L8 Rebirth Without A Soul

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Exploring The Dhamma


Rebirth Without A Soul “Neither the same nor yet another” - Visuddhi Magga


Rebirth Without A Soul Buddhism does not assert the existence of an immortal soul or an eternal ego. A soul which is eternal must necessarily remain always the same without any change whatever - there could neither be a rise nor a fall. How then can one explain why “different souls are so variously constituted at the outset.” Certain religions postulated the existence of an immortal soul to justify the existence of endless happiness in an eternal heaven and unending suffering in an eternal hell.


Rebirth Without A Soul Bertrand Russell wrote: “It should be said that the old distinction between soul and body has evaporated, quite as much because ‘matter’ has lost its solidity as because mind has lost its spirituality. Psychology is just beginning to be scientific. In the present state of psychology belief in immortality can at any rate claim no support from science.”


Rebirth Without A Soul If nothing in the form of a spirit or soul passes from this life to the other, what is it that is reborn? Buddhism believes everything changes so quickly. For no two moments are we identically the same. Buddhism, teaching a psychology without a psyche, resolves the living being into mind and matter (nama-rupa) which are in a state of constant flux.


Paramathas In ancient India, the sages believed in an indivisible atom which they called Paramanu. According to the belief: 36 Paramanus = 1 Anu 36 Anus = 1 Tajjari 36 Tajjaris = 1 Ratharenu The minute particles of dust seen dancing in the sunbeam are called Ratharenu. One Paramanu is 1/46,656th part of a Ratharenu. The Buddha analysed the Paramanu and declared that it consists of interrelated forces known as Paramathas or essentials of matter. These Paramathas are Pathavi, Apo, Tejo, and Vayo.


Paramathas Pathavi Means the element of extension. Without it, objects cannot occupy space. Hardness or softness are two qualities of this element. Apo Element of cohesion. This element makes the scattered atoms of matter cohere and gives us the idea of body.


Paramathas Tejo Element of heat. Cold is also a form of tejo. It is the vitalising energy. Preservation and decay are due to this element. Only this element has the power to regenerate itself. Vayo Element of motion. Movements are caused by this element. Motion is regarded as the force or the generator of heat.


Paramathas The 4 elements and their derivatives are inseparable and interrelated. One element may dominate over another. For example, the extension (Pathavi) element preponderates in earth; cohesion (Apo) preponderates in water; heat in fire; and motion in air. These 4 elements (Pathavi, Apo, Tejo, and Vayo) are the fundamental units of matter and are invariably combined with the 4 derivations – namely colour (vanna), odour (gandha), taste (rasa) and nutritive essence (oja).


Paramathas Thus, matter consists of forces and qualities which are always in a state of constant flux. According to Buddhism, matter endures only for 17 thought-moments.


Paramathas Mind consists of 52 mental states (cettasika). Feeling (vedana) is one; perception (sanna) is another, the remaining 50 are collectively called volitional activities (samkhara). Of them, volition (cetana) is the most important factor. All these psychic states arise in a consciousness (vinnana). There is no single moment, when one does not experience a kind of consciousness – hanging on to some object whether physical or mental. The time-limit for one consciousness = 1 thought-moment.


Consciousness Each unit of consciousness consists of 3 instants (khana). They are: Arising/genesis – uppada Static/development – thiti Cessation/dissolution - bhanga The cessation of a thought-moment is immediately succeeded by a genesis of the next thought-moment.


Consciousness The rapidity of the succession of such thought-moments is hardly conceivable (time duration of 1 thought moment is even less than one millionth part of the time occupied by a flash of lightning.) In the Abhidhamma text, it is stated that consciousness arises and dissolves in a person at a tremendous rate of more than a thousand billion times per eye-wink. And there are 250 eye-winks in a second. So the life-span of a consciousness (citta) is less than one-thousand billionth of a second.


Consciousness Each consciousness on its passing away transmits its whole energy, all the indelibly recorded impressions, to its successor. Every fresh consciousness consists of the potentialities of its predecessors together with something more. There is a continuous flow of consciousness like a stream without interruption. Kammic energy


Consciousness The subsequent thought-moment is neither absolutely the same as its predecessor – since its composition is not identical – nor entirely different – being the same stream of life. These states constantly change, not remaining the same for two consecutive moments. Worldlings, enmeshed in the web of illusion, mistake this apparent continuity to be something eternal and go to the extent of introducing an unchanging soul into this ever-changing consciousness.


Five Aggregates The 4 kinds of psychic phenomena, combined with the physical phenomena, form the five aggregates (pancakkhanda), the complex compound termed a living being. One’s individuality is the combination of these 5 aggregates. Five aggregates (pancakkhanda): Rupa - Matter (4 elements: solidity, fluidity, heat, motion) Vedana - Sensations or Feelings Samma - Perceptions or identification Sankara - Mental formation or Tendencies Vinnana - Consciousness


Life-Flux How is rebirth possible without a soul to be reborn? Birth is the arising of the khandas, the aggregates or groups. Just as the arising of a physical state is conditioned by a preceding state as its cause, so the appearance of these psycho-physical phenomena is conditioned by causes anterior to its birth. The present process of becoming is the result of the craving for becoming in the previous birth and the present instinctive craving conditions life in a future birth.


Analogy of the billiard balls: “If, for instance, another ball is rolled against the last stationary ball, the moving ball will stop dead, and the foremost stationary ball will move on. The first moving ball does not pass over, it remains behind, it dies; but it is undeniably the movement of that ball, its momentum, its Kamma, and not any newly created movement, which is reborn in the foremost ball.” Life-Flux


Life-Flux In like manner, the body dies and its Kammic force is reborn in another body without anything transmigrating from this life to the other. The last thought-moment of this life perishes conditioning another thought-moment in a subsequent life. The new being is neither absolutely the same – since it has changed nor totally different – being the same stream of Kamma energy. There is merely a continuity of life flux; just that and nothing more. Kamma Force


The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts the taste of Dhamma excels all taste, the delight in dhamma excels all delights, The Craving-Freed vanquishes all suffering. - Dhammapada verse 354 End of Lesson


Rebirth Without A Soul According to the learned author of the Riddle of the Universe: “The theological proof that a personal creator has breathed an immortal soul (generally regarded as a portion of the Divine Soul) into man is a pure myth. The cosmological proof that the ‘moral order of the world’ demands the eternal duration of the human soul is a baseless dogma. The teleological proof that the ‘higher destiny’ of man involves the perfecting of his defective, earthly soul beyond the grave - rests on a false anthropism. The moral proof-that the defects and the unsatisfied desires of earthly existence must be fulfilled by ‘compensative justice’ on the other side of eternity - is nothing more than a pious wish. The ethnological proof - that the belief in immortality, like the belief in God, is an innate truth, common to all humanity - is an error in fact. The ontological proof - that the soul,being a simple, immaterial, and indivisible entity cannot be involved in the corruption of death - is based on an entirely erroneous view of the psychic phenomena; it is a spiritualistic fallacy. All these and similar ‘proofs of athanatism’ are in a parlous condition; they are definitely annulled by the scientific criticism of the last few decades.”


Consciousness The time-limit for one consciouness = 1 thought-moment. Each thought-moment is succeeded by another. Thus the succession of mental states contains a time element. The rapidity of the succession of such thought-moments is hardly conceivable (time duration of 1 thought moment is even less than one millionth part of the time occupied by a flash of lightning.)

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