How to have a Good Rebirth

Bhante Dhammavuddho Mahathera gave a Dhamma talk on how one can have a good rebirth at Buddhist Gem Fellowship.

Bhante Dhammavuddho Mahathera …

Most of us, we strive very hard to have a good life..there are many things that we want money property family etc. But many people at the end of their life, when life is ending, we suddenly start to think what is life all about,  which they should have asked many years ago when they had time to do something. If you ask some people what do you want in life, what do you hope to get in life, most of them will say they want to be rich, wants to be a millionaire or billionaire. And some people wants to achieve other goals. But at the very end you will realise what life is all about. In the bible … what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the lost of his own soul.

Lots of people go after unariyan quest, this is in the ( MN 26 Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search).  The Buddha says the quest in life should be more than that. In life if we think carefully, if we pass away say at 75 years, then after that a long eternity of time awaits in the future. Investing only in this life is shortsighted… At the end of life the pressing question is where you will go for rebirth. For a lot of people that is a very frightening question, because 2 or 3 days before you pass away, another world will appear in your consciousness. According to the Buddha, most people go for rebirth in the 3 woeful planes. Have you seen people in their death bed very happy? very seldom… If you take rebirth in hell the worst destination, … there are 5 destinations of rebirth- 2 happy destination are human and heavenly planes and the 3 woeful destination are ghost realm, animal realm and hell realm … in hell you suffer so long that if seems like eternity..

Buddha said if a person were to gamble the 1st time loses all his wealth, all his property, wife and children and have to become someone’s slave, isn’t that a fool? But the Buddha said, worst than that is taking rebirth in hell. You are give a chance in life to determine your future, to determine where you are going for rebirth, but you wasted the that chance to go heaven but go to the worst place, hell… the perfect fool. If  you take rebirth in heaven, the Buddha says you are the wisest person. Wise person takes rebirth in heaven. …

What determines a rebirth? About 10 thousand suttas, the discourse of the Buddha, in the 45 yrs the Buddha taught the Dhamma. If u want to progress further you can. For lay people meditation is difficult… That’s why the Buddha taught the Dhamma. Dhamma is extremely important, just by listening to the Dhamma many people gained stream entry… Once you attain stream entry within the same life time you become Sotapanna, first fruit Ariaya. …

In the Dhamma n Vinaya, on the night of enlightenment, the Buddha meditated and attained 4 Jhanas and then psychic power came to him. On the first watch of the night, 6pm to 10pm, the Buddha contemplates his many thousands of past lifes, and realised who he was in the past. He met one Samma Sambuddha, Buddha Kassapa, the previous Buddha, in his past life. In the span of 91 world cycles, only 6 Buddhas are willing to teach. … Its very rare to meet the real Dhamma.

On the second watch, 10pm to 2am, the Buddha use his physic eye/ divine eye to contemplate living beings. How they live their life, how they past away and where they took rebirth after rebirth and then the Buddha understood how rebirth is determined by Kamma, our actions of body speech and mind. If a person did wholesome actions, which benefit other beings, then he takes a good rebirth. If he does unwholesome actions which harms other living beings, then he goes into the 3 woeful planes of rebirth. So here, it’s very clear that Kamma, the action we do through body speech and mind are extremely important. So we have to contemplate everyday our body actions, verbal actions and thoughts. And for this we have to use the 4 objects of Sati (4 objects of recollections) which is the 7th factor of the Ariyan 8 fold path, 6th factor of the 8 fold path, which is Right Effort.It is very important that we do not do evil Kamma that harm others –

So what are the evil Kamma that harm others? The Buddha said there are 10 types of evil Kamma that can harm others. 3 body action (purposely purposely kill, steal, sexual misconduct), 4 through our speech ( lie or cheat people, divisive speech, vulgar/abusive speech abusive, idle gossip), and 3 mental actions (covetousness ie wanting others people things like husband, wife, biz, wealth etc, ill will / anger – whatever one thinks n ponders upon becomes a habitual pattern; wrong view- not believing in kamma vipaka then one will just do as he like, not believing in rebirth, not believing there are holy men). These 10 evil Kamma should be avoided. Good Kamma is the converse of these.

There is a sutta the Buddha said, there are 3 ways to get blessings (merit / puñña) :

  • Dana – charity ie having a kind heart, helping others in whatever ways he can, this is the easiest to do so blessings not so great.
  • Sila – keeping precepts so we don’t harm others also called moral conduct. As a lay person, 7 precepts is expected to maintain ones sila. In Ariyan 8 fold path, generally 3 factors to be the sila component. Right speech (not to lie, not to carry tales, not to engage in coarse speech abusive, not to engage in idle gossip), right action (not to kill, not to steal, not to engage in sexual misconduct), and right livelihood. These 3 factors consist the 7 precepts (ariyan sila). An ariya is a straightforward person but may break minor precepts. So these 7 precepts under sila is harder to do / uphold so it is a greater blessings than Dana.
  • Bhavana – development of mind and character. Changing your character from bad person to good person. If you want to go to heaven, you have to change your character to behave like a dewa or dewi, not by praying or making vows or crying.
    • Changing ones character is getting rid of unwholesome states and developing wholesome states. Changing character is very meritorious. Aṅgulimāla used to be a murdered, a bandid who kills hundreds of people. After the Buddha taught him Dhamma (Aṅgulimāla probably attained stream entry), he became a monk under the Buddha. He knew his Kamma is very heavy, he struggled very hard and became a Arahant. SO he did not have to pay heavily for his bad Kamma.
    • Developing the mind is getting rid of the 5 hindrances via meditation in the Buddha’s way. In the suttas the meditation is in attaining the Jhanas. That’s why the Buddha didn’t go ard teaching meditation to lay ppl. Meditation is for those who want to attain higher attainments ie 2nd sainthood onwards.
      Most beings after pad away will b reborn in 3 woeful planes. Dana n sila is a must for one who wants to b reborn as human. If u uphold Dana n sila to greater degree you will b reborn in a rich family. Dana n sila if done on super scale level one can b reborn in the sensual heavens.
      What is it that determines the kamma we perform? Some ppl are prone to do gud kamma. If u hv wholesome mind u will do wholesome actions.
      One acts with pure mind happiness follow… verses 1&2 dhammapada.
      Unwholesome state of mind stem fr greed hatred n delusion.
      Buddha defined ignorance as not knowing or not understanding the 4 ariyan truths. Delusion is a v blurred state where the hindrances are v strong n can’t see things as they really are. Need to understand the dhamma n meditate.
      Fr these 3 roots u get other unwholesome states eg selfishness cruel deceitful etc.
      Hv to change character n cultivate wholesome states… diligent kind compassionate etc.
      Our mind states determines our character n our character determines our soul
      I used to think soul means something permanent n lasting. This is Christian n Hindu concept.
      The belief in soul is not in conflict with suttas but conflict with Abhidhamma. Consciousness of the 6 senses must resides in the sense organs. If u hv consciousness it must come together with the 5 aggregates.
      3 factors must b present for rebirth.The being to b reborn into the womb must b present, mother n father must b together n mother must b in season. Being lodges itself into the egg of the womb.
      The Buddha had a mind made body. Some disciples like moggallana practised n didn’t sleep. The Buddha went to him in his astral body n moggallana struggled for 7 days n didn’t sleep n became arahant.
      What is this soul?
      Soul is part of us. N our character. Aso called it the astral body.
      If u hv ghost soul u hv to b careful.
      Devas n ghost can see our astral body n will respect the virtuous person.
      There r many types of ghosts. Normal person will turn into ghost next life. As a human we hv a better life than lower devas. Nagas n Garudas hv to kill for food. Humans don’t hv to.
      In the internet we read of many out of body experiences. It’s bcos of attachment they come back.
      Our rebirth depends on our karma which is dependent on wholesome mind.
      The biggest sin in the world is ignorance, not knowing the dhamma. You will do things u shouldn’t do n don’t do things you should do.
      How to get no rebirth or always get good rebirth? To become an ariya. There are 4 paths n 4 types of ariya.
      Layperson difficult to attain Jhana. To attain first Jhana one must b secluded fr sensual desires n unwholesome states.
      An3.86 : a sotapana n sakadagamin has perfect sila.

Anagamin has perfect sila n samadhi. Perfect samadhi is 4 th Jhana. Sotapana don’t need the Jhanas sn55.40. Not difficult for lay ppl to attain sotapana. Sotapana hv max 7 lifetimes born in heavens or human, with lots of blessings. It’s v impt for lay ppl to listen to the suttas. If U don’t listen to the suttas u are not solid in his faith.
Some False beliefs:
-Praying or making vows to get blessings
-Praying to amitabha to go heaven
-Follow a religion can go to heaven
-Last thought moment determines the next rebirth – contradicted in sn55.21. Even last thought moment is fearful one will not go to woeful state.
Heart stops is clinical death. Real death is when vital energy, mind ie thinking, body heat, has stopped. One will b in the dreamy state which is dependent on its character n this determines your rebirth. Cultivating a beautiful mind so a beautiful soul comes out.

Jhanas: difficult to attain, fall out v fast. Like carrying weights you can’t hold it for long. The muscle is reqd

The body is like a shell. Body is not self.
Mn43: 2 conditions for rht view: fr voice of another n focusing your attention when listening dhamma
Sotapana: stream entry is higher than attaining jhanas; how the sotapana attains nibbana depends on him, if he attains arahanthood when he passes away; if anagami they go to sudavasa heavens n enters nibbana without hvg to b arahant. When we die the body becomes weaker n weaker n the mind becomes stronger n stronger , clearer n clearer n the dhamma that has been learnt will come up in the mind.

-transcribed by Sis Jennifer Wong
-posted by Terence Seow