Past Lives

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I freely admit I've experienced brief yet very vivid and lucid visions of the distant past in a waking state - but never enough to work out an identity, let alone the geographical location or time period. Sometimes there are clues, but rarely enough to construct anything useful.

Dreams ... had plenty set in other time periods -not just the distant past, but the far future also. Though I've learned never to take my dreams at face value.

Are they images and/or experiences of past lives? Well, it would be too closed minded of myself to decide what was true or not in the instance. It is a possibility. Then again, so is temporal lobe epilepsy! ;)

I've noticed that a lot of the past life experiences or imagery seem to occur with familiar themes. I've read alot about the ancient mediterranean cultures, and had imagery seemingly related to some. I have read very little on China, and never experienced imagery for there. Does it take familiar clues to set off the imagery? Or is this because of imagination, empathy, or some other cause?
That's very interesting. I sometimes have very lucid dreams of other places. The most recent I dreamed of being a soldier in world war 1. I had a family and was married which was very strange. Have you thought of hynoptic regression?
I too have had some quite strange dreams. About 6 years ago I got quite heavily intersted in astral projection and lucid dreaming, out of sheer curiosity more than anything else. I never managed to astral project, or actually had a lucid dream, and not through lack of trying, but I do remember some very vivid imagery in my dreams. One which particularly facinated me was set on a large galleon in what must have been the 16th or 17th century. It was strange as rather than having any sort of story and/or flow (as most dreams do), it was like I was simply observing the day-to-day running of a ship, and playing no prominant part in the dream. I don't know what triggered the dream, as the subject matter is not something I know too much about, perhaps it was just my subconscious imagination running wild. I would never opt to make any sort of judgement on events in dreams, but the mostly uncontrollable activity of the brain during REM is facinating, and very little is truly known about it. Past life regression is a remarkable if some what controvertible topic. Even if past life regression is real, we really do not know, or cannot prove, what is real and what is imagined. There have been some remarkable past life regression stories. Particularly of interest, are well documented cases in which a parent dies, and then years later a teenager has visions of a place he/she has never been. The teenager when they are old enough, seeks out this place, and a family he/she has unexplainable memories of only to meet the people in his/her vision. There have been cases in which, upon the meeting the family, people generally in their 50's and 60's, they have accepted that a teenager is actually their long dead parent, due to the teenager's intricate knowledge of their past. It may simply be groups of people playing out illusions that they wish to believe, but to dismiss completely the concept of reincarnation in the face of such "remarkable coincidences" would be somewhat arrogant. I suppose the other possibility is some sort of unforeseen and somewhat unexplainable psychic bond between complete strangers. Again, if they exist, the akashic records too could provide such knowledge, but this too is a topic with far too few facts to be taken seriously by science. All I can say is, always keep an open mind, especially when dealing with the unexplained or unknown.
Cool about the galleon dreams - had lots like that as well.

One very memorable excerpt - I was in a ship's cabin, having a general conversation in what I think was Portugese! What's strange is that I was also thinking in the language, rather than English. When I woke I had been saying something about the Dutch. If following a past life reasoning, I reckon on the period of 17th to 18th century.

However, you're quite right about the open mind. I do not trust dreams - they are too cryptic to assume too simple a superficial interpretation. I can follow "past lives" reasoning as a possibility - but also bear in mind that there are other more mundane possibilities.
Past lives is a fascinating idea. Don't think I'd like to be regressed.
Never actually spoke had a conversation in an unknown language in a dream myself, but I have witnessed them in my dreams. I am going to assume from your phrasing that you don't actually speak Portugese. It's quite facinating really, as if dreams are simply an stimulus to the involuntary subconscious mind, then these languages are either being created by our brain from tiny segments of what we recognise to be a particular language, and the brain is simply filling in all the gaps. Since we would know no different, we perceive this to be say for example Spanish or Portugese, this is surely a real testament to the power of the human brain, and the severely underexplored possibilities of our subconscious. On the other hand if we are "tapping into" something else, and these languages are real, then this is even more astounding. Contrary to popular belief the possible existance of a plain on which all knowledge is attainable, commonly refered to as the akashic records, is not a new concept by any means. Long before the popostulation of C.J. Jung's concept of the collective unconscious, the permanent storage of knowlegde in a soniferous ether was a concept considered in Hindu mysticism. Through such a collective subconscious or universal mind the cerebral aquisition of a previously unknown language would indeed be plausible, if of course such a substance or collective does exist. If this is what is happening, then this could explain almost all of the positive results attained by scientists studying psychic phenomenon. Fear not, I am not about to write a tract on askasa as it is not a concept I particularly believe in, however it is a facinating theorey and to simply negate it would be very unscientific. It would be really interesting to known if those language were accurate, is so it would surely be a major discovery. Like always though, best to approach the topic with an air of skeptical cynicism.
I agree with the whole issue of Universal Consciousness (a term I prefer to "collective memories" or "Akashik Records") being a possible explanation for such dreams and waking experiences - a sort of "spiritual information superhighway" which can sometimes be tapped into.

But even then, it's a possible explanation, and that doesn't make it probable. I like discovering possibilities but am always hesitant at assigning probabilities - not least, because it is essentially an act of closed-mindedness.
Something that bothers me about past lives is that it won't be your normal identity.Meaning your current identity and how you see yourself. You would be another person. That is a bit strange. Even scary. Who knows what they might have done? Why should you even like them let alone care for them? I find past lives as a subject interesting and I've been tempted to look at regression. I always back out at the last moment though. I want to live in the present first.
Certainly there are issues involved. If we have past lives then perhaps there are good erasons why we do not remember - ie, we cannot handle not simply the experience, but also existing as mutliple identities - not with any measue of stability, anyhow.
If I had a past life I wouldn't want to know about it. Just me. This life is enough. Imagine the full emotional impact of more full emotional lives to cope with? No wonder we forget them if we experience such a thing!
I wonder what the emotional impact of regression is like? I figure if there's any truth to the issue then it must be pretty pwoerful. Do people get counselling before they undergo hynoptic regression?
I’ve done some regression under light trance, Brian. It can be intense, yeah, but the emotional impact of what you’re seeing is kind of at arm’s length. Hard to explain; it lacks the sting of immediacy. I’ve “replayed” several of my deaths, but the playback was no more emotionally wrenching than watching a movie.

In fact, some counselors use past-life regression AS therapy. The idea is that, while we don’t carry conscious memories forward to the next life, the lessons we learn are incorporated to one degree or another in the new. Sometimes, when we have issues and emotional trauma in this life, we can find an origin in incompletely resolved issues in a past life. [Let me immediately jump on that statement: if we have psychological issues, we need to address their causes in this life before haring off into another!]

A personal experience: Before I became a Wiccan, I faced some serious personal problems revolving around co-dependent behavior relating to my birth family. I felt trapped between living my own life, and a hyper-sensitive awareness of duty, honor, and responsibility to family, and when both parents died within a year of one another, I felt personally responsible and began having thoughts of suicide. During my Wiccan training, my teacher helped me regress to a life lived in 16th-century Japan, where I failed in my duty to my lord, a personal burden of duty the Japanese call omi. My failure resulted in his death on the battlefield, and I watched myself commit seppuku as a result. The regression triggered a major breakthrough in my dealing with my this-life issues, and I no longer felt the burden of my parents’ deaths.

Was that life as a samurai “real?” Or was it an archetype dredged up out of my own unconscious in order to deal with a painful personal issue? There’s no way to tell, I don’t know, and it actually doesn’t matter much. My belief is that it was real—whatever the heck THAT means!

For what it’s worth,, my experience is that when we have an interest in a particular culture or milieu, it’s because there are unconscious cues that pull us in, a kind of déjà vu familiarity. In the exercise with my teacher mentioned above, a first step was to visualize ourselves circling the Earth, taking note of areas that pulled at us. For me, one of the stronger ones was Japan, hence the related adventure.

But that’s not to say that the vast majority of past lives weren’t pretty mundane—a tribeswoman in 7th-century Siberia, say, or a potter in 12th-century Lithuania—and that they didn’t leave much of a psychic imprint on our current minds. Not EVERYONE can claim a past life as Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, or the High Priest-Poobah of Atlantis!
[quote author=WHKeith link=board=6;threadid=71;start=msg803#msg803 date=1055945618]
Was that life as a samurai “real?” Or was it an archetype dredged up out of my own unconscious in order to deal with a painful personal issue? There’s no way to tell, I don’t know, and it actually doesn’t matter much. My belief is that it was real—whatever the heck THAT means!

An absolutely essential point to the exploration of the concept, I feel - and a particular reason why I am extremely wary of assigning any objective reality to my own experiences. I've also sided with the need to realise that subjective interpretation can flaw any insight, so that alternative possibilities always need to be considered with due merit - not for judgement - but simply for consideration. Essentially, if a complex problem throws up multiple answers I persume that each of those answers plays some significant role according to the depth of the question.

I've seen entirely mundane images in waking moments. But one highly disturbing one - from what I can piece together - apparently involves a US soldier in Vietnam. The mentality is so utterly f*cked up it's unreal, and there are extremely powerful negative emotions involved. The death sequence I saw simply involved being tied to a pole and then being penetrated with a knife. The essence of it all was how utterly unfair everything was - but magnify that emotion to human extremes.

Will I claim I had a past life as a US soldier in Vietnam? Absolutely not. I've had dreams of being (apparently) Vietnamese escaping an attacked explosives factory (and then the GI's appear) - and also of living in black Missouri in 1950's America. What does it mean? It means the issue is far more complex than I can initially discern. And dreams themselves can be such a tricky thing at the best of times.

At one point I even considered the idea that the dead GI was like a "spirit" entitiy. But I'm actually very wary of even touching such a concept because it simply does not make sense in my own perception of reality. Perhaps something like the Akashik records would make sense (or whatever terminology is requiered - I simply refer to the "spiritual information superhighway" as I seemed to have tapped into it on various occassion.

Or have I? Isn't all simply a psyhological device for exploring the self? Well, there's that as well.

Frankly, I find the whole issue perplexing but interesting. I have ideas of experiences but refuse to accept the hard reality of full explanations. Not least, because this would imply a closed-mind on the issue, and that's hardly desirable.
Well said, brian! One way of thinking of the akashic records is that they represent the sum total of all human knowledge and experience, and that any of us can tap them at any time, sometimes deliberately, sometimes spontaneously. As such, we don't need to bring in perported past lives, and such experiences would be closer to "conventional" [if I may use that term with such a topic!] psychic phenomenon. Possibly the whole notion of past lives is simply a handle by which we "explain" to ourselves disconcerting connections with the akasha.

At the same time, we should be careful about being too linear in our thinking. If our existence between lives--call it the spirit world--is outside of time as we understand it, there's no reason why we as evolving souls couldn't experience parallel lives--as Vietnamese, as G.I., as an African-American in the 1950's South. A soul might experience them sequentially, learning lessons in each, even though they overlap temporally in THIS reality. The soul as a time traveller. . . .

I personally doubt this, based on my own experience, but present it as an option. It WOULD be one possible explanation for how 6 billion souls can be incarnate today, when there were only a few hundred million a mere 10,000 years ago.
Actually, I find the whole notion of parallel experiences immediately intriguing. I also wonder if I should refer to the "Collective Unconscious" instead of the term "Akashik Records"? So far as I'm aware, the latter comes through Theosophy, and therefore may have a specific technical meaning I am ignorant of.

As to the numbers game - I'd recommend you consider that every single living thing on earth at least is involved with the whole incarnation concept. Therefore human incarnations are just one of a whole plethora of experiences of life.

I wouldn't necessarily subscribe to a karmic belief in this process either - that of "souls" evolving through more complex life-forms, as that comes dangerously close to impinging cultural constructs of morality onto the mechanics of the universe - though some would disagree and insist that moral constructs would be an indispensable part of the mechanics of Divinity. Personally, I'd suggest the ability to enjoy the human experience is not necessarily more morally correct than, say, spending a few hours as a hatchling turtle, drawn towards the bright moon over the sea - only to be suddenly cracked open and devoured by some passing bird. Where would the opportunity for karmic mechanics to act there?

Anyway, that distraction aside, the intention is that if there were x number of sentient organisms to be experienced on earth, and that the number of humans were always less than x, then there would be no real dichotomy with regards the larger number of humans in existence today than in the past. If that makes sense. :)
Interesting. My personal belief is that we do NOT transmigrate from species to species. But, that's just me. I have known some humans who seemed VERY uncomfortable in their bodies, and who exhibited behavior that can only be described as cat-like, or dragon-like. Objective proof is elusive, however!

I highly recommend two books, "Journey of Souls" and "Destiny of Souls," by Newton. They were written by a therapist who used hypnotic regression to take subjects back--not to a past life, but to the interlife, to their existence as souls on another plane. Yes, yes, I'm well aware that a hypnotist can make the subject remember almost literally anything, but there are techniques for avoiding this, and Newton appears to be ethical in his presentation. In any case, it's fascinating reading.

His take is that there is no transmigration, but that souls are continually being created, which also explains the number problem. [It also explains something fairly obvious in my experience: why some few people appear to be "old souls" with a LOT of life-experience, while so very many others seem to be "young souls," still on their first half-dozen times around!]

Newton's belief is that each of us, as "souls," possess a certain amount of soul-energy, but that we cannot put all of this energy into a human body. Thus, when we are incarnated, some of that energy is left behind, and that is what some people experience as "their divine self" or their "higher nature" or as a "guardian angel" or possibly even as a guide or guardian. Can't speak for the objective truth of that, but it works in my experience.

Newton points out that in HIS experience, only rarely does a person divide up his soul-stuff in such a way to incarnate as two individuals, and that it's usually a bad idea to do so, because neither person has enough oomph to do well in that life.

My personal feeling--one validated by conversations with respected friends in trance, and also through some perosnal channeling work--is the one I expressed above, that since the spirit world is outside of space and time as we understand them, it's no big deal to incarnate a hundred times, or a hundred *thousand* times, in the same stretch of history. [And if you really want to blow your mind, consider the possibility that said parallel incarnations exist through countless iterations of a multiverse, so that "we"--the higher "we"--get to experience ALL outcomes of each decision we make! Food for thought.

But I still am aware of a LOT of newbies on this planet! ;^/
Interesting stuff.

One problem with the "transmigration" idea is that it implies a direction in the first place. For example, driven by the engine of karmic reward/punishment (though I'm not sure how animals are deemed "good" or "evil", and perhaps I misunderstand the practical concept of karma in the first place).

Existing outside of space/time is something that makes great sense to myself, which in itself potentially makes meaningless the idea of souls "progressing" – essentially you are one and another and another. If all time is and has been and has yet to be, then from outside time the notion of souls progressing would seem to make little sense.

Newton sounds interesting – but I don’t at all understand the ideas of new souls being created. I've seen that possibility before, but passed over it – in my own "spiritual experiences" I see infinite "true selfs", so I do not understand how more are created or even destroyed.

Still, discussion can only be useful – especially if it helps open us up to see our own subjective weaknesses. Perhaps that's why the whole concept of comparative religion, of discussing far different views and experiences, is always so appealing – because it helps us recognise our own limitations, and thus push for deeper metaphors. Perhaps. :)
As a Christian I'm "not supposed to believe in reincarnation" but I have a fairly strong conviction that it's one method that God uses for reaching people --a teacher's "go back and do it over again until you get it right" on a cosmic plane, so to speak! :)

And while I have a pretty good idea of what occurrences in my own present life have gone to make up the person that I am, I'm also convinced that I f*cked up royally (quite literally) in a past life, and that this time around is a chance to repair the damage I caused by neglectful misfocus before, to mend my karma, as it were. Strangely enough, this is not by any past-life regressions or mysterious dreams, but by two people, unknown to each other, having identified the same historical figure as a past life for me (one of them was there with me and bore a very strong resemblance in her young adulthood to the most famous portrayal of her own past life). In addition, I can see clearly in the boy who is my younger "honorary grandchild" the characteristics of another historically-known person of that time whom I supposedly knew very closely.
That sounds quite fascinating, the possibility of identifying possible past life experience with an identifiable historical figure. More so because by their nature historical figures tend to be well documented, so I imagine that you've certainly got plenty to work with.
How would you cope with the whole new emotional experience of being someone else? I have difficulty enough dealing with just one lifetime of emotional stresses that I don't think I can handle even more! Still it is all interesting. If I could see the past without feeling it then maybe I would be interested. But that could be going beyond the point of the experience in the first place if you don't feel for it.