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Anyone Remember Past Lives?

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Anyone Remember Past Lives? Teague 3/5/12 4:09 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/7/12 8:44 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Andrew . 3/7/12 11:18 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Some Guy 3/8/12 9:23 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Teague 3/8/12 12:26 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Bagpuss The Gnome 3/8/12 10:17 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Some Guy 3/8/12 2:05 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Superkatze one 3/9/12 1:45 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Jon T 3/9/12 3:13 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Superkatze one 3/9/12 4:21 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Some Guy 3/9/12 9:40 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Constance Casey 3/10/12 12:14 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Some Guy 3/10/12 10:45 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Some Guy 3/12/12 3:34 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/12/12 11:45 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Dream Walker 7/9/12 6:40 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? This Good Self 8/24/12 6:04 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? This Good Self 8/24/12 6:22 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Dauphin Supple Chirp 3/10/12 4:53 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Teague 3/19/12 11:09 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Santiago Jimenez 3/19/12 1:40 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Jeff Grove 3/20/12 4:35 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Daniel M. Ingram 3/24/12 5:47 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Delicate Monster 4/5/12 6:43 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Teague 4/5/12 12:47 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Nikolai . 4/5/12 4:43 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? fivebells . 4/6/12 4:31 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Delicate Monster 4/11/12 4:10 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? nick 11/4/15 3:46 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Psi 11/4/15 7:54 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? nick 11/5/15 12:47 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? svmonk 11/5/15 9:57 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Eva Nie 11/6/15 12:53 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? An Eternal Now 4/6/12 1:49 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Tommy M 4/15/12 6:16 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? PP 6/30/12 5:42 PM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? James E P 4/16/12 8:58 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Some Guy 6/29/12 10:52 AM
RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives? Tom Tom 7/2/12 6:42 PM
Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/5/12 4:09 PM
Traditionally, it's a common occurrence for those far along the path (or done with the whole thing) to remember past lives. The freedom from rebirth and samsara is, after all, the fundamental point of this whole endeavor (not just to be free from suffering in this life).

So my question is, has anybody developed the ability to remember past lives?

And for those 4th pathers around here, do you believe that you'll be exiting the ride after this life?

And for anybody to answer, is the freedom from rebirth an actual motivation for practice?

With Metta,
Teague

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/7/12 8:44 AM as a reply to Teague.
Teague A:

And for anybody to answer, is the freedom from rebirth an actual motivation for practice?


For me, not really. My goal actually is freedom from suffering in this life. To be more precise: in this moment. The future is of interest only insofar as it is a concept derived from the apparent continuity of the stream of events we know as our existence. My working assumption is: If there is a future moment in time (or a future life), I want to do whatever I can do right now to make that potential future as good as I can. Fortunately I don't have to choose between making the present moment good and making the future good. I think a big part of "enlightenment" or understanding or "right view" is just this: the realization that good actions based on good intentions make the current moment better and also make the future better. Therefore you don't have to decide between the present and some potential future, like you were forced to when you were buying into delusions of material wealth etc.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/7/12 11:18 PM as a reply to Teague.
What is this life?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/8/12 9:23 AM as a reply to Andrew ..
I'm a beginner and do not remember past lives, although the claims of other people who did initially contributed to my interest in Buddhism. I think it's a good question.

Thanissaro Bikkhu wrote a free ebook you might be interested in: http://dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html#big_books

He doesn't make a case for rebirth per se, but makes a strong case that rebirth was central to the Buddha's teaching - not incidenta l- and that recalling his past lives was important in his own awakening.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/8/12 10:17 AM as a reply to Teague.
I think it's an important question as well. I'd like to hear from some enlightened folks on the DhO that have or have not experienced this.

I asked a similar question in a thread a while back re unworldly beings. The silence was deafening...

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/8/12 12:26 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
J B:
but makes a strong case that rebirth was central to the Buddha's teaching - not incidenta l- and that recalling his past lives was important in his own awakening.


Yes, a very central component to his awakening was the twelve steps of dependent origination, which take place over the course of three lives (previous, present, and next).

Most of the time, my own motivation is just to live a good life now, but there have been moments when I've felt and seen the truth of suffering so keenly that the idea of going through this process called life again and again really does sound maddening.

Anyone interested in past lives should order a book called "rebirth as doctrine and experience". It's the best dhamma reading I've found since MCTB.

Another question I'd like to tack on is: what do the actual freedom folk think of rebirth?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/8/12 2:05 PM as a reply to Teague.
And for anybody to answer, is the freedom from rebirth an actual motivation for practice?


You know, I haven't thought about it much until now, but I think it is an actual motivation at times. Lately, my practice has seemed a little bogged down and not as rewarding as I sometimes hope. And there are several recent threads here and elsewhere that make enlightenment seem, well... disappointing. So, maybe a little negative motivation to avoid unfavorable rebirths keeps me going. But it's a faint motivation, because I'm not convinced about the rebirth theory. So, testimonies would interest me.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/9/12 1:45 PM as a reply to Teague.
i don't remember my past lives but she does

http://www.dhammaweb.net/paauk/USA-D5/PaAukSayadaw11-141-09%28Caitlin%29.mp3

very interesting talk

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/9/12 3:13 PM as a reply to Superkatze one.
the above was a link to nowhere.

table of contents of her thus recorded talks

can you tell us which #talk is the one describing her past lives.



'I' find the subject compelling. I use "" to illustrate that an identity is forming as i write these words. so i will attempt to write without any such thing occuring emoticon

lots and lots of data pointing to reincarnation. some somewhat-plausible hypothesis as to how such a thing could occur. doubt any such speculation is fruitful. though any motivation is good motivation until the time when the momentum can't be stopped. if i were to remember a past life, i'd examine it to the furtherest extent i could. it would be a novelty. but would it change anything?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/9/12 4:21 PM as a reply to Jon T.
corrected link

http://www.dhammaweb.net/paauk/usa-dhammatalk.html

it is
Disc 5 Pa Auk Sayadaw Dhamma Talk Nov 14 2009 (Caitlin)

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/9/12 9:40 PM as a reply to Superkatze one.
Superkatze one:
corrected link

http://www.dhammaweb.net/paauk/usa-dhammatalk.html

it is
Disc 5 Pa Auk Sayadaw Dhamma Talk Nov 14 2009 (Caitlin)


Thanks. English portion begins at about 6'50".

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/10/12 12:14 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
"So my question is, has anybody developed the ability to remember past lives?

And for those 4th pathers around here, do you believe that you'll be exiting the ride after this life?

And for anybody to answer, is the freedom from rebirth an actual motivation for practice?"

I have had experiences that appear to be "past lives".
It is all now though, ultimately.
Recently, there was seeing a death process itself, in jhana, it was helpful to see this.
Freedom from clinging is a natural interest.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/10/12 4:53 AM as a reply to Teague.
As I was just sitting here, staring at a blue kasina, I remembered something I would like to run by you:

When I was experimenting with hypnosis years ago, I saw something that I now believe to have been a past life. Most of the people who were going through the same hypnotic induction told stories about walking around in a house or being stranded on an island or something like that. My own story was not quite human: I was one of a few dozen beings (that I could see). We all appeared to be blobs of light floating in space. I'm not sure why, but it felt like we were approximately in geosynchronous orbit, though I don't remember seeing any stars or planets. All the other blobs were orange or violet in color, but for some reason I perceived myself as green or blue. It was a little bit confusing because everything seemed so fantastic. Even now it's hard to find words to describe this.

Since we're already talking about this... When I had started Mahasi noting years later and was getting into A&P territory, I had a dream that was probably also a past life memory. In fact that dream was the first actual A&P event I have had in "this" life. I dreamed that I was sitting in a fairly large hall looking out onto trees. Everything was green, a really beautiful setting. As I became concentrated, all of a sudden, on an out-breath, what I was seeing (the scene of green trees) started being perceived as a rapid succession of images interrupted by blackness (typical visual A&P experience as I know now). It then went back to normal (non-strobing) on the in-breath, but on the next out-breath, the strobing started again and became more intense. This time it ended not in having the blackness between frames disappear, but in having the frames disappear and falling into absorption.

During the events described above, nobody was holding a sign up, "You are experiencing a past life memory," so they might just have been products of my imagination, but then again, what is the difference?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/10/12 10:45 AM as a reply to Superkatze one.
That is a fascinating dhamma talk, Superkatze.

She discusses a practice that involves following the chain of thoughts back to the womb and then before. She says the purpose of the practice is to understand the nature of the ignorance that caused your rebirth. She also says that it's a very systematic practice accessible to any stream enterer, or jhana adept. She also confirms that the practice brings strong motivation to escape samsara.

The process of following minute machinations from one life to the previous would seem to negate the idea that such memories are really just collective unconscious memories.

She also had some really nice insights about perfecting sila.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/12/12 3:34 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Does anybody have a reference that would address the question of what there is outside of samsara?

Someone suggested to me recently that the ultimate outcome of buddhist practice, presupposing the cycle of rebirth and its cessation, would be to return to dust. I couldn't disagree. Thoughts?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/12/12 11:45 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
I have a theory. I don't know if it's true, but believe it probably is. I tried to introduce it here:

http://forums.philosophyforums.com/comments.php?id=51514&findpost=909895#post909895

What difference does it make to me? None really.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/19/12 11:09 AM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:
My own story was not quite human: I was one of a few dozen beings (that I could see). We all appeared to be blobs of light floating in space. I'm not sure why, but it felt like we were approximately in geosynchronous orbit, though I don't remember seeing any stars or planets. All the other blobs were orange or violet in color, but for some reason I perceived myself as green or blue. It was a little bit confusing because everything seemed so fantastic. Even now it's hard to find words to describe this.


That's interesting. I wonder if that's pretty much what existence in the deva realms is like.

Dauphin Supple Chirp:
I have a theory. I don't know if it's true, but believe it probably is. I tried to introduce it here:

http://forums.philosophyforums.com/comments.php?id=51514&findpost=909895#post909895

What difference does it make to me? None really.


I've heard this theory before and it's cool to think about, but I agree with your statement: What difference does it make. Whether I'm mind and matter, or just ones and zeros, I'd still like to suffer less and escape samsara.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/19/12 1:40 PM as a reply to Teague.
Here's a post of my take on the subject

http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2712247

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/20/12 4:35 PM as a reply to Santiago Jimenez.
listening to the series of talks santiago pointed out yesterday found this

Reincarnation in Human Evolution - The New Science of Darwinian Rebirth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2uZkPzJrZc

cheers

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
3/24/12 5:47 AM as a reply to Teague.
Alright, so on the retreat in 2003 at MBMC where I finished those things up, when my concentration was really strong about 2.5 weeks into that 3 wk retreat, I had the following experience:

I was doing walking meditation and a thought said: "Hey, watch this!" and there was this trail of thought bubbles off to the left, 6 of them, each of which instantly imparted a relatively large amount of information for the very short period of time they existed.

The first was a scene of a small rodent-like creature, probably a skunk, being eaten by a wolf-like thing or dog.

The second and third were of bats, one of which was somehow crushed on the floor of a cave.

The fourth I don't remember well.

The fifth was of a very large, dangerous-looking skeletal thing I can only assume was some sort of Jealous God-realm sort of entity, and it had armor, a very large sword, and there was the sense that it had run across the universe through space for many hundreds of thousands of years fighting nearly constantly without tiring at all, as it was a creature of great strength and boundless endurance, and it died in the fire of some very large dragon-like thing.

The last had the feeling of immense age and was by far the most alien and least comprehensible, being some sort of giant, gelatinous, pseudopod covered creature in a very dark place.

Somehow there was a deep sense of both memory and emotional resonance with them, and it was very hard not to come to the conclusion that this was what people would call past-life experiences.

I merely report the sensations and impressions these experiences conveyed, but beyond that I do not add any sense of the absolute validity of them being past lives, as who can know? I have had so many weird visions, strange and compelling experiences, and the like, but in the end the only question is what makes a difference here and now, and so I don't really see how calling those experiences past lives or powers or visions or just hallucinations or delusions actually makes any difference at all, so I choose to just keep them as memories of something that felt like memories, but I can't confirm that they really were.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/5/12 6:43 AM as a reply to Teague.
You are the Universe experiencing itself right now. Whatever you want to call it, there’s just one thing and the the notion of past lives being reborn requires some sort of indivisible soul.

If somehow, hypothetically, memories were not stored locally, like through quantum mechanics for example, and further you were somehow able to gain access to that stored information, you would gain access to every experience ever experienced by every subjective entity past, present, and future, not some linear time-dump.

But ya, memory is most likely stored locally and more than that, you don’t really even have great access what is there or what should be there from “this life.” Just try to remember your third locker combo from grade school, ha.

Didn’t intend for my first post here to be semi-negative (I really do love the community here), but seriously, I wish some of the serious teachers-practitioners would turn their brains back on for minute here and there. That 5th day when Goenka starts talking about reincarnation is a setback for most people because it’s retarded, not because vipassana is hard.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/5/12 12:47 PM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Richard Forrester:
the notion of past lives being reborn requires some sort of indivisible soul.


I don't want this to turn into a philosophical debate, but I can't help commenting on this.

The notion of past lives being reborn does not require some sort of indivisible soul. The Buddha never taught that it's your soul that reincarnates over and over again; his teaching was entirely contrary to that. Our consciousness, like everything else in existence, is arising and passing every moment with no continuity. But what gives the impression of continuity is that each moment of consciousness is causally dependent on the moment of consciousness preceding it. It's like a string of dominoes: each one falling is the cause of the next one to fall. The theory of rebirth is that when one physical vessel dies, its string of consciousness dominoes don't end there, but trigger a new string of dominoes in a new vessel, thus giving the impression of continuity in a new body. And if, to paraphrase: "the universe is just one thing", then the causal stream of our consciousness making a jump from one vessel to another is not all that hard to imagine.

Richard Forrester:
That 5th day when Goenka starts talking about reincarnation is a setback for most people because it’s retarded, not because vipassana is hard.


If this concept is a "black stone" to you, then simply take it out, and accept what is acceptable.

With Metta,
Teague

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/5/12 4:43 PM as a reply to Teague.
I like Culadasa's opinion on such things:


Hi Michael,

Daniel has given you some excellent advice. Consider his third point: How would you know that these "past life memories" actually belonged to you?

On what basis do you assume that the manifold past lives the Buddha recollected were "his", in some linear, separate, and individual sense? Are you assuming that the Insight gained by the Buddha in seeing past lives was an Insight into the truth of reincarnation? If so, then he didn't discover anything new, he was only confirming a commonly held belief of his time - and all the statements attributed to him in the passage you quoted are completely consistent with what the Brahmins were already teaching.

Could it be instead, that by reviewing many, many human lives, the real Insight he gained was into a deeper truth about human suffering, the causes of suffering, how suffering can end, and the way to end suffering? Perhaps this review of past lives actually gave him an Insight into human nature and the nature of the mind, one that completely refutes the illusion of separate self, rather than confirming it? That would certainly fit much better with everything else he taught during his life. Might not the review of many other, non-human, lives have perhaps allowed him to extend this same Insight to all existent beings of every sort?

There is absolutely no basis at all for anyone to assume that the past lives the Buddha saw, or that Ajahn Lee saw, or that I have seen, or that you will see if you do the practice, belong to some kind of separate self. The only reason that anyone would ever make that assumption is that they are already predisposed to accept the idea of reincarnation. It is an entirely ungrounded assumption, based only on a pre-existing belief or a desperate desire to believe in anything that will reify the personal self.

Remember, a Stream Entrant, by the Buddha's definition, is someone who has overcome belief in the reality of the personal self, in any form. This is one of the Three Fetters that has been overcome. A Stream Entrant knows with absolute certainty that, whatever might be reborn, it is definitely not the personal self we think we are. And, therefore, that the idea of reincarnation of a personal self or "soul" is a falsehood. But the inherent feeling that one is a separately existing entity will keep coming back until one becomes an Arhat, even though one no longer believes in a personal self. This is why Stream Entrants (and not just Buddhist stream entrants, either) so often try to find something else that they can attach their lingering sense of a separate selfhood to, since it can no longer attach to personality. Consciousness is a popular candidate for this (see the Mahatanhasankhya Sutta, MN 38, about Sati the fisherman's son). Consciousness lends itself well to being framed as Universal, or Cosmic, or God Consciousness, all in an effort to accommodate the inherent sense of a separate self into the Stream Entrant's realizations of the illusoriness of the personal self, and the interconnectedness of everything. This is also a wrong view (although not quite as wrong), because even though "consciousness as the true self" is being intellectually described as "universal", it is still being intuitively conceived of as separate. But there is no way that a true Stream Entrant can continue to believe in personal rebirth or reincarnation.

You have expressed your own true brilliance in your last comment: "Instead of spending so much time on speculations, I should be focusing on my meditation and figure it out myself."

Yes, Michael, you can recollect a few past lives yourself, and when you do, you can jump to an uncritical conclusion that, "Wow, reincarnation must be true!" and stop there. Or else you can continue to repeat these experiences, examining them more closely until you realize that, in fact, they are no more about "you" than was the last movie you saw. When that happens, you will have to ask yourself, "How, then, can I be accessing the memories of some other person's life?" An excellent question! It's a question that applies equally well to the associated power of knowing the minds of others, and to the divine eye and divine ear as well. What common explanation might lie behind all of these? Then you might consider Daniel's 4th point as well: "Is this just a projection of my own mind?" Or better yet, you might wonder if both things could be true, that the "memories" are indeed coming from another's mind, and therefore are not an illusion, but somehow it also involves a projection of "your" mind. Those questions will lead you to a genuine Insight into no-self, interconnectedness, dependent origination, and emptiness. That is the way for you to truly follow directly in the footsteps of the Buddha.

Much love and joy to you,
Culadasa
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jhana_insight/message/3006

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/6/12 1:49 AM as a reply to Teague.
While I cannot vouch for any reliable past life memories, I have a highly awakened friend and one of my Buddhist forum moderators "Simpo" or "Longchen" who does have very clear memories of a large number of lifetimes which he recounted to me when I met up with him. He asked me not to discuss them to others so I will leave out the details.

Not only was he able to describe the details of his past life, he was able to tell the causal/karmic effects of deeds in that lifetime which affected his experience in this life, by tracing the effect to the cause in meditation. He was able to for example, understand why he got into certain illness, sickness, or why was he treated well/badly by particular persons, and who is his wife and the people he met in relation to him in his past lives, why he had certain phobias etc. He was able to trace these causal links. So... not only was he able to see past lives, he was able to see karmic link. He was able to also understand the evolution of his past lifetimes, why one lifetime led to another.

So while there is no self, there is karmic causes and effect:

In the //Milindapanha// the King asks Nagasena:

"What is it, Venerable Sir, that will be reborn?"

"A psycho-physical combination (//nama-rupa//), O King."

"But how, Venerable Sir? Is it the same psycho-physical
combination as this present one?"

"No, O King. But the present psycho-physical combination produces
kammically wholesome and unwholesome volitional activities, and
through such kamma a new psycho-physical combination will be
born."



To the question "And for those 4th pathers around here, do you believe that you'll be exiting the ride after this life?"

The answer is: I believe in exiting the ride, but I take the fetter model literally and do not think the technical model = fetter model.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/6/12 4:31 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Beautifully skillful answer.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/11/12 4:10 AM as a reply to Teague.
Teague A:

I don't want this to turn into a philosophical debate . . .

hmm.

Teague A:

The Buddha never taught . . .

hmm.

Teague A:

The notion of past lives being reborn does not require some sort of indivisible soul. . . .
It's like a string of dominoes: each one falling is the cause of the next one to fall.


same difference.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/15/12 6:16 PM as a reply to Teague.
So my question is, has anybody developed the ability to remember past lives?

I've had a fair few experiences of what could reasonably be called "past life recall" through meditation and through hallucinogens. In fact, Daniels descriptions sound very similar to something I experienced while on acid and meditating a few years ago, it was like experiencing the whole of evolution from being a single-celled organism through to the complexities of the human nervous system at high-speed, but in incredible detail. Straight-up meditative experiences are generally less clear and, for me at least, only last a few moments and seem to relate to specific events in the life of each "incarnation", but I don't ever take any of them seriously.

My current favourite model of the whole thing, particularly the recall of atavistic or cellular "incarnations", is that they may have something to do with accessing memory at a genetic level and 'going back' to read older DNA patterns from evolutionary history.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
4/16/12 8:58 AM as a reply to Teague.
In "Knowing and Seeing" by Pa Auk Sayadaw, he talks of seeing past lives, although in a limited sense, he is a very heavy Jhana teacher and most of this stuff is cultivated from the 4th Jhana. Only reference I've seen, he explains how to see the conditions for your previous rebirth in meditation.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
6/29/12 10:52 AM as a reply to James E P.
Here's a link to a youtube video of a nun, Sister Dipankara, another student of Pa Auk describing the meditation for perceiving past lives. Her accent is very thick, and it seems to be a cursory description (about 10 minutes including several videos). She does indicate that it begins with attaining 4th Jhana, but I think she is saying that the practice is actually a kind of Vipassana involving investigation of memories of self, regressing gradually through time.

Far from displaying a romantic attachment to self or immortality, she makes it clear that the purpose of the meditation is to understand cause and effect, how suffering arises, and the importance of extinguishing it.

From Culadasa's statement above:

A Stream Entrant knows with absolute certainty that, whatever might be reborn, it is definitely not the personal self we think we are. And, therefore, that the idea of reincarnation of a personal self or "soul" is a falsehood. But the inherent feeling that one is a separately existing entity will keep coming back until one becomes an Arhat, even though one no longer believes in a personal self. This is why Stream Entrants (and not just Buddhist stream entrants, either) so often try to find something else that they can attach their lingering sense of a separate selfhood to, since it can no longer attach to personality.


I can identify with this, and it may be why I find this "past-life review" practice appealing. But it would seem to be a fruitful practice for this affliction. I'd be interested if anyone can glean more from her than I have so far.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
6/30/12 5:42 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Hi,

I've had some past-lifes like experiences that then called them "my Discovery Channel recordings" emoticon . Once as a sort of butterfly flying over a pond. Other, watching a prehistoric humanoid, anatomically more evolved that a neanderthal, with a small flat nose and skin as soft as present north europeans. Last, a greek or middle east man two thousand years ago. With the first two I was only a watcher, but with the last there was some kind of bond.

I would like to ask you if when remembering past lifes (or whatever they are), you have accessed not only images/movies of their lifes and/or emotions, but also the their "clean consciousness". In meditation, I had experienced awareness of being consciously watching myself reacting emotionally to something I disliked. Kind of "watching the watcher watch my emotions". Is it possible to be a watcher of another watcher, not "myself"? Or when watching another, you can only access at a emotions & thoughts level? Hope this makes sense.

Best!

Pablo

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
7/2/12 6:42 PM as a reply to Teague.
It seems that what we call "reality" (bodily existence) is simply a more organized form for conditions to collect, a sort of "anchor." Similar to how we make arbitrary distinctions between sleeping and dreaming where the conditions within them are the same (three characteristics). Notice how the lack of full embodiment in dream creates laws of physics that are chaotic and all out of whack. It is unlikely that any liberation could ever occur in these conditions, so conditions tend to collect and create bodily anchors.

Likely past lives are similar to this false distinction we make between dreaming and waking and are simply areas where conditions land to collect in an organized anchor.

Notice how the stars and galaxies (as well as atoms) are structured. Galaxies exist in spiral/elliptical type structures with black holes in the center. The rotation around the center of the black hole is likely samsaric activity, and the black hole itself is the process of awakening (spiraling in toward and past the event horizon into the singularity).

This is where the 2012 idea and the Mayan prophecy comes from as the Earth during the past decade or so has come into galactic alignment with the black hole in center of the galaxy, as this process occurs regularly and rhythmically, it is completely predictable .

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
7/9/12 6:40 PM as a reply to Dauphin Supple Chirp.
Dauphin Supple Chirp:
I have a theory. I don't know if it's true, but believe it probably is. I tried to introduce it here:

http://forums.philosophyforums.com/comments.php?id=51514&findpost=909895#post909895

What difference does it make to me? None really.


Your theory has been explored by a physicist named Thomas Campbell in his book My Big Toe(Theory Of Everything)
His explanation of the simulated universe is amazing. He goes further than just this universe as he has explored multiple other universes, some associated to "our" rule set as well as looked into "other" types of simulations/universes.
As far as past lives go from his perspective-
All data/experiences are recorded and are accessible from the great database. When we access the data of past lives we get information based on what we ask for and our expectations. The database is very flexible and will try to give you what you want and will be happy to make up "real" and "amalgam" data for your consumption. Therefore the garbage in garbage out applies - everyone gets to be Cleopatra and no one is her chamber pot cleaner.

His youtube presentation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxECb7zcQhQ

Thomas Campbell on Reincarnation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmkPBrHwQWI&feature=related

Web site
http://www.my-big-toe.com/
I can not recommend him enough as he really got me started on my journey of understanding the framework of reality and MCTB shot me forward into understanding the experiences as they happened.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
8/24/12 6:04 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
found this on: http://www.messagefrommasters.com/Osho/osho/Osho-on-jati-smaran-past-life-remembering.html



Osho - Jati-smaran means: a method of recalling past lives. It is a way to remember our previous existences. It is a form of meditation. It is a specific application of meditation. For example, one might ask, "What is a river, and what is a canal? Our answer would be that the canal is a specific application of the river itself -- well planned, but controlled and systematic. The river is chaotic, unrestrained; it too will reach somewhere, but its destination is not certain. The destination of the canal is assured.

Meditation is like a big river -- it will reach to the ocean; it is sure to reach. Meditation will surely bring you to God. There are, however, other intermediary applications of meditation also. Like small tributaries these can be directed into canals of meditation. Jati-smaran is one such auxiliary method of meditation. We can channelize the power of meditation towards our past lives also; meditation simply means the focusing of attention. There can be applications where one's attention is focused on a given object, and one such application is jati-smaran -- focusing on the dormant memories of past lives.

Remember, memories are never erased; a memory either remains latent or it arises. But the latent memory appears to be erased. If I ask you what you did on January 1, 1950, you will not be able to answer -- which does not mean that you might not have done anything on that day. But suddenly the day of January 1, 1950 feels like a total blank. It could not have been blank; as it passed, it was filled with activity. But today it feels like a blank. Similarly, today will become blank tomorrow as well. Ten years from now there will be no trace left of today.

So it is not that January 1, 1950 did not exist, or that you did not exist on that day -- what is implied is that since you are unable to recall that day, how can you believe it ever existed? But it did exist and there is a way to know about it. Meditation can be focused in that direction as well. As soon as the light of meditation falls on that day, to your surprise you will see that it looks more alive than it ever was before.

For example, a person enters a dark room and moves around with a flashlight. When he turns the light to the left, the right side becomes dark -- but nothing disappears on the right side. When he moves the light to the right, the right side becomes alive again, but the left side remains hidden in the dark.

Meditation has a focus, and if one wants to channel it in a particular direction then it has to be used like a flashlight. If, however, one wants to turn it towards the divine, then meditation has to be applied like a lamp. Please understand this carefully. The lamp has no focus of its own; it is unfocused. A lamp merely burns and its light spreads all around. A lamp has no interest in lighting up one direction or the other; whatsoever falls within the radius of light is lit up. But the form of a flashlight is like a focused lamp.

In a flashlight we keep all the light and shine it in one direction. So it is possible that under a burning lamp things may become visible, but hazy, and in order to see them clearly we concentrate the light on one place -- it becomes a flashlight; then the thing becomes clearly visible. However, the remaining objects are lost to view. In fact, if a man wants to see an object clearly he will have to focus his total meditation in one direction only and turn the rest of the area into darkness.

One who wants to know the truth of life directly will develop his meditation like a lamp -- that will be his sole purpose. And, in fact, the lamp's only objective is to see itself; if it can shine this much it is enough -- that's the end of it. But if some special application of the lamp has to be made -- such as remembering past lives -- then meditation will have to be channeled in one direction.

I will share with you two or three clues as to how meditation can be channelized in that direction. I won't give you all the clues because, most likely, hardly any of you have any intention of using them, and those who have can see me personally. So I will mention two or three clues which, of course, won't really enable you to experiment with remembering past lives, but will give you just an idea. I won't discuss the whole thing because it's not advisable for everyone to experiment with this idea. Also, this experiment can often put you in danger.

Osho on Jati Samaran

Let me tell you of an incident so that what I am saying becomes clear to you. For about two or three years, in respect to meditation, a lady professor stayed in touch with me. She was very insistent on experimenting with jati-smaran, on learning about her past life. I helped her with the experiment; however, I also advised her that it would be better if she didn't do the experiment until her meditation was fully developed, otherwise it could be dangerous.

As it is, a single life's memories are difficult to bear -- should the memories of the past three or four lives break the barrier and flood in, a person can go mad. That's why nature has planned it so we go on forgetting the past. Nature has given us a greater ability to forget more than you can remember, so that your mind does not have a greater burden than it can carry. A heavy burden can be borne only after the capacity of your mind has increased, and trouble begins when the weight of these memories falls on you before this capacity has been raised. But she remained persistent. She paid no heed to my advice and went into the experiment.

When the flood of her past life's memory finally burst upon her, she came running to me around two o'clock in the morning. She was a real mess; she was in great distress. She said, "Somehow this has got to stop. I don't ever want to look at that side of things." But it is not so easy to stop the tide of memory once it has broken loose. It is very difficult to shut the door once it crashes down -- the door does not simply open, it breaks open. It took about fifteen days -- only then did the wave of memories stop. What was the problem?

This lady used to claim that she was very pious, a woman of impeccable character. When she encountered the memory of her past life, when she was a prostitute, and the scenes of her prostitution began to emerge, her whole being was shaken. Her whole morality of this life was disturbed.

In this sort of revelation, it is not as if the visions belong to someone else -- the same woman who claimed to be chaste now saw herself as a prostitute. It often happens that someone who was a prostitute in a past life becomes deeply virtuous in the next; it is a reaction to the suffering of the past life. It is the memory of the pain and the hurt of the previous life that turns her into a chaste woman.

It often happens that people who were sinners in past lives become saints in this life. Hence there is quite a deep relationship between sinners and saints. Such a reaction often takes place, and the reason is, what we come to know hurts us and so we swing to the opposite extreme.

The pendulum of our minds keeps moving in the opposite direction. No sooner does the pendulum reach the left than it moves back to the right. It barely touches the right when it swings back to the left. When you see the pendulum of a clock moving towards the left, be assured it is gathering energy to move back to the right -- it will go as far to the right as it has gone to the left. Hence, in life it often happens that a virtuous person becomes a sinner, and a sinner becomes virtuous.

This is very common; this sort of oscillation occurs in everyone's life. Do not think, therefore, that it is a general rule that one who has become a holy man in this life must have been a holy man in his past life also. It is not necessarily so. What is necessarily so is the exact reverse of it -- he is laden with the pain of what he went through in his past life and has turned to the opposite.


I have heard.... A holy man and a prostitute once lived opposite each other. Both died on the same day. The soul of the prostitute was to be taken to heaven, and that of the holy man, however, to hell. The envoys who had come to take them away were very puzzled. They kept asking each other, "What went wrong? Is this a mistake? Why are we to take the holy man to hell? Wasn't he a holy man?"

The wisest among them said, "He was a holy man all right, but he envied the prostitute. He always brooded over the parties at her place and the pleasures that went on there. The notes of music which came drifting to his house would jolt him to his very core. No admirer of the prostitute, sitting in front of her, was ever moved as much as he -- listening to the sounds coming from her residence, the sounds of the small dancing bells she wore on her ankles. His whole attention always remained focused on her place. Even while worshipping God, his ears were tuned to the sounds which came from her house.

"And the prostitute? While she languished in the pit of misery, she always wondered what unknown bliss the holy man was in. Whenever she saw him carrying flowers for morning worship, she wondered, 'When will I be worthy to take flowers of worship to the temple? I am so impure that I can hardly even gather enough courage to enter the temple.' The holy man was never as lost in the incense smoke, in the shining lamps, in the sounds of worship as the prostitute was. The prostitute always longed for the life of the holy man, and the holy man always craved for the pleasures of the prostitute."

Their interests and attitudes, so totally opposite each other's, so totally different from each other's, had completely changed. This often happens -- and there are laws at work behind these happenings. So when the memory of her past life came back to this lady professor, she was very hurt. She felt hurt because her ego was shattered. What she learned about her past life shook her, and now she wanted to forget it. I had warned her in the first place not to recall her past life without sufficient preparation.

Since you have asked, I shall tell you a few basic things so that you can understand the meaning of jati-smaran. But they won't help you to experiment with it. Those who wish to experiment will have to look into it separately.

The first thing is that if the purpose of jati-smaran is simply to know one's past life, then one needs to turn one's mind away from the future. Our mind is future-oriented, not past-oriented. Ordinarily, our mind is centered in the future; it moves toward the future. The stream of our thoughts is future-oriented, and it is in life's interests that the mind be future-oriented, not past-oriented. Why be concerned with the past? It is gone, it is finished -- so we are interested in that which is about to come. That's why we keep asking astrologers what is in store for us in the future. We are interested in finding out what is going to happen in the future. One who wants to remember the past has to give up, absolutely, any interest in the future. Because once the flashlight of the mind is focused on the future; once the stream of thoughts has begun to move towards the future, then it cannot be turned back towards the past.

So the first thing one needs to do is to break oneself completely away from the future for a few months, for a certain specific period of time. One should decide that he will not think of the future for the next six months. If a thought of the future does occur, he will simply salute it and let it go; he will not become identified with and carried away by any feeling of future. So the first thing is that, for six months, he will allow that there is no future and will flow towards the past. And so, as soon as future is dropped, the current of thoughts turns towards the past.

First you will have to go back in this life; it is not possible to return to a past life all at once. And there are techniques for going back in this life. For example, as I said earlier, you don't remember now what you did on January 1, 1950.

There is a technique to find out. If you go into the meditation which I have suggested, after ten minutes -- when the meditation has gone deeper, the body is relaxed, the breathing is relaxed, the mind has become quiet -- then let only one thing remain in your mind: "What took place on January 1, 1950?" Let your entire mind focus on it. If that remains the only note echoing in your mind, in a few days you will all of a sudden find a curtain is raised: the first of January appears and you begin to relive each and every event of that day from dawn to dusk. And you will see the first of January in far more detail than you may have seen it, in actuality, on that very day -- because on that day, you may not have been this aware. So, first, you will need to experiment by regressing in this life.

It is very easy to regress to the age of five; it becomes very difficult to go beyond that age. And so, ordinarily, we cannot recall what happened before the age of five; that is the farthest back we can go. A few people might remember up to the third year, but beyond that it becomes extremely difficult -- as if a barrier comes across the entrance and everything becomes blocked. A person who becomes capable of recalling will be able to fully awaken the memory of any day up to the age of five. The memory starts to be completely revived.

Then one should test it. For example, note down the events of today on a piece of paper and lock it away. Two years later recall this day: open the note and compare your memory with it. You will be amazed to find that you have been able to recall more than what was noted on the paper. The events are certain to return to your memory.

Osho on past life remembering

Buddha has called this alaya-vigyan. There exists a corner in our minds which Buddha has named alaya-vigyan. Alaya-vigyan means the storehouse of consciousness. As we store all our junk in the basement of a house, similarly, there is a storehouse of consciousness that collects memories. Birth after birth, everything is stored in it. Nothing is ever removed from there, because a man never knows when he might need those things. The physical body changes, but, in our ongoing existence, that storehouse continues, remains with us. One never knows when it might be needed. And whatsoever we have done in our lives, whatsoever we have experienced, known, lived -- everything is stored there.

One who can remember to the age of five can go beyond that age -- it is not very difficult. The nature of the experiment will be the same. Beyond the age of five there is yet another door which will lead you to the point of your birth, to when you appeared on earth. Then one comes across another difficulty, because the memories of one's stay in the mother's womb never disappear either. One can penetrate these memories too, reaching to the point of conception, to the moment when the genes of the mother and father unite and the soul enters. A man can enter into his past lives only after having reached this point; he cannot move into them directly. One has to undertake this much of the return journey, only then is it possible to move into one's past life as well.

After having entered the past life, the first memory to come up will be of the last event that took place in that life. Remember, however, that this will cause some difficulty and will make little sense. It is as if we run a film from the end or read a novel backwards -- we feel lost. And so, entering into one's past life for the first time will be quite confusing because the sequence of events will be in the reverse order.

As you go back into your past life, you will come across death first, then old age, youth, childhood, and then birth. It will be in reverse order, and in that order it will be very difficult to figure out what is what. So when the memory surfaces for the first time, you feel tremendously restless and troubled, because it is difficult to make sense; it is as if you are looking at a film or reading a novel from the end. Perhaps you will only make heads or tails of an event after rearranging the order several times. So the greatest effort involved in going back to the memories of one's past life is seeing, in reverse order, events which ordinarily take place in the right order. But, after all, what is the right or reverse order? It is just a question of how we entered the world and how we departed from it.

We sow a seed in the beginning, and the flower appears in the end. However, if one were to take a reverse look at this phenomenon, the flower would come first, followed in sequence by the bud, the plant, the leaves, the saplings and in the end the seed. Since we have no previous knowledge of this reverse order, it takes a lot of time to rearrange memories coherently and to figure out the nature of events clearly. The strangest thing is that death will come first, followed by old age, illness, and then youth; things will occur in the reverse order. Or, if you were married and then divorced, while going down memory lane the divorce will come first, followed by the love and then the marriage.

It will be extremely difficult to follow events in this regressive fashion, because normally we understand things in a one-dimensional way. Our minds are one-dimensional. To look at things in opposite order is very difficult -- we are not used to such an experience; we are accustomed to moving in a linear direction. With effort, however, one can understand the events of a past life by following, in sequence, the reverse order. Surely, it will be an incredible experience.

Going through memories in this reverse order will be a very amazing experience, because seeing the divorce first and then the love and then the marriage, will make it instantly clear that the divorce was inevitable -- the divorce was inherent in the kind of love that happened; the divorce was the only ultimate possible outcome of the kind of marriage that took place. But at the time of that past life marriage we hadn't the faintest idea it would eventually end in divorce. And indeed, the divorce was the result of that marriage. If we could see this whole thing in its entirety, then falling in love today would become a totally different thing -- because now we could see the divorce in it beforehand, now we could see the enmity around the corner even before making the friendship.

The memory of the past life will completely turn this life upside-down, because now you won't be able to live the way you lived in your past life. In your previous life you felt -- and the same feeling exists even now -- that success and great happiness were to be found by making a fortune. What you will see first in your previous life is your state of unhappiness before seeing how you made the fortune. This will clearly show that instead of being a source of happiness, making the fortune led, in fact, to unhappiness -- and friendship led to enmity, what was thought to be love turned into hatred, and what was considered a union resulted in separation. Then, for the first time, you will see things in their right perspective, with their total import. And this implication will change your life, will change the way you are living now completely -- it will be an entirely different situation.

I have heard that a man went to a monk and said, "I would be much obliged if you would accept me as your disciple." The monk refused. The man asked why he would not make him his disciple.

The monk replied, "In my previous birth I had disciples who later turned into enemies. I have seen the whole thing and now I know that to make disciples means to make enemies, to make friends means to sow the seeds of enmity. Now I don't want to make any enemies, so I don't make any friends. I have known that to be alone is enough. Drawing someone close to you is, in a way, pushing the person away from you."

Buddha has said that the meeting with the beloved brings joy and the parting of the unbeloved also brings joy, that the parting of the beloved brings sorrow and the meeting with the unbeloved brings sorrow as well. This is how it was perceived; this is how it was understood. However, later we come to understand that the one we feel is our beloved can become the unbeloved, and the one we considered the unbeloved can become a beloved. And so, with the recollection of past memories, the existing situations will change radically; they will be seen in an entirely different perspective.

Such recollections are possible, though neither necessary nor inevitable, and sometimes, in meditation, these memories may strike unexpectedly as well. If the memories of past lives ever do come all of a sudden -- without being involved in any experiment, but simply keeping on with one's meditation -- don't take much interest in them. Just look at them; be a witness to them -- because ordinarily the mind is incapable of bearing such vast turbulence all at once. Attempting to cope with it, there is a distinct possibility of going mad.

Once a girl was brought to me. She was about eleven years old. Unexpectedly, she had remembered three of her past lives. She had not experimented with anything; but often, for some reason mistakes do happen all of a sudden. This was an error on the part of nature, not its grace upon her; in some way nature had erred in her case. It is the same as if someone had three eyes, or four arms -- this is an error. Four arms would be much weaker than two arms; four arms couldn't work as effectively as two arms could -- four arms would make the body weaker, not stronger.

So the girl, eleven years old, remembered three past lives, and many inquiries were made into this case. In her previous life she had lived about eighty miles from my present residence, and in that life she died at the age of sixty. The people she lived with then are now the residents of my hometown, and she could recognize all of them. Even in a crowd of thousands, she could recognize her past relatives -- her own brother, her daughters, and her grandchildren -- from the daughters, from the sons-in-law. She could recognize her distant relatives and tell many things about them even they had forgotten.

Her elder brother is still alive. On his head there is a scar from a small injury. I asked the girl if she knew anything about that scar. The girl laughed and said, "Even my brother doesn't know about it. Let him tell you how and when he got that injury." The brother could not recall when the injury occurred; he had no idea at all, he said.

The girl said, "On the day of his wedding, my brother fell while he was mounting the marriage horse. He was ten years old then." The elderly people in the town supported her story, admitting that the brother had, indeed, fallen from the horse. And the man himself had no recollection of this event. Then, as well, the girl displayed a treasure she had buried in the house she had lived in during her previous life.

In her last birth she died at the age of sixty, and previous to that birth she had been born in a village somewhere in Assam. Then she had died at the age of seven. She could not give the village name, nor her address, but she could speak as much of the Assamese language as a seven-year-old child could. Also, she could dance and sing like a seven-year-old girl could. Many inquiries were made, but her family from that life could not be traced.

The girl has a past-life experience of sixty-seven years plus eleven years of this life. You can see in her eyes the resemblance to a seventy-five to seventy-eight-year-old woman, although she is actually eleven years old. She cannot play with children of her own age because she feels too old. Within her she carries the memory of seventy-eight years; she sees herself as a seventy-eight-year-old woman. She cannot go to school because, although she is eleven, she can easily look upon her teacher as her son. So even though her body is eleven years old, her mind and personality are those of a seventy-eight-year-old woman. She cannot play and frolic like a child; she is only interested in the kinds of serious things old women talk about. She is in agony; she is filled with tension. Her body and mind are not in harmony. She is in a very sad and painful state.

I advised her parents to bring the girl to me, and to let me help her forget the memories of her past lives. Just as there is a method to revive memories, there is also a way to forget them. But her parents were enjoying the whole affair! Crowds of people came to see the girl; they began to worship her. The parents were not interested in having her forget the past. I warned them the girl would go mad, but they turned a deaf ear. Today she is on the verge of insanity, because she cannot bear the weight of so many memories. Another problem is, how to get her married? She finds it difficult to conceive of marriage when, in fact, she feels like an old woman of seventy-eight. There is no harmony of any kind within her; her body is young but the mind is old. It is a very difficult situation.

But this was an accident. You can also break open the passage with an experiment. But it is not necessary to go in that direction; however, those who still wish to pursue it, can experiment. But before moving into the experiment it is essential they go through deep meditation so their minds can become so silent and strong that when the flood of memories breaks upon them, they can accept it as a witnessing. When a man grows into being a witness, past lives appear to be no more than dreams to him. Then he is not tormented by the memories; now they mean nothing more than dreams.

When one succeeds in recalling past lives and they begin to appear like dreams, immediately one's present life begins to look like a dream too. Those who have called this world maya have not done so just to propound a doctrine of philosophy. Jati-smaran -- recalling past lives -- is at the base of it. Whosoever has remembered his past lives, for him the whole affair has suddenly turned into a dream, an illusion. Where are his friends of past lives? Where are his relatives, his wife and children, the houses he lived in? Where is that world? Where is everything he took to be so real? Where are those worries that gave him sleepless nights? Where are those pains and sufferings that seemed so insurmountable, that he carried like a dead weight on his back? And what became of the happiness he longed for? What happened to everything he so toiled and suffered for? If you ever remember your past life, and if you lived for seventy years, then whatever you might have seen in those seventy years, would that look like a dream or a reality? Indeed, it would look like a dream which had come and withered away.
I have heard....

Once a king's only son lay on his deathbed. For eight days he was in a coma -- he couldn't be saved nor would death claim him. On the one hand the king prayed for his life, while on the other hand, aware of so much pain and suffering all around, he felt the futility of life at the same time. The king could not sleep for eight nights, but then, around four o'clock one morning, sleep overtook him and he began to dream.

We generally dream of those things which we have not fulfilled in life, and so the king, sitting by his only son, his dying son, dreamed that he had twelve strong and handsome sons. He saw himself as the emperor of a large kingdom, as the ruler of the whole earth, with large and beautiful palaces. And he saw himself as extremely happy. As he was dreaming all this....

Time runs faster in a dream; in a dream timing is totally different from our day-to-day time. In a moment a dream can cover a span of many years, and after waking up you will find it difficult to figure out how so many years were covered in a dream that lasted just a few moments! Time actually moves very fast in a dream; many years can be spanned in one moment.

So, just as the king was dreaming about his twelve sons and their beautiful wives, about his palaces and the great kingdom, the ill, twelve-year-old prince died. The queen screamed, and the king's sleep came to an abrupt end. He awoke with a shock. Worriedly, the queen asked, "Why do you look so frightened? Why are there no tears in your eyes? Why don't you say something?

The king said, "No, I am not frightened, I am confused. I am in a great quandary. I am wondering who I should cry for? Should I cry for the twelve sons I had a moment ago, or should I cry for this son I have just lost? The thing that's bothering me is, who has died? And the strange thing is that when I was with those twelve sons, I had no knowledge of this son. He was nowhere at all; there was no trace of him, or of you. Now that I am out of the dream, this palace is here, you are here, my son is here -- but those palaces and those sons have disappeared. Which is true? Is this true, or was that true? I cannot figure it out."

Once you remember your past lives, you will find it difficult to figure out whether what you are seeing in this life is true or not. You will realize you have seen the same stuff many times before and none of it has endured forever -- everything is lost. Then the question will arise: "Is what I am seeing now just as true as what I saw before? ... Because this will run its course too and fade away like all other previous dreams.

When we watch a movie it appears to be real. After the film has ended, it takes us a few moments to come back to our reality, to acknowledge that what we saw in the theater was merely an illusion. In fact, many people who ordinarily are incapable of giving vent to their feelings are moved to tears in a movie. They feel greatly relieved, because otherwise they would have had to find some other pretext for releasing their feelings. They let themselves cry or laugh in the theater. When we come out of the movie, the first thing that occurs to us is how deeply we let ourselves become identified with the happenings on the screen. If the same movie is seen every day the illusion gradually begins to clear. But then we also forget what happened to us during the last movie, and once again, when we go to a new film, we start believing in its events.

If we could regain the memories of our past lives, our present birth would also begin to look like a dream. How many times before have these winds blown! How many times before have these clouds moved in the sky! They all appeared and then they vanished, and so will the ones here now -- they are already in the process of disappearing! If we can come to realize this, we will experience what is known as maya. Along with this we will also experience that a}l happenings, all events are quite unreal -- they are never identical, but they are transient. One dream comes, is followed by another dream, and is followed by yet another dream. The pilgrim starts from one moment and enters into the next one. Moment after moment, the moments keep disappearing, but the pilgrim continues moving on.

So two experiences occur simultaneously: one, the objective world is an illusion, maya -- only the observer is real; second, what appears is false -- only the seer, only the witness of it is true. Appearances change every day -- they have always changed -- only the witness, the observer is the same as before, changeless. And remember, as long as appearances seem real, your attention will not focus on the onlooker, on the witness. Only when appearances turn out to be unreal does one become aware of the witness.

Hence, I say, remembering past lives is useful, but only after you have gone deeper into meditation. Go deep into meditation so you may attain the ability to see life as a dream. Becoming a mahatma, a holy man, is as much of a dream as becoming a thief -- you can have good dreams and you can have bad dreams. And the interesting thing is that the dream of being a thief is likely to dissolve soon, whereas the dream of being a mahatma takes a little longer to disappear because it seems so very enjoyable. And so the dream of being a mahatma is more dangerous than the dream of being a thief. We want to prolong our enjoyable dreams, while the painful ones dissolve by themselves. That's why it so often happens that a sinner succeeds in attaining to God while a holy man does not.

I have told you a few things about remembering your past lives, but you will have to go into meditation for this. Let us start to move within from this very day onward; only then can we be prepared for what follows next. Without this preparation, it is difficult to enter into past lives.

For example, there is a big house with underground cellars. If a man, standing outside the house, wants to enter the cellars, he will first have to step inside the house, because the way to the cellar is from inside the house. Our past lives are like cellars. Once upon a time we lived there, and then we abandoned them -- now we are living somewhere else. Nevertheless, we are standing outside the house at this point. In order to uncover the memories of past lives, we shall have to enter the house. There is nothing difficult, bothersome or dangerous about it.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
8/24/12 6:22 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Something from personal experience. I think I might have mentioned this once before on here.

I have a close friend whom I can put into a trance state very easily. I put my hands either side of her head and she closes her eyes and just does nothing. I go into a sort of 'thought-free state', and after about a 30 sec her eyelids start flickering. Then the eyelids really start to go crazy and the eyeballs roll right back in the head. Roll, roll, roll, up and up and up.... like Chucky!

Then this once time I was doing it she sort of slipped suddenly into... what to call the state.... not sure. But the eyes closed firmly then re-opened but there was "no one home" as the saying goes. And she said "I'm not from this place. This is not my home" in a very flat tone of voice, not like her own. This freaked me out, and the "state" broke. Since then she's only allowed me to do this once more, and avoids questions about what she said. I did tell her, and sometimes tease her about it, but it did give me a sense of the possibility of other lives or other beings inhabiting this body. Maybe that's what channeling is?

Can anyone relate to this? I'd love to post a video but she won't let me.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
11/4/15 3:46 AM as a reply to Delicate Monster.
Delicate Monster:


If somehow, hypothetically, memories were not stored locally, like through quantum mechanics for example, and further you were somehow able to gain access to that stored information, you would gain access to every experience ever experienced by every subjective entity past, present, and future, not some linear time-dump.

The reason why past lives would be remembered in a linear fashion is because of the linear causal relationship between them
Nikolai .:
I like Culadasa's opinion on such things:


Hi Michael,

Daniel
has given you some excellent advice. Consider his third point: How
would you know that these "past life memories" actually belonged to you?


On what basis do you assume that the manifold past lives the
Buddha recollected were "his", in some linear, separate, and individual
sense? Are you assuming that the Insight gained by the Buddha in seeing
past lives was an Insight into the truth of reincarnation? If so, then
he didn't discover anything new, he was only confirming a commonly held
belief of his time - and all the statements attributed to him in the
passage you quoted are completely consistent with what the Brahmins were
already teaching.

Could it be instead, that by reviewing many,
many human lives, the real Insight he gained was into a deeper truth
about human suffering, the causes of suffering, how suffering can end,
and the way to end suffering? Perhaps this review of past lives actually
gave him an Insight into human nature and the nature of the mind, one
that completely refutes the illusion of separate self, rather than
confirming it? That would certainly fit much better with everything else
he taught during his life. Might not the review of many other,
non-human, lives have perhaps allowed him to extend this same Insight to
all existent beings of every sort?

There is absolutely no basis
at all for anyone to assume that the past lives the Buddha saw, or that
Ajahn Lee saw, or that I have seen, or that you will see if you do the
practice, belong to some kind of separate self. The only reason that
anyone would ever make that assumption is that they are already
predisposed to accept the idea of reincarnation. It is an entirely
ungrounded assumption, based only on a pre-existing belief or a
desperate desire to believe in anything that will reify the personal
self.

Remember, a Stream Entrant, by the Buddha's definition, is
someone who has overcome belief in the reality of the personal self, in
any form. This is one of the Three Fetters that has been overcome. A
Stream Entrant knows with absolute certainty that, whatever might be
reborn, it is definitely not the personal self we think we are. And,
therefore, that the idea of reincarnation of a personal self or "soul"
is a falsehood. But the inherent feeling that one is a separately
existing entity will keep coming back until one becomes an Arhat, even
though one no longer believes in a personal self. This is why Stream
Entrants (and not just Buddhist stream entrants, either) so often try to
find something else that they can attach their lingering sense of a
separate selfhood to, since it can no longer attach to personality.
Consciousness is a popular candidate for this (see the Mahatanhasankhya
Sutta, MN 38, about Sati the fisherman's son). Consciousness lends
itself well to being framed as Universal, or Cosmic, or God
Consciousness, all in an effort to accommodate the inherent sense of a
separate self into the Stream Entrant's realizations of the illusoriness
of the personal self, and the interconnectedness of everything. This is
also a wrong view (although not quite as wrong), because even though
"consciousness as the true self" is being intellectually described as
"universal", it is still being intuitively conceived of as separate. But
there is no way that a true Stream Entrant can continue to believe in
personal rebirth or reincarnation.

You have expressed your own
true brilliance in your last comment: "Instead of spending so much time
on speculations, I should be focusing on my meditation and figure it out
myself."

Yes, Michael, you can recollect a few past lives
yourself, and when you do, you can jump to an uncritical conclusion
that, "Wow, reincarnation must be true!" and stop there. Or else you can
continue to repeat these experiences, examining them more closely until
you realize that, in fact, they are no more about "you" than was the
last movie you saw. When that happens, you will have to ask yourself,
"How, then, can I be accessing the memories of some other person's
life?" An excellent question! It's a question that applies equally well
to the associated power of knowing the minds of others, and to the
divine eye and divine ear as well. What common explanation might lie
behind all of these? Then you might consider Daniel's 4th point as well:
"Is this just a projection of my own mind?" Or better yet, you might
wonder if both things could be true, that the "memories" are indeed
coming from another's mind, and therefore are not an illusion, but
somehow it also involves a projection of "your" mind. Those questions
will lead you to a genuine Insight into no-self, interconnectedness,
dependent origination, and emptiness. That is the way for you to truly
follow directly in the footsteps of the Buddha.

Much love and joy to you,
Culadasa
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jhana_insight/message/3006

I
think culadasa views the body as the self and therefore sees any
memories of another life with a different body as a separate self.
Delicate Monster:

Teague A:

The notion of past lives being reborn does not require some sort of indivisible soul. . . .
It's like a string of dominoes: each one falling is the cause of the next one to fall.


same difference.
Would
you consider then the mental continuity which we experience within this
lifetime to require some sort of indivisible soul? If not what makes the difference?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
11/4/15 7:54 AM as a reply to nick.
nick:
I think culadasa views the body as the self and therefore sees any
memories of another life with a different body as a separate self. 
I did not see Culadasa as having this view at all.  

Psi

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
11/5/15 12:47 AM as a reply to Psi.
I think his language is obfuscating and making it unclear whether or not he is disputing rebirth, or disputing eternalism and self view, by conflating both of them. It's the same kind of semantic game I've seen other western buddhists play when it comes to the matter of post-mortem rebirth, but not
when talking about anatta and self-view within one lifetime.  So there is an implicit identity of the self with the body.

"There is absolutely no basis at at all for anyone to assume that the past lives the Buddha saw, or that
Ajahn Lee saw, or that I have seen, or that you will see if you do the practice, belong to some kind of separate self"

Is he talking about a separate self that all the past lives belong to, or is he talking about individual past lives as separate selves? If he thinks that rebirth means past lives are separate selves, then he identifies with the body as self.

"When that happens, you will have to ask yourself,
"How, then, can I be accessing the memories of some other person's
life?" "

Again, this is implying that culadasa sees a past life firmly as "some other person's life" - so is he viewing each lifetime as one self, different to other lifetimes which each count as other selves? If so, he identifies the body as self, holding the same view as Ajita Kesakambali.

"An excellent question! It's a question that applies equally well
to the associated power of knowing the minds of others,"

Is he saying that the knowledge of a past life is no different to the knowledge of another person's mind? Then he cannot see how a past life could have any more relation to a present life then the relationship between himself and another contemporaneous person. Is that because he, another person, and one of his past lives are all different bodies which he identifies as different selves?

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
11/5/15 9:57 PM as a reply to nick.
Hi nick,

Actually, I would go a bit further than Culadasa and say there is no basis to assume that the story you see played out as a past life while in a high concentration state is in fact anything of the sort. It might simply be a story that your mind is making up to keep you entertained, or to make you feel somehow special, or (as I believe was the case with the Buddha) because you are a super compassionate guy and one of the villagers has just come to you weeping about the death of their elderly mother and wondering where she was reborn.

RE: Anyone Remember Past Lives?
Answer
11/6/15 12:53 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi nick,

Actually, I would go a bit further than Culadasa and say there is no basis to assume that the story you see played out as a past life while in a high concentration state is in fact anything of the sort. It might simply be a story that your mind is making up to keep you entertained, or to make you feel somehow special, or (as I believe was the case with the Buddha) because you are a super compassionate guy and one of the villagers has just come to you weeping about the death of their elderly mother and wondering where she was reborn.
From an experience perspective, if another life experience seems every bit as real as this one or more so, taste, touch, intensity, feel, depth, complexity, detail, etc, if when there, it feels real and you don't remember here, but when here it seems real but you don't much think about there, then why should I assume this one is any more or less real than that one?  Why should I assume any particular one is the imagination of the other one?

When Culadasa says why assume this that and the other, is he just suggesting you be aware of assumptions is or he trying to imply that all such assumptions (the ones he is specficially pointing out vs various other assumptions that he is not singling out) are wrong?  I do agree with Culadasa that all such as mentioned are assumptions but I'd also say that assuming they are wrong is also an assumption.  Is he trying to argue against them just by noting they are not well supported?  If so, he'd probably want to have better support for any contrary assumptions, IMO.  However, I really don't know enough about his world view to go very far with such questioning.

But as best as I can tell, everyone tries to pick what sense they can out of their experiences, typically trying to frame it into world views they have been taught or have come to accept.  Even the gurus don't seem to be exempt.  One follower will trot forth some famous well respected guru from one tradition who will say one thing and someone else will trot out another guru that will contradict the first.  If both are accomplished than who is right?  Or perhaps these various beliefs that they hold and attempt to defend or support are not essential to the progress they have made.