Buddha

Life as a Sakya Buddhist

I can recall many past lives when I was a Buddhist. These lives were all over Asia including Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, India, Indonesia, and Korea. In fact from 1/4 to 1/2 of my past lives have been spent in Asia on a spiritual path.

From this reservoir of knowledge I can explain many things which have been forgotten. (The understandings that I have are often more correct than the terms I use. The terms I use are sometimes accidently the wrong ones. Past life memories provide the understandings but not usually the actual words that we used at the time to explain the understandings. So please excuse me if I use the wrong term.)

Mahayana and Theravada BuddhismThe biggest issue that I can potentially clear up is the schism between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism (actually their predecessors, the Sthaviras and the Mahāsāṅghikas) The division was created when Buddha answered a question about 'changing the rules'. I may be oversimplifying things but it is recorded that he stated something to the effect that some of the minor rules could be changed. The schism which then occurred was over which rules were minor rules.

Three months after the Buddha's Mahaparinibbana, his immediate disciples convened a council at Rajagaha. Maha Kassapa, the most respected and elderly monk, presided at the (First) Council.....Before the Buddha's Parinibbana, (death) he had told Ananda that if the Sangha wished to amend or modify some minor rules, they could do so. But on that occasion Ananda was so overpowered with grief because the Buddha was about to die that it did not occur to him to ask the Master what the minor rules were. As the members of the Council were unable to agree as to what constituted the minor rules, Maha Kassapa finally ruled that no disciplinary rule laid down by the Buddha should be changed, and no new ones should be introduced. No intrinsic reason was given." Here

This shows the absurd lengths that people go to break rules and take an easy way out of doing hard work. The Buddha never put forward a major teaching in response to a question in his entire life.

Every major teaching went through a long process. First the Buddha thought about for days or weeks. Then it was presented to a small group of students who were bodhisattvas. They discussed it at length with arguments stating both pro and con. They also thought it over and discussed it among themselves overnight. In a few days the group gathered again with the Buddha and discussed it further. Then finally it was taught to others but it was always presented alone, at a separate time from all other teachings so as not to create any confusion.

The Buddha probably answered 100,000 questions over a period of 40 years. Why do people think that this answer is the only one which conflicts with the other 100,000 questions and their answers. It simply doesn't make sense.
That would be like Moses, after delivering the ten commandments, having told the Jews that they can change the unimportant commandments.

Probably either the question which was asked of him by Ananda or the answer he gave was misunderstood.
Both of these great men were about 80 years old. It is very likely that one of them was hard of hearing and misunderstood the other one. It's a shame nobody realizes this. Half of the wars and three quarters of the divorces are due to misunderstandings of religious teachings. Even the enlightened (and certainly the unenlightened Ananda) misunderstood people and should have realized this.

It's also a shame that nobody including Ananda asked the Buddha for clarification.  


This is one of the most important teachings the Buddha allegedly taught. As such it is not an answer that he would have given in ten seconds as a response to a question and then never again commented on.

In any case it sounds to me like a bunch of lazy Buddhists got a hold of this misunderstanding and then twisted it around to get out of doing real (inner) work.

Most likely The Buddha was thinking about the Dharma and Vinaya 
and not the 'major' and 'minor' rules.

The dharma never changes. The Vinaya can be changed. 

The dharma (relationship with the infinite or God) is contingent on a person and their interaction with the infinite. It's based on natural laws and is often called 'the way of the higher truths'. Since the infinite never changes these rules will never change and are absolute.

On the other hand the Vinaya rules (relationship with others including society) are contingent on the interaction between people and their behavior. People and this world change so these rules may need to be changed in order to create the most favorable conditions and relationships. They tend to favor society over the individual or should I say the rules tilt towards favoring society and away from the individual.

The nature of this world is impermanent and changing so the rules between aspects of it obviously will also be impermanent and need to change. All of the 
Vinaya rules could therefore be considered to be 'minor' since nearly any of them can and may need to be changed at some time or another.  

As simple examples the rules against the taking of life and handling gold and silver immediately come to mind.

Vegetarianism works in India but it is next to impossible to adhere to on the high Tibetan Plateau where almost nothing grows except for barley and yaks. So that rule gets broken by Tibetan Buddhist often. Handling gold and silver means money and I don't know any way to avoid doing that these days. When Buddha walked the earth coins had just been invented and were not used in India in any great amount until another couple hundred years had passed. Even coming in contact with silver and gold was very rare for the average person.

I guess you could have someone else hold your money and/or pay someone to slaughter animals so that you could eat them but that's not what Buddha had in mind. This sounds like the logic used by those that split Buddhism apart.

In all honesty many of the Buddhists at the first council questioned what Ananda had heard. The doubts they had were the main, if not the only, reason that no decision was made at the First Council. This in turn created room for more doubt and caused people from then on to question most aspects of Buddhism. That is not bad. In all probability it prevented Buddhism from being 'locked in stone' and becoming just another dictated religion based on unchanging rules.

On the other hand had either the Buddha or the First Coucil fully endorsed or codified changing rules then it is highly likely that later Buddhist would have seen it as a license to change every rule. Buddhism would have fragmented to such an extent that it become corrupted. It likely would have
lost a considerable amount of it's bearing and essence. (I think I'm beginning to pontificate a bit so I'll stop.)

 

Most of my past lives as a Buddhist will not be of interest to westerners except for the one I spent as a Sakya Tibetan Buddhist. I spent at least two lives as a prominent Sakya Buddhist but one in particular will be of interest to most Westerners. [In this life I was initiated into Tibetan Buddhism with nundro teachings by the lineage head of the Sakya sect in 1980. Llama DollBack then any time I mentioned the Dalai Lama to people most of them thought I was talking about a Llama Doll (left).]

I think it was around the year 1650 AD when I managed the science section of the extensive Sakya library which has recently been rediscovered.

'A huge library of as many as 84,000 scrolls were found sealed up in a wall 60 metres long and 10 metres high at Sakya (Ch: Sagya) Monastery in 2003.' Wikipedia

That library was in effect the National Library of Tibet until the Gelugpa or Gelugs sect took political power away from the Sakyas. About 80-100 years before I was born in that life the library was hidden because the Gelugpas would have either confiscated it and/or destroyed it like the early Christians destroyed the world's greatest and largest Library at Alexandria in 391 AD. It was unclear whether ours would have been destroyed or not so us Sakyas took the incentive and prevented it. (I found out later when I taught the Dalai Lama that their intention was indeed to destroy it.)

When I worked in the library I was told this is what happened (but the story may have been embellished by others before me): The Gelugpas or Gelugs
sent a small force to the monastery. They were going to destroy any Sakya specific manuscripts. They thought they were going to find a few hundred but they found thousands of manuscripts and most were not about the Sakya religion at all. So the leader went back to Lhasa to get instructions as to whether or not to burn the library and/or which manuscripts to burn. While he was gone the Sakyas (not the lamas and monks but the local peasant population) poisoned the Gelugpa representative that he left in charge. He was really hated by everyone including his own men. Then they place a sedative in the food of the Gelugpa soldiers who were guarding the manuscripts and when they fell asleep they hid the manuscripts. Then to 'honor the poisoned representatives memory' they built a big bonfire and burned lots of old unimportant records as well as split logs that were sandwiched between manuscript covers (they looked like Tibetan manuscripts). The guards they had drugged had to play along or they would have been executed for falling asleep on the job. 

Many years later I was born. When I worked there the library was not walled in but hidden in a large cave where it was a working library. I don't know when the manuscripts got walled in so it must have been after that lifetime. The library wasn't a very well kept secret so I would not be surprised if someone had told the authorities in Lhasa about it. I do recall that we had stationed three spies in Lhasa to warn us about any 'inspection tours' that were about to leave Lhasa and probably later on after I died an 'inspection tour' or raid may have triggered the hidding of the manuscripts that were found but that is only a guess. However, that is likely what happened because that is what our plans were if the manuscripts were reported.

Almost immediately after I became enlightened I moved to Lhasa. People are in awe of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (and I was too) but I was very fond of and recall better the Pachen Lama, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen's because of his intelligence and very honorable nature. I think that was because my office was located near his and I became close friends with him.
I was some kind of a diplomat. I saw my role as being that of a teacher but I may have actually been a Sakya representative and an advisor to the Tibetan government.

Somewhere along the line I do recall clearly a ceremony in which I was recognized as a Tulku but I don't recall who I was a recognized as a reincarnation of.`


How bad was the censorship of manuscripts? I recall receiving a Chinese botany manuscript and submitting it to the authorities to have it checked thinking that they could not find anything bad about a manual on botany. To my surprise the monk removed every plant that he did not recognize with a statement meaning 'without purpose'. When he finished I had about 1/3 of the manuscript left. Amazed I appealed to his sense of beauty by saying 'why not make everyone cut off their long hair because it to is 'without purpose''? I was met with the sly smile of a monk with very close cut hair and absolutely no sense of aesthetics. I realized my mistake and then pointed to the celibate clerics crotch and said 'why not cut those off since they are without purpose'.

I remember that life nearly as clearly if it was only 20 years ago in this life.  I can answer lots of questions about events that happened then in Tibet.

Also, about some of the manuscripts that were recently re-discovered. I can supply some information that may help researchers locate the more scientifically important manuscripts. One shelf of the library is an extensive section of at least 20 manuscripts about 'dragons' and 'dragon cemeteries' (dinosaur fossil deposits). It's a huge listing of about 200 fossil deposits of large dinosaurs. These extensive listings include the exact locations of 'dragon cemeteries' throughout Asia. Literally hundreds of fossil deposits were listed and most had detailed directions as well as descriptions of the type of 'dragons' that were buried there. These were alway large dinosaurs but they varied as to the type which was probably due to how old they were..


Many lamas used to perform a Chod meditation at these dragon cemeteries just like they still do at human cemeteries. So we had almost a complete listing of the ones in Tibet, Mongolia and China. We also had a listing of about half of them in Eastern Asia, as far away as Japan to the east and past Afghanistan to the west. One of the most important of the manuscripts has a picture of what appears to be a cute little lizard on the frontispiece.
 
mapThe Sakya Monastery is located south west of Lhasa and only about 50 miles from both India and Nepal (see map) so many of the travellers from both these countries stopped and rested at our Monastery. This was before Tibet's leaders took steps to seal off the country from the rest of the world so there were many travellers going between India and China.

We considered dragons as being very much like humans. They had to be highly intelligent and very respectful of their dead since they buried them in cemeteries like spiritual humans did. That is why we prayed at their cemeteries and kept extensive records about their locations. I myself went to at least two of the 'dragon cemeteries' to pray for their souls. One is less than 25 miles from the Sakya Monastery. Of course some of the deposits located to the east in China have probably been stripped for use as medicine but many of those located in Tibet and Mongolia will still be intact.

In a tie for the most important part of the library is probably the music section which is a huge repository for Tibetan and regional music. (Of course the religious texts excede all the other manuscripts in number but that should be understood.)

There are also a lot of manuscripts about astronomical events that will be found no where else. Also, there are manuscripts about forgotten medicinal plants. My sense is that there are plants in these manuscripts that have anti tumor and others that have antibiotic properties which would be commercially useful. Some pharmaseutical company should leap at this. In fact if a pharmaceutical company were to sponser a project to digitally record all these manuscripts and even put them on line it would be worth their while just for the possibility of finding a new medicine as a result. Just the patent on one discovered medicine could pay for this whole project.

Also there were many manuscripts of historical events. Some of these records probably no longer exist anywhere else in the world.

When travellers came through we copied their manuscripts. Sometimes we had up to 45 monks and lamas who would work all night to make copies of them.  I remember that I often ended up directing those all night sessions.

Also we purchased manuscripts. I recall that once 40 pack animals brought in many thousands of manuscripts that we had purchased from China. (Now that I think about this event, I distinctly recall the arrival of the pack train but for the life of me I cannot recall if these were manuscripts or just tens of thousands of blank pages that we used for making manuscripts.)

Also, other sects gave their manuscripts to us when they felt it was too dangerous to keep them.

Since we were adding to the library all the time those 84,000 manuscripts that were discovered recently is several times as large as the library was 350 years ago.  We may have had over a million manuscripts. I have the strange feeling that they have not yet located many of the manuscripts that are still hidden.

I am almost certain that later in that life I became the head of the Sakyas.  

In another life I was possibly Sakya Pandita.* That life is harder for me to prove and I wish to present you only with lives that can be proven and are useful in the present to westerners. It stretches my credibility to present a past life to westerners without proof. Many people claim past lives of glamor and glitz without any substance.
For the life of me I can't understand why anyone would want to have been someone important in a past life. It makes my life fraught with responsibilities that I would certainly wish to avoid if I could possibly do so.

Even though I recall about 70 past lives with clarity I won't bother you with any claims unless: 1) It can be proven. 2) It will be of a practical benefit to mankind.

Oh, I have included one life with glamor and glitz, in renaissance England, but it also has plenty of substance.


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*We Buddhist don't often recall past lives. It's not a direction that is encouraged as it can take a person off their path unless recalling previous lives is a part of their path. It is part of my path but just a small part of it.

For me, every few lifetimes I recall my past lives and integrate them. This is one of those lives. When it's one of those lifetimes I simply start recalling past lives. I can't avoid them. It provides me with nearly endless wisdom. Actually, recalling past lives in this lifetime is perfect for the rest of mankind since mass communication methods which are now available allow me to share this information with you.

About half the time when I see the past life of a person's who has been enlightened in a previous life then they suddenly see that past life too. For those of you who have been enlightened in previous lives being able to recall that life and the enlightened state puts you very close to becoming enlightened. After all, an enlightened person is enlightened today mainly because they recall being enlightened yesterday. If they recall being enlightened in a past life then it can have a very similar effect.  So recalling past lives can be of the greatest benifit to certain people.



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