This article was inspired by a conversation. Somewhere in 2021 I had a match with a Chinese lady on Tinder. I got pretty excited not just because she looked nice… actually I was more excited because she was from China and I had never interacted with a Chinese person before. If you are reading this blog you can assume I have great respect for Asian cultures even though I do not always agree with them.
Anyway I told her I’m interested in Buddhism because I knew that many Chinese people are Buddhists. Kind of like showing her we already have a common interest.
Next I asked her to tell me about her past lives. This is when the conversation quickly went south. She told me there is a deity called Meng Po that prevents people from remembering their past lives. I would like to quote her next words: “Chinese people know this”. I researched the topic and found out on Wikipedia the following: Meng Po is the goddess of forgetfulness in Chinese mythology. To this end she collects herbs from various earthly ponds and streams to make her Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness. This is given to each soul to drink before they leave Diyu. The brew induces instant and permanent amnesia, and all memory of other lives is lost.
You can study the topic for yourself here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meng_Po
I told her Buddha remembered his past lives, a girl I knew remembered her past lives and I remembered my past lives too. She has not replied to this and the conversation ended. It got me thinking though.
I remembered past lives via meditation because I wanted so. I had a hard time believing in reincarnation ever since as a child I heard about it. But when the girl I knew described to me a couple of her past lives I started accepting reincarnation and wanted to remember mine too. You cannot possibly remember your past lives if you don’t want to. Imagine now believing blindly in the actions of Meng Po. Imagine you blindly believe you cannot possibly remember your past lives because of Meng’s Po “Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness”. In such a scenario you will never even try to remember your past lives, not to mention succeed.
My problem with deities is not their existence or non-existence, my problem with the concept of deities is some people consider they influence our lives, in this dimension or another. Ironically this is true in their case, because some people believe in deities they actually shape their behavior according to those beliefs. So in the case of those people the deities don’t just exist, the deities actually control their lives. This is like a prison for the mind, you can watch The Matrix movie if you haven’t done it already. Those people will never be free… they are lost in the matrix.
I can summarize my entire problem with deities by using just one word: control. I just can’t accept the fact that I’m not in control of my life and everything it implies, and my other lives too, past or future.