“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting” William Wandsworth
You, as a soul, must see it all. Different experiences enrich our souls – only how many can you experience in a lifetime? And how many can one life offer you anyway?
Which parts of you would withhold in the face of war and devastation? Would you entertain the same principles if you had to deal with dire poverty or unaccountable wealth? How much of the same person you are today would you be in a more challenging circumstance?
I was first introduced to the idea of reincarnation at the age of nine. Overhearing my parents discuss it one night with friends, they explained that we – as souls – take different physical forms and come into one life after the other. Exciting, I thought – so I lived before – in a different time and place! Being the child I was then, I didn’t think much of it, went to bed that night and never revisited the idea for the next 23 years.
Three years ago I read Many lives Many Masters by Brian Weiss. By that time, I had gone through this life for some time and have had my share of the pain. I suddenly remembered – and have been remembering since.
Many Lives Many Masters
This book recounts the transformation of an established psychiatrist after a very ‘unconventional’ encounter with one of his patients. Dr. Brian Weiss was a prominent psychiatrist, graduate of Yale and at the peak of his career, at the Mount Sinai hospital in New York. As a typical student of western medicine, he has always been a huge skeptic of spiritual forces. This, until he met Catherine. Treating her for her anxiety and phobias, Weiss hypnotized her in an attempt to regress her to her childhood and come to the core of her fears. To his surprise, Catherine recounted in her hypnotic state the details of a past life where she was caught up in a flood and died drowning. He was baffled. It made no sense to him. Catherine on the other hand, was significantly relieved by the memory. Keeping an open mind, Weiss researched the phenomenon of past lives. As evidence of reincarnation mounted before his eyes – from both his subsequent sessions with Catherine and the existing literature – he was born into a new dimension of thought.
This book enticingly narrates his journey from a pragmatic rationalist to a spiritual teacher – a pioneer in healing through past life regression today. Just to remind you that Weiss was at the peak of his career when he came upon the notion of reincarnation and coming out with the story of Catherine, at that time, jeopardized his career. Nevertheless, he felt it was his calling and finally gave in to publishing the story three years later in Many Lives Many Masters.
Mission Impossible: Reconciling Reincarnation to Religion and Science
Before I go on and on about reincarnation and how it finally made things fall into place for me, I feel a need to touch on its irreconcilable relation with religion and science – although I’m no expert on either.
Reincarnation is not an unfamiliar concept to followers of Abrahamic religions; some Christian, Islamic and Judaic thinkers found evidence to it in their holy texts and rendered plausible arguments. However, none of these arguments has ever been integrated into the mainstream teachings – and I doubt they shall ever be. Nevertheless, when you reflect on the phenomenon of a soul having many chances to learn through multiple lifetimes – it seems immensely merciful.
As for science, well, there are many case studies of children with past life memories – countless have been investigated, validated and aptly documented in the literature. One impressive scholarly collection is Reincarnation : A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society. Notable too, is the work of world renowned psychiatrists Ian Stevenson and Jim B Ticker. Some of their reported findings are that 60% of children who recall past life memories are boys and 70% of those who remember at all, have died violently or unexpectedly in their former lives. http://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation
However, rationalists are hard to appease. Initially, my intention was to render some insight into the relation between quantum physics and the soul- or that life energy within us. But being the non-scientific person I am, reading through the modules proved to be an exhausting drudgery. However, I recommend The Physics of the Soul by Amit Goswami, for those who may wish to investigate the matter further. So left-brainers knock yourselves out!
In all cases this is not the place to debate the scientific and religious grounds of reincarnation, I’m only sharing my take here.
Reincarnation and Suffering
As I contemplated reincarnation, the absurdity of suffering made some sense – for the first time. Each one of us is a soul that came forth from a divine source and has to earn its way back to source, once and for all. How? By inhabiting different bodies and experiencing various aspects of physical existence. Through each life we face challenges, know pain, and learn lessons. And the lessons are the key for the soul to transcend.
We live a variety – we are sometimes born into perfect health and abundance but we also need to know poverty and deprivation. Extreme contrasts may occur in one lifetime but more often they require multiple lives. At times we make a choice to be kind and forgiving and at others, spiteful or resentful. Each life will provide us with the lessons that our souls need to learn – but we shall make the choice to either grow or grudge. This is why we experience pain. It is not to settle debts from past lives that most of us can’t remember anyway, but to be challenged to evolve. Intolerance and acts of injustice in one lifetime, would for sure script the conditions we shall face in our next life. We won’t recall our incarnational mistakes. And we will shatter with the pain. But the pain belongs to our physical existence – and is here to simply nudge us out of it. When we remember that we are non-physical beings, our worldly attachments ease and we connect to the divine. We allow it to show through us. We reflect that very source of life.
The more of us tap-in, the smoother our journey. Because not only individual souls need to complete their journey, humanity as a unit does too. History narrates horrors, rendered lessons and inspired trains of thought. Nevertheless, we are far from healing. We still suffer and we make others suffer. Every time an individual acts from a place of anger we all suffer, we all fall back; and every act of kindness, helps us heal and forwards our journey.
I am the other person – that I hate, I hurt, I judge. I am that very despised ‘other’ because we sprang from the same source; and because I shall take his form the very next time, see the world from his eyes and know his pain. We all pay for the pain, because we are the same. Collectively we bear the suffering and collectively we need to alleviate it. Every choice we make affects our journey and that of others who share this field of consciousness. If we see ourselves as souls – interconnected – heading in the same direction we will think our choices through. We need to see it all, live it all until we realize we are ALL. Only then can we unite back to the Oneness – which we have always been.