Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Maturing Through Reincarnation
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.