Past and future lives
Our body and our mind are different entities and therefore, although the body disintegrates after death, the mental continuum remains intact. The mind does not cease, but detaches itself from the body and travels to the next life.
When we fall asleep, our gross inner airs gather and dissolve within us and our mind becomes more and more subtle, until the very subtle mind of the clear light of sleep manifests. When this happens, we experience deep sleep and, externally, it seems as if we are dead. Afterward, our mind becomes grosser again and we go through the different levels of the dream state. Finally, when we regain memory and mental control, we wake up. At that moment, our dream world disappears and we perceive the waking world again.
When we die, a similar process occurs. When we die, the inner airs dissolve within us and our mind becomes more and more subtle, until the very subtle mind of the clear light of death manifests. The experience of the clear light of death is similar to that of deep sleep.
When the clear light of death ceases, we experience the stages of the intermediate state or bardo in Tibetan, which is like a dream state that occurs between death and rebirth. After a few days or a few weeks, the intermediate state ceases, and then we are reborn. When waking up from a dream, the dream world disappears and we perceive the world of the waking state. In the same way, when we are reborn, the appearances of the intermediate state cease and we perceive the world of our new life.
The main difference between the process of sleeping, dreaming and awakening, and that of death, the intermediate state and rebirth, is that when the clear light of sleep ceases, the connection between the mind and the body is maintained, while when the clear light of death ceases, the connection is broken.
Reflecting on this point will help us to recognize the existence of past and future lives.