Past-Life Regression Follow-Ups: What To Do If Old Problems Stay, And New Ones Appear
A Case Study In Guilt
A Case Study In Fear
What happens after a past-life regression, if troubling information and emotions surface, and the expected "cure" of a psychological or physical ailment does not occur?
Additional work is needed. This work is best accomplished under the guidance of a therapist, but it usually also requires a real effort on the part of the subject.
Sometimes, the follow-up work which is needed to develop the healing potential of a past-life regression involves undergoing further regressions, to either learn more about oneís past (get more pieces of the puzzle); discharge emotions related to oneís past-life trauma; or seek the illumination of oneís past-life death experience, afterlife review, between-lives state, or other related spiritual experiences (these can be of invaluable assistance).
Sometimes, the follow-up work, done in ordinary states of consciousness, must focus on developing and internalizing a liberating perspective about what has happened, which may involve expanding oneís understanding, oneís power of forgiveness, and oneís sense of life, itself. It may be very helpful, during this time, to be in touch with a therapist, understanding friend, or past-life support group (several such groups exist on the Internet), for it is often very hard to go it alone when faced with these issues. Just one other person who has experienced what you have, in some form or manner, can really be a tremendous help.
Following are sample follow-ups to past-life regressions. Certainly, an in-person interactive approach between a therapist and his subject would be the best way for the issues which are described to be deal with. Nonetheless, in these sample "follow-ups by correspondence", some basic points are made which could be useful for anyone experiencing difficulty in reaping the potential healing benefits of his/her past-life regression. Back To Top
A Case Study of Guilt
The Subjectís Problem
I am a 38 year-old male from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I have just gone through a past-life regression which kind of has me wondering what to do next.
According to what I saw, I was a soldier in some kind of European war between Catholics and Protestants. I was dressed up with a kind of metal helmet I have often seen Spanish soldiers wearing, and I had a musket and a sword. My name was Heinrich, and I was on the Protestant side, although in this life I am a Buddhist, and in fact I even spent two years living in a Buddhist retreat. I am a vegetarian, and pacifist, but in the past life I saw, I saw myself participating in setting fire to the huts of Catholic villagers. I also remember standing by as others beat a priest to death; and I joined up in the gang rape of a Catholic girl, who other soldiers then killed. I remember that I felt very uncomfortable with all this afterwards, and the only way I could make myself feel better was to tell myself that all the Catholics deserved it, they were heretics and sinners and deserved to die. But that justification only opened the floodgates, and led me to commit more atrocities. It was like I was trying to prove that my first crimes were all right, by repeating them. I participated in the massacre of a group of enemy soldiers who had just surrendered, and set fire to a church in which a large number of Catholic civilians had taken refuge. I remember we also marched through an area where starving peasants were begging us for food, and we did not share any of our provisions with them, because they were Catholics. In the end, I was killed by a sniper while searching for enemy soldiers in the ruins of a deserted town.
The regression has left me more confused and with many more questions than before. Do you think this regression was real? Was that really me in a past life, or was it just my imagination? I have ambivalent feelings, because if it was not real, it puts the whole process of past life regressions into doubt, but if it was real, then it puts my whole image of who I am into doubt. I donít know if I can deal with having been an immoral killer in the past. The thought depresses me, and also scares me, I guess, because of karma. Will I have to pay for my past-life crimes? (My Buddhist faith teaches me that I will.) Right now, Iím without a job, and expensive therapy is the last thing I need. Can you help? - Jim.
Jim, thanks for your letter.
You raise many interesting questions and issues.
The first thing I would like to say to you is that you are not alone, nor is your case rare. According to our theory of reincarnation, most of us alive today should already have lived a large number of times in the past. We also believe that human nature contains the capacity for both "good" and "evil", for behaving justly and compassionately, and unjustly and cruelly. Given these two facts, and the additional fact that we are imperfect beings who have come to the earth to evolve (meaning that we are not starting from the point where we would like to end), it is to be expected that our behavior, in some of our past lives, was most likely not up to the moral standards we would like it to have been. If your past-life memory was real, it will not make you worse than anybody else who you see around you, for they are likely to have behaved badly in one or more of their past lives, as well. The only difference is that you remember, and they do not.
It is important to realize that you still have a right to respect yourself, even if you really did the things that you saw yourself doing in your past-life regression. What happened then was that you let a dark part that is in all of us come out, losing the moral perspective or strength necessary to keep it under control. This is something that happens frequently in wartime; in periods of social, religious, or ethnic strife; and in times of disorder, disorganization, and anarchy. At such times, these dark forces often come out collectively, in the context of emotions of fear and rage, in situations which are already on the edge of morality, and they end up sweeping people along in a thoughtless, dark current, involving them in actions which they would never dream of becoming involved in by themselves, under ordinary circumstances. Jim, when you consider the atrocities committed, at various time, by such diverse groups as the Romans, Vikings, Mongols, Tartars, Turks, European civilizations, Nazis, etc., you will see that this kind of behavior has, unfortunately, been rather widespread in our human history; and it is not surprising that many of us may have been "swept away" by it, in one or more of our past lives.
So once again, I say, you still have a right to respect yourself. You are a part of the human race, with both its failings and its beautiful potential, thatís all. You have now arrived at the point of clearly recognizing that what you did in your previous life was wrong, and you have the tools now (in your Buddhist practice) to develop, refine, and imbed, within your soul, the moral understanding and discipline necessary to prevent you from succumbing to such behavior again. Your vegetarianism and pacifism are evidence of a strong moral yearning and discipline, and signs of your soulís recovery and advancement.
Regarding the question of whether your experience was real or not: I canít say. I donít know. Honestly, past-life regression techniques may produce real memory or fantasy, depending on a variety of circumstances. In either case, a "dark side" was exposed; but, as I have just said, it is a side which all of us have. Knowledge of it, rather than being a source of shame, should be a source of strength, for it puts us on our guard, and improves our ability to defend ourselves against it. You should let your own feelings be your guide as to whether your past-life memories were real, or not. As for the details which you described in your regression, the war which you mentioned could easily have been the Thirty Yearsí War (1618-1648), or one of the many other religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants which occurred in Europe around that time. Many of the atrocities and acts of barbarism which you have described would fit very well with the nature of that bloody war. The fact that you were wearing a Spanish-shaped helmet (the Spaniards were Catholics, but you were a Protestant) should not be taken as an inconsistency, because helmets of that type were in common use at that time. If the past-life memories which you believe you had were not real, they could constitute a fantasy venting experience of pent-up frustration (the dark side thrashing about inside the "prison" of your morality), or express an inner rage against traditional religions - especially the Catholic faith - if you had had a very negative experience with that in the past. (They could also express guilt for breaking away from the Catholic religion to become a Buddhist in this life, if that is, in fact, what happened. Remember: even though a person should not feel guilty for changing his religion, if his conscience and spiritual needs direct him to do so, it is, nonetheless, common to experience some amount of guilt, due to the distress this change may cause to others, and/or due to the power of the conditioning/indoctrination one has received in oneís previous religion.)
Once more, the question of whether your experience was real or not is one that will have to be answered by you, depending upon your feelings and attitudes regarding it. Many times, in oneís heart, one knows - or gradually comes to know - what is true and what is false.
Regarding your question about karma, and whether you must pay for your past-life crimes, if you really did commit them, that is a question which you, with your committed Buddhist practice, are probably better prepared than I am to answer. Keep in mind, however, that you have remembered a life that took place centuries ago. In the meantime, you may have had other lives, which you do not yet remember, in which you paid back the karma for that one. So you may not have to "pay" anything more for that bloody past life, in this one. I, also, do not believe that the only way to pay for "evil deeds" one may have committed in the past, is to be afflicted, tortured, diseased, or in other ways "punished" or destroyed for what when did back then. I think it may also be possible to erase "bad karma" through positive actions and soul growth; and if that is so, then you seem to be doing a very good job with the way you are living your present life.
If, as time goes on, you continue to feel disturbed by this experience, to the extent that it is affecting your sense of emotional peace and well-being, you may - once your economic situation improves - find it worth your while to invest in some professional counseling or therapy.
Jim, I hope this has been helpful for you. Once again, it looks like you are on the right path, and doing the most important thing for healing a past life of the kind which you have described, which is living "right", in this life. Back To Top
A Case Study Of Fear
The Subjectís Problem
Iím a 21 year old African-American man from Los Angeles, California. Since I was young I was always very sensitive to being different, and I felt very uncomfortable being around people I didnít know. It wasnít a race thing, because I felt this way in all kinds of neighborhoods, it was like I was in danger everywhere I went, like there was something about me that stood out and could make me be a target. I remember on my first airplane trip with my aunt I was bugging out. She thought it was about flying, but the funny thing is, I felt a lot better once the plane began to gather up speed along the runway, which is just the time youíd think my panic would go off the charts if flying was my problem. But I felt safer then, like I was getting away from something and everything was going to be OK.
Anyway, my feeling of being threatened came and went for many years. Same with my fear of airports and planes. I had some therapy, but mainly I just bit the bullet as I got older, and went around trying not to show how messed up I was.
Finally, when I heard about past-life regressions, I decided to give it a try. The first time, nothing too much happened, I saw myself as a little boy in Africa and got just a couple of images, it was even frustrating, and I said, "Enough of that." But I ended up going back, and it was in my second regression that I saw myself as a man with markings on my face, like some kind of tattoo or cut, right in my face, that every man in my ethnic group or tribe seemed to have. There were several of us on a passenger plane, and a lot of other African people, also. And then suddenly, just before take-off, some men in military uniforms with machine guns came aboard, and then one of them took out a pistol and just walked up and down the aisle shooting everyone who had those markings on his face, right in his seat. I felt that awful panic and the unfairness of it all, as this killer came up to me and I was going to lose my life just because I belonged to another group than his.
Later, I found out that those markings really existed and are worn by the Ibo people from Nigeria, and I researched a lot about them. Now I think I was killed during the Nigerian civil war in 1967, when the Ibos were trying to break away and make their own independent country called Biafra.
What I want to know, though, is this. From what I read, after you find out the cause of your problem in a past-life regression, your problem is supposed to disappear, so Iím wondering why do I still feel nervous in public places sometimes, and why do I still feel really bad at airports? The regression therapist told me my problems come from that life and not this one, so I can just let them go, because they donít belong with me here. I couldnít agree with him more, but my body and emotions just arenít relating to that knowledge. So what do I do? Where do I go from here?
It is an assumption, shared by many, that as soon as a person is able to connect a present-life problem to its past-life roots, the problem will spontaneously disappear. According to various therapists, this does seem to occur, sometimes, at least - but certainly not all the time. The speed of healing, and the process involved in healing, is likely to depend very much upon the specific case and individual involved. It is my own firm belief that improvement is not always automatic, and that further work is often needed in order to reap the full rewards of a revealing past-life regression. The past-life regression, in that sense, should be considered an important tool in the therapistís healing arsenal, but it should never be expected to carry the full load of transforming a subjectís life, all by itself (although sometimes it may, indeed, do just that).
Regarding your specific case, various possible explanations for the persistence of your problems exist. First among them is the possibility that your stated problems - fearing airports and feeling uncomfortable in public places - are not rooted only in the past-life experience which you remembered. Perhaps other past-life traumas, or perhaps traumatic or disagreeable experiences from your present life, are also contributing to these anxieties. If that were the case, then the uncovering of your Biafran past life might not be enough to defuse these issues in your mind. You might also need to make contact with these other causes. The basic operating principle of the spontaneous cure, via the past-life regression, is to clearly identify the source of a problem as something which took place in the past. Once that identification is made, the problem loses much of its power, because one realizes that oneís unhealthy fears, reactions, etc., really belong to that past-life situation and context, and not to now, allowing one to, essentially, jettison the problem and leave it back in its own time. For example, what harm can sharks do to you if you are out of the water? Do you think you will be so afraid of them once you wake up to the fact that now you are on land? In the same way, what harm can Caligula or Hitler do to you if you are out of their time? Or - in your case - why be afraid of being singled out as an Ibo and persecuted or even killed, when you are living in the USA in 2002? After an enlightening past-life regression, the body and mind often internalize the fact that those fears no longer make sense in oneís present context, and "let go" of them, the same as one lets go of the fear of trolls or other nighttime monsters when one reaches a certain age, after one realizes that they are "mythical" creatures who cannot hurt you. (Although what happened in the historic past is not mythical, by any means, by separating from it and realizing it is "locked in its own time", it ceases to have the power of a reality operating in oneís present lifetime.)
The first possible explanation for the continuation of your difficulties even after the completion of a successful past-life regression, would, therefore, be that the trauma of your Biafran life is only one causal strand of your contemporary problems, and that there are other strands still to be detected. In that case, your mind would not yet have freed you, because other shadows, unknown and threatening, not yet identified and diminished by the power of clarity, would still be lurking within your psyche. The solution would be to continue in your search for answers, either via ongoing past-life regression therapy, conventional therapy (to look for still undetected present-life causes), or self-analysis (which could hinge on keeping a dream journal, doing automatic writing, learning self-hypnosis, etc.) Perhaps some combination of all three approaches. The objective would be to illuminate the hidden sources of your fears, and to take away their power by taking away their mystery, and linking them with specific times, places and situations, no longer applicable in your life.
On the other hand, it is possible that your fears basically do derive from that single Biafran life, and that a more sophisticated or thorough follow-up approach may be needed to clear up the problem. As stated before, spontaneous healing is not a given with the past-life regression, and should never be assumed. If your regression was more visual and mental, than emotional, it is possible that what you need is more work to relive your trauma, and to go through an "emotional release" - an intense emotional re-experiencing of the pain and fear of your past-life trauma. Some therapists believe that past-life traumas, and the reactions that they generate, may become very much "frozen" into our souls, and locked into our emotions and bodies. In order to free ourselves from this past-life residue, which is still trapped inside us and limiting us, they say, we must do much more than intellectually survey the past life. They believe that we must feel its pain all over again - cry, scream, or otherwise allow ourselves to be impaled by the full intensity of it - as a way of unlocking the trauma, and allowing it to be released. Perhaps you could compare this to melting ice that is frozen in one place, and allowing it to run off as water. Of course, different theories exist regarding the necessity of this kind of emotional release, which some therapists recommend, and others avoid, or, at least, do not seek. If you do decide to aim for this approach, it goes without saying that you should seek to work with an experienced and qualified therapist, and talk it over first.
Another possibility for the persistence of your problems could have to do with the concept of "resonance." Even when a specific past-life situation is no longer relevant to your current life, it is sometimes possible for the pain of that past life to be reached by something that is happening in your present life, which may break through to it, and release it, with all its impact and power, into your present life. Take the case of your murder in the Nigerian airport. You know that that is a crime which occurred in a particular place, in a particular time, and in a particular historical circumstance which you are not in now. (Remember - why be afraid of the shark? Now you are on the land.) It seems that the pain and terror should be able to be locked away in time, and kept from you by timeís moat. And yet - now, in the year 2002, in the USA, the nation is scarred by the memory of 9/11, and very much aware of the threat of terrorist attacks, which have targeted airplanes and airports in the past, and could strike against them, and many other targets, in the future. For most ordinary Americans, with no powerful visible residue from a past-life trauma, the current situation is, even so, unsettling. Many American citizens are, today, highly disturbed, on pins and needles, frightened, and even paranoid, imagining that they could be terrorís next victim, no matter how innocent, how loving, how generous, or how kind they are, just by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, just by being lumped into one big category of hated people by strangers who do not know them at all. How much stronger must be these sentiments of fear, distrust, and paranoia for one who has a past-life trauma which resonates, so intensely, with these contemporary threats and dangers? Just as the sound of a song on the radio may bring back memories and emotions of oneís first love, oneís youth, and oneís vanished dreams, so an event like 9/11 could be capable of bridging the gap between past and present, triggering powerful associations in your mind, resurrecting emotions from the Biafran tragedy, where you were essentially a victim of ethnic/state terror, and opening the Pandoraís Box of everything you went through in the past. Your whole relation to 9/11 could be intensified by this previous experience, and laced with all the emotions of that personal trauma. Due to this issue of "resonance" - which suddenly makes the "irrelevant" seem to be "relevant" again, and the past to belong to the present - the protective barriers which form around the exposed past-life memories, locking them in their own time, may be broken down, and a very frightening fusion of then and now may occur. It this is what is occurring in your case - if the present has become too close to the past to allow the past to die for you - then I think you will have to renew the mental process of separating your past from your present. You will have to make a special effort to separate the risks and dangers which exist now, from the terrible outcome which you faced in your Biafran life. You will have to think in terms of taking reasonable precautions that can put your mind more at ease, and, at the same time, in terms of the statistical probabilities of being a terror victim again (which should be quite low, and do much to calm you). Besides this, as I will detail later, I think, in your case, there will have to be a special emphasis on spiritual work.
Next, I would like to say that many times, after a past-life regression, an active effort to integrate the new insights one has gained into oneís life must be made. That is to say, hard work, and steady work must be initiated, if the "magic" of spontaneous healing does not occur. I like to use the following example to illustrate this: Supposing that a person is learning how to drive, and that his instructor takes him out to a side road along a busy expressway, and then says, "OK, pull on." The student says, "What, on there?!" He is afraid, intimidated, by the speed and seeming callousness of the oncoming cars, which show no willingness to slow down for him, or avoid a deadly traffic accident. After a horrible, agonizing struggle, during which he comes to a full halt with wildly honking cars speeding by like bullets, until he finally makes it onto the expressway, the instructor tells him: "The key to getting on the expressway is keeping up your speed. Youíve got to get into a rhythm, get into the flow of traffic with your mind even before you get into it physically. Donít hesitate, donít tighten up, just scout the traffic out, be loose, look for your opening as you pull up alongside the cars, and keep up your base speed so you can speed up into a gap between cars, or slow down to slip in behind someone. As long as youíre loose and alert, the gap you need will appear. Trust me. Itís a question of being respectful yet assertive, alert but not knotted up. And thatís all there is to it." Now the student driver "knows" how to get onto the expressway. He has just been given the intellectual framework for doing it. Does that mean his next pull-on is going to be smooth and easy? Of course not! The intellectual knowledge that his alertness has to be infused with a certain level of relaxation, that he must be calm yet decisive, does not mean he is going to feel that way next time he moves up alongside the aggressive, intimidating energy of a busy highway. It may take time for that intellectual knowledge to reach down into his emotions and spread throughout his body, freeing him from the paralyzing grip of the fear that the sight of the speeding cars and trucks induces in him. In this case, the driver will have to work on his pull-ons, practice getting on expressways and highways (maybe at hours when they are not quite so crowded), and gain experience achieving the proper mental state that will allow him to do it easily, until he has finally transformed pull-ons from being a life-and-death torment, into a routine part of his life.
In the same way, the liberating potential of self-knowledge gained through a past-life regression may, sometimes, have to be slowly and methodically trickled down into the texture of oneís everyday life through daily practice, reflection, and conscious effort.
Some therapists begin the process with "affirmations": key positive statements which the subject is encouraged to remind himself of, over and over again, during the course of each day. In a case like yours, a therapist might give you a statement such as: "I am not an Ibo now, this is not Nigeria, this is not 1967." Or, "The past canít harm me." Or, "Thatís all over with, now." Statements like that could be made silently or aloud at the beginning of the day, and at various times throughout the day, for example, whenever those feelings of uneasiness began to surface. These constant reminders can act as ways of preventing oneself from slipping under the spell of the past, and help to remind one of the (relative) safety of the present.
Occasionally, ritual and ceremony may be integrated into this process, for sometimes the enactment of a concept holds even more power than its verbal enunciation. Visual actions, such as using some object to represent the power of the past, and then symbolically destroying it, could be of use: for example, burning a piece of paper, or breaking a stick, or burying an object, or letting a piece of ice melt. Such actions would best be accompanied by prayers, calling for freedom from the pastís grip. Of course, this more "magical" angle should only be used by those who feel comfortable and in tune with it.
Most of all, the "practice" of learning to live in the present, free of the pastís shadow, should come from oneís constant effort to ground oneself in the present. In your case, whenever anxieties started to come, it would be helpful for you to look around you, focus on your present whereabouts, and remind yourself of where you were - in a time and place out of the reach of the past that harmed you. In the city, you could listen to the people speaking American English, or Spanish. You could look at the signs, the buildings, the new car models, in many cases, the clothes: acts of grounding yourself in the here and now, and distancing the past. The same in airports and on airplanes. You could note the differences between then and now: different airlines, different people, different technology, different buildings. Basically, using the present as a shield against the past, on a daily basis, you could, most likely, begin to consolidate that shield until it one day required very little conscious effort to keep in place; you could gradually wither away the pastís power by relating more fully to the present.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of daily life, as the raw material of personal transformation, and as the crucial battleground where emotional healing most often takes place. Whatever insights and revelations we may get from past-life regressions, shamanic journeys, dreams, conventional psychoanalysis, or any other form of learning about ourselves, it is in the trenches of daily life, and from the stuff of daily life, that our victories are most often won. Rather than bypassing daily life, the insights that we gain through personal self-exploration only provide us with the tools which we need to come back and face daily life; and it is in the interaction of these tools with the ordinary events of our everyday existence, that the tools finally attain their full potential to help us.
Besides all of these points, however, there is one more point which needs to be made, and it is probably the most important one of all. And this is the fact that the past-life regression is an inherently spiritual phenomenon, and that its power to help us is most fully developed once we open ourselves up to its spiritual dimension. If the past-life experience revealed by the regression was real - and, if not, why should it affect us so much in the first place? - it means that there is life after death; that death is not "the end", but only the end of one stage of our existence, to be followed by others. If this is the case, then it means that the terrible death we experienced before was not so terrible as we imagined - yes, we were fearful, yes, we were in pain, yes, we were tormented - but to a large extent, we allowed ourselves to succumb to the vision of our body and mind in one place and one time, we felt disconnected, during our suffering, from eternity, disconnected from our indestructibility. The past-life regression, besides exposing the harm that came to us in the past, should also reveal to us that not as much harm was done to us as we thought, and that not as much harm can be done to us, now, as we think, either. That should go far to soothe and comfort the anguish, and to take away the fear of what happened, and what may happen. We should begin to cease to think of life as our greatest treasure, and to realize that our greatest treasure is how we live our lives, who we are, and what we stand for - and those are things that nobody can ever take from us, not a soldier in Nigeria in 1967, nor a terrorist in America in 2002. Not a bullet or a bomb. We must realize, if we are unjustly killed, that we will not really be killed, at all, just sent into another life, much less harmed than the one who killed us. We must come to see death as something not to be feared, only a way of moving on; just as we must come to see dying as a sometimes painful hurdle to cross on our way to new life, never as a horrifying and final extinction.
Integrating this mindset into our lives, through reflection, prayer, meditation, and constant reminders, should do much more than anything else in our power to overcome the wounds of our past. And indeed, this should be at the very heart of the past-life regression experience, for isnít this what it is all built on, in the end?
My friend, I hope these comments have been helpful to you, and that through some combination of the perspectives and strategies which I have just outlined, you will be able to make your past-life regression work for you. Back To Top
Past-Life Regressions Contents