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No-Self? Who or what is reborn?

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As per the Buddhist views, If there is no-self then who or what is it that is reborn? Can someone clearly explain please.

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11 minutes ago, Living said:

As per the Buddhist views, If there is no-self then who or what is it that is reborn? Can someone clearly explain please.

Hi living,

 

What a great question.

As a simple old man,pondering such questions,clarity is not reborn,so maybe every that still lacks clarity.

well maybe as rain is muddy by the journey to the ocean,it is reborn and receives clarity upon entering as one open sea.

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33 minutes ago, AussieTrees said:

Hi living,

 

What a great question.

As a simple old man,pondering such questions,clarity is not reborn,so maybe every that still lacks clarity.

well maybe as rain is muddy by the journey to the ocean,it is reborn and receives clarity upon entering as one open sea.

reading many different websites to the late hours,pondering so many great questions,there is a vague recollection this was a quote from a long forgotten author,apologies.

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No apologies needed. Thanks for your contribution.  Lets see what other friends have to say on this.

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I guess this thread will have to work a bit like meditation...Bringing our attention back to the question at hand lets ask...If there is no-self then who or what is it that is reborn?

 

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Maybe this excerpt might shed some light onto your question while I and others contemplate...

Quote

So, instead of answering "no" to the question of whether or not there is a self ‚ÄĒ interconnected or separate, eternal or not ‚ÄĒ the Buddha felt that the question was misguided to begin with. Why? No matter how you define the line between "self" and "other," the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress. This holds as much for an interconnected self, which recognizes no "other," as it does for a separate self. If one identifies with all of nature, one is pained by every felled tree. It also holds for an entirely "other" universe, in which the sense of alienation and futility would become so debilitating as to make the quest for happiness ‚ÄĒ one's own or that of others ‚ÄĒ impossible. For these reasons, the Buddha advised paying no attention to such questions as "Do I exist?" or "Don't I exist?" for however you answer them, they lead to suffering and stress.

"No-self or Not-self?", by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 24 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself2.html

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Buddha says in the Anattalakkhana Sutta:

if form were self, then form would not lead to affliction

and

since form is not-self, therefore form leads to affliction

So self does NOT lead to dukkha whereas attachment to whatever is not-self leads to dukkha.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.mend.html

In other words, mistaking whatever is not-self to be self leads to dukkha. Maybe its the non-self which is form that is not reborn and self which is not form is reborn? Is this understanding correct?

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Not disputing Buddha and the sutra when I say this, but to me not or no-self is more a realization and form of being rather than physical form.

 

Think about a baby and how they really have no sense of self or ego. As they grow up and are conditioned by life and circumstance they begin to realize self. It takes time to again realize that there really is no-self.

 

I am still mulling over how to, in simple terms, articulate impermanence and no soul as they both tie into no-self.

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solar energy, wind energy, water energy, all can be converted to electric and there are many distribution channels for the electric

we try to understand / know energy and or ourselves and fail

solar, wind, water, in fact all energies all arise from one source?

our "knowing" is at best miniscule

will the last person to leave please turn off the light

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11 minutes ago, cold said:

solar energy, wind energy, water energy, all can be converted to electric and there are many distribution channels for the electric

we try to understand / know energy and or ourselves and fail

solar, wind, water, in fact all energies all arise from one source?

our "knowing" is at best miniscule

will the last person to leave please turn off the light

 

That is dualism..

 

All there is, is light. It is a path to that realization but eventually we realize light is everything. Until then we are stuck in duality.

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My understanding is that, the question as you're framing it is sort of the wrong approach. To ask 'what is reborn?' is to rely on an underlying concept that there must be one lasting object that gets reborn. Like asking 'why did you beat your wife?' relies on the assumption that you did.

 

A person is basically a process. Rather than a single object (or subject) persisting through time, each of us is a process. Compare fire burning along a rope to a stone rolling down a hill.

 

The stone is a single, substantial object, it's the same stone at the bottom as it was at the top. The fire... well, we can say that the fire at the start and the fire at the end of the rope is the same fire, because there's casual continuity there. But it's not the same flame at one point and the next. The process has continued, the parts have changed.

 

So let's ask a different question: 'what goes to sleep, and what wakes up in the morning?' Well, the process has continued overnight. What goes from last night to this morning? I'd say there isn't a thing that goes from last night to this morning... it's just that the process of 'you' has continued. Now imagine a fire burning along a rope, reaching the end of one rope, and igniting a new one and carrying on. What goes from one rope to the next? Misguided question. It's a process of combustion continuing, except some component parts have changed. There isn't a thing that goes from one to the other.

 

I think your confusion is that you're imagining rebirth as something like pouring water from one glass into a new one, where the water is an object quite simply going from one vessel to the next - and naturally this doesn't square with anatta. Hopefully I've made sense, and you see what I mean about how fire burning from one rope to the next is a different situation. 

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The first Nidana: Not knowing suffering, not knowing the origination of suffering, not knowing the cessation of suffering, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of suffering: This is called ignorance. It leads to action, or constructing activities. 

 

Ignorance is the seed of rebirth. 

 

 

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From what I understand it is vijnana or consciousness, one of the aggregates, which transmigrates as a result of causes and conditions, namely karma which as CT mentioned is due to ignorance. Vijnana is not self as per the Buddha's teachings on the skandhas.

 

The whole self vs. non-self issue in Buddhism is a rather confused one, sometimes erupting into debates. You have scholars who have studied the Nikayas and noticed that anatta or non-self is always used as an adjective and applied to the skandhas, which are also anicca or impermanent and dukkha or agitation, suffering, etc. The Buddha never states "there is no Atman/Self" in the earliest material and many have argued for an assumed Self (which is not the person but rather the animative principle) in the Pali.

 

With Mahayana it is a bit different because in various sutras in the Tathagatagarbha category, especially the Nirvana Sutra and the Angulimaliya Sutra and in shastras such as the Ratnagotravibhaga, the Buddha speaks of a Self. Chan Buddhism, Kukai/Shingon, and Dolpopa/Shentongpas also affirm the reality of a Self. Lama Shenpen Hookham is a modern teacher who discusses these teachings..

 

Though as per your original question, the Self is not that which transmigrates since such a Self is deemed timeless and thus changeless.

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10 hours ago, Kongming said:

[...]The Buddha never states "there is no Atman/Self" in the earliest material[...]

 

True, but it is stated that all views of self are a cause for dukkha. Attachment to views of self is listed as one of the four fundamental forms of attachment, and belief in a self is said to be one of the fetters cut by a stream-entrant. 

 

many have argued for an assumed Self

 

As Ralpola Rahula says:

 

It is better to say frankly that one believes in an Atman or Self.  Or one may even say that the Buddha was totally wrong in denying the existence of an Atman.  But certainly it will not do for any one to try to introduce into Buddhism an idea which the Buddha never accepted, as far as we can see from the extant original texts.

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It can be said then that causes of dukkha are what's reborn, beginning with ignorance. (as mentioned, the seed)

 

The gist of Buddhist practice is putting joyful effort into directing mindfulness towards these causes, is it not? The intent being awareness (of causes), unsullied by aversion (avoidance of dislikes) or craving (desire for likes to be permanent or long-lasting). 

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On 5/24/2017 at 5:55 AM, Living said:

As per the Buddhist views, If there is no-self then who or what is it that is reborn? Can someone clearly explain please.

 

From the Lankavatara sutra...

 

When the twofold passions are destroyed, and the twofold hindrances are cleared away, and the twofold egolessness is fully understood, and the inconceivable transformation death of the Bodhisattva is attained ‚Äď that which remains is the self-nature of the Tathagatas. When the teachings of the Dharma are fully understood and are perfectly realized by the disciples and masters, that which is realized in their deepest consciousness is their own Buddha-nature revealed as Tathagata.

 

And also to your question...

 

However, there is another sense in which the Tathagatas may be said to be permanent. Transcendental Intelligence rising with the attainment of enlightenment is of a permanent nature. This Truth-essence which is discoverable in the enlightenment of all who are enlightened, is realizable as the regulative and sustaining principle of Reality, which forever abides. The Transcendental Intelligence attained intuitively by the Tathagatas by their self-realization of Noble Wisdom, is a realization of their own self-nature, -- in this sense the Tathagatas are permanent. The eternal-unthinkable of the Tathagatas is the "suchness" of noble Wisdom realized within themselves. It is both eternal and beyond thought. It conforms to the idea of a cause and yet is beyond existence and non-existence. Because it is the exalted state of Noble-Wisdom, it has its own character. Because it is the cause of highest Reality, it is its own causation. Its eternality is not derived from reasonings based on external notions of being and non-being, nor of eternality nor non-eternality. Being classed under the same head as space, cessation, Nirvana, it is eternal. Because it has nothing to do with existence and non-existence, it is no creator; because it has nothing to do with creation, nor with being and non-being, but is only revealed in the exalted state of noble Wisdom, it is truly eternal.

.

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The resonant pattern that I refer to as my body... a very slow, dense vibration that holds a seeming pattern for a space of time that is recognizable to my friends and family as my body... in recent years, seems not so much like a vessel that my personality and mind/spirit inhabits... but rather my body is more akin to a whirlpool that forms clearly in a river.

 

Energy flows throughout all of the river and the whirlpool.  Yet to my senses, there is a recognizable pattern and a seemingly clear form to the whirlpool for as long as the energy continues to flow in this manner.  Yet it's water all the way up and down the scale and it's always flowing in and out with the rest of the river.

 

Any more, my body seems but a pattern of vibration that condenses noticeably within the field of awareness.

 

Field of awareness is the river.  My body is a form that manifests within this flow.  Recognizable for a time, to my human tuned senses.  Whirlpools may be clearly seen, yet they are still only patterns within the river.

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4 hours ago, Seeker of Wisdom said:

 

True, but it is stated that all views of self are a cause for dukkha. Attachment to views of self is listed as one of the four fundamental forms of attachment, and belief in a self is said to be one of the fetters cut by a stream-entrant. 

 

 

 

As Ralpola Rahula says:

 

 

 

 

 

That is true enough, the Buddha didn't want people to become attached to views or be caught in speculation but rather to directly awaken for themselves. That said it seems the principle form of self that is criticized in the texts is the contingent, skandhic falsehood that we mistakenly call our self whereas a more properly "Atman" type self is free of all qualities or possession, thus having no "selfhood" in the more normative dualistic sense. This famous verse seems to be discussing a counterpart to the impermanent, conditioned, dukkha, non-self skandhas:

 

Quote

There is, monks, an unborn‚ÄĒ unbecome ‚ÄĒ unmade ‚ÄĒ unfabricated. If there were not that unborn ‚ÄĒ unbecome ‚ÄĒ unmade ‚ÄĒ unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born ‚ÄĒ become ‚ÄĒ made ‚ÄĒ fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn ‚ÄĒ unbecome ‚ÄĒ unmade ‚ÄĒ unfabricated, escape from the born ‚ÄĒ become ‚ÄĒ made ‚ÄĒ fabricated is discerned.

 

The born, become, produced, made, fabricated, impermanent, fabricated of aging & death, a nest of illnesses, perishing, come-into-being through nourishment and the guide [that is craving] ‚ÄĒ is unfit for delight. The escape from that is calm, permanent, a sphere beyond conjecture, unborn, unproduced, the sorrowless, stainless state, the cessation of stressful qualities, stilling-of-fabrications bliss.

 

Nan Huaijin briefly mentions the non-self issue in his "Working Toward Enlightenment":

 

Quote

When the HńęnayńĀna speaks of no self, it is in reference to the manifest forms of presently existing life; the intent is to alert people to transcend this level, and attain NirvńĀŠĻáa. But when this flowed into the world of learning, especially when it was disseminated in the West, some people thought that the Buddhist idea of no self was nihilism and that it denied the soul, and they maintained that Buddhism is atheistic. This is really a joke.

 

Furthermore Miri Albahari in an article about self vs non-self in the Pali makes an interesting point:

 

Quote

‚ÄėConsciousness‚Äô or ‚Äėawareness‚Äô are terms used to convey Atman in the Upanishadic tradition. In Buddhist literature, the word ‚Äėconsciousness‚Äô is associated with those impermanent, object-oriented types of consciousness which form part of the khandhas. Advocates of the positive doctrine insist that these are the only types of consciousness the Buddha would admit to. However, Thanissaro has drawn attention to a number of suttas which spell trouble for this view [36]. Among them is the Bahuna Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya (X.81) which speaks of an ‚Äėawareness‚Äô (or ‚Äėmind‚Äô, in another translation) that is ‚Äėreleased‚Äô from the cycle of conditioned existence ‚Äď thereby connecting with the Tathagata‚Äôs supreme wisdom (panna) that understands conditioned existence. This ‚Äėawareness‚Äô or ‚Äėmind‚Äô (which knows dukkha) is clearly not afflicted with dukkha ‚Äď unlike consciousness of the conditioned khandhas:

 

Freed, dissociated, & released from ten things, the Tathagata dwells with unrestricted awareness, Bahuna. Which ten? Freed, dissociated, & released from form ‚Ķ feeling ‚Ķ perception ‚Ķ processes ‚Ķ consciousness ‚Ķ birth ‚Ķ aging ‚Ķ death ‚Ķ stress ‚Ķ defilement, he dwells with unrestricted awareness. Just as a red, blue, or white lotus born in the water and growing in the water, rises up above the water and stands with no water adhering to it, in the same way the Tathagata ‚Äď freed, dissociated, & released from these ten things ‚Äď dwells with unrestricted awareness [37].

 

Lindtner has already noted, in a bracketed aside, that ‚Äė[knowing what‚Äôs true or false] is not something any of the skhandhas can do!‚Äô[38] His observation, although simple, strikes through the heart of the positive doctrine. For how can that aspect of mind which completely knows dukkha, and is thus beyond dukkha, still be dukkha? In short, the status of the Tathagata or Arahant, as Werner urges, should not continue to be ignored in the Theravadin tradition [39]. By transcendental necessity, we are compelled to accept that there is more to their reality than the conditioned khandhas, whose nature is anicca, dukkha, anatta. A further principle is needed to account for what words must inadequately depict as the Arahant‚Äôs ‚Äėsupreme wisdom‚Äô, ‚Äėunrestricted awareness‚Äô and ‚Äėperfect happiness‚Äô. That further principle, Lindtner has suggested, is Atman [40].

 

Just some food for thought. Of course this is just dealing with Pali/Theravada. As mentioned earlier, in Mahayana, especially in Tathagatagarbha, Tathagatagarbha-Yogacara, and in East Asian Esoteric Buddhism many sutras, texts, and masters describe the four gunaparamita of the Dharmakaya/Tathagatagarbha as nitya (eternal), sukha (bliss), subha (purity), and atma (Self.)

Edited by Kongming
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2 hours ago, Kongming said:

 

 

That is true enough, the Buddha didn't want people to become attached to views or be caught in speculation but rather to directly awaken for themselves. That said it seems the principle form of self that is criticized in the texts is the contingent, skandhic falsehood that we mistakenly call our self whereas a more properly "Atman" type self is free of all qualities or possession, thus having no "selfhood" in the more normative dualistic sense. This famous verse seems to be discussing a counterpart to the impermanent, conditioned, dukkha, non-self skandhas:

 

 

Nan Huaijin briefly mentions the non-self issue in his "Working Toward Enlightenment":

 

 

Furthermore Miri Albahari in an article about self vs non-self in the Pali makes an interesting point:

 

 

Just some food for thought. Of course this is just dealing with Pali/Theravada. As mentioned earlier, in Mahayana, especially in Tathagatagarbha, Tathagatagarbha-Yogacara, and in East Asian Esoteric Buddhism many sutras, texts, and masters describe the four gunaparamita of the Dharmakaya/Tathagatagarbha as nitya (eternal), sukha (bliss), subha (purity), and atma (Self.)

 

Great quotes above.

 

Btw is there any Buddha that has not learned from (and become manifest) via the sublime teachings and understandings of life and death and their transmutation...I'd say no that would be impossible to skip over.

'

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On 5/24/2017 at 6:55 AM, Living said:

As per the Buddhist views, If there is no-self then who or what is it that is reborn? Can someone clearly explain please.

 

Excellent question and one worthy of careful consideration over time. Don't settle for a quick, conceptual answer. Dig into the question and be patient and persistent. Explore the possibilities in yourself. Keep coming back to it. It's the kind of question that has far more potential to facilitate growth than any answer the conceptual mind can offer [edit: in fact, it is a koan]

 

I've come across a variety of "Buddhist" answers over time through books, talks, and retreats. In general they involve concepts like karma, karmic traces, emptiness, and the base where karmic traces reside. To be a Buddhist answer, the self must be let go. At the end of the day, that is the bottom line of Buddhist practice and teaching. Far more satisfying are the insights I've gained when direct meditative experience arises and informs the conceptual model. The internet and books give us access to nearly limitless information on the topic from a variety of very credible sources but we are pointing at something that goes beyond information and concept. 

 

I think that to reach an "understanding" of what it is that is reborn, we can first look at what it is that is born, period. 

That means, what am I? Who is asking the question? How far have you gone in trying to connect with that? That is where the answer lies. And then look at the circumstances which shape that life experience. Then look at what connects generations. It is easy to think of many such actions and patterns that will transcend a single lifetime, affect future generations, future births.

 

In my experience, a direct experiential approach to such questions is far more valuable than solely relying on concept and intellect. If you are really serious, I recommend a solid and patient meditation practice and direct, personal connection with a credible and realized master. Alternatively, there is open access to many precious Buddhist texts but there is no substitute for direct introduction and transmission. What needs to happen is an opening of the heart and that is far more likely through a connection with a loving master who walks the walk, looks you in the eye, reads you and points in the right direction, makes you laugh, helps you to cry... 

 

Good luck!

 

I'm into Tibetan stuff and there's wonderful stuff available for free:

http://www.lotsawahouse.org/

 

PS - I just found this - http://www.alanpeto.com/buddhism/understanding-reincarnation-rebirth/

I know nothing about Alan Peto and I haven't finished reading it but it seems to be starting off very nicely so you may want to take a look

 

 

 

Edited by steve
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"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to? "He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing.

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‚ÄúThen a reasoning arose in the mind of a certain monk thus: ‚ÄėIt is said, sir, that material shape is not self, feeling is not self, perception is not self, the habitual tendencies are not self, consciousness is not self. Then what self do deeds affect that are done by not-self?‚Äô

 

Then [Gautama], knowing by mind the reasoning in the mind of this monk, addressed the monks, saying: This situation exists, monks, when some foolish man here, not knowing, ignorant, with his mind in the grip of craving, may deem to go beyond the Teacher‚Äôs instruction thus: ‚ÄėIt is said, sir, that material shape is not self... consciousness is not self. Then what self do deeds affect that are done by not-self?‚Äô You, monks, have been trained by me (to look for) conditions now here, now there, in these things and in those.‚ÄĚ

 

(MN III 19, Vol III pg 68-69)

 

So Gautama saw the problem as being in the question, and conditioned causality apart from any notion of self as being fundamental, but I would say his answer lacks something--especially because he derides the questioner.  Bad karma.  

 

Ha ha.  Ok.  So in the early 1930's, Kurt Godel gives us a substantive answer:  if you have a set of assumptions which, through the application of standard rules of logic, can describe everything that is known in something like mathematics, then  those assumptions will yield contradictions.  If, on the other hand, your set of initial assumptions is consistent, then it cannot describe everything that is known (in something like mathematics, or, let us say, a description of the vagaries of human experience).

 

I would say it's part of Gautama's genius that, as far as the descriptions of dharma in the first four volumes of the Pali Suttanta go, they are consistent.  What he was saying to the poor monk above is, the assumptions which have given me this beautiful and consistent description of the vagaries of the human experience will not address the kind of thing you are asking about, and any assumptions that will can be used to derive contradictions.

 

What's confusing with Gautama is the way he conflates teachings about morality and social order with teachings about mindfulness and meditative states.  If you want to read a summary of what he taught about mindfulness and meditative states, you could try my notes, here.

 

And you're right, he regularly ascribed the attainment of "nonreturner", "once-returner", and so forth to individuals, when asked about their fate by his attendant Ananda--he got so tired of Ananda asking that he told Ananda to just ascertain whether or not they behaved themselves and figure it out for himself.  Gautama did say that we all started out as an energy that fell from a higher state to a lower one--presumably a self-less energy?  Not the popular notion in Hindu India, that, I'm sure.

Edited by Mark Foote
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