Past Lives?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Vardali
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Vardali » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:23 am

tiltbillings wrote:
pink_trike wrote:You're the only one here saying "all".

Then you agree that all such experiences cannot be explained away as being other things.

How can anyone make any claim to that effect without KNOWING them all? :shrug:
They may or may not, I for one wouldn't claim to be able to pinpoint even a single one to a definite cause ...
I have read PT's statements to suggest that there might be other reasonable explanations to account for such "images" other than past lives, not that it is not feasible for them to be related to past lifes.

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:32 am

pink_trike wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
pink_trike wrote:You're the only one here saying "all".

Then you agree that all such experiences cannot be explained away as being other things.

I don't presume to know...do you?

So, we cannot say all experiences claiming to be metempsychosis can be explained away in other terms because we likely cannot know of all such experiences.

On the other hand one could, I suppose, state that all such experiences of which one knows can be explained away in other terms, which, of course, leaves open the possibility that there are experiences not yet known to one that cannot be explained away in other terms.

My own experience over the last 40 some years is that a lot of the experiences can be explained away in any number of ways, but there are those that seem to be what they seem to be and other explanations do not quite work out so well.

This game stops here.

Game?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Aloka
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Aloka » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:34 am

It leads me to wonder what kind of "past lives" people "remembered" before television, history books, historical novels, romance novels, films, and all media forms flooded our lives, and before they were taken for granted? I wonder if a poor Mexican farmer living in abject poverty in a rural Mexican town back in 1751 had memories of being a pretty greek slave girl in a sunlight marble room, having never heard of Greece or marble. Our minds are stuffed with information dust bunnies...every scrap of media we've been exposed to during our entire life is lurking in the depths of mind waiting to be thrown back up in a wave of mental vomit. This inundation of imagery and stories that dominates life needs to be included when making considerations about what these types of appearances might actually represent, if they represent anything at all
(Pink_Trike)

.

Indeed. In hypnotherapy this is known as cryptomnesia or "buried memory" and relates to events seen in real life,on TV, in films, read about in novels, the media etc - which maybe didn't even register fully in our conscious mind but are stored nevertheless.

Personally I don't see any value in speculating about past or future lives - right at this moment, the present one is the only one that exists for me.


:anjali:
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:34 am

Vardali wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
pink_trike wrote:You're the only one here saying "all".

Then you agree that all such experiences cannot be explained away as being other things.

How can anyone make any claim to that effect without KNOWING them all? :shrug:
They may or may not, I for one wouldn't claim to be able to pinpoint even a single one to a definite cause ...
I have read PT's statements to suggest that there might be other reasonable explanations to account for such "images" other than past lives, not that it is not feasible for them to be related to past lifes.

The best PT can claim is that some experiences may be explained away in other terms.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:41 am

pink_trike wrote:I agree with Ben. The mind is a funny thing...we can't pretend that we understand the "extraordinary " things that appear in the mind stream. I once ingested a substance that caused the mind to serve up the experience of flying my house above the town I lived in for about an hour, with Gumby and Pokey as my co-pilots. I experienced this in "real time" with complete "real time" detail...meaning as if the experience was 100% real just like your experience of reading this wherever you are - smells, sounds, expansive space, etc...Gumby and I had a very intelligent conversation about the intricacies of "reality"...he did most of the talking. This experience was as "real" as any experience I've had in what we consider "reality", but I don't claim that I was once reborn as a house pilot in Gumby and Pokey Land.


:lol:

And how could you? Knowing you had a substance in you which caused you to hallucinate?

Neither do I claim that I once lived in medieval Ireland, though in a trance state I once wandered around in a forest outside of Belfast after a gruesome battle, corpses everywhere. This mind has traveled to the most incredible places...just last night "I" was in Paris having a blast.


:lol: You're so funny.

THe mind knows no boundaries underneath those that have been conditioned. We can entertain ourselves for hours with speculation about past lives. More interesting to me is looking closely at the mind process that arrives at the conclusion that we somehow know what these experiences are


True,if we weren't Buddhists, we wouldn't be able to put them in a category such as "ppls" (possible past lives recollections). We would be thinking we spaced out and were having daydreams or were making our own movies, preparing for "oscar".

and also how these experiences could possibly be at all relevant to now - other than showing us that the mind can generate any ol' anything for us to coo, giggle, and clap at like children visiting the monkey house.


If diseases and phobias get better, I'm all for it. If it helps to deepen confidence in the dhamma, why not?

Anna :anjali:
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:44 am

JoanOfArc wrote:Dearest faithful,

In my past life, I was Helen of Troy.

:anjali:


Now you're confused. :tongue:

Joan of Arc.
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:53 am

Naga wrote:
notself wrote:
It would be so cool if someone would remember being a lion or tiger or bear. Oh my! :tongue:


That would be horrible--to remember causing the deaths of so many other creatures in the grip of your own jaws.


.... while you're remembering that, you're not worried about the dhamma.

You're an animal, and have animal sensations and concerns.
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:56 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
notself wrote:I wonder why no one remembers past lives that are not related to the history that is part of their local culture. For example why does no one from Northern European decent ever remember being a child or adult from Africa or the Arctic area such as Siberia? There is nothing in the suttas that suggests that one is reborn only within a specific geographic area.


My guess would be, that the way the mind works, it is more likely to remember / recall phenomena that are similar to the present conditions.
eg. when in the living room of your parents house, you will be more likely to recall events that have happened in that living room, or that house. You will be less likely to recall events from another house.
Likewise for recollections as a human, as opposed to some other form.



Yes, that's my guess too...

And, by the way, reading through various data about recalled past lives, there are plenty of people recalling lives from other places. See Edgar Casey, for instance.


Highly interesting, yes.
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Aloka » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:09 am

.

....but is it all relevent when I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of potatoes?.....or should I be wondering if I was an Irish potato picker in a past life ? ....or if I'll be able to get oven-ready chips in a future one ?

. :D


.
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Collective » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:12 am

pink_trike wrote:Medieval. Blacksmith. Ancient Greece. Marble rooms. Serfs. Slaves. Not so different from Kings. Queens. Handmaidens. Knights. American Indian. India. Egypt. Ireland, Sumer, Mu.

Like I said, there is nothing special about being a slave/serf in a land where slaves/serfs were very prolific, were 10 to the penny. Even less spectacular is a young lad who I associated with a blacksmith (not even saying he was a blacksmith). Perhaps pig herder or turnip polisher would have sufficed? If you are relating to exotic magical mythical and mysterious Greece - that's just your opinion. For me it would be just as meaningful if it was Peckham on a rainy afternoon.

pink_trike wrote:I wouldn't be able to count the number of times I've heard these themes over the decades. I was just pointing out that it must be extremely rare for someone to remember dull previous lives that took place in the past 100 years under the most ordinary and mundane circumstances.

My impressions more than the images came across as totally mundane, totally.

pink_trike wrote:I wonder if a poor Mexican farmer living in abject poverty in a rural Mexican town back in 1751 had memories of being a pretty greek slave girl in a sunlight marble room, having never heard of Greece or marble. Our minds are stuffed with information dust bunnies...every scrap of media we've been exposed to during our entire life is lurking in the depths of mind waiting to be thrown back up in a wave of mental vomit.

Eloquently put. And I wonder if if a poor Mexican farmer living in abject poverty in a rural Mexican town back in 1751 would consider serfdom/slavery exotic?

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:21 am

Aloka wrote:.

....but is it all relevent when I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of potatoes?.....or should I be wondering if I was an Irish potato picker in a past life ? ....or if I'll be able to get oven-ready chips in a future one ?

If one has a "real" experience of rebirth (whatever that might be), the issue is not some worrying about buying potatoes. It is, rather, an experience that likely puts some flesh on the bones of the Buddha's teachings for that person. If you do not have such an experience, there is no reason that you need to worry about it at all. Also, there is no reason to try to discredit such experiences for those that might have such an experience.

The experience might be something that is a production of the mind or it might be the real thing. Either way, it could be a basis of motivation for practice, and either way, it is not something one needs to hang onto.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Aloka » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Aloka wrote:.

....but is it all relevent when I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of potatoes?.....or should I be wondering if I was an Irish potato picker in a past life ? ....or if I'll be able to get oven-ready chips in a future one ?

If one has a "real" experience of rebirth (whatever that might be), the issue is not some worrying about buying potatoes. It is, rather, an experience that likely puts some flesh on the bones of the Buddha's teachings for that person. If you do not have such an experience, there is no reason that you need to worry about it at all. Also, there is no reason to try to discredit such experiences for those that might have such an experience. The experience might be something that is a production of the mind or it might be the real thing. Either way, it could be a basis of motivation for practice, and either way, it is not something one needs to hang onto.



Was I trying to discredit anyone, Tiltbillings? Please show me where I did this.

:anjali:

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:31 am

Aloka wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Aloka wrote:.

....but is it all relevent when I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of potatoes?.....or should I be wondering if I was an Irish potato picker in a past life ? ....or if I'll be able to get oven-ready chips in a future one ?

If one has a "real" experience of rebirth (whatever that might be), the issue is not some worrying about buying potatoes. It is, rather, an experience that likely puts some flesh on the bones of the Buddha's teachings for that person. If you do not have such an experience, there is no reason that you need to worry about it at all. Also, there is no reason to try to discredit such experiences for those that might have such an experience.
The experience might be something that is a production of the mind or it might be the real thing. Either way, it could be a basis of motivation for practice, and either way, it is not something one needs to hang onto.



Was I trying to discredit anyone, Tiltbillings? Please show me where I did this.

I did not say you were. I am speaking in general terms.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:02 am

To rephrase it: If one does not have such an experience, there is no reason that one needs to worry about it at all. Also, there is no reason for one to try to discredit such experiences for those that might have such an experience.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:06 am

pink_trike wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Sure; on the other hand, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the mind stream may also, in some cases, deliver what very well may be actual "memories" of a past life.


Perhaps. But we have no way of knowing. Why build stories about them? These memories could very well be preverbal mental constructions serving any number of purposes or no purposes at all. All memories are slippery - I base this opinion partly on having witnessed psychotherapy clients endlessly and sincerely tell different versions of memories at different times in the psychotherapeutic process, and having seem intelligent, sane clients realize that things they clearly "remembered" actually never took place. No point in speculating whether mental constructions that play out in the theater of "before this life" are reflections of actual "past lives" or not, or using them to prop up a faith-determined belief. Imo, we do best to note them and let em go...they're just more fireworks in the present mind stream. That's not to say that these mental constructions that are taking place in the moment of now can't be useful...they can sometimes be reflective of all kinds of mental/emotional patterns taking place in this life that we aren't conscious of...they may reflect our shadow territory, things we don't know about how we are operating in the world. Being aware of these mental constructions that are forming and arising in the present can beneficially cast light on this life.

tiltbillings wrote:Always? Not in the OP accounting and certainly not many other accountings.


Medieval. Blacksmith. Ancient Greece. Marble rooms. Serfs. Slaves. Not so different from Kings. Queens. Handmaidens. Knights. American Indian. India. Egypt. Ireland, Sumer, Mu. I wouldn't be able to count the number of times I've heard these themes over the decades. I was just pointing out that it must be extremely rare for someone to remember dull previous lives that took place in the past 100 years under the most ordinary and mundane circumstances. Uruguay? Toronto? Cleveland, Ohio? Pitcairn Islands? Oddly, I've never heard a single past life memory that took place in these places. Mail clerk in Ludlow, Texas - 1963? nope. Garbage collector - Bemidji, Minnesota - 1957? nope. Waiter in San Francisco, 1976? nope. I've never heard anyone speak of these dull kinds of lives - even here in California where the discussion of past lives is as common as discussion of the weather.

It leads me to wonder what kind of "past lives" people "remembered" before television, history books, historical novels, romance novels, films, and all media forms flooded our lives, and before they were taken for granted? I wonder if a poor Mexican farmer living in abject poverty in a rural Mexican town back in 1751 had memories of being a pretty greek slave girl in a sunlight marble room, having never heard of Greece or marble. Our minds are stuffed with information dust bunnies...every scrap of media we've been exposed to during our entire life is lurking in the depths of mind waiting to be thrown back up in a wave of mental vomit. This inundation of imagery and stories that dominates life needs to be included when making considerations about what these types of appearances might actually represent, if they represent anything at all.


You make good points, such as TV.

On the other hand, what may seem exotic to one person, is normal daily routine to others.

Medieval? I live in a franconian village that dates back to a moated castle and was first mentioned 1206, but is way older. I live about 100 m from it. See it each time I go to town.

I live about 12 km from Wolframs-Eschenbach, which is named after the knight and minnesinger Wolfram von Eschenbach, who has written the legend of Parzifal.

This is highly "exotic" to Americans, but boringly normal too us!

Blacksmith?

I've helped ours put horseshoes on horses.

I've never heard anyone speak of these dull kinds of lives - even here in California where the discussion of past lives is as common as discussion of the weather.


Yes, I think there might also be some sort of pressure to report something exotic which catches the eye in an area such as yours, with it's Hollywood bling bling...right?
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:08 am

Aloka wrote:.

....but is it all relevent when I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of potatoes?.....or should I be wondering if I was an Irish potato picker in a past life ? ....or if I'll be able to get oven-ready chips in a future one ?

. :D


.


Aloka-to me it was relevant to be without fear and repulsion of water.
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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Aloka » Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:14 am

I did not say you were. I am speaking in general terms.


Thank goodness for that, Mr Tiltbillings !

I hope you are having a lovely bright sunny day wherever you are, just like I'm having here as I go out to buy my potatoes.


Kind regards,

Aloka :anjali:

Image

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:25 am

Aloka wrote:
I did not say you were. I am speaking in general terms.


Thank goodness for that, Mr Tiltbillings !


Just tilt, please.

I hope you are having a lovely bright sunny day wherever you are


Just got back from taking the beast walkies in the waning (maybe 3/4) moon. It now about 0430 AM here.


just like I'm having here as I go out to buy my potatoes.

Food of the gods.


Kind regards,


And to you.

Great photo:

Image
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Past Lives?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:31 am

Yes, the idea of "exotic" is highly subjective itself, isn't it?

I quite often hear people say things like "Oh, Huifeng, you must have been a Chinese monk in your past lives".
Now, personally, I just don't know. On the principle of "If you wish to know what you did in the past, look at what you are in the present", maybe there are some grounds. But, this is scarcely evidence, let alone proof. Likewise, too, for some rather strange and out of the norm experiences I have had in certain monasteries, and with certain people.

But, just for the sake of looking into this term "exotic", imagine if I were to have a dream or vision wherein I was, say, a Chinese Buddhist monk, living in a monastery in the mountains, etc.
If I posted that here, many may think, "Wow! How exotic! This young white guy from New Zealand having dreams of being a Chinese Buddhist monk living in a monastery in the mountains. He must be totally fantasizing!"

But, the problem is, that is what I am right now, pretty much. To me, it is completely un-exotic, completely common place.
It's just a different perspective. We couldn't exact dismiss such a thing on the grounds that it is exotic, anymore than we could dismiss my very real and present life right now on the same grounds. Sure, we could dismiss such things for other reasons, and so forth.

Maybe my life growing up in small town New Zealand, near the Pacific, etc. sounds just as exotic to my Chinese Buddhist brethren. ... :jumping: (<- dig this smiley!)
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.


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