The knowledge concerning recollection of past lives is limited to meditators who attained fourth Jhana through tranquility meditation where he directs, inclines, his mind to the knowledge of recollection of past lives. That meditator recollects his manifold past lives, that is to say, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world contraction, many aeons of world expansion: many aeons of world contraction and expansion: “There I was so named, of such a race, with such an appearance, such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life span; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a race, with such an appearance, such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life span; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.”
* There are six kinds of people who recollect past lives. They are:
- Other sectarians : other sectarians recollect only as far back as forty aeons (Kappa), but not beyond that. Why? Because their understanding is weak for lack of delimitation of mind and matter.
- Ordinary disciples : ordinary disciples recollect as far back as a hundred aeons and as far back as a thousand aeons because their understanding is strong.
- The eighty great disciples : The eighty great disciples recollect as far back as a hundred thousand aeons. Ex : Ven. Maha Kassapa, Anuruddha, Ananda, Rahula, Maha Kappina, Maha kottitha, etc, Ven nuns like Maha prajapathi gothami, patachara, baddhakachchayana, etc.
- The two chief disciples : The two chief disciples Ven. Sariputta & Moggallana recollect as far back as an one incalculable age ( Asankeheyya Kappa ) and a hundred thousand aeons.
- The individual Buddhas ( Paccekabuddhas ) : The individual buddhas or Pacceka buddhas recollect as far back as two incalculable ages and a hundred thousand aeons.
- The Buddhas : there is no limit in the case of Buddhas. Except for buddhas, all other five types of people recollect past lives without letting go of the succession of aggregates but Buddhas, however, have nothing to do either with succession of aggregates or with tracing through death and rebirth-linking; for whatever instance they choose in many millions of aeons, or more or less, even skipping over many millions of aeons is evident to them like a lion’s descent wherever they want.
* Among these beings with recollection of past lives, the sectarians’ vision of past lives seems like the light of a glow-worm, that of ordinary disciples like the light of a candle, that of the great disciples like the light of a torch, that of the chief disciples like the light of the morning star, that of Pacceka buddhas like the light of the moon, and that of Buddhas like the glorious autumn sun’s disk with its thousand rays.
* Other sectarians see past lives as blind men go with the point of a stick. Ordinary disciples do so as men who go on a log bridge. The great disciples do so as men who go on a foot bridge. The chief disciples do so as men who go on a cart bridge. Pacceka buddhas do so as men who go on a main footpath. And Buddhas do so as men who go on a high road for carts.
May all beings be well and happy & attain the fruits of Nibbana.