Discover more from Christopher Titmuss - The Buddha Wallah
To Believe in Rebirth is an extreme view. To not believe in rebirth is an extreme view.
Millions of Buddhists and countless others believe or don’t believe in rebirth and future lives.
Such people should consider reading several times this discourse from the Buddha (SM 11 The Book of Causation.20.10).The discourse can free the mind up from imprisonment of the self to belief in the continuity of the self through belief in future lives or extinction of the self through belief in one life.
The Buddha said if a person understands dependent arising, then it is “impossible” to hold to either view.
There is no fudging of the language. ‘Impossible’ leaves no room for manoeuvre or a different interpretation.
In clear and unmistakable ways, the Buddha taught dependently arising phenomena.
Extract from the Discourse referring to future lives
The Buddha said to the yogis and practitioners: “Listen and attend closely. I will speak.
“When one has seen clearly with wisdom as it really is this dependently arising phenomena, it is impossible that he will run back into the past, thinking:
“Did I exist in the past?
“Did I not exist in the past?
“What was I in the past?
“Having been what, what did I become in the past?
“Or that he will run forward into the future thinking:
“Will I exist in the future?
Will I not exist in the future?
“Having been what, what will I become in the future?”
“What am I?
“How am I?
“This being – where will it come from and where will it go?”
“What is the reason that it is impossible to ask such a question?
“Because one has clearly seen with wisdom, as it really is, this dependently arising phenomena.”
The Buddha could not have it more clear.
Essentially, the Buddha reminded listeners of the process of rebecoming, of dependent arising. His powerful statement doesn’t give any comfort to those who advocate rebirth or those who dismiss rebirth. He regarded such beliefs as ignorance. This ignorance contributes to the grasping of ‘self’ and to tie it to the past, future or present.
Believers and disbelievers in rebirth have formed into extreme positions, which neglect the middle way of dependently arising phenomena.
Those who understand dependent arising (conditionality/contingency/causes and conditions) know and see the emptiness of concern about whether the self exists in the past present or future.
This is a big relief, namely ending speculation about whether we exist after death or not.