Originally Posted by SriHari
Namaste pseudonymus ��
Thank you for your thoughtful input and examples. It's interesting to note you haven't come across this.
Nice to meet you Srihari. I hope we can have a friendly and fun exchange!
I held back from posting this Discussion thread in the Buddhism forum, because it is not relative to the practice of overcoming Dukkha and can be seen as frivolous speculation & interpretation; but in fact is more a topic of the "leaves on the trees" - First of all, we must know that there was a time when the Buddha grabbed a handful of leaves, and asked the monks which was more, the leaves from his hands or the leaves in the forest. The monks said the leaves from the forest was way more. The Buddha then explained that the things he taught was like the handful of leaves and the things that he knew but did not find necessary to teach, it can be compared to the forest of leaves. The Buddha advised us not to put our mind on such speculations as it is not necessary for our journey to Nirvana.
Unfortunately, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to the other branches of Buddhism. Furthermore, being a Theravadin, we do not read, study, or recognize the Sutras of Mahayana or Vajrayana. And so any Buddhist doctrine or teaching in such Sutras have no weight or meaning in Theravada Buddhism, plus I would be unfamiliar with them.
In Theravada, we only use the original Pali Tipitaka, which is written in Pali, and consists of 25,000 pages or 40 volumes worth of scriptures.
When Mahayana developed, they wrote their own scriptures, attributing such to the Buddha, and they added those sutras to the older Tipitaka. In Western terms: Theravada would be like Jews following the "Old Testament [Torah & Tanakh]" and Mahayana would be like the Greek Christians who wrote the books of the New Testament and added them to the Torah & Tanakh. This is one of the reasons why there was a thousand year feud between Theravada and Mahayana. And so they [Mahayana] called Theravada by the derogatory and pejorative term "Hinayana" which means "Inferior Wagon/Vehicle."
The other reason for the ancient feud between the two branches of Buddhism is that the Mahayana Buddhists translated the Pali Tipitaka into Sanskrit and write their Sutras in Sanskrit, when the Buddha explicitly stated not to translate anything he says into Sanskrit, but to always keep it in the "common tongue," meaning Pali, which was a vernacular dialect of Sanskrit. Example: vernacular Italian versus Ecclesiastical Latin. When you take vernacular words spoken by the common folk and translate it into some sacred sacerdotal language, you lose meaning and create sacred or holy meanings that wasn't there before.
And so, for instance, the very popular Diamond Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist text, which has nothing to do with Theravada Buddhism or any Theravada Buddhist. So there is no such thing as a "Buddhist text" in the universal sense.
The point is: if its taught in a Sutra, or if they are stories told in a Sutra, I'm unfamiliar with it, and it has no meaning to a Theravadin. Sutra is Sanskrit. Sutta is the Pali version. Sutra means some kind of holy scripture, Sutta simply means "Chant/Recitation." That's one mere example of things being lost in translation. Dharma versus Dhamma. Karma versus Kamma. And so on.
I have monks in my family who have read and studied pretty much all 40 volumes of the Tipitaka, and as far as I am aware, the Buddha never taught anything about aliens from other planets.
But it is fascinating, even moreso now when we are discovering so many new worlds orbiting other stars, and that we are aware that the destiny of our planet Earth is to one day be swallowed up by our sun when it runs out of hydrogen. To where would we incarnate if there is no planet Earth left (if the human race is still around on Earth at that time)..?
Yes, agreed. Speculative, but fascinating!
Since we're talking about science here, I might as well introduce my first issue with the notion of "Extraterrestrial Reincarnation."
I do believe scientifically that extraterrestrial life exists in this galaxy and in other galaxies. But I believe that 99% of such ET life are primitive biological organisms like bacteria, unicellular organisms, and primitive multicellular creatures.
I don't personally believe that "aliens" exist. When I say "alien" I mean a humanoidal extraterrestrial with two arms, two legs, with cognitive capacity similar to ours, equal to ours, or more advanced than ours.
I don't believe in aliens for several reasons: 1) a sun/star need to be rich in heavy metals, 2) their planet requires liquid water, 3) such planet needs to be at the right distance from its parent sun to have the right temperatures, 4) the planet needs to be the right size for proper brain-body ratio, 5) the planet requires at least one moon, 6) the same kinds of viruses that genetically helped our species acquire our brain's intelligence, must also inject its genes into the aliens.
It's been learned recently that viruses - via horizontal gene transfer and infection - have played a crucial role in the emergence of placental mammals [a couple genes from a virus is responsible for the placenta], and in the emergence of our species and our level of intelligence. Our species and our level of intelligence, may have been, according to recent findings about the role viruses play in evolution, a total accident, a chance, a fluke, where viruses of the right type infected our proto-human ancestors.
Given all of those criteria, the likelihood of there being many planets that have aliens on them is very, very, very slim, and nearly implausible.
This universe has had billions of years to develop. And this galaxy has had billions of years to develop. That there is no galactic alien civilization which has colonized many star systems is telling of the reality of things.
Thus, personally, I do not believe in aliens. And so, likewise, I do not believe that these "UFO" sightings are alien ships from other planets. Because the notion that aliens build bus sized or commercial airline sized spaceship with compact energy sources allowing such crafts to travel trillions and trillions of miles, just to fly around our sky to sight see, majorly defies the Law of Parsimony [Occam's Razor]. I can't intellectually agree with anything which defies the Law of Parsimony, due to the fact that (1) there are too many assumptions involved & (2) those assumptions are utilized as facts and theories to support a notion.
And so personally, my perspective is: (1) if aliens don't exist, we can't reincarnate into them, and vise versa.
Would you agree that in Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, the term "Human" refers to the "Realm of Experience" rather than actual Homo-Sapiens..?
Let's take for a relative example how all animals, and not one specific species alone, are termed as being of the "Animal Realm".
I propose to you then, that "Human" is a term for all beings of our capacity, just as sentient beings is one for lifeforms with consciousness etc.
If so, great - we can move on. I do know that Mahayana favors this; that our planet Earth is one of many which can house 'sentient' lifeforms not specifically Homo-Sapiens.
If not, as in a reference from a friend schooled in Theravada that "Human Homo-Sapiens" form exists on many other worlds, and you agree with that, we can still move on.
Experience [quale] is inherent to Consciousness. Any realm is a realm of experience, even dream worlds we dream of at night. But I understand what you mean:
Samsara, or the Wheel of Samsara has three parts: 1) the Lower Realms, 2) the Middle Realm, and 3) the Upper Realms.
Each realm has its own species of lifeform.
The Lower Realms are inhabited by the lowest forms of life, which we call "Satta" in Pali. Satta simply means "Creature," and in Khmer also means "Animal." A Satta can be a spirit creature or a physical creature. They are primitive and inferior.
The Middle Realm is inhabited by what we call "Manussa." The word "Manussa" is the Sanskrit and Pali word for "Man" or "Human." You can see the word Manussa is actually related to the English word "Man," as well as the German word "Mensch."
Manussa is composed of two lexemes: Man+Ussa. The root "Man-" means "Mind" and "Think," and is related to the Latin word "Mens," which means the same thing. From the Latin "Mens," we get the English word "Mental." The suffix "ussa" denotes agency, similar to our English suffix "-er," as in a "farmer" meaning "one who farms." And so Manussa literally means "One Who Thinks," or "One Who Has Mind."
Although, Manussa means "Man/Human," speculatively, you are right, "Manussa" can refer to any intelligent alien that has the faculty of reason and is able to think.
The Upper Realm is inhabited by what we call "Satt-dep" in Pali & Khmer. Satt is Satta meaning "Creature," and "Dep" is the Pali form of the Sanskrit "Dev," meaning "Divinity," as in the words "Deva" and "Devatta."
The satt-deps have two forms: 1) Rupa & 2) Arupa. Rupa means "Body/Shape/Form," and Arupa means sans body, without shape, and formless.
And so, in the wheel of samsara, that is the hierarchy of creatures: satta, satt-manussa, and satt-dep. And so, all creatures in that wheel of samsara are subject to Karma and rebirth. Yes, even the Devas [gods].
So, if in life, a satta strives to surmount itself, strives to develop itself to become better than it is, in its next life it rebirths as a manussa, as a human, as one that has the capacity to think. When a human in life has strived to surmount himself, strived to better himself, to spiritually develop herself, that human in the next life rebirth as a satt-dep in the Upper Realm. When a satt-dep with rupa strives to spiritually develop themselves, in their next life, they rebirth into an Arupa, meaning Pure Consciousness, Pure Awareness. Pure Mind. If a human in life acts and behaves savage, inhumane, etc, that human is reborn in the lower realm as a satta. And likewise with the satt-dep, if such devas and devattas generate kamma akosala, then in their next life, they devolve into a manussa or even a satta.
And so, this wheel of samsara is my second issue with the notion of extraterrestrial reincarnation: aliens are not an explicit part of the system of samsara. When you rebirth, you only have three ways to go: stay here as a manussa in the middle realm, devolve into a satta, or evolve into a deva.
With this in mind, I propose that incarnations, depending on their Karma...
Karma is my next issue with the notion of ET reincarnation.
I don't think most people fully grasp the concept of Kamma/Karma to its full scope and scale.
With karma, comes something called "karmic fetters," which simply means that our kamma kosala and kamma akolasa binds us to the Vipaka [fruit] of such kamma. Kamma kosala means "constructive labor," and kamma akosala means "nonconstructive labor."
Here are two examples of karmic fetters: 1) You believe in soulmates and twinflames. You have the desire or crave or want [tanha] to be with your soulmate or twinflame in this life. And so, if in this lifetime you do not ever get with that soulmate you seek and desire [tanha] then you will rebirth as often as required for you to eventually meet and be with your soulmate. 2) If you, for instance, see a mentally handicap person and you make fun of them, that is kamma akosala. And so, if you feel guilty in your subconscious mind for making fun of the mentally handicap person, it may be that in your next life you and that mentally handicap person will meet again, and the tables will be turned where you are the one being made fun of.
And so, during your/our human lifetime - circa 90 years - we interact with hundreds and even thousands of people. Every interaction, every desire, every want, every act we commit is Kamma. And so all that kamma we have accumulated acts as fetters that binds us to those actual people. Hence: Karmic Fetters. Fetters like a chain. You are chained to those people until you dissolve those fetters. You will therefore rebirth over and over again with those people you are karmically fettered to. Nothing can escape karma and the karmic fetters they make in the wheel of samsara. In otherwords: you cannot escape those other humans you are bound to.
This fuller understanding of karma explains why in any indigenous tribe of people - in the Amazon, Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Africa, wherever - you will never encounter one of those indigenous people have memories of being a Chinese person, an ancient Roman citizen, an ancient Egyptian, an Englishman, etc. Because they are karmically bound to each other lifetime to lifetime. Meaning, they reincarnate with each other, over and over again.
This is also true in my own cultures. I have never encountered a Khmer or Thai person in my life - and I have encountered many - who was once an ancient egyptian, ancient greek person, ancient European, etc in a former life. This is simply because, all such people accumulate karmic fetters during mortal life with the people they most often live with in their families, towns, communities, and countries.
And so, because of karma and karmic fetters: it is not possible for a human to somehow escape the fetters that chains him with hundreds of other humans to escape the earth and those other humans in order to incarnate into an alien on some other planet. Nothing in the wheel of samsara can escape karma.
My final issue with the notion of ET Reincarnation has to do with Chittasantana [Mindstream] or the Psyche-Continuum.
The Buddha explains that there are basically three vectors of reality. The first vector is what he calls "dhamma," which in context to this doctrine means "pinpoints" of information. The second vector is Mind, which picks up dhamma - those pinpoints of information - and translates them into Stuff/Things. The third vector is Chitta [psyche/the unconscious mind], which makes those Stuff "real" and experienceable.
And so, in computer terms: dhamma is the 1s and 0s in your computer game CD. Your computer's operating system is Mind, which translates all that digital information into Stuff. The screen of your computer takes all that Stuff and makes it into something experienceable for you to play with. That's reality in a nutshell. It's simple, and it follows the Law of Parsimony.
And so, the fundamental substrate of reality, that gives our world of experience [Quale], or experienceable suchness/quiddity is what the Buddha once referred to as a "swarm/hive" of chitta, meaning a "universal collective psyche." This is the same concept of "Collective Unconscious Mind" that Jung independently came up with.
So now... that collective unconsciousness is like a tree trunk which branches out into big branches. Those branches branch out into smaller branches of collective psyches. For instance: the Germans have a word for such a level of collective mind, they call it "Volksgeist." The volksgeist is essentially the collective mind of a nation, culture, or race of people.
That "volksgeist" branches off into smaller units of collective minds, correlating with the communal level. Meaning that every person living within your community are in spirit/psyche "cells" of a bigger psychic/spiritual entity that manifests as many people within the community. In the same way that your own single unconscious mind at night manifests every person you dream about and interact with in said dream.
That communal level collective mind, branches out into many sub-branches which ends up being the collective psyche/mind of a Family. Meaning that you and your family members are in spirit, "cells," of a single unconscious mind.
And so here again: you/we are stuck with the people we see around us: our human family, and our human friends, and our human fellow community members, and our race, and our nation; and our species has its own single collective mind.
And so, if aliens exist, they belong to their own different branch of collective unconscious mind, and do not belong to our species' collective mind. Which means that as a human being: how do you disconnect yourself from your collective mind-group to be grafted into the collective mind of an alien species? And how do those aliens disconnect themselves from their collective mind to be conjoined to the collective spiritual mind of a human family?
An enjoyable topic, even for speculation. Please participate and let me know your thoughts, experiences, and opinions.
It is a cool and fun topic. I'm not adverse to the idea of ET Reincarnation. I just need a way to understand how a human can escape the karmic fetters he has with hundreds of other human beings to be reborn on an alien planet. It's like a prison break. And how would a human break free from their collective mind, to be conjoined to the collective mind of an alien species?
On a different, but related note: I've never heard of an astral being who has reincarnated as a human :) That would be interesting!!!