April 15, 22 Discussion on Rebirth

On April 15 we discussed what the Buddha actually taught on Rebirth. We read and reflected on THIS HANDOUT, which presents representative excerpts from the Suttas each highlighting a particular aspect of rebirth. What is unusual about rebirth within the range of the Buddha’s teachings is that it relies on metaphysical assumptions that are commonly regarded in the West as unscientific. The Buddha’s arguments for rebirth are in fact pragmatic: It produces the proper attitude or frame of reference that supports practice and particularly virtue.

These considerations raise interesting questions: If we were to dismiss rebirth out of hand, what aspects of the Buddha’s system of thought would we thereby lose? Does it impair our practice? Fatally? If so, is there another way to view rebirth and reincorporate it into our understanding? Or is it appropriate to dismiss rebirth at all? How about the considerable scientific evidence Ian Stevenson and his colleagues have documented?

Please join our think tank next week as we explore these further questions.

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