Why do we forget?
This may already be answered somewhere Erin, but I'm wondering what is the reason why we "forget" our previous lifetimes?
Meaning, when we choose to come back to earth for another lifetime, wouldn't it be more efficient to remember our previous lives and experiences so that we can utilize the knowledge from those lifetimes to better ourselves in this lifetime?
I mean, what's the point of re-learning that when we touch the stove with our hands, that it will burn us. Why must we re-learn the alphabet, etc.
Seems like a rather inefficient way to evolve our consciousness.
Also, if it takes us like 20 years to fully develop our basic "human skills" for example, wouldn't we be better served as beings if we stopped dying and just continued to consciously evolve?
Hi Paul, I'm not Erin, but I'll take a stab at it. (You're probably thinking, "I said Erin.")
I think it's the same reason why we are admonished to live in the moment. In the moment we have access to all the Knowledge, Substance, Love, Joy, and Good things. It is All available right now.
Our memory serves more to cloud our perception of what we can and cannot be, do or have. Just memories from childhood limit what we think we can do. Our so-called knowledge about science keeps us from defying it or even thinking that it is defiable (until someone does it). Imagine if we had lifetimes of such information.
Better to be completely present and choose from the Infinite Realm of Possibilities that is readily available.
I was playing let's pretend with my little niece -- maybe she was 4 years old or so. I asked her who she was and what was going on with her. She told me "Well, things are a little tough. I had a husband, but he died." "Really?" I asked. "I'm so sorry for your loss. How did he die?" "Well," she replied, very somberly, "We went rock climbing, but he didn't hold on so good."
I was absolutely amazed at this story. So tragic and so funny. I asked her, "Did you just make this up?" And she said, "No, that really happened. I miss him."
Maybe when you get to be school age, you just stop being willing to believe.
Oh, and another thing is that we purposely set ourselves up to forget so we can play the game.
Great answers everyone. Thank you for your responses. I appreciate everyone's perspective, not just Erin's so feel free to respond if you've got something to contribute. :)
I'd like to take Nneka's response a bit further.
So, would you say that the reason could be summed up as the memories we cling onto from past lifetimes would hinder our conscious development in THIS lifetime? For example, imagine if in one lifetime we drowned and had a massive fear of water due to it. If we kept our memories from lifetime to lifetime, we would continue to be totally afraid of water for 1000's of years just because of something that happened a long time ago.
I've heard that this actually does happen. THat there are repressed memories from other lifetimes that if traumatic enough do stay with our consciousness in this lifetime. For example, I *DO* have a rather unusual fear of water compared to lets say heights. That could mean that in a previous lifetime maybe I drowned, but maybe I haven't fallen off any tall buildings. For example, I'd rather jump out of an airplane and skydive, rather than be in the water with sharks. I know others who are the opposite.
My only challenge with this way of thinking is that it's rather limited. Meaning, surely our "spiritual" selves in all our wisdom could come up with a better way to deal with limiting beliefs and fears from previous lifetimes than to just "nuke the whole hard-drive" of memories. I mean, just the idea of being able to remember yourself being a spiritual being would eliminate most fears for people who fear death due to the fact that they are afraid of ceasing to exist after death.
But, lets say that it does happen that way. We choose to "nuke" our memories in order to descend back to earth and live another life. Would it then mean that anyone a medium communicates with in the "ether" is someone who has not descended back to earth yet, because if they did then their memory would be lost?
Like, lets say that I get Erin to do a reading and as a medium she has no problems communicating with my great grandma Rose (example). So she talks to Rose and gets a bunch of information from her etc. But then after 5 years, Rose decides to go back to earth and reincarnate as a little child in Africa. I get a reading done a few weeks later and I want to re-connect with Rose through Erin. Would Rose now be "unreachable" because her memory has been wiped as she's now a little child in Africa?
Taking the analogy further, lets say the child in Africa dies in 6 months. I get another reading...can I now re-connect with Rose? Or are her memories gone forever because she decided to go back to earth, and her only memories are that of a 6 month old child?
My personal intuitive reasoning tells me that we don't remember because it is a requirement for our lesson here on earth. We choose to forget because remembering that we are indestructible everlasting beings might stifle our growth due to non-urgency.
Imagine the following scenario:
Wife: "Honey, can you please go fix the fence?"
Husband: "Nah, I'm busy watching the game honey..."
Wife: "But it's been broken for years!"
Husband: "Maybe I'll get to it in the next lifetime."
Wife: "But if the dog gets out he'll get hit by a car."
Husband: "That's ok, he'll re-incarnate anyways."
I'm poking fun, but imagine if all the next generation of children being born all of a sudden had memories of who they were from the life before, how would that screw everything up!
You have toddlers learning to talk and naming their murders from their previous lifetime. Would that hold up in court? :) Things would get really complicated really fast if we all remembered everything while here on earth.
I think that after each lifetime, the memories are merged with our previous memories. I mean, with your example about your grandmother, she would still have her higher self in the spirit realm, who would still have all of her memories.
I can still connect with Rose's higher self, who remains in the ether, as it were even when Rose reincarnates.
However, some spirits will disconnect from their earthly lives and no matter how much I ring their phone, they won't answer. They're not there anymore. They no longer identify with being your Great Grandma Rose and feel no call to advise or connect with you.
Pianoperformer: Jinx! You owe me a Coke. :)
As such, our higher self is really a combination of all our incarnations then no? Meaning, our higher selves name isn't really Rose, that was just one "avatar" it played.
So when you connect to spirits, do they then take on the form of the person they were in the incarnation you're referring to them in? Meaning if Rose was killed by decapitation when she was Rose, but also lived 100 other lives as Jack, Bob, Frank, Mary, etc. the reason you see her spirit as Rose with no head is only because the "sitter" you're with will recognize her like that, right?
This also leads me to my original question. Why do we forget?
My wife is afraid of death and everytime I mention that there's really nothing to fear since we don't cease to exist after death, she always asks "Then how come I can't remember anything from any of my other lives?"
She's not trying to be skeptical, she genuinely wants to believe that there's something more to dying that just becoming dirt, but she doesn't understand why we can't remember anything from previous lives.
and just to stay on topic, learning history would be useless =/ actually i could keep it shorter, a life without learning is a life living blind
tell her we're like phoenix's, we die, we reborn, we live. we can't remember cause our memories goes as our bodies and thus recreated back into a sponge like it once was. lol
I think that when consciousness incarnates into a physical body, it has to deal with an overwhelming amount of sensory data that it otherwise wouldn't have to. It also has to run all the processes of the human body. Memory of previous lives then gets overwhelmed.
See, imagine if I asked you now to try to recall your fifth birthday party. You might actually be able to do so. However, if at the same time, I blast you with ear-deafening music; blind you with strobe lights; strap you onto a roller-coaster ride; spray extremely strong-smelling chemicals into your nostrils. I bet you will have great difficulty recalling your fifth birthday party. You're too distracted.
Same thing with your past lives. When you're pure consciousness, you can remember them all. But when you're a human body, you get distracted by the constant flood of information from your five senses, plus the need to maintain and coordinate all the biological processes of your body, from digestion to sweating to hormone secretion to respiration to kidney filtration to hair growth to a few thousand other processes.
So you will hardly be able to recall any of your past lives.
As a matter of fact, you may even forget where you put your car keys an hour ago.
Note: at the point of physical death, your memory immediately starts returning. For example, your entire current life will flash before your eyes, in a few seconds. That's what you can remember, when you aren't distracted by your physical body.
Further note: in Buddhist meditation, it is taught that you should be keeping your body very still (except for inevitable bodily processes like breathing). And that's because even any slight physical movement, like moving your fingers or twitching your toes, will actually be distracting your mind.
some people couldn't grow as they needed to if they didn't forget. Negative experiences wouldn't seem so negative, because we would know, no matter what, we would at least escape with our spirit. Some know this on an intellectual level, but I dont' know many who absolutely do not fear death because of it. It might be like a dream, when we realize we are dreaming. The bad stuff then might not seem so horrible, because if worse comes to worst, we can wake up.
Right, when I do a medium reading I connect with the "Rose" my sitter knew.
Again, this is why energies in the either don't really have names, but they allow us to call them by certain names for clarity's sake. They understand why we need to use names.
Hi Paul, hmmm...let me see if I can explain a little better.
Let's take an example of a good thing in the present. Say you have a great 11 year old birthday. Your family was happy. Your parents were there. You had a lot of friends. Soon after, your parents got divorced, you had to move, and you lost your circle of friends. You became very isolated in the new city. Yet you cling to that experience. In one sense, it helps you to feel better. In another sense, it is preventing you from choosing in this moment to create new friendships.
Now imagine if you were a king in one lifetime or a pleb in another. A lot of us have the tendency to cling to memories as if they were happening now. That's what inhibits us from living the life that we want, or in other words, from consciously creating the life that we want.
Here's another way to look at it. Consider that God/Consciousness/Spirit is the ocean and you are a wave emerging from the ocean. So is your your great grandma Rose. When she dies, she recedes into the ocean. Can you pin point a wave in the ocean when it has receded?
This is what I've experienced. As I became disciplined and consistent in my meditation, I felt like my edges were sandpapered. It scared the bejesus out of me because my edges were disintegrating. This prepared me for the next phase in which I felt like I had no ends. I just faded into the "ocean". Today, I can overlap with other people's consciousness.
We become attached to our individuality to the extent that we believe that it is the singular entity incarnating again and again. But it's not you with edges in a container that comes in and out unless you choose too. I wouldn't be surprised if people have experienced past life regressions where they were 2 people living at the same time.
My theory is (and a little bit of experience) that we emerge out of the ocean as a composite. Once we recede into it, we are no more. Sometimes people have a tough time returning because they want to stick together. I felt this as my edges were being sandpapered. I had great resistance to disintegrating.
We can disintegrate and reintegrate at any moment.
I'm pretty sure that didn't clarify anything...or maybe it did.
draft FAQ: If I had past lives why can't I remember them? - alt.paranormal.reincarnation | Google Groups
Makes a lot of sense to me. I think quite possibly, people's past life memories are there, but people might just need their memories jogged, they might need to see something from their past, and then something might click for them. (Or, alternatively, upon encountering something from their past, I suppose a person could just have a strange feeling of deja vu, familiarity, nostalgia, unusually strong interest, or unexplainable liking or aversion, but not relate it to past lives at all).
My feeling is, it's much easier than many people think to get some ideas of their past lives. (Though I'm still not sure whether past lives are objectively real or not).
When I was younger, and first learning of reincarnation, I used to believe that it was probably so hard to remember your past lives (if they even existed) that to get any idea of what they were, you probably had no other option but to undergo a hypnotic regression, or talk to a psychic. I think this very belief blocked me from recalling (or dreaming up) more than I did back then.
These days, I suspect getting valid (or at least personally, subjectively meaningful) ideas of your past lives might be no harder than letting your mind wander, and not cynically discounting or ignoring what ideas come to mind.
One reason I think this is because when I was chatting with a relative about reincarnation, and asked him what U. S. state he thought we might have lived in in our (theoretical) Civil War lives, the first thing out of his mouth was "Was it South Carolina?" - which was exactly the state I had come up with in a self-regression.
We weren't experimenting with hypnosis, though - he was wide awake - driving, actually - and we were just chatting, and yet he somehow named exactly the state that was on my mind. Doesn't prove past lives, though, I guess, since maybe it's just telepathy, or luck. :)
I posted some ideas on how to maybe stimulate possible past-life recall over at the Past Life Forum a few years ago. Just thought I'd link to that post since I'm feeling too lazy to try to put the same ideas into different words here: out of memory? - Past Life Forum
Very interesting thread, it would take me forever to reply to all of the interesting points raised, so I'll stop here. :)
Part of the reason souls choose to incarnate on Earth is specifically for the "human experience", that is, being cut off from their memories of the hereafter. In the spirit world, the souls that incarnate in the "Earth school" are considered very brave and adventurous.
Very cool replies everyone, thanks!
More and more I'm intuitively leaning towards the idea that there is purpose behind the amnesia. The purpose being to setup the proper rules of "the game" in order to achieve a certain goal. Just now reading the quote by Anagogy, it made me think about Steve and the channeled concept of Polarity he introduced us to.
Perhaps we forget so as to setup this life on earth to allow us to evolve consciously through polarization. By polarizing and moving up the scales of consciousness we are then "given" more wisdom and memory of the afterlife as it becomes less and less important to believe in "the game" and more and more important to be given a broader perspective including what happens in the afterlife.
I think I need to spend some time combining the thinking of Polarization + Scales of Consciousness + the teachings taught in A Course in Miracles. I think there might be some answers in there.
More and more I'm beginning to think that it is not an accident that we forget, but a choice with a purpose behind it.
I think the issue of free will is also relevant to this - if we already "knew it all" then the concept of polarisation and it's benefits would be moot because we would feel that we didn't really have any choice in the matter.
However, things like being mean to people, or having negative thoughts all have a much less direct implication and the consequences of them don't typically manifest immediately like touching a hot burning stove. The time delay between cause & effect and the fact that often times effect is masked due to the enormous amount of "effects" we are exposed to each day creates the illusion of "free will" as you said, which allows to CHOICE to polarize.
At a high enough level of consciousness and awareness, the choice seems to disappear as cause and effect are much more easily correlated.
If everytime we had a negative thought we got zapped with 10,000 volts of electricity and everytime we had a positive thought we were flooded with joyful bliss, it wouldn't be hard for people to "choose" the right path.
I think we don't remember because it's much, much more fun not to.
My sons both play video games. When the games are new, they are challenged, and play for longer periods of time. They look forward to playing, and it's usually the first thing they want to do when they get up. They talk about strategy, and show new levels to each other. They might even read strategy guides or go online to find things out.
At the new levels, before they've figured things out, they get very frustrated sometimes! Because they keep dying and have to start the level over. But they want the challenge, they want to play.
After they've played the game a few times and beaten it, they might bring it out every now and then. They'll play, but it's not with the same enthusiasm they once had. They know all the tricks and pitfalls, so they beat it with ease in a shorter amount of time. They may play with a friend who hasn't played before, but after a while, the game sits in the game cabinet, and rarely gets pulled out at all.
Even though parts of the game were challenging and frustrating when they were learning them, they got joy from the challenge -- they were having FUN, even in the challenging times.
If we remembered what we learned before, how challenging would our lives be now? Would it be as fun? As exciting?
It's fun to sit back and watch this avatar named Caren get all frustrated about stuff she doesn't know - or doesn't remember she knows. Wheeee! What a ride.
And I just lost the Game. Darn it.
Reincarnation, forgetting, death & fear
So even while Rose is a little child in Africa, her higher self is also Rose in the "Ether" at the same time...
As such, our higher self is really a combination of all our incarnations then no? Meaning, our higher selves name isn't really Rose, that was just one "avatar" it played. ...
This also leads me to my original question. Why do we forget? ...
My wife is afraid of death... she always asks "Then how come I can't remember anything from any of my other lives?" QUOTE]
It just struck me that we do not forget, as infants and toddlers we are very busy and we are trained to not remember. (Someone mentioned children are told to stop fibbing or pretending when they are remembering something from previous lives. PL Travers gave an example of this in Mary Poppins when she wrote about the baby character.) Then after a short time, for most of us, all of what we knew from before gets covered over with the new life experiences, training, and information.
When I was younger, I used to be terrified of the idea that I would die too. It kept me awake at night. As I've gotten older, the fear has diminished. Now, in my sixties, when there is cause for that little tingle of fear about my own impending death, I see it's simply a part of me that feels it hasn't finished everything I want to accomplish.
I'm not 100% convinced of reincarnation but do believe, something remains after the body is gone. I remain open minded and am very interested to see what really does happen;). E.Tolle has an interesting theory about what happens when we die. He talks about it toward the end of A New Earth.
It also occurs to me that perhaps the higher self is not the totality of one persons experiences and 'reincarnations' but the whole of humanity (and maybe beyond). We are all connected - we are one...
I love this conversation!
I've been thinking and writing a lot lately on the concept of "awakening" at a spiritual level, and one of the things I kept chewing on was whether or not we *needed* to be asleep for a time in our incarnation.
And by "asleep" I don't mean merely forgetting past incarnations, but feeling cut off at the soul level in many ways, being unable to see beyond the problems and issues of this incarnation and the material world in which it takes place, living very literally, I guess is the best way I'd put it.
So the question I kept posing to myself was, is the state of being "asleep" merely an artifact of our cultural malaise? --in other words, are we as spiritually awake and aware children "put to sleep" by the consumerism and artificial gender roles and defensive wariness and manipulation of our current cultural machine? --which would make it something we could potentially (and perhaps SHOULD) overcome as a society; or is there a reason for it that goes deeper and has a greater purpose than that? Making it, in other words, something we should understand and engage with in a healthier way, but not necessarily try to eliminate?
I was reading Paulo Coelho's wonderful novel The Witch of Portobello recently, and within it there was a long discussion on the spiritual idea of the navel. He wrote something about how strange it is that one of our first experiences in life is one of great violence done to our spiritual center, when the physical umbilical cord is severed. The whole section sent my mind into a whirl of thought and I thought about our spiritual birth into this world; is there a comparable severing of an umbilical-- not the astral "silver thread" described in OBE literature but a direct connection outside of this reality-- that causes us to "forget" or to "sleep" here? And if so, why?
In a way, cutting a baby's umbilical is the act that first completely establishes the newborn as its own, separate being-- the first moment it lives and breathes independently from its mother. It's a necessary separation for the child to begin the process of growing and developing, of learning to take nourishment from the world, of learning to exist as an individual.
I'm still chewing on all of this...=) But I've begun to think that maybe there is such a thing as a necessary sleep for some period of time in our lives, a symbolic separation from the Source that can be in some ways traumatic or at least unsettling, and that it's necessary in order for us to fully commit to the experience of this incarnation, of this world and its physical experiences, and of the identity we've chosen to take on. That something about the purpose of a mortal life here on earth is the experience of "individuality" or separateness. Other posters here have touched on this idea as well...that this incarnation wouldn't be the same kind of challenge if we still had those memories, that connection, that knowledge.
That this incarnation represents a very specific kind of initiation that we each choose to undertake, and that it requires us to accept the loneliness and anxiety of the separation-illusion, of the forgetting and sleep. Like the tribal rite of passage where the young warrior is cast out of the village into the darkness with only a loincloth and spear, not allowed to return until he has killed his first lion. He goes out without armor, without fellow hunters, without anyone to save him if he fails, and he doesn't know for sure that he won't be killed or maimed or get lost. He has to be fully present in that moment, in the wild, to really experience his surroundings and learn to use them to help him succeed.
So much to think about!!!
I think that's true
That reminds me of the time I lived in Santa Barbara, and my mother, sister and brothers surprised me with a visit, all coming from different states with one of my brothers on holiday from the Navy and arriving from Japan.
So as I had a couple of jobs then, I stayed in SB while they took my son, who was 5, with them to visit my cousins in San Fransisco.
Excited that they'd get to see the Bay Bridge and all, I asked him if he was happy to go someplace he'd never been, you know. It nearly knocked my socks off when he very casually yet matter-of factly said "Well, remember that I spent a year in San Fransisco."
He'd never been. We'd never been there, much less lived there. But he said it again, insisting, "Yes I did. I lived a year in San Fransisco. Remember?" AwKWard.
But I knew it was a past life memory. :p
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