Recalling past lives

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Recalling past lives

Postby sundara » Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:23 am

How do you have the capacity to recall your past lives?
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Re: Recalling past lives

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:00 am

From the Suttas it seems that mastery of the fourth jhana is required to develop it.

There are very detailed instructions for development of such powers in the Visuddhimagga. However, these involve cycling through the jhanas in various orders with various kasinas, so it is far from a trivial matter.

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Re: Recalling past lives

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:54 am

sundara wrote:How do you have the capacity to recall your past lives?

What Mikenz said is true from a traditional POV. However, from a more modern standpoint: studies in psychology have shown that memory is as much a creative process as it is recollective, meaning memories are pieced together to create stories that seem accurate rather than recalling data the way a computer might. Well, during auto-suggestion, which might be what goes on when one "trains" the mind during meditation, the mind is susceptible to creating false memories. This is a scientific explanation for the common "alien abduction" phenomenon, that some irresponsible psychotherapists have actually created false memories of alien encounters through the misuse of hypnotherapy. The same type of thing may also be going on when people claim to have recalled memories of past lives during meditation.
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Re: Recalling past lives

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 3:39 am

I agree. Certainly one should be very careful about interpreting things that flash up in the mind during meditation, especially when one is either new to it, or just starting a retreat or a period of more intensive practise.

In any case, what I was trying to imply in my post is that in my view whole enterprise would be rather pointless. The development of mastery of the Jhanas with the various kasinas is likely to take a very long time, and it's just a "mundane" psychic power, not liberation. The commentaries to some Suttas suggest that the Buddha encouraged certain monks to develop these powers because he could tell that it would be possible for them, and the concentration they would achieve in the process would ultimately be useful for liberation.

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Re: Recalling past lives

Postby Thanavuddho » Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:56 pm

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:From the Suttas it seems that mastery of the fourth jhana is required to develop it.


it seems that some people have the capacity to remember past lives naturally. Many children report memories from earlier lives. When times goes by and the child gets pulled to the present live by school and such, the memories fade away gradually.

Fourth jhana is the supreme basis for psychic powers, but they can arise from lesser samadhi. Even from pre-jhana samadhi. I can't remember my past lives at this moment, but I have a solid confidence in the teaching on rebirth.

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