Many modern teachers, including Krishnamurti, perhaps taking their lead from traditional Hindu and Buddhist sources, de-emphasized the experience of past lives, suggesting, and sometimes insisting, that they were a distraction rather than an aid to spiritual growth. That they were detours into glamour from the humdrum, hard working lives of the present, more to be avoided than sought after.
Perhaps the disciples who flocked to those teachers of the early twentieth century were significantly different from those of today. Certainly reading their journals and memoirs would suggest so. Are the seekers of this new millennium significantly more mature? I think so. They have benefited from the loosening of societal and religious bonds; they have often traveled extensively and are enriched by cultural diversity; they have tasted the consciousness expansion of psychedelics and plant entheogens, been exercised by native shamans, and wallowed sufficiently in the much lauded freedoms of free lance sexuality to see through the promises of pleasure. I believe they are much less likely to be glamoured by the romance and tragedy of past lives than their forebears.
As a teacher and facilitator of such growth experiences I am firmly convinced of their value in coming to embrace the complexity and subtlety of spirit. By embracing a number of “past” lives, say ten or fifteen, out of maybe a hundred since Ancient Egypt, the experiencer can come to see how character elements of his present incarnation are sourced in powerful past dramas, and how certain elements were chosen, often with the help of guides before birth, to be worked on as ongoing projects.
Whether it be, say, a failure to communicate, or to stand confidently alone, or to make decisions, or to face oppression, or to treat others as equals, or resist cheating, selfishness or power hunger, the roots of such failings lie deep in our psyches and can best be mined by regression techniques of one kind or another.
When you see the peasant parallel the prince in his timidity, or the sailor evoke the miner despite their differing milieu you understand why the accountant or the chef are tempted to take the same short cuts. When the pastor and the butcher rationalize their actions with similar expediency you can see why the wife and the seamstress so connive. The princess too proud to marry becomes the wife so quickly dumped, the destroyer of forests becomes the radical environmentalist, the self obsessed artist the self obsessed alcoholic, and so on.
To feel these ghosts reverberate in one’s psyche, revolving around the same issues, is to see how each incarnation is a fresh take on some old issues, another attempt at scaling the heights so feared or desired before. We are like addicts falling off the wagon, we always get another chance. We will look and talk differently when we get that next chance, but it is still the same essence, albeit with a fresh energetic makeup, taking on the challenge.
Modern teachers seem to focus on the present, having the students ‘be here now’ in order to experience the unsuspected fullness of that ‘now’, and see how, hologram like, it contains everything. I disagree. I encourage all students to explore their many manifestations on this planet, because that is what the Monad, or Higher Self, can do at will, shine a light on any life and see how it is going, comparing the various issues and how they are being encompassed. And as it is my perception, my enlightenment, that the Monadic-Higher Self consciousness is what we are attempting to elevate ourselves to, I can see no better way of doing so.
Ancient man hiding in his cave from predators is not much different from modern man hiding under the stairs from a tornado, and the mother who died in childbirth is often the one who chooses a c-section now. These are elementary examples of a complex unfolding evolutionary game, and as we enjoy our modern luxuries and critique our greedy power-mad elites, we can balance that with the ongoing knowing that we have each played many parts and worn many hats, some of them functional and others fashionable.