Rebirth Without Faith
with Gus Cutz
Many Westerners are drawn to Buddhism due to its seemingly undogmatic, logical, and empirical basis.
But then there’s rebirth.
How can the claim that the mind continues after the death of the body be anything other than a dogmatic adherence to authority, or an unexamined acceptance of tradition, when science has shown that the mind is a byproduct of activity in the brain? What can we do with this seemingly “religious” doctrine that lies at the very core of a tradition that claims to be fully compatible with modern science? Can we just do Buddhism without it? Should we reinterpret concepts such as karma, samsara, nirvana, and so forth, so that we can understand them in terms of this life alone?
In this series, we’ll discuss the real reason for the Buddhist conclusion that experience does not begin at conception or end at death. (Spoiler alert: It’s not because anybody said so, and it’s not because some people claim to remember past lives.) We’ll discuss the ongoing unresolved dilemmas in the West regarding what has been termed “the mind-body problem,” the Buddhist answer to this problem, and the rationale supporting the Buddhist conclusion.
The purpose of this series is to give an initial taste of the sophisticated line of inquiry underpinning one of the most central tenets of Buddhist thought and practice, which is usually either assumed or only briefly hinted at in popular Buddhist courses, and to discuss how we might use the same methods used in the ancient Buddhist texts for answering modern questions not directly addressed in ancient times. Our goal will be to open another door so that we can follow the Buddha’s advice not to take anything on faith, but to look where he’s pointing and investigate for ourselves.
About the Teacher
Gustavo Cutz is an FPMT-certified teacher and has been an active volunteer with Shantideva Center since 2008. Gus has been the facilitator for Discovering Buddhism since 2012 and he explains complex material with simplicity, making the Buddha’s teachings practical and always accompanied with enthusiasm and a delightful sense of humor.
In addition, Gus facilitates the Debate Club and leads one day retreats. He has also taught Dharma topics at other spiritual centers. He is working on interpreting and summarizing Geshe Thubten Soepa’s teachings on several topics such as the Four Noble Truths, the eight worldly concerns, and the six perfections.
Gus previously worked as an editor at Wisdom Publications in Boston. Presently he works as a clinical psychologist and practices on Long Island.