Zen master Bassui takes us closer to how pure Mind, that is, our inherent nature, connects with our previous lives.
“From the moment you realize your inherent nature, your mind will penetrate through aeons of emptiness that preceded creation through to the endless future. Clear and independent, it will not attach itself to the changing phenomena of life and death, past and future, but will remain constant without obstructing doubts. This is the power of knowing past lives.”
Like the Buddha’s own recollection of former lives our recollection can only come from our own awakening which realizes the pure substance of Mind. It is through such an awakening that we discover that Mind cannot be born and is deathless; it is beyond all the illusory play of phenomena. Short of this realization, we continually transmigrate into new existences through consciousness.
But consciousness (vijñâna), is only an attribute of Mind, in the illusory mode of subject and object. The “vi” of vijñâna (consciousness) expresses an illusory separation or disjunction which can never be overcome by either subject or object; thus, for the ordinary person (prithagjana) there seems to be no apparent end to rebirth.
Were we all awakened to begin with, already realizing pure Mind, the world we perceive, including our bodies, would be unmistakably illusory. The certitude of “this is all an illusion” would be a natural fact. We would also know that, "I am neither subject nor object" which is a kind of disembodiment/liberation. Clearly this is not the case because we have not realized our inherent nature or pure Mind.