Wednesday, September 7, 2011
THE RETURN HOME
Fate, instead of being an anonymous force of blind coincidence that poses a threat to mankind, now gradually reveals to the seeker its innermost law: fate is the authority which ensures that the individual follows his prescribed path. Thus the supposed enemy becomes a partner whose task is to make sure that our own inertia does not prevent our evolution. The more a person refuses to resolve particular problems in a spirit of learning and the more he puts up a resistance against fate, the more he will attract the negative aspect of fate, namely suffering.
Suffering is the friction which arises because of the discrepancy between the individual's true, prescribed path and the direction that he happens to be following at the time. Suffering only becomes superfluous when we make the effort constantly to increase our understanding of our own path and voluntarily to conform to it. Only the person who knows how to subordinate himself to superior law will cease to experience that law in the form of compulsion. Total freedom only comes to the individual who fits into the order of the cosmos and merges with its law. In order to do this, however, it is necessary to overcome the ego's power-drive. The will to power is man's greatest enemy – an enemy that is continually devising more subtle disguises for itself.
The opposite pole to power is humility or love. On all levels of being it is love alone that can overcome the polarity between the I and the not-I. It is only the power of love that can change the lower into the higher and thus bring about a genuine transmutation. Struggle always engenders struggle, hate engenders hate, pressure engenders pressure. Love teaches us that the weak are the truly strong and the humble are the truly powerful.
This is the message conveyed by the eleventh, and central card of the Tarot trumps. It is entitled Strength and depicts a gentle-looking woman, garlanded with roses, who with her bare hands is holding open the mouth of a fierce lion. This card symbolizes the strength and power of love, which cannot be conquered by any other force in the world.
Anyone who has learned to realize the great power of service and humility has already made a great step on his path. Love seeks to overcome polarity and contrast and to lead man back into the unity of consciousness which he once relinquished through the original Fall.
In Paradise man was an androgynous being who still lived in a perfect state of unity. But he followed the temptings of the serpent out of desire for knowledge of good and evil. He separated himself from unity – and hence he now knows what is good and what is evil.
This knowledge became a poison to him, which is why it is also knowledge alone that can be his medicine – for similia similibus curantur, “like cures like”. Man is ailing from the disease of polarity and hopes for a cure. To be ill is to be human. Illness is man's opportunity, for it is only because he is ill that he is capable of being made whole – and made holy. Illness is the Fall in microcosm and is always a disunion with god. Healing is reconciliation with God. All external healing measures can never provide but the mere formal conditions for this event.
Illness and suffering should not therefore be seen as unwelcome disturbances in our lives, to be avoided s far as possible. Rather, they are the preliminary steps to liberation, which must be lived through and endured if we are to find light in the depths. Illness has its impersonal aspect, which we call original sin, and its personal aspect, which we call karma.
Living consciously means trying to redeem and cancel more and more of our karma, without at the same time incurring more karmic debt. The point where the personal and impersonal aspects of guilt meet is where illness turns into healing.
Not until we are prepared to assume full responsibility for everything that we experience and that happens to us do we discover the meaningfulness of life. The sickness of our age is meaninglessness, which has uprooted man from the cosmos. This lack of meaning is the price that humanity has paid for the attempt to give up responsibility. But the signs of the times indicate that this sickness is turning itself into healing, for increasing numbers of people are setting forth on the quest for meaning.
He who is prepared to assume full responsibility for his fate has the experience of being integrated into the universal order and loses all fear, for he has rediscovered his link with the primal source. This link alone is what constitutes true re-ligio. Only by knowing his origin can man recognize his goal. This goal is completeness. Completeness is the expression of unity. Unity is what we call God.
ESOTERICISM AND ESCAPISM
For the person who turns daily life into a ritual there is no danger that esotericism will become a form of escapism. Esotericism should not lead one away from the world but should help one to transfigure and redeem earthly existence. Anyone who despises the realm of the earthly and material as impure, dark and dirty, and who yearns only for the pure and heavenly world above, is taking a highly dangerous course. Such an attitude to esotericism is usually a sign that the person concerned is trying to escape from some area of life with which he or she can no longer cope. Unfortunately esotericism has a great appeal for precisely those people who cannot manage daily life and material problems. This is why, is esoteric circles, the true initiates tend to be greatly outnumbered by the world-shy neurotics.
Dion Fortune in The Mystical Qabalah (Published by Williams and Norgate Ltd., London, 1935.) described this problem very precisely in the following words:
It is required of the mystic that he shall fulfill the requirements of the planes of form before he is free to commence his withdrawal and escape from form. There is a Left-hand Path that leads to Kether, the Kether of the Qliphoth, which is the Kingdom of Chaos. If he embarks upon the Mystic Path prematurely it is thither he goes, and not to the Kingdom of Light. To the man who is naturally of the Mystic Path the discipline of form is uncongenial, and it is the subtlest of temptations to abandon the struggle with the life of form that resists his mastery and retreat back up the planes before the nadir has been rounded and the lessons of form have been learned. Form is the matrix in which the fluidic consciousness is held till it becomes a nucleus of individuality differentiated out of the amorphous sea of pure being. If the matrix be broken too soon, before the fluidic consciousness had become set as an organized system of stresses stereotyped by repetition, consciousness settles back again into formlessness, even as the clay returns to mud if freed from the supporting restraint of the mould before it has set. If there is a mystic whose mysticism produces mundane incapacity or any form of dissociation of consciousness, we know that the mould had been broken too soon for him and he must return to the discipline of form until its lesson has been learned and his consciousness has attained a coherent and cohesive organization that not even Nirvana can disrupt.
A good way to learn this lesson of form is to examine one's own fate in the light of esoteric laws. This exercise is what this book is primarily about, so it is worth surveying again the foundations of this method of thought.
The aim of all our efforts is to wake up the sleeping individual and thereby give him the capacity to see reality. When a person's consciousness awakens from its slumber and he learns to open his eyes, he discovers step by step new dimensions of this reality – dimensions of which he knew nothing while he was asleep. The desire to understand reality ever more fully forces him to keep extending his consciousness and assimilating more and more aspects of that reality.
The great problem encountered on this path is the fact that reality comes to our consciousness divided into polarities. We find ourselves surrounded by nothing but contrasts, yet at the same time we experience a deep longing for unity. If we wish ever to attain this unity we must learn to bring together apparent contrasts, so that they become for us a stepladder in our development. We experience ourselves as a limited consciousness that we call “I”. Standing in contrast to this “I” is the outside world, which we experience as “not-I”.
The wise maintain that man, as microcosm, corresponds to the macrocosm. Thus the “outer” is a mirror image of the “inner”. Consequently self-knowledge must lead to knowledge of the world. At this stage man must learn that he is not, as he has always believed, a victim of outside circumstances, but that he himself creates his own environment by being the way he is.
Thus he learns to apply the law of resonance consciously in order to change himself gradually and thus make himself ripe for the things that he wishes to perceive and experience in the outside world. In this way he reconciles himself with everything, and discovers that all that exists is good.
When this reconciliation takes place is suddenly opens up for him new dimensions and new connections which are closed to the person who puts up a resistance against reality. He no longer sees the world as divided horizontally into planes instead he discovers that these planes are linked by vertical chains of principles. As every manifestation is merely a particular expression of a primal principle, the whole world of appearance becomes all at once a metaphorical reflection of this higher reality – and one begins to understand what Hermes Trismegistos meant by the statement: “That which is above is as that which is below.”
Wherever we look, nothing is still, everything flows, changes, transforms itself. As this ceaseless transformation seems to be directed towards a goal, we call it development or evolution. Development can only come about through a learning process, but any learning process is bound up with the solving of problems. Thus we find that problems are the real driving mechanism of all development, and that every problem presents a challenge to live through it actively, to solve it and resolve it.
THE MEANING OF OCCULT TECHNIQUES
There are countless so-called exercises and techniques, and they vary greatly in effectiveness and dangerousness. Here also, it is advisable to exercise moderation and not attempt to accelerate one's own progress unduly through the simultaneous application of many techniques. The value of most techniques lies more in regular practice than in the actual form of the exercises involved. It does not really matter whether one stands on one's head, holds one's breath or peels potatoes – what is important for success is the degree of consciousness with which one does these things.
Thus even the best and most secret techniques remain completely ineffective if one practices them in isolation from the rest of one's conduct and without an awareness of their symbolic character. Those who practice a technique in this way can never integrate it into their lives. As Goethe put it: “What use is the philosopher's stone if the stone lacks a wise philosopher?” By the same token, any activity, however simple or banal, can be sanctified if one uses it consciously and thus bestows it with meaning.
A ritual is the conscious, microcosmic reflection of a cosmic reality. Thus, in my view, the most exciting esoteric exercise is to elevate daily life into a ritual. If we wish to overcome polarity we must first get rid of the division between “esoteric exercises” and “normal life” - otherwise we shall degrade esotericism to the status of a spare-time occupation. The aim of this effort is to transform every handshake, every word, every action into something sacramental. Consider the flower in the meadow, radiating the beauty of its blossom and the fragrance of its scent. What is it doing other than constantly praising its creator? Similarly, what are the songs of the birds and the sounds of the sea if not part of a continual hymn to God? It is only we human beings who always imagine we have more important things to do and who make ourselves into the central justification for our actions.
It is man's fundamental destiny to be sent out into danger and risk. Failure harms him less than what he imagines to be safety. God does not want us to look for metaphysical emergency exits but to contribute to the completion of mankind in all its aspects, from the sensual to the transcendental.
- Herbert Fritsche
JUST AS SIMPLICITY must follow multiplicity, so we must now attempt to bring together all our observations in many different areas, in order to obtain an overall view of the path we have been following. At the beginning I pointed out that esotericism is a path and that this path must be followed if we are to reach our goal.
After all our theoretical explorations the question again arises: what must we do if we are not to remain inert observers but are actually to follow the esoteric path? Anyone who expects an easy answer to this question will be deeply disappointed, but the person who is content with certain hints will soon find more material than he can work through. For in fact there is nothing that is not a hint pointing towards the goal.
Just as a small child cannot assimilate written information until it has learned to read, so we must first learn the alphabet of reality before we can understand that everything visible is but a symbol, a sigil representing a higher idea. This way of thinking and perceiving has to be learned just like ordinary reading and writing.
The aim of this book has been to familiarize the reader a little with this way of looking at reality. As it deals only with the early steps, it does not attempt to present all esoteric systems, for to understand the whole range of such disciplines would demand a vast specialized terminology.
Fate has been the sole object of our considerations – fate, the partner of all human beings, a partner with whom they are forced to deal. A person's own fate is the most individual, made-to-measure esoteric system that one could ever find. This is why we begin our path by confronting our own fate. The aim of this confrontation is not to gain riches, happiness and success in the usual sense, but to achieve a deeper understanding of reality, an extension of consciousness, an encounter with the authority that man calls God.
The esoteric path does not promise outward fame, glamour and honour but rather work, loneliness and ceaseless striving for truth. This path is narrow and stony, but unfortunately the only one that leads to the strait gate of liberation. It is a steep path, and the danger of stumbling and falling is great. According to the law of polarity, danger increases in proportion to usefulness. With a knife one can both cut bread and kill someone. If one shapes the knife in such a way that one can no longer use it to kill it will also no longer be suitable for cutting bread. A small battery is harmless but it is also useless for supplying a town with electricity. The higher one climbs up a mountain the further one can see and the further one can fall. It is safer to stay down below on the plain crawling about on all fours – but the view form there is commensurate. The esoteric path leads to the highest peaks and is therefore mortally dangerous. Redemption and failure lie as close to one another as genius and madness.
By biting the apple in Paradise, humanity has chosen the path of knowledge and must follow it to the end if it wishes to find the way home again. It is the path traced out by Christ, which leads even further downwards until “the great work” is completed and the light of redemption shines from the depths.
At this point let me mention one of the stages on the esoteric path of initiation, a stage that is reached by anyone who follows this path, namely loneliness. Loneliness is a necessary phase that has to be passed through; in the Tarot it is symbolized by the ninth card, the Hermit. This loneliness is not connected with one's outward activity; it is an inner experience which goes together with not being understood by the world. A deep gulf of incomprehension and alienation opens up between the individual and the world around him. He becomes a hermit, even if he is surrounded by a hundred people. Just as this phase must be lived through, so, with equal certainty, will it give way to other phases. Loneliness is only a transitional stage which, among other things, is there to teach us how to listen and keep silent.
Before setting out on the path one should cast aside all illusions. All too many people become involved in occult activity out of a wish to acquire abilities that will raise them above others and make them more powerful. But where – overtly or covertly – the desire for power provides the motivation, the way leads undeviatingly to the pole that is called “black magic”. Black magic is simply any action that serves selfish or egotistical purposes. The essence of so-called “white magic” is to illuminate the darkness, to transmute “lead” into “gold”, to participate in the process of redeeming our planet, to serve the light. But as Fritsche puts it: “Only the enlightened can give out light. Only the reborn can awaken others.” True power is power that is possessed but not deployed. The infinite power of Christ revealed itself when he refused to take up the challenge to descend from the cross. As long as we deploy power we remain the slaves of power – and powerless.
As the public does not understand this principle it continually challenges occultists to prove their claims and expects visible demonstration of miracles. True esotericism, however, will never meet these expectations. The man in the street concludes from the refusal to produce miracle that such things do not exist – but this is a reflection of his own shortsightedness and we should not share in his limitation. When Jesus was in the wilderness the devil demanded visible proofs of his power, but Jesus withheld them. (Luke 4, 1-13)
Here again we see the great difference between esotericism and parapsychology. As long as man is motivated by mere curiosity the portal of initiation remains closed to him.
Once we have examined our true motivation and made sure that we are impelled neither by curiosity nor by the desire for power, then we can begin to take the first steps on the new path. We are soon given another warning: avoid haste! Many a traveler, in his enthusiasm over the newly discovered territory of esotericism, tries to pursue its secrets at top speed. But knowledge and development cannot be forced; they have their own rhythm and elude all coercion.
For many years the warning words of Frater Albertus have stayed with me: “when seeking becomes addiction”. Unfortunately it is all too easy to find people who insatiably consume new systems and ideas without digesting or assimilating them. The path turns into a “trip”. Fanaticism and intolerance are the hallmarks of those who try in their zeal to force God into giving favours. Development requires stillness, but not the stillness of inactivity. Stillness grows from the confidence that everything which is to happen will happen at the right time. Just as the farmer must allow his seed to rest in the ground, so must we learn to wait until the time is ripe. The motto “hasten slowly” reminds us of the golden mean between the extremes.
I do not consider it of prime importance to look around for esoteric societies and groups, or to go to India in search of a guru. There is at present a constantly growing number of groups, varying in size, aim and traditional background. If one includes all the small clubs and circles the number becomes astronomical. It is therefore impossible to arrive at a general judgement as to their value or otherwise. Nevertheless it is worth making a few fundamental observations on this subject.
Every group has its justification and can provide the individual seeker, at the appropriate time, with a certain kind of impulse and stimulus. This impulse can be quite independent of the inherent quality of the group itself. Nothing in this world is so bad that it cannot transmit certain valuable information to a person who has learned to see consciously. The value of a system or a group is hard to determine; it depends on the seeker's level of consciousness at the time. If a person feels an affinity for a particular group, this obviously shows that he can profit from its teachings. As long as he can do this the group is valuable to him.
Only in the rarest cases, however can this situation remain; for all groups, when they reach a certain size, acquire a sluggishness that usually makes their own development slower than that of the individual. Thus one day inevitably comes when the group has fulfilled its purpose for the individual. He then feels a new affinity drawing him on, impelling him to take a further step and to progress to a more advanced level of understanding.
The danger inherent in almost any group is the tendency to present its own teaching – which of course can only represent a small section of reality – as the only truth that will bring salvation. Thus a group's energies, instead of being devoted to its own development, are frequently diverted into power struggles, proselytizing and rivalry with groups of other persuasions. A system tends to become an end in itself and to take on an inert quality, instead of bringing freedom from inertia. The group becomes a vehicle for mutual self-affirmation. A coterie develops, consisting of disciples whose esoteric path goes no further than consuming the Master's every utterance. In other words the path becomes a cul-de-sac.
Apart from this general danger which goes with all larger associations, it is possible to divide groups qualitatively into three categories, corresponding to three basic tendencies:
1 Groups whose aims conform to white magic
2 Those with a tendency towards black magic
3 Those of an innocuous character which lead neither in one direction nor the other.
Leaving aside the third category, which is of no interest esoterically, we are left with the question: how is it possible to distinguish between the white and the black path? Note that we use the terms “white magic” and “black magic” here merely to denote a basic polarity, regardless of whether any particular group actually uses the term “magic”.
The same polarity can be expressed by the terms “right-hand” and “left-hand” path. Each path forms a pole to the other, and each has its justification. Thus is is not our intention here to condemn the left-hand path as devilish; this path is necessary as a counterbalance and in order to make the brightness of the right-hand path truly visible. Still, the individual who wishes to set out on a path has to decide which path to choose, the dark or the light. Each person is free to decide one way or the other, but, by the same token, each must bear – and endure – the full consequences of his or her choice. The left-hand path lures with the promise of power. The right-hand one demands sacrifice. To many, the decision seems to come easily.
One should remember, however, that everything was born from the light and therefore must return to the light. Darkness is absence of light. Therefore the left-hand or dark path leads to no genuine goal of its own. It is merely a wide detour which ultimately leads back to the light. It is not for nothing that since time immemorial truth, understanding, redemption and enlightenment have been associated with light, whereas lying, deceit, falsehood, illness and suffering have been linked with darkness. Each person must decide for himself, but it must be emphasized here that when we talk about the esoteric path we mean the path of light, for the dark path is ultimately not a path at all but merely the shadow of one.
There are many organizations and societies that serve the dark path, yet very few acknowledge this officially. Before joining any group, therefore, one should check certain points. Typical characteristics of the dark, left-hand path are: all striving for power – whether through expansion, proselytizing or whatever; any attempt to tie a person to the organization and make it difficult or impossible for him to leave; any form of drug-taking.
True esotericism, in so far as this exists in organized form, aims solely to help the seeker and remains at his disposal as long as he needs its help and advice. True esotericism points the way to freedom and never leads to dependence. True esotericism is not easy to organize, which is why one should not look for it in large organizations. In the last resort each person must go his or her own way alone. But if, along the path, he or she needs help, then this help will come without the person having to ask. In order to receive help, all that is necessary is to have a genuine need for it.
RELIGION AND REINCARNATION
Our experience shows that one cannot exclude man's religious problems from psychotherapy. It is only from lack of meaning the soul sickens. The person who is ill in his psyche has, in fact, already touched on a reality which is, for the most part, totally unknown to the “average person”. The neurotic sees more than his “normal” fellows, but cannot stand reality – he sickens from the poison of truth. Looking at it in homeopathic terms, he can only become healed through the truth that has made him ill. It can never be the aim of our path to bring the patient back to the normality that he enjoyed before his illness. Rather, after a successful therapy the patient must stand above normality to the same degree as his neurosis formerly pushed him below it.
If one accompanies someone on this path of individuation one necessarily encounters questions about meaning, God, redemption and so on. These themes are not – as many people maintain – suggested by the therapist, but are, in fact, purposely avoided by most threapists.
Therapy is not a medium for religious proselytising. Discussing the pros and cons of this or that belief or denomination is not the same as a true encounter with re-ligio. Unfortunately in most people the religious consciousness has a decidedly infantile character. This childishness in matters of religion is just as pronounced among opponents of the Church as among its supporters. It is alarming how seldom either group grasps the essence of religion. Thus there is a wide gulf between what churches teach and what religions themselves teach – this has always been so and will always remain so. Even ecclesiastical institutions are human creations and just as fallible as all other institutions. The accumulation of power is part of the essence of an institution, but power is the greatest enemy of all religion.
Thus from time to time true initiates appear among humanity and reassert the true, unadulterated, eternally valid teaching – but they are invariably persecuted and crucified by the official “Scribes and Pharisees” of the time. When we speak of religion here we always refer to the pure teaching and not to churches and institutions. If during therapy a patient has learned the true content of religion it is up to him whether he turns to a particular religion or denomination or pursues his own individual way. Furthermore, he who has understood religion will no longer feel angry about the mistakes of human society but will know how to make them part of the ritual background to his own life.
This brings us to the question of reincarnation and Christianity. The official Christian churches reject the doctrine of reincarnation with the exception of the Christian Community which is influenced by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and is an illustration of how Christianity and the concept of reincarnation are fully compatible. Although it is hard to prove, there is much evidence that at the time of Christ and in the early centuries of the Christian era belief in reincarnation was taken absolutely for granted. Not until the year 533, at the Echumenical Council under the emperor Justinian, was the doctrine of reincarnation anathematised: “He who teaches the fabulous doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul and the monstrous idea of restoration to life, let him be anathema.”
It is said that at the same time the relevant passages were deleted from the scriptures, though confirmation of this could only come from the Vatican library. Nevertheless there remain passages in the Bible which, although not sufficient to make reincarnation a definite part of Christian teaching, do show quite clearly that the notion of reincarnation was taken for granted by the disciples of Christ. In all four Gospels, for example, we find passages dealing with the question of whether John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elias. In Mark 8, 27 we read:
And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea and Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
Compare this with Matthew 16, 13-16 and with Matthew 17, 10, where we find:
And his disciples asked him saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of men suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
Compare also Mark 9, 11 and Matthew 11, 13 where we read:
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This question about Elias, which appears in all the Gospels, can only be understood in the context of reincarnation. This applies particularly to the passage in St. John's Gospel 9, 1:
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
The question of whether the cause of the blindness lay in his own sin or in that of his parents presupposes the acceptance of earlier incarnations. This is not affected by Jesus' answer, which does not cast doubt on the validity of the question but merely reveals a third aspect that was not taken into account by the questioner.
Many more statements about reincarnation are to be found in the writings of the Church Fathers whose pronouncements on the subject are often unequivocal. K. O. Schmidt in his book Wir leben nicht nur einmal (“We don't live only once”), has collected many relevant quotations, some of which are worth repeating here. The great Origen writes:
If one wants to know why the human soul at one moment follows good and at another evil, we must look for the reason in another life which precedes this one. - Each one of us hastens towards completeness through a succession of lifetimes. - We are bound always to lead new and better lives, be it on earth or in other worlds. Our surrender to God which cleanses us of all evil, signifies the end of our reincarnations.
Other Church Fathers who clearly supported the doctrine of reincarnation were St Jerome, Clement of Alexandria, Gregor of Nyssa, Rufinus, St Justin, St Hilary, Tertian, Philo, Nemesius and others.
The Archbishop Louis Pasavali wrote:
In my opinion we would make a considerable step ahead if we could publicly support the concept of reincarnation, that is reincarnation on earth as in other worlds, for thereby many riddles would be solved which at present cast a troubling mist of uncertainty over the mind of man.
None of these names or quotations should give the impression that it is possible to prove reincarnation to be a component of Christian doctrine. One could find sufficient passages and authorities to support virtually any standpoint. I do not believe that the debate about reincarnation should be carried out on the basis of Bible quotations. In my view it makes more sense to examine seriously whether or not the theory of reincarnation contradicts the Christian philosophy and the true teaching of Christ. An impartial investigation of this question will reveal no such contradiction. The individual is therefore not faced with having to decide between remaining a Christian and believing in reincarnation. A true Christian attitude has always required the courage to go the way of one's conscience regardless of accepted views – in this respect nothing has changed up to the present day. Even in Christ's time the scribes were not to be counted among the disciples.
STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
OF THE SOUL
The length of a soul's sojourn in the beyond varies with the individual. It is certainly not true, however, that several hundred or several thousand years lie between the incarnations, as is widely maintained. It is significant that in the distant past intervening phases of a few hundred years occurred. But at present the intervals between incarnations are usually less than ten years. The shortening or lengthening of the
interval is the mechanism which controls population levels. The shorter the interval the greater the number of people living on earth.
In this context one should not forget that humanity is not a closed realm with a constant number of souls but something like a transit station. If we compare incarnations to forms in a school we can think of humanity as a secondary school. Just as before and after the secondary school there are other places of learning, so the soul passes through different realms until it is mature enough for humanity; and when it has become a perfected human being there awaits endless hierarchies with further tasks lying outside the human kingdom.
One also finds in the human soul memories reaching back into the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, but one should not equate these with incarnations in the narrower sense. Only with humanity does the development of the individual soul begin, for in the animal kingdom the group soul still reigns. Occasionally, however, a human soul can be demoted to an animal kingdom. Such demotions probably apply to the beginnings of humanity and are by no means the rule.
A common question in whether or not one's sex changes over the series of incarnations. Although we know from experience that sex does change we still cannot throw much light on this question since we are not yet clear about the law which governs this change. Having tested many hypotheses I am at present of the opinion that a soul possesses a definite sex but that it also has a double of the opposite sex. In most incarnations the individual has the sex that the soul possessed in the beginning. Incarnations in the opposite sex only occasionally intervene so that particular experiences can be undergone and karma cleared. The soul frequently but not invariably meets its double since the two are dependent on one another in their development.
The repeated encounter with the same person over long chains of incarnations is certainly an astonishing phenomenon. Love and hate, attraction and repulsion are merely vestiges from the past. The clearing of karmic debt always involves the same person on whom one inflicted the wrong that originally brought about the guilt. One of the most deeply striking experiences in reincarnation therapy is to realize how similar are the problems that occur throughout an individual's incarnations and how many millenia go by without any change in his or her basic pattern of behaviour.
Part of the therapy may owe its success to this very realization. By surveying spans of time which to our consciousness seem enormous, we are able to see the overall structure of the problem and the nature of the chain of errors with great clarity. Reincarnation therapy works like a microscope, sharpening our perception of the personality structure in all its details.
Through confrontation with guilt we are forced to shoulder the responsibility for our own fate and in doing so, to change ourselves. At first the patient expects only a change in his symptoms, overlooking the fact that this can only take place in connection with a change in himself. In reincarnation therapy we learn the meaningfulness and justice of fate. We learn that with each action we harvest what we once sowed and sow what we shall one day harvest. This recognition forces us to live in the here and now. We perceive that we are cradled in a cosmos guided by meaning and purpose and that our sole task is to serve it. This reconnection with the primal purpose is re-ligio, the final goal of our therapy, for healing is a matter of religion.
We now touch on the subject of souls that are “earth-bound” - a subject which the public is still ill-equipped to understand but which, because of its importance, we cannot entirely ignore. By “earth-bound” I mean souls which, after leaving the body, remain for one reason or another so concerned with earthly events that they neglect to follow their required path through the world beyond. As in their lifetime, all their interest is focused on worldly happenings. They therefore try to share in the activity of a living human body in order to regain their own capacity for action.
The reason for this kind of earth-bound state is usually – however strange this may sound – that the person concerned has not consciously perceived his or her own death. “Overlooking” death in this way is frequently a consequence of believing firmly that after death everything is finished. When someone of this conviction suddenly dies, he finds that subjectively so little has changed for him that it simply does not occur to him that he is dead. The only perceptible difference lies in his own inability to act, and this he quickly remedies by attaching himself to another body and thus regaining the feeling of having the normal influence on earthly events.
There are other possible reasons for a soul being earth-bound. A person might, for example, have committed serious mistakes and wish to correct them himself after death. Or there might be grieving relatives who seek to keep the soul of the deceased chained to them. Sometimes a living person can be possessed by several earth-bound souls, a condition that one should not confuse with demonic or devilish possession.
The earth-bound souls are not intent on anything evil but are themselves in a regrettable plight and are waiting for help. Beings in the beyond, however, cannot give such help until these souls turn away from earthly happenings and ask for help. Thus it is the task of the living to provide the necessary help. All the old-established religions, therefore, include rituals and pleas for the dead. An impressive example of this is the Tibetan Book of the Dead, whose rituals have the purpose of guiding the souls of the deceased.
Possession of a living person by deceased souls can take many forms, ranging from minor symptoms to mental illness. It is significant that the majority of cases classified as schizophrenic are characterized by the presence of earth-bound souls. In such cases it is the intruding soul, and not the patient, that should be treated in order to bring about the release of the soul and the freeing of the patient.
In the early part of the century the American psychiatrist, Dr Wickland, worked successfully for over thirty years with this method of treating shizophrenics. Success in this difficult work was made possible by the talents of his wife who was an outstanding medium. During the sessions she placed her body at the disposal of the earth-bound souls, so that through her they could speak and communicate.
The treatment of a soul consists in explaining the circumstances in which the person now finds himself and retrospectively making him conscious of his death. He must learn to grasp that he no longer possesses a body of his own and that earthly matters now have no importance for him. He must literally turn himself around to face his new path and recognize the help that lies in the world beyond.
In the past few years we have begun to collect our own experiences in this area. These confirm Wickland's findings but also show how many problems and dangers attend such procedures. Laymen should therefore be warned against any wild experimentation in this field. Recently we have found possible ways, within our therapy, of contacting and treating the earth-bound souls even without a medium. This form of therapy I call “release-therapy”, because the soul is freed from its bondage and guided on to its own true path.
A central role in release-therapy is played by the prayer which the soul desperately desires to utter. Thus the greatest opportunity for the layman to help such souls lies in praying and having masses read for the deceased – one could hardly recommend a better service. It also follows that surviving relatives and friends should avoid any attempt to tie or call back the deceased. Spiritualists and those who go in for recording voices on tape are involved mainly with earth-bound souls. They should be clear in their minds that these souls need help but are in now way the transmitters of heavenly wisdom.
We are still at the beginning of this research but what we have discovered so far shows that by taking into account this type of problem we can open up completely new possibilities for therapy and assistance.
EXPERIENCES OF THE BEYOND
People often ask whether, on our journey through a series of incarnations, we also pass through the intervening stages between lives and, if so, what people report about the beyond. Our experiences of the beyond and of the intermediary stages are at the time of writing considerably wider than they were a few years ago, but they are by no means complete. In our therapy we try to pass through only those stages that are relevant for the patient, and we avoid enquiring about things merely to satisfy our own curiosity. This is why our experiences of the beyond are still at a somewhat early stage.
It is difficult to make generally valid statements on this subject since the beyond does not present a homogeneous picture but is just as differentiated as are the different stages of human consciousness. The beyond is an astral world and therefore purely a plane of images where the forms that a soul perceives will reflect the acquired content. The soul of a dead person, by the law of resonance, will reach whatever plane of the beyond corresponds to this soul's level of consciousness. These different levels make it difficult to give a unified picture. It depends on the individual whether the beyond for him is heaven or hell. A deceased will often experience the beyond as a landscape whose appearance and mood will reflect his own quality of soul. One female patient who entered the beyond after a life (very remote in time) as a cruel and powerful ruler, describes it as follows:
I die a painful, slow and lonely death. Above all I have a horrible fear of death which almost takes me out of my senses. I hear dreadful noises and find myself within a dark sphere, amidst a bizarre landscape. Everything is terrifying, everything is shivering with fear. The landscape is inharmonious, everything is sharp, angular, cold and repellent. It is windy, the air is filled with anguished groaning. Aimless and disorientated, I look for a hole or a crack through which to crawl but find nothing. Even colours are threatening. There are also many other beings, including some that resemble rats. I have to spend an agonizingly long time here, ceaselessly looking for some corner to hide in. The worst thing is that one never gets used to the horror of this place. After a long time I finally find a crack; I hastily thrust myself into it and at the same time am pulled in.
Similarly unpleasant experiences could be related by others who have entered the beyond after a life dominated by greed, cruelty and selfishness. Apart from these cases, the beyond is described as pleasant and beautiful. For example, here is a description given by a dying child:
Slowly everything becomes lighter, and I begin to float. I am no longer myself, yet I am myself. I can see everything: my mother, my father, the woman and myself in bed. I float higher, up towards the ceiling, then down again until I am near my mother. I stroke her. Then I float up once more and see the house and the garden. Someone is leading me by the hand. It is my grandmother, the mother of my father. She is very sweet to me. She says she is going to take me somewhere and show me everything. We come to a gentle, undulating landscape, and I see other beings. We do not speak, but one can tell what they are saying, and they know what I am saying. This is a place where one feels good and happy. There are soft, light, gentle colours which somehow merge into one another.
Descriptions of the world beyond present a wide variety of scenery, ranging from ultra-horrific wasteland to magnificent countryside. And the beings that one encounters there correspond to the quality of the environment. It must be emphasized again that we are not talking about a material plane but about a purely psychic world, which is nonetheless real.
The experiences we have discussed show that the beyond reflects the soul's level of consciousness and that all other beings encountered there belong to roughly the same stage of development. There is contact with other souls and entities, and evidently further learning also takes place. Help from more highly developed beings only comes to those who ask for it. Usually after physical death, the mistakes that an individual has committed during his life become suddenly clear. Apart from such experiences as the dark sphere, the beyond is found to be so pleasant that no one wishes to return to the material world. It is only when the individual recognizes his own mistakes that he feels a desire to compensate and make good and hence finally realizes that he must once again be incarnated.
The beyond is just as varied and many-faceted as the material world. As death alone does not make a person essentially more intelligent or mature, in the beyond wisdom and stupidity are distributed in much the same proportions as they are on earth – a fact which is often overlooked by the followers of spiritualism. I am not trying to cast doubt on the “genuineness” of spiritualistic phenomena but merely wish to warn against accepting any utterance and giving it a halo of infallibility just because it comes “from the beyond”. The chance of obtaining messages of really high spiritual quality through a medium is very small. One is much more likely to receive only the private opinions and views of certain underdeveloped souls or even non-human entities.
THE BASIC PROBLEM: POWER
Within a process of therapy we follow up several chains of symptoms with their accompanying karmic guilt. All of these chains ultimately lead back to a nodal point representing the basic problem which so far the patient has failed to overcome. The problem was the same then as it is now, though in the distant past it took a coarser and more clearly defined form. In his or her present life such problems have mostly become refined and sublimated to the point where they are no longer recognizable.
If we analyze the basic problem of any individual we find that it always boils down to the same theme, namely power. Man becomes sick with the disease of power. In earlier lives this was usually lived out in a very obvious way, whereas in the present life it is veiled and refined. But always it is power that is man's downfall. The polar opposite of power is humility. Every time we say “I must” or “I want” we are expressing a claim to power.
In terms of the present life, one of the commonest ways of exerting power is through being ill. Today illness guarantees the individual a space in which he can exercise his unconscious power-urges free of criticism. Herein lies the reason why sick people would really prefer not to give up their illnesses. Any sick person would of course hotly deny this and would point out all the measures that he or she had taken in order to become well again. But this piling up of alibis does not reflect the individual's real state of mind. Naturally the patient himself believes that he wishes to be cured, but only because he is not yet aware of the motive for his being ill. Once he recognizes that he himself must decide either to remain ill or to renounce power, he usually finds the choice a very difficult one.
Power is to be equated with ego-dominance. It is the attempt to impose one's will on others instead of subordinating oneself. This power-urge was what led, in Paradise, to the biting of the apple. The disobedience of Adam and Eve represented a refusal to subordinate themselves to the law and an insistence on arrogating to themselves the knowledge of what was good and what was evil. Man has always been willing to pay a high price for power. To attain it he has even been willing to make a pact with Satan and to sell his soul.
Yet not until the patient has re-experienced, with full clarity, the power-urges of his earlier incarnations will he begin to unmask them in the here and now. Only when he has seen how over many thousands of years, he has heaped suffering upon himself in order to buy power, will he slowly begin to be ready to understand the doctrine of humility. Such understanding does not come about through an intellectual process, but through an experience of reality which brings about a trans-polarization in the individual. The change in consciousness takes place in the present, and thereby the person becomes healed. The symptoms, having become superfluous, literally disappear of their own accord, although we have in fact not treated them at all.
Reincarnation therapy is not a flight into the past but a way of using the past in order to guide the patient into its opposite pole the present. As long as the past is suppressed and continues to work on an unconscious level, the individual will not succeed in living consciously in the here-and-now. He will be continually re-stimulated by past events and will confuse past and present. Only when he has fully integrated the past into his consciousness can he put it aside as over and done with and finally experience the present with a freshness he has hitherto not believed possible. The reason why we look back into the past in our therapy is not because we find the past interesting but to make it clear how unimportant it is.
The goal of any esoteric path is to attain a state of constant awareness in the present moment. But in order to reach that state we must first isolate the present from the past and purify it. Reincarnation therapy follows the homeopathic law of similitude. By exploring the chain of symptoms, the sick person is continually confronted with similar situations, until finally he discovers the poisonous source of guilt. Through his act of recognition, he potentises this poison, turning it into a medicine and solving his basic problem.
Reincarnation therapy is neither a means of satisfying curiosity about previous lives, nor is it an “opium of the people” which gives consolation by promising a new existence. Reincarnation therapy is a hard route to purification. In repeated reincarnations we see no source of comfort but rather a challenge to develop towards completeness and thus become free of the wheel of rebirth. We say “yes” to this earthly existence, as long as it is necessary for our path of development. Our goal, however, lies beyond the material world. It lies in that unity which we once left behind and to which every human being longs finally to return.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
GUILT AND RESPONSIBILITY
With the recognition of guilt the individual has to assume full responsibility for his fate – a step which opens the door to healing. The uninitiated are often afraid of discovering past situations of guilt and believe that they can hardly go on living with this knowledge. Some believe they could never, for example, get over the discovery that they have killed someone. Such fears are unfounded in regard to specific memories of this kind. There is an old saying: “Only that which man suppresses, oppresses”. It is when the knowledge of guilt is unconscious that we are afraid to confront it. But if we succeed in looking guilt in the face all the pressure disappears immediately. The pressure was only there because we pretended not to know about the guilt.
Nothing of which we are fully conscious can ever have a negative effect. In therapy the confronting of guilt is entirely free of value judgment It is a looking into reality and is incorporated into the past as a step in the learning process. Through integrating step by step into his consciousness all his hitherto totally suppressed shadows, a person becomes complete and whole. Confrontation with guilt is not the taking on of a burden but the giving up of a burden. Although the confrontation itself is frequently not felt to be very pleasant, afterwards the patient has an unfamiliar feeling of freedom and relief. Any dealings with guilt should avoid any extreme. To suppress guilt or to project it onto others is to create sickness in oneself, since one is retreating from reality. It is equally unhealthy to overload oneself with guilt and self-accusation until one collapses under the burden. We must learn that we are guilty because we are human beings and that this guilt is the price we pay for our learning process. Without error there is no development. There is therefore no single person who has not shouldered guilt at some time in the past. Only by going through the darkness can we reach the light. Nobody is able to avoid hate without first having tackled it.
In the tradition of the Church we see another example of a balanced way of dealing with guilt. First the believer is made aware of the fact that, as a man, he is sinful and has shouldered a burden of guilt, then he is given absolution and the burden is removed.
Some people object that the principle of grace stands in direct contradiction to the law of karma, which states that all guilt must be redeemed by the individual. But this contradiction between karma and grace is illusory. Like all polar opposites, these two principles unite in the middle and in fact determine each other. Grace only comes to the person who asks for it, and to do that he must acknowledge his guilt. Hence grace can only become effective through karma. Karma works to promote insight in a human being, and once this has been achieved he is ripe for grace.
ENCOUNTER WITH THE PAST
Once the subject has become aware of the various stages of birth, conception and embryonic development (this process takes about five hours of therapy) we regress him/her into a previous incarnation. He now experiences himself as he was during that earlier life and learns to survey it from birth to death. Naturally we always have him live consciously through dying in a previous existence, so that he becomes reconciled to life's opposite pole, death, instead of suppressing it as most people do.
After this therapy the subject no longer fears death, since fear has given way to knowledge (fear is lack of knowledge!). One woman was heard to remark spontaneously during a session: “It's funny, I never thought that dying could be so simple.” Our subjects' description of death tally fairly exactly with the reports which Dr Moody, Dr Kübler-Ross and others have received from people who have died clinically and been re-animated. Just as at conception the consciousness becomes linked to the body, so at death it is once more released.
When the person has learned to survey some of his earlier lives, we then take up the thread of a particular symptom and follow its appearances through their previous incarnations. In this way we examine in each case only the specific situation linked with the symptom and leave aside all the other details of this particular life. In that way we gain access relatively quickly to very remote incarnations.
The actual number of previous incarnations is a subject of much misconception. Some people boast for instance, that they know they have already lived four times. In fact the true number of past lives is inestimably high. After only a few sessions the person loses any desire to count the number of times he has lived before.
Equally difficult for the newcomer to imagine are the stretches of time that we cover in our therapy. It is difficult to name figure, but we go much further back than modern historical research reaches. Atlantean incarnations of 12,000 years ago are not considered by us as particularly old.
We are fully aware of how incredible such claims may seem to some readers, but these claims are merely the result of daily work with people who are no different from those treated by other therapists. There was never any attempt to suggest or provoke particular phenomena, and this is borne out by the fact that the initial results did not correspond at all to our expectations.
In exploring the material plane we have likewise had to accustom ourselves to unfathomable dimensions. Anyone who thinks he has lost the capacity for amazement should try going to a planetarium and meditating on the inconceivable magnitudes that modern science deals with.
Not content with the undoubtedly impressive achievements of science in exploring the material world, we have also begun to explore the world of the mind. On this level, however, we have hardly taken the first step. Thus many quite unimaginable phenomena are waiting to be grasped by the human consciousness.
We shall also have to revise our present ideas radically when it comes to the age and origin of mankind. Mankind is considerably older than is generally assumed today, and has already gone through many periods of high culture very similar to our own. Here also we see the law of rhythm in operation: every high culture eventually yields to ruin and destruction, but mankind still goes on building the tower of Babel.
Let us return to the subject of reincarnation therapy. When someone scans through the history of a particular symptom over many lives he learns that his present-day problem or symptom is ancient and has been present in similar form in almost every previous existence. Here again lies a danger of misinterpretation, which I myself initially fell prey to (see the relevant chapter in Voices from other Lives).
When one finds in a previous life a traumatic situation corresponding in content to the symptom in question there is a temptation to interpret the earlier situation as the primal trauma and therefore as the “cause”. Here is an example: a patient cannot see with his left eye. In an earlier life he experiences his left eye being pierced by an arrow. Another example would be a person with vertigo who experiences having been thrown from a cliff in a former existence. Someone confined within the conceptual system of modern psychology would tend to regard these earlier experiences as having caused the symptoms. This conclusion is, however, just as false as the attempt to find in childhood the cause of psychological disorder.
If we relate the thoughts we have developed in this life to an earlier incarnation we find that the traumatic experience was certainly no chance occurrence but an expression of a problem, which was brought into this life. Looking at it the other way round, the soul of a person who drowns in one life is very likely to have a fear of water in the next. But we should not conclude from this that the drowning was the cause of the later fear of water. The drowning was itself part of a meaningful pattern, a demonstration of an inherent problem.
The more one goes back the more situations one finds that would seem to qualify as the “primal” trauma. Thus, returning to one of our earlier examples, the patient with the arrow in his left eye will find many more events in which he lost that eye. All these events are links in a chain whose totality forms the problem common to all the situations.
When, in our therapy, we have followed a chain of symptoms right back as far as it seems to go, we then take the decisive therapeutic step: we regress the patient back to the moment when he himself originally set up the cause of the chain of suffering and introduced the basic theme that was to emerge in many different forms. This is the step with which the individual confronts his own karmic guilt by which he himself has made necessary all the painful situation he has been through. Up to now he has always regarded himself as an unfortunate victim. It is really all the same whether he blames his disorder on his mother or on some unpleasant experience in an earlier life – in either case he is projecting the guilt outside himself.
When, however, he is confronted with his own karmic guilt, something quite different happens. The sufferer has to integrate his shadow. He experiences himself as an agent, doing to others the very thing that he complained was being done to him over several thousand years. To confront his own guilt is no easy matter for the patient, but it is a major step in the direction of healing, if he is able to take it. If one wants to insist on looking for a “cause” then it is to be found in karmic guilt.
Guilt of this kind, however, is not the ultimate source; one could easily go on searching for other determinants. If we do not do this in therapy it is for the following practical reasons:
1 There is no definite source of guilt, a fact which the Church obscures with the concept of original sin.
2 A karmic misdeed, in relation to a present-day problem, can at least be considered as the beginning of a particular phase in the unending rhythm.
RE-EXPERIENCE OF BIRTH AND
After two or three sessions the subject is, as we say, tuned into birth. He experiences his first regression in time as he re-lives his own birth, feeling again the pains, smelling, seeing, hearing and perceiving all that took place before and after delivery.
When the patient has learned to experience his birth in all its details and stages (which usually necessitates a number of repetitions), we then go back further in time to his conception. Now he re-lives the experience of being present as a conscious and perceiving entity at the conception of what was later to be his body. He can see the surroundings and his future parents. He experiences their sexual union, suddenly feels himself being sucked in as though through a funnel and finds himself once again confined in something limited, dark and material. To be present at one's own conception would seem a grotesque idea to most people of today, but it becomes entirely natural when we learn to distinguish consciousness and body as two separate things. The human being is just as much present at the conception of his material body as he is at its burial.
After the experience of conception we explore the span of time between conception and birth, those months inside the womb which are the source of so many, mostly unpleasant, experiences for the child. The fears and pains, not to mention abortion attempts, that the foetus suffers during that period, cannot be believed by anyone who has not re-lived them.
Compared with these pre-natal traumas, the subsequent childhood experiences of the early years are harmless episodes. A conscious survey of the period in the womb will shed more light for the patient than a hundred hours of analysis.
More and more often it happens that people during ordinary therapy regress of their own accord into birth and intra-uterine experiences. Thus, even in orthodox circles, it is becoming gradually accepted that the pre-natal period can be consciously re-lived. In comparison with earlier theories and therapeutic methods this discovery is sensational. The danger is, however, that some people may become convinced that in the unpleasant experiences in the womb and at birth lies the “true cause” of subsequent conflicts and disorders. In reality these factors are not causes at all, any more than the childhood experiences that Freud and his followers made so much of. Both childhood and pre-natal events are only links in a chain of problems that stretches through many incarnations.
Here some readers may raise the objection that only in the third month of pregnancy does the soul enter the body. The evidence against this is that up to now all patients and test subjects without exception have been able to describe their conception and simultaneous entry into flesh. In due course experiments may reveal how the theory about the third month arose, but it seems to me a doubtful theory, since the cells require information form the onset in order to develop according to plan.
The fact that from conception onwards a child is fully conscious of all that happens and is spoken, has far-reaching implications for parents, midwives and doctors attending labour. Fortunately the gentle-birth methods of Dr Leboyer are currently receiving increasing sympathy, and clinics are gradually accommodating themselves to the demands of conscious parents.
One could fill whole volumes with warnings and pieces of advice relating to pregnancy and birth, but the important thing for the parents to realize is that it is only in terms of the body that the growing embryo is so tiny, so helpless and so young. It is quite possible for a newborn baby to be older in soul than its parents. There is absolutely no reason to talk to a baby in meaningless babble. It understands every word and every sentence – even those things that are better not said in the presence of children.
All parents would be well advised to begin as early as possible with the education of their children – namely on the very day when they learn that a child is expected. Eugenics – in the sense of ante-natal education – consists in the parents talking to the child in the womb in a perfectly normal way, encouraging it to look forward to its arrival, teaching it about birth, exposing it only to good music, literature, films and plays. Telling the embryo clearly about birth does more good than weeks of gymnastic exercises.
All difficulties and complications during delivery are attributable to the child's attempts to prevent itself from being born. Fear of being born has to do not so much with the delivery process itself as with the mastery of life, which begins here. The embryo does not possess its own breathing rhythm and is therefore not fully caught in polarity. This means that it still has access to past and future. It can survey the most important stages of its future life – compare this with the “film” of life that a person sees at death.
The extinguishing of this knowledge occurs with the first breath, for it is through the breathing rhythm that a human being enters fully into polarity and dependence on time. This is why a horoscope is calculated in relation to the first breath or the first cry. Herein lies also the reason for the great significance attached to breathing in esoteric training. The embryo views the problems of its future life and knows that this knowledge will disappear when it is born. Hence the fear of birth and the frequent attempts to prevent it happening. Appropriate pre-natal conversations can help here more than all clinical techniques put together. By the same token, parents who spend weeks discussing whether or not they should abort a child should not be surprised later on if the child is disturbed, or rejects its parents.
- A PATH TOWARDS
Again and again you descend into the ever-changing
bosom of the world,
Until you have learned to read in the light
that living and dying are one-times-one
And that all time is timeless -
Until the wearisome chain of things
Comes to rest within you
as an ever tranquil circle.
In your will is the will of the world.
Stillness is in you -
Stillness and eternity.
- Manfred Kyber
REINCARNATION therapy, as I practice it, emerged from a series of experiments which I carried out in 1968. In these experiments, we succeeded by hypnotic regression in enabling the subjects to re-live not only their own birth, their development in the womb and their conception, but also earlier incarnations. My record of such experiments and my observations about the possible consequences can be found in other books of mine, such as Voices from other Lives (New York, M. Evans & Co.)
The technique used in these experiments was hypnosis, by means of which regression in time was made possible.
Experiments of this kind are not new. In the nineteenth century they were carried out by Albert de Rochas. Around 1956 the case of Bridey Murphy aroused great public interest. In England Arnall Bloxham and Denys Kelsey have publicized experiments in hypnotic regression which they carried out over decades. During the early stages of the purely experimental work in regression which I carried ou, I discovered that there was an obvious connection between current symptoms and previous lives. As this theory became more consolidated there emerged the idea that there was a possible therapeutic value in bringing earlier incarnations into consciousness. The decisive step towards realizing this idea came when I developed methods which made possible regression into earlier incarnations without the subject having to be hypnotized. By doing without hypnosis it was possible to open up conscious memory of past lives to everyone.
As already mentioned in the chapter on hypnosis the capacity of a patient to be hypnotized is dependent less on the hypnotist than on the patient's basic trust, and it is precisely in psychotic patients that such trust is least to be expected. Apart from this, there are numerous other reasons for avoiding a dependence on hypnosis. It is not for nothing that warnings and critical observations about hypnosis have been frequently voiced in esoteric circles.
The technique of hypnosis works by suggesting feelings of tiredness and sleepiness in the subject, and thereby goes against the very aim of esotericism. Man's problem is precisely the fact that he is constantly in a state of sleep and moves about like a marionette, instead of waking up and become conscious. Everything that happens in a therapeutic session should represent on a small scale what is expected of the patient in everyday life. Our goal is therefore to make people more awake and more conscious, to teach them to see reality with ever-increasing clarity, and not to encourage them further in their sleepiness and unconsciousness.
Besides, hypnosis is always bound up with the problem of power, which, as we shall see later, is the central theme of every therapy. Furthermore, hypnosis turns the patient into a passive consumer, who expects it to provide an instant answer to his problem. These considerations should suffice to show why I have tried, as far as possible, to dispense with hypnosis in applying regression for therapeutic purposes.
The result is that in our reincarnation therapy we make the patient aware of earlier lives without ever having to use hypnosis. The regressions take place in full waking consciousness. To those unfamiliar with our methods, this sounds so unbelievable that the public continues to associate reincarnation therapy with hypnosis. This no longer applies, for in the meantime reincarnation therapy has become independent of hypnosis.
It is legitimate to ask how these new methods work. To describe them is difficult, if not impossible. We always begin with a short period of relaxation which is intended to put the subject into a meditative frame of mind. The relaxation serves to diminish external stimuli and allows the person to listen in to himself. It switches the attention from the outer to the inner pole, without either fatigue or sleepiness entering in. Through the help of the therapist, sensations and images arise which the person learns to observe and describe at the same time.
MATURING THROUGH REINCARNATION
Some people raise the objection that it is rather senseless and impractical if all the knowledge one has accumulated through many incarnations is forgotten each time one is reborn, so that one has to begin all over again. Others argue exactly the reverse: they say that there is a very good reason for not being able to remember earlier incarnations, and they believe that consequently there should be a prohibition against bringing knowledge of the past into consciousness.
The fact is, however, that one does not invariably forget previous incarnations and have to start again from the beginning. On the contrary. In each incarnation we slot into the stage of development that we have reached in our last life. The mistake we make is to confuse specific knowledge with a general state of maturity that has grown out of past knowledge and ability. To use an analogy: most of us have learned things at school which we have since forgotten. Yet our involvement with these things at the time and the process of learning them had the effect of shaping us in a certain way – an effect that continues to be felt even when the specific knowledge itself has been lost. The effect of learning is an extension of consciousness. Thus the original object of learning ceases to have great significance of its own. A child's box of letters is there to help the child learn to read. Once it has served this purpose it has no further value.
Now, everything that an individual has learned in earlier incarnations is reflected in the degree of maturity and consciousness with which he is born into his present life. This is what lies behind differences in intelligence, maturity, natural abilities, and so on. Psychologists continue to argue about whether intelligence is acquired or inherent. The answer is: neither. The soul brings with it a certain degree of development which is neither something inherited nor a result of the much quoted environmental influences.
Men are not all equal – even if today the supporters of equality are making their voices heard with increasing shrillness. Equality in their sense has nothing to do with justice. And hierarchical thinking has nothing to do with dictatorship.
Pursuing the analogy between a series of incarnations and the different forms in a school, each pupil is allotted to the appropriate class – no one gives a third-former a problem in differential calculus to work out. Each has his task and problems appropriate to his grade at the time. There are no objective problems, and therefore there can be no solutions that are universally valid. Fractions appear insuperably difficult to the first-former, but are child's play to the sixth-former. Both points of view are subjectively correct, but neither is pertinent to the nature of fractions. It is the same with all human problems. When we try to make a particular problem accessible to everyone and look for a universal solution to it we are forgetting the different grades of awareness that exist among human beings.
Herein lies the root of all proselytizing. Any kind of proselytizing is wrong because it disregards the varying grades of individual development and projects its own level of development on to everyone. Esotericism recognizes these varying grades and therefore never proselytizes. Esotericism only has anything to offer those who discover for themselves an affinity with it. One should not try to foist a truth on someone who is still resistant to it.
The discrepancies between individuals are the result of experiences from previous incarnations. We forget nothing of what is essential. We forget only the specific details, which, however, are not important.
The same applies to capacities and inclination. The capacities from a previous life will be brought into this incarnation as gifts if they are meaningful and useful for the task in hand. Otherwise they will be, so to speak, forgotten – which is good, otherwise they would merely distract the individual from his study plan.
This is why I warn people against using reincarnation therapy to incorporate past abilities (usually of an artistic nature) into present consciousness. Unfortunately, however from the experimental point of view this is one of the most impressive proofs of reincarnation and is highly valued by certain experimenters in the field. Some of them even see it as part of therapy – a most dangerous mistake!
If an external influence is used to bring an earlier capability into the present life, when this capability has not manifested itself naturally, then the effect is to distract the person from his or her true path. By thinking too much in terms of utility, we value such abilities too much for their own sake and forget that they are merely aids. To be able to paint or make music has no value in itself but only in relation to the practitioner. Making music can be a source of deep experience. But once such experience is integrated into consciousness the source is no longer needed.
Just because one has been a gifted musician 500 years ago it does not necessarily mean that music going to play a role in one's present life. If the soul has learned what it had to learn from music, then music has no further use for the person. Instead, new areas will become relevant. If he goes back to his old musical skill he may be setting up an anachronism that will hinder him in his present apprentice's journey.
This does not, however, apply to child prodigies. A child prodigy is an eloquent example of someone who has not yet finished with a particular theme. Rather the theme is approaching the culmination of a long development.
Therefore one should rely confidently on fate and work with the talents that one has received, instead of constantly glancing back at those that one no longer has. Nothing is lost in this universe. This is true not only in physics but also in regard to a soul's process of maturing. The tendency to forget past incarnations is no blunder on nature's part. The point of it is to relieve the consciousness of accumulated ballast and enhance its receptivity in the here-and-now. I do not believe that it would be better for everyone to be able to survey all of their past incarnations, any more than I believe reincarnation therapy could ever be taken like a mass inoculation. Particular items of knowledge apply to particular levels of development. The vast majority of mankind has never read Dante's Divine Comedy, and it is right that this should be so. Yet for certain individuals Dante's poem may be of supreme importance.
The esoteric path of ever-widening consciousness is not a “natural” path but an artificial product of human development and knowledge. Likewise the alchemist in his laboratory produced artificial things that do not occur in that particular form in nature. The yogi adopts physical postures that no creature in nature could ever adopt willingly. Numerous other examples can be cited. All of them merely serve to show that esoteric initiation, although orientated to natural laws, is ultimately a kind of art, bound up as it is with human intelligence. Being an art, it is therefore “arti-ficial” and not “natural”.
It is precisely in such artificially induced evolutionary process that the task of humanity lies: the task of redeeming itself and the cosmos. Thus, the conscious surveying of past lives has always been recognized as one of the steps on the path of development, a step which is taken with the help of appropriate techniques or, occasionally, takes place of its own accord. As there is no such thing as coincidence, one can be sure that no one is ever going to be placed in the embarrassing position of learning about his past incarnations before he is ready.
There is a phenomenon whereby certain sensitive people can look clairvoyantly into the past lives of others. This is generally known as “reading the Akashic records”. These records are comparable to a data bank in which is stored the sum total of all events, past, present and future. Those who possess or have developed the ability to call up consciously information from the Akashic records are able to see the incarnations of other people. As it is difficult if not impossible to control the way such information emerges, one should not believe uncritically all clairvoyant statements about past incarnations.
If a clairvoyant simply tells someone about a past incarnation, the information is of relatively little use, since it will not by itself give the person access to the past, and he will not by itself give the person access to the past, and he will not be able to identify with it. But obtaining information from the Akashic records can be valuable therapeutically in cases where the patient is unable to retrieve the information himself on account of his disability, such as a speech defect or restricted faculty of comprehension.
At any rate one should always be clearly aware that mere curiosity should never be the motive for wishing to learn about past incarnations. Curiosity is the plague of our age. It is always a sign of immaturity and is the surest means of hindering true initiation.
The number of people, especially children, who remember past lives of their own accord, is considerably greater than is generally supposed. Such memories are either not recognized in our culture or else are hushed up and suppressed as signs of mental disturbance. Children up to the age of six have a particular facility for remembering the past, but their parents, out of fear and lack of understanding, tend to discourage them from talking about their memories. This leads to a suppression of the entire complex. Then when the child is six, these impressions from the past usually disappear of their own accord.
The situation is quite different in cultures where reincarnation forms part of the world picture. In such communities children's memories of past lives are so accepted that they are not even presented to the public as anything out of the ordinary.
A certain proportion of psychotic symptoms can also be attributed to the surfacing of memories from past lives. Any number of situations, places or people can stimulate an individual in such a way that fragments of memory from other incarnations break through suddenly into consciousness and can no longer be separated from current experience. A whole host of hallucinations and fantasies can be explained in this way.
But it is not only psychotic symptoms that become more explicable in terms of reincarnation. One can say that every symptom of illness whether mental or physical, has its “cause” in earlier incarnations. At the same time we should be careful in using the term “cause”, for it is not possible for a person to find the ultimate cause of an illness unless he goes right back to the original fall of man.
Unfortunately the concept of cause is used far too often and consequently is quite wrongly applied. If we speak of “cause” here what we mean is the beginning of a recognizable theme. At the same time we remain aware that this kind of cause is in turn determined by other factors more remote, and so on ad infinitum.
I maintain, therefore, that the cause (in the above sense) of a mental or physical illness never lies in the present life. I know how provocative such an assertion will seem to many people, considering how painstakingly we have grown accustomed to finding early childhood the cause of so many ills. But remember how, in discussing the horoscope, I tried to make it clear that an individual's birth is merely a résumé of his entire life and that no new theme can ever arise in a life without having been present in miniature at birth.
Even without astrological arguments it should be evident that all problems encountered in life can be attributed to previous experiences on the path of learning. But this path, if we follow it backwards, does not end at birth, or at conception, but encompasses the totality of all incarnations.
This becomes clearer if we once again think of a day as being analogous to a lifetime. If a problem occurs for an individual on a particular day, it would be naïve to expect to find the cause of it on the same day. A day does not begin as a blank sheet. Rather, despite the intervening period of sleep, it carries with it certain assets and liabilities from the period that has gone before.
Similarly the beginning of an early life is not a completely fresh start. Already at conception the individual is equipped with the karma he has accumulated over many lifetimes as well as with his own particular learning program which he carries into the present incarnation. If he fails to solve a problem in this program, or finds the sense of it beyond his understanding, it is only by a conscious contemplation of the entire path which has led him to this point that he can attain the insight necessary to find the solution to the problem.
From all that has been said the reader will have understood the concept that has evolved into the present-day psychotherapeutic method which I call reincarnation therapy. Reincarnation therapy, as developed and applied by me and my collaborators since 1975, is not a new technique among the ever-increasing host of psychotherapeutic methods, but it deliberately stands at the opposite pole from all other known methods and theories. It is not a form of psychoanalysis that extends to past lives, nor a therapeutic treatment aiming to re-live earlier traumas, nor a special kind of hypnotherapy. Reincarnation therapy is rather an attempt to leave behind the untenable concepts of orthodox psychology and, building on the esoteric view of man and universe, to develop a valid therapy. This stance leads, not surprisingly, to an outlook and method of therapy that are diametrically opposed to all the familiar concepts in psychology.
THE LAW OF KARMA
This chain of effects linking the deeds of the past with the present cause of one's fate, is generally called karma. Karma is the law of balance which ensures that an individual is confronted again and again with the same type of problem until through his actions he has solved the problem and put himself at one with the lawful order of things. Thus every action and even every thought becomes immortal and inextinguishable. Each deed and idea waits for the time when a counter-action will compensate for it.
The law of karma demands of someone that they assume full responsibility for their fate – a step that modern people are unwilling to make. The widespread resistance against the doctrine of reincarnation is all too comprehensible when one considers how much trouble and expense we have gone to in order to fabricate apparently infallible theories that free man from responsibility for himself and project the blame on society, infection or bad luck. It is understandable that people become infuriated when they see an attempt to expose these cunning and sophisticated theories as mere self-deception and to place the blame once again fairly and squarely on ourselves.
All of these conceptual models work superbly well in theory and when they fail in practice this is explained away with a great amount of progressive-sounding blarney. Yet when a man begins to be honest with himself – and this is the most difficult form of honesty – he has to recognize that only when he takes full responsibility for everything that happens to him will meaning become clear to him. Responsibility and meaningfulness cannot be separated from each other – each is conditional upon the other.
Most people of our time suffer from lack of a sense of meaning because they are trying to keep responsibility at bay. The first thing you find when you look for meaning is guilt. Accept the guilt and the meaning becomes clear.
The continual alternation between life and death is merely an enlargement of the day-night rhythm. When we wake up in the morning, ready to begin a new day, what lies ahead is, in a sense, virgin material, ready to be used and shaped as we wish. Thus, from one point of view, it is in our power to decide what we are going to experience during that day. But, on the other hand, the course of that day is also necessarily affected by our experiences and actions in the days that have gone before. If someone has recently quarreled with his neighbours, incurred large debts, neglected the care of his body or the development of his soul, then these things will influence the day ahead of him, even though that day holds all possibilities latent in it.
Thus each day is simultaneously conditioned by past influences and future possibilities. And the same can be said, analogically, of a new life. Each new life is indeed a fresh chance, containing every possibility, and yet at the same time it is only a further link in the chain of incarnations, a reflection of the problems, mistakes and assimilated lessons of the past. Just as at the beginning of a new day we cannot un-make our past deeds and thoughts, so on the threshold of a new incarnation we cannot cancel out the past but must continue to spin the thread that we have spun in previous lives.