Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

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nomono
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Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by nomono »

Generally beings who are reborn again as humans or animals dont remember their past life. So
1. Why is that? Isnt it rather sad that beings in the human realm are not seeing their own continutiy? Wouldnt it help more on the path to know?
2. Why bother to practice Buddhism at all when I cant remember my temporary life in the next?
3. Why should beings be afraid of being reborn in the hell realm for example if they dont remember anything from their past life?
4. Are there realms where one can remember past lifes?
5. Somewhere I've read that beings who are reborn in the Pureland remember their past lifes and in that regard logically their last past life, so why bother at all with all other Buddhist paths when you can remember your temporary life in your next "life" in Amitabhas Pureland? (Read it here https://purelanders.com/2016/01/20/will ... ast-lives/ - dont know if its mainstream pureland Buddhism).
6. Are there other purelands where I could remember my now life in my rebirth in the pureland?
7. Doesnt it make more sense to aim for rebirth in an environment where I could remember my temporary and then other past lifes?
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Two things are good to keep in mind:
What we experience as a continuous “self” or as “me” isn’t continuous at all. It is only the appearance of a continuous being.
What is actually occurring, according to the teachings, is that temporary conditions, aggregates, arise and fall away like waves rolling onto a beach, one after another, each group of conditions immediately becoming the cause for the next.
Why is this good to remember? Because what arises from one life to the next, exactly as one moment to the next, is an imprint, a rough, but not exact copy of the previous moment, the previous life.
Thus, with regard to question #1 and #2...
You do remember your past life, and many past lives, perhaps all the way to early childhood. If you think,”that doesn’t count, I’m talking about rebirth in an entirely new body” then keep in mind, every seven years your body has all entirely different cells than it did before. By the time you are 21, you have already gone through 3 completely different bodies.
The reason why most people don’t remember past lives before this particular life cycle (and there are many documented examples of those who do) is similar to why we often don’t remember the dreams we had even moments before waking up. Buddhism teaches that for every event that occurs, there is a cause. If the conditions for remembering are there, then the result will be that you will remember. There are practices that one can do to help them remember dreams, and apparent there are levels of meditation through which one can remember even being born and before that, previous life cycles. I don’t know if this is is true, but there are those who say it is so.

Regarding question #3...
Even though the mental and physical experience of a “me” of this present life isn’t the experience of the “me”that would be reborn in a hell realm, the “me” in this present life (which again, is merely a group of conditions or aggregates) is still the cause for another experience of “me” to be reborn in another realm, or a pure land. So, if one would argue, “that being is someone else, that being isn’t me” then would you wish for someone else to be born in a lower realm? If you are practicing the Mahayana path, then the answer no, and especially big NO if the suffering of such a low rebirth is the result of your own actions in this life cycle.
Regarding questions #4...
Some people do remember elements of their past lives.
Regarding question #5...
Everyone follows the path that they understand most, and to which they feel a connection, and that is also the result of a previous cause.
I’m not aware of any answer to #6, but #7 is a appears in many writings, and the answer is almost always that we have lived countless lifetimes and that even if you could remember all of them, it wouldn’t change anything about “right here and now”. It’s not as though we are living in a state of amnesia or dementia. You can look back at all your years in this life, at the mistakes you’ve made, and at your good choices too, and see how everything has led up even to this very second of spending a moment on an Internet forum.
But it’s been said that all of this is occurring as if being in a burning house. If you were in a burning house, you might want to remember where the door is, but remembering past lives won’t matter, and in fact, could also work the wrong way because then you’d get wrapped up in all that.
Likewise, any of us could be dead before this day is over, so it’s better to practice now because our samsaric existence is like a burning house.


nomono wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 11:24 am Generally beings who are reborn again as humans or animals dont remember their past life. So
1. Why is that? Isnt it rather sad that beings in the human realm are not seeing their own continutiy? Wouldnt it help more on the path to know?
2. Why bother to practice Buddhism at all when I cant remember my temporary life in the next?
3. Why should beings be afraid of being reborn in the hell realm for example if they dont remember anything from their past life?
4. Are there realms where one can remember past lifes?
5. Somewhere I've read that beings who are reborn in the Pureland remember their past lifes and in that regard logically their last past life, so why bother at all with all other Buddhist paths when you can remember your temporary life in your next "life" in Amitabhas Pureland? (Read it here https://purelanders.com/2016/01/20/will ... ast-lives/ - dont know if its mainstream pureland Buddhism).
6. Are there other purelands where I could remember my now life in my rebirth in the pureland?
7. Doesnt it make more sense to aim for rebirth in an environment where I could remember my temporary and then other past lifes?
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fckw
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by fckw »

It's not really hard to remember past lives even in this realm.

However, there are two big problems related to remembering past lives.

1. Once you "see" or "perceive" or "remember" those past lives - there is nearly always no way to verify what you remember. Typically, one remembers only very brief sequences of past lives, and these sequences are too short to provide any useful pointers so that you could even verify something.
2. Unfortunately, the memories of past lives are utterly useless. Even if you would remember them perfectly, there would be nothing you could do with them. At the very best they can help you to become more relaxed about any sorts of lives, but what else could you expect? Imagine that you realize that in your past live you were a, let's say, small shopkeeper in Indonesia. How should this be useful in any way for your current life and practice? As it turns out, it's not.

So why bother?
nomono
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by nomono »

Or could it be possible to compare the situation of not remembering the past with the following example:

The temporary "me" or existence/mind continuum doesnt remember its early childhood. Nevertheless I am only aware of this moment right now and only experience this momnt and am aware of the now because of causes and conditions of my early childhood. Would this be applicable to rebirth?
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Here’s an interesting reply from a question and answer session with Kalu Rinpoche, Jan 15, 2019. It’s not exactly what you are discussing, but he makes some good points to consider, because it’s about examining the motivation for wanting to know.

Q. What to do if I think I’m a tulku or monk reincarnation?

A. “First of all, everybody is the reincarnation of our past lives. If you are a bodhisattva that is seeking title for yourself, to be recognized as a bodhisattva, then you are no longer a bodhisattva. Shall I repeat that again? If you think you are the reincarnation of a holy being, and then on top of that, you’re having that state of mind, it’s nothing negative. Nothing negative. But if you are telling yourself, “I am entitled to have such name and position” then it clearly shows that you are not a bodhisattva. It clearly shows that you are not a realized being.

Because, if you are and individual or realized being at a certain level in spirituality you will not seek for title, and those who throw you on the ground, you will rise with a sense of humbleness, with sense of courage, with sense of positivity which it will make them exhaust in an opposite way. With kindness and compassion, and with a sense of patience and a sense of positive strategy.

So therefore, if we think we are some kind of reincarnation of past life and therefore we should receive some kind of a title due to our past life, then seeing or knowing about our past life did not give any positive impact to our present life. So, if you have a sensation or feeling, something to do with your previous incarnation, then just think, “Oh, I’m very humbled to be reincarnated in this position, therefore I will contribute all my positivity gradually, within my own capacity, towards the society, towards the humanity”. That is the continuity of the bodhicitta.”
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Grigoris
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by Grigoris »

Let's say you can remember past lives (which you probably can) and that in your last life you were a cockroach (more than likely).

If you became conscious of the experiences from your past life do you think you would be able to understand them? To make any sense of them? To able to say, this happened here, this happened there? I mean a cockroach's experience of this reality is so fundamentally different to a human's that it is almost inconceivable.

You have encountered the Dharma now in this life. You have the faculties to understand and apply it. If you do so diligently then you can overcome most of the outcomes from past lives WITHOUT knowing exactly what you are dealing with.

I like this text as a guide: https://studybuddhism.com/en/tibetan-bu ... -rendering

The oral explanations, available on the site, are incredibly insightful.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Zhen Li
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by Zhen Li »

The benefit of knowing past lives is repentance. Though it is unlikely we will know our past lives in this life, knowing our past deeds even from this life is important in developing the mind that aspires to birth:
Longer Sūtra wrote:“If these sentient beings become aware of their past offenses and deeply repent with a desire to leave that place, then immediately as they wish, they will be able to go to the place of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, where they can worship and make offerings to the Buddha. In addition, they will be able to visit all the other countless and innumerable Buddhas and cultivate various meritorious acts.
Ajataśātru is an example of this. If you repent deeply from the deeds of this life, how much more so will you progress if you know of your negative deeds from countless prior lives? True knowledge of the evils of saṃsāra would require knowledge of past lives, so it is crucial for attaining Buddhahood to know more than one life.

Indeed, you can know your past lives by being born in the Amitābha's Pure Land, according to the fifth vow:
Longer Sūtra wrote:(5) If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not remember all their former lives, and thus be unable to know at least the events of the previous hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by Malcolm »

Zhen Li wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:59 am The benefit of knowing past lives is repentance. Though it is unlikely we will know our past lives in this life, knowing our past deeds even from this life is important in developing the mind that aspires to birth:
Longer Sūtra wrote:“If these sentient beings become aware of their past offenses and deeply repent with a desire to leave that place, then immediately as they wish, they will be able to go to the place of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life, where they can worship and make offerings to the Buddha. In addition, they will be able to visit all the other countless and innumerable Buddhas and cultivate various meritorious acts.
Ajataśātru is an example of this. If you repent deeply from the deeds of this life, how much more so will you progress if you know of your negative deeds from countless prior lives? True knowledge of the evils of saṃsāra would require knowledge of past lives, so it is crucial for attaining Buddhahood to know more than one life.

Indeed, you can know your past lives by being born in the Amitābha's Pure Land, according to the fifth vow:
Longer Sūtra wrote:(5) If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not remember all their former lives, and thus be unable to know at least the events of the previous hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.
Let it be known that memory of past lives is a common attainment and not a characteristic of bodhi.
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Zhen Li
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Re: Are there realms where beings can remember their past life(s)?

Post by Zhen Li »

The latter is not being claimed.
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