My Past Life
First I will try to clarify the title by saying that `my past life' which I am referring to is just a portion of this lifetime, since this is the only life of mine that I am conscious of at this time. Although I do believe in reincarnation I am not conscious at the moment of any other life but this one for me.
Using the concept of the past to define a portion of the six decades I have been alive in this incarnation, I wish to refer to the portion that took place in the first twenty years of my life. To me, that aspect of my past was quite significant, as it led me to the very meaningful spiritual life that I have been living since then.
A few words that come to mind when trying to offer a portrayal or characterization of my first twenty years is `ignorance' and `lack of awareness'. Although I had much curiosity in my past life, or the first twenty years, I was not aware at all of any real meaning in my life up to that point. As I was approaching the last few years of those first two decades of my life I was gradually becoming somewhat aware of the fact that I was ignorant of many important aspects of life and Truth.
For my high school graduation yearbook photo I chose a saying to put under it, as many people like to do for their yearbook photos. The saying I chose was, "What we don't know would make a great book."
At that point in my past life I began to feel that there was much more meaning to life that I did not know about and that I should seek to learn or become aware of. Unconsciously I started my search for a deeper Truth in life rather than just studying for school exams, which is all I knew up to that point.
So the past led me to seeking a more Eternal Truth, one that did not depend on time and space but rather transcended the mental, physical and temporal world realities. But I did not know where to look or even what I was looking for.
It now seems clear that since the Soul, or our Eternal and Immortal Spirit, is always striving for higher Truth, it is only a matter of earthly time before we start becoming aware of these higher elements in our outer life. In my past life the time had finally arrived to start seeking.
My past life led me to my present life, which I could define as one of consciously seeking a higher Truth. Even though I am still ignorant of many higher Realities, having a lot of seeking and discovering yet to do, I am sure that this present way of life will lead me to where my `soul' wants and needs to go.
Sri Chinmoy has said that "the past is dust". Even though the past did exist and the results of the past now exists as `karma', or the effects of our past deeds and thoughts, the form is now different. `Dust' can be thought of as something which had meaningful and useful form at one time in the past but which is now useless and unimportant, dispensable and unnecessary. It is the present moment that we have to focus on, which will create a meaningful and progressive future.
It is through our spiritual aspiration, our seeking of the Higher Truth through faith, hope, prayer, meditation and spiritual disciplines, that our past can be perceived as a meaningful entry to a brighter future.
As Sri Chinmoy states in one of his poems (27,000 Aspiration-Plants, #1809):
"Why do you dwell
On the past?
The past does not determine
Only your prayer and meditation
Will determine your future."
So there we have it. If my past life led me to a present life of prayer and meditation then that is what is valuable and meaningful about my past life and I do not have to dwell on it. Since the past has created the present and the present always immediately leads to the future, then there is very little distinction between my past life and the future.
As long as I can keep the aspiration alive in my present life to move forward and upward, then I can always think of my past life with a sense of gratitude.