtered, and eaten by one another. Wild animals die for pearls, wool, bone, meat, and skin. Ocean animals eat whatever they can get in their mouths including each other. Also in addition to those suffering I think animals do cling and crave as I understand it.

    As far as if virtue and wisdom are constructs I will have to think about that. That's a good thing to keep in mind when reading. I think there are a lot of different types of virtue and wisdom. But that's a good thing to keep in mind to assess are they constructs. I think vijnana is construct but jnana is like unconditioned intelligence with unconditioned intelligence being the basic light of our mind that can respond to any circumstance.

    I think the basis of humans being better in context above is that it's easier to be a human compared to: hell being, ghost, animal, God. The reasoning is that hell and ghost are overpowered by suffering and mental torment. Animal is overpowered by stupidity. Some Gods in non-conceptual realms cannot contemplate the dharma because no thoughts. Some Gods are too attached to temporary happiness to make any kind of effort in dharma which would result in reliable extended happiness. That wouldn't be such a big problem aside from that they eventually fall out of God status when the karma is burned and then they can go back to human or lower realms. Our small amount of suffering gives us a sadness about samsara and pacifies our arrogance and develop compassion for all suffering sentient beings.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    @ScottPen said:
    Why is being a human so much better anyway? The hirearchy of sentient beings seems pretty suspicious to me. Humans aren't special. Our ability to think we're special is a byproduct of our brain's physiology- the cerebral cortex having evolved to be so large in size compared to the rest of the brain, and with much more surface area for it's size due to all the crevices.
    Actually, being human is what causes all the suffering and stress to begin with. Our ability to comprehend the existence of the future and our baffling insistence that there has to be some sort of inherent Justice in the universe that doles out rewards or punishment based on our behavior, those are just byproducts of our cognitive ability combined with our fear of death and insecurities.

    How about this: gimme the recipe for my next life as a whale. Ooo maybe a bear, I like bears. Matter of fact, I'd prefer anything non-human so I wouldn't have to spend so much time and effort philosophizing and detail oriented strategizing about how to act just to be satisfied with my life. My dog eats her own poop and I still treat her like a princess. Seems preferable to me.

    The way I have seen it explained, is that animal births general lack significant opportunities for profound merit that one can easily enact as a human being.

    For instance, a lion is bound by the condition of being a carnivore. In order for him to practice dharma and generate merit towards a good destiny, he must inculcate a mindset of renunciation. Choose not to kill (i.e. in this instance "eat") X or Y particular animal, essentially. Tiny moments of mercy and restraint, over countless lifetimes, build up to one single and highly precious human birth, wherein the capacity for renunciation and restraint against defiling tendencies and habits is much greater.

    The way that some people teach the dharma, and I see this coming more from Tantric circles, points out the likely possibility that most, if not all of us, statistically speaking, are fresh out of hell. Our tendencies towards unskillful mindsets and behaviours are learned tendencies many aeons there which must be gradually unlearned.

    The placement of animal births as lower is complicated in the modern day by the presence of a large population of very well-treated domestic pets.

    person
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 14

    As a dog behaviourist, one of the worst "crimes" a dog-owner can 'commit' is to treat the dog like a person; a member of the family.
    Now before anyone jumps my throat for that one, there are obvious degrees to that, and loving your pet and wanting to make the right decisions for your animal (as @specialkayme wishes to do in his thread) is not really what I'm talking about.

    In a nutshell, one of the worst promoters and advocates of perpetuating the wholly incorrect and troublesome habit of anthropomorphism is of course, the person/organisation that walked alongside us every step of the way through our childhoods; He/They moulded, manipulated and imbued in us, in every single way possible, until we completely and unquestioningly believed, deer, dogs, cats, bears, panthers, elephants, orangutans, mice, albatrosses and every possible creature you could think of, can not only talk like a human, but they can think, act, react, decide, moralise and behave exactly like any human's character and personality, can.

    I am of course, indicting Disney. Guilty as charged.

    "He understands every word I say!" or "he's my little baby and I'm his Mummy!" may contain a grain of truth, but they're highly subjective, and do both the human - and the pet - a gross disservice.
    The vast majority of my clients consisted of people who were confused by their dog's behaviour, or had no idea why their dog persisted with a specific mode of behaviour.

    And as my website states:

    It's never the dog.

    By elevating the domestic pet to a level of preferable lifestyle, based simply on how we interact with it, is a gross error of judgement, and any impression that their life is better than ours, is misguided.

    Let's not forget that the number of attacks by dogs, on humans, is entirely the work of domestic pets.

    So I hate to say it, @ScottPen , but your view is entirely moulded by how placid and cooperative your dogs happen to be, and how your upbringing may have been unconsciously affected by the stuff of fairy tales....

    kandoKundo
  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    Animals are exactly what they are. I do find myself envying that a lot! I like to meditate outdoors and everything out there is just getting on with it. I don't think about other lives as this one is quite complex enough all on its own for my jumped up primate brain :)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 14

    @kando said:
    Animals are exactly what they are. I do find myself envying that a lot! I like to meditate outdoors and everything out there is just getting on with it. I don't think about other lives as this one is quite complex enough all on its own for my jumped up primate brain :)

    Not forgetting the important fact that we are animals too....

    Animals survive. Day to day.
    Dometic pets are lucky. they're born into shelter, protection, nourishment and guidance (the last being all too often, sadly, questionable; but that's a whole DIFFERENT thread!)

    But every single wild or undomesticated animal wakes up with the thought of evading danger, staying safe and eating something. Those, together with the secondary instincts of procreation and company, are their raisons d'être.

  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @federica said:

    @kando said:
    Animals are exactly what they are. I do find myself envying that a lot! I like to meditate outdoors and everything out there is just getting on with it. I don't think about other lives as this one is quite complex enough all on its own for my jumped up primate brain :)

    Not forgetting the important fact that we are animals too....

    Animals survive. Day to day.
    Dometic pets are lucky. they're born into shelter, protection, nourishment and guidance (the last being all too often, sadly, questionable; but that's a whole DIFFERENT thread!)

    But every single wild or undomesticated animal wakes up with the thought of evading danger, staying safe and eating something. Those, together with the secondary instincts of procreation and company, are their raisons d'être.

    This is exactly my point. Why would this sort of existence be considered to be lower on some sort of rebirth hirearchy scale? I think it should be HIGHER. The complexity of human thought and life IS dukkha, IMO. maybe the animals are awakened already.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    What you think, and what actually is, differ.

    If it were the other way round, we'd be living in an Orwellian universe and life would be very different.

    There is no question that some animals are more sentient than others.
    But such sentience doesn't mean they are more sapient, more aware or more conscious than humans. It is the very fact that we can discern, evaluate, be aware, be conscious, be skilful, be mindful - that makes our existence all the more challenging - but also, all the more rewarding.

    You are looking at the whole issue entirely subjectively.
    It's generally a lot less fun and less conducive to Enlightenment, being an animal, than being a human, is.

    lobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 14

    The brute fact is that we are humans, we have certain instinctive, evolutionary behaviors built into our biology. But we are the blankest slates that nature has so far produced, so we need an ethical value system to help us lead productive, happy lives.

    Where I think the post modernist idea of everything being being an intellectual construct goes wrong is not in noting the constructed part, but in not understanding that relative doesn't mean completely arbitrary. Some constructs serve us better than others because humans have certain innate biological reward systems. We respond more positively to prosocial behaviors, we have self interested needs towards sexual selection and resource security. Having responsibility gives us purpose in life. Its like Nagarjuna's Two Truths, one is that things have no essential, ultimate quality, that its all a construct. The second is that the relative, conventional world acts in lawful ways that lead to better or worse outcomes.

    Anyway that's just us being human in this life.

    If you add multiple lives into the picture by saying that an animal life is preferable to a human life, you also have to add in the concept of an unending stream of lives mostly spent in painful, suffering states. So if you say there are multiple lives, the human life offers us the best opportunity to free ourselves permanently from the cycle of existence.

    kandoDavidScottPen
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Query on rebirth

    Not again.... ;) ;)

    JeffreyBunkslobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    That which is animal in me:

    • instincts
    • extreme emotions
    • physical drives

    does not seem less ignorant, of a higher calibre, more enlightened ...
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/6074/can-animals-eperience-enlightenment

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    I just feel that we are often outside of nature, the thing I envy about animals is that they are simply a part of it all. Consciousness makes us such outsiders, and yes I know this qualifies me for a beret, existential angst, etc! =)

  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @person said:
    If you add multiple lives into the picture by saying that an animal life is preferable to a human life, you also have to add in the concept of an unending stream of lives mostly spent in painful, suffering states. So if you say there are multiple lives, the human life offers us the best opportunity to free ourselves permanently from the cycle of existence.

    I only quoted the above passage because I agree wholly with the rest of your comment. I have to admit that my contributions to this thread are a speculative thinking exercise rather than a consideration of the nature of rebirth, since I don't believe that rebirth is an actual phenomenon.

    I'm not an expert in, well, anything useful I imagine. Certainly not animal behavior, neurology, Buddhism, really anything that I'm discussing here, so I appreciate that people have and hopefully will offer perspectives that contradict my point of view.
    My assertion is that dukkha is CAUSED by sapience. It's not something that exists for all sentient beings, which only humans have the cognitive ability to proactively escape from. Our cognitive ability creates it. Although humans are animals, for the purpose of this post I'll refer to non-human animals simply as "animals."
    Animals suffer. This is obvious and has been proven. The brains and behaviors of many species show that not only do they suffer in the here and now, many have the capacity to suffer based on their perception of past events, and possibly even their consideration of the future. It's also been shown that some animals interact with members of their own and other species in ways that display fairness, sympathy, grief, and joy, and other concepts that many humans consider to be purely human behaviors.
    As far as I can tell, where humans differ is in our ability to have abstract thought. Meta-thought. We think about thinking. We evaluate our beliefs. We rationalize. We reason. We philosophize. We justify. We argue. We attempt to convince others and ourselves, not just to modify behavior, but also purely to modify thought. We grandstand and make wild assertions on internet forums. We become dissatisfied or satisfied, purely on a meta-thought level. And of course, we create amazingly complex ideas about our own existence which are rooted in and perpetuate the confirmation bias that we are superior, because much of our life is driven by an autonomic nervous system and brain that physiologically reward behaviors and thoughts that decrease any sense of temporary or long-term insecurity- because insecurity and fear can always be peeled away to reveal an instinctive drive to stay alive long enough to reproduce. (in my opinion)

    So, for now, I believe that dukkha is caused by our capacity for "meta-thought," which, thankfully, is also what gives us the ability to think and act in ways that reduce or eliminate it. As far as I can tell, the Buddha's teachings all lead back to ending suffering/stress/dissatisfaction, and he expressed as much. As such, any pragmatic hierarchy of sentient lifeforms into which rebirth would be more or less desirable would be the exact opposite of what is conventionally accepted.

    I've never heard, read, or experienced anything that has convinced me that anyone's experiences during, or resulting from, their dharma-practice contradicts the above expressed opinions. But I promise that I am completely open to any dialogue about it.

    Kerome
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @ScottPen said:

    @person said:
    If you add multiple lives into the picture by saying that an animal life is preferable to a human life, you also have to add in the concept of an unending stream of lives mostly spent in painful, suffering states. So if you say there are multiple lives, the human life offers us the best opportunity to free ourselves permanently from the cycle of existence.

    I only quoted the above passage because I agree wholly with the rest of your comment. I have to admit that my contributions to this thread are a speculative thinking exercise rather than a consideration of the nature of rebirth, since I don't believe that rebirth is an actual phenomenon.

    I'm not an expert in, well, anything useful I imagine. Certainly not animal behavior, neurology, Buddhism, really anything that I'm discussing here, so I appreciate that people have and hopefully will offer perspectives that contradict my point of view.
    My assertion is that dukkha is CAUSED by sapience. It's not something that exists for all sentient beings, which only humans have the cognitive ability to proactively escape from. Our cognitive ability creates it. Although humans are animals, for the purpose of this post I'll refer to non-human animals simply as "animals."
    Animals suffer. This is obvious and has been proven. The brains and behaviors of many species show that not only do they suffer in the here and now, many have the capacity to suffer based on their perception of past events, and possibly even their consideration of the future. It's also been shown that some animals interact with members of their own and other species in ways that display fairness, sympathy, grief, and joy, and other concepts that many humans consider to be purely human behaviors.
    As far as I can tell, where humans differ is in our ability to have abstract thought. Meta-thought. We think about thinking. We evaluate our beliefs. We rationalize. We reason. We philosophize. We justify. We argue. We attempt to convince others and ourselves, not just to modify behavior, but also purely to modify thought. We grandstand and make wild assertions on internet forums. We become dissatisfied or satisfied, purely on a meta-thought level. And of course, we create amazingly complex ideas about our own existence which are rooted in and perpetuate the confirmation bias that we are superior, because much of our life is driven by an autonomic nervous system and brain that physiologically reward behaviors and thoughts that decrease any sense of temporary or long-term insecurity- because insecurity and fear can always be peeled away to reveal an instinctive drive to stay alive long enough to reproduce. (in my opinion)

    Buddhism has lots of lists and categories and dukkha comes in three types:
    -The first is known as the suffering of suffering and consists of gross levels of suffering like bodily injury, loss of important things or people. Things that most everyone recognizes as suffering. Animals too.

    (The order of the next two and the nature of the last isn't totally clear, there is some contradiction)

    -Second or third is the suffering of change. It relates to impermanence and emptiness of phenomena. Specifically how things that we ordinarily consider bringing us happiness, like pleasant social interactions or good food or music aren't an intrinsic source of happiness. Spending time with my family is pleasant for the weekend, but if I'm always around them it will turn into something unpleasant. Same with dessert, the first bite is always the best but it starts downhill, not uphill from there. Listening to a certain song is great, but 72 hours straight is used as a form of torture.

    -Third or second is either all pervasive suffering, which is considered some sort of subtle suffering caused by having a sense of self. Or, the suffering of fabrications, the second arrow sort of suffering that you are mainly referring to regarding human thought. We layer suffering on top of the real world pain with our thoughts and beliefs about it.

    At any rate, you're not the first person here to express such thoughts about animals. There is some recent neurological research that seems to show that most of human thinking is post hoc rationalizing of more basic, subconscious, maybe you could even say primal, moral intuitions, rather than reasoning or arguing our way to our moral positions. The idea of social intuitionism, spelled out in the book The Elephant in the Brain.

    So, for now, I believe that dukkha is caused by our capacity for "meta-thought," which, thankfully, is also what gives us the ability to think and act in ways that reduce or eliminate it. As far as I can tell, the Buddha's teachings all lead back to ending suffering/stress/dissatisfaction, and he expressed as much. As such, any pragmatic hierarchy of sentient lifeforms into which rebirth would be more or less desirable would be the exact opposite of what is conventionally accepted.

    The hierarchy has much more to do with the ability to escape the bonds of samsara. The human life is also thought to be superior to the lives of most gods because the happiness and pleasure of their lives makes them complacent to suffering and thus unmotivated to seek liberation.

    I've never heard, read, or experienced anything that has convinced me that anyone's experiences during, or resulting from, their dharma-practice contradicts the above expressed opinions. But I promise that I am completely open to any dialogue about it.

    I'm a much happier person now for having practiced Buddhism for many years. Not because I don't think anymore, many will say I think way too much, but because my base emotional level makes my thoughts work for my well being rather than against it. This past 4th of July weekend I got to make American flag pancakes with my niece and have her show me how to do Snapchat. I shot off firecrackers and bottle rockets with my nephews and these things brought me much happiness. I like stories and music and am grateful for their existence and the chance to enjoy them. Happinesses not available to animals.

    At any rate these are just pleasant external phenomena that I have gratitude for. Buddhist practice increases our emotional baseline aside from external factors. Maybe you haven't had the opportunity to meet any life long monastic practitioners or teachers to have seen and experienced for yourself the degree of peace and joy possible in life, but they do exist and escape from our mental misery making is possible.

    There is a sort of simplicity and grace in the life of animals, especially species "higher" up on the evolutionary ladder. Animals have their own ways of being that would be self defeating for us as humans to try to emulate. Since we are humans we need to deal with that, being exposed to spiritual paths we can see that there are peaceful, happy humans we can look to for an ideal to work towards.

    lobsterkandoDavid
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Buddhist practice increases our emotional baseline aside from external factors.

    Good post @person. That is certainly my experience, ‘increases our emotional baseline’. In other words it smoothes or levels our rough edges, our excessive spikes.

    person
  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @person thanks for your POV. I'm happy to hear that you're doing well and that your practice helps. I certainly wasn't asserting that practicing Buddhism isn't helpful. It helps me, for sure.

    personlobster
  • The realms are real,not allegorical.If the realms are not real,our human realm is not real too,since the human realm is one of the realms.Is the realm of animals allegorical?If one behaves like a beast,one does not really turn into an animal in a future life?Animals around us are not real?
    The Buddha described the various heavenly realms.If they were allegorical,He would have told us so.

    BunksDakini
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited October 1

    @Not_Two said:
    The realms are real,not allegorical.If the realms are not real,our human realm is not real too,since the human realm is one of the realms.Is the realm of animals allegorical?If one behaves like a beast,one does not really turn into an animal in a future life?Animals around us are not real?
    The Buddha described the various heavenly realms.If they were allegorical,He would have told us so.

    It then depends how you define 'real'.
    Remember that all is subject to Dependent Origination, and there's the rather convoluted matter of Self/Not-Self...

    To be more precise, I would say that the Realms are both real AND rhetorical, rather than allegorical....

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited October 1

    Hello @Not_Two <3

    Here are some earlier discussions ...
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/13125/are-six-realms-of-buddhism-real

    and some Buddha brats opinions ...
    http://buddhabrats.com/buddha-brats-mind-tech/the-tech-practices/six-realms/hell/

    The Buddha was awake, however do the enlightened know everything?

    Who would have thought it ... [lobster faints] :o

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    (Not_Two is a sporadic contributor, because membership began 4 years ago, [7 visits thus far] so he doesn't come in much, but I hope he stays long enough to engage here.... :) )

    lobster
  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran

    I thought I was a sporadic contributor but that's on a whole new level!

    federicaKerome
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited October 1

    OP, the Buddha, in his early discourses, says not to trouble ourselves with concerns about "prepping" for future rebirths. He says to focus on "being the best you can be" in this lifetime, for its own sake, not for any "karma points" you might earn toward a good rebirth later. He emphasizes, that the Path if for alleviating one's suffering in the current lifetime.

    I know this may sound contradictory to other teachings, or to the general understanding of what Buddhism is about, but that's what he says in his earliest teachings. See "The Buddha Before Buddhism: Wisdom From The Early Teachings", by Fronsdal. It comes with helpful commentary.
    https://www.amazon.com/Buddha-before-Buddhism-Wisdom-Teachings/dp/1611803241/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1538415348&sr=8-3&keywords=The+Buddha+before+buddhism

    It's based on what's called "The Book of Eights", the Buddha's first eight discourses.

    lobsterKerome
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