Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Problems with “Past Lives”

Originally posted on June 12, 2013

Someone asked me for my thoughts about the theory of “past lives”—a take-off on reincarnation. First, I think the mind is a hundred times faster and more clever than what we think it is, and it can generate quite compelling and vivid fantasies that seem like realities. In a multi-dimensional universe, perhaps they are a kind of reality. I’m not sure that our species has a final say or even a capacity to assume what is and is not “real.” However, regarding reincarnation and past life, here are some questions that came to my mind:

First, if there is reincarnation, have you been promoted or demoted? Is there just one major lesson or three or four or a hundred you should be learning?

Second, say you go into a past life regression you “realize” you were an ancient Mayan priest. You have memories. But is it "your" past life only, or might ten other people also connect with this same character?

And what if some of the people who connected with this Mayan priest living both long ago and some time in the future; then does that make their life one of your past or future lives?

Please note that if the events in “your past life” resonate with certain of your psychodynamic complexes, I have no objection to your symbolically intervening in a present psychodrama to cope differently with that past life, any more than using psychodrama to “correct” or “re-make” a dream event, or indeed a “real” memory in your life. If it is used to advance your maturation, it really doesn’t matter if it’s objectively real. Well, maybe it gives it a bit more "oomph" if you do believe it’s "real." But then one can ask what the nature of "really believing it’s real" does for your spiritual discipline.

Metaphysically, what if our psyche can indeed connect with a near infinity resonant energy fields, experienced as events of a past life. What about the innumerable less dramatic events of that so-called life-time. (Isn’t it interesting that what tends to get remembered are somewhat traumatic events, or major triumphs, but not ambiguous events?) But even if one “really remembers,” that would not make someone else’s  "lifetime" "ours" any more than a baby who feels that her mommy is really "hers."

Don’t get me wrong. I am hardly a fixated objective materialist. I firmly believe in the power of the psyche beyond the brain. It’s just that the theories of life that go with such a notion need to be brought into the present and future. If we have a mystical experience and operate within a metaphor of god-as-male-king, we’ll frame that experience as Dante did. That is to say, the power of mind to transcend itself may well also transcend by far ancient belief systems and transcend a good deal even present belief systems.

That gets the ball rolling. Other comments?

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