The effects of these many past-life experiences are reflected in the circumstances that now surround our present relationships. The soul’s memories of past-life activities with others shape our innate reactions to them. Of course, their memories of our past-life actions influence how they react to us. Through the same eyes that the personality sees life, the soul sees it, but the soul looks with a memory covering centuries of passion and adventure, caring and love, hatred and revenge, doubt and fear. When we feel a seemingly unfounded fondness for another person, it is very likely due to soul memory of the positive role he or she played in our past lives. On the other hand, when we react with what seems to be an unfounded revulsion or hatred towards another person, you can be pretty sure it is because the soul recalls their past actions against us or our loved ones.
However, the influences of past-life actions are rarely so clear cut. Often those with whom we have had many good lives and relationships are the same people with whom we have had many problems and disagreements, a mix of “good” and “bad karma,” so to speak. In fact, it’s rare that a past-life relationship has every aspect of life in good, clear focus. Those positive, well-developed aspects from our past lives will give us much pleasure and support in the present. Conversely, those aspects which we did not have in proper focus will give us opportunities for pain and growth in present relationships. Avoiding these influences is simply not possible. Whether we like it or not, the Universal Law of Karma constantly brings before each of us the meeting of our past use of free will and consciousness. Thus, what we have done to other souls and they have done to us is reflected in the circumstances surrounding our present relationships and the basic, innate urges, attitudes and emotions we feel toward each other.
These basic ideas of past relationships and their present influences are not only true of individual relationships but also of group relationships. From the beginning our souls have tended to travel together in groups, and the very act of traveling together for such long periods creates forces of attraction that help to maintain and build on these group relationships. Nearly all souls on the planet today were together in past ages of human history. As a result, the relationships among the peoples of the world today are a reflection of their past activities with each other.
The souls who came in to this planetary system and entered the realms of consciousness associated with this region of the cosmos comprise our largest soul group. This group can then be divided into the subgroups we call “the generations,” containing souls who move through the natural cycles of Earth life together, which can be further divided into the various nations, cultures, races, religions, etc., that have formed during ages of interaction together. Within these groups are the subgroups of souls who share similar philosophies, ideas, purposes, aspirations and attitudes. From here the soul groups further divide into the many smaller groups of personal relationships: communities, families, businesses, teams, schools and so on.
Soul groups create an affinity among their members by not only the cumulative experiences they share, but also through their collective memory of how life has been for them and what they have come to mutually desire out of it. In a manner of speaking, such groups form a distinct collective consciousness and spirit, much like the souls who gave us “the spirit of ’76,” reflecting that soul group’s mutual hopes, attitudes, purposes and memories.
Soul groups are neither rigid nor static. Any individual soul can use its free will to seek an experience in another group. There are many cases of souls changing political allegiance, race, or religion from one lifetime to another. Neither do the generations incarnate in strict, rigid patterns. A member of one generation may enter again with another generation. For example, two members of a family group who were father and son in one life may change positions and become son and father in another, or grandfather and grandson. They may even choose to be in the same generation in an incarnation as brothers, for example. However, they may choose not to be in the same family again.
Although soul groups are fairly well established and have significant pull on the individuals within them, they do not have greater influence than an individual soul’s will to change.
Generally, however, soul groups cycle in and out of the Earth together and, therefore, at approximately the same time. (I am speaking in eras and ages, not days or years.) This is particularly evident in the past-life readings, as they are called, of Edgar Cayce. Many of them were for souls who fell into one of two major soul groups and naturally followed their cycles of incarnation. Notice in the following listing that the two groups mentioned were sometimes in the Earth at the same periods, but in different locations, not surprisingly. Edgar Cayce and those who worked closely with him also traveled with one of these two groups.
THE INCARNATIONS OF TWO MAJOR SOUL GROUPS FOUND IN THE EDGAR CAYCE READINGS
Early Ancient Egypt
Persia (during the time of Croseus I,II)
Palestine (during the time of Christ)
Late Ancient Egypt
Rome (during the time of Christ)
France (during the time of Louis XIV, XV, XVI)
The American Civil War
Of course, these are only the most significant incarnations for these souls; they would most probably have incarnated many more times than the list indicates. There were also other incarnation-sequences given, but the majority of the readings were for souls who typically cycled with one of these two major groups. We should also take a look at. Some significant exceptions to this pattern. Some souls did not always incarnate with their group, choosing instead to skip a cycle or enter with another group, though they usually rejoined their original group eventually. Others, though cycling into the Earth-plane with their group, did not actually incarnate, i.e., did not enter into a body; rather they stayed in the spirit and helped from a higher vantage point while the others incarnated. One example of this comes from an Edgar Cayce reading for a woman who wanted to know why she hadn’t been given an incarnation during the Palestine era in which her present son and husband had incarnated. She was told that she was there, but not in the flesh. She was, as some of us would term it today, a “guardian angel” for her present son while he lived and worked in that period.
A group of souls may find themselves together again and yet not one of them desired it to be so. In these cases, it is often the forces of the Universal Law that cause them to come together. For better or for worse they now have to meet the effects of their past actions with each other. The Universal intention is that the confrontation will lead to a resolution of their karma or at least a recognition of how their past actions with each other have caused the present predicament, and they will resolve not to act that way again.
Both in individual and group relationships, the karmic effects of past actions with others can create some very difficult, even terrible situations. The meeting can result in murder, rape, torture and other atrocities. Even in lesser cases karmic effect can result in back-biting, back-stabbing, bickering, fighting and other turmoil’s. Imagine what might happen if the universal forces of cause and effect brought together the souls of the Roman Coliseum and the souls they fed to the lions, or the Conquistadors and the Incas and Aztecs, or the Nazis and Jews.
The same cause-and-effect forces play a part in individual lives, too. Imagine if the Law brought together a victim killed in a family quarrel and his or her murderer. What about a soul who betrayed another’s trust or love? What would be the reaction toward one another in this present Life? When lives are heavily burdened by the negative effects of their past actions, their present experience is often tragic, and occasionally their lives may appear to be wasted senselessly. However, from the soul’s perspective a single incarnation is a learning-experience and an opportunity to resolve past actions that are now holding the soul back from a fuller life. One physical life is not the ultimate living experience for the soul. It is an opportunity to resolve the burdens past actions have placed upon our souls and to clear away the many ideas that continue to confuse and limit us. So even though the seventy or eighty years that comprise the average lifetime seem so very singular and final, it is only a temporary sojourn, a brief experience along an infinite path of soul-life.
Of course, all the good that has been experienced among the various souls and soul groups has just as strong an effect on present situations as does evil, and when we focus on this “good karma” we often find better ways to resolve the negative influences.
A “soul mate” is really nothing more than a soul or souls (and there may be several of them) with whom we have closely shared so many lifetimes that we now resonate to the same pitch, so to speak. We understand each other like no one else could hope to understand us. This acquired understanding gives soul mates the capacity to help each other in ways that would be difficult without the deep bonding that has occurred through the ages.
Soul mates often help each other reach their highest potential, and though this is not automatic and each will still have to apply themselves to making the present relationship the best it can be, their deep inner-knowing of each other gives them a distinct advantage. However, being soul mates doesn’t automatically mean that they see eye-to-eye on everything. In fact, they are usually more like complements one to another than duplicates of each other, each one bringing to the relationship something the other is missing, thereby rounding-out the relationship and giving each of them more than they would have separately.
When soul mates are together, they form a dynamic bond and provide a source of strength for one another that is very hard to find in our world. They may presently be in either sex and interact with each other in any number of relationships. There is a strong tendency to think of soul mates only in the sense of lovers and marriage mates, but they can also be partners, parents, siblings, teammates, friends, etc. Having been lovers and mates in many past lives, it would be very hard for them to avoid at least a romantic interlude in the present life – there would simply be too much magnetism for them to easily ignore each other and the physical attraction. If, on the other hand, they had been close friends or family members throughout their incarnations, they would be inclined toward a similar relationship in the present. The point is, a soul mate is not always a sexual mate.
Another important point about soul mates is that the true mate of every soul is its Original Companion, the Creator, who gave each soul life for the very purpose of being eternal companions with Him. As far as the sexual dynamics of soul mating, it’s important to keep in mind that in the heavenly home we (our souls) “neither marry nor are given in marriage.” As souls, we are actually siblings in the Universal Family. Therefore, even though soul mates may give each other the support that is needed and deserved in this difficult world – which may include healthy, intimate, sexual companionship – they are ultimately brothers and sisters in the spiritual realms.
This brings us to one of the strangest concepts concerning soul relationships, that of “Twin Souls.” As we have already seen, a soul possesses both the male and female forces within itself prior to entering the duality of the Earth. As the soul enters the world it usually selects one of its two sexual natures and projects the unique characteristics of this sex while incarnate. As difficult as it may be to understand, the unmanifested sexual part of our soul can actually incarnate at the same time we do. In other words, our soul, which is much more complex than we have imagined, is capable of separating its dual sexual nature into two separate and distinct entities, one male and the other female, and each of these two entities can incarnate into the Earth at the same time in separate bodies that usually complement the present sex. That is to say that somewhere out there in the physical world is literally our other half – the other sexual aspect of our soul!
Fortunately, there are some examples of this in the Cayce readings. One of the more notable is a group of four souls who, in their present incarnation, were husband, wife, eldest son and a female business associate who was also a very close friend of the family. The husband was told through Cayce readings that his present wife was his soul-mate and that his life would never have reached its fullest potential without her. However, it went on to say that the female business associate and close friend of the family was his “twin soul”; in other words, she was the other sexual half of his complete soul. Furthermore, his wife’s twin soul was their eldest son! I realize how bizarre all of this sounds, but the dynamics and dimensions of life are simply far greater than we imagine.
Of course, not all examples are as closely knit as this example from the Cayce readings. Generally, the twin soul relationship is presently found among spouses, friends, occasionally as parent and child, and sometimes the twin soul isn’t even incarnate at the same time. However, there does seem to be a pattern that most twin soul relationships follow. In their early incarnations together they tend to be mates or at least seek a lover’s relationship with each other, while in later incarnations with each other they tend to seek less sexually involved relationships and more work-related activities together, especially when the work has a soul purpose. This could be due to the involution/evolution process where, in the early periods of the descent into materiality they tended to continue their self-seeking, self-satisfying pursuits; but on the ascent toward a return to spirituality they tended to seek more holistic purposes and relationships. That is not to say that all present sexual relationships are self-seeking. From the Cayce material we find healthy support for marriage and home, and all the natural sexual aspects that are a part of the union of two in love and mutual caring.
PARENTS & CHILDREN
As difficult as it may be for us to believe, each soul actually chooses its parents – with one exception. If a soul has abused its gift of free will, then it comes under the strong influence of the Universal Law and is carried along on the force of its past actions into present relationships that it simply must face up to. Of course, no soul is given more than it can handle, not that it won’t suffer, but it won’t be totally lost or destroyed by the burdens of its karma. Generally, however, a soul chooses its parents prior to entering the Earth.
As we would expect, souls who have had experiences together in past lives will have a stronger attraction for each other than souls who have had no past experiences together. Even if souls aren’t particularly fond of each other they still tend to be drawn together by the force of their past interaction. Furthermore, if the soul has a specific purpose for incarnating, and most of us do, then it will be seeking others who are a part of fulfilling its purpose or those who can at least contribute to it. Again, this doesn’t mean that the childhood family life will be all hugs and kisses. In every relationship one can find advantages and disadvantages, and in order to enjoy the advantages one must accept the disadvantages. In fact, in many cases, the disadvantages lead to or create the opportunities for the advantages. When a soul is trying to decide which channels (parents) would be best for it to enter this world, it has to accept the limitations of this particular family as well as the opportunities.
From the spiritual realm Earth-life appears much like a river when viewed from high above, a bird’s eye view. The soul who is deciding which channels to enter through sees the river in all its vastness, with many tributaries and branches, and it sees where the parents’ boat is on this river of life. In this way it has an overview of what life will be like with these parents. However, because the river of life has many side-routes, the incoming soul can only see the strongest current in the parents’ lives. It can’t be sure that one of the free-willed parents won’t change its mind and begin pursuing a different course, or that the currents themselves won’t change course and thereby change the family’s future. It can’t even be certain that it won’t change its own mind once it gets into the boat.
Destiny and fate do exist, and they exist side by side with free will. The effects of our past actions have an inertia that carries over into the present life and shapes it, thereby creating our destiny. However, nothing surpasses the power of the soul’s divinely-given free will. At any time we can use our will to change directions, change attitudes, change purposes, change anything! In this way, our lives are both fatalistically foreshadowed by the cause-and-effect forces of our past use of free will, and yet amenable to change by our present use of free will. Therefore, the incoming soul can see only the general course of the family’s riverboat; it can’t be sure the family will stay the course.
The incarnate parents also have significant influence as to which soul enters through them. Their daily thoughts, desires and purposes create a beacon for souls who respond to these energies. This is particularly true of the mother. Her daily activities and inner thoughts during the gestation period create a field much like a magnet would, attracting souls to the field of opportunity life as her child would offer. As you would expect, more than one soul may be attracted to the same mother-to-be. In such cases, the forces of cause and effect, the will power and desire of the mother and the souls wanting to incarnate combine to make the selection. The souls who were not chosen for the present entry may well come in through a later pregnancy if the opportunity is presented. Thereby becoming siblings of the souls who entered first; or they may go on to other families with whom friendships or other blood relationships would naturally form and be maintained with the original channel family.
The soul generally enters the baby body at or near the time of birth. In one unusual case in the Cayce readings, the soul did not enter for two days after the birth of the baby. When asked about the delay, Cayce responded that the soul was all too aware how very difficult life would be should it choose to enter, and it wasn’t at all sure it wanted to go through with it! Cayce was then asked what kept the baby’s body alive for two days while the soul wrestled with its decision, and he responded, “the spirit.” For Cayce, the soul was the entity, with all its personal memories and aspirations, and the spirit was the life force.
According to the metaphysical work of Rudolf Steiner, the soul actually incarnates in four stages. 1) A first level of consciousness enters at or near the time of birth. 2) A second and greater level of consciousness enters around the time the child cuts it first teeth. 3) A third level enters during puberty. And, 4) The final and complete entry of the soul occurs close to the age of twenty-one.
Most sources agree that the first couple of years of life are primarily devoted to developing the physical body and that the years from two to seven shape much of the child’s sense of self and its view of the world. In addition to the well-known physical and emotional changes that occur during the course of puberty, Cayce and other metaphysical sources add that this is the time when karmic influences begin to take hold, coinciding with the release of hormones. This perspective sheds so much light on the otherwise baffling or incomprehensible changes in personality and behavior that sometimes accompany this stage of physical development. Around the age of 21 the individual begins to assume its major course through life. Then, life progresses through a series of experiences and decision crossroads. These occur in natural and identifiable cycles, the most influential being the Seven Year Cycle: 1-7, 8-14, 15-21, 22-28, and so on. Notice how these cycles coincide with the general metaphysical cycles of: Birth; seven years of age; puberty (though puberty usually occurs before age 14, it is fulfilled at or near this age); and twenty-one years of age.
Furthermore, each soul experiences life in two primary arenas 1) The inner world of self, which includes one’s mental and emotional being and physical body. 2) The outer arena of life’s unique circumstances, including the social, economic, racial, national and religious environment, all of which are generally set at birth and the outer world has pre-structured in specific ways.
Past Lives & Present Relationships
by John Van Auken
We are like rivers. On the surface we are all shiny and clear, shimmering with freshness and life, but deep within us run powerful unseen currents of soul-memories and desires. These deep currents are the cumulative effects of ages of soul-life and many incarnations in the Earth. They cause us to love one person and despise another; to feel wonderful vibrations with a particular individual in one aspect of our lives only to feel awkward and uncomfortable with that same person in another aspect of our lives. Patterns and habits have formed deep within our inner-consciousness and shape the way we interact with people around us.
Everyone involved in our present lives was very likely involved in our past lives. Actually, it is likely they have been involved in many of our past lives. Our parents, brothers and sisters, spouses, children, friends, colleagues, bosses and employees, and even our enemies began sharing life with us long before the present lifetime.
Major theories about reincarnation.
The Big Pot
There is a huge reservoir of soul stuff, like a giant pot. At birth some force ladles a suitable amount of material from the pot into our physical shell. We journey through life accumulating experience then we die. At death the soul stuff within us is dumped back into the pot where it mixes with the soul stuff of others. In time another ladle is drawn and poured into a new person. That ladle may hold bits of soul that have come from several different individuals. With this theory dozens of individuals may have fragments of the spirit that once inhabited Napoleon, but the entity that was Napoleon is dispersed.
The Straight Line
According to this theory when we die we make a beeline to the nearest available fetus, dive in and live again. This view has the advantage that it doesn’t require any kind of spiritual plane of existence, but fails to account for mediumship. The reason for the haste is it is thought the spirit cannot maintain continuity outside of a host for long and will dissipate unless reincarnated.
Summer Land Vacation
In this view the soul alternates between the prime material plane, this vale of tears, Malkuth, (yes, fun with names) and a spiritual realm, spending time in each. This is a useful view because it does account for mediumship, transient ghosts and other such phenomenon. Its problem is that it demands that there be a spiritual aspect to existence.
This is an interesting explanation that can fit with all of the above theories, or stand-alone. Picture time, all time, as a huge sphere of energy existing at one moment. Within this sphere of energy there are currents and flows. We are a speck of dust in one of these flows. Because we are caught in a current we seem to move forward in a linear direction, despite the fact that all the temporal (time) energy exists around us at once. We see ourselves moving through time, when in fact we exist within all time.
We can remember previous experiences because they are in fact happening at this moment and we are connected to our soul in other parts of the time current by the law of contagion. The law of contagion states that things once in contact remain in contact despite being separated. Thus, the experiences happening to us in one part of the temporal sphere resonate with those occurring to us in another. If you don’t get this, don’t worry. It’s just a theory and a bit rough to wrap your mind around. All of the above are theories and none are intrinsically better than the others.
Some researchers believe we may carry memories from our ancestors in our genes and hold this out to explain past life memories. If you want to accept it OK, but I suggest you do the math. Half from our father, one quarter from our grandfather, etc.
My Mother is a Space Alien
Some people hold that they have had incarnations on other planets. Given the vastness of space, it is the height of arrogance to think earth is alone in producing life. This is not to say the author accepts all the statements made by exponents of alien contact, but he will not deny logic to avoid extremism. Thus, it is possible that people have lived lives on other worlds. This is interesting but does not mean they are great spirits descended to save us from ourselves. Judge them by their actions, as you would anyone else. After all, would you want Darth Vader running your child’s preschool?
Why Don’t We Remember?
Moving past theory to the most asked question. There are several good reasons we don’t remember. The first is hysterical amnesia. There are two major traumas between dying and living. The death trauma, which we all recognize as probably quite a shock to the system, and the birth trauma. Being born is an unpleasant experience. Imagine being pulled through a suffocating, rubber tube half the width of your shoulders. Add to this you started out in a nice, warm, dark Jacuzzi and you end up naked, in Times Square, on the coldest day of the year. This alone is enough to make you forget.
Another reason we forget is that it is easier to learn without preconceptions. With our past lives reduced to the level of natural aptitudes and predilections we are encouraged to experience new things. Besides, Imagine the confusion if a macho warrior type were born into a petite female body. It’s tough enough for them with the memories blocked.
The final major reason for blocking memories is the protection of sanity. Suppose in a previous life you raped and murdered the person who in this life is your mother. Could you live with the guilt? Could she love you knowing what you were? Not knowing can be a mercy.
Why Should I Remember?
Used properly remembering your past lives can give you insight into your phobias and natural aptitudes. In addition, if you know the karmic areas you have to work on, you can put a conscious effort into dealing with them. This can accelerate your spiritual development and make you a better person.
Knowing your past lives can also aid you in understanding interpersonal relationships. Suppose in a previous life your daughter was your mother and she always seems resentful when you tell her what to do. You feel she is a wilful child, she feels you are as well. Realizing the source of the conflict allows you to put it into perspective.
The important thing about remembering past lives is to do it slowly, so you do not become overwhelmed, and to remember you are living this life. If knowing enhances this life, it is good, if it does not, forget it and move on. Past glories are exactly that, past!
How many people think they were Cleopatra in a past life, or Napoleon, or whoever? You are far more likely to have been one of Cleopatra’s serving maids than the queen. More likely still to have been a dirt farmer in the Nile valley than anyone associated with the royal court. Somebody had to have been Cleopatra, but if you start thinking you were someone famous, be cautious. An acid test is to ask yourself, what lessons of value am I learning by remembering this? If it’s just an ego boost, it probably isn’t true.
The Akashic Record
This is a spiritual record of everything that has ever happened. There is the true record held to exist on the astral (spiritual) plane and a lesser one dealing with your personal history in your psyche. This is what the path-working meditation that follows accesses. The record can be accessed by anyone with the will to do so and because it is subjective can take on a variety of forms. As to who operates it? Every religion has its record keeper who records everything in the book of fate. It’s him, her or it, whatever you perceive them to be.
I Was a Real Creep
After doing the following meditation a few times you may feel this way. The reason is you tend to learn about the lives you didn’t do well in first. This is because they are the ones that you still have something to learn from. It will improve with time.
Indications of past lives
1. That Old, Familiar Feeling
One of the most common signs of a past life is déjà vu — the sensation that you have met a person before or have visited someplace previously. Sometimes, this déjà vu feeling is a sign of a past life with a particular person or in a specific place.
2. Your Dreams Are So Real It’s Like You’re Actually There
Do you have vivid, detailed dreams of yourself in different times and places? That might be a past life memory emerging. Recollections aren’t always actual memories: they may also contain symbols and metaphors that need to be interpreted so that their meaning and message can become clear. These symbols are no less powerful than literal ones. Think of these past-life scenes more as a poem than a history text.
3. You Got An A In History (Without Even Trying)
Talents and abilities, likes and dislikes, and attractions and aversions can also be clues to past lives. You might feel yourself being drawn to certain people or to certain cultures, even if you’ve never visited them. You might find you are able to learn certain subjects or prepare for a profession more easily than others. For example, a particular foreign language might come quicker to you, while others are more difficult. Or you may have an intense interest in certain historical times and events, such as ancient Egypt or the Civil War period.
4. You Have a Soul Mate
It is very common to travel through different lives with the same group of souls — I call these groupings, soul mates or soul companions, or soul families. We seem to learn our spiritual lessons and accumulate or resolve our karma with our soul groups. Relationships may change from life to life, but the souls are the same. For example, your grandmother might reincarnate as your grandson. In this sense we never lose our loved ones, because we are always being reunited either on the other side or back here in physical bodies.
Brian L. Weiss, MD, is the author of Miracles Happen.
Have you live before? Here are 9 clues you might find in your present life
THE IDEA THAT our souls or spirits reincarnate reaches back at least 3,000 years. Discussions of the subject can be found in the ancient traditions of India, Greece, and the Celtic Druids. It’s a tantalizing belief – that our spirits are not confined to the seven, eight, or nine decades of life on Earth (if we’re lucky), but that we have lived before and that we might live again.
What do you believe? Do you believe that you have had a past life or lives, growing up, working, loving, and suffering in roles very different from the one you are now playing out? Perhaps you were a different race, socio-economic class, or gender. Some even believe you could have been another living species entirely – a dog, gazelle, or fish perhaps.
Those who believe in past lives suggest that there might be clues to what our past lives were in the various complex aspects that make up our current physical, emotional, intellectual, and psychological personalities. Here are some of them.
Most of us have experienced the eerie feeling of déjà vu – the sudden, surprising feeling that an event we are going through at the moment has happened exactly this way before. Psychologist Arthur Funkhouser has broken down this phenomenon into sub-categories: déjà vécu – an event already experienced or lived through; déjà senti – already felt, perhaps triggered by a voice or music; and déjà visité – a place so familiar we feel we’ve been there before.
While scientists and psychiatrists insist there are neurological explanations for these phenomena, others wonder if these strange feelings could be vague, fleeting memories of past lives. You enter a house or building, for example, in a town you’ve never visited before. Yet every detail of that place is familiar. You know what’s in the next room and up the stairs. You have the overwhelming feeling that you’ve been there before. Have you – in a past life?
My daughter has “memories” of childhood events that we know never really happened. Is she just remembering a child’s fantasy, misunderstanding, or even a dream that she now interprets as reality? Or is she remembering something that happened to her before she was born into this lifetime?
Human memory is a fraught with error and incongruities, and I’m sure many of us have memories of things that family and friends can attest never occurred. So the question is: Is it faulty memory or a remembrance of lives past?
DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Recurring dreams and nightmares also have been suggested as being memories or at least clues of past lives. Are they memories of something important that happened in a past life?
Likewise, can nightmares be reflections of past life traumas that have clung to our spirits and haunt our sleep?
FEARS AND PHOBIAS
Where do your fears and phobias come from? Fear of such things as spiders, snakes, and heights seem to be built into the human psyche as part of our evolved survival instinct.
Many people suffer from phobias that are completely irrational, however. Fear of water, of birds, of numbers, of mirrors, of plants, of specific colors… the list goes on and on. People suffer from all kinds of bizarre phobias.
While several years on a psychologist’s couch might get to the root of those odd fears, those who believe in past lives wonder if they are carried over from a previous lifetime. Does a fear of water indicate a previous death by drowning? Could a fear of the color red suggest, for example, that a person was struck or killed by a red streetcar?
AFFINITY FOR FOREIGN CULTURE
You probably know a person who was born and raised in the United States but is an ardent anglophile – a person who is interested to the point of obsession with British culture. You might also know someone who can think of little else but getting dressed up and acting the part for the next Renaissance Fair or Civil War reenactment.
There are “philes” for virtually every culture on the planet, both modern and ancient, affecting people who seem to have no rationale for their obsessions. Why? Are they merely trying to find familiarity in a culture in which they lived 100 years ago? 1,000 years ago?
Here is a related subject. It’s good to have things that we are passionate about, as long as they do not become obsessive and debilitating. But from where do passions arise for books, art, antiques, fashion, gardening, theatre, cars, trains, aircraft, the paranormal – or any number of other subjects?
Intense interest in a specific subject might be totally natural, of course, but might there be a past life connection in some cases?
The dark side of passions are those uncontrolled habits and obsessions that take over people’s lives and can even marginalize them in society. Obsessive-compulsives and hoarders fit into this category. A man who has to turn the light switch off and on ten times before he leaves a room; a woman who collects newspapers into six-foot-high stacks throughout her house because she cannot bear to get rid of them.
Each of us has at least one bad habit, from fingernail biting to gossiping to procrastination. The extreme forms include addictions to everything from television to Facebook to drugs. Again, psychological explanations can be found for these uncontrolled habits, yet those who believe in reincarnation say they might have roots in past lives.
Do you have aches and pains that the doctors cannot quite pinpoint or find a medical explanation for? You might be labeled a hypochondriac – a person who imagines his or her ailments. Or, as past life proponents suggest, those mysterious pains, sores, cramps, and more could be reflections of suffering you endured in a previous existence.
Birthmarks have been touted as evidence for reincarnation. In one fascinating case, an Indian boy claimed to remember the life of a man named Maha Ram, who was killed with a shotgun fired at close range. This boy had an array of birthmarks in the center of his chest that looked like they could possibly correspond to a shotgun blast. So the story was checked out. Indeed, there was a man named Maha Ram who was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest. An autopsy report recorded the man’s chest wounds — which corresponded directly with the boy’s birthmarks.
In a similar way, various other physical traits – even deformities – have been suggested as having their precedent in a person’s former life.
Enthroning a Child
The Search for the Dalai Lama
The story of the Dalai Lama is possibly the most famous example of children’s past life memory. This is the true story of how the present Dalai Lama was located and positively identified based on his ability, as a very young child, to remember details from his past life.
When the Thirteenth Dalai Lama died in 1933, the senior lamas looked for signs as to where his next incarnation might be found. Each of the Dalai Lamas, over many centuries since the birth of the first in 1351 AD, followed the same line—each one was an incarnation of the last, retaining the spiritual wisdom acquired over many lifetimes.
In the spring of 1935, Tibet’s Regent, himself a senior lama, journeyed to the sacred lake of Lhamoi Lhatso in southern Tibet to seek a vision. Looking into this oval-shaped lake, which lay in a basin at 17,000 feet surrounded by snow-covered peaks, Reting Rinpoche had a vision. As he stared into the crystalline waters, he saw three letters from the Tibetan alphabet: Ah, Ka and Ma, floating before him. Then he clearly saw the image of a three-storied monastery with a gold and jade roof. A path led down the hill from the monastery to a house roofed with turquoise tiles and a brown and white spotted dog in the courtyard. After Reting Rinpoche saw this vision, he dreamed of the same house with a turquoise roof, but this time he saw oddly shaped gutter pipes along the roof and a small boy standing in the yard. He was sure that the letter Ah he saw in the vision pertained to Amdo, a province in the east, so a search party was dispatched to that area.
One of the search parties, under the direction of Kewtsang Rinpoche, a high lama of Sera Monastery, approached the Kumbum monastery in Amdo. They saw its temples roofed in jade and gold, just like in the vision. The search party combed the area, looking for extraordinary children. They heard of one boy in Takster, a two-day’s journey from Amdo.
So, in the winter of 1937 Kewtsang Rinpoche, accompanied by a government official named Lobsang Tsewant and two attendants, set out for Takster. To avoid detection, they disguised themselves as merchants on a business trip. To further conceal their identities Kewtsang Rinpoche, the lama, dressed himself in an old sheepskin and played the role of a servant and Lobsang Tsewang, the government official, acted as the leader of the group. They approached the house of a two-year-old boy, Lhamo Dhondrub. They were greeted by the barking of a brown and white spotted mastiff chained to the entranceway.
They identified themselves as traders and asked if they could use the family’s kitchen for tea, which is a common practice in Tibet. Passing through the courtyard of the house, Kewtsang Rinpoche noticed the turquoise tiles on the roof of the house and unusual guttering made from gnarled juniper. Once in the kitchen, he was approached by little Lhamo Dhondrub. The boy climbed into Kewtsang Rinpoche’s lap and began playing with rosary beads that hung around the visitor’s neck, which had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama. Suddenly, the boy became agitated and demanded that he be given the beads immediately, claiming that they belonged to him. Kewtsang Rinpoche told the boy, “I’ll give it to you if you can guess who I am.” Matter-of-factly, the boy replied, “You are a lama of Sera.” The boy then addressed Lobsang Tsewang by his proper name and went on to identify the others in the party as being from the Sera monastery as well (at the time there were thousands of monastaries in Tibet). Not only were his identifications correct, but this two-year-old addressed the men in the proper dialect of Central Tibet, a dialect unknown in his district.
When the visitors were preparing to leave in the morning, Lhamo Dhondrub was in tears, begging them to take him along. They managed to calm him down, promising to return.
They did return shortly, this time to administer tests to see if this boy was indeed the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. The monks offered gifts to the family and asked to be left alone with Lhamo Dhondrub. As night fell, they adjourned to the master bedroom at the center of the house, placed a series of articles on a low table. Some of these articles had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama, the others were carefully crafted duplicates. The objects included the Dalai Lama’s spectacles, silver pencil and eating bowl, as well as four items which the Oracle of Samye had ordered this delegation to bring with it. They were a black rosary, a yellow rosary, two walking sticks, and a small ivory hand drum used in religious devotions.
Entering the bedroom, Lhamo Dhondrub was invited forward by Kewtsang Rinpoche, who sat with three officials on either side of the table. In his hand Kewtsang Rinpoche held the black rosary to which the boy had been drawn on the previous visit; in the other hand he held a perfect duplicate. Asked to choose one, the child took the correct rosary without hesitating and placed it around his neck, a feat he repeated with the yellow rosary a few moments later. Next, they presented him with the walking sticks. At first Lhamo Dhondrub pulled gently at the wrong stick, but then let it go and took the correct one, happily holding it in front of him like a giant stave. This was considered particularly significant since the “wrong” stick had actually been used briefly by the Dalai Lama before he gave it to a friend. The final items, the drums, remained. The false drum was beautifully decorated with floral brocade; the genuine one was less inviting. Once more Lhamo Dhondrub took the correct object, twisting the drum quickly back and forth in his right hand so that it beat in the manner of tantric ritual.
Next, the boy was examined for eight distinctive bodily marks of the Dalai Lama: large ears, long eyes, eyebrows curving up at the ends, streaks on the legs, and a mark in the shape of a conch shell on the palm of one hand. They gently examined the boy, and after finding three of the marks, the examiners were so overcome with joy, that their eyes filled with tears. There was no doubt that the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet was sitting before them in the body of a two and a half-year-old child. And so, the prophecy was fulfilled: the letters in the vision stood for the names of the neighboring monastery, and the distinctive images of the spotted dog, the tiles, and the gutters, were for all to see.
But when the Moslem warlord of northwestern China heard of the selection of the child, he demanded an exorbitant ransom before he would let the child by taken from the district. After he was paid, he demanded even more money and some valuable religious artifacts. Leaving them with no choice, the Tibetans raised the money and the ransom was paid. After months of waiting, the prospective Dalai Lama and his family set out on a three-month journey to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Lhamo Dhondrub rode with his six-year-old brother on a small palanquin suspended on poles between two mules. All along the way he was greeted by offerings and afforded the respect accorded to a great teacher and leader.
When they were within a few miles of Lhasa, they were greeted by a torch-bearing procession which led them to an encampment. At its center was an enormous yellow satin tent, canopied in blue and white. This tent, known as the Great Peacock, had been used over the centuries solely to greet each infant reincarnation of the Dalai Lama upon his return home.
During the next two days, the young Lhamo Dhondrub sat on a tall throne in the Great Peacock and individually blessed 70,000 monks and lay people who had gathered to welcome him.
On the morning of October 8, 1939, a procession of sixteen noblemen clad in green satin and red-tasseled hats carried a gold palanquin, in which sat the little boy. A procession of musicians, the State Astrologer, the Dalai Lama’s family, cabinet members, the Regent, and Prime Minister, accompanied the boy to the palace. Thousands lined the route, waving banners on tall poles.
Once Lhamo Dhondrub was ushered into his predecessor’s chambers in the palace, he pointed to a small box and declared, “My teeth are in there.” Opening the case, the attendants were astonished to find a set of the former Dalai Lama’s dentures.
Within weeks, four-year-old Lhamo Dhondrub, or Tenzin Gyatso as he is now called, was installed on the Lion Throne as the supreme temporal and spiritual ruler of Tibet. This is the same Dalai Lama who today is the spiritual leader of Tibetans and all Buddhists, and who travels around the world to spread Buddhist ideas and tell of the exiling of Tibetan Buddhists by the invading Chinese.
This account was adapted from the Dalai Lama’s autobiography, and from the book Exile in the Land of Snows by John F. Avedon.