Past life regression in Buddhism

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Past life regression in Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:35 pm

It exists, Buddhaghosha has taught a series of exercises aimed at regressing gradually into one's past existences, in his work Path of Purification.
Here is a site that briefly describes different methods, including the one taught by Buddhaghosha, it also has a teaching of past life regression by Alisteir Crowley that bears some resemblance to Buddhaghosha's method.
http://www.newworld.co.za/reincarnationinfo3.htm
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Re: Past life regression in Buddhism

Postby plwk » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:27 pm

Yeah it 'works' but as a Buddhist I think my concern is not focusing on regressing past lives (as some would as a weekend stunt or a paranormal club curiosity or for the sake of experiencing it) but rather based on what is taught by the Lord Himself, an entire sure path of transformation and out of duhkha and leading to liberation.
Buddhaghosa and Crowley? I should think the Lord's own words hold more weight any day...for me that is...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.
But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance.
But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the fading of rapture I remained equanimous, mindful, & alert, and sensed pleasure with the body. I entered & remained in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'
But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain.
But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two...five, ten...fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion:
'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.

"This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Kevatta, I don't teach the monks in this way: 'Come, monks, display a miracle of psychic power to the lay people clad in white.'
"Kevatta, there are these three miracles that I have declared, having directly known and realized them for Myself. Which three?
The miracle of psychic power, the miracle of telepathy, and the miracle of instruction.

"Then someone who has faith and conviction in him sees sees him wielding manifold psychic powers... exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds....sees him reading the minds... of other beings... He reports this to someone who has no faith and no conviction, telling him, 'Isn't it awesome. Isn't it astounding, how great the power, how great the prowess of this contemplative. Just now I saw him wielding manifold psychic powers... exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.'...reading the minds... of other beings...'

"Then the person without faith, without conviction, would say to the person with faith and with conviction:
'Sir, there is a charm called the Gandhari charm by which the monk wielded manifold psychic powers... exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.' ... Manika charm by which the monk read the minds... of other beings...'

What do you think, Kevatta — isn't that what the man without faith, without conviction, would say to the man with faith and with conviction?"
"Yes, Lord, that's just what he would say."

"Seeing this drawback to the miracle of psychic power...telepathy, Kevatta, I feel horrified, humiliated, and disgusted with the miracle of psychic power...telepathy.

"And what is the miracle of instruction? There is the case where a monk gives instruction in this way:
'Direct your thought in this way, don't direct it in that.
Attend to things in this way, don't attend to them in that. Let go of this, enter and remain in that.'
This, Kevatta, is called the miracle of instruction.

"Furthermore, there is the case where a Tathagata appears in the world, worthy and rightly self-awakened. He teaches the Dhamma admirable in its beginning, admirable in its middle, admirable in its end. He proclaims the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely perfect, surpassingly pure.

"A householder or householder's son, hearing the Dhamma, gains conviction in the Tathagata and reflects: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air. It is not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair and beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?'

"So after some time he abandons his mass of wealth, large or small; leaves his circle of relatives, large or small; shaves off his hair and beard, puts on the ochre robes, and goes forth from the household life into homelessness.

"When he has thus gone forth, he lives restrained by the rules of the monastic code, seeing danger in the slightest faults. Consummate in his virtue, he guards the doors of his senses, is possessed of mindfulness and alertness, and is content.

Recollection of Past Lives
"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives (lit: previous homes).

He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction and expansion, [recollecting],
'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there.
There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he recollects his manifold past lives in their modes and details.

Just as if a man were to go from his home village to another village, and then from that village to yet another village, and then from that village back to his home village. The thought would occur to him, 'I went from my home village to that village over there.
There I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I went to that village over there, and there I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way.
From that village I came back home.'

In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. He recollects his manifold past lives... in their modes and details.
"This, too, is called the miracle of instruction.
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Re: Past life regression in Buddhism

Postby Aemilius » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:29 am

That is true ofcourse, that remebering one's past lives is part and parcel of enlightenment. Remembering former stations of rebirth is called pubbenivasanussatiñana, it should happen to all who attain enlightenment, maybe to a lesser degree if you are a stream entrant etc.

There must be a reason that this teaching is in the Path of Purity, probably it is there because some persons have a serious hindrance or obstruction toward remembering former existences, which constitutes a hindrance on the noble path, and therefore these exercises have been taught.

There is an article in Journal of Indian Philosphy on this topic: Remarks on the Vishuddhimagga, and its treatment of the Memory of Former Dwellings
http://springerlink.com/content/m73117886675g834/

Because it is in the Vishuddhimagga it must have existed well before Buddhaghosha's time, and been part of the oral and scriptural tradition.
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