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I am not very experienced with Buddhism, but I do think I have read several suttas teaching that it is not good to hold on to views, and that the Buddha doesn't teach what the universe is like, but rather about the mind. I think this makes sense, since I experience that any clinging, even the mildest one to a view, causes discomfort.

Still, I see so many Buddhists cling on to views like rebirth or karma: Many Buddhists that I know make it an important part of their lives, and I see many analyses about Buddhism describing it as central to the belief. Is this just the natural human desire for certainty putting forward these views, or are there any teachings that actually promote it? If so, what arguments do they use? (I am not precisely asking for the psychological factors behind this clinging, but rather the ground; the teachings, that are behind it)

I am asking for teachings that imply that these views (rebirth, karma etc.) are important and that it therefore is skillful to hold on to these views.

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  • I have edited the question, since it was badly written and included a lot of irrelevant opinions. I hope it will be better received now.
    – user23691
    May 1, 2022 at 9:58
  • Do you mean to ask something like "is it skillful or wholesome to hold on to or cling to views like rebirth and karma, or is it better to let go of such views?"
    – ruben2020
    May 1, 2022 at 10:05
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    @ruben2020 I am asking for teachings that imply that these views are important and that it therefore is skillful to hold on to these views.
    – user23691
    May 1, 2022 at 10:07
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    FYI on some SE sites you might as well "accept" an answer as soon as one is posted which solves your problem. On other SE sites it can be a good idea to wait a couple of days before "accepting" one, in order to encourage or welcome a variety of other answers too.
    – ChrisW
    May 1, 2022 at 10:37

3 Answers 3

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Sometimes, views related to karma and rebirth can be used skillfully by someone with self-view.

Please see the two paragraphs below.

The first paragraph states that someone should reflect that he is the owner and heir of his own karma, and would inherit the results of his karma. Reflecting on this will cause him to reduce misconduct.

The second paragraph states that when a noble disciple reflects on the fact that not only him, but all own their karma, are heirs of their karma and would inherit the result of their karma, then reflecting on this will cause him to get on the path to liberation.

“And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do’? People engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, such misconduct is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do.’

“This noble disciple reflects thus: ‘I am not the only one who is the owner of one’s kamma, the heir of one’s kamma; who has kamma as one’s origin, kamma as one’s relative, kamma as one’s resort; who will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that one does. All beings that come and go, that pass away and undergo rebirth, are owners of their kamma, heirs of their kamma; all have kamma as their origin, kamma as their relative, kamma as their resort; all will be heirs of whatever kamma, good or bad, that they do.’ As he often reflects on this theme, the path is generated. He pursues this path, develops it, and cultivates it. As he does so, the fetters are entirely abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.
AN 5.57

There are two sorts of Right Views - with and without effluents.

The view about a person being the owner and heir of their karma, is such a Right View with effluents, that sides with merit. Another is rebirth.

"And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions [of becoming]; there is right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.
MN 117

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  • Thank you. Added "twofold" to examples.
    – OyaMist
    May 2, 2022 at 10:21
  • Also added "the owner of" to examples
    – OyaMist
    May 2, 2022 at 10:29
  • @OyaMist Where did you add the examples to?
    – ruben2020
    May 2, 2022 at 11:19
  • by "examples" I mean the examples used by Voice.suttacentral.net. We add examples to github.com/ebt-site/ebt-data/tree/published/examples Examples connect suttas mnemonically, allowing us to recall particular suttas with a few key words. This facilitates practice and study.
    – OyaMist
    May 2, 2022 at 11:48
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It is crucial because it is one of the 4 primary fears necessary for proper motivation.

“Mendicants, there are these four fears. What four? The fears of guilt, shame, punishment, and going to a bad place.

And what, mendicants, is the fear of rebirth in a bad place? It’s when someone reflects: ‘Bad conduct of body, speech, or mind has a bad result in the next life. If I were to do such bad things, when my body breaks up, after death, I’d be reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell.’ Being afraid of rebirth in a bad place, they give up bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, and develop good conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, keeping themselves pure. This is called the fear of rebirth in a bad place. - AN 4.121

It is most fundamental to how The Buddha trained people;

"Kesi, I train a tamable person [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with harshness, [sometimes] with both gentleness & harshness.

"In using gentleness, [I teach:] 'Such is good bodily conduct. Such is the result of good bodily conduct. Such is good verbal conduct. Such is the result of good verbal conduct. Such is good mental conduct. Such is the result of good mental conduct. Such are the devas. Such are human beings.'

"In using harshness, [I teach:] 'Such is bodily misconduct. Such is the result of bodily misconduct. Such is verbal misconduct. Such is the result of verbal misconduct. Such is mental misconduct. Such is the result of mental misconduct. Such is hell. Such is the animal womb. Such the realm of the hungry shades.' - Kesi Sutta

Being without this fear is closest to trying to train without fear of shame, guilt or any fear of punishment. What do you think, is it important?

Added;

that the Buddha doesn't teach what the universe is like, but rather about the mind.

These can not be separated because The Buddha clearly taught about the origin on the world as well as mind eg DN27 Genesis.

The whole notion of escaping samsara without rebirth is pointless without rebirth because one can just wait to die as death makes equal.

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In the famous Parable of the Raft, the Dharma, as well as that which is not the Dharma, is something that is discarded at the far shore. The Dharma is for crossing, not for clinging. Some, when they hear that the Dharma is for crossing and not for clinging, wish to discard their raft so as to not cling to it. What is your raft? The teachings of the Buddha are your raft. The threefold training is your raft. The eightfold path is your raft.

If we discard the "view" that there is a threefold training, if we discard the training before the crossing, then how will the raftless swimmer cross, rhetorically speaking? The point of the Parable of the Raft is not to swim raftless to the far shore. Swimming raftless, swimming "Dharma-less," swimming "viewless" isn't presented as a possible solution to the problem posed by the parable, namely the problem of a "great expanse of water" that is "dubious & risky" at the near shore (from MN 22 as translated by Venerable Ṭhānissaro). The raft is needed in the parable because forgoing it is simply not a viable option. Otherwise, IMO the point of the parable becomes obscured.

This addresses the issue of "all views" and whether we need to discard "all views" in order to reach the far shore. The Parable of the Raft, to the extent that it can be construed to refer to dropping "all views," has this happen once the far shore has already been reached.

What about other views?

One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong view & for entering into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.

(Mahācattārīsakasutta MN 117 translated by Venerable Ṭhānissaro)

What about in the Abyākatasutta, where spiritual progress is associated with "the cessation of views" ("diṭṭhinirodhā")?

Because of the cessation of views, monk, uncertainty doesn’t arise in an instructed disciple of the noble ones over the undeclared issues. The view-standpoint, ‘The Tathagata exists after death,’ the view-standpoint, ‘The Tathagata doesn’t exist after death,’ the view-standpoint, ‘The Tathagata both does and doesn’t exist after death,’ the view-standpoint, ‘The Tathagata neither does nor doesn’t exist after death’: The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn’t discern view, doesn’t discern the origination of view, doesn’t discern the cessation of view, doesn’t discern the path of practice leading to the cessation of view, and so for him that view grows. He is not freed from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress. But the instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns view, discerns the origination of view, discerns the cessation of view, discerns the path of practice leading to the cessation of view, and so for him that view ceases. He is freed from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs. He is freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

(Abyākatasutta AN 7.54 translated by Venerable Ṭhānissaro)

This sutta, complete with its section on the "cessation of view," is dealing with particular views ceasing. In particular, it deals with four views that it outlines in the body of the sutta. 1) That ‘The Tathagata exists after death,’ 2) that ‘The Tathagata doesn’t exist after death,’ 3) ‘The Tathagata both does and doesn’t exist after death,’ and 4) ‘The Tathagata neither does nor doesn’t exist after death.’ It is due to the cessation of these views that "uncertainty doesn't arise," to use the language from the sutta directly. So we can see that the Abyākatasutta does not actually instruct the followers of the Buddha to abandon all views in toto, including the right ones. This is, however, a common way to read the sutta in my experience even if it is mistaken IMO.

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  • So are you implying that karma and rebirth do not exist or even function but are just tools that the Buddha used to encourage people to seek liberation?
    – Remyla
    May 4, 2022 at 13:17
  • No. I think that karma and rebirth are what the Buddha sought to end. I think that those Buddhists who insist that we must discard all views before engaging in any Buddhist training are putting the cart before the horse.
    – Caoimhghin
    May 4, 2022 at 15:38

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