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Mini Topics: Past Lives, Mantras, Sutras, and Chants

Questions:

I am very new to Buddhism… I have started my journey into Zen Buddhism. I wanted to first tell you that the podcasts are phenomenal and has helped me in so many ways – Thank you. I had just a few quick questions…

1) What do you think about past soul regression therapies? Is it REALLY possible to remember our past lives?

2) What are the differences between Mantras, Sutras and Chants?

Answers:

1. Past life regression therapy. Personally, I don’t believe in it. The link between this life and the previous is just too small. For example, the Dalai Lama, who is, by definition, the reincarnation of previous Dalai Lamas (The current D.L. is the 14th), was tested as a child. He was able to identify a few items that were his in his previous incarnation from a selection on a table. That, to me, shows that there is some link between the current and past lives, but it’s such a limited test that I have a hard time believing people can dig deeply enough into their pasts to get any real detail. Buddhist rebirth just isn’t supposed to work like that; there is no soul that is reincarnated. In fact, reincarnation is not really the right word for it at all.

Still, regardless of what I may think, many do believe in it, and here are a few additional links;

Pro:
http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/personal-growth/past-life-therapy/past-life-therapy.asp

Con:

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/9/7/lifefocus/1957870&sec=lifefocus

2) A Mantra is a word or sound that is repeated, usually while meditating. the sound itself is supposed to have some power. “Om Mani Padme Hum” is the most famous; people recite these all the time, as the sounds have a bit of power behind them. I covered mantras a little at this link; http://www.dailybuddhism.com/archives/192

A Sutra (also sometimes spelled Sutta) is a written text. Most of them contain sayings attributed to Buddha. The important thing is that they are in writing.

A Chant is the repetition of a phrase over and over. You can chant a mantra for example. You can also chant song lyrics, poetry, sutras, or anything else, although they are usually chanted in a way that sounds musical. Almost all forms of Buddhism do some style of chanting.

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