About Reincarnation

Proof of Reincarnation

By observing present mental tendencies and predispositions we can infer their causes in previous lives.

Although we are all human beings, we have a huge variety of mental imprints and tendencies. Some people have very positive tendencies, whereas other people are naturally inclined to non-virtue. Some of these differences can be accounted for by differences in upbringing and other experiences in this life, but by no means can all be explained in this way. Two children with the same parents can have totally different mental tendencies, which they can display at a very early age. One child, for example, may have a cruel and angry disposition and take delight in torturing animals and bullying other children, whereas the other child has a good heart and a gentle nature. This can be the case even if the children have been brought up in a very similar way, and even, sometimes, apply in the case of identical twins, who have exactly the same genetic make-up.

How can we explain these differences?

A mental tendency is a habit of mind, and habits are created by repeated actions over a long period of time. The fact that children are born with varying mental tendencies indicates that at some time prior to their birth – that is, in a previous life – they performed different actions, creating different mental habits. One child is naturally positive because in a previous life he or she repeatedly performed positive actions of body, speech, and mind, and thus created strong positive pathways in his mind; and the other child is naturally negative because through his repeated negative actions in a previous life he created negative pathways in his mind.

What Are The Effects Of Our Previous Actions?

Adults too clearly have varying mental tendencies. Some people for no apparent reason hate religion as if it were poison, whereas others are naturally attracted to spiritual teachings. What causes these different ways of thinking? The simplest explanation is that the person who instinctively dislikes religion in this life disliked religion in previous lives, whereas the person who naturally likes religion has the virtuous imprints of valuing religion in a previous life.

Since we cannot see the past directly, to understand it we need to infer past actions and events from present effects.

Some people are able to learn a particular foreign language very easily, even though they are no more intelligent than someone else who has far greater difficulty in learning that language. The reason for this may well be that the first person used to speak that language in a previous life.

Amongst those who enter the spiritual path, some gain spiritual realizations very easily, whereas others, no less sincere or skilful, need to apply great effort for many years before their mind changes and they develop realizations. This clearly indicates that spiritual realizations are the fruit not only of our effort in this life, but also of the effort we made and tendencies we created in previous lives.

Since we cannot see the past directly, to understand it we need to infer past actions and events from present effects. Geologists infer past geographical events from the present structure of land, and archaeologists build up a picture of previous cultures through making inferences from their remains. In a similar way, by observing present mental tendencies and predispositions we can infer their causes in previous lives.

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All quotations from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's books copyright The New Kadampa Tradition - International Buddhist Union, all rights reserved worldwide. For more information on Geshe Kelsang's books visit Tharpa Publications.