If the theory of reincarnation is correct, why can’t I remember my previous lifetimes? How can I accept reincarnation, if I have no memory of my past lives?
KEYWORDS: Abraham-Hicks, beliefs, emotions, feelings, karma, law of attraction, metempsychosis, past lives, philosophy, psychology, reincarnation, samsara, Seth, thoughts, transmigration.
Today, however, there will be no “karma” discussions on the table. Nevertheless, I will still discuss the issue of “past lives”, from a reincarnation point of view.
So the basic issue in this article is this: if reincarnation is really happening, why is it then that I can’t, or don’t, remember some, or all, of my past lives?
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
In order to really master the Law of Attraction, it is important to understand that we all are NOT just some physical clumps of matter.
Instead, we basically are formations of spiritual energy. In fact, it is because we are essentially energy beings, that we can use our psychic energy to manifest the world around us.
And since we know from Physics 101 that energy is indestructible (as the First Law of Thermodynamics assures us), the conclusion is straightforward: we, as energy beings, will never really die, other than from a purely physical perspective.
And even if we, in a physical sense, do die (as witnessed by other people who once knew us in that particular physical form), we still will maintain, in the non-physical environment, a sense of “me” and continue thinking and feeling and observing things around us, as we always have been doing. [note 1]
Also, most of us will return again, once more, to this planet. Lifetime after lifetime we will return, in different shapes, in different roles.
But the question is this: If such reincarnation (or “transmigration”) really happens, why don’t I, or why can’t I, remember it? If I have no memory of it, how can I ever comfortably conclude that reincarnation is real?
So let’s investigate this matter: Why don’t I remember my previous lives on this planet, if I already have been here before, many times?
PART 2: SOME PEOPLE REMEMBER PAST LIVES
I don’t remember my past life, and perhaps you don’t either. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility that other people can remember some of their previous lifetimes. And, in fact, some people claim that they do.
Since such claims are relatively rare, it is rather easy to simply dismiss them as “fraud”, and not spend too much time in contemplating the matter further.
But in my estimation, all such claims cannot be easily dismissed. Sure, some of these claims may have been made by people who wanted to become rich and famous and for that reason invented some story about their previous lives. But what about other cases?
The truth, as I see it, is that some people actually do remember their past lives. This is corroborated by Seth, who says (in The Early Class Sessions, Book 1, p. 97): [note 2]
“Some individuals will retain strong memories of their past lives, and others will not.”
This statement by Seth does not, however, mention any approximate numbers in terms of how many people there are in each category (Is it 90% vs. 10%? Or is it 80% vs 20%? Etc.).
But from Seth’s surrounding discussion (in the ESP Class Session chapter for Tuesday, 14 January 1969), we may deduce that most people don’t remember their previous lives, while only a minority do remember them.
This is of course not to say that all who say that they remember their past lives really do remember them; of course not. It might be, for example, that most people who do remember their previous lives do not communicate it to others (perhaps for fear of being perceived as “weird” or “abnormal”, etc.).
In any case, the most important point to bring home here is that reincarnation is real, and that some people do, in fact, remember some of their previous lives.
PART 3: REASONS FOR NOT REMEMBERING PAST LIVES
Here are four reasons why most of us are not remembering our past lives: 1) Infant in Distress; 2) My One-Person Self-Image; 3) Creating New Desires; and 4) Navigation in Life.
Reason 1: Infant in Distress
One reason for not remembering past lives is because it would set the infant in an even more troublesome situation than he or she is already facing. How come?
The idea is this. Unlike death (which is a relatively smooth experience), taking birth is an experience that is very stressful.
This is because the individual is now born into an environment in which it cannot really operate. Its body is not developed and none of its external senses are working at their full capacity. It’s trapped, so to speak, inside of an “unfinished” bodily apparatus.
That, in itself, would not have been any problem if the infant had no cognitive abilities. For if the child could not think or feel, then how could it conclude, and experience, that the situation was “stressful”?
So the reason the situation is stressful to the child is because it has very good thinking and emotional abilities, already from day one. This is why Seth summarizes the situation as follows (in The Early Class Sessions, Book 1, p. 97):
“But when you are born again into a tiny and helpless organism and when your intellect may still be operating strongly, then there is a shock, for you cannot do what you want to do. You take it for granted that you can express yourself, and you cannot. That is a shock.”
And Seth continues (pp. 97-98):
“It is easier, you see, if you do not remember. It does you no good as an infant to recall your success of a life past in your terms, for then you feel twice as helpless.”
And we note here that Seth is speaking about “your success of a life past”. What if we remembered not only successes but also “failures” in that cumbersome infant state of affairs? It would be even more troubling.
So in order to minimize the distress of the infant, there is typically no memory of past lives.
Reason 2: My One-Person Self-Image
We all have lived thousands of lifetimes before. But because we have have played so many different roles (male, female, parent, lover, engineer, artist, etc.), all that information would not make this life any better.
Rather, it would be utterly confusing to know all those details. And it would be hard to maintain any sense of “being only one individual”. So it would amount to a sort of “identity crisis”. For how can one step into the role of, say, “a virtuous mother”, if one has strong memories of being an irresponsible bachelor with no ethical compass in one’s previous lifetimes, and because of it, still feels that way?
In fact, it is possible that many of the sex-change operations that people go through nowadays are a direct result of that they, on some level, are remembering that they had another biological gender in their past life. If this is what is going on, then we can really see that having such memories might be quite troublesome.
In any case, Abraham-Hicks sums up the “hindering” argument like this (in The Law of Attraction, p. 144):
“We could not express to you in words the number of lifetimes that you have lived, let alone much detail from each of them; you have had so much experience that memory of all that experience would confuse and hinder you here.”
Naturally, when Abraham-Hicks say “would confuse and hinder you here”, they have several things on their mind. But the one aspect that I am focusing on here in Reason 2 is the idea of “being just one person, not many”.
Reason 3: Creating New Desires
Memories from past lives may make it much harder to maintain a stable sense of “me”, as we saw above. In addition, it may also distract us from our real mission here in this lifetime: the generation and exploration of new desires.
So what we want is to explore new things. What we want is to discover new desires. What we want is to go where we have not gone before.
This is why Abraham-Hicks give the following analogy (in The Law of Attraction, p. 144):
“Just as now you are that which you are as a culmination af all that you have lived, there is little value for you to sit here and talk about the things you did when you were 3 or 10 or 12. Of course, you are that which you now are because of all of that . . . but to continue to look back into your past and regurgitate those experiences does not add much unto that which you now are.”
And we note here also that they are not just saying that memories of old lifetimes is of little value. They are also saying that looking back on our current life (for example, as a kid) is similarly not adding much value. Why?
Because our job here in this world is NOT to observe what is, or what has been. Our job is to explore new ways to get happy. And this is simply not done by looking back. Law of Attraction is about CREATING new desires, not REMEMBERING things of the past.
Reason 4: Navigation In Life
Some people may argue that in order to “succeed” in life, one must learn by one’s experiences, and by observing “the facts” around us. So if one cannot remember that which has happened before and noticed those “facts”, one cannot really navigate in life.
Therefore, the argument goes, our lack of memory of past lives must be an indication of that we did NOT live any past lives. For as we are creatures with advanced intelligence and decision skills, we surely must have evolved in such a way that nature would have informed us of important realizations and events from past lives, so that we can succeed in this lifetime.
Now, the overall sentiment of that argument is good. For the argument claims that there is a “navigation” or “steering” capability that is needed in life. And that is, indeed, true.
Nevertheless, the argument still fails. For our lack of memories from past lives is not proving that we did not have any past lives.
One reason for this (as I mentioned earlier in this article) is that even though most people cannot remember any of their past lives, certain individuals can remember some of their past lives.
Another reason why this argument can be dismissed (from the perspective of a student of Law of Attraction who considers the Seth and Abraham-Hicks materials as authoritative) is that the ultimate “navigation” capability in this life is not about “facts” or experiences that we remember and then make decisions from.
This is explained by Abraham-Hicks as follows (The Law of Attraction, p. 145):
“It was agreed, before you came, that you would not have memory — muddling, confusing, hindering memory — of all that you have lived before, but that you would have a sense, a Guidance, that comes forth from within. And it was agreed that the Guidance would be in the form of emotion which would be manifested to you in the form of feeling . . . so that you can know the appropriateness of what you are feeling, speaking, or doing in the context of your greater or broader intentions.”
So the ultimate “steering” or “navigation” capability in this life is not about our mechanical or analytical evaluation of “facts” and experiences, but about our sensitivity in terms of our own feelings and emotions.
If we are always prioritizing feeling good, we are on the right track. So even if we cannot remember exactly which intentions we had before coming to this planet (different people may have different intentions with their respective lives), our feelings and emotions will act as our guidance, twenty-four-seven, and steer us in the right direction.
As I have shown in this article, there is no reason to dismiss reincarnation (or the Law of Attraction, for that matter!) just because some of us cannot remember that we have lived before on this planet.
We all have been here many times before, in different roles and capacities. And most of us will probably come back again, many times over.
Whatever the case may be, we always should be focused on happiness and joy when we are in this world. For if we are focusing like that, then we automatically know that we are on the right spiritual track, fulfilling our intentions as we defined them before we came here.
Best of luck on your spiritual journey!
- The exact “quality” of our thinking and feeling and observing may naturally differ from our experiences here in the physical realm. After all, here our senses are strictly limited: we can only hear frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz, and we can only see frequencies between 400 and 700 nanometers, etc. So in other dimensions and realities those restrictions may not apply at all; alternatively, there may be other restrictions that apply instead.
- Some people say that they remember some of their previous lives. Who are these people? And what do they actually say? This is a long story, and I cannot cover it here. But it is a great idea for one or several new articles that I might write in the future.
- Hicks, Esther and Jerry Hicks (2006), The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham. Foreword by Neale Donald Walsch. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. [Link to book]
- Roberts, Jane (2008), The Early Class Sessions: The Seth Sessions Held In Jane Roberts’ ESP Class in Elmira, NY. Book 1: 9/12/67 — 11/25/69. A Seth Book. Manhasset, NY: New Awareness Network, Inc. [Link to book]
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