Past Lives

Discussion in 'Alternative' started by foundationist.org, Mar 29, 2003.

  1. Elizabeth May

    Elizabeth May New Member

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    How would you even know what was real and not through regressive experience? That would be my big concern.
     
  2. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    From what I've experienced myself, and seen with others, Talia, one doesn't have to deal with the emotional experience of being someone else. Memories of past lives are very much at a safe distance, with little emotional immediacy.

    I will promptly contradict myself by pointing out that in SOME cases—and it’s always best to check for this-life trauma or issues before assuming past-life problems—emotional problems in this life can be traced to past-life causes. A woman I worked with once had an excessive fear of deep water, and some past-life work suggested that she might have died in the sinking of an ocean liner. (I’ll stop short of saying the Titanic, because I have an inherent distrust of past-life connections with major historical events and characters unless there is compelling evidence.) But in fact, it is frequently the case that when a person makes the connection with that past-life trauma, the current-life phobia is dramatically resolved. I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread my own experience, where problems with an excessive concern for honor, family duty, and family loyalty were resolved when I “remembered” committing seppuku as a samurai. This, in fact, is the major reason—in my opinion—for doing this type of regression. It helps us come to grips with ourselves, what we are, and what makes us the way we are.

    Normally, we don’t remember our past lives, and some critics ask “what’s the point?” I submit that part of the reincarnation process revolves around our training and growing of our own souls. It’s not enough to simply LEARN, in a memory sort of way . . . let’s say, for the sake of simplicity, not to steal. We all learn that lesson as children—parental lectures, Ten Commandments, cop shows and Perry Mason re-runs on TV, and all that—and for most of us the lesson takes. But for many it doesn’t, and for all of us there’s an initial core of selfishness and self-centeredness that superficial learning and memory doesn’t truly touch. When we live through a number of lives—and in some we steal and pay the consequences (I’m talking about the damage we inflict on ourselves karmically, here, not going to jail!), and some we are stolen from and find out what the violation feels like. Slowly, our TRUE self, deep, deep down, gets the point, and the point stays got. It CAN'T be forgotten, because the lesson has become a part ofd the learner, not something tacked on after the fact. This, in terribly simplicity, is the point of reincarnation . . . not to remember ourselves living as Cleopatra, but to advance the state of our own souls. (I wonder what lesson SHE learned? Not to trust Roman leaders? How to find your asp with both hands?)

    Earth is a school, and a very tough one, too, I might add.

    Elizabeth, the ONLY way I know to “prove” the doctrine of reincarnation is to be able to line up the remembered life with some historical incident that you are not consciously aware of, and validate that history. Polycarp's experience is a good example. One friend of mine rememberes a life as a soldier killed in WWI, but she's keeping secret certain technical details she remembered, in hopes of someday having those details independently verified.

    And even with verifiable remembered facts, things are chancy.

    There was a famous case, going back to the ‘50s or ‘60s, I think, of a woman who remembered a past life as “Bridey Murphy,” a poor Irish immigrant. The subject knew things and spoke snatches of Irish Gaelic while under hypnosis that she could not have known in a waking state. That case has been pretty thoroughly debunked by now, with the discovery that the subject had had, as a small child, an Irish nanny who sang to her in Gaelic and who quite possibly was the unconscious source of some of “Bridey’s” remarkable revelations. (It’s also possible the debunkers are all wet; maybe the nanny's influence was necessary to awaken the subject's past-life recall. The point is, we can’t look at that case and shout, “Ah-HA! We have proof!”)

    However, I saw a fascinating report in a PBS special on the topic. Sorry, I can’t cite the exact program, so this will have to be hearsay, but a psychologist hypnotically regressed a person in a town in California to a past life lived in a small town in Virginia during the Civil War. As the researcher began checking up on things, he discovered the remarkable fact that MANY people in the Californian town had also lived at the same time and place as the first subject. (This is one of the fascinating revelations of past-life regressions. We—our “soul we”—appear to work in units called “soul groups,” associating with the same spiritual entities again and again. Your husband in this life was your mother in your last life and your best friend before that and your brother before that and the stranger who helped you before that and your murderer before that and your . . . You get the idea!) He ended up hypnotizing something like 20 or 30 people in that town, all with shared and interconnected memories.

    Anyway, the researcher then went to Virginia and . . . yup, sure enough, there was the town. One subject had talked about being responsible for mining a railroad tunnel outside of town, to blow it up if the Yankees came. The researcher found the tunnel, complete with holes chipped in the walls . . . though the tunnel had not, in fact, been blown.

    For me, the clincher was one woman’s story of living in a particular house—meticulously described—which had a secret room underneath that was used as part of the Underground Railroad, smuggling runaway slaves north. The researcher found the house. There was no basement or underground room, apparently, but he got permission from the owners to do some excavation. He found the room, long sealed off . . . and matching the subject’s description right down to the color of the wallpaper.

    I regret that this wonderful story must be presented apocryphally. I do not remember the program—it might have been on Discover—and I cannot validate the information.

    Another phenomenon that seems to be quite common is past-life memories in children. Apparently, kids are VERY likely to remember past lives, especially if they don’t have grown-ups telling them, “Oh, you’re just making that up!” There are volumes and volumes of case histories of children who were able to take their parents to a specific street or a neighboring town, point out a house as “theirs,” correctly identify relatives and friends, and describe their previous lives and deaths. This happens most frequently in places like India, where past lives are taken for granted, but it happens in the West as well. There are several outstanding books on the topic available.

    I know personally a child—son of Pagan parents—who at play one day was holding an elaborate discussion with himself, all about fighting and being killed; I think he was about five. Suddenly he stopped and addressed his parents with the words, “You might think I’m talking about this life. I’m not! This was my other life!” I see no reason to doubt him!

    In the long run, though, there IS no proof, and no way to validate any of this. Even the case involving the Virginian townspeople, assuming the entire story is completely factual as presented, COULD, with appropriate mental gymnastics, be “explained away” as a rather bizarre experience with telepathy or shared lucid dreaming or some kind of Jungian shared unconscious. More likely would be the assumption that the researcher himself used less-than-ethical or less-than-meticulously-rigid technique, and planted that stuff.

    Of course, that still doesn’t explain the wallpaper. . . . ;)

    Numerous scientific studies have been conducted to try to prove or disprove reincarnation. While absolute proof is elusive, there are some wonderfully suggestive statistics. My favorite, I think, is that in a very large sampling of past-life memories, within a large group of test subjects, 49.9% of the memories were of past lives as male, while 50.1% were of female lives. Those stats perfectly match the male-female distribution for our species. They did NOT match the male-female ratio of the test subjects.

    Another interesting fact. Very, VERY few regressed subjects remember lives as Cleopatra or the High Poobah of Atlantis or other high-profile figures. (Though it DOES happen, doesn't it, Polycarp?) The vast majority of remembered lives are of . . . surprise! Ordinary folk. Farmers. Merchants. Soldiers. Housewives. People living ordinary lives. Pretty mundane stuff.

    However, objective proofs aside, and as I think I’ve rambled about earlier in this thread, it doesn’t really matter whether the memories are objectively true or not. We’re dealing with some phenomenon here that reach incredibly deeply into our souls, literally. They present us with opportunities to learn about ourselves in remarkable ways. Somehow it doesn’t matter if this is through past lives, or is “just” telepathy, or "just" our own deep unconscious communicating with us!
     
  3. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    Damn, I didn't know I'd rambled on for so long. I'm sorry, everyone!
     
  4. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    Not a ramble at all - there are some good points being covered. :)

    Btw - I just noticed a faux pas with regards to my reference to the "akashik Records" and "Collevtive Unconscious". Obviously it's been a while since I read around these subjects. I'll try and adderss the concepts in another thread.
     
  5. Talia

    Talia New Member

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    This area is getting quite fascinating. How would I go about exploring for past life meaning in my current life? I'd like to ask WHKeith that first (or can I call you 'Bill'?) as he has explored this area specifically by the looks. I mean, do you use spells and meditation? Or dream interpretations? Or do you need other people to work with you?
     
  6. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    “Bill” is fine, Talia. Same goes for everyone here.

    There are bunches of different techniques for past life regression. The one most hear about is through hypnosis by a trained hypnotist. That can be a bit pricey and even embarrassing (“Uh, excuse me, but do you do past-life regressions AND help patients quit smoking?”) but, fortunately, there are other techniques and, yes, you can perform some of them alone.

    First, as Brian suggested, many people have odd or persistent dreams of themselves in a different place or time, or as a different person. That can, at least, give you a clue as to where to start. But you can also get a good clue by—as discussed in an earlier post—deciding what culture or historical period attracts you, what sends you into reveries and daydreams, as opposed to a care-less shrug of the shoulders? What interests you?

    My first experience went like this. I was part of a class on basic witchcraft—we call it “Witchcamp”—with perhaps 10 other people. The class facilitator was Thea, a dear friend, a professional councilor and therapist, and a witch of long experience.

    Thea led us in a regressive meditation. First off, she led us through some breathing exercises. These are pretty standard stuff, designed to drop you into an alpha state of brainwave activity—i.e. an altered state of consciousness, a very light trance.

    (Digression. The alpha state is characterized by brainwave activity of 7 to 14 cycles. Normal waking is beta, which is 14 to 22 cycles. The exact breathing pattern was three or four deep cleansing breaths, followed by what we call “four-square breathing: breath in on a count of four, hold for a count of four, breath out on a count of four, hold on a count of four, and repeat. The first few times you do this, imagine yourself relaxing completely, perhaps visualize yourself sinking into soft and comfortable depths, or descending stairs, or whatever feels right. The idea is to picture going down, getting heavy . . . the usual hypnotic imagery. Soon, this self- imagery becomes attached to the breathing itself, especially if you tell yourself that it is (autosuggestion), and the breathing alone triggers the altered state. This produces a routine and easily attainable light trance, during which the subject is extremely aware and alert, but can also more easily “see” imaginal visualization. As you can imagine, this is an incredibly powerful tool. Yes, it’s completely safe. We are in the identical light trance state for something like 60% of our waking lives—any time we are driving, reading, daydreaming, watching TV, or doing anything where “our mind is somewhere else.)

    Once in light trance, Thea had us imagine we were flying high above the earth, literally circling the globe. As we flew, we were to note particular places on the surface as it rolled past beneath us that seemed to attract us. I noted ten or twelve places of particular interest. One was Japan.

    We then repeated the exercise, this time picking one place—Japan, for me—and imagining ourselves descending into that place. Very suddenly, before we had a chance to think or imagine anything, Thea told us to, in our minds, “LOOK DOWN! What do you see?”

    In my mind’s eye, I looked down, and saw my own feet—in sandals. My legs were encased in black lacquer greaves or armor of some kind. The image was startlingly clear and detailed. Later research convinced me that I was seeing myself in samurai armor from the time of roughly 1550 to 1600 CE.

    We performed the same exercise two more times. The first time, we were to look at ourselves performing some daily routine. In my case, I was sitting on a tatami, drinking tea and discussing something important with a very important man seated opposite me. The second, we were to see our own deaths. That’s when I saw myself on a battlefield, surrounded by headless corpses and fallen banners, kneeling on the ground and committing seppuku because I hadn’t made it to the battle on time and my feudal lord had been killed as a result. I don’t know, but my feeling is that the battlefield was Sakigahara in 1600.

    I should say that I had had some interest and knowledge of feudal Japan before this regression. I’d both seen and read Clavell’s Shogun in the early ‘80s, which is set in that same period. And about twelve years ago, I wrote a six-book science-fiction series set in a future where Japan ruled an interstellar empire, and I immersed myself pretty heavily in the culture and language to bring a sense of authenticity to the readers. So all of the above COULD have been dredged up and compiled from stuff I’d read, quite easily. However, the images I saw were uncannily clear—sharper than most memory—and they were, how shall I say? Unbidden. They were simply THERE, rather than being called up in detail, as they would be when I’m making something up. Likely, the simplest explanation is that it WAS “merely” a surfacing of unconscious ideas, but the experience clicked sharply for me, and brought into clear focus problems I’d been having in THIS life over duty, honor, and birth-family loyalty conflicting with duty to marriage family.

    A second regression occurred a year later. This was Witchcamp again, but for a different bunch of people. I was now a member of Thea’s coven and serving as her “D.I.” (drill instructor) in the class. We performed the exact same set of meditations. This time, I saw myself as a young girl—maybe 13? 14? Living on a seacoast somewhere in Europe—either France or England. The time was hard to pin down, but I suspect somewhere around 700 – 800 CE. My death in that one was a real shocker for me and, again, unbidden. The details may be too distressing for a public forum--TMI; suffice to say that I connected with THAT one through a this-life concern for and connection with abused women.

    Since those experiences, I have found that I can put myself into a trance state and deliberately explore past lives alone. I don’t do it more primarily for reasons of time pressure. Having a journal beside you is a good idea, to record impressions while they are still sharp, and even if they seem meaningless at the time. Such impressions can often be developed with more detail later, during a subsequent session.

    I note that there are numerous books on past-life regression on the occult shelves of any bookstore. I don’t have any titles offhand, but I’ll see what I can find for you. But a perusal of those titles may turn up one that works well for you.

    I hope this was of help.
     
  7. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    Interesting post - it's certainly fascinating for someone to describe an active exploration of the issue.

    Although I've had historically themed dreams, I'm very distrustful of taking that medium too much as face value. I actually get the most interesting moments in "waking visions". Have you ever suddenly forgotten yourself, and who you are, for only a few seconds, only for you to shake it off? Think that - excepting that I suddenly see into a different time period. Very strange. It can be set off by reading a topic, or simply being relaxed. Not under conscious control either. And almost never can I attribute a time period.

    For some reason male personas seem all the more accessible, not doubt a reflection of their familiarity?

    It always seems important to be open minded about the experience to try and explore it deeper. By that I mean that where clues exist I try to leave explanation open, because there's never enough for myself to draw together a coherent conclusion.

    A fascinating subject though.
     
  8. Elizabeth May

    Elizabeth May New Member

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    Ok, so bill it is. Hi Bill!
    From what you say about your abused women case I can see a real reason to not want to deal with it. I don't know how real it seems to you, maybe quite something for the work you're doing, but I'm not sure I could deal with that. And if I had gone through that experience through a hynotherapist I'd be paranoid that it was implanted by suggestion. I guess hynopsis scares me a bit. Maybe it's a control thing. Maybe that's why I donlt like the idea of suddenly being aware of another identity, because it's a loss of control on my own part.
     
  9. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    Hi, Elizabeth!

    The autohypnosis I'm describing above is VERY light. You are in full control at all times, and can always tell yourself to stop. I tend to be a bit of a control freak myself (hate roller coasters, and have been known to mutter instructions beneath my breath at the pilot during landings in a commercial jet!) and would never subject myself to another's complete control unless I, a., had a compelling reason, AND b., trusted that person completely.

    Nor was I ever aware of another identity. It was very much like imagining myself to be another person, but without telling myself that that was what I was going to do. The images were just kind of there, and I went with them, letting them unfold as I watched. But, for example, I have no clue as to the name of either of the individuals, or what they were like, or anything at all about them. They're just . . . figures, like minor characters once glimpsed in a movie, only these are in my head. The woman must have lived for 14 years, the samurai for . . . I don't know. Thirty, perhaps. Yet I have fewer than five minutes worth of memory for either of them.

    The important thing to remember, of course, is that these may be other people, other identities, but they are also you. The pain or trauma they suffered is long past, absorbed and integrated by your soul, and now a part--a TINY part--of the whole being you are now.

    And it's entirely possible both of those people are imaginary, as real as a stranger glimpsed in a dream. But even as creations of my mind, they have a reality of their own, and a purpose for being, as reflections of my own soul.
     
  10. brian

    brian Administrator Admin

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    The idea of soul groups is something that made a lot of sense a long time ago. There was also a notion then of people from different soul groups being able to exchange essential lessons and information. Sometimes I found myself almost subconsciously relating to others in terms of past life environments. An example was doing some care work for the blind a few years back, and having a waking vision of one of the residents being dressed as Roman legionary, in a grand marble hall, and causing distress to a possible previous incarnation of my own. The idea that he was a threat or something to take revenge upon seemed ridiculous in the present. There was something about the notion of forgiveness, but all a little hard to relate or explore in so quick a passing moment. Imagination? Always could be so. Though, interesting, I used him as the basis for a minor antagonist in my "Chronicles of Empire" – and corrupted his real name "Norman" into "Nomron" – as here.

    I'm curious if anyone has any further information on the general notion of soul groups. It would be very interesting to see how they are perceived to work and interact, or work within their own group. The whole mechanics is often intriguing.

    Sometimes people simply have a feel for a figure I don’t imagine knowing – there's something about the member here called Victor that reminds me of Polybius – who documented the war between Carthage and Rome – and, funnily enough, another person know to us both but isn’t a member here who always makes me think on Hannibal the Carthinagian. Strange. But I am a fanciful person. :)

    Funny that you yourself should mention Japan, WHKieth – I'm sure I had a waking image of being there – a young nobleman, dressed in blue, with very jet black hair and sharp sideburns. Was only a couple of seconds, but there was a very peaceful sense of character, or true nobility of person, but also of terrible tragedy – whoever it was I saw as killed unjustly in his 20's. What does that mean? Actually, to myself, not much I'm afraid. It would be interesting to speculate a soul group connection if they are related to the same period (obviously aware that feudal Japan existed for more than a single lifetime). :)

    And as had been rightly pointed out, it's important to keep an open mind on the entire issue. Spiritual development has a funny habit of correcting previous assumptions. What I believe today may not be the same as tomorrow. Though for past lives in general – I never find there's any firm basis for myself to define the experiences. I have waking images of other times and places, sometimes stimulated by reading a book. When stimulated, could it be related to the same process of imagining a face to a DJ, until it is seen that the true face is completely different? But other times – there is no immediate stimulus. And why is it that although I had absolutely no interest in the academic study of history in school (British Kings, WWI, Northern Ireland) I suddenly developed an intense thirst for all things Roman only a few years back?

    Christmas of 1997 is when I first started buying up works on history, as study aids for writing "Chronicles of Empire". Since then I've acquired about 90 books on ancient history, including many primary sources (from Herodotus to Procopius), focussing on Rome (about a third of the works), plus Ancient Greece and Egypt, Byzantium, and the social history of Western Europe (principally the 12th to 15th centuries).

    Why the sudden interest in history? Not sure. What could have been a dull research affair became a very real interest.

    But as to past live visions? They could be nothing more than part of the process of imagination. Though being plainly dismissive would seem too much like cheating the nature of a process which is inherently mysterious. And as spiritual insight can show even the most seeming mundane thing to have far greater significance, I'm happy to leave the jury out on this one and simply passively observe how my perception on the matter develops.
     
  11. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    Great information there, Brian.

    Remember the books I recommended a while back by Newton—“Destiny of Souls” and “Journey of Souls?” I’m not shilling his books . . . but they have a LOT of information on the soul group concept, if you’re interested.

    In my experience, an intense interest in a particular historical period or venue is often THE indication that you’ve had some connection there in another life. I mentioned earlier that I’d done a lot of research on medieval Japan for a book long before I became interested in reincarnation . . . but *why did I choose to introduce Japanese culture to that book?* It turned out to be a direct portal for me to examine Japanese thought, philosophy, language, and history. Why not . . . I don’t know. China. Persia. Scandinavia. Or ancient Rome.

    Something happened to me just last night that has a bearing on the soul-group idea. This wasn’t a case of soul groups, per se, but of overlap on the time line. I was at a party thrown by another coven. A young woman was there, not a coven member, but very open to the Craft and our weird ideas. I started giving her a backrub, which was both much appreciated and which seemed to drop her rapidly into an altered state.

    While I was rubbing her back, she began telling me what she was seeing in her mind’s eye, which turned out to be her as a Native American warrior sitting down with other Indians and Frenchmen to plan a war against the English. That and other internal clues suggested that she was “remembering” a time of about 1753 or so, the beginning of what we over in the Colonies refer to as the French and Indian War. She gave me a LOT of detail—what she was wearing, what her face paint was like, and so on, which led me to suspect she was Iroquois, though she claims never to have studied Native American cultures or that historical period.

    Now, what was cool about this is that I have never told her about one of MY remembered past lives. This was a regression I did for myself after having a particularly vivid dream about a year ago . . . and assumed was my imagination until I serendipitously came across a confirmatory historical article in a newspaper.

    If my “imaginings” were correct, I was a medicine-worker of the Lene Lenape, a tribe the whites call Delaware. What didn’t make sense is that, in the dream, I knew I was Lene Lenape, but I was living west of the Ohio River—somewhere in what is now eastern Ohio—and NOT in the Delaware River Valley, which was the Lene Lenape homeland. The essence of the dream was that I had made a long journey, on foot and by canoe, to a White town at a river confluence to demand redress of certain grievances. There, I was treated nicely, and I and my one companion were given some beautiful blankets to take back to my tribe as gifts. Connected with that was a feeling of terrible fear, guilt, and grief.

    Only later did I learn that, 1., the Lene Lenape were forced to leave the Delaware Valley in the 1600s and ended up living in eastern Ohio, mingled with another tribe—except for one branch that moved to western Canada; and, 2., that in 1762 or so, two Lene Lenape leaders traveled to Fort Pitt—where Pittsburgh is today at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers—where they were given promises and a load of blankets—fresh from the infirmary where a number of Whites were down with smallpox. A large number of Lene Lenape and other Indians died as a result—an early instance of the deliberate use of germ warfare. The incident was one of the direct causes of Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, a short-lived Indian uprising from Detroit to Pittsburgh that pretty much ended their autonomy in the east.

    I found the dream and regression fascinating because I am, in fact, part Choctaw—an Indian tribe from the south-Gulf area of the United States—and have long been drawn to Native American culture.

    What was fascinating last night was to have this woman whom I’ve only known a short time and with whom I’ve NOT shared anything deep begin describing to me her life as a Native American in the mid-1700s, unbidden and without prompting from me. The tribes are different and separated by about 500 miles; the two Indians concerned would never have known one another. And yet there was some—call it a sympathetic vibration, if you will, which, as she relaxed under my hands triggered a full-blown past life regression.

    Fascinating!
     
  12. Elizabeth May

    Elizabeth May New Member

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    Thanks for the info, Bill! It must be quite amazing to have an extended sense of identity. After all, people seem generally insecure about identity, or so I figure with the big interests in family tree research, ethnic roots, and general research into human history. It's like we always have to have an idea of where we've come from to feel secure about moving forward. Maybe that's what the past life thing is, in that you're moving on. I'm not quite sure what I mean by that but I hope you do!
    Self-hypnosis doesn't sound too bad. Maybe I should try that. I don't mind being deluded as long as no one else is pulling the chain! No idea what I'll get but maybe I'll get nothing.
    I've thought about it before and wondered if you get new souls and stuff coming into being and livnig. Its hard to find the right ways to explain, but I figure I mean that there are people who have lived through millions of past lives and there's some who've only just started. Maybe I'm new. Or maybe it's not important for me to know. Does that mean I don't need to move on or I already have? Something for me to think about!
     
  13. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    And that, of course, is part of what this board is all about! Self-reflection may be THE distinguishing feature between us and animals. Who am I, really? What do I believe, really? Why is that important, really? Not caring about what anybody else thinks, but wanting to klnow yourself, deep down and truly . . . that is when religion, in whatver form, stops being a goal in and of itself, and becomes a gateway to a deeper understanding of self, and to a new, higher, and more enlightened level of being.

    [Damn, that sounds pretentious! Sorry 'bout that. But I mean it, sincerely, and don't know how else to say it! :- ]

    Elizabeth, there is a book on the shelves now called "New Age Hypnosis". It does a good job of dispelling the nonsense and myth that surrounds the topic of hypnosis, talks about what you can learn, and gives exercises to try both with another and on your own.

    As for the new souls/old souls bit, I can confirm that there are folks here who have been here MANY times before, and others (MANY others!) who are on their first or first-few go-rounds. Which is which? It's generally pointless to try to work up a formula--"Oh! You have X, Y, and Z! You must be an old soul!" Nonsense. And the very information, for many, can be self-limiting . . . kind of like telling a first-grader that, now that he can read, he knows all there is to know and doesn't need to learn another thing!

    In general, souls come to recognize what they need to know about their own state when they need the information. A few hints, though. while not a universal constant, some clues to old-codgerishness of the soul are:

    1. Self-reflection--the ability to introspectively examine one's self in terms of spiritual path and strength of purpose.

    2. Tolerance--the understanding that other spiritual paths are as valid as one's own, and that the point is the journey, not the destination.

    3. Love--it's a cliche, yeah, but the ability to love, show love, and ACCEPT love from others is key. I am, of course, referring to agape here, not eros or phileos. Accepting, unconditional only-a-mother-could-do-it love of one's fellow travellers.
     
  14. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,

    you are doubtlessly aware that this is the specific Buddhist position on this issue :) karma is, indeed, the cause of our current life and our past lives for that matter. in order to understand what this really means, it's important to keep in mind the world view of the Buddhist, for it is vastly different than that of the average Western point of view.

    generally speaking, the Western point of view is that of a mechanistic universe, one that is created, either by a Creator or a natural process (BB Theory) and that, by extension, everything else is created and created with a purpose.

    by way of contrast, the other two competing world views, that is the Indian and Chinese. the Indian view is that Brahma, as the Supreme Omnipotent God is basically bored. to alleviate this boredom, Brahma causes himself to sleep and whilst asleep, to dream. this dream is so real to Brahma that he can experience the mystery and unexpectedness of life on earth. we are, and by extension everything else, manifestations of His dream mind... everything is a drama for Brahma and as such, we shouldn't attach to much to anything.

    the Chinese view is called "Li" and it basically means "organic pattern". Li is typically defined as the markings in jade, the grain in wood, the sinew in muscle. it's observed as the foam rises from the surf on the beach, the clouds form and drift in the sky... there is a pattern to things, an order, but it is so subtle that you cannot put your finger on it.

    so.. the Buddhist position is one that is typcially Indian or Chinese, depending on the Buddhism that you practice.

    karma is the moral law of cause and effect in the universe, however it's workings are so vast and complex, that we cannot fathom them completely, enlightened beings can, however.

    the ability to completely and totally recall past lives is something that can be attained within the Buddhist paradigm. technically, it's what happens when you reach the 7th Bodhisattva Gound (that's a vastly technical term and i'm afraid that i cannot explain it here.).

    *looks back at the typing and wonders if it's on point* :confused:
     
  15. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Is it a specifically Buddhist perception? I had thought it was a distinctly Hindu concept first - though there is great room for error here, though, for myself :)

    The problem I have is one of relativistic morality. For myself this is no simple rationalisation. I had what some may call a "Near Death Experience" when I was 18. It is utterly impossible to explain, but I have included something approaching a "description" in my first "Chronicles of Empire - which is still unpublished, but I'm on the right path. :)
    Point being, during that experience (the magnitude of which is beyond normal comprehension) I experienced a "place" - or, better still, a "state of being" - which was shared by every other consciousness that has, does, and ever will exist. Without going into details (which I reserve strictly for the Chronicles account, namely because of the inherent difficulty in "describing" it to any satisfactory degree) I experienced no sense of morality.


    In fact, the opposite was true - every action, no matter what the moral term of reference, has a constructive and necessary purpose. I'm aware that I'm on uncertain philosophical grounds here - essentially, it's arguing that everything has purpose, whether we are aware of that purpose or not.

    So, in effect, "evil" per se, and immoral action in general, is not only a natural part of human behaviour, within the natural mechanics of the universe – but that they also serve a purpose.

    (I'll try to start another thread about that specific issue. There's also the danger of touching upon the Free Will vs Determinism debate, which we most definitely should keep on another thread!)

    How this relates to past lives – I have difficulty accepting a view (for myself) of a "moral engine" behind the process of reincarnation, namely because I cannot see a process of "Absolute Morality" at work at the human or sociological level at all.

    Of course, there is also the very real possibility that I have an improper and flawed view of Karma. :)


     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,

    thank you for the post.

    the concept of karma was/is a concept that is found in all Indian religious movements. it is, however, only the Buddhist position that karma can be changed and stopped altogether.

    yes, i think that your understanding of the Moral Law of Karma, as we call it, is a bit incomplete. one of the real difficult things in speaking of karma is that people in the west already have an idea of what it is and how it works and what it does.. often, you find that you have to explain that the movie they watched that mentioned karma was not correct.. and the whole process can be quite time consuming and complex... and, quite honestly, not very rewarding for either person. this is not the case, however, when one is seriously interested and genuinely eager to learn what another believes and why.

    given the nature of karma, i shall have to be rather loose and general with some terms... and readers should be aware that there will be some dispute about some of the things listed here by other Buddhist schools.

    Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today.

    What is the cause of the inequality that exists among mankind?
    Why should one person be brought up in the lap of luxury, endowed with fine mental, moral and physical qualities, and another in absolute poverty, steeped in misery?
    Why should one person be a mental prodigy, and another an idiot?
    Why should one person be born with saintly characteristics and another with criminal tendencies?
    Why should some be linguistic, artistic, mathematically inclined, or musical from the very cradle?
    Why should others be congenitally blind, deaf, or deformed?|
    Why should some be blessed, and others cursed from their births?

    Either this inequality of mankind has a cause, or it is purely accidental. No sensible person would think of attributing this unevenness, this inequality, and this diversity to blind chance or pure accident.

    In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth.

    According to Buddhism, this inequality is due not only to heredity, environment, "nature and nurture", but also to Karma. In other words, it is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.

    Perplexed by the seemingly inexplicable, apparent disparity that existed among humanity, a young truth-seeker approached the Buddha and questioned him regarding this intricate problem of inequality:

    "What is the cause, what is the reason, O Lord," questioned he, "that we find amongst mankind the short-lived and long-lived, the healthy and the diseased, the ugly and beautiful, those lacking influence and the powerful, the poor and the rich, the low-born and the high-born, and the ignorant and the wise?"

    The Buddha’s reply was:

    "All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states."

    He then explained the cause of such differences in accordance with the law of cause and effect.

    Certainly we are born with hereditary characteristics. At the same time we possess certain innate abilities that science cannot adequately account for. To our parents we are indebted for the gross sperm and ovum that form the nucleus of this so-called being. They remain dormant within each parent until this potential germinal compound is vitalised by the karmic energy needed for the production of the foetus. Karma is therefore the indispensable conceptive cause of this being.

    The accumulated karmic tendencies, inherited in the course of previous lives, at times play a far greater role than the hereditary parental cells and genes in the formation of both physical and mental characteristics.

    The Buddha, for instance, inherited, like every other person, the reproductive cells and genes from his parents. But physically, morally and intellectually there was none comparable to him in his long line of Royal ancestors. In the Buddha’s own words, he belonged not to the Royal lineage, but to that of the Aryan Buddhas. He was certainly a superman, an extraordinary creation of his own Karma.

    According to the Lakkhana Sutta of Digha Nikaya, the Buddha inherited exceptional features, such as the 32 major marks, as the result of his past meritorious deeds. The ethical reason for acquiring each physical feature is clearly explained in the Sutta.

    It is obvious from this unique case that karmic tendencies could not only influence our physical organism, but also nullify the potentiality of the parental cells and genes – hence the significance of the Buddha’s enigmatic statement, - "We are the heirs of our own actions."

    Dealing with this problem of variation, the Atthasalini, being a commentary on the Abhidharma, states:

    "Depending on this difference in Karma appears the differences in the birth of beings, high and low, base and exalted, happy and miserable. Depending on the difference in Karma appears the difference in the individual features of beings as beautiful and ugly, high-born or low born, well-built or deformed. Depending on the difference in Karma appears the difference in worldly conditions of beings, such as gain and loss, and disgrace, blame and praise, happiness and misery."

    Thus, from a Buddhist point of view, our present mental, moral intellectual and temperamental differences are, for the most part, due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present.

    Although Buddhism attributes this variation to Karma, as being the chief cause among a variety, it does not, however, assert that everything is due to Karma. The law of Karma, important as it is, is only one of the twenty-four conditions described in Buddhist Philosophy.

    Refuting the erroneous view that "whatsoever fortune or misfortune experienced is all due to some previous action", the Buddha said:

    "So, then, according to this view, owing to previous action men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, covetous, malicious and perverts. Thus, for those who fall back on the former deeds as the essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed, or abstain from this deed."

    It was this important text, which states the belief that all physical circumstances and mental attitudes spring solely from past Karma that Buddha contradicted. If the present life is totally conditioned or wholly controlled by our past actions, then certainly Karma is tantamount to fatalism or determinism or predestination. If this were true, free will would be an absurdity. Life would be purely mechanistic, not much different from a machine. Being created by an Almighty God who controls our destinies and predetermines our future, or being produced by an irresistible Karma that completely determines our fate and controls our life’s course, independent of any free action on our part, is essentially the same. The only difference lies in the two words God and Karma. One could easily be substituted for the other, because the ultimate operation of both forces would be identical.

    Such a fatalistic doctrine is not the Buddhist law of Karma.

    According to Buddhism, there are five orders or processes (niyama) which operate in the physical and mental realms.

    They are:

    Utu Niyama - physical inorganic order, e.g. seasonal phenomena of winds and rains. The unerring order of seasons, characteristic seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc., all belong to this group.

    Bija Niyama - order of germs and seeds (physical organic order), e.g. rice produced from rice-seed, sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey, peculiar characteristics of certain fruits, etc. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.

    Karma Niyama - order of act and result, e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results. As surely as water seeks its own level so does Karma, given opportunity, produce its inevitable result, not in the form of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun and the moon.

    Dharma Niyama - order of the norm, e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the advent of a Bodhisattva in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature. The natural reason for being good and so forth, my be included in this group.

    Citta Niyama - order or mind or psychic law, e.g., processes of consciousness, arising and perishing of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, etc., including telepathy, telaesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-reading and such other psychic phenomena which are inexplicable to modern science.

    Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves. Karma as such is only one of these five orders. Like all other natural laws they demand no lawgiver.

    Of these five, the physical inorganic order and the order of the norm are more or less mechanistic, though they can be controlled to some extent by human ingenuity and the power of mind. For example, fire normally burns, and extreme cold freezes, but man has walked scatheless over fire and meditated naked on Himalayan snows; horticulturists have worked marvels with flowers and fruits; Yogis have performed levitation. Psychic law is equally mechanistic, but Buddhist training aims at control of mind, which is possible by right understanding and skilful volition. Karma law operates quite automatically and, when the Karma is powerful, man cannot interfere with its inexorable result though he may desire to do so; but here also right understanding and skilful volition can accomplish much and mould the future. Good Karma, persisted in, can thwart the reaping of bad Karma, or as some Western scholars prefer to say ‘action influence’, is certainly an intricate law whose working is fully comprehended only by a Buddha. The Buddhist aims at the final destruction of all Karma.

    WHAT IS KARMA?

    The Pali term Karma literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical, is regarded as Karma. It covers all that is included in the phrase "thought, word and deed". Generally speaking, all good and bad action constitutes Karma. In its ultimate sense Karma means all moral and immoral volition. Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions, though technically deeds, do not constitute Karma, because volition, the most important factor in determining Karma, is absent.

    The Buddha says:

    "I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition is Karma. Having willed one acts by body, speech, and thought." (Anguttara Nikaya)

    Every volitional action of individuals, save those of Buddhas and Arahants, is called Karma. The exception made in their case is because they are delivered from both good and evil; they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of Karma.

    "Destroyed are their germinal seeds (Khina bija); selfish desires no longer grow," states the Ratana Sutta of Sutta nipata.

    This does not mean that the Buddha and Arahantas are passive. They are tirelessly active in working for the real well being and happiness of all. Their deeds ordinarily accepted as good or moral, lack creative power as regards themselves. Understanding things as they truly are, they have finally shattered their cosmic fetters – the chain of cause and effect.

    Karma does not necessarily mean past actions. It embraces both past and present deeds. Hence in one sense, we are the result of what we were; we will be the result of what we are. In another sense, it should be added, we are not totally the result of what we were; we will not absolutely be the result of what we are. The present is no doubt the offspring of the past and is the present of the future, but the present is not always a true index of either the past or the future; so complex is the working of Karma.
     
  17. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Gaurds the Gate

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    As far as past lives go, I personally have had experiences with my past. In doing so I did learn why some of my emotional needs were so intense and that I have been loved. Although in this time and place I find love eludes me.

    A woman in the middle east sitting in the street begging for money. A veil covers part of her disfugured face. She struggles through this existance...a time before christ. Her disfigurement if from her "husband" who has cast her out.

    A man in the 13th/14th century, with reddish hair & beard. He is a strong, hard working individual. He lives in a European forest. Not rich or exceptional, but his inner emotion was prevelant. There was intense love & gentleness. Even now, when I contemplate him he quiets my heart and mind. To me this is a special gift I am able to bring forward to the present.

    And lastly, I've been researching information as I feel like I have a twin. The profoundly interesting thing I've discovered is there was someone born in 1907 with the exact same name as mine, they moved to my home town a year before my birth and died the day after my birth. People have often told me I can be wise beyond my years. I wonder if what I have been searching for is really my birth soul-mate.
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    i'll just offer this little bit to the topic at hand...

    the ability to lucidly remember past lives is something that happens through Buddhist training. it's one of the "5 wonderful powers" that is acutalized through practice.

    this is from my thread "long, detailed posts" :

    Question: Is there such a thing as a human being who is reborn and who is able to speak accurately of his or her past existence?

    Answer: Certainly, this is not an uncommon occurrence, and is in accordance with the tenets of Buddhism in respect to Karma.
    The following (who form, an overwhelming majority of human beings) are generally unable to remember there past existences when reborn as human beings: Children who die young. Those who die old and senile. Those who are addicted to the drug or drink habit. Those whose mothers, during their conception, have been sickly or have had to toil laboriously, or have been reckless or imprudent during pregnancy. The children in the womb, being stunned and started, lose all knowledge of their past existence.
    The following are possessed of a knowledge of their past existences, viz: Those who are not reborn (in the human world) but proceed to the world of the devas, of Brahmas, or to the regions of Hell, remember their past existences.
    Those who die suddenly deaths from accidents, while in sound health, may also be possessed of this faculty in the next existence, provided that their mothers, in whose womb they are conceived, are healthy. Again, those who live steady, meritorious lives and who in their past existences have striven to attain, often attain it.
    Lastly the Buddha, the Arahantas and Ariyas attain this gift which is known as pubbenivasa abhnna (Supernatural Power remembering previous existences).
     
  19. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    While the objective reality of reincarnation may remain beyond rational proof, one of the best proofs I know is in the increasing number of accounts of young children who remember past lives. In Buddhist and Hindu cultures, of course, reincarnation is accepted as a natural part of the worldview, and a child remembering a past life is not thought particularly unusual. There have been numerous cases of children in India remembering details of other people's lives, pointing out spouses and relatives and recounting details of those other lives.

    But in the West, children are discouraged from such thoughts. "Don't be silly." "It was just a dream." "It's just your imagination." Despite this, more and more cases have surfaced of WESTERN kids remembering past lives, and being able to lead parents and researchers to a particular house, identify people by name, and accurately describe the life of someone recently deceased.

    I actually know one such child personally--though he doesn't have details enough or historical perspective enough to identify that past life. He was raised in a Wiccan household where such things are taken for granted, interestingly enough. He was playing with toy soldiers on the floor one day at about age five--staging some sort of elaborate battle. He stopped in the middle, then, looked up with wise eyes, and declared, "You may think this is from THIS life. It's not! This is from my LAST life."

    Not proof, certainly. His parents might have mentioned past lives in his hearing once, and he was weaving the concept into fantasy. But it's fascinating nonetheless, especially since 5-year-olds have a hazy understanding of time and history at best.

    Memory of past lives can be recovered through training--as described by Vajradhara--or through hypnotic regression or light trance work. And apparently, the amnesia that naturally blocks past-life memories for all at birth sometimes seems to simply break down, at least partly, especially if the individual child has not been brain-washed into ignoring such memories.
     
  20. Blue Heron

    Blue Heron Gaurds the Gate

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    So, based on your explanation, I should not be able to recall such events. My reality is that I do. I am not a Buddhast, but wiccan. Since the discovery of the other older person, I've been searching for her life and what she wanted to accomplish. I know I am on my correct path at this time and consistent with what my purpose here and now is. I find it all very fascinating to be able to recall my past lives and apply those lessons learned to here and now. I guess some things never really change, only our soul does.
     

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