Sadhguru answers a question on whether one’s past life can affect their body and form in their present life.
Question: When someone reincarnates, does one usually come back as the same gender?
Sadhguru: Not necessarily at all. There are people around me who are of a different gender now than what they were in an earlier life. I have a very immediate experience of this in many different ways with quite a few people.
Gender, even species, need not necessarily be the same. All this could be determined by your tendencies. It happens to people, it happened around certain yogis, and it definitely happened around Gautama Buddha. It so happened that a lot of monks were reborn as women. When they had sat with the Buddha [in their past lives], the male monks greatly exceeded the women in numbers – mainly due to cultural reasons. In those days, a woman could not renounce when the children were below a certain age.
So the monks who sat there as men, noticed one thing – the female monks’ contact with the Buddha seemed to be better than that of the male monks. This was because it is very natural for a woman to make a very deep emotional contact. These men were sitting and meditating hard, but these women were just looking at the Buddha, and tears were flowing down. They loved him and the Buddha looked at them gently. The men envied that.
Somewhere within them, there was a longing to be connected with the Buddha like the women were. Because of that longing, a lot of those monks came back as women in their next birth. After a certain period of time, they realized who they had been, and that now they had become women. They were shocked, “We did so much sadhana – did Gautama abandon us? Why didn’t he make us monks once again? Now we are here with our children, our husbands, and this whole drama.” This happened because they had envied the women.
Depending upon your longings, depending upon your tendencies, nature gives you an appropriate body. Let’s say you long to eat continuously and you happen to die at that time. The next time, you may come back as someone’s pet pig, really well-fed. People think it is a punishment to come back as a pig. This is not a punishment for you. Nature is not thinking in terms of punishment or reward. Depending upon your tendencies, to fulfill those tendencies, what kind of body would assist you best, that is what you get. Now these monks came back as women. It was their tendency, their longing for what the women were having. When they were longing for the women’s ability to love the Buddha and connect with him emotionally, they unknowingly aspired to become women.
What gender or form you take is determined by the type of longing that you create. So, to maintain focus on your goal and create that longing which is beyond all these limitations is the best way to ensure that nature does not know what to do with you. When nature does not know what to do with you, it is good for you because you can work your things out very effortlessly. When nature knows what to do with you, you are put in this chamber or that chamber – male chamber or female chamber, pig chamber, cockroach chamber, or some other chamber – a body is a chamber.
So if you maintain that longing which is not for this or that, you simply stare at nothingness and are absorbed, now nature does not know what to do with you. It cannot push you this way or that way. It cannot make a decision on you.