The Tale of the Fighter Pilot

9 May

I was at Rinpoche’s residence last night and he called me up along with Paris, Bryan, Ethan, Jean Ai and Jean Mei. We were going to bring up trays upon trays of glorious Wesak Day gifts for rinpoche to go through, one-by-one. Yes, Rinpoche would go through every single note, letter, card and gift. They were offered on the altar of Vajrayogini just a few days ago and now he was finally going through each gift. However, the moment we sat down, Rinpoche started talking about a whole slew of other matters, from errant students to those of other centers. Then, he turned on his huge Mac computer and told us to watch this documentary video on reincarnation.

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It was one of those British-made films that was narrated with perfectly enunciated words that perfectly set the mood and premise of the story. Anyway, it was documentary series called Strange But True Encounters and this episode was about a young man, Martin Heald from Manchester, who had strong recollections of his past life as a Sergeant that worked with Morse Codes and flew as an English RAF figher pilot but was gunned down by the Germans during the second World War. Under hypnosis, the details that he recalled was astounding and it matched a real-life person called Richard Seymour that died under similar circumstances. What stood out was the intensity of his death and how his first recollection of his previous life was triggered while playing with an old telephone set. Apparently, some people remember their previous lives naturally because they died traumatically in their previous lives and the trauma makes it easier for previous lives’ memories to be triggered.

Rinpoche said that he loves such documentaries because they were based on real people’s experiences. In fact, there was nothing in the whole film that talked about anything remotely Buddhist. You see, reincarnation was not invented by the Buddha but something he had observed through his great wisdom and omniscience. Rinpoche said that we will continually take rebirth after rebirth until we find a way to escape this vicious cycle. So, what keeps us in this vicious cycle of uncontrollable rebirths? It is desire.

The strongest, most potent form of desire in our realm of existence is physical copulation and Rinpoche said that according to Tantra, there are existences out there that have beings copulate through mere sight and there were also existences that have beings copulate through a single touch. This is something like from the movie Cocoon with aliens that brought tremendous bliss to the old folks in the movie through touch. What’s interesting is that everything operates on desire and we do have a long memory of our desires and attachments. The very fact that we are desirous right now reveals the fact that we have had countless lives ruled by desire and attachment.

Rinpoche explained that the negative effects of desire can extend many lifetimes. Desire is an intangible object and if we think about it, desire make us lazy, obsessive, become overly dependent on the object of our desire to control others or acquire material things and commit a lot of negative actions along the way. Hence, in every lifetime, desire can manifest in many ways and so we carve a trail of unhappiness that reinforces our desire along the way. Circumstances in each lifetime can change and what was easily attainable in one lifetime can be unattainable in another life. If we are very attached to money in this lifetime because we were born with a silver spoon, we will have a lot problems in our next life because we carry the same mind across lifetimes but we don’t have the wealth anymore. Just imagine a rich heiress like Paris Hilton loses all her wealth and is made to schelp it out for real.

The other example that Rinpoche used was with people who rely on beauty to acquire material things and control others will suffer tremendously when they lose their beauty in another life. All of us know a pretty face can get you wealth and partners but just relying on it will be dangerous as beauty lasts only as long as our youth unless we have plastic surgery done. But then again, there’s only so much a plastic surgeon can do for your face or you might risk becoming Joan Rivers,  Michael Jackson or Pete Burns! (You gotta google Pete Burns to know what I mean)

So what do we do? Give up all our attachments and run off to a monastery or a cave. That would a great way if we have the right motivation and we have realized that dangers of desire. But most of us including myself are not at that level yet. (Because we so full of desire and we are so attached) Therefore, we look into ourselves and reflect upon what are we most attached? It is usually one of the few – comfort, money, status, beauty or all the above. In fact, we definitely have all these attachments to varying degrees. For most of us, our attachments are more like obsessions and we need to deal with it. It would not be possible to give it up overnight but we can chip away by having integrity, loyalty, kindness and to practice the Dharma. We don’t do this when we retire or when we have free time. We do it now because we don’t know when we will die and our negative karma takes complete control. We may die 20, 10, 5 years from now or tomorrow. We can may never be certain.

2 Responses to “The Tale of the Fighter Pilot”

  1. Wan Wai Meng June 23, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    There is so much proof of an existence before our current life. And this tale is not from the perspective of the traditional people who already subscribe to reincarnation like the Buddhists and Hindus but from a Judeo Christian perspective and the parents are very scientific and grounded when faced with the story of their son having past lives recollections. I mean it is said that in the Christian scriptures reincarnation was in the bible before it was taken out during the reign of Constantine.

    • There's No Way But Up! June 23, 2012 at 5:02 am #

      There are many theories about Jesus Christ including one from a book that discusses the possibility of Jesus travelling to India during the lost years unrecorded in the bible. It was speculated that he learned from the Buddhist masters there and returned to his homeland to teach.

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