Stream of consciousness

Hello friends,
Today I’ve come across Ud 3.6 sutta where the Blessed One directed attention to Ven. Pilindavaccha’s previous lives. This reminded me of a Sutta class by Ajahn Brahmali, final question of the class:
[](https://The Prime Net (Part 3) | Ajahn Brahmali | 24 January 2021)
Is it due to deduction based on own interactions with Ven. Pilindavaccha over the past 500 lifetimes that the attention was possible to direct to rather than knowing these lifetimes in full detail?


Welcome to the forum mavanyrecord!
Nice to hear you are following Ajahn @Brahmali continuation of that sutta on YT.
Will Ajahn or some one else knowledgeable be able to help answer your question?

Kind Regards
Ficus, on behalf of the moderators


No. There are higher powers the Buddha achieved on awakening and three of these are often mentioned in accounts of the awakening such as in Majjhima Nikaya, 4, 6, 77. The second last one of these powers is seeing how beings reappear according to their deeds, which enables the Buddha to see in detail the previous lives of others:

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma “—-MN 4

This is a mundane higher power, the final power vipassana is supramundane.


This passage in the Udāna is unusual, perhaps unique. I cannot recall, off the top of my head, anywhere else in the four main Nikāyas where the Buddha is said to have “directed attention” to someone else’s past lives. If I am right that this is a unique, and considering that the Udāna is probably a slightly later text than the four main Nikāyas, I am not sure how much we should read into this. It might be best to put it to one side as a curiosity.

I am not in full agreement with @Paul1 that this is the same as the second of the three higher knowledges, the tevijjā. This second higher knowledge seems to happen in real time, as beings actually die and are reborn. The verbs used in the passage quoted above from MN 4 are passāmi and pajānāmi, “I see” and “I understand”, which contrasts with the expression for recalling past lives, which uses the verb anussarāmi, “I recall”. The first one seems to be a direct understanding of what is happening now, whereas the latter is the reliving of a memory.


This is actually a very interesting and meaningful difference!


1 Like