My Past Life, an article by Purnakama
- My Past Life
I grew up Catholic.
Being Catholic encompassed my life and shaped who I was.
I went to Catholic school, attended church once, sometimes twice a week, played in a Catholic youth orchestra, attended a church youth group, and sang in the weekly folk music group at the Saturday night mass.
I even wanted to be a nun when I was 10. I remember our teacher came around to each of us individually as part of a class project and asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. The answer came so easily; "A nun of course!" I told my teacher brightly. I think I surprised her a little with my quick and confident response.
I had a very good experience in the church. I made many good friends, I enjoyed learning about God and Jesus, and most especially I was moved by the beautiful devotional music that I was privileged to learn and perform. To this day I treasure all of the wonderful things that I learned growing up Catholic; a sense of devotion to God, the message of doing good to others, and compassion through the teachings of Jesus.
So how does a good Catholic girl headed for the convent end up becoming a student of an Indian Spiritual Master and believing in reincarnation?
As I moved further into my teens, as most teenagers do, I began to question.
I began to question things that I had never really thought about.
As with almost every church of every denomination and faith, our church had a missionary component to it whereby nuns and priests in the diocese would go to third world countries and minister to the poor. I had always just accepted that there were very poor people in the world, or people living in war torn countries, and that we needed to help. But I began to question why. Not why we needed to help, that was obvious; but why was I so lucky to be born in a peaceful country, with enough food, and clothing, and enough support needed to grow and thrive, while others had to suffer in horrific situations? This seemed so unfair and I could not justify it in my mind or heart. I did ask questions, but the nebulous answers that I received about the mysteries of God just could not satisfy me, and so I began a quest, seeking answers to my unanswered questions.
As I entered my twenties and went off to university, I was opened to a whole new world; a world far from my lovely but sheltered Catholic world. I met people of many different faiths, with many different worldviews and I felt a part of me opening. I began seeking answers to my questions, looking for a deeper inner knowledge. I wasn't sure where my search would lead me, but I felt that I would be guided along the way.
I began with books. I suddenly found myself drawn to new age bookstores and was fascinated by the range of topics, ideas and ideologies that I found there. I could spend hours sitting in a comfy chair reading the back covers of books trying to decide which new treasure I would take home that day. What new bits of wisdom and knowledge would wend their way into my heart and mind?
During that period I read everything from the Celestine Prophecy to the Upanishads. Through all of the books that I read, there was a common theme that wove its way through my newly created knowledge tapestry, and that was the idea of reincarnation. It seemed to gently call me to listen.
Having been a firm believer in "You get one shot at life, and then either heaven or hell for eternity", (or purgatory, which I never really understood anyway), this new idea that a part of us, our soul lives on in another form, learning new lessons, and gaining more and deeper knowledge each time, began to slowly flower within me.
And with the flowering of each petal, these new ideas went from knowledge, to knowing; from the mental facts, to a deep feeling of ancient remembering.
There was no one aha moment, but rather a gentle unfolding of my understanding over time until I could not remember a time when I did not believe in or understand reincarnation.
All of the questions that I had about the unfairness of life seemed to make sense now.
I was once that person suffering in the streets of that broken country.
Because of this new understanding, my compassion poured out tenfold for those who were suffering in the world. I felt a oneness with all of humanity.
It was about this time that I met my spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy.
Sri Chinmoy taught me about oneness with humanity, and the power of meditation and inner silence to help heal ourselves and others on an inner level, which is where all healing begins, with the healing and liberation of the soul.
I still hurt at seeing the pain that is being felt in the world, but I am also buoyed by the wonderful and beautiful things that are happening in the world as humanity evolves and goes through this cycle of birth and death, moving from ignorance to knowledge.
And my pangs are assuaged in the knowledge that all souls in the end will ultimately reach the goal of liberation of the soul and God realization.
And now, as I continue along my spiritual journey, I try to think of each new day as a new incarnation. If I have not achieved my spiritual goals today, then today must be forgotten, and tomorrow will appear again full of hope and promise.
"Exhale the dust of the past,
Inhale the Fragrance of the future." Sri Chinmoy.