Is The Pa-Auk Teaching of Past Lives Real?

Bhante, do you think then that recalling past lives (Pa-Auk version) can be distorted by our imagination?
I’ve read contradictory things on the subject. Please, I would like to know the opinion of the Pa-Auk system.

It is difficult to be proven right or wrong. On the other hand , I know several monks who were able verify early childhood memories which should be impossible to verify by normal memory, but verifiable by the parents . Like baby times.

I know 2 and half cases. Not totally sure about the third one but he said he talked with his parents about it.

Parents usually freak out when they hear this … well based on 2 cases I mean…usually … if there were more, there would be similar reactions.

Normally monks don’t go talking about this stuff, even among monks. It gets personal and more personal with past lives, if you go back far enough, the lives are not desirable and embarrassing. How far back? A few lives to five lives can easily lead to woman or animal. Usually not animal the most recent life because need triple root in the current life.

For this reason, the faith goes up because one is “seeing” lives that goes beyond oersonal imagination. Furthermore, finding the cause is essential, and the causes go in reverse order. When you play them back forward, they make sense.

There are other reasons the practitioner knows but I don’t want to say. You can ask a teacher.

Not everyone will have proper vision of lives however there are many steps before this stage happens. So there is quite a weeding process that happens from mere regular people imagining what their lives are like. So a good chunk is probabaly correct. You can find lemons in any reputable new brand of car, but overall, the new cars simply work as they should.

The best thing to do is to just not worry about who is authentic or not and worry about getting to those stages and seeing for yourself.


Thank you so much Bhante for this clear message. We are so lucky that you make yourself available here!

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So, here, Beth Upton is exaggerating when she emphatically states that it is impossible for past lives to be imagined (with the Pa-Auk method) :

Host: Just ask one question, how does one know that’s accurate? How do you know you’re not superimposing something onto it? Or fabricating something new that that you’re telling yourself was a memory from them? How do you how do you know that it’s accurate or authentic?

Beth: We start by doing the one that we know is true with the recent past. Then what you can imagine is an image, and what you can superimpose or project is an image like in the normal way of memory. What you can’t imagine is mind moments. It’s not an image, it’s not a concept. You could discern it wrong. Like it could be a moment of anger, and you mistake it as a moment of sadness. You could discern it wrong, but you couldn’t imagine it. It’s not an image. It’s not coming from your perception. It’s a mind moment.

Host: But you can’t in the present moment, like fabricate or assign a certain kind of feeling to when you felt at a certain time?

Beth: If you did that, you would also be able to observe your present mind moment, seeing that fabrication doing that fabrication, so what you could create something in the present, like anger, for example. And then you could sort of move it in your perception back as if it were the path. But at that level of practice, there’d be too much awareness on that was what you were doing. It is possible to do in the way of image and concept, like, ‘Oh, I was a fish.’ At that time, it is possible to project your own wanting. People do make mistakes, because perception is so unreliable. That kind of conceptual perception is so unreliable, like dreaming. But when we’re descending on the level of mentality and materiality, we can’t imagine it wrong. The best we can do is badly discern it. Like, ‘Oh, I thought that was a first jhāna mental process. Actually, it was a second jhāna mental process. I missed a mental factor or two.’ We can barely discern if our wisdom isn’t sharp, but we can’t make it up, without awareness that that’s what we’re doing…

I suppose a lot of what she says is true. But about the impossibility of imagining past lives, is she wrong?

Venerable, you seem more nuanced and cautious than she is.

Don’t worry about other people’s experiences or achievement, focus on oneself is better.


It is wise to investigate the characteristics of hypnotism as well.

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@ekocare So it seems that even with very powerful concentration, we can’t be sure that our minds aren’t imagining past lives very discreetly and subtly without realizing it.
In your opinion, what criteria can help us verify whether our experience is authentic?

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