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Reasons To Believe In A Past Birth
 
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Reasons To Believe In A Past Birth

The greatest authority on rebirth is the Buddha.

He said:

"With clairvoyant vision, purified and supernormal, I perceived beings disappearing from one state of existence and re-appearing in another. I beheld the base and the noble, the beautiful and the ugly, the happy and the miserable, passing according to their deeds."

There were no reasons for the Buddha to tell an untruth to deceive His followers. Following His instructions His disciples also developed this retro cognitive knowledge and were able to read their past lives to a great extent.

The development of this supernormal vision is not restricted only to the Buddha and His disciples. Any person, whether Buddhist or not, could possess this faculty. Some Indian Rishis, even before the advent of the Buddha, developed such powers as clairaudience, clairvoyance, thought reading, and so forth.

There are also some persons who, according to the laws of association, spontaneously develop the memory of their past birth and remember fragments of their previous lives. A few well-attested cases are reported from Burma, India, Germany, England, etc.

Extraordinary experiences of some modern reliable psychiatrists and strange cases of alternating and multiple personalities tend to throw light upon this belief in rebirth.

This phenomenon of secondary personalities has to be explained either as remnants of past individual experiences or as "being possessed". The former explanation sounds more reasonable, but the latter cannot totally be discarded.

In hypnotic states some can relate experiences of their past lives; while a few others, like Edgar Casey of America, were able not only to read the past lives of others but also to heal diseases.

Sometimes we go through strange experiences, which cannot be explained but by rebirth. How often do we meet persons whom we have never before met and yet inwardly feel that they are quite familiar to us? How often do we visit new places and yet feel impressed that we are perfectly acquainted with their surroundings?

In this world there arise Perfect Ones like the Buddhas, highly developed personalities. Could they evolve suddenly? Could they be the products of a single existence?

How are we to account for colossal characters like Confucius, Pamini, Homer and Plato, men of genius like Kalidasa, Shakespeare, infant prodigies like Ramanujan, Pascal, Mozart, Beethoven, Raphael, and others, and little children conversant with different languages and certain subjects which they had never learnt in their present life?’

Heredity alone cannot account for them, "else their ancestry would disclose it, their posterity, even greater than themselves, demonstrate it." Could they arise to such lofty heights if they had not lived such noble lives and gained similar experiences in the past? Is it by mere chance that they are born of those particular parents and placed under those favorable circumstances?

The theory of heredity should be supplemented by the doctrine of Kamma and rebirth for an adequate explanation of these puzzling problems. Is it reasonable to believe that the present brief span of life is the only existence between two eternities of heaven and hell?

The few years we are privileged to spend here, for the most five score years, must certainly be an inadequate preparation for eternity. If one believes in the present and in future, it is quite logical to believe in the past.

If there be reasons to believe that we have existed in the past, then surely there are no reasons to disbelieve that we shall continue to exist after our present life has apparently ceased. It is indeed a strong argument in favor of past and future lives that "in this world virtuous persons are very often unfortunate and vicious persons prosperous."

Some discoveries of modern spirituals also tend to prove the existence of a future birth.

The Cause Of This Rebirth Process-The Wheel Of Life

In short, Kamma, which is rooted in Ignorance, is the cause of birth and death. As long as this Kammic force survives there is rebirth. This process of becoming is fully explained in the Paticca Samuppada - Dependent Arising or Dependent Origination.

It should be understood that Paticca Samuppada is only a discourse on Samsara or the process of birth and death and not a theory of the evolution of the world from primordial matter. It deals with the cause of rebirth and suffering, but it does not attempt to show the absolute origin of life.

Ignorance - Avijja, of the Four Noble Truths is the first link or cause of the wheel of life. It clouds all right understanding.

Dependent on ignorance arises volitional activities (Sankhárá).

Moral and immoral activities, whether good or bad, which are rooted in ignorance, tend to prolong wandering in Samsara.

Nevertheless, good actions are essential to get rid of the ills of this ocean of life.

Dependent on Volitional Activities arises Relinking Consciousness - Vinnana. This links the past with the present.

Simultaneous with the arising of Re-linking Consciousness there come into being Mind and Matter - Nama and Rupa.

The Six Senses - Salayatana, are the inevitable consequences of Mind and Matter. Because of the Six Senses Contact - Phassa, sets in.

Contact leads to Sensations - vedana,

Dependent on Sensations arises Craving - Tanha.

Craving produces Attachment - Upadana.

Attachment conditions Kamma - Bhava, which in its turn determines future Birth - Jati.

Old Age and Death - Jara-Marana are the inevitable consequences of birth.

If, on account of a cause, an effect comes to be, then if the cause ceases, the effect also must cease. The complete cessation of Ignorance leads to the cessation of birth and death.

The above process of cause and effect continues ad infinitum. The beginning of this process cannot be determined, as it is impossible to say whence this life-flux was encompassed by ignorance. But when this ignorance is turned into knowledge and the life-flux is transmuted to Nibbána Dhatu, then the end of the life process or Samsara comes about.


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