Karma And Past Lives

Mark Twain wrote in his Autobiography, “I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.”

In brief, karma is the situation of ones birth, its working out in the present, and the streaming influences from the past that flows into what you are and the events you meet in the present. It is the outworking and action of cause and effect. And although if we look around we can see that every observable object, such as a tree, has a cause, and is the result of events in the past, but we seldom apply that to our own birth and life. 

Most of us can see that cause comes before effect, yet me consistently refuse to see that any problems in our life arise from often a long past event.

One morning my wife Brenda woke and told me she had dreamt about the baby of two of our friends. The friends, who I will call Jane and Bob, were living about 200 miles from us. We knew Jane was pregnant, and about a week or so before the dream we had received a short letter saying their baby, a boy, had been born. We didn’t have a telephone at the time, so the letter was our only means of communication.

In the dream Brenda saw the baby and a voice from behind her told her the child was ill. Its illness, she was given to understand, was serious, and would need to be treated with a drug taken every day of the child’s life. The reason for this illness and the drug use, she was told, was because in a past life the being now born as the baby had committed suicide using a drug.

I didn’t take the dream seriously, thinking it was some sort of personally symbolic dream. But we couldn’t seem to extract any personal meaning for Brenda, so just in case I sent an account of the dream to Jane and Bob. About a week later we had a letter from them saying that the letter and dream had crystallised their already existing anxiety about the baby. It had not been feeding well and was fretful. On taking it to the doctor nothing definite could be found but special tests were made in hospital. From these it was discovered the baby was dying. It lacked an enzyme that was needed to digest calcium. To compensate it was given a drug, which it has had to take every day of its life to make up for the lacking enzyme.

It didn’t happen to somebody else who reported it to me. I witnessed every step of it. Recently I met the baby of that dream again. He is now a man of 35, and still needing the daily drug.

In today’s thinking we tend to believe that our DNA is the regulating influence in our life. But that only deals with our physical potential and does not deal with the whole flow of what is covered by the term karma. See ProgrammedThe Nature versus Nurture DebateArchetype of the Paradigm

Remember that no plant or creature grows from a dead seed, and each living seed carries within it all the past gathered from all its forebears. So, the seed in your mother’s womb is as old as and even older than human kind, and you carry that wisdom or memories in you. But in this life you developed a new brain, and the memories you gathered this time are what you built your personality from, but beneath that is a very ancient self. To explore it see Opening to Life

Karma is a Sanskrit word and Wikipedia defines it as: “Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward. Karma simply deals with what is. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to oneself and others. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one’s present life and all past and future lives as well.”

A single cell, which is a seed from which all life forms evolved from, doesn’t become old or die because it is immortal, for it keeps dividing and doesn’t die. In dividing it constantly creates copies of itself, but as it does  so it gathers new experience, it changes what is copied, so becomes the ‘seed’ for multi-cellular organism. We all started from the original one cell, and we, you and I,  are the result of gathered experience.

No plant or creature grows from a dead seed, and each living seed carries within it all the past gathered from all its forebears. So, the seed in your mother’s womb is as old as and even older than human kind, and you carry that wisdom or memories in you. But in this life you developed a new brain, and the memories, education and programming you gathered this time are what you built your personality from, but beneath that is a very ancient self. To explore it see Opening to Life

That spirit, of which you and I only reflect a small part, when we die will absorb the lessons of this life. At some other period that spirit will dip into human life again. But at a practical level people often ask why they cannot remember past lives. The answer is very obvious from many points of view. Firstly our present personality has been formed a great deal by the influences of parents and culture, but also the memories of today’s person are held in the brain, so a great gulf exists between the present and what is held in the unconscious unless one has learnt to transcend such limitations. See Programmed  

For all of us, the past influences the present, whether that be in society or personally. So there are aspects of people who lived in the past that influence this life. But there is a way of thinking about this that I believe makes it reasonably straightforward. It doesn’t seem to be a mysterious thing, and I don’t know why people make of it such a mystery.


If you look at a tree, you can see it incorporates many, many past trees. It didn’t suddenly emerge out of a vacuum, out of nothing. It has its present existence out of what existed in the past. Of course, because in our culture we are still labouring under the world view that the atom is the fundamental particle or material in the universe, we still see ourselves and the tree as simply a physical process.

The picture of the tree is of an oak tree. It has the DNA allowing it to grow into a massive tree, but because it grew on the edge of a cliff where powerful winds hit it, it has adapted to its environment.

All our calculations about this leave out the factor of consciousness. Even trees have a form of sentience. They respond to light, to weather conditions, to their environment. Did you suddenly gain the type of awareness, perceptions, concepts you have suddenly in the here and now? Of course you didn’t. Thousands of people pre-existed you who gave words, concepts skills that have together formed who you are. There are ideas, longings, weaknesses and blindness of which you are a very particular mixture. As you gain insight into yourself you begin to see these influences form the past more clearly. You are part of a stream of influence flowing through history. See The Conjuring Trick – 

 Your Body is a Work of Art

In your life, the stream of Life has bubbled up from under the surface again. It carries particular influences, minerals, qualities, from the past. Therefore I don’t believe you are a reincarnation of a particular being. But you are the working out, the continuation of things from the past.

If we look at a painting, we see certain colours on it. That particular painting exists because of the texture, the minerals, the earth and chemicals that go into the paint or ink used. It is also a result of the movements, the skill the artist has put into it. It is an incorporation of all those things and many other things not mentioned. It is also an expression of the light that falls on it. Without the light it is not apparent. In different lighting conditions it will change its character in some way.

So the painting is partly an expression of a human being and their qualities and skills; it is partly an expression of the chemicals and minerals and surfaces involved. As such it is an extraordinary thing. When we look at it we are witnessing all that goes into it. Maybe we don’t realise it; perhaps we don’t see everything that composes it. Maybe we don’t realise that in its present form it has substances from when the earth was young, that its atoms are from the beginning of time, or that the canvas it is on was formed by the effort t of several people not even consciously known by the artist. And of course, the painting is unique. There will never be a painting exactly like that. A copy might appear on the surface as the same, but there will never be quite the same mixture of minerals, chemicals, movements, human qualities, that entered into the painting. All of this applies to a human person.

Our body is just such a work of art. It is an extraordinary blending of an enormous number of processes, age old elements, past influences and people. The influence is not just from our parents, but our forebears going back into prehistory. There is also the powerful influence of the time and period in history in which we are born and the periods prior to it that formed the culture we are born into. The culture we live in weaves itself into who and what we become. A child born in today’s world will be influenced by the extraordinary number of chemicals and additives, medicines and drugs, alcohol and nicotine, that are part and parcel of life today. They are all factors that go into the make up of who the person is and becomes. They are the chemicals in the ‘paint’ of personality. And remember that the light falls on a particular surface/painting/you. The personality that shines out if your whole life has been given to drinking alchol and taking pain killers, or eating machine made foods, would be different to someone who has cared for their body – the painting and all it includes in its materials will be different.

Then there are the unique events and circumstances of that individuals life. The people met, the relationships encountered, the opportunities and traumas that events bring. All of those factors are like the paint, the surface, the artistry and skill that go into producing a painting. The uniqueness of those factors reflects very particular colours in the light that is our life. The art is partly your reaction to events and whether you meet them well, for in that is your creation of your karma.

Of course this is an analogy but I think it is a useful one. Light has in it every conceivable colour. It is the surface that the light falls on that brings out qualities. So it is the uniqueness of our body and mind that bring qualities out of the infinite possibilities of life. Innate in the forms of life are all the lessons and experiences it has gathered through unimaginable number of lives and creatures. The surface our body provides draws out of that infinite potential very particular qualities. We are the person we become because of the blending of all those unique factors.

How can anything in the present avoid being influence and formed out of factors from the past?

Everything in the present, whether it relates to agriculture, politics, religion or art, has arisen out of past influences and things learned. People see that and of course recognise their present life and feelings are connected with their immediate family and culture. What they often fail to see is that there are influences existing in them from the far past. So we can say that the present is an incarnation of the past in a new form. How is it we can’t say that I am an incarnation of the past in a new form? We are not an incarnation of a tiny bit of the past, but a whole spectrum of it.

So the wonder of this is not that you or I are a reincarnation of a particular past personality, but that we are an expression of something that has always existed, and carries past experience and possibly wisdom.

Example: It began after a father-son bonding trip to the CavanaughFlightMuseum outside of Dallas. Bruce picked up a video of the Blue Angels navy flight exhibition team for his 2-year-old son, James, who had become instantly enamoured with the jet fighters in high speed formation.

However, soon afterwards James began to smash his toy airplanes repeatedly into the coffee table screaming that the aircraft was on fire. It was then that the nightmares began. His mother Andrea would find her son thrashing around on the bed letting out blood curdling screams, shouting, ‘Airplane crash on fire! Little man can’t get out!’

The disturbing nightmares were physical too, with James kicking upwards on his bed as if trying to kick open the canopy from inside an aircraft.

It was over a bedtime story that James suddenly began talking to his parents about the nightmares, turning them from night terrors to lucid details and conversations.

James told his staunchly Christian parents, that he was flying a Corsair during the Second World War and that the Japanese shot him down. ‘Mama, before I was born, I was a pilot, and my airplane got shot in the engine and it crashed in the water and that’s how I died.’

He told his parents he flew off a carrier called the USS Natoma Bay and his name was James and that he had died during in a horrific plane crash. The growing implications of what their son was telling them began to trouble the religious beliefs of Bruce and Andrea. When James was two-and-a-half he was sitting on his father’s knee going through a book on the Battle for Iwo Jima.

Opening the book to a picture of Mount Suribachi, James exclaimed, ‘That’s where my plane was shot down. My airplane got shot down there daddy.’ James began to draw disturbing pictures of fiery plane crashes – Dr Tucker believes this kind of compulsive repetition had all the hallmarks of how children deal with PTSD.

Bruce in particular wanted to get to the bottom of his son’s insistence that he was indeed describing the past lives of a downed pilot named James. He attended a reunion for USS Natoma Bay veterans under the ruse of writing a book and was stunned to discover the only pilot killed during the Iwo Jima operation was a 21-year-old from Pennsylvania named James Huston.

Further unnerving research revealed that Huston’s plane had been hit in the nose and lost its propeller – exactly where James had intentionally damaged all his toy planes.

James As their belief in their son’s extraordinary claims grew, Bruce and Andrea began to take what he said seriously. One night Andrea said that she was told by James that his past-life father was an alcoholic and when James Huston was 13, they put their drunken dad in hospital for six weeks. 
 James Leininger with his parents Andrea and Bruce

By now they had tracked down Huston’s sister Anne, who was in her 80s by now and asked her if these claims were true – which she confirmed. More staggering coincidences began to occur. James knew details that no four-year-old or even 40-year-old would know about the operational details of a Second World War fighter.

He knew that Corsairs were notorious for getting flat tires and when handed a model of the FM-2 planes he would fly aboard the USS Natoma Bay he noted that a small antenna was missing from the side, which research by his father noted to be true.

The most incredible moment though was when James attended his first USS Natoma Bay reunion. There he was stopped in the hallway of the hotel by Bob Greenwalt, a NatomaBay veteran. When he asked ‘do you know who I am?’ James replied, ‘You are Bob Greenwalt.’ Asked how he knew that by his father, James replied that he simply remembered the man’s voice.

Indeed, after that, back at home in Dallas, James was sweeping the front lawn with his dad when Bruce bent down to hug his son and tell him that he loved him. James replied that when he saw Bruce and Andrea eating dinner in Hawaii on WaikikiBeach he knew that these were the right parents for him.

Bruce still has no idea how his son knew about the romantic trip he and his wife went on to start their family – before James was born. After this he was invited to Japan where he was shot down and was honoured by the Japanese officials who said he was obviously a reincarnation because he knew so much about them.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2509769/New-book-reveals-children-believe-reincarnated.html#ixzz2uWJkLKb1

See: Opening to Life – Life’s Little Secrets – reincarnation and dreams.


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