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Children Who Remember Previous Lives
Children Who Remember Previous Lives

by Ian Stevenson

Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation
Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation

by Ian Stevenson

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Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect

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Children's Past Lives
Children's Past Lives

by Carol Bowman

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Click here for The Reluctant Messenger (Host Site)

Buddha: Proof of Reincarnation

'Through many a 
birth wandered I, 
seeking the 
builder of this house. 
Sorrow full 
indeed is birth 
again and again.'

Siddhartha Buddha Probably the most important proof of reincarnation is the life of Siddhartha Buddha. The two greatest spiritual teachers to ever walk this earth were Buddha and Christ. There are some who would say that Buddha did not teach reincarnation but instead spoke of rebirth. This is more a difference in semantics. Buddha spoke of having many lives. This is what reincarnation is. The primary difference betwen Buddha's teachings and traditional Hinduism's teachings concerns the teaching about Atman. The Hindus believe in the soul as being a discreet unit that incarnates over and over. Buddha taught that even the soul was an illusion to overcome and that nothing was separate from GOD. See: Buddha: Atheist or God? It is beyond the scope of this article to expound on the subtleties of the various teachings about Atman. Suffice it to say here that it is Buddha's teachings about Atman that makes it appear that he taught rebirth and not reincarnation. For the purpose of this article, the words rebirth and reincarnation are considered synonymous.

The Buddha taught that the self (or soul) was an illusion. But what many fail to realize is that until the illusion is seen for what it is, the cycle of birth and death continues. Just because the soul is an illusion doesn't mean there are not rebirths and deaths. Contrary, it is the failure to see the past the illusion of self that traps one in samsara (the cycle of births and death). Until one breaks free from samsara there continues to be the illusion of a soul. It may sound like I'm splitting hairs but it is important to understand the subtleties of Buddha's teachings. Even Buddha remembered his past lives back when he was still under the illusion of self.

So what does Buddha's life tell us about reincarnation, the soul and past lives? Buddha was able to recount stories of his past lives. He achieved retro-cognitive powers. Here is one of his past life stories.

"In days gone by there was a wicked king who used to extort from his subjects all he could get; and he ordered one of his officers to lay the lash on a man of eminence. The officer little thinking of the pain he inflicted upon others, obeyed; but when the victim of the king's wrath begged for mercy, he felt compassion and laid the whip lightly upon him. Now the king was reborn as Devadatta, who was abandoned by all his followers, because they were no longer willing to stand his severity and he died miserable and full of penitence. The officer is the sick bhikkhu, who having often given offence to his brethren in the vihara was left without assistance in his distress. The eminent man, however, who was unjustly beaten and begged for mercy was the Bodhisatta; he has been reborn as the Tathagata. It is now the lot of the Tathagata to help the wretched officer as he had mercy on him."

See Gospel of Buddha: The Sick Bhikkhu

The Buddha's remembrance of thousands of past lives during the first watch of the night he achieved omnipotent enlightenment gave rise to a vast body of Buddhist literature, in many versions, called the Jatakas or Tales of the Buddha's Past Lives. The Pali Jatakas record 357 past lives as a human, 66 as a god, and 123 as an animal. For Buddhists, the biography of the Buddha consists of not one but many lives.

The Jatakas is a collection of "birth stories" detailing many of the previous lives of the Buddha. Buddha Shakyamuni spent many lifetimes in the six realms of transmigration. His lives as the monkey king, elephant king, deer king, and goose king are examples of lives spent in the realm of animals.

The Buddha also has incarnated many times in the realm of humans. One time, after Sundari, the courtesan, made a defamatory accusation against him, the Buddha explained how actions from a previous life can effect the shaping of events in one's present life.

The Buddha said, "Many lives ago in the past, in a city called Varanasi, there lived a man by the name of Pure Eyes (Vimalanetra) who was in the performing arts business of acting and singing (equivalent to today's actor). "At that time, there was a beautiful woman by the name of Deer Form. Pure Eyes and Deer Form entered into a sexual liaison with each other.

"Since Deer Form was a very wealthy lady, Pure Eyes later murdered her for her money and buried her body in the house of a realized spiritual cultivator by the name of Joyful and Spontaneous Solitary-buddha.

"Joyful and Spontaneous Solitary-buddha was mistaken to be the murderer. He was tied to the back of a donkey and publicly paraded through the streets. "Just as Joyful and Spontaneous Solitary-buddha was about to be executed by arrow, Pure Eyes gave in to his conscience and confessed the crime to the prosecutor. A new investigation established Pure Eyes' guilt. Pure Eyes was executed by arrow and then beheaded."

The Buddha is our greatest authority on rebirth. On the very night of his enlightenment, during the first watch, the Buddha developed retro-cognitive knowledge which enabled him to read his past lives. "I recalled," he declares, "My varied lot in former existences follows: first one life, then two lives, then three, four, five, ten, then a hundred, a thousand, a hundred watch the Buddha, with clairvoyant vision he perceived beings disappearing from one state of existence and reappearing in another. He beheld the "base and the noble, the beautiful and the ugly, the happy and the miserable, passing according to their deeds."'

These are the very first utterances of the Buddha regarding the question of rebirth. The textual references conclusively prove that the Buddha did not borrow this stern truth of rebirth from any existing source, but spoke from personal knowledge, a knowledge which was super-normal, developed when he achieved enlightenment and which could be developed by others as well. In his first paean of joy, the Buddha says: "Through many a birth wandered I, seeking the builder of this house. Sorrow full indeed is birth again and again."

In the Dhammacakka Sutta, his very first discourse, the Buddha, commenting on the second noble truth, states: "This very raving is that which leads to rebirth." The Buddha concludes this discourse with the words: "This is my last birth. Now there is no more rebirth." The Majjima Nikaya relates that when the Buddha, out of, compassion for beings, surveyed the world with his Buddha-vision before he decided to teach the Dhamma, he perceived beings, who, with fear, view evil and a world beyond.

In several discourses the Buddha clearly states that beings, having done evil, are, after death, born in woeful states, and beings having done good, are born in blissful states.

Besides the very interesting Jataka stories, which deal with his previous lives and which are of ethical importance, the Majjhima Nikaya and the Anguttara Nikaya make incidental references to some of the past lives of the Buddha.

In the Ghatikara Sutta the Buddha relates to the Venerable Ananda that he was born as Jotipala, in the time of the Buddha Kassapa, his immediate predecessor. The Anathapindikovada Sutta describes a nocturnal visit of Anathapindika to the Buddha, immediately after his rebirth as a Deva. In the Anguttara Nikaya,' the Buddha alludes to a past birth as Pacetana the wheelwright. In the samyutta Nikaya the Buddha cites the names of some Buddha's who preceded him. An unusual direct reference to departed ones appears in the Parinibbana Sutta. The Venerable Ananda desired to know from the Buddha the future state of several persons who had died in a particular village. The Buddha patiently described their destinies. Such instances could easily be multiplied from the Tipitaka to show that the Buddha did expound the doctrine of rebirth as a verifiable truth." Following the Buddha's instructions, his disciples also developed this retro-cognitive knowledge and were able to read a limited, though vast, number of their past lives.

So, if anyone says there is no such thing as reincarnation, they are basically calling Buddha a liar.

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Reincarnation Research Center

  • Hebrews 9:27 does not disprove reincarnation.
  • The Book of Revelation Teaches Reincarnation Part I
  • The Book of Revelation Teaches Reincarnation Part II
  • Pope Arrested for Believing in Reincarnation
  • Reincarnation in the Bible
  • More Scriptural Support for Reincarnation
  • Biblical Proof of Awareness after Death
  • Buddha: Proof of Reincarnation
  • Scientific Proof of Reincarnation
  • Reincarnation Proof: Mellen-Thomas Benedict's Near-Death Experience
  • Reincarnation (old plan), Resurrection (new plan)?
  • Reincarnation: The Original Plan of God
  • Christian Reincarnation: The Long Forgotten Doctrine

  • Aquarian Gospel of Christ
  • Resurrection - The Amended plan of God
  • The Essenes
  • Christ Taught Reincarnation
  • Sabbath: The Amended Plan of God part 1
  • Resurrection: The Amended Plan of God part 2
  • The Sabbath is a Rehearsal
  • Sabbath and the Buddha
  • The Tao of Sabbath
  • Seven Sabbath Meditations
  • How to Meditate
  • Advanced Meditation
  • The Parable of the King's Diamonds
  • Chester's Oral tests
  • And God said...
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