JKhedrup wrote:HHDL doesn't speak at length about his past lives, anywhere that I've seen, and at any time during the many past teaching events that I've experienced. At the most he might say he feels ''A special connection to the 5th and 13th Dalai Lamas, but has no clear memories."'
That's because in Vajrayana, these things are a part of the more esoteric and secret teachings, and so by the rules of his tradition, he's obliged not to speak of him.
Also, he may personally not have had any memories come up for him, and so can't speak of them, not everyone does, that doesn't mean they're doing bad training, just some people don't seem to need to have these things come up.
Keep in mind, Zen, is not an esoteric tradition. There's hardly anything that's actually kept secret in Zen.
I realize that in Vajrayana, there is this idea that by making things secret, it makes it more special (or however you would describe that) but that's not necessarily the Zen approach to these things. That's not to say that one is better or the other is wrong, it's just a different approach.
I realize, though, Jiyu Kennet's defence depends on using the templates of past life statements of well-regarded masters, and so whatever differences I try to draw in terms of level of realization will probably be framed as sectarianism.
Jiyu-Kennett didn't talk about these things to be sensationalist. You should read her book in this context and see what she was teaching it for. For her it was a profound learning experience. And, because there wasn't a lot of information available on the subject, she felt that making more available was of benefit to others.
She wasn't claiming to receive any sort of authority or qualification from her experiences, she was saying that they were valuable learning experiences for her. Some people may view such things as extraordinary, but for some people they can actually just be kindof normal for somebody who has had a prior kensho. It's not considered "amazing" or anything at all. We don't even talk about them all that much, just once in a while, if something comes up.
It's a very small part of what is talked about, in retrospect, not at all something that is a "focus" of practice. And that's as it should be. The whole point of teaching about these things was to offer what for her was a profound experience on facing death. The Tibetan tradition has the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Zen doesn't have a lot of detailed teachings in that area, and it seems good to offer it. I have a copy of Bardo Teachings on Death and Rebirth by Ven. Lama Lodo, so Tibetans are not as reticent to talk about these things as you might suggest. There are people who do and will.
And remember, she submitted her experiences to others for peer-review.
She was not just claiming something in a vacuum.
I don't know if she had Bodhidharma come up in a past life, or St Teresa of Avila, but if she did, there's nothing wrong with that in my eyes. That may have been something that was meant to be very profoundly symbolic, that she later sat with and understood deeper, but at the time Josh flipped out about and left, or, it may have been a very genuine and real past life. People who do religious training die and spin around the wheel of death and rebirth too.
I don't find it implausible that someone might do religious training in one life and then continue to do it in another.
It doesn't mean she was them, (if she did have something like that come up) because we are not them. It's just a memory. Those people are dead.
It's not reincarnation, it's rebirth.
Josh's view on this subject suggest he believes in reincarnation which is not Buddhist teaching.
I have had enough stuff of my own come up to know that certainly plenty of people have done the same kindof thing more than a few times in different lifetimes, to think it's very plausible that someone would do the same with regard to religious training.
But you know, from somebody who takes a positivist view on this, or takes a view that these things exist only in Buddhist scripture and no where else, that may be kindof freaky to them.
I can't really help them on that, it comes down to like Anders said, a cultural view:
Do you view these things to be tangibly real, and actually exist and can be experienced?
Or do you view them as a clever story meant to inspire?
My problem with the latter view, is it essentially says the Buddha was lying. Or making exaggerations.
Buddhism, has always been something that we can do also, not just a story or an exaggeration.
From a Tibetan sense, the Tibetans have no problem believing that someone continued religious training from life to life, it's a basic teaching of the Tulku system and why they look for someone as a child, so that they can continue their training.
We don't have separate "laws of the universe" for Tibetan Buddhists and Zen Buddhists.
The same stuff that applies in Tibetan Buddhism also can apply in Zen.
I find it interesting that some Tibetan Buddhists might have no problem with a Tibetan Tulku having the past lives of a famous Tibetan teacher, but in Zen Buddhism, such things must be impossible.
I think that's a little degrading to Zen actually, and says a lot about what some Tibetan Buddhists actually think of us and our practice.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer
" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy