Archive for the 'past-life regression' Category

“Abuelita”

March 11, 2014

I’m going to see Richard Shindell perform next week at one of his dates in Cambridge.  For some reason, I have found myself listening to his song “Abuelita” a lot, both before and after I received notification that he would be in town shortly.  I even started to wonder whether he will perform the song in concert.

Then I read Roger Cohen’s piece in the NYTimes “Left Hand Among Bones” last night.

I used to get a ride to New Haven from Boston from time to time with a fellow graduate student who had been a Sister in the Order of the Sacred Heart.  She had spent time working for her order in Argentina.  It came up during our conversations to and from New Haven.  Around that time in my life, discussing the disappeared would not have stood out so much, but now it does.

It’s food for thought.  Finding remnants of past lives, reclaiming missing pieces, trying (or not) to fill in the blanks, even dealing with difficulties associated with the left side of the body — I resonate with all that.

I used to think some of these issues would resolve by the strands coming together in an emotionally satisfying way, but now I think the opposite may be true:  that there is progress in experiencing the strands separately, one by one, in separate contexts — that once they were all tied up together and that that was a disaster.  I think having been able to reconstruct a story from the very distant past in which these elements were all tied up together once has been helpful, though.  Somebody wanted to know what had happened, and without reliving it completely.

Which tradition?

January 20, 2014

Richard Rohr talks about delving deep through one’s spiritual tradition, citing the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa as sources.

My sense is that the only bedrock guidelines are, open your heart and listen.  If that process leads to going with a particular current religious tradition, that’s one thing.  But if it leads elsewhere, that’s something else.

So, too, with the notion of the happy mystic Father Rohr has written about.  To me that sounds like a human interpretation, the idea that mystics will give external evidence of happiness.  Maybe the “physics” of being a mystic do necessarily produce what we perceive as happiness, but I am open to the possibility that they don’t, that there are varieties of mystic experience and that the tradition he refers to is just one of many.  To me, the issue is what serves the greater good in a particular situation, what puzzle piece fits.  It’s a logical possibility that a grumpy mystic might.  Not every partially enlightened person fulfills the same function, is doing the same job.  And I’m not sure that the completely enlightened people hang out here, I think to be incarnated we have to accept having some kind of flaw.  Even the happy mystics.

As to what religious tradition has worked for me, in terms of spiritual union, I believe it is a much older one, one which most people no longer use today, and I believe that for me that reflects that I am helping someone from the past resolve an attempted spiritual union that went awry in a complicated way.

Which leads me to a spiritual story.  It’s about someone who thinks they are getting someone else’s dreams.  Today we might think of it in terms of getting someone else’s email and wanting to forward the messages on to the correct recipient, who would know how to respond to them.  It was clear to this second person in the story that the first person was getting her stuff because he had too much of her energy incorporated within him.  If you’re impersonating someone, you get their messages.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t want her to take her energy back, just the messages.  He didn’t understand that it doesn’t work that way.

They interacted, she got the messages, did what they indicated needed to be done, stuff which he didn’t know how to do (and he knew that he didn’t).  Then the universe found a way to keep the problem from recurring.

All the rest was irrelevant detail, in the great scheme of things.  She could see that, even if she didn’t like some of the detail, and eventually she made peace with the fact that he had his own interpretation of what had happened.

For her it was a little like overpaying to recover needed information stored on a stolen computer, a computer that was now in the hands of someone who really thought it was theirs.

No one ever told her she was getting a pleasurable or easy role in the story.  It’s being of service that brings inner peace, not necessarily the particulars of what that service entails.  And within the confines of the story, she complained heartily.  It’s just that she could also see (after the fact) that it was only a spiritual story and that she was being of service by playing her role within it.

Red Shawl

September 8, 2012

I wrote about red dresses the other day, in light of the recent political conventions, and yesterday I had my own humbling experience with a red garment.

I got an email ad for a sale on a red prayer shawl I liked, so I ordered one, and it got a little complicated, because I didn’t want to be charged sales tax on what could be considered clothing, since clothing below a certain price threshold doesn’t trigger sales tax in Massachusetts.  And then the company’s different departments had trouble communicating with each other, and my order fell into that gap, and they went out of stock before filling my order, and I was frustrated, in part because when I had placed my order by phone (so I could flag the sales tax issue), the rep had gone on about how it was a good thing I was placing my order then because they had very few left but I would get one.

So the company told me, in the course of straightening out the sales tax issue (none charged), that they were getting more stock in, and at some point, someone at the company (which is also in Massachusetts) told me she lives in Cambridge and would drop it off for me at my house yesterday to mitigate the delay.

I was touched and thrilled. Especially in light of the family medical emergency I’ve got going on in another state — it was like a little gesture that made me feel a whole lot better while I’m feeling generally stretched further than I find comfortable.  (The sorting out of my responsibilities under the circumstances is stressful to me, especially since I’ve got responsibilities here, too.)

I thought the customer service rep was going to drop the shawl off on her way to work in the morning.  Turns out, she needed to pick up the stock during the day and then drop it off, but I didn’t know that.  So when the shawl still wasn’t on my porch at almost 4 p.m. and I was concerned and frustrated.  And I was not very successful in reaching anyone at the company, and that concerned me, too.

My better angels told me to chill, it would get worked out, but in the meantime, my (over)reaction precipitated an insight into one of those old pieces of unfinished karmic business, and I could see how a spiritual seeker had been impatient to receive his monk’s prayer shawl and had arranged to get initiated through someone privately who was not qualified to do that work, in order to achieve that sooner.  And the would-be monk was so focused on the article of clothing the shawl.

And I had that flash, which I’ve had before, that it’s not the accoutrements, or even the position in the material world that makes the person with spiritual insight a person with spiritual insight, it’s their inner state and their developed ability to access the universe through their inner self.  The shawl doesn’t confer the ability.  (I’ve heard this idea centered on a story of lost prayer beads, where the person who lost them had already lost his access to insight but blamed the loss of the beads and the person he held responsible for that spiritual loss.)

I had a friend in college who was very involved in gymnastics.  Her family took in gymnasts who were training locally, too, so she really was exposed to a lot of aspects of the sport.  She used to observe that the really talented gymnasts had the most tattered and unassuming warm-up clothing.  (She’d pick them out on opposing teams — whom to watch for — at meets during warm-ups that way, even.)

I think that’s analogous to what I’m saying about the prayer shawl issue.

I need to call the company Monday and tie up a loose end or two, including offering an apology for my misunderstanding and misplaced concern.  Privately I really do have to work on my impatience and the unhelpful concerns it can give rise to.  I’ve been trying to help my relative in the hospital with their impatience about being there — it seems so clear to me how to deal with that manifestation of impatience.  But it’s my own I need to work on.  In my relative let me see myself and learn something.

It’s a humbling experience.

Ani Dalit

August 30, 2012

I was going to write about my reaction to the speeches I’ve been watching or listening to on line through the PBS website at the Republican convention (about what came across to me as Condoleezza Rice’s fear, discipline, and brittleness, for example), but I decided to write about my reaction in a different way.

When I started writing comments to news items on line a few years ago, I think I was much less judgmental (and my expression in my writing was much more crabbed).  I used a screen name, Ani Dalit, in part for privacy.  The two pieces of the name come from people in the lineage I’ve been exploring.  “The Dalit” was a girl in India centuries ago who didn’t even know her given name — she was just referred to by the people who kept her as “the Dalit.”  Ani was somewhat older, her given name had been Ang, and she had not only a poise I admire but a strong spiritual discipline I would do well to emulate.  I think I was seeing the world more through their eyes.

As I was listening to Paul Ryan’s speech last night, I noticed my resistance to it.  That’s what got me thinking about my screen persona as Ani Dalit, and how differently I would have reacted to the speech and to Ryan through her lens.  I am mindful that sometimes it doesn’t serve to put out what we think of as our “best china” — paper plates or plasticware at a picnic or barbeque would probably be more appreciated by the guests, to use the analogy.  So I am not sure whether I should try to “go back” to seeing things through their eyes, and think of what I’ve done more recently as sort of a detour.

I think Ani Dalit would find a way to embrace someone like a Paul Ryan, with the sorts of limitations he apparently has, with compassion and with acceptance that he’s doing the best he can do, and without taking on his set of values and worldview or trying to meet him on his own terms, regardless of how provocative she might find what he says to be.  I don’t think she would become angry or agree to become provoked.

But what if I should be using my paper plates instead?  Or plasticware (if the food is likely to be too heavy or greasy for paper).  What would that look like?  How to accept the messenger and still respond to the message as a participant and not merely as a detached observer?  How to respond to the message in a way and in a language that will be understood by the person to whom I’m responding, without actually adopting their own language?

I am thinking there’s a way to take what Ani Dalit would see and then translate that back into a language useful to those who don’t.

Sister Maria and detours and phases

July 19, 2012

The Sister Maria I have in mind is the main character in Richard Shindell’s song “Transit,” which I know I’ve mentioned here before.  This nun is on her way to her calling, and she ends up having to change a tire on her van before she can get to the main event.  The song starts off with the very clever and moves into the extremely fantastical and finally ends up in the very moving.

Richard Rohr writes about two halves of our lives, and in my own I’ve noticed phases.  (I maybe should note that while I finished The Naked Now, I’ve only read a small part of his Falling Upward,about the different halves of our lives.)

For me, the image of Sister Maria changing that tire resonates with a phase in my life that corresponds roughly with my involvement with legal history.  That “phase” includes over ten years during which I didn’t work in the field at all but was home with kids.  It felt, in retrospect, like two forays (it took two tries) into some old unfinished business, like I went back twice to beard an old lion in his den and resolve an old karmic problem.  The unresolved problem had made progress impossible, as if, when people tried, they slipped into an unseen sink hole.  In my own life, I think it meant that what I might have done in my twenties as Plan A didn’t come together.

The good news is that I resolved the problem.  It was complicated and complex.  During it I experienced a spiritual life that in retrospect was probably pretty adventuresome.  It also blew a pretty large crater in my life.

Having done all that, I think I sort of got back into the van, like Sister Maria in Richard Shindell’s song, and proceeded on to the main event.  I think I’ve been in some sort of transitional phase, doing that proceeding, for a while.  It feels like when you realize you’re done doing the research for a paper because you now find yourself reading the same stuff over and over again in new sources.

I don’t know exactly what this new phase entails.

My marriage to Willy was wrapped up in the resolving-the-old-karmic-problem phase of my life.  That second go-round within that phase came after his death and, I think, needed to be done alone.

As I said, I don’t know exactly what this new phase entails.  Gita suggested that I have more leeway at this time of my life.  That certainly feels like that’s the case in some ways, although in other ways I feel constrained.  We’ll see.

Up on the (porch) roof

March 30, 2012

This next installment of my adventures in having work done on my porch railings comes under the rubric of “Why having anything done on an old house becomes an exercise in dealing with idiosyncratic elements.”  Here we have inconsistent railing lengths and posts out of plumb.  So, we are still working on spacing of balusters to minimize the eye’s attention to such infelicities.

It occurred to me as I was taking a walk before the latest round of consultation with the carpenters, “Okay, Diana, you want to say, to the carpenters,  ‘It’s your job, I just notice the spacing looks wrong and there’s this trapezoidal gap where it should be a parallelogram, I shouldn’t have to do anything more than call this stuff to your attention from the sidewalk.’  But what you probably need to do is get over ‘the way it’s ‘sposed to be’ and get out there on the [flat] roof with a tape measure so you have some hard numbers to show them and some objective evidence of what you’re alleging.”

So, out the turret window and onto the porch I went with my tape measure and gathered my numbers.  Then the project manager and company owner showed up (without a ladder) and we all went out the window and had a measuring party.  Actually, it was quite civil, and everybody was able to agree that the right panel of balusters is spaced, shall we say, inconsistently.  And the owner and I were able to agree on the technique for finessing the post angle issue affecting a side panel of balusters that my computer guy (a civil engineer by original training, I think) had earlier suggested to me.  So, Monday we’re set to go on this.

What I found interesting was that pushing myself out of my unconstructive posture and getting out there and taking measurements really seemed to help.  Having a suggestion to offer on the angle issue also really helped.  Having the company owner come out and then acknowledge the angle problem and that there’s a way to improve it all helped, too.

The owner was wearing a silver earring in one ear, and he cut his long ponytail off not long ago.  Which may sound irrelevant to anything, but I know stories from the past about a guy with a ponytail and silver hoop earring, so it was for me kind of like having a recurrent character from nighttime dreams show up in my daytime life.  His acknowledgement that the job wasn’t yet done and that it could be improved — it was as if what used to be a large karmic impediment had dissolved with that shift, from his recognition of what I was claiming.  I’m sure the original scenario had nothing to do with carpentry or architectural design (I’m pretty sure it was a serious and traumatic experience for me), but I’ve thought before that these stories resolve on the smaller iterations of the patterns, like waves diminishing when they reach the shore — the almost trivial nature of the context is almost a sign that we’re ready to learn whatever it was we needed to learn.  And then it’s over.  Here, at least part of what I needed to learn was what was embodied in my getting out on that roof with my tape measure.

 

Coming out, in a sense

March 5, 2012

So my old friend Jesse asked me a question that prompted this reply.  He invited me to share my response privately, via email, but I put it in some sort of Facebook conversation, which I’m going to assume is at least semi-public.  And then I got to thinking that in the course of trying to answer his question, I had come up with a way of expressing where I’m coming from that I’m not too uncomfortable with making somewhat public.  I think it had to do with the audience to whom I was immediately addressing it that it came out in a way I’m okay with.

So, I thought I’d post it here, in case anyone’s curious, even though talking about these things creates the risk of being perhaps misunderstood or having people head for the exits:

I’m not sure where to begin. In retrospect I can see how my heart, as they say, got opened up, maybe cracked open (as a friend of mine likes to say of her own experience). I would say that after a bunch of stuff over many years, I had this sort of spiritual experience back in 2000, and I found myself connecting with faith, joy, hope. Then I went through a really rough period, including Willy’s death and how it has affected our kids and what’s happened with them. But at the same time, I became aware of a lot of other things, and I guess I would say I did some sort of past-life regression and soul retrieval work. I think I discovered I am, in some way, what people call an empath. But in this particular life, I have no formal training — what is kind of interesting is that I can do spiritual work, wind up in a bookstore looking at a book that locates what I did in some old and traditional religious practice, and then have some sense of clarification, of “Oh, that’s what that was about.” I think my understandings and abilities come from a diverse number of traditions, since I find what I do consonant with bits and pieces of lots of them. There’s a strand of mysticism involved, also a strand of healing. It all seems to predicated on a willingness to serve [the greater good] — something like that.

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I might add in this post that I’ve never been clear whether I’ve been doing this work for myself or someone else, but I think that for an empath that distinction doesn’t make much sense.

Yearning

October 6, 2011

I remember reading C.S. Lewis’s description of the yearning he felt when he connected with God, through nordic mythology, I think it was (I don’t guarantee I’m recollecting this accurately, my interest is in the yearning feeling, not the supporting details, so if someone is interested in the details, they should check them out themselves), and I was so surprised by how he precessed his experience.  Because years before I had had one of those connection experiences, and for me it came as hopefulness and optimism and a sense of buoyancy, followed by huge yearning.  But this yearning felt to me exactly like the yearning I had felt as a teenager, and I associated it with unrequited teenage romantic love.  It brought me back to my adolescence, re-listening to the music I had listened to then and writing poetry as I had again, but that yearning part I didn’t associate directly with a relationship with the divine.  I did end up a couple of years later with some sort of spiritual reunion, so maybe the yearning was for the divine after all and I didn’t realize it.  But for me at the time it seemed to be all about unrequited romantic teenage love, it seemed to be a by-product of the primary experience of connection (not the primary experience of connection itself), and it seemed as if I was being transported back to an earlier time in my life.  The poetry I wrote had all kind of bits and pieces of things that felt like vivid memories but not of anything actually from my own life.  And between that experience of connection and the joy of reunion, I had what might be called an interesting spiritual life; what born-again Christians describe has similar features, but I interpreted them very differently, and it led to what folks of some other spiritual persuasions refer to as going through a journey of revisiting past lives, but again, I processed the experience somewhat differently (it felt more like people were sharing with me their lives and I was being given an opportunity to try them on, like the way girls sometimes try on each others’ clothes; in my case, I felt I was also being given an opportunity to mend, darn, and reweave parts of those lives).

Now, I am aware that all this spiritual life stuff comes across to some people as most similar to psychosis, or at least delusions on a smaller scale.  And the whole process has led me to a perspective on our material world and its pursuits that is more questioning of the usual perspective with which we view them.  So, I do have the sense of having left the mainstream and joined some fringe point of view, but, on the other hand, I try my best to remain connected to the mainstream world, as I stumble my way through it.  I guess I would close, by way of making whatever point this recounting can lead to, that maybe there are multiple ways of perceiving the world, like the different kinds of telescopes that exist, looking at the universe with different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that we should respect other people’s perspectives (instead of trying to disabuse them of them), and consider how these multiple perspectives might relate to one another and fit together as parts of a whole.

Shamans and the speed of light

September 25, 2011

I’m kind of relieved that maybe scientists have found that the speed of light is not as ultimate a bound as they thought.

I read the piece on the PBS NewsHour’s blog and the article in the NYTimes to which it links, and my reaction is, “Well, yes, sending telegrams back in time, or even the plumber or a tow truck back to help out, that’s what shamans do.”  And it would be nice for scientists to be on that same page.

I wonder what, if anything, will happen when they do.

I sometimes think scientists could use a shaman or someone similar to help direct where fruitful paths for research might lie, but we’re all too busy tending to our separate magisteria or attending our own conferences or otherwise keeping ourselves in our separate camps.

“Past-life regression”

August 25, 2011

Here’s another step in my progression back through family photographs to some point or other in my early life.

That’s me, not so much “in the corner” but in the background, aware of trying not to be eclipsed more than conscious of trying not to fall prey to “losing my religion” — which, in retrospect, I can see now that I did.