What's Happening To Me?

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What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:22 am

I've been having some of the strangest experiences of my life lately and I was wondering if I could get some help on where to start finding my own answers.

Around September, I began having memories of past lives. At least one of them has been confirmed and identified and another life seems very plausible. These memories have been very upsetting and are having a profound impact on me because most of them are from the first world war and the years leading up to it, as a British Tommy cut down in France in 1915.

Up until that point, I had been an avid activist for a green left-anarchist movement, and I had even written a book for them. I still agree with some of these causes, but I've come to see that my reasons for being involved in activism were the wrong ones and that deep down, I had a longing to lead a rebellion and be a hero but that I wasn't as true to the cause as I convinced myself. I also found that my deep distrust of authority had served me well sometimes, but that I had allowed it to explode into hatred and I had to ask why I really felt that way. I found that I had felt stifled or betrayed by authority over several lives and I had let that hurt just accumulate over a very long time.

I also started seeing patterns in my decisions that were very negative. I would make decisions based on a whim, and then either end up regretting them when they didn't work or second-guessing them even when they did work. I realized that this was a tendency that had continued over many lives and was already responsible for me living my life as a Cistercian monk and as a British soldier.

And after all, aren't we the sum of our tendencies? I've had some real karmic trash collecting in my gutter for a very long time and I'm only just now starting to muck it out. But I feel a bit lost because I know I'm nowhere near ready to let go of all attachments; I know I would have an extremely difficult time letting go of eating meat though I'm increasingly conflicted about it and cutting back; I know I'm nowhere near ready for the path to truth.

And yet, here I am at the trailhead. I've seen deep into myself and I've been forced to admit that I haven't been nourishing that which is good in me. The only reason I've looked to Buddhism is because so far, everything I've experienced and observed seems to fit well with the words of Buddha. The only reason I'm balking at Buddhism is because I know it means commitments that I'm not ready to make.

Is it better to dive in head-first, an approach to life that I'm already once bitten, twice shy about, or to not rush and let the insights come to me as they will?
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:45 am

onecalled3 wrote:And after all, aren't we the sum of our tendencies?
Yes.
I've had some real karmic trash collecting in my gutter for a very long time...
Don't worry, we all have!
The only reason I'm balking at Buddhism is because I know it means commitments that I'm not ready to make.
Commitments? Like what?
Is it better to dive in head-first, an approach to life that I'm already once bitten, twice shy about, or to not rush and let the insights come to me as they will?
Insights are cool, but you need wisdom and a "program" that allows you to assimilate the insights into your day to day existence. This program does not need to be Buddhist, but if your approach is haphazard, then there is a real possibility that the insights will just be lost (again).
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby kirtu » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:38 pm

Normally these kinds of experiences are best kept to oneself. There are many possibilities: you may be imagining things (in listing this possibility I am not asserting that you are) or you may be remembering past life memories. Many people remember fragments of past lives but there is almost no way to verify these experiences. My father had a strong past life memory as a child but almost never spoke about it until toward the end of his life. In fact many people actually experience past life memories as children up to early adolescence.

Don't attach to the experience although they lead to insight. As Greg mentioned wisdom and compassion need to develop from these experiences.

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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby Zettel » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:46 pm

I've certainly seen (and experienced personally) the use of external political situations as a method of projecting inner anger or to create comforting narratives (both hero and victim).

Out of curiosity, was it an anti-civ orientation (Derrick Jensen etc) that you were involved in?
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:30 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Commitments? Like what?


Well, I mentioned I was having trouble with the dietary practices, though I'm certainly giving it a try. Also, choosing a "program" as you said.

kirtu wrote:you may be imagining things.


The thought has crossed my mind many times. I tend to lean more to the thought of past life memories because I found several details that match with the life of one particular person (and luckily, a lot of census and military records exist from 1877 to 1915, the years I would have lived that life), but it's always a "very close" match to somewhat vague memories. I have seen most of it "through a glass, darkly."

kirtu wrote:Out of curiosity, was it an anti-civ orientation (Derrick Jensen etc) that you were involved in?


No, nothing that extreme. It was the Cascadian independence movement, concerned mainly with economic and political independence and on a massive overhaul of infrastructure toward sustainability. In all a good cause, but I was in it for the wrong reasons.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:51 pm

onecalled3 wrote:Around September, I began having memories of past lives. At least one of them has been confirmed and identified


How does one have such a thing confirmed and identified?
How do you know this isn't all just in your imagination?
.
.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:08 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
onecalled3 wrote:Around September, I began having memories of past lives. At least one of them has been confirmed and identified


How does one have such a thing confirmed and identified?
How do you know this isn't all just in your imagination?
.
.
.


Confirmed and identified was a poor choice of words, apologies.

Truth is, I poorly understand what is going on and I don't know for sure it wasn't my imagination.

What I do know is that the first memory to apparently match real facts closely was an image I saw of a grave. And yes, I know this would have to be "after death." Some decades after, in fact, judging by the size of the tree by the grave. But from the position of the tree, the layout of the headstones, and the unique style of the fence, I was able to pin down one highly-specific location out of hundreds of thousands of graves: Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery, row C, plot 1.

From there I got a partial name, "J. Harris," along with a rank, serial number, regiment and battalion. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website also provided me with the names of both parents in their "additional information" field.

That was enough information to find a full name (John Harris) and census records that listed a place of residence in 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1910. With that data, I seemed to confirm a childhood memory of living in a multi-story home, on a low ridge on a road that curves to the south and west with a partly-obstructed view of a railway line (in fact, the home I would have lived in as of 1880 would have been on Sherbourne Road in Yeovil, Somerset very near Yeovil Pen Mill station).

I also was able to find a likely spot where I first saw the poster of Lord Kitchener back in the summer of 1914. It was near a tall Gothic-style war memorial in a village square. I found one such monument at a St. Peter's Square in Hereford, where I would have been living in 1914. St. Peter's Square leads to St. Owen Street, which is where my father, William Harris, would have been living at the time, so it's very likely I would have passed through the square on the way to or from his home. I also know from service records that I would have joined around the time these posters were being put up.

I seemed to confirm memories that the trench conditions at L'Epinette (where I would have been in the summer of 1915) were warmer and dryer than expected, and that the trenches were shallow but duck-boarded.

I seemed to confirm a very gruesome memory that bear traps were used against personnel, something I have not seen in any war movie or documentary.

There were other small details that have turned out to be true or plausible.

Is it possible that all of this is the product of things I learned without realizing it, or a pattern of lucky guesses? Absolutely. I totally understand why someone would ask "just how do you presume to know this?" because it is a rather extraordinary claim to say I have memories from over a century ago.

I don't pretend to know 100% for sure that this is completely real and I did not mean to give that impression.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:58 am

onecalled3 wrote:

What I do know is that the first memory to apparently match real facts closely was an image I saw of a grave. And yes, I know this would have to be "after death." Some decades after, in fact, judging by the size of the tree by the grave. But from the position of the tree, the layout of the headstones, and the unique style of the fence, I was able to pin down one highly-specific location out of hundreds of thousands of graves: Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery, row C, plot 1.

From there I got a partial name, "J. Harris," along with a rank, serial number, regiment and battalion.


Yeah, but the thing is, did you have the name "J. Harris," in your mind/memory before seeing this,
or are all these events, perhaps, just creating the memory as you go along?

I'm not disputing that such memories are possible
But what is usually the case is that as "evidence" pops up, A seems to feel more familiar than B and gradually a history is created as we accumulate a lot of A's, meaning that as we go about essentially collecting evidence, that evidence presents itself in a comparative way.

For example, suppose you are at a cemetery, and you see a white marble grave marker, and a black granite grave marker.
If, in your mind, you are remembering a white grave marker, the very fact that there is a choice, a difference, in the mind this adds support to the realness of the memory. However, if you see a white grave marker among many white grave markers, it won't seem as certain that the grave marker has any particular significance.

If you have some thought in your mind of a particular type of headstone in a particular location next to a particular tree, and then you see such an arrangement, you think "my gosh...that's it!!!"
But how many trees are next to grave markers, just in the United States alone?
Probably a couple of million.

The details you are providing a a bit vague.

The situation would be more plausible if, say, you had a memory of being in a war, and the name "J. Harris," kept popping up in your mind, and then you visited a cemetery where you had never been before, and saw such a military grave.

So, it is hard to tell, from your accounts, what came first.
It is the activity of the human mind to fill in the blanks whenever possible.
.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:15 am

I did not know the name, and I did not see the text in the memory. I had a brief fixation on the name "John Harris" as a child but I don't know if that's related or not.

What I do know is that I had no sense that my grave was the one next to the tree prior to that memory. In fact I was somewhat surprised that it WAS so easy to find. I did know by intuition that I was in France rather than Belgium and among other British war dead (though to be sure, I also checked communal cemeteries with only one or two British war dead and cemeteries in Belgium and down in the Mediterranean). I found no other site that matched after reviewing hundreds of locations, plans of the cemeteries, Google Streetview perspectives, and photos on numerous websites. I wanted to be sure that what I found matched the essential details of what I saw.

As far as the house, I remembered that before I found the cemetery or the name. While a house positioned like the one I described is certainly not unique in England, it is not how every house is situated (I found the address of a sergeant from my unit and looked at his house using StreetView just to be sure).

If someone would find similar data on a randomly-selected soldier where I could compare his life to my memories as opposed to that of John Harris, I would be very thankful because the applicability of these memories to an average Englishman is something I've long wondered about.

I know it's possible I've tricked myself here. I don't feel something like this can really be proved. But I have done what I can to minimize the chances of that happening and welcome help in cross-examining what I know.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby Ayu » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:45 am

I have some "vague memories" for former lifetimes also. Maybe not so detailed like you.
But for me it is just like a cinema film. It may have happen to me or may not have happen. This is not relevant.
Memories even from THIS lifetime are unreliable.
The brain changes memories and sells them for real: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory_syndrome

But everything that happens in the mind might try to tell something. So maybe these things give an information about the state of mind right now and about the direction, it wants to go.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:53 am

Ayu wrote:But everything that happens in the mind might try to tell something. So maybe these things give an information about the state of mind right now and about the direction, it wants to go.


It tells volumes. It could be that because I'm an author, I've constructed this elaborate idea around a skeletal framework of small snippets of memory, some of which carry strong emotions and correspond with facts I found later. This could be the work of historical fiction I didn't know I could write. That doesn't change the fact that it's got me thinking about my bad tendencies and wanting to change them, or that it's got me thinking about Dharma.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby Ayu » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:15 am

onecalled3 wrote:... That doesn't change the fact that it's got me thinking about my bad tendencies and wanting to change them, or that it's got me thinking about Dharma.

This is a very good point.
"What happened in the past?" and "What will be in the future?" - these questions are pretty nice distractions from the important things. :smile:
Okay, the past is often relevant for to understand the present - but there is no sense in clinging to it.

And: at least in tibetean Buddhism there is the notion, that throughout all the countless lifetimes the beings have been EVERYTHING. To remember one or two lifes is just a micro-small portion of the whole...
In this thinking i have even been your mother before , when we lived as tigers in a jungle somewhere, and i was your "best" enemie in the Stone Age. :tongue:
Everything is very vast, this is for sure.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:54 am

Well, I've had some developments on this. Strange ones. I've been trying to word this as clearly and coherently as I can because it's part of something really vast for me but I seriously think there's something to it.

It seems I've remembered a coherent string of past lives. I had one after I was John. I was an autodidactic scholar of religions in that life, though by no means enlightened. Given to insights now and then but too troubled by worldly problems to really seek with clarity. He had odd ideas about how the universe worked that even he knew were a bit... well, baroque is the word he used. I have spoken with someone who knew him and correctly identified details of his personal life that were not public knowledge.

Also, one of the lives I remembered was that of an ascetic. I'm still trying to track down an ID on this guy to see if he actually existed. Nobleman, probably in the region of Shrewsbury, possibly by the name of Harris. Lived in the 13th or 14th century. I say this because the clothing I've seen may be from two lives. There was a baggy blue tunic and loose woolen hose which made me think 13th, and a cotehardie with hose of some fine fabric which makes me think 14th, though both styles were current for the early 14th century around the time of the Hundred Years War. Was the third son of some sort of nobleman, the one destined to go into the army while his two older brothers enjoyed cushy lives as clergy and rulers. But no monastery would turn down a man who would join of his own volition, for any reason even in those days. I became a Cistercian monk, probably at Buildwas Abbey, or possibly Haughmond abbey. I found these abbeys because I remembered Romanesque columns. Also, I remembered seeing the abbey in two states: both as a ruin in 1914 and as an active abbey in the 13th or 14th century. I know I was in the vicinity of Shrewsbury in my life as John because I trained with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, so one of these two abbeys would be a natural location for the memory of ruins. Admittedly, placing the medieval life at the same monastery is pushing it but I'm betting on having had a succession of lives in England going back a very long time, so it's the hunch I'm playing in my research. I am trying to track down a historian who can help me track records of these abbeys, if the codices still exist. It may be possible to find some firsthand sources in medieval historical documents. I lack the resources to do this at this time.

I really wish I could prove this. I probably sound really histrionic, especially since I can't tell certain details about my most recent life here since people who are still living are involved and I respect their privacy.

I keep having strong themes of religious seeking and revelation coming up in my previous lives and it's getting really weird. I had gone in a more agnostic direction recently, after the initial round of past-life memories. Before that I had been a pagan, but had been cautious of the idea of taking reincarnation simply on faith, or any promise of anything beyond this physical life. I always figured I'd have to be at the end of this life to find out, though. I almost did. I underwent stressors in my life that essentially blasted my personality down to its bedrock and when I began to piece it back together, I found so many things. I found that I understood impermanence in a very stark way even as a child in this life. It scared me so much... it still does. I had the flimsily shored-up confidence of twenty-eight years of my life blown away and began having memories of WWI that brought me back to that primal, childhood level of fear. I had to build myself back up from recollections of hell on earth while my financial life suffered and my gender dysphoria worsened. I almost didn't make it. I had a gun at the time, I could have ended it all. I didn't; I got rid of the gun because after a past life in war, I couldn't lay eyes on it.

And yet, I'm so deeply involved in attachments and un-buddhist habits that I feel I'm just not pure enough for this. I actually almost let this thread die because I came barging in with it in a very un-Buddhist way. I feel like I don't deserve to know about past lives or anything like that. I'm just a dumb transsexual hipster who doesn't know what to do with her life. I had to have a psychiatrist sign off on my hormones and they do set the mental competence threshold pretty high for that, so I'm pretty sure I'm not a nutjob. I just never thought of myself as being anything more than a novice at anything in life.

So indulge me a moment. If I'm not a nutcase or a magnificent liar, what is this? I've been wandering in circles. I don't understand how I could know so much even though I know so little. Why a dumb tranny from Portland? Why not someone who actually had their life in order?
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby lobster » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:13 am

onecalled3 wrote:Why not someone who actually had their life in order?


I have heard of these legendary 'life in order' creatures from mermaids. However I think they are mythical . . .

Why not you? Sounds like this is all to do with identity? What are your future plans? May I humbly suggest a sadhana/practice and Buddhist teacher? You mention diet. I personally offer pop corn to Kwan Yin but you might offer yourself to the dharma? If you have a better life plan be glad to hear it?

http://youtu.be/pGHT3odq3xs :popcorn:
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby onecalled3 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:40 am

Time to stop procrastinating I guess.

Why did I hit myself so hard on the head with my own Karma to get here? Most people can take a hint the first time around.
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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:03 am

onecalled3 wrote:Time to stop procrastinating I guess.

Why did I hit myself so hard on the head with my own Karma to get here? Most people can take a hint the first time around.


No, most people never take the hints at all and wander further and further in samsara. But it is always time to stop procrastinating. There is an infinity of beings to help rescue or at least you to attain liberation as quickly as possible.

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Re: What's Happening To Me?

Postby wisdom » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:51 pm

onecalled3 wrote:And yet, I'm so deeply involved in attachments and un-buddhist habits that I feel I'm just not pure enough for this.


And yet this is a very Buddhist thing to say. If you thought you had no attachments and were oh so pure and holy to be practicing Dharma... What conceit! What a horrible view to enter into Dharma with! Better to know that you are attached to things like the rest of us and in need of transformation so that you can clearly and reasonably address the issue with as little ego and conceit as possible.

onecalled3 wrote:I feel like I don't deserve to know about past lives or anything like that.


Past life knowledge is nothing special, it arises because of our karma when the time is right for it to come to fruition. What it shows us is that reincarnation is true, and not merely a fantasy. Even if you only have and validate a single past life, the logical explanation is still that reincarnation is a truth and not a fantasy. So don't tell yourself you don't deserve it as though only holy and divine people receive such information. Many people do, the question is what is it going to motivate you to do? Study the Dharma and look into Buddhism? Or...?

onecalled3 wrote: I'm just a dumb transsexual hipster who doesn't know what to do with her life. I had to have a psychiatrist sign off on my hormones and they do set the mental competence threshold pretty high for that, so I'm pretty sure I'm not a nutjob. I just never thought of myself as being anything more than a novice at anything in life.


You're not dumb. In the least if this is all just a big fantasy (but it seems like you do have some evidence that says its not all a fantasy) you have a creative mind, and you are a writer. Since you don't know what to do with your life, the possibilities are vast!

onecalled3 wrote:So indulge me a moment. If I'm not a nutcase or a magnificent liar, what is this? I've been wandering in circles. I don't understand how I could know so much even though I know so little. Why a dumb tranny from Portland? Why not someone who actually had their life in order?


Portland is a great place to study Dharma. Powells books has a huge section of used Dharma (and other spiritual) books. There are many Sanghas around. Many teachers come through the city and give empowerments and teachings. Also Portland is very LGBT friendly and the Sangha I have gone to a few times had more than one LGBT person. Furthermore we are close enough to Seattle and California that with a little financial means and a way to travel we can easily access even more teachings if we desire to do so.
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