Have you lived before? Here are 9 clues you might find in your present life
THE IDEA THAT our souls or spirits reincarnate reaches back at least 3,000 years. Discussions of the subject can be found in the ancient traditions of India, Greece, and the Celtic Druids. It’s a tantalizing belief – that our spirits are not confined to the seven, eight, or nine decades of life on Earth (if we’re lucky), but that we have lived before and that we might live again.
What do you believe? Do you believe that you have had a past life or lives, growing up, working, loving, and suffering in roles very different from the one you are now playing out? Perhaps you were a different race, socio-economic class, or gender. Some even believe you could have been another living species entirely – a dog, gazelle, or fish perhaps.
Those who believe in past lives suggest that there might be clues to what our past lives were in the various complex aspects that make up our current physical, emotional, intellectual, and psychological personalities. Here are some of them.
Most of us have experienced the eerie feeling of déjà vu – the sudden, surprising feeling that an event we are going through at the moment has happened exactly this way before.
Psychologist Arthur Funkhouser has broken down this phenomenon into sub-categories: déjà vécu – an event already experienced or lived through; déjà senti – already felt, perhaps triggered by a voice or music; and déjà visité – a place so familiar we feel we’ve been there before.
While scientists and psychiatrists insist there are neurological explanations for these phenomena, others wonder if these strange feelings could be vague, fleeting memories of past lives.
You enter a house or building, for example, in a town you’ve never visited before. Yet every detail of that place is familiar. You know what’s in the next room and up the stairs. You have the overwhelming feeling that you’ve been there before. Have you – in a past life?
My daughter has “memories” of childhood events that we know never really happened. Is she just remembering a child’s fantasy, misunderstanding, or even a dream that she now interprets as reality? Or is she remembering something that happened to her before she was born into this lifetime?
Human memory is a fraught with error and incongruities, and I’m sure many of us have memories of things that family and friends can attest never occurred. So the question is: Is it faulty memory or a remembrance of lives past?
DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Recurring dreams and nightmares also have been suggested as being memories or at least clues of past lives. I have experienced this type of recurring dream. There are two locations with specific details that crop up in my dreams several times a year, yet they are places I have never been to.
The first is a large city and I am walking down the street… there is a candy/magazine store on the corner, and I go in any buy something… then I go farther down the street to another building, and in the lower level is a small restaurant where I meet some friends and make the acquaintance of some girls… and later I think that I must go back to that place to see if the girls are there again.
The second is a smaller city – I get the distinct feeling of a “college town” – and I can see the specific view of a specific corner, how it looks, what’s there, how the street slopes down, etc.
These are not memories of places or events that have happened in this life, yet they recur in my dreams often. Are they memories of something important that happened in a past life?
Likewise, can nightmares be reflections of past life traumas that have clung to our spirits and haunt our sleep?
FEARS AND PHOBIAS
Where do your fears and phobias come from? Fear of such things as spiders, snakes, and heights seem to be built into the human psyche as part of our evolved survival instinct.
Many people suffer from phobias that are completely irrational, however. Fear of water, of birds, of numbers, of mirrors, of plants, of specific colors… the list goes on and on. People suffer from all kinds of bizarre phobias.
While several years on a psychologist’s couch might get to the root of those odd fears, those who believe in past lives wonder if they are carried over from a previous lifetime.
Does fear of water indicate a previous death by drowning? Could fear of the color red suggest, for example, that a person was struck or killed by a red streetcar?
AFFINITY FOR FOREIGN CULTURE
You probably know a person who was born and raised in the United States but is an ardent anglophile – a person who is interested to the point of obsession with British culture.
You might also know someone who can think of little else but getting dressed up and acting the part for the next Renaissance Fair or Civil War reenactment.
There are “philes” for virtually every culture on the planet, both modern and ancient, affecting people who seem to have no rationale for their obsessions. Why? Are they merely trying to find familiarity in a culture in which they lived 100 years ago? 1,000 years ago?
Here is a related subject. It’s good to have things that we are passionate about, as long as they do not become obsessive and debilitating. But from where do passions arise for books, art, antiques, fashion, gardening, theatre, cars, trains, aircraft, the paranormal – or any number of other subjects?
Intense interest in a specific subject might be totally natural, of course, but might there be a past life connection in some cases?
The dark side of passions are those uncontrolled habits and obsessions that take over people’s lives and can even marginalize them in society. Obsessive-compulsives and hoarders fit into this category.
A man who has to turn the light switch off and on ten times before he leaves a room; a woman who collects newspapers into six-foot-high stacks throughout her house because she cannot bear to get rid of them.
Each of us has at least one bad habit, from fingernail biting to gossiping to procrastination. The extreme forms include addictions to everything from television to Facebook to drugs. Again, psychological explanations can be found for these uncontrolled habits, yet those who believe in reincarnation say they might have roots in past lives.
Do you have aches and pains that the doctors cannot quite pinpoint or find a medical explanation for? You might be labeled a hypochondriac – a person who imagines his or her ailments. Or, as past life proponents suggest, those mysterious pains, sores, cramps, and more could be reflections of suffering you endured in a previous existence.
Birthmarks have been touted as evidence for reincarnation. In one fascinating case, an Indian boy claimed to remember the life of a man named Maha Ram, who was killed with a shotgun fired at close range.
This boy had an array of birthmarks in the center of his chest that looked like they could possibly correspond to a shotgun blast. So the story was checked out. Indeed, there was a man named Maha Ram who was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest. An autopsy report recorded the man’s chest wounds — which corresponded directly with the boy’s birthmarks.
In a similar way, various other physical traits – even deformities – have been suggested as having their precedent in a person’s former life.
As we’ve noted, there certainly are or could be medical, psychological, or societal explanations for each of the phenomena above, and your experience with any of them does not necessarily mean that they can be attributed to a past life.
After all, although there is some compelling case evidence for reincarnation and past lives, it is not a proved fact. Yet, this site is about alternate possibilities, and the notion that we have lived before and will live again is one that holds a great deal of fascination.
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I don’t exactly have a past-life experience, but more of a past inheritance.
When I was growing up in the late 1950s my parents told me I’d been named for a (much older) cousin “Jim” who’d been killed in WWII. They didn’t say much else because it was apparently still painful to discuss.
By the time I was in my early teens I’d somewhat inexplicably developed a strong interest in events surrounding the war years. I read a lot of histories, and along with listening to rock ‘n roll built a collection of swing-era music. Also, in spite of coming from a family with roots in eastern Europe I became fascinated with learning French. None of this was an obsession; I didn’t feel that I’d lived before or that I didn’t belong in the 21st century. Nevertheless I felt a pull to both the 1940s and the French language.
When my parents were older they opened up about what had happened. Jim had been a kind of surrogate older brother to my father. Jim had volunteered for officer training and was in France as part of the second wave following D-Day when he was hit by a Nazi bullet and killed instantly.
The strange pulls I’d felt now made sense. France, the 1940s – it was all coming together.
It wasn’t until the 2010s when I completed the circle. One of the reasons my parents had been so upset was that due to a bureaucratic mixup, no one had known the location of Jim’s final resting place. Thanks to the internet we were able to put together the missing pieces: he’d been buried in Normandy along with other men of his unit. And there I was, carrying both his name and a reasonable command of French.
That summer I travelled to Normandy to wrap up the necessary paperwork. Afterwards I spent an hour or so wandering through the cemetery, reading the names and dates of so many young men who’d given everything in the cause of freedom. I then knew what my cousin had done. I wasn’t his reincarnation, but he’d stored part of his spirit in me to be carried forward for another generation.
When I was around 6, I had a fear of Nazis. I would dream about a convoy of Nazis with Hitler in a car. I would find hiding spots around my neighborhood. I have a birthmark exactly where this person I think I was had her head taken off.