Chapter 2: Seeing Life As It Is
Buddha has said that the meeting with the loved one brings joy and the parting of the unloved one also brings joy; that the parting of the loved one brings sorrow and the meeting with the unloved one brings sorrow as well. This is how it was perceived; this is how it was understood. However, later we come to understand that the one that we feel is the loved one turns into the unloved one, and the one we considered the unloved one turns into the loved one. And so, with the recollection of past memories, the existing situations will change radically; they will be seen in an entirely different perspective.
Such recollections are possible, although neither necessary nor inevitable; and sometimes, in meditation, these memories may strike unexpectedly as well. If the memories of past lives ever do come all of a sudden - without being involved in any experiment - invite them, but through simply keeping on with one’s meditation; don’t take much interest in them. Just look at them; be a witness to them - because ordinarily the mind is incapable of bearing such vast turbulence all at once. Attempting to cope with it, there is a distinct possibility of going mad.
Once a girl was brought to me. She was about twelve years old. Unexpectedly, she had remembered three of her past lives. She had not experimented with anything; but often, all of a sudden, for some reason mistakes do happen. This was an error on the part of nature, not its grace upon her; in some way nature had erred in her case. It is the same as if someone had three eyes, or four arms - this is an error. Four arms would be much weaker than two arms; four arms couldn’t work as effectively as two arms could - four arms would make the body weaker, not stronger. Or if several eyes grow around the skull, it wouldn’t be a blessing; you wouldn’t be able to walk anywhere easily and straightforwardly.
So the girl, twelve years old, remembered three past lives, and many inquiries were made into this case. In her previous life she had lived about eighty miles from my present residence, and in that life she died at the age of forty. The people she lived with then are now the residents of my hometown, and she could recognize all of them. Even in a crowd of thousands, she could recognize her past relatives - her own brother, her daughters, and her grandchildren - from the daughters, from the sons-in-law. She could recognize her distant relatives and tell many things about them even they had forgotten.
Her elder brother from that life is still alive. On his head there is a scar from a small injury. I asked the girl if she knew anything about that scar. The girl laughed and said, “Even my brother doesn’t know about it. Let him tell you how and when he got that injury.” The brother could not recall when the injury occurred; he had no idea at all, he said.
The girl said, “On the day of his wedding, my brother fell while he was mounting the marriage horse. He was ten years old then.” The elderly people in the town supported her story, admitting that the brother had, indeed, fallen from the horse. And the man himself had no recollection of this event. Furthermore, the girl displayed a treasure that she had buried in the house in which she had lived during her previous life.