The first question:
If by any chance I might not get enlightened this lifetime, how can I make sure that I will be a woman in my next life? It seems such a juicy existence.
The first thing to be remembered is that nobody ever gets enlightened. Enlightenment is your nature; you are already it. It is not something to be achieved, it is not a goal to be reached. It is the source, not the goal. In the innermost core of your being you are all buddhas, and you have always been so, and you will always remain so.
Yes, you have forgotten it. So the question is not of realizing it, the question is only of remembering it. Hence Buddha says: “Be more mindful, be more alert, be more watchful.” Nothing else has to be done, one has nowhere to go, no pilgrimage is sacred. All pilgrimages are just going astray. You are already there where you want to be; just look within, just turn in, tune in. This is the first thing to be remembered, that it is not a question of achievement.
You say, “If by any chance I might not get enlightened this lifetime…” There is no chance at all of missing it. It is impossible to be other than enlightened. It is your self-nature, your very being. This whole existence is enlightened.
Then what is the difference between a buddha and you? The difference is very simple. It has nothing to do with your quality. Your quality is exactly the same as that of Gautama the Buddha, or Jesus Christ, but you are asleep and they are awake. They know where they are, who they are, and you are dreaming. But one can come out of the dreams; dreams cannot hold you, dreams can’t hinder you.
Dreams are dreams, they have no substance in them. They can’t prevent you from becoming awake. Dreams, desire, sleep, are all like darkness. When you light a candle the darkness cannot prevent it. The darkness may be very ancient, it may have existed for millions of years and the candle may be fresh and just a small candle, but that’s enough. Light has a positive existence. Darkness has no existence at all; it is only absence of light. You can wake up any moment, the candle can be lit any moment, and all dreams and desires will disappear; hence devices have been invented.
What Buddha says, Patanjali says, Lao Tzu says, is that these are only devices to wake you up, alarms and nothing else.