Why can't we all remember our past lives?

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by The Undecided, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. earl

    earl ?

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    That sounds like the essentially Buddhist view of karma and future rebirth of the mindstream ala Vajrayana Buddhism CZ with which I at least partially. As to memory formation being entirely contingent upon a functional brain, maybe not. That, of course, is what is interesting about near death research wherein folks with fairly non-functional brains create/retain very clear memories of their experiences during the period of poor brain functioning. Again, to me it is not at all clear the ultimate relationship between biological brain functioning and consciousness/mind. Happy holidays all, earl
     
  2. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    That makes two of us.

    Happy holidays!
     
  3. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I think we are limiting ourselves unnecessarily by thinking memory has to do with an individual's brain and body. There is individual memory (the idea of our brain remembering our own past) and then there is information. Arguably, memory as a human function is tied to the brain and body (i.e., "muscle" memory) and dies with the individual. However, this memory is not very reliable even during life and has many cognitive flaws that cause it to be an inaccurate recorder of actual events.

    Information, on the other hand, is constantly created and perhaps it is never destroyed. That is, the information itself of events and relationships could be independent of the beings that create them. This information would then just exist- like energy, indestructible. And in fact, in a way, perpetually in existence. Linear time is a function of a being's perspective, not the way things really work. So... the information simply is.

    Whether or not humans have access to that information is a different matter.

    I feel like I have past-life memories. It's the explanation that makes the most sense and, more importantly, is the most useful to my current growth and development. However, I do not think this information is "carried" in any part of myself, per se. I'm temporary. Even the essence that is me is temporary- it just might last a really, really long time. It's the network, the relationships of which I am a part that are "real" and the nodule that is "me" is an illusion borne of this network. This is really difficult to explain... but it kind of comes down to a realization that me and my work is just an extension of some larger process.

    So the memories are not "mine," but rather a part of the process that generates this confluence of relationships within the whole. I am simply gathering the information that exists from a consistent perspective. Why only some people can do this, and why my capacity for it has grown over my lifetime... I can only say what it means to me. As Brian has said- it is a giant emotional mess and it does get confusing. However, it also presents a very big opportunity for growth and for understanding what one *really* is. And I know that for me, while I haven't fully figured it out, this process of remembering is very much tied to my work now... it is a reconnection as much as it is a remembering- more so, really. The memories were the vehicle to cause discomfort enough to find the courage to search, and the search brought me to reconnection. Now I am working on how the reconnection works- what is the purpose, what good does the information offer, why now and here.

    Anyone's ideas on this stuff is probably going to be heavily biased toward their own experience of it. I think it's entirely reasonable that CZZ, for example, thinks that this is all BS. It wouldn't make sense to base one's beliefs on some other person's experience. At least, this is the case for me.
     
  4. The Undecided

    The Undecided New Member

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    This makes sense but it doesn't explain past life experiences that some people have had, including the Buddha, who supposedly saw all of his past lives when he found enlightenment.
     
  5. The Undecided

    The Undecided New Member

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    S,

    I mean the present life, both collectively and individually. Our understanding of others comes from understanding ourselves and vice versa.
     
  6. The Undecided

    The Undecided New Member

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    CZ, your not being cynical are you?
     
  7. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    TU, I am not familiar with the connection between the Buddha's enlightenment and his past lives.

    Could you please point me to your source for that information so I can study it further?

    Thank you.
     
  8. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    TU, I am pointing out that numbers alone don't add up to truth.

    Do you think I should I base my beliefs on how many people think one way or another?
     
  9. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    Since we are individually, windows which open up to the same Source, which contains the knowledge of all life as it is all life, then, when we are open to this influence and not so full of ourselves that we can't hear, we can empathize and connect with this experience and know that everything we have ever done and experienced is our input into this collective resource.
    This has been called many things and is IMO where we get all our "past life" experiences from.
    I am every person who has ever lived and ever shall.....and curiously, so are you.
    We are all One because there is only One Life running through everything and it is a singularity....but it is also a fractal, which creates the diversity.
    Seems a conundrum, but it is not.
    In this we live, move and have our being.
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Quite agree, Path of One - on the one hand, in my NDE I saw each of us as nothing more than a fraction of a spiritual "True Self" that was engaged in mutliple lifetimes (human, animal, alien?) simultaneously.

    Yet on the other, lots of my flashes do not fall into a easy temporal order, with some coming from different people within the same period of history.

    Rather that consider that I may exist as different individuals in the same human time frame, it makes sense to consider that instead information is being tapped into if a person is sensitive enough, and the information seems relevant in some way. So that potentially the experiences of many different people can be tapped into.

    The idea of treating the earth as a closed system is something I've explored before, and think is definitely worth taking seriously - but also in connection with the idea that the solar system itself is another system, the galaxy, etc.

    In other words, a kind of universal "ether" where information resides and can be tapped into if able, that may or may not have local nodes (ie, the earth as local to us). These days it's not too hard to tap into this when reading a news story, to get an idea of what may or may not be behind a certain event from a completely different perspective. Unfortunately, because news stories tend to cover bad news rather than good news, it's not something necessarily good to do, or choose your stories well.

    I remember a couple of years ago a business colleague went missing in America, and because I knew him, and the people worried about him, I felt strongly able to tap into this. The information was in the form of emotional signals - I felt very much that he was alive, that he was in a state of confusion, and for some reason he was physically unable to contact anyone. Couldn't make out much more than that, without my conscious mind trying to construct a story on top of it, which is not a good idea. Anyway, turned out he'd got on a plane and had a panic attack - when challenged for ID, wasn't able to present it because of the panic, and so was dumped into a local jail on landing. A couple of days later and the British consulate had tracked him down and ensured his release. Felt compelled to tell his wife about my experience at the time, but I would rather consider myself quite fallible, and would not therefore want to misdirect people in case I was wrong. The tempation to build a story to interpret the emotional signals was strong, but would have led down blind alleys because I couldn't read the actual situation. But glad all turned out fine in the end. Not all do.
     
  11. earl

    earl ?

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    CZ, it's an oft told tale that the Buddha in the course of obtaining enlightenment spontaneously recalled all of his many past lives:
    Netscape Search earl
     
  12. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    Thank you, earl. I will look into your source more thoroughly, however, I do have some comments on the passage you linked to.

    Thus with the mind composed, quite purified ... I directed my mind to the knowledge and recollection of former habitations. I remembered a variety of former habitations, thus: one birth, two births, three. . . four ... a hundred thousand births, and many an aeon of integration and many an aeon of disintegration and many an aeon of integration-disintegration;


    The Buddha didn't remember a past life. He remembered a hundred thousand births, and many an aeon of integration-disintegration.

    He didn't say, "And in my last life I was a [fill in the blank] and that meant [fill in the blank]." His point is that we have been a part of this process of continuous "integration-disintegration" for aeons. And he saw this when his mind was composed and purified.

    His perspective is a by-product of enlightenment and not the path to it. These are very important distinctions to keep in mind.
     
  13. earl

    earl ?

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    CZ, as the following from an Australian Buddhist abbot shows, Buddhists do indeed interpret such comments as I've noted as clearly speaking of past lives:
    Netscape Search
    This also makes mention of contemporary Buddhist monks and nuns having occasional remembrance of previous lives, something I've noticed discussed on large Buddhist discussion boards. It also makes mention in passing of the Buddhist notion of multiple realms of existence. earl
     
  14. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    Both of these links that you've provided speak about using these memories in broad terms, of providing a perspective on this life and the cycles of life and death. Here is an excerpt from your latest linked article...

    For those who remember their past life, Rebirth is an established act which puts this life in a meaningful perspective.

    Understanding that we can come and go between these different realms gives us more respect and compassion for the beings in these realms. It is unlikely, for example, that one would exploit animals when one has seen the link of Rebirth that connects them with us.


    In my earlier post I offered a theory as to why past lives were not routinely remembered. I am still open to the possibility that there is a mechanism by which they can be. And I will be content in not knowing the answer... until the moment that I do.

    I am all for broadening one's perspective and I do know the value that this particular one brings to one's life. But attachment to a memory, whether in this life or a previous life is still attachment. Ego derived from an existence in the past or in the present, is still ego.

    Buddhism is about this moment. That is where my focus will remain.
     
  15. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I agree. But what I've come to find in my own life is that attachment may be held at a level that is not fully conscious, and until one brings to conscious awareness those memories to which one is attached, one remains bound. Considering that many people remember nothing of any past lives, I imagine we may all have different needs for spiritual development and our capacity to move beyond attachment and ego.

    I was carrying a lot of emotional baggage that bound me to my past, but for a long time I couldn't deal with it in a productive way- in part because I refused to acknowledge it as legitimate experience. Once I opened up to the potential of its actuality, then I could face it, process it, and move toward a space of letting go and moving forward.

    As Brian suggested, the way I experience this is not so much past-present-future, though it is what my brain comprehends. Rather, in this moment are all that I have ever been and ever done. It's more like learning to talk across this network that contains "me" as a temporary manifestation than it is to remember. But some part of my brain processes it as memory because that is what I as a human understands- linear time.

    Relating to these other selves and how they could be integrated in some useful fashion is very much an in the moment exercise. The self I "was" before learns from "me" now and vice versa, bringing to awareness that "I" am simply the "am"... being... itself.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    What if in this moment you have a past life recollection, or a glimpse of the the afterlife...or a conversation with G!d?
     
  17. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    Then I would say, "There was a recollection of a past life, or, there was a conversation with God."

    If that moment brought enlightenment... the kind of enlightenment that the Buddha experienced, then I would be a Buddha. And I would move on.

    If that moment did not bring enlightenment... the kind of enlightenment that the Buddha experienced, then I would not be a Buddha. And I would move on.
     
  18. Qi1

    Qi1 New Member

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    We can remember our past lives by being fully in the present. In that way we can learn from the lessons of the past and not repeat our mistakes.
     
  19. sjr

    sjr New Member

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    How in the f*** would this life be exciting.................One would KNOW it all ( OR go to Comparative Religion!!!!!) :):confused::eek::mad::rolleyes::cool::p;):D:eek::(
     
  20. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    But your saying is truth lol..... For a fly it is awesome to eat "crap" it keeps natures cycles running smoothly.


    SJR: Very expressive with faces. Well done.

    QI1: How was your previous life?
     

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