You Will Meet Him Again in a Different Form

You Will Meet Him Again in a Different Form

Date of Advice:
July 2018
Date Posted:
April 2020

A student wrote that her son had just died. Rinpoche explained that the cycle of death and rebirth continues until we attain buddhahood and advised that cherishing others brings both temporary and ultimate happiness.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Root Institute, Bodhgaya, in 2000. Photo: Todd Moore.

My most dear, most kind, wish-granting one,
I am so, so sorry for what happened regarding your son’s death. Of course, even today in the world many hundreds or thousands of others have died in the same way, not only your son.

I want to tell you, he was born to you in this life because he had a connection with you from the past, from beginningless rebirths. He was born to you numberless times and you were born to him numberless times from beginningless time.

Most people in the world don’t remember their past lives, but there are many children who do remember, not only Tibetan lamas. I have a book in Nepal about that. One Western professor did research and found many cases of children remembering their past lives. In Buddhist countries people believing in past lives is very normal, it is well-known.

In Western society nowadays many people talk about karma—action and result, that something happens because it has a cause. Negative actions should be stopped so that there won’t be a suffering result. Positive actions should be done because there will be the result, happiness.

I am a recognized lama. I don’t remember my past life, however, I have the name “reincarnate lama” because in my past life I created so much merit and made many prayers to be able to help sentient beings. My own faith comes because although I do not remember my past life, when I meditate, some words and certain ways of thinking come, so that’s why I believe I did meditation in my past life.

Now, you see, you and your son have a connection in this life from the past. As long as you have this connection in samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth, you will meet him again endlessly, but of course in a different form. So, you don’t need to worry at all.

It’s not like the Western way of thinking—that when you die, you go totally out of existence, even the mind. It is not like that. Death is like changing a dress. There are three realms in which to reincarnate—the desire realm and the form and formless realms. After death there is no intermediate state before entering the formless realm, but there is an intermediate state for the desire and form realms.

I want to say, if there were no past life, there would not be any logical reason why we experience suffering in the womb and during birth, or why we experience happiness and suffering in our life. There would be no logical reason why all these experiences happen. Of course, for anything we don’t realize, we can make up our own reasons why these things happen. We believe it and teach it in society. But through meditation we can gain clairvoyance and we can see the past and future, even if it is only ordinary clairvoyance. As we achieve calm abiding and then higher and higher meditation, we know exactly, for example, we can see hundreds or thousands of past and future lives. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable.

There are five paths and ten bhumis to achieve enlightenment. When we achieve the eighth, ninth and tenth bhumi, we can count every single atom of the earth with such a clear mind, because it is purified of obscurations. We are also able to read numberless sentient beings’ minds, their intelligence, their merit, all the methods, what they need to be free from—suffering and obscurations—and how to bring them to enlightenment.

Of course, when we achieve omniscience, or enlightenment, we can see numberless sentient beings’ minds. We don’t make the slightest mistake and we can see everything directly, every sentient being’s needs. Until that happens we can’t benefit others perfectly. Benefiting sentient beings perfectly without mistake only happens when we achieve enlightenment.

There are the experiences of those who have actualized the path and attained the omniscient mind. Then, without meditation, devas—suras and asuras—when they die and are experiencing the five signs of death, some distant and some near ones, they can remember their past life and see their future life by karma, not meditation. Also, intermediate state beings have a certain clairvoyance after death, according to karma.

It is very normal for a mother and child—because your child was born from you in this life—to have so much attachment. That is similar even for the animals that we see, also insects and the animals that live in the ocean and on the ground. When they give birth, there is so much attachment to their offspring.

Except for turtles, according to His Holiness. They come from thousands of miles away to a certain beach to lay their eggs and after they lay the eggs they leave. They don’t take care of the eggs. When the baby turtles hatch, they go down to the ocean by themselves.

I also heard there is a bird which puts its own eggs in another bird’s nest and takes away the eggs that are there, so the mother bird takes care of the other bird’s eggs. It is karma.

Not only your son, but all other sentient beings have been born to you in past lives and you have also been born to them numberless times in past lives. Not only have they been your friend, they have also been your enemy numberless times and they have been a stranger numberless times. Similarly, you have been their friend, enemy and stranger numberless times.

In Mahayana Buddhism, we have to realize that all our past, present and future happiness up to enlightenment is received from every hell being, hungry ghost, animal—every mosquito, the tiny flies in the grass that escape away when we walk, every rat, scorpion—and the numberless suras and asuras, the worldly gods. There is logic to prove this, but maybe I’ll explain that next time.

By taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, we won’t be reborn in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realm. We will receive a higher rebirth, as a deva or with a human body. By taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha we can become free from samsara, which is in the nature of suffering—the suffering of pain (rebirth, sickness, old age, death and so forth), dissatisfaction, and the suffering of change, which is all the samsaric pleasure. This pleasure is temporary, thus we can’t continue or develop it, whereas Dharma happiness we can continue and develop. We can become free from samsara and achieve the blissful state of peace forever.

Not only that, by taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we can purify even the subtle obscurations and achieve buddhahood, that which is the cessation of all the obscurations and the completion of all the realizations.

Even Buddha, Dharma and Sangha came from every sentient being, including our enemies and strangers. Therefore, every sentient being is most precious, most kind, most dear, wish-fulfilling for us.

So, in Mahayana practice, just as you cherish your son, you cherish every sentient being the most. At the moment, we cherish the I most, more than numberless buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, more than numberless suffering sentient beings in each realm. All the undesirable things come from that self-cherishing. Also, it causes suffering to numberless sentient beings, directly and indirectly.

Letting go of the I and cherishing others is the source of all the happiness, temporary and ultimate, even the peerless happiness of buddhahood. But we are not cherishing all sentient beings. Even cherishing one sentient being becomes the cause of all the happiness—temporary and up to buddhahood. This is the heart of Mahayana Buddhist practice. This is what we are trying to do. This is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism, which came from Buddha and the Indian pandits from Nalanda Monastery.

That is why in our conduct, the practice is to not harm others and on top of that to benefit others. This includes the entire Buddhist path that Buddha has taught, which has three levels. There are the Lesser Vehicle teachings and the Great Vehicle teachings—Mahayana Sutra and Mahayana tantra.

Not only that, we have to realize that all sentient beings have been our mother and have been kind since beginningless rebirths. This is so amazing to realize. That leads to great loving kindness, compassion, bodhicitta, the precious thought to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings. That leads us to enlightenment, buddhahood.

Then we can free numberless sentient beings from the ocean of samsaric suffering and its cause. Not only that, we can bring every sentient being to full enlightenment, buddhahood, peerless happiness—the total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations. The final thing, the whole aim of Mahayana Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, is to benefit sentient beings and the greatest benefit is to bring them to buddhahood. That is why we practice Mahayana Buddhism.

Finally, if you want to have a son, I can be your son. My body is small and my age is big, but by thinking of those who are 90, 100, or 2,000 years old, I am young in comparison.

Thank you very much. I have done prayers for him and I will do more again.

I want to suggest to you how to pray for your son. Because of the blood connection, if a mother is praying for her child or children are praying for their parents, the prayers are very powerful. If a guru is praying for their disciple and the disciple is praying for their guru, through the Dharma connection that is very powerful. Also, for people sharing a house or materials, through that material connection the prayers for each other are very powerful.

Pray like this:

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, the three times merits collected by sentient beings and the three times merits collected by the buddhas, may my son never be born in the lower realms, as a hell, hungry ghost or animal being. May he be reborn in a pure land where he can become enlightened. At least may he receive a perfect human body and meet the Mahayana teachings, meet a perfectly qualified Mahayana guru revealing the unmistaken path to enlightenment, and by pleasing the virtuous friend may he achieve enlightenment quickly.

I am so sorry I took a lot of your time by reading this letter. Now you may have to go on vacation to Tahiti or the Bahamas.

With much love and prayers ...