Past lives? Many religions have teachings that we existed before this life, either as other individuals who lived here on Earth, or in another dimension of some kind, a “pre-mortality.” Yet, there appears to be little to no evidence for these claims, and so they often sound like spiritual woo-woo, pseudoscience, or simply unbelievable to our rational scientific modern minds. So where do these teachings come from, and do they have any validity in the real world?
I am of two minds on this. Perhaps every subject could be viewed through at least two lenses, two polarities, the finite and infinite, the mortal and immortal, the relative and the absolute, etc. If we look at it only through one lens, we may miss the other perspective(s). And there may be validity in both/all such perspectives! This ability to see validity in multiple perspectives is perhaps one of the hallmarks of nondual consciousness.
In one sense, I don’t think our ego identity had any existence whatsoever prior to this life, either in a former lifetime here on Earth, or in a “pre-mortal life” somewhere else. I think our ego, or psychological self, the particular identity that we usually think we are, begins to emerge for the very first time in our childhood, as this unique body experiences the world and the mind becomes aware of its finite being. This “self” we think we are develops here through innumerable interactions between this particular body-mind and its surroundings and other humans. This unique person that we feel we are, it seems, is unique to this life; it has never existed before, and it won’t ever exist again after the death of the biological physical body-mind. This is perhaps just like each wave that emerges from the ocean is a unique wave; it has never existed before, and will never exist again in that exact same form.
But in another more mystical sense, I don’t think that ultimately or fundamentally we are this ego. This psychological “self” we think we are seems to be an emergent identity that we come to assume is us, but is rather a construction in our mind, it is not what we essentially are. Deeper down, beyond this psychological construction, we are not that, but rather we are a fundamental part of the world, of reality, of Life itself, of the Earth, of this cosmos, of the Singularity or One, of this energy that collapses into many different elements and forms and lifeforms throughout all time. And that deeper identity with the cosmos itself does, it seems, “reincarnate” or “resurrect” in each and every new finite form that it takes in the world and universe. New forms and lives are continually coming into being from this deeper cosmic Source, and That is the One that is reincarnating or resurrecting. The ocean continues to wave, even though each wave is a unique expression of it. Every wave is fundamentally the ocean in motion.
Most religions and spiritual intuitions that have any sense of having lived “before” coming here I think are referring to this latter sense, where the deeper identity or One that we all are fundamentally in reality is being reshaped into new forms indefinitely. I don’t think it is our ego, or personal identity, that is living again or had a prior life, but rather it is the deeper One or Spirit of the cosmos that is living innumerable times in each and every form, including what we consider our present body-mind.
In moments of deep meditation and contemplation, when the ego construction falls away from consciousness, I think we can come to realize we are this deeper nondual One, this Ultimate Reality, this Absolute, this Source, which has incarnated its Self as innumerable finite forms throughout time. We identify our Self with all these other lives who have lived before, are now living, or who will ever live, because this cosmic or divine Self incarnated and is incarnating as them too. And even non-animate things. We all share the same fundamental identity, as the One. We feel a deep oneness or solidarity or Love in them, because of this shared fundamental identity.
And we may recognize that “we” have “lived” before this particular life because in some way we are Life itself, Reality itself, the ground of Being. This consciousness or life that has arisen in me is the same as the same basic consciousness or life that has arisen in countless others throughout history. The ego didn’t live before, but rather our true Self has always lived, the One in God, the essence of Reality itself, which was never born and will never die.
What do you think about a “pre-mortal life” or “past lives”?