The Journey of Rainsnow
THE JOURNEY OF RAINSNOW, written in the late 1990s, was self-published via Iuniverse in 2002. It was a spiritual autobiography of sorts, chronicling my own immersion into a highly mystical world centered on my experience with past-life regressions, Jungian synchronicities, divination and clairvoyance, and spiritualism. I wrote the book as a means of processing and making sense of my many experiences – as a personal synthesis linked to my own growth and development. At the same time, I decided to share it, because I, myself, have profited greatly from the generosity of others who have had the courage to share with me the innards of their searches and struggles. From these brave souls I have learned new ways of walking, and learned of new places to go. At the very least, I have learned that I am not alone; and from that, my perseverance has been energized, and my hope raised high! Besides this, I found a kind of historical aim and transformational perspective in the material which surfaced during my spiritual explorations of the 1990s, and felt that it ought to be put into view, as one more strand of our collective self-pondering… For what are we in the world for, if not to add our own personal strand of understanding to the tapestry of human consciousness? …This is not overly ambitious, it is fundamental… and our duty if we respect the collective journey of our kind…
In the 10 years since THE JOURNEY OF RAINSNOW was published, it has been both well-received and criticized by others. Some have thanked me profusely for sharing such personal material so honestly, saying how much it has encouraged them, inspired them, and ignited in them the desire to learn more about themselves via the spiritual path. Others have attacked me for being too ‘anti-Western’/ ‘anti-mainstream’, or for being ‘egotistic’ and ‘self-absorbed.’ They have equated the autobiography/journal experience with narcissism, and overlooking the potential of such soul-baring to play a part in our connection-building and mutual enrichment, seen in it only an expression of self-serving exhibitionism. Some have praised the work, some have ridiculed it; some have disagreed with it, but respected it; some have utterly dismissed it. Of course, most have ignored it!
As some years have passed since the writing of the book, it seems time to make a reappraisal, or perhaps better said, an update of my position regarding the material, and my relation to it.
DID THE PAST LIVES REALLY HAPPEN?
THE JOURNEY OF RAINSNOW is centered upon the remembrance of a progression of past lives, by means of which I sought to delve into the mysteries of my own personality, at the same time as I exposed certain dynamics of history affecting us all… There was an effort to create a mixture of the personal and the universal which would be useful to spiritual seekers as well as to cultural transformers, who ought to have an expansive sense of the human journey through time.
What is my view of past lives and past-life regressions today? Did the past lives which I remembered in the 1990s really take place, or was I just dreaming?
Who can know for sure?… Dr. Ian Stevenson, one of the foremost Western advocates of reincarnation who was at the same time equipped with genuine scientific credentials, expressed distrust of the ‘past-life regression’ as a reliable means of tapping into past-life memory. For that purpose, he preferred to rely upon the spontaneous memories of children (see also Carol Bowman). His reasoning was that the past-life regression, as applied to adults, is likely to be contaminated by the imprecision of the hypnotic process, and by the developed reservoirs of knowledge to be found in the adult subconscious: the result of years of exposure to historical facts through reading and contact with the media. These reservoirs of knowledge, he believed, might be inadvertently tapped into during the regression and become the raw-material of ‘confabulation’ – the process of unintentionally constructing a fantasy while in the hypnotic state. In the lore of past-life study, there are, indeed, fascinating cases of knowledge attained in the present resurfacing later, under hypnosis, as though it came from a past life…
Even as I wrote the JOURNEY OF RAINSNOW, it was my opinion that it would not be possible to prove that the past lives I remembered had actually taken place. Although I believed they were real at the core, though quite possibly mixed with substantial elements of confabulation, I was also willing to accept them (if need be) as illuminating fables and metaphorical pathways to a deeper knowledge of the self, and history. As Roger Woolger, a Jungian analyst involved in past-life study, has pointed out, the past-life regression is a much clearer and much more direct way of getting at the issues of one’s life and the dynamics of one’s personality than is dream analysis (one of the great tools of Freud and Jung). This is because the content of the dream is often obscured by highly personal symbolism and irrational jumps between events and images which make it hard to follow, whereas the past-life regression, in general, lays down a coherent story-line filled with psychological significance, and easy to interpret. Even if past-life regressions were, essentially nothing but generators of confabulation – subconscious parable factories – the wealth of understanding thereby created ought to justify them. For Woolger, and for others, the historical validity or non-validity of the material uncovered by the past-life regression was of little importance compared to its power to shed light on the crucial dynamics of the subject’s life.
Of course, for others hoping to use the past-life regression as a means of proving the theory of reincarnation, and hewing an escape route out of the cold material universe by obtaining ‘hard evidence’ of life after life, the question of validity or non-validity is critical.
My own determination, regarding my own case, which I mean to apply only to me (for each of us must form his own opinion of the truth), is this:
Nothing in my regressions, themselves, is hard proof of anything. There are surely elements of confabulation, and there are possibly cores of real memory – but, if so, there is no way to prove that they, too, are anything but confabulation.
At the time of my spiritual explorations in the 1990s, I relied heavily upon synchronicities – ‘meaningful coincidences’/ ‘spiritual signs’ – to establish the essential validity of some of my regression experiences. These were outside events – events occurring outside of my mind, and outside of the hypnotic experience - which resonated very strongly with the content of my regressions, and seemed to come along at the perfect moment to back them up. Whereas critics of the synchronicity believe that it is just the human mind overusing its ability to draw associations, and imagining a connection between random occurrences which actually have no link, I felt the mystical aspect of these synchronicities deeply in my soul. I remain committed to the idea that there are non-rational ways of knowing, which logic cannot fathom, and which spiritual feeling alone can bring within our reach. To this day, for me, the synchronicities encountered in those days stand to prove that there was something essentially true about my past-life memories: if they are not absolutely true in a historical sense (having been led off track by confabulation), then at the very least they are true in the sense of a stirring fable or a revealing myth which gets to the core of one’s being and is there to serve as a source of empowerment and connection to others and the Universe. WE DO LIVE IN A SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE, I am now sure, thanks to what I lived back then. What exact form that Universe takes - what are its exact contours and rules – I do not know. But I honor the mystery by refusing to prematurely saddle it with an explanation.
HOW AM I USING THE PAST LIVES?
One of the most challenging aspects of the spiritual path I went down in the 1990s, in association with my cherished and now vanished partner (who has passed on to the mysterious realms we only wonder about), was what to do with my past lives. Should I seek to return to being the person/people I thought I was before – make the object of my life now be to carry on as though I were that person/those people; should I seek to push the current me out of the driver’s seat of me and give that seat back to the ancient me(s); to turn back the hands of time, and take up where I had left off? After a while, it became clear to me that the purpose of my uncovering of my past-life memories (or creation of my past-life myths) must simply be to gain greater self-understanding, for the purpose of living more fully and effectively in the present. As the Zen mode is to live with consciousness and awareness in the here and now – not to be dulled to life by developing a thick hide made of the past and future (in which we do not really live at all) - so the past-life memory could only be useful as a means of illuminating who I was right now – the being whose eyes were looking out at the world in front of him, and whose feet were moving through it. I was not to disappear into some form of metaphysical nostalgia or become some sort of New Age historical re-enactor. I was to accept my current life and live it fully and strongly – enriched by knowledge of the self and world which had come to me in my own peculiar way.
WHAT OF THE PERSECUTION?
Just as I wrote about back then, when I first penned THE JOURNEY OF RAINSNOW, the persecution has been palpable. Reincarnation and past lives remain fodder for ridicule by the mainstream, and during the course of my journey, I have seen good people’s careers endangered and nearly ruined by the stigma associated with having a non-conventional belief, while others have locked themselves into a box of silence to avoid the risk of destruction by the ‘mob.’ It does not matter that there are ‘safe havens’ and niches for people who hold such beliefs, and mediums through which they may move unimpeded; what matters is that there are also many areas and levels of life where access is denied or allowed only at the price of extreme discomfort; many jobs and relationships which are instantly threatened whenever the unveiling of an ‘alternative’ belief system takes place.
That is one of the great tragedies of our human search for truth, which is driven towards the truth of the mainstream (that being merely its own myth which it has crowned). – And this is one of the main reasons why I am still satisfied with THE JOURNEY OF RAINSNOW, even when I hear that it is overly personal and should have been left private… By exposing myself in this way, and showing others on alternative paths that they are not alone, it is my hope to encourage human freedom in one of its most important manifestations: the right to search, in one’s own way, for the meaning of one’s life. Truly, if we do not have this most fundamental of rights, of what value are the others which we do have?
MY RELATION TO THE BOOK
Though I respect the great effort I made to produce that book in the late 1990s, and still love parts of it very much, I am no longer inclined to promote it actively. It is there for those who wish to read it; and I think for those who have esoteric interests, especially those centering on past lives, it will be a very valuable read, as long as they understand that they will be reading about someone else’s experiences, and required to find their own ways of connecting it to their lives. I am now prepared to enter a phase more fully centered on utilizing the interface between culture, creativity, and social change to do my part in aiding in the global transformation which progressive people, world-wide, are working on.
Compassion and humanity, sustainability and justice, vibrancy and responsibility, intellectual stimulation, emotional growth, and aesthetic nurturing of the soul, a world fashioned for deep and honest love – let we who agree on these as rightful aims for our kind, come together from our different points of origin to bring the earth we live on closer to the day they reign…
With regard for all,
J Rainsnow, 2012
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