Past Lives

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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Since we've had a lot of discussion about powers here recently, I'm curious if anyone would be willing to share any serious attempts they've made to look into past lives. Some additional optional questions to address: if you've made the attempt, did you consider it a probable success, probable failure, suggestive but inconclusive, something in between? What criteria did you use to decide? Do you consider the idea essential or non essential to your practice? How would it change your practice if your views on this topic changed? Thanks.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
My reason for asking, btw, is that I've had discussions in my local sangha where people have gotten really hung up on this being somewhat taken for granted as being 'bought into' when they visit teachers at particular monasteries. I'm interested then in how people have approached this through direct experience, if they have, and what the result was.
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 680 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Buddhist dogma seen through with precise practice..too me to be me. 

Edit. With your permission may I be dismissive of this topic. 
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome:
Buddhist dogma seen through with precise practice..too me to be me. 

Edit. With your permission may I be dismissive of this topic. 
Sure. You don't need my permission for that. To muddy the waters a bit further, you suggest that this is 'seen through.' Do you mean seen through in the ultimate sense as a phenomenon or as a falsehood conventionally?
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 680 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Seen through in an ultimate sense. I don't know how helpful that will be for you.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome:
Seen through in an ultimate sense. I don't know how helpful that will be for you.

IMHO many (Most?) monastics appear to take it seriously in the conventional sense and as something to be seen through in the ultimate sense. However modern audiences are typically skeptical, in the conventional sense, so it often becomes a stumbling block when it's presented as a given to motivate practice. Therefore I'm interested in attempts at direct experience, even if the result is ultimately to be regarded as provisional. I'm aware of how this would be dismissed in the ultimate sense by highly realized practitioners, but IMO conventional reality is not invalidated by ultimate truths, but to be seen as complementary to it. Hence the interest.
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 680 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Milo:
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome:
Seen through in an ultimate sense. I don't know how helpful that will be for you.

IMHO many (Most?) monastics appear to take it seriously in the conventional sense and as something to be seen through in the ultimate sense. However modern audiences are typically skeptical, in the conventional sense, so it often becomes a stumbling block when it's presented as a given to motivate practice. Therefore I'm interested in attempts at direct experience, even if the result is ultimately to be regarded as provisional. I'm aware of how this would be dismissed in the ultimate sense by highly realized practitioners, but IMO conventional reality is not invalidated by ultimate truths, but to be seen as complementary to it. Hence the interest.

It makes perfect sense if you consider yourself sane.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 962 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I tried self hypnosis. What came to mind was pretty horrible so I stopped after a few seconds. I saw how I died. It would explain a lot about my current life. I have no sense if it was true or not (Or maybe I don't want to admit it was true.) (I have gotten verifiable information using a similar technique to induce clairvoyance) I wasn't expecting what I experienced and I wasn't anyone famous but I directed myself back to a past life and with hypnosis, if there is no real experience the mind will invent one. (WIth psychologists, they may think they are doing childhood regression and will tell the patient to go back to the source of their problem and if that takes someone who never heard of past lives before back to a past life that is somewhat different than what I did. It's how past life regression got started different psychologists discovered it by accident. Before belief in past lives became fashionable there were a lot of people who had never considered them. Reincarnation is not possible according to Christian doctrine.) In my experience there were images that might possibly be verified but I would have to find photographs of a city in a foreign country from 25 years before I was born but I don't know which city. I have a specific date. I've been to the country in question, on business and had no bad feelings about it. I didn't get any info about people I knew in that life so I can't say if I know them in this life or not.


I'm not sure reincarnation is what most people think it is. Based on information from evidential mediums my view is that we reincarnate for the most part a handful of times. No one is forced to incarnate but progress is very slow if you don't and during an infinite existence it is more than likely a spirit will eventually decide to incarnate at some point if they need to. Especially if all their friends move on to higher things and they are left behind again and again. Eventually spirits move beyond the earth school and go on to other things. The number of incarnations also depends on how you count them because identity is not necessarily what we think it is. One example is that incarnations are like facets on a diamond and you can have two people incarnating at the same time that are from the same source. And there are soul groups of related souls. A new soul can incarnate and take on the karma of an older soul. A spirit, can take on the guise of any of their past incarnations, those personalities continue to exist even as the soul has new incarnations, and a spirit does not include all of their "self" in an incarnation. Other spirits can study and learn from an incarnation. Discussing the sequence of incarnations might also be misleading because there are indications that time in the spirit realm is not exactly like what we experinece in the physical realm and incarnations do not have to be in chronological order with respect to earth time. And souls can incarnate on different planets. Our souls and ET's souls are the same. Some people think there is so much suffering on the earth that it is incomprehensible that anyone would incarnate here, but all that tells us is that the attitude to suffering or the value of an incarnation is different from the spirit's perspective than from the incarnated humans's.

I don't get my spiritual beliefs from Buddhism. I take the medition and mindfulness practices and leave the other stuff. My feeling about traditional practices is if they say do x and you will experience y they can be very accurate, but when they try to explain theoretical stuff it is not always correct or not comprehensible without both having the experience and understanding the idioms and technical jargon of their original language. And when the original language is lost there is a big problem.

There is a kind of disconnect in my mind about our spiritual nature as discerend from afterlife phenomenon and our true nature according to eastern traditions. I don't know how to reconcile them. I'm not saying they can't. I am pretty sure that enlightenment is not the end of spiritual devleopment, although it could mean that no further incarnation on earth are needed - but I don't know if that is necessarily so.
Jason Massie, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 124 Join Date: 10/18/16 Recent Posts
On fire kasina retreat, I played with it. I set the resolution to see past lives. I saw lots of flashes of this and that. It didn't seem personal. I guess I was kinda expecting Morgan Freeman to be narrating. Haha. I, then, set the resolution to be see past deaths and soon after I was being held to the bottom of a river by an alligator or croc. That seemed personal. 
I have had other spontaneous "knowings". I am not sure if I buy into. It could just be imagination. However, it also feels like it comes in empathic pathway. Maybe it is all lives are your past lives in one sense.
I think it can be a good practice if you dont take it too serious. It builds concentration. 
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Shaun Steelgrave, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 121 Join Date: 7/7/19 Recent Posts
what are the odds you'd even be human?

what are the odds you'd even be from this galaxy?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
One of my former disability aids works as a hypnotist specialising on past lives regressions. He used to talk about it. I don’t know what to believe. Apparently a lot of people do access memories from past lives, or at least stories. I used to see it as subconscious fantasies that tells something on a symbolic plane, but then an online dharma friend told me about his experiences which seemed very real and even verifiable, and I read reports from others. I guess this is a real thing on some level. Still, there are no selves, so how is it possible? Are they all just accessing memories that are somehow shared by the whole existence? Or does something really pass on from one single person to another? Or is it more like when you pour a glass of water into a bucket and then pour water into a new glass from that bucket? If so, are there many different buckets or just one huge bucket?

I haven’t personally made any attempts during meditation to access former lives. I did try guided meditations/hypnoses on youtube a long time ago, but that didn’t result in anything. I don’t know how one would go about to do this. Sometimes during meditation dreamlike scenes arise that seem to be from someone’s daily life but definitely not this body’s life. I haven’t thought much about it, thought of it as subconscious stuff that may be unpersonal and typically human. Would that be the kind of stuff to look out for or something completely different?
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
There is a connection between this topic and the topic here on demonstrating the powers. What might that connection be, I wonder?

emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Manifesting stuff as solid without doubt, perhaps? You tell me.
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Shaun Steelgrave, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 121 Join Date: 7/7/19 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
There is a connection between this topic and the topic here on demonstrating the powers. What might that connection be, I wonder?

emoticon


People who played too much Dungeons and Dragons?
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
One of my former disability aids works as a hypnotist specialising on past lives regressions. He used to talk about it. I don’t know what to believe. Apparently a lot of people do access memories from past lives, or at least stories. I used to see it as subconscious fantasies that tells something on a symbolic plane, but then an online dharma friend told me about his experiences which seemed very real and even verifiable, and I read reports from others. I guess this is a real thing on some level. Still, there are no selves, so how is it possible? Are they all just accessing memories that are somehow shared by the whole existence? Or does something really pass on from one single person to another? Or is it more like when you pour a glass of water into a bucket and then pour water into a new glass from that bucket? If so, are there many different buckets or just one huge bucket?

I haven’t personally made any attempts during meditation to access former lives. I did try guided meditations/hypnoses on youtube a long time ago, but that didn’t result in anything. I don’t know how one would go about to do this. Sometimes during meditation dreamlike scenes arise that seem to be from someone’s daily life but definitely not this body’s life. I haven’t thought much about it, thought of it as subconscious stuff that may be unpersonal and typically human. Would that be the kind of stuff to look out for or something completely different?

I mean the way I have usually seen this explained is that these other lives are sort of karmic inheritors but not the same individual. Vajrayana Buddhists in particular have this idea of a mind stream which keeps starting up new egos based on whatever attachments and delusions came before.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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OK, thanks.
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Nagarjuna definitively refuted the existence of past and future lives. Nevertheless, I've had experiences of them without really wanting or trying to. I think these experiences were the result of my mind constructing stories. In one case, the cause of what I was trying to determine was impossible to know, in the other, I was unable to achieve a particular practice goal and my mind needed some reason to explain why. Basically, the conceputal mind works around stories and past and future lives are a way to explain things that otherwise can't be explained. Better to let the whole subject drop as it just results in confusion, excuses, and misdirected practice, like many East Asian practitioners who practice for a better next life rather than focusing on being the best person they can in the present one.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
svmonk:
Nagarjuna definitively refuted the existence of past and future lives.

Source for this?
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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Damn, coul just please quote the exact part when he talks about it?
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 85 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
I´m pretty sure Nagarjuna didn´t refute past lives. People just have an incorrect understanding of the phenomenon. There is no soul (atman), but there is a kind of wisdom continuum, that is what is reborn time after time.
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
See Verses 9 and 11 in the Mulamadhamikakaryika, pgs. 11 and 13 in Richard Jones'  collected works edition.
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 85 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
"He could not been unaware of the statement of the Buddha that conciousness was a possible connecting link betwen two lives."

"Nagarjuna is here recognizing the dependence or rebirth on at least one previous karma"


mulamadhyamakakarika, page 252.

So yes, Nagarjuna didn´t refute rebirth at all, or past lives, or future lives, for that matter.
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
My edition of the MMKK (first chapter of Richard H. Jones translation of Nagarajuna's collected works which I quote verbatum below) only has 30 pages in the English translation. I think you may be looking at the commentary, or does your translation position the MMKK further back in the volume?

Specifically, in Verse 17, he refutes karma thusly:
(lots of buildup to his main argument)
Objection: Action and afflictions (i.e. karma) are declared to be conditions of bodies (i.e. conditions for rebirth) - if action and afflictions are empty, what talk is this about bodies?
Reply: The sentient being who is shrouded in ingnorance and bound by craving, is the enjoyer of the fruit and is neither different from, nor identical to, the one committing the act. Since this action neither arises from the conditions nor without the conditions, there thus also is no actor.
Objection: If there is no action or actor, how could there be any fruit (i.e. karma) arising from the action? And the fruit not existing, how could there be an enjoyer of the fruit?
Reply: As a teacher creates an illusory phantasm through magical powers, and that apparition in turn creates another apparition, so too is an actor like the apparition and his action like the apparition created by the apparition. Afflictions, actions, bodies, actors, and fruit are like the castle in the sky of the Gandharvas, a mirage, and a dream (i.e. karma and rebirth are shunya, empty).
In Verse 26, he presents a traditional "three lifetimes" interpretation of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, then in Verse 27, he goes on to demolish it:
The view "I did not exist in the past" (i.e. did not have a past life) does not occur to one who is not different from the one who was in the past. If this one (i.e. this life) is different from that one (i.e. the past life), it would arise regardless of that one. In that case, one would remain so and be reborn without first dying. If so, there would be the annihilation of actions and the destruction of effects. Another would experience the actions done by oneself, and so forth. Nor, having been nonexistent does something come to be. Here an error arises: either the self was something made, or having arisen it arose uncaused. 
Therefore, the view "I existed in the past" or the view "I did not exist", or both, or neither is inadmissible. The view "I shall exist in the future" or "I shall not exist in the future" is the same as the views associated with the past.
He then goes on to refute the six realms. And there's some good stuff in Verses 9 and 11 (which I cited yesterday) as well. Basically, Nagarjuna never actually advances any argument for any particular view, so you can't pin him down, he uses dialectics to demolish all views. That is he nature of the last statement in the quote immediately above. He was absolutely the Master of Emptiness.

But if you wanna believe in rebirth, go right ahead. We will of course not find out the real truth until we are dead, and then we can't tell anybody. emoticon


          
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
svmonk:
My edition of the MMKK (first chapter of Richard H. Jones translation of Nagarajuna's collected works which I quote verbatum below) only has 30 pages in the English translation. I think you may be looking at the commentary, or does your translation position the MMKK further back in the volume?

Specifically, in Verse 17, he refutes karma thusly:
(lots of buildup to his main argument)
Objection: Action and afflictions (i.e. karma) are declareto be onditions of bodies (i.e. conditions for rebirth) - if action and aflictions arempty, what talk is this about bodies?
Reply: The sentient being who is shrouded in ingnorance and bound by craving, is the enjoyer of the frut and is neithedifferent from, nor identical to, the one committing the act. Since tis action neiter arises from the conditions nor without the conditions, there tus also is no actor.
Objection: If there is no action or actor, how could there be any fruit (i.ekarma) arising from the action? And the fruit not existing, how could there be an enjoyer of the fruit?
Reply: As a teacher creates an illusory phantasm trough magical powers, and that apparition in turn creates another apparition, so tois an actor like the apparition and his action like the apparition created by tha pparition. Afflictions, actions, bodies, actors, and fruit are like the castle in the sky of the Gandharvas, a mirage, and a dream (i.e. karma and rebirh are shunya, empty).
In Verse 26, he presents a traditional "three lifetimes" interpretation of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, then in Verse 27, he goes on to demolish it:
The view "I did not exist in the past" (i.e. did nohave a past life) does not occur to one who is not different from the one who was in the past. If this one (i.e. this life) is different from that one (i.e. the past life), it woularise regardless of that one. In that case, one would remain so and be reborwithout first dying. If so, there would be the annihilation of actions and the destrucion of effects. Another would experience the actions done by oneself, and sforth. Nor, having been nonexistent does something come to be. Here an error arises: either the self was something made, or having arisen it arose uncaused. 
Therefore, the view "I existed in the past" or the view "I did not exist", or boh, or neither is inadmissible. The view "I shall exist in the future" or "I shall not exisin the future" is the same as the views associated with the past.
He then goes on to refute the six realms. And there's some good stuff in Verses 9 and 11 (which I cited yesterday) as well. Basically, Nagarjuna never actually advances any argument for any particular view, so you can't pin him down, he uses dialectics to demolish all views. That is he nature of the last statement in the quote immediately above. He was absolutely the Master of Emptiness.

But if you wanna believe in rebirth, go right ahead. We will of course not find out the real truth until we are dead, and then we can't tell anybody. emoticon


          


My impression was always that his big philosophical contribution was resolving these seeming conflicts through what would develop into the teo truths doctrine.
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 85 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
svmonk:
My edition of the MMKK (first chapter of Richard H. Jones translation of Nagarajuna's collected works which I quote verbatum below) only has 30 pages in the English translation. I think you may be looking at the commentary, or does your translation position the MMKK further back in the volume?

Specifically, in Verse 17, he refutes karma thusly:
(lots of buildup to his main argument)
Objection: Action and afflictions (i.e. karma) are declared to be conditions of bodies (i.e. conditions for rebirth) - if action and afflictions are empty, what talk is this about bodies?
Reply: The sentient being who is shrouded in ingnorance and bound by craving, is the enjoyer of the fruit and is neither different from, nor identical to, the one committing the act. Since this action neither arises from the conditions nor without the conditions, there thus also is no actor.
Objection: If there is no action or actor, how could there be any fruit (i.e. karma) arising from the action? And the fruit not existing, how could there be an enjoyer of the fruit?
Reply: As a teacher creates an illusory phantasm through magical powers, and that apparition in turn creates another apparition, so too is an actor like the apparition and his action like the apparition created by the apparition. Afflictions, actions, bodies, actors, and fruit are like the castle in the sky of the Gandharvas, a mirage, and a dream (i.e. karma and rebirth are shunya, empty).
In Verse 26, he presents a traditional "three lifetimes" interpretation of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, then in Verse 27, he goes on to demolish it:
The view "I did not exist in the past" (i.e. did not have a past life) does not occur to one who is not different from the one who was in the past. If this one (i.e. this life) is different from that one (i.e. the past life), it would arise regardless of that one. In that case, one would remain so and be reborn without first dying. If so, there would be the annihilation of actions and the destruction of effects. Another would experience the actions done by oneself, and so forth. Nor, having been nonexistent does something come to be. Here an error arises: either the self was something made, or having arisen it arose uncaused. 
Therefore, the view "I existed in the past" or the view "I did not exist", or both, or neither is inadmissible. The view "I shall exist in the future" or "I shall not exist in the future" is the same as the views associated with the past.
He then goes on to refute the six realms. And there's some good stuff in Verses 9 and 11 (which I cited yesterday) as well. Basically, Nagarjuna never actually advances any argument for any particular view, so you can't pin him down, he uses dialectics to demolish all views. That is he nature of the last statement in the quote immediately above. He was absolutely the Master of Emptiness.

But if you wanna believe in rebirth, go right ahead. We will of course not find out the real truth until we are dead, and then we can't tell anybody. emoticon


          
I think you missunderstood what Nagarjuna said, he is mostly attacking "self view" nothing more... 

Really, this should be out of the discussion, Nagarjuna proposed that Arhants are reborn in a special pure land where they keep practicing as bodhisattvas.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 597 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall:

Really, this should be out of the discussion, Nagarjuna proposed that Arhants are reborn in a special pure land where they keep practicing as bodhisattvas.

....may be that you are soaking in it. emoticon
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
svmonk:
See Verses 9 and 11 in the Mulamadhamikakaryika, pgs. 11 and 13 in Richard Jones'  collected works edition.

Respectfully, after looking into the verses in question and a truckload of commentary that I will not bore the forum with, I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. In short, I did find some references to some teachers in some Zen schools (Specifically in Soto-Zen) interpreting Nagarjuna and Dogen to support a view of no rebirth, or at least to downplay it as a distraction from being in the moment, but an explicit doctrine of no rebirth seems much the exception rather than the rule.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
I can definitely understand not making it a focal point of teaching though, for practical purposes. Buddha alluded to that many times. Specifically though, the students in my local sangha are going to monasteries that assume they accept rebirth a-prori. I don't control how the monasteries choose to teach, so my real interest here is in seeking info on how people have approached past lives experientially and whether it is worth doing or just leads to delusion and sidetracking.
Katz Videos, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 49 Join Date: 7/31/19 Recent Posts
I think it's worth pointing out anytime this topic is brought up just how easy it is to induce false memories in people:  https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-false-memory-2795193

So I'd be pretty skeptical even if someone did "remember" a past life. Especially if they were intentionally trying to remember it.

Remembering details that they couldn't have known before can be easily explained by the misinformation effect: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-misinformation-effect-2795353, in other words after learning what the correct information was, they formed a false memory of their past life.

I think a lot of the people who do believe in rebirth, just believe in it because they want to cling to the identity of being "real" buddhists.
Paul, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 71 Join Date: 1/24/19 Recent Posts
Bravo, Katz Videos! Bravo! 
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Reading the replies here makes me curious - of what practice (practical?) value is this? Seriously interested because it's not something I've ever thought seriously about in my years of practice, and it seems to have had no effect, zero, nada, on how things played out. Based on that. I say it's not important, probably doesn't matter at all, and is something you either believe in or don't with no practice impact.

Thoughts?
Paul, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 71 Join Date: 1/24/19 Recent Posts
It’s a good question, Chris. I can’t speak for others here, but I’ve spent some years training exclusively in Asian settings where people seem, without exception, to take rebirth as a given. It then informs their views on such things as:

- whether to practice at all, because if an individual is convinced they haven’t accrued the necessary paramis, then they won’t get far this lifetime, so instead better to invest one’s efforts into merit-making;
- in what way to practice, because taking the long Samatha then Vipassana path tends to suit folks who think it’ll take a few lifetimes to get there, e.g. I’ve met people who’ve spent many years practicing only Jhanas 1-4 because they believe to go further is impossible in this lifetime, whereas I imagine their outlook (and sense of urgency) would be different if they believed there was only this lifetime;
- imposing attitudes upon other meditators, such as me, suggesting if I spend this life making merit, I might be ready for serious practice next time round (no joke!);
- setting up a framework that makes it impossible for an ‘upstart’ like me to openly and frankly discuss practice, because traditionalists wouldn’t believe a ‘newcomer’ could possibly achieve anything beyond a bit of anapana, and therefore would be boasting in the most ill-informed and arrogant manner.

So perhaps for some of us it’s actually a matter of where and how and among whom to practice. Thankfully there have been teachers such as Sayadaw U Pandita who reminded us of the Buddha’s (reported) words that it is all possible ‘in this very life.’ I’m sure he meant to say right after that, ‘so stop mucking around and get down to it!’ ;-)
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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The words "believe" and "belief" show up a lot. This is my very own humble opinion, but belief isn't something I'd bank on when it comes to my practice, and I don't care who or what context applies.
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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+1!!!
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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Chris Marti:
Reading the replies here makes me curious - of what practice (practical?) value is this? Seriously interested because it's not something I've ever thought seriously about in my years of practice, and it seems to have had no effect, zero, nada, on how things played out. Based on that. I say it's not important, probably doesn't matter at all, and is something you either believe in or don't with no practice impact.

Thoughts?


For one, Buddhist ethics lean pretty heavily on the idea.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

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Buddhist ethics lean pretty heavily on the idea.

How so?
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Buddhist ethics lean pretty heavily on the idea.

How so?


Specifically, I'm thinking of the fact that the 1st precept against taking life is explicitly extended to all sentient life, or even all living things, unlike in analagous theistic ethical codes. I've always seen this justified with the idea that all beings are seen as fellow travellers in samsara, linked by karma and rebirth.

If you listen to the beginning of dharma talks by monastics, they often open with chants that put a great deal of emphasis on compassion for beings 'seen and unseen' in all realms of existence. The implication is that we should care because all beings are linked by karma and rebirth.

Finally, the rest of the precepts are traditionally connected to 'making merit,' or building the proper conditions for practice in both this and potential future lives.

Of course these ideas clash heavily with a Western mindset, but IMHO we have to do some serious logical contortions to avoid the role of rebirth in Buddhist ethics.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Specifically, I'm thinking of the fact that the 1st precept against taking life is explicitly extended to all sentient life, or even all living things, unlike in analagous theistic ethical codes. I've always seen this justified with the idea that all beings are seen as fellow travellers in samsara, linked by karma and rebirth.

If you listen to the beginning of dharma talks by monastics, they often open with chants that put a great deal of emphasis on compassion for beings 'seen and unseen' in all realms of existence. The implication is that we should care because all beings are linked by karma and rebirth.

Finally, the rest of the precepts are traditionally connected to 'making merit,' or building the proper conditions for practice in both this and potential future lives.

Of course these ideas clash heavily with a Western mindset, but IMHO we have to do some serious logical contortions to avoid the role of rebirth in Buddhist ethics.

Which of these rules for morality requires a belief in past lives? Certainly, one CAN believe in past lives and be in sync with these concepts, but one can also NOT believe in past lives and remain in sync with these concepts. Again, it's a belief. Folks are welcome to hold it or not, as they personally see fit.

Just sayin'

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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
I don't think it's strictly required. You can probably come up with some kind of alternative philosophical backing, but I'd guess it would take some contortion and you'd be giving up some philosophical parsimony to achieve that. So you have me interested now: how do you rationalize it?
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I don't think it's strictly required. You can probably come up with some kind of alternative philosophical backing, but I'd guess it would take some contortion and you'd be giving up some philosophical parsimony to achieve that. So you have me interested now: how do you rationalize it?

I don't care about it. It doesn't matter. It's certainly not required to explain the situation I've discovered that I'm in - right here, right now. I could attempt to rationalize that situation by using complicated philosophical "stuff" but there's no way I'm going to do that as I've spent years seeing through that kind of thing. The philosophical stuff is the distortion.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
[quote=

I don't care about it. It doesn't matter. It's certainly not required to explain the situation I've discovered that I'm in - right here, right now.]

And the situation of others? Honest question: you consider yourself done, or highly advanced, right? Why stay here and deal with everyone struggling along with the baby steps?
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
I'll be content with 'I choose to leave it unexamined' or 'doesn't matter' as an answer, btw, but at this point I'm just curious.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Milo, I didn't say I was selfish. I said past lives/rebirth don't matter.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
Milo, I didn't say I was selfish. I said past lives/rebirth don't matter.

Not saying you are (See my second post). This take is just very different from what I usually encounter and I'm trying to grok it.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Maybe he just chooses to be helpful because it’s a good thing to do regardless of possible rewards or sanctions.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
This take is just very different from what I usually encounter and I'm trying to grok it.

What's "good" or "bad" in terms of my behavior or the effects it has on other people seems obvious to me. It's got real-world, right here/right now impact so to think I need some additional motivation from gaining good karma or making merit for a future existence.... well, that just seems superfluous. We're all in this existence together and we're all linked inextricably. Things just work that way.

In regard to staying on the DhO, I've received a huge amount of benefit over the years from being a part of this and other online meditation communities, so when I was asked by Daniel Ingram to help out here, to give back in the same way I was given help, I accepted immediately. But I was an active participant here already, and have been since 2009 and even before that when Dho was on WetPaint.



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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Fair enough. Thanks for your contribution to the site and being the troll police. The 'here and now' answer is good enough for me for most cases. Anyway as I think about it I suppose the affirmative and negative answer to past lives could be seen as the same thing depending on the perceived observer.

To be fair to those who do subscribe to the idea of past lives, advanced practitioners  aren't focused on gaining merit, rather on compassion for beings stuck in samsara. 
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Shaun Steelgrave, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 121 Join Date: 7/7/19 Recent Posts
i feel like chris has a good bullshit sniffer
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Am I the only one who gets worried and thinks that bullshitting may be a sign of deep existential crisis?
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Siavash Mahmoudpour, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 1237 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Am I the only one who gets worried and thinks that bullshitting may be a sign of deep existential crisis?


No you are not. I would add strong emotional pains to deep existential crisis.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Yeah, well, it’s hard to tell online. I could also be projecting my own previous existential anxieties.
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Siavash Mahmoudpour, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 1237 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Sure. I meant in myself too, and in people around me, nothing more.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Yeah, exactly. In general.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Am I the only one who gets worried and thinks that bullshitting may be a sign of deep existential crisis?
A lot of human nature is.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Milo:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Am I the only one who gets worried and thinks that bullshitting may be a sign of deep existential crisis?
A lot of human nature is.



Very true. And I did not mean to criticize Chris.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Milo:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Am I the only one who gets worried and thinks that bullshitting may be a sign of deep existential crisis?
A lot of human nature is.



Very true. And I did not mean to criticize Chris.


Speaking only for myself here, but I don't see anything you said that could be interpreted as criticism.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Good.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Shaun Steelgrave:
i feel like chris has a good bullshit sniffer

A necessity to keep the forum from degenerating I think.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:

What's "good" or "bad" in terms of my behavior or the effects it has on other people seems obvious to me.


That does sound like one of those super powers, but I take it you didn’t mean it like that. emoticon
Katz Videos, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 49 Join Date: 7/31/19 Recent Posts
I do think it's relevant to how you view practice. If I truly believed in rebirth and the woeful states, I'd probably be a monk right now. Nothing wordly could be more important that trying to escape the cycle of being reborn into the woeful states. Not believing in rebirth makes me take a more balanced view toward practice.
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Past Lives

Posts: 85 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
Katz Videos:
I do think it's relevant to how you view practice. If I truly believed in rebirth and the woeful states, I'd probably be a monk right now. Nothing wordly could be more important that trying to escape the cycle of being reborn into the woeful states. Not believing in rebirth makes me take a more balanced view toward practice.

There is also the Mahayana view: The state of the Arhats is just a temportal samadhi of cession, kinda like the ninth jhana "nirodha samapatti". It is a rest station for people who is tired and afraid in the cycle of transmigration. There is the analogy in the Sutras of a traveler that wants to reach a certain destiny (buddhahood), but he gets very tired and desmotivated on his way, so the buddha conjures a magickal city where he can rest (The nirvana of the arhats).

The problem with Mahayana is that i think it is very exoteric in his approach and the main practice consist on keep practicing and accumulating virtue lifetime after lifetime until you reach Buddhahood.