an upcoming book my free ebook The Implications of the Soul.)
My life started much like most. I grew up, went to school, joined the military. One day, I had a realization that life wasn’t all I was told it was. I started questioning authority, questioning everything I had been told and taught. I started practicing mediation and soon started catching glimpses of pure consciousness. I started seeking enlightenment in earnest and continued on this path for many years. I document this growth and the realizations that I experienced in detail in my photo-essay, Fading Toward Enlightenment (http://Fade2E.com).
Before I experienced a past life, I was a strict non-dualist. Non-dualists are enlightenment seekers. They believe, ultimately, that all of existence consists of one thing – Consciousness, Spirit, God, Tao…. The terms are innumerable, but the concept is the same. You are not a person, you are pure Consciousness. The world is an illusion built by the mind and its conditioning.
Buddha was a nondualist. Zen teaches it. Ramana Maharshi taught it. Present day teachers are Eckhart Tolle, Gangaji, Tony Parsons, and others. I still believe that the non-dual viewpoint is accurate, and I always try to keep it in the back of my mind, but it is not practical nor even attainable with any practice. Enlightenment happens. It’s like a gift. Most enlightened teachers weren’t seeking it. It just happened to them. Nonetheless, there are millions of enlightenment seekers. Seekers trying to make something happen that can’t be made to happen. Sad.
One day, a friend of mine, Sula DePaula (http://suladepaula.com), wanted to pay me for designing a website I had built for her. I didn’t want to take any payment, but she insisted. In lieu of cash, we settled on her giving me a free, private breathwork session. Breathwork is a method of rapid breathing that often releases repressed, unconscious material. I never would have done this on my own, never would have paid for something that I felt was so “new-agey,” but, since it was a matter of “face,” I acquiesced.
Twenty minutes after starting the breathwork session, I suddenly found myself reliving a very painful moment from my life in 11th century Scotland. In a flash, much of that life came roaring into my consciousness – my leaving my wife to join a Christian monastery. Her killing herself because of my leaving. My overwhelming feelings of guilt and eventual suicide by throwing myself over a cliff. All recalled in less than a second. I was laying there, crying like a baby as Sula guided me along, supportive and caring.
After the session, Sula tried to help me understand the message that this memory provided. What lessons could be learned from it in dealing with my relationships in this life. Being the hard nose that I am, all I wanted to do was understand the implications of what it meant to have multiple lives.
My training as a non-dualist had taught me that even though we may experience “magical” powers or events during advanced spiritual development, one shouldn’t get too attached to them. I have often experienced synchronicity, insights into a person’s nature that borders on the psychic, powerful energy movements, and gut feelings that have saved my life more than a few times – but only once have I ever experienced a past life, and that was during an LSD session that I did in order to get through a deep spiritual blockage (documented in Fading Toward Enlightenment). With that particular experience, the past life aspect was overshadowed by a far deeper insight into the non-dual experience – the Oneness of Life.
So to say I was surprised to experience a past life so vividly by simply breathing is an understatement. I thought that maybe, maybe, I would get an insight into what was keeping me from enlightenment (and ironically, it did). But a past life? Never would I have suspected it.
Coming from a non-dual background provided me with some unique insights:
- One, going from a typical, ego-centric viewpoint to a non-dual, enlightened viewpoint is like going from grade school right into college. You’re trying to skip high school. Some people can do it, but those are prodigies, Mozart’s and Einstein’s – not your typical spiritual seeker.
- Two, a central non-dual tenet is Identity – who you think you are. Most people never think about this, but a non-dualist is constantly trying to see through the illusion of the individual self. To identify not with the person, but with pure consciousness. The concept of a Soul is something that almost anyone can grasp and it is a very small jump from ego identification (“I’m Wayne Wirs”), to soul identification (“I’m a soul currently residing in a body called Wayne Wirs”). The shift in identity is much easier to accomplish.
- Three, the implications of being a soul that never dies, a soul which comes back again and again are mind-boggling. If you identify with yourself as a soul, you honestly lose the fear of death. What’s to fear? You come back with pretty much the same personality and values, just in a different place, time and body. Once the fear of death is lost, many other fears are lost too.