Who was I in my past life?

—Prakash Tiwari, India


Dear Prakash,

Thank you for your question which is among the great questions of humanity: WHO AM I? Saints and sages of East and West tell us that we are the immortal Atman, the eternal soul, made in the image of God; unchanging, blissful, and ever untouched by the drama of God’s creation and even by the effects of past karma (good or bad).

Patanjali in the YOGA SUTRAS tells us that those who become completely non-attached to their body and personality in THIS LIFE are able to remember the roles they played in PAST LIVES. Achieving this ennobled state of consciousness is, however, the product of intense spiritual effort and Guru’s grace.  The average person, what to mention the average devotee, has yet to achieve such an elevated vision of their own unfoldment through past lives.

The important thing to focus on is NOT “who” I was in a past life but WHO “I AM” right now!

There are three basic reasons we do NOT remember our past lives:

1. We are too attached to THIS life. It’s like being in a narrow canyon as opposed to a mountain top. On the mountain top we can see a vast vista and great distances.

2. The burden of past memories of pain, suffering, hurt, lost loves, tragedies and, yes, even all the pleasure and joy would simply overwhelm us and make it impossible to carry on THIS life with energy, faith and hope. How could we love a person here and now in this life if we retained memories of all the loves, mothers, fathers we have had in past lives?

3. We are the immortal Atman, the perfect soul. The actions in the duality of time and space do not stick to the Atman which is ever free. Our after-death sojourn in the astral plane largely dissolves the conscious identification and memories of the past life by the deep rest in the soul that we are granted that we might carry on our next lifetime with a “clean slate.”  This does NOT mean we don’t have the burden of karma to work out. Rather, it means that that burden is kept hidden from our conscious view.

I hope you find this helpful,

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA