What special knowledge did the prophets in your faith have about the past, present and future? If they did have knowledge of the future, why did they not tell people specifically what would happen and when?

The Buddha and certain spiritual adepts throughout the history of Buddhism have apparently had powers of clairvoyance. The revelatory visions of these accomplished people were not important in terms of prediction but in terms of diagnosis. In other words what they "saw'" helped them to diagnose the spiritual malaise that afflicts all beings rather than predict specific events in the future. What they in fact "saw" was that human events were endless and that beings were born, reborn, and born again countless times throughout eons of time and myriads of levels of consciousness. It was this seemingly endless movement of birth, death and rebirth that spurred the Buddha to seek liberation from the endless cycle of rebirth.

This is, of course, a far different perspective than is presented in the Abrahamic religions and springs from a worldview that has its roots in India. In our Buddhist texts the idea of rebirth is at times used figuratively implying the rebirth of ego-consciousness and at other times it is used literally to mean that upon death beings are reborn and that they are reborn according to their actions in previous lives. The Buddha's powers of clairvoyance allowed him to see the mechanism of rebirth and the path to ending this cycle. The governing factor that energizes and determines the type of rebirth is the quality of one's intentions. As it is said in our texts, "When they act upon intention, all beings are the owners of their action and inherit its results." This knowledge was the basis for the Buddha's teachings on the law of karma.

Ajahn Viradhammo

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