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Suppose somebody strongly believes in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly denies the possibility of the existence of rebirth.

Is such a belief/view a result of craving for views regarding rebirth?

Is it possible to attain Nirvana with such a belief/view?

Does an arahat strongly believe in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly deny the possibility of the existence of rebirth?

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It's a very modern view, actually a very materialistic view at least, coming in camouflages of emptiness (e.g. householder equanimity, that like to deny effect of deeds)

It falls mostly even into one of the three 'evil views':

From: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, by Ven. Nyanatiloka

The so-called 'evil views with fixed destiny' (niyata-micchāditthi) constituting the last of the 10 unwholesome courses of action (kammapatha), are the following three:

  • (1) the fatalistic 'view of the uncaused ness' of existence (ahetukaditthi),

  • (2) the view of the inefficacy of action' (akiriyaditthi),

  • (3) nihilism (natthikaditthi).

(1) was taught by Makkhali-Gosāla, a contemporary of the Buddha who denied every cause for the corruptness and purity of beings, and asserted that everything is minutely predestined by fate.

(2) was taught by Pūrana-Kassapa, another contemporary of the Buddha who denied every karmical effect of good and bad actions: "To him who kills, steals, robs, etc., nothing bad will happen. For generosity, self-restraint and truthfulness, etc. no reward is to be expected."

(3) was taught by Ajita-Kesakambali, a third contemporary of the Buddha who asserted that any belief in good action and its reward is a mere delusion, that after death no further life would follow, that man at death would become dissolved into the elements, etc.

Table I - Consciousness-States (viññāna kkhandha) karmic unwholesome (akusala), Rooted in attachment (lobha):

  1. accompanied by joy, associated with wrong view, unprompted

  2. accompanied by joy, associated with wrong view, prompted

  3. accompanied by joy, dissociated with wrong view, unprompted

  4. accompanied by joy, dissociated with wrong view, prompted

  5. accompanied by indifference, associated with wrong view, unprompted

  6. accompanied by indifference, associated with wrong view, prompted

  7. accompanied by indifference, dissociated with wrong view, unprompted

29.accompanied by indifference, dissociated with wrong view, prompted

See also: How to address wrong view?

Usually they deny mundane right view and excuse their action by transcendent right views means.

How ever, it does not mean that everybody who does not firm believe in rebirth is destinated to low reals!

If one holds on a liberal perspective while being vituose in a mood "what ever may came" or "for now, I do not know but also can not exclude" like suggested to the Kalamas:

"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now:

"'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.

"'If evil is done through acting, still I have willed no evil for anyone. Having done no evil action, from where will suffering touch me?' This is the third assurance he acquires.

"'But if no evil is done through acting, then I can assume myself pure in both respects.' This is the fourth assurance he acquires.

"One who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires these four assurances in the here-&-now."

Because not acting unwholesome out of any believe, seeing the benefit of virtue in all cases, one is good protected to be not destinated upwards as well.

So it should not be understood in a way that the Buddha or his disciples force you to take on a believe or that someone not believing on rebirth, maybe even never gave it a thought, althought he/she is a virtuous person, acts in good and harmless way, is destinated, out of missing a conscious believe, to unpleasant states.

It all comes down to the actions by mind, speech and bodily deeds one performes of where he/she would find him/herselves later on.

If starting to keep the five precepts firm, you will see for your self that youR welbeing increases and states "as if in hell" do no more accure that often or even fade eternally. Then, later, you see cause and effects for youself, knowing that your current existence is not just something that happens accidently or by power of others or ends with that done today and that you future is designed by previous and current deeds. Here you are for now and there you could be, or there. Own choices design the path where to go and they can not be made undone.

Once you came till here you can be Comfortable with the truth

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange]

  • It is amazing that the contemporaries of Buddha explain so clear what right view is not! – user4878 Oct 9 '17 at 16:39
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Post-mortem rebirth? Isn't post-mortem implied in the common understanding of the word rebirth? Sounds like you are trying so hard to be in conformity with someone's custom usage of words. :)

Is such a belief/view a result of craving for views regarding rebirth?

Belief in no rebirth or the belief in termination of the mental-physical process at death is caused by ignorance. It comes under pernicious false beliefs (niyata micca ditthi, natthika diṭṭhi). Having strong belief in such views is considered even worse than committing the five heinous crimes. It is said that such beings are born in a hell called Lokantarika-niraya.

Is it possible to attain Nirvana with such a belief/view?

No. That is why such views are called Saggavarana and Maggavarana - blocking the path to heaven and blocking the path to Nibbana.

Does an arahat strongly believe in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly deny the possibility of the existence of rebirth?

Arahats do not believe this. They know that they will not be born again since they have eliminated craving. They also know that beings are born again after death if they still have craving left.

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  1. Yes, it is called vibhava-taṇhā (craving in not existence, included rebirth) in sacca-pabba of mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta.

  2. In kītāgirisutta, nibbāna is known by wisdom of insight meditation. The trust is just a base of wisdom, but the trust can not enlighten nibbāna by itself without wisdom.

  3. Several sutta in tipitaka show that arahanta never deny post-mortem rebirth of non ariya people. In contrast, they accept the possibility of the existence of rebirth, you can see in every nikāya of tipitaka.

  • Vibhava-taṇhā is a self-view. Where as no belief in rebirth is the view the five aggregates end at the end of life. – Dhammadhatu Oct 9 '17 at 12:09
  • View is not craving. Craving is not view. Craving is attachment, but view is the attitude. Your must try more to recite and memorize pali. You have many confusing in pali word. – Bonn Oct 9 '17 at 12:15
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I knew it! I found the answer in the suttas!

Is such a belief/view a result of craving for views regarding rebirth?

Yes. A belief in no rebirth is a result of craving, which was also confirmed by the Buddha in this sutta:

74."There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the future, who hold settled views about the future, and who on forty-four grounds assert various conceptual theorems referring to the future. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins frame their speculations?

84."There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are annihilationists and who on seven grounds proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?

85."Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine and view: 'The self, good sir, has material form; it is composed of the four primary elements and originates from father and mother. Since this self, good sir, is annihilated and destroyed with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death, at this point the self is completely annihilated.' In this way some proclaim the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being.

103."This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: 'These standpoints, thus assumed and thus misapprehended, lead to such a future destination, to such a state in the world beyond.' He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that understanding he does not misapprehend. And because he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the state of perfect peace. Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.

114."When those recluses and brahmins who are annihilationists proclaim on seven grounds the annihilation, destruction, and extermination of an existent being —

115."When those recluses and brahmins who maintain a doctrine of Nibbāna here and now proclaim on five grounds supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being —

117."When those recluses and brahmins who are speculators about the past, speculators about the future, speculators about the past and the future together, who hold settled views about the past and the future, assert on sixty-two grounds various conceptual theorems referring to the past and the future — that too is only the feeling of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those who are immersed in craving.

Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html

Thus, from this sutta it's evident that the belief in no rebirth comes from craving. Whoever has the described view of no rebirth is immersed in craving. It's confirmed by the sutta.

At last, I'm not insane. Now it's confirmed also from the scriptures, that a belief in no rebirth is coming from craving!

I bow to the all knower, the Buddha.

Please note that this does not mean that the self or being continues to exist after death. This belief/view of existence after death falls under the other extreme, which is eternalism, which too must be avoided. I'll address this in the answer to this question Questions about strong acceptance of rebirth? .

Furthermore, I also found this sutta (PLEASE NOTE: for clarity purposes I'm quoting only the parts of the sutta where the belief in no rebirth is mentioned):

Bhikkhus, there are certain recluses and brahmans who declare views about the future. Such as ... the annihilation, destruction and the non existence of the conscience. ...

Those recluses and brahmins, who declare the annihilation, destruction and the non existence of the conscience, fear the self loathe it, and run round that same self. ... those recluses and brahmins, who declare the annihilation, destruction and the non existence of the conscience of the person, fear the self, loathe it, and run round that same self. This is compounded and coarse ...

Whoever recluses and brahmins declared views about the future did so declaring one or the other of the [above]. ...

There are recluses and brahmins who declare views about the past such as .... the self and the world are not eternal, this only is the truth, all else is false. ... The self and the world are limited ... this only is the truth all else is false. ...

Bhikkhus, the recluses and brahmins who bear the view [']the self and world is not eternal ... limited ... this only is the truth, all else is false['] That they should by themselves realize this pure view without a faith, a liking, hearsay, careful thinking and without a pleased view is not a possibility.

Bhikkhus, a certain recluse or brahmin gives up views about the past and future, not intending any sensual bonds, abides in joy secluded, thinking this is peaceful and exalted. .... In the same manner a certain recluse or brahmin gives up views about the past and future, not intending any sensual bonds, abides in joy secluded, thinking this is peaceful and exalted. ...

Source: http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/2Majjhima-Nikaya/Majjhima3/102-pancattaya-e.html

Is it possible to attain Nirvana with such a belief/view?

No. In order to attain Nirvana, this belief/view must cease.

Once Nirvana is attained and after, this belief/view will cease. Why? Because when Nirvana is attained, craving ceases. Since the person who has this belief/view was immersed in craving, and this craving ceased, the belief/view will cease too and right view will arise.

Nirvana is attained when craving is eradicated. Craving is eradicated when ignorance is eradicated. Thus, one must eradicate ignorance in order to eradicate craving. This same eradication of craving is Nirvana, which is attained by the arahat.

Does an arahat strongly believe in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly deny the possibility of the existence of rebirth?

No. Why? An arahat knows that rebirth has ended, but for not yet liberated beings rebirth continues. That's why an arahat can't strongly believe in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly deny the possibility of the existence of rebirth.

Furthermore, the Buddha said that anybody who strongly believes in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly denies the possibility of the existence of rebirth is immersed in craving. Somebody who is immersed in craving is not an arahat. An arahat has eradicated craving.

  • I beg to disagree. What Buddha meant IMHO is the wrong view that states that everything ends with death. As I said the concept of information is key to understanding rebirth and this concept unfortunately did not exist in Buddha's times. Information and karma does not disappear with death, because what we call "being" is a conventional designation, not an entity. This position is free from the extremes of existing or not existing after death and is the correct view. – Andrei Volkov Oct 9 '17 at 19:48
  • Thanks for commenting. Can you point to the part in my answer where you disagree? From your comment I don't understand exactly where is the disagreement coming from. Is it maybe my answer to the 2nd question "Is it possible to attain Nirvana with such a belief/view?" and the 3rd "Does an arahat strongly believe in no post-mortem rebirth and strongly deny the possibility of the existence of rebirth?"? – beginner Oct 9 '17 at 19:59
  • idk, it was kind of ambiguous... I thought you were interpreting Buddha's words as saying that self or being is not annihilated. But if you are saying, like I'm saying, that self or being has never been an entity to begin with, then we agree. – Andrei Volkov Oct 9 '17 at 20:13
  • @Andrei Volkov "I thought you were interpreting Buddha's words as saying that self or being is not annihilated" no, I think that's another extreme, eternalism, which too must be avoided. I updated my answer to reflect this. – beginner Oct 9 '17 at 20:36
  • @AndreiVolkov One of the questions in the OP is whether "having a view" is conditioned by "craving" ... the last sentence of the first sutta quoted is being presented here as evidence of that. The second sutta quoted doesn't mentioned craving, but perhaps is presented as evidence re. the second question (whether belief in non-rebirth is compatible with nibanna -- the sutta's calling it "compounded and coarse" suggests it isn't). I think beginner's position is that it's incorrect to have a position on this subject. – ChrisW Oct 9 '17 at 21:46
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Non-belief in post-mortem rebirth arises from the realisation that "jati" is the birth of creating the idea of "beings" or "self-identities". Therefore, non-belief in post-mortem rebirth arises from realisation, liberation, truthfulness & honesty (rather than from craving).

If the questioner is unsure what the words "truthfulness & honesty" mean, they can ask the question: "Does telling children there is no Santa Claus arise from craving or from honesty?"

Belief in post-mortem rebirth is a significant obstacle to Nibbana, which is why the Buddha did not teach about post-mortem rebirth in those suttas that lead to enlightenment, such as SN 22.59, about the three characteristics. The Buddha's final words were: "All conditioned things are subject to vanish".

Any teachings that infer (via worldly interpretation) post-mortem rebirth were given for the purpose of fostering morality (refer to MN 117) & not for Nibbana. These moral teachings are about "kamma" and include the assumption of "self" ("upadhi" - refer to MN 117).

In DN 31, it is taught the duty of monks is to teach householders the path to heaven (rather than the path to Nibbana). In his 1st sermon, the Buddha taught 'The Middle Way' is for those who have left the household life (rather than for householders).

In Buddhism, there are two levels of teachings, namely: (i) moral teachings, particularly for householders; and (ii) Nibbana teachings, particularly for monks & aspirants (refer to MN 117).

Not discerning the two levels of teachings results in illogical questions, such as "rebirth" & "Nibbana". Nibbana and rebirth have no relationship to each other because Nibbana is the here-&-now end of greed, hatred & delusion, including the end of self-view.

If self-view & self-conceit are not completely eradicated, no type of Nibbana can be realised.

And how is the bhikkhu a noble one whose banner is lowered, whose burden is lowered, who is unfettered? Here a bhikkhu has abandoned the conceit ‘I am,’ has cut it off at the root so that it is no longer subject to future arising. That is how the bhikkhu is a noble one whose banner is lowered, whose burden is lowered, who is unfettered. MN 22

  • But why deny rebirth its proper place in the Path? – user4878 Oct 9 '17 at 16:42
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    Your comment has no merit. The proper place of "rebirth" in the path is mental rebirth. Every arising of a self-belief is a rebirth and every abandonment or cutting through of self-belief is the path. There is no path wiithout cutting out the birth of self-belief. Please refer to SN 22.81, which states it is the assumption of "self" that is born. Good luck. – Dhammadhatu Oct 9 '17 at 20:16
  • I believe the Buddha teaches the rebirth of suffering and the way out. – user4878 Oct 9 '17 at 20:27
  • @DH this reminds me how a few years ago I was trying to explain to some practitioners that there is no Nirvana or Enlightenment in the vulgar escapist sense of the word, and was getting the same Santa-Claus-Is-Real knee jerk reaction. Please do not be discouraged. I, for one, am in agreement with your phenomenological explanation as the key to liberation, although I still like to add cosmological information-centric explanation as well, as a conceptual aid to letting go of phenomenological self but that's entirely optional and not strictly necessary. Your position is complete as far as I see. – Andrei Volkov Oct 9 '17 at 20:28

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