Care to elaborate on the memory a little more? The song is good, a bit to casual for me but it is still good.
They will give anyone the dharma throne now-a-days?
I was kicked out of a local chan school. It might be hard to believe but it did happen. There was around thirty of us and we were sitting in a session and I just so happened to have the corner seat. About fifteen minutes into the sit roughly a thought got me kicked out. I couldn't quit laughing, because I was taken back to when I was young. When I got in trouble, I was forced to sit in the corner as a punishment, but it never worked because I just used my imagination to go elsewhere, so I could sit there for hours and it would not be punishment. This thought made me laugh as if I was punishing myself with zazen. The teacher came over and requested that I leave and not return. At first I thought she was joking until I saw the look on her face.
I always had the feeling the teacher didn't really like me all that much but I couldn't figure out why, at least not until after I ran into another member a few weeks later. He said after I had left several other students had also left because of the my incident and he followed after that. I asked him about why everyone was leaving. He said the teacher only catered to those who donated a lot of money. If you didn't donate she didn't care about you as a student. Since I rarely donated she didn't have much tolerance for me and that is why she asked me to not come back.
That's a real shame. Nothing like that ever happened in my experience. Incidentally that experience of laughter, I would have thought, was actually a real catharsis. If I had been teaching I would have recognized that. Not that I am an official teacher. I give talks on the subject on the Buddhist Library and a few other places, as an interested student and someone sharing his experience.
So that issue of money and so on, really is completely tangential to the main purpose and intent. The retreats I have been on have all been free. I went to some at Wat Buddha Dhamma, which is a forest retreat centre in very remote bushland, many years ago, and more recently the Goenka Vipassana 10-retreat, which was very hard to get through.
But I have to say, I am very suspicious of many Western dharma teachers (and also Satsang teachers) and have never really found a centre or group that I could relate to. I have now joined a Dhamma Sharing group which are mainly from the student body of one of the Universities. It is a mainlysecular approach, based on understanding the principles and a personal commitment to meditation.
As for my past-life memory, when I was about 11 or 12, I had some sudden realisations of a higher identity or higher awareness. It is very hard to communicate, maybe because it is very simple and seems very obvious when it happens. One of them was that there is always someone to whom everything happens, in whom everything arises. There is always an 'I am' present in every experience.
Anyway that is a very poor show on the part of the Chan school it would seem to me. Mara assumes many forms in the attempt to dissuade beings from pursuing the Noble Path. Or maybe it is not the school for you. But I would not give up so easily - the chance to encounter the teaching does not come often.