Animal reincarnation

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    • #26883
      yann
      Participant

      First of all : Hello and thank you for this great work of yours.

      It is greatly appreciated and it makes me like buddhism again. I have always been interested in spiritual matters, and through most than a decade of questioning and free-thinking, i appeared to align myself more and more on the buddhist understanding of life. Therefore i started learning about buddhism more seriously because its teachings matched my understanding of life and even enhanced them.

      However i still feel instinctively at odd with many aspects of modern buddhism (at least what is taught in the western world).
      I have serious issues believing that a human could reincarnate as a worm, just after his death. While i don’t think that is an absolute impossibility, my instincts told me something is off.

      To clarify your teachings, your understanding is that at the death of the physical body, the mental body survives and most likely attach itself to a womb matching is own karma. Unless the mental body comes to an end, human reincarnation is the most likely event due to mental attachments / cravings / aversion.
      To reach a “higher” plane post mortem, one must have sufficient positive karma and “dhammic” tendencies in his mind, so the mental body does not attach itself to human womb. On the opposite, constantly feeding instincts and animal tendencies, while disparaging morality, could be the cause of a downfall of the bhava toward less evolved lifeforms or hellish planes.
      Am i correct?

      I will read most of your website so maybe that will clarify things for me.

      Also just a tip, you should high-ligh the lexical pages because they are hard to find on the home page. I spend a few hours reading and browsing the internet for pali translations while the lexical was there all along.
      Regards

    • #26886
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you, yann for your comments.

      Yes. Rebirth is an issue that many in the West have a hard time to deal with. I suggest reading the post, “What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream.”
      – Please refer to bullet numbers in the post if you have questions.

      I am not sure what you mean by “Also just a tip, you should high-ligh the lexical pages because they are hard to find on the home page. I spend a few hours reading and browsing the internet for pali translations while the lexical was there all along.”

      The Pali Glossary could be helpful and can be found here: “Tables and Summaries.”

    • #26887
      y not
      Participant

      Welcome Yann,

      Yes, you are right. Put simply, whatever existence you make yourself fit for, that existence you will attain. Not necessarily sooner; could be later, depending on whatever abhisankharas (‘will’ plus emotional attachment) are strongest at that particular moment.

      In my case as well, Buddhadhamma is an extension of how I had conceived Reality in the main. Only, now the whole plan lay before me.

      Yes, DO read the posts. You will find the details there. The Forum will prove of value as well.

    • #26903
      yann
      Participant

      Hello lal and ynot.

      By lexical pages i just meant that i did not find the pali glossary right away as it was kind of “hidden” in the menu.

      I read the “what reincarnates” post carefully.

      I would like to share some reflexions and difficulties i have with this post. Of course this is not made for the sake of purposeless arguing but constructive criticism.

      Overall the post made a lot of sense to me, and i can picture myself the mind continuum always changing but always a continuum. Therefore, it is difficult to see how a human mind, even though it might be inhabited by greed or other mental impurities, could regress toward an animal life form post mortem. Most of past life material i have read rarely if ever mention non human past lives. Some therapists specialize in past lives regression and it is apparently a rare occurence to see non human past lives.

      I also have an issue with the following belief, the “last thought at the death moment” determines your next incarnation. I have heard buddhist monks repeat this belief.
      Most dying people are extremely tormented and unhappy. It seems absurd to me that they should be directed in a negative direction for a few understandable negative emotions. I do believe that the global state of their karma / mental continuum is what determines their future, and the mental state at the moment of death is only a small and unsignificant part of that karma.

      This passage is also hard for me to grasp.

      Out of the 31 realms of existence (see, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“), the mind has much less capability in most other realms. Thus, it is very difficult to get rid of bad kamma seeds and cultivate good ones while in realms other than the human. Therefore, one should make the utmost effort to get rid of the bad seeds and to develop “good seeds” during this short life span of 100 years or so.

      Human existence is extremely difficult for most, and we are probably part of the small fraction of humanity that didn’t had to actively get involved in warfare, strong material difficulties, strong ignorance… I just went out for a footing and neighboor’s dog tried to bite me. I had to shout at the dog and adopt a violent posture. the owners have little care for their dogs and what they do unto others. Life is often difficult and it drags you incessantly in conflict, survival needs… However i am lucky enough so i don’t have to deal with these realities like people before us had to.
      So human existence has a natural tendency to drag you toward fighting, hatred, accumulation of goods for survival, etc…. Even if you tend to be a moral person. Also if you are not born in a good environment, it is very difficult to develop intellect and understanding.
      On the contrary i would tend to think that higher realms are more desirable if one is to practice dhamma, as you probably don’t have to work there, and get in the day to day struggle, while being physically vulnerable to accidents, disease, fatigue and so on. I think being human isn’t a very good karma, but that is of course relative. I think we should strive for better understanding of life and its mechanism so we can become more wise and more in “control” of our destinies, and reach for higher realms.

      Also, physical death does not necessarily mean the end of human rebirth. If the kamma seed that led to his human life has more kammic potential left, a human can be reborn a human again and again. That stops when kammic potential is exhausted;

      What would cause the end of this kammic potential? Could it be giving up greed / hatred / egotism and adopting selflessness / generosity / compassion that would propel you in higher realms?
      Because average people will keep fueling attachments from life to life and therefore they will keep fuelling the karmic energies toward human incarnation.

      I shortened my message because otherwise i will never stop questioning and debating :)
      Anyone reading this might feel free to answer.

    • #26953
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I will try to address SOME of yann’s questions below. It takes some effort to understand the key concepts.

      “Therefore, it is difficult to see how a human mind, even though it might be inhabited by greed or other mental impurities, could regress toward an animal life form post mortem.”

      – The seeds for future lives are created during the lifetime. For example, if one kills another human, a kamma bija (seed) is created. That kammic energy can bring a “bad birth” in the future.

      “Most of past life material i have read rarely if ever mention non human past lives.”
      – Yes. Humans normally cannot recall past lives in other existence (bhava).
      – Even that capability is there only for a few, and only as a child. As that child grows, such memories from past lives fade away.

      “So human existence has a natural tendency to drag you toward fighting, hatred, accumulation of goods for survival, etc…”
      – Not so if one comprehends Buddha Dhamma. Then one would stay away from such tendencies because one is aware of the bad consequences.

      “Also if you are not born in a good environment, it is very difficult to develop intellect and understanding.”
      – Yes.

      “Most dying people are extremely tormented and unhappy. It seems absurd to me that they should be directed in a negative direction for a few understandable negative emotions.”
      – Who is directing them? One is fully responsible for one’s destiny. If they had learned Dhamma, they would not be tormented.

      “This passage is also hard for me to grasp.

      Out of the 31 realms of existence (see, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“), the mind has much less capability in most other realms. Thus, it is very difficult to get rid of bad kamma seeds and cultivate good ones while in realms other than the human. Therefore, one should make the utmost effort to get rid of the bad seeds and to develop “good seeds” during this short life span of 100 years or so.”
      – Think about the animal realm. Animals are like robots. They cannot learn Dhamma.
      – Those in higher realms are CAPABLE of learning Dhamma. But they don’t have any incentive. They do not see much suffering around them.

      “So human existence has a natural tendency to drag you toward fighting, hatred, accumulation of goods for survival, etc…. Even if you tend to be a moral person. Also if you are not born in a good environment, it is very difficult to develop intellect and understanding.”
      – Yes. That is why relatively few people are interested in Buddha Dhamma. They do not take time to think about the “bigger picture” of the rebirth process among 31 realms. Of course, most people have not even heard about Buddha Dhamma.

      “What would cause the end of this kammic potential?”
      – One’s own thoughts with greed, anger, and ignorance (of the Buddha Dhamma).

      Some of the essential concepts are discussed at, “Living Dhamma” and “Moral Living and Fundamentals” sections.

    • #26959
      sybe07
      Spectator

      I find it a disturbing idea that the “last thought at the death moment” determines your next incarnation. That one moment can be so descisive is disturbing.

      It feels like one is never safe this way, because one might have a bad thought at the death moment. One can do good all the time and still have a miserable rebirth this way when one at the death moment has a bad thought. It does not contribute to less fear of dying.

      • #26960
        yann
        Participant

        Hello sybe07.

        I do find it disturbing also and i don’t think this is the case. After meditating a bit about it, i think that what happens is that your dominant mindstate will manifest itself during the period after death and automatically direct you toward the approriate environment.
        I can’t speculate much more than this but this is my intuition.

    • #26962
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Sybe07 and yann: There are many things that we do not like. However, we cannot change Nature’s laws. If you can provide any supporting material we can discuss.

      Buddha’s teachings are vast and all self-consistent. The only way to disprove them would be to find any inconsistencies.

      So, if you can find any inconsistencies with the material on this website, please feel free to state them.

      • #26977
        yann
        Participant

        Buddha’s teachings are vast and all self-consistent. The only way to disprove them would be to find any inconsistencies.

        I though this website was based on revisiting bouddha’s teachings… Since they are 2500 years old, and since they were written by somebody else 500 years later, i think it is very safe to assume that they do not ressemble 100% the original teachings. I also think one should be able to think for himself and examine carefully what he believes.
        They might seem consistent to you but to someone else they might seem absurd. The idea that the exact last thought will determine your next birth does not match people Near Death Experience.
        I think this is a misunderstanding.
        What is true is that when you die your fate is over and you canno’t change your karma anymore, so the global state of your mind/karma at the last moment will indeed determine your fate. Death is often a physically and mentally challenging event…I think there is no need to pretend otherwise…. Also body condition affects thoughts….
        But i read your theory about the cows. It might make some sense but that is far from what i would call a consistent theory. Why would the last thought be one of the strongest karma? what would justify this.
        This theory could also lead to absurd thinking like the following : if i kill myself in a pleasant state of mind and cultivate good thoughts, then i will reach better rebirth….

        • #26982
          Lal
          Keymaster

          yann wrote: “if i kill myself in a pleasant state of mind and cultivate good thoughts, then i will reach better rebirth….”

          You have not understood what I explained. As I said, it takes time to understand Buddha Dhamma.
          – I hope you will read the sections that I recommended. But it is up to you.

          P.S. Your other comments in the above post also reflects the fact that you have not had time to read/understand some basic concepts about Buddha Dhamma and its history.

          For example, you say, “I though this website was based on revisiting bouddha’s teachings… Since they are 2500 years old, and since they were written by somebody else 500 years later, i think it is very safe to assume that they do not ressemble 100% the original teachings.”

          You simply have not read the relevant sections at the website. In this case, you should read “Historical Background.”
          – Budha’s teachings have been fully preserved, even during oral transmission over about 400 years.

    • #26964
      y not
      Participant

      Yes, that the last thought moment determines the next birth may be quite unsettling.

      However we must not forget that in many suttas it is also said that observing the 5 precepts and living a moral life leads to heavenly worlds; BUT in one other (at least) it is stated that even given that, one may still end up in a lower bhava, depending on precedent or antecedent causes. I do not remember which sutta that is. So is there anything we can do about it? This is the question.

      If you have eaten sausages the whole week for breakfast, it will be the thought of sausages that comes to the mind at breakfast time next. So constantly living by the Dhamma makes it more likely that we are in that state at the moment of death. But still there seems to be no guarantee.

      The guarantee is this: those who have gone for Refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, i.e. even before attaining the Sotapanna Stage, are ‘exempt from places of loss, the animal realm, hell..” That in itself means that one will not GRASP a thought (if it were to arise), an arammana, that leads to those places.

    • #26970
      Lal
      Keymaster

      y not, Sybe07, yann: “Yes, that the last thought moment determines the next birth may be quite unsettling.

      The key to understanding here is the following.

      That last thought-moment does not come to the mind arbitrarily.

      Usually, it is related to the strongest kamma (good or bad) that one has done in all previous lives (including the present life). The Buddha gave the following analogy, which I have discussed before.
      In those days, cows were kept in barns overnight. In the morning, the gate would be opened and the cows will go out and start eating grass. The cows are anxious to come out by the morning, but only the strongest push their way to the front to be close to the gate.
      – In the same way, stronger kamma would come to the mind of a dying person.

      There is a second factor that comes into play, and that is what y not is referring to.
      – One may have attained a magga phala (or at least the Sotapanna Anugami stage) during life. Then that person’s mind would not grasp any thought object suitable for rebirth in lower realms. Then it will be replaced by a thought object corresponding to the next strongest kamma in line. If that is also not compatible with the mindset of the person that would not be grasped either. That process would happen very quickly until an arammana (thought object) compatible with the mindset is grasped.
      – Of course, an Arahant’s mind would not grasp any arammana due to any previous kamma. Thus an Arahant would not be reborn anywhere in the 31 realms.

      A good example is Angulimala who killed almost a thousand people. But he attained the Arahanthood, and thus became free of all rebirths. If he had not attained the Arahanthhod, he would have been born in a lower realm.
      See, “Account of Angulimāla – Many Insights to Buddha Dhamma.”

    • #26974
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I just came across the following article:
      KASTRUP: NO, CONSCIOUSNESS CANNOT BE JUST A BYPRODUCT

      Scientists and philosophers are beginning to realize that consciousness CANNOT arise from inert matter.

      But they have no idea how consciousness arises.

      Consciousness can arise only if a “seat of the mind” (hadaya vatthu) is created by Nature, via kammic energy.
      – We create our own future lives (that are conscious) with our own actions.

      The series of posts on “Origin of Life” analyze that in detail and came to that conclusion in the post, “Origin of Life – One Creates One’s Own Future Lives.”

    • #26984
      y not
      Participant

      yann,

      Before you acquire at least a reasonably good idea of the Buddha’s Teaching, you are in no position to even have an opinion on whether “it is very safe to assume that they do not resemble 100% the original teachings”. Read the sections on the Site as Lal suggested. Then, THEN, ‘one should be able to think for himself and examine carefully what he believes’ By all means examine the Teaching, doubt It even, but be sure you have the main facts first. I too harboured this doubt at one time, so it is not condemning, as long as one is bent on resolving the issue.

      The Teaching was written down by Arahants. They are the model, the very personification of Perfection, excluding, of course, a Buddha Himself. Once you see who or what an Arahant is, it will seem to you absurd,inconceivable, that Arahants could in any way twist the truth, or be agents of that, even unknowingly.

      Once you get a good picture of the Teaching, examine it, reflect on it and based on that you SEE: ‘Here is what Reality is all about. At last! This is the Way. This is what I will pursue my whole life through’, you have gone for Refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. You are free of the apayas.

      May you attain it soon. How soon is entirely up to you.

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