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Buddhist Beliefs

For one to call theirself a Buddhist, you don't have to believe in Karma and rebirth do you? I agree with a lot of the Buddhist teachings, but it is hard for me to believe in Karma and rebirth. Do one have to believe in Karma and rebirth in order to be a Buddhist or call yourself a Buddhist?

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Comments

  • msac123msac123 Explorer

    I see. That's what I really like about Buddhism though, keeping an open mind about things. :)

  • @karasti said:

    Best to keep an open mind about all things as you meditate and practice, you'll be surprised what changes that you thought you'd never waver on.

    I can attest to that.

    Just sayin'. :)

    anatamanKundo
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    Rebirth, ok I can understand how one may not subscribe to it.

    But what is your understanding of karma?

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    @msac123
    Perhaps the karma of not subscribing to rebirth is simply your doubts about being able to call yourself a Buddhist?

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited March 2014

    As @lobster has pointed out before- - probably best not to attach yourself to the label buddhist, as you've got to let go of it anyway.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    For one to call theirself a Buddhist, you don't have to believe in Karma and rebirth do you? I agree with a lot of the Buddhist teachings, but it is hard for me to believe in Karma and rebirth. Do one have to believe in Karma and rebirth in order to be a Buddhist or call yourself a Buddhist?

    @msac123 -- My take: Buddhism, which some call a religion, is not so much about believing anything in particular; it about authenticating what you choose to believe.

    A life that relies on doubt is not very peaceful.

    BuddhadragonKundo
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Remember the Buddha said : "Believe nothing unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." I also like the Buddha's pragmatic attitude of not wasting one's time engaging in metaphysical discussions. You don' t need to believe in rebirth. Who can really know what happens after death despite all the theories?

    jayne
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @dharmamom said:
    Remember the Buddha said : "Believe nothing unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." I also like the Buddha's pragmatic attitude of not wasting one's time engaging in metaphysical discussions. You don' t need to believe in rebirth. Who can really know what happens after death despite all the theories?

    You put quotes around that. Is that the actual quotation? I don't think so.

    Invincible_summer
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    edited March 2014

    @genkaku said:
    ...Buddhism, which some call a religion, is not so much about believing anything in particular; it about authenticating what you choose to believe....

    I'm not sure I agree that that is what Buddhism is, but I like your concept.

    Invincible_summer
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited March 2014

    @dharmamom said:
    Remember the Buddha said : "Believe nothing unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

    I assume you're referring to the Kalama Sutta.

    Well, Ven. Thanissaro would like to remind all of us who take this all-too-common interpretation of the sutta:

    "So in this case, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.'"

    Notice the words in italics, the ones that usually get dropped from the quote or sloughed over when they’re included. When the Buddha says that you can’t go by logical deduction, inference, or analogies, he’s saying that you can’t always trust your sense of reason. When he says that you can’t go by agreement through pondering views (i.e., what seems to fit in with what you already believe) or by probability, he’s saying that you can’t always trust your common sense. And, of course, you can’t always trust teachers, scriptures, or traditions. So where can you place your trust? You have to put things to the test in your own thoughts, words, and deeds, to see what actually leads to suffering and what leads to its end...

    Certainly we in the West are easy targets for the idea that the Buddha wants us to cut and paste his dharma as we like. Many of us have been burned by religious authorities, and we don’t want to risk getting burned again. There’s also our cultural pride: We like to think that we can see more clearly than Asian Buddhists what’s of genuine value in their traditions and what’s simply cultural baggage—as if we didn’t have cultural baggage of our own. And how do we know what’s “just baggage”? A beat-up old suitcase might contain your jewelry and keys.

    So is a designer dharma what we really want? As the Buddha noted, one of the natural reactions to suffering is to search for someone who can give good advice on how to put an end to it. When offered the choice, wouldn’t you prefer reliable guidance on how to end your suffering rather than a do-it-yourself kit with vague instructions and no guarantees?

    Captain_America
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    The Kalama sutta also warns us not to reify our current opinions.

  • sorry to sing a different tune.
    if you dont believe in karma, then you dont believe the teachings of buddha.
    karma is central to buddhism.

    Invincible_summerDandelion
  • CittaCitta Veteran

    Depends on the " Buddhism "...there is not only one kind.

    Cinorjer
  • Buddhism is what it is, whether you like it or not.
    You cant just take the bits you like and discard the rest.
    Then it is NOT buddhism.

  • Maybe we can call it Buddyism, instead.

    Invincible_summerCaptain_America
  • In Buddyism, you can believe whatever you like.
    It was founded by my Buddy, 2500 minutes ago. lol.

    Captain_AmericaKundoDandelion
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @hermitwin said:
    Buddhism is what it is, whether you like it or not.
    You cant just take the bits you like and discard the rest.
    Then it is NOT buddhism.

    Ok so Dzogchen is not Buddhism by your criteria. Thats OK.

  • @msac123 said:
    For one to call theirself a Buddhist, you don't have to believe in Karma and rebirth do you?

    Karma and rebirth are central to the Buddhist understanding of suffering, but there are interpretations of these concepts which fit quite comfortably with the typical modern understanding of how the world works and are consistent with a practice of Buddhism which is effective in ending at least some pernicious forms of suffering.

    Invincible_summer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Why does it matter if someone else has different understandings, or doubts? Doubt is normal when exploring all these things. I'd gather that most of us had doubts and questions and a lot of confusion and misunderstanding when we first started with Buddhism. Just because someone says they have a problem understanding something doesn't make them "this, and not that."

    I am this. Therefore, if you are not also this, you cannot call yourself the same as I call myself. Darn duality.

    vinlynBuddhadragonjayne
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2014

    Righteous Buddhism is just the human condition having a party.

    Fortunately a sincere meditation practice, as opposed to a religious identity, has better places to be.

    Kundo
  • @how said:
    Righteous Buddhism is just the human condition having a party.

    Mr Cushion hears ya!

    Kundo
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @vynlin and @invincible_summer:
    Yes, though I don't quote but refer to quotes, I allude to the episode of the Kalamas from the Kesaputtiya Sutra for the first idea, and to the parable of the arrow from the Majjhima Nikaya for the latter.
    A quote from Walpola Rahula's "What the Buddha taught" when he mentions the Kamala episode is: "The freedom of thought allowed by the Buddha is unheard of elsewhere in the history of religions. This freedom is necessary because, according to the Buddha, man's emancipation depends on his own realization of Truth, and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any external power as a reward for his obedient good behaviour." The Buddha is the finger pointing at the Truth but we have to work out our own salvation ourselves. (Do I have to quote?)

    The phrases in italics in @vynlin's transcription of Ven. Thanissaro are part of the exposition ("nor by mere logic or inference, nor by considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions", etc) but remember also how it ends: "And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome and good, then accept them and follow them." To round up this quote, Walpola Rahula adds (from another sutra) "a disciple should examine even the Tathagata himself, so that he might be fully convinced of the true value of the teacher he followed."

    Thich Nhat Hanh said "Faith, in Buddhism, does not mean accepting a theory that we have not personally verified. The Buddha encouraged us to see for ourselves. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels is not blind faith; it is the fruit of our practice. [...] In Buddhism our faith is formed by our own insight and experience."

    In his introduction to his book "The Big Questions," Lama Ram Das (and I won't quote again because this is getting too long), he talks about the fourteen questions the Buddha would not answer stating that they were "unconducive to realizing the enlightenment which I teach as the ultimate goal of spiritual life." (Where does the world come from, where do the world and time and space end, and "other such speculative inquiries.")

    In "Fundamentals of Buddhism: A modern perspective" in Buddhanet, when referring to the Kamala episode, again we come up with sentences such as" the importance of verification through experience," "to test what they have heard in the light of their own experience," and "His approach is very similar to the scientific approach."

    The exercise of the critical faculty in Buddhism has been stressed in almost any literature on Buddhism you come across with. Which does not go on to say that we can tailor Buddhism down to suit our personal needs. But it's very legitimate for some people to find certain ideas easier to accept than others and to take to apply into their lives the ones that suit them most. You don't need to stray too far away from samsara to verify the truth of Karma. But as to rebirth, I can understand that @msac123 could be rather skeptical. Ven. Thanissaro personal read of the Kalama episode in the transcription by @vynlin that "you can't trust your common sense"... seems to me too personal. No matter how much we read, practice and learn, we'll always move within the limitations of our own personal understanding.

    This is not a Buddhist quote but one from the Upanishads which has often helped me reconcile contradictory views or opinions different from my own: "ACCEPT ONLY THAT WHICH APPEALS TO YOUR HEART AS TRUTH. LET THE REST PASS YOU BY, FOR THE TIME BEING. FOR TO EACH COMES HIS OWN, AND NONE CAN GAIN HIS OWN UNTIL HE'S PREPARED FOR IT."

    anatamanlobsterInvincible_summerKundo
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    Somehow the "quote" button doesn't seem to work this morning.
    Just wanted to add something to @vynlin's comment "You put quotes around that. Is that the actual quotation? I don't think so."

    I have read a lot, I have internalized, I have learned, like we all here. I can't always remember where I read this or that, and I don't care to engage in intellectual sparrings, or feel the need to quote every time I leave a comment. Left my two pence yesterday only because I thought that the references to which my comment alluded were rather obvious to any veteran on the site, but apparently not so- which rather perplexes me. I don't put into the Buddha's mouth personal ideas or bandy quotes carelessly out of nowhere, but would be rather in a tight spot if I have to remember where the quotes that make up my belief system come from every time I want to leave a comment. I am not preparing a thesis for college every time I write.

    I agree with @karasti that we can't begin to call people "this" or "that." You are or you are not. In a nutshell "My Buddhism is better than yours." We are all in the same path and we are entitled to our personal opinions, to our doubts, to our understandings and (I hope Ven. Thanissaro won't get too upset) to rely on our "common sense."

    In their Introduction to Buddhism, you find on Buddhanet "Buddhism teaches that the solutions to our problems are within ourselves not outside. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves. In this way, each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding. This makes Buddhism less of a fixed package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety, and more of a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own." Read the sutras, read Thich Nhat Nanh, read Pema Chödrön, Epstein, Brazier, Goleman, Matthieu Ricard, Kornfield, Salzberg, Alexandra David Neel... even Victorians like the Rhys Davids couple, Spence Hardy, Bowden, Edwin Arnold, Max Müller... their comments are on the same line. Which apparently is not quite the Buddhism that agrees with Ven. Thanissaro.

    I don't mean offence to anyone by my comments.

    jayneKundo
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @dharmamom said:

    This is not a Buddhist quote but one from the Upanishads which has often helped me reconcile contradictory views or opinions different from my own: "ACCEPT ONLY THAT WHICH APPEALS TO YOUR HEART AS TRUTH. LET THE REST PASS YOU BY, FOR THE TIME BEING. FOR TO EACH COMES HIS OWN, AND NONE CAN GAIN HIS OWN UNTIL HE'S PREPARED FOR IT."

    I think this quote is much better in getting the same message across than the Kalama Sutta. Thanks for sharing it - very insightful!

    Buddhadragonlobster
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2014

    I don't agree.

    I think it misses what is essential about the Kalama Sutta sound-bite that is quoted out of context , even more effectively than does that sound bite.

    What is always missed is the the Buddha is addressing the Kalamas.

    Not only were they not his followers at that point..they were followers of another teacher.

    The Buddha is saying to them ' dont follow stuff because your group. your family, your folks, your neighbourhood follows them...put them to the test..see where they lead '

    He was not saying follow what appeals to your heart ( whatever that might mean ).

    The Buddha never used such language. It is both inaccurate and is a backward projection from the kind of sentiments which are common currency in our culture, but are alien to the culture which formed Buddhadharma.

    Far from saying 'follow your heart'..he is saying 'be hard-headed in what you believe '

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    Of course the Buddha did not use __such __language, though his philosophy has been traced back to the culture that gave birth to the Upanishads (See Rhys Davids, Spence Hardy, Edmond Holmes, Max Müller).
    Which does not imply that the quotation I transcribed could be in any way related to the Kalama episode, either.
    If I have not misread, what @Invincible_summer meant by his comment was only that what I meant in my comment was better expressed by this quotation than by my reference to the Kalamas. Unless we are all misreading misreadings.
    As to what the quotation means, it's self-evident, please.
    Personally, I don't see the point of getting lost in high-falluting rigmarole, and let's just be of service to someone who humbly expressed a doubt.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2014

    I wouldnt class getting some basics right as ' high falultin' rigmorale '

    The Kalama Sutta is frequently quoted to express the complete opposite views to its intention.

    A cross reading of many your posts, which I think i have largely turned a blind eye to, shows a need for some basic homework. Long on sentiment and short on demonstrating a grasp of Buddhadharma...

    I suspect that you need to read less, and instead find a local teacher from an established Buddhist tradition.

    _/_

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @msac123 said:
    For one to call theirself a Buddhist, you don't have to believe in Karma and rebirth do you? I agree with a lot of the Buddhist teachings, but it is hard for me to believe in Karma and rebirth. Do one have to believe in Karma and rebirth in order to be a Buddhist or call yourself a Buddhist?

    You don't even need to call yourself a ' Buddhist ' which is a term invented by westerners.

    The best thing to do..in my opinion of course, is to try to find a near- by centre or group that are associated with a Buddhist tradition.

    If you cant do that then get yourself some tapes or videos.

    I would advise against reading too much...that might sound like weird advice, but the fact is there are many books, about many Dharma traditions, and on the surface they can appear to contradict each other..

    Many Buddhists see karma and rebirth as literal things that happen after death..

    But there are well known Buddhists who see it as what happens from moment to moment.

    Every moment our atoms do a dance. Every moment a thousand sensations and thoughts and feelings flood through us, then die and new ones come into being.

    You can see this for yourself...but you need to slow the mind in order to do so.

    The breath is a good way to do this..there are lots of instructions available on how to follow the breath.

    You don't need to believe anything in order to meditate on the breath.

    Just do what you have been doing all your life...in..and out.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @Citta said:
    I wouldnt class getting some basics right as ' high falultin' rigmorale '

    The Kalama Sutta is frequently quoted to express the complete opposite views to its intention.

    A cross reading of many your posts, which I think i have largely turned a blind eye to, shows a need for some basic homework. Long on sentiment and short on demonstrating a grasp of Buddhadharma...

    I suspect that you need to read less, and instead find a local teacher from an established Buddhist tradition.

    You are entitled to your opinion @citta. But I won't go down to your level. Or sorry, high up to your level in the ivory tower.
    You see to your homework, I see to mine. And don't be fooled: you have SOME work ahead.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    You have said your piece dharmamom. I have said mine.

    It is not personal.

    And I have lots of work ahead.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @dharmamom said:
    Somehow the "quote" button doesn't seem to work this morning.
    Just wanted to add something to vynlin's comment "You put quotes around that. Is that the actual quotation? I don't think so."

    I have read a lot, I have internalized, I have learned, like we all here. I can't always remember where I read this or that, and I don't care to engage in intellectual sparrings, or feel the need to quote every time I leave a comment. Left my two pence yesterday only because I thought that the references to which my comment alluded were rather obvious to any veteran on the site, but apparently not so- which rather perplexes me. I don't put into the Buddha's mouth personal ideas or bandy quotes carelessly out of nowhere, but would be rather in a tight spot if I have to remember where the quotes that make up my belief system come from every time I want to leave a comment. I am not preparing a thesis for college every time I write.

    ...

    Let me just say a word about why I questioned the quotation.

    It can't be an exact quote since Buddha did not speak English. So I'm not expecting that exactness.

    And, I believe in...well, let's say a "big tent" view of religion -- any religion, including Buddhism. We have a handful of people on this forum who would like to say (but rarely do anymore after many protestations) things like, "You're not Buddhist because you don't believe ____________" (fill in the blank with any number of Buddhist beliefs). Personally, I'm mostly a philosophical Buddhist, not so much a religious Buddhist. I cherry pick (and anyone who doesn't like it, TS). I don't let people, including anyone on this forum put me in a box...their box.

    So I have no issue at all with you having the belief you have about "Believe nothing unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." In fact, I rather agree with the sentiment; it goes along with my belief that all wisdom is not in Buddhism and that wisdom is where you find it. My point was only that I don't feel that is even a paraphrase or summary of the entire Kalama Sutta. To me there is more to the sutta that refines the concept and narrows it somewhat.

    I'm enjoying your postings! Please do continue!

    Buddhadragon
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Thank you, @vinlyn! As a matter of fact I never intended to paraphrase the Kamalas. Just gave my opinion and the Kamalas went out that way, mixed up in the speech.

    vinlyn
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @dharmamom you mentioned the term "veteran". When you see the word veteran by a users name on this site, it only means they have commented on this page a certain number of times. It has nothing to do with the level of their Buddhist practice or understanding. Just making sure that wasn't causing you any confusion. In fact, I am listed as a veteran myself, but I only believe that is true because I have so many questions and confusions! I type alot, but it certainly doesn't mean I am more experienced. I've only been practicing Buddhism for about 3 years and have really only recently started to read sutras. Regardless, I wouldn't assume much of anything here, or anywhere else. Assuming mostly means you expect someone else to understand you, and that rarely works out well for any of us! :lol:

  • I started out not believing in rebirth.
    Nowadays I do.
    Not the version in which the soul leaves one body and travels on to the next.
    Rebirth = a product of karma
    karma = a product of rebirth

    action reaction action reaction echoing into eternity

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Thank you for the clarification on the veteran issue, @karasti. Other than that, please don't assume what I don't assume. We're here to exchange opinions, experiences and uphold each other. Berating each other simply because we have different opinions or keep misconstruing what the other person says is unconducive to a productive dialogue.

    Kundo
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I was referring to this comment that you made earlier:
    I thought that the references to which my comment alluded were rather obvious to any veteran on the site, but apparently not so- which rather perplexes me.

    I had remembered your words a bit incorrectly though, sorry for that. I wasn't making assumptions about you. It was meant to be a joke, a silly comment. Thus the "lol" at the end.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Only today have you felt compelled to explain things to me or apparently thought that my comments needed further explanation in two threads, so sorry if I failed to see the joke...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I often over explain things, trying to be understood. It's something I'm working on. My apologies if I offended you in trying to explain. I was thinking you had said you did not always understand things because English was not your primary language, I clearly took that too far. I am not trying to explain your comments. I am trying to explain my response to your comments when clearly what I had intended was not taken the way I meant it to be taken. Again, sorry about that.

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    @karasti, I enjoy your over-explanations.

    I get annoyed when people start apologising for their view, and I reprimand you for it. lol;

    Your view is just as important as mine or any other view on this site. Some people state their view like it is dharma, and some even overstate their view, like it is wisdom - Like I do at times... However, on reflection, it is important that when you make a comment, especially on this site, you are comfortable with it.

    I am sitting comfortably with this comment:

    You are only as strong as you perceive yourself to be.

    Metta

    karasti
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    I am not offended @karasti. Only frustrated that you don't always see what I really mean when I write. Especially since I have really oversimplified down the years and I don't feel the need to overexplain my views or my opinions and I don't particularly delight in engaging in over-speculative debates. I am so over with "over".
    I feel the site is a place where we can come in peace to exchange, a sort of Greek agora. People should feel free to be able to express their point of view without others jumping at their jugular. It's sad when I see that happen in some threads.

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    @dharmamom, you should not be frustrated at @karasti because she can't put herself in your shoes.

    I also think you explain yourself very well, but there are differences in character, that come out in the nuances of your written expression, that may not be picked up by your counterpart.

    Also you are a women, so misinterpretation is easier to understand (lol - oops @federica will have my guts for garters for that one I'm sure).

    Perhaps I should say that emotional responses are harder to deal with from my perspective if they have a female origin, and females interpreting another females perspective are like, well from my perspective 'difficult', males just joke or lash out generally, but females in my opinion deserve to be regarded in a more subtle way.

    Hey, perhaps I should consider the role of a forum councillor.

    No, I don't deserve the rewards!

    vinlyn
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I think it's not entirely possible for us to really see what someone else means when they are writing. One of the hazards of text-only conversation and debate. But that is exactly what I meant in my comment earlier...that when in such an environment it is not fair to expect that everyone is at a place (whether on their path, in their language understanding, or whatever) that they will always know exactly what you mean. Just because you get frustrated it doesn't mean I am at fault.

    @anatman thank you for that, including the reprimand, LOL. I'll take my dunce cap and go sit in the corner ;)

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @‌dharmamom
    @‌karasti

    I think you both need kissing badly (lol - sorry I'm in laughing buddha mode):

    karastiVastmindBuddhadragon
  • msac123msac123 Explorer

    @hermitwin said:
    Buddhism is what it is, whether you like it or not.
    You cant just take the bits you like and discard the rest.
    Then it is NOT buddhism.

    I understand that Buddhism is what it is. The only thing I have a hard time believing in is rebirth and reincarnation.

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited April 2014

    Then don't believe in rebirth and reincarnation. It is not obligatory... What is right and wrong for you. Point to something and say this is right, and then point to something else and say this is wrong.

    What of that pointing 'feels' right and what 'feels' wrong?

    You answer to yourself. Does the answer you give feel right or wrong, if it feels right, why does it feel right, if it feels wrong, why does it feel wrong? You have to answer these questions for yourself. Sorry for posing them btw.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    ^exactly.

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @msac123 said:
    The only thing I have a hard time believing in is rebirth and reincarnation.

    I used to fall into the secular Buddhist/Buddhist modernist camp, more or less rejecting kamma and rebirth. But now I'm much more open to these concepts.

    Maybe it'll just take time. Honestly though, rebirth isn't a concept that's all too valuable in everyday Buddhist practice.

    how
  • so did i.

    but that is what buddha taught.
    and if you ask senior monks like ajahn brahm and thanissaro bikkhu or bikkhu bodhi,
    they will tell you it is true.

    you dont have to believe it, but it is buddhism.
    it is how the world works according to buddha.
    you dont have to believe it, but it is the core of buddhist teachings.
    just keep that in mind.

    i am sure it is all very confusing for you.
    dont listen to anyone, read buddhist books by credible authors
    and judge for yourself.

    when i first got interested in buddhism, i was totally confused too.
    one of the reasons is there are too many people who use the term "Buddhism"
    without knowing what the Buddha actually taught.

    Let's start from step 1, Buddhism is the teachings of the Buddha.
    Who is the Buddha?
    That would be a good place to start.

    @msac123 said:

  • ToraldrisToraldris   -`-,-{@     Zen Nud... Buddhist     @}-,-`-   East Coast, USA Veteran
    edited April 2014

    You don't have to believe in a "personal" rebirth and karma that follows you around from body to body... but rebirth and karma are both useful teachings about the reality of this life, in their basic forms.

    Karma can be thought of as Causality itself, but focused on "you" in particular, instead of everything. It teaches you that the present mind/body moment arises due to past conditions, and the present conditions plant seeds that will ripen in the future as potential suffering (or liberation!). Karma is the mechanism that allows practice, or the Noble Eightfold Path, to lead to calm waters.

    Rebirth can be thought of in different ways. You're being reborn from moment-to-moment, similar in many ways but also different. It's how you're the same "person" at ages 5 and 50, though you can see how obviously you're very different too! Another way to think of it is being a parent. If you cause new life to arise, that life is part of a continuum that includes you and your ancestors, and it's both similar and dissimilar to yourself.

    No one can really tell you what to believe, and there are many schools of thought about these things. It's really not important except in how it helps you practice and let go of the rollercoaster ride of conditioned phenomena!

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