Zen Tapes


Zen Tapes - Reincarnation

(Zazen music plays in the background.)

Reincarnation. Past lives. Future lives. Immortality. Your purpose in this lifetime.

The idea is that everything has always been in one form or another. All of existence exists.

Twin souls, soul mates and karmic connections. Past life remembrances in waking states, dreams, during meditation.

Times between lives. Lifetimes. The cosmic journey through time and space. The endless cycle of rebirth, renewal.

Isis, the Egyptian goddess of renewal, symbolized for the Hindus by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the sustainer, and Shiva the transformer or destroyer. The cycle of creation.

The circle, the symbol of perfection for the Buddhists. And beyond the circle, within the circle, the ten thousand states of mind that one passes through during the rounds of rebirth.

This is Zen Master Rama. Today we are going to be talking about, guess what?

(Zazen music ends.)

In 1979, I wrote a book about reincarnation. It was written for the popular market, that is to say, not necessarily people who are actively engaged in the study of Zen, but for folks who are out there who'd like to know more about the universe and themselves and the process of lives that they're engaged in. It's called Lifetimes: True Accounts of Reincarnation. It was a fun book to do because, while presenting certain cosmological theories in fairly simplified form from the Hindu and Buddhist point of view about reincarnation, I also included a large number of accounts or excerpts from accounts from persons who had had remembrances of their past lives. The book was fairly successful. As a matter of fact, it was just recently reprinted in paperback again. So you might say I've had an interest in reincarnation for a while.

The information I'd like to discuss with you today is a little bit different. It's not so much the startling, exoteric stories of past life remembrance - there will probably be more of those - but the esoteric awareness of being eternal. There are two sides to self-discovery as in most things - an outer, more popular side and an inner side. The popular side presents more of a simplified form. Most teachers of self-discovery, for example, have two types of students. They have students who they deal with in a more exoteric way than the esoteric students. The exoteric students are presented general truths for their daily lives and their absorption, and the esoteric truths are presented to usually a smaller group of students.

So for example, a teacher might have hundreds of students, and he or she would instruct them in methods of prayer, meditation, ways to improve their lives. Then there might be 20 or 30 students or maybe 12, a smaller number, five, whatever, whom the teacher would instruct in the deeper mysteries. Now, it's not that the teacher wishes to exclude anyone. But rather, the teaching, the inner teachings, are presented to people in a form that will best aid or benefit them. That's the purpose of the teaching. So naturally, you don't teach quantum mechanics to someone who is in algebra one. Nor do you teach someone algebra one who's working through quantum mechanics. In the same sense, the deeper inner teachings, the esoteric teachings, are presented to very few because very few would understand them, be able to make use of them, while the exoteric teachings are presented to many.

Today I would like to tell you about the more esoteric aspects of reincarnation. The popular aspects of reincarnation you can read about - you're probably already aware of. But the hidden side of reincarnation is the concern.

Rama smiling with his arms crossed wearing a designer suit
Seeing is the ability to tell what really is.

The works of Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz are reprinted or included here with permission from

The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism.