Have you ever wondered about your past lives? Who you were? Where you lived? I had always been curious, but never had any strong feelings come to me.
But between 2005 and 2012 I went on pilgrimage to India four different times. My visit in 2012 brought an unforgettable experience that totally changed my thinking. I was struck from my first visit with a strong sense of the antiquity of the city—I could almost feel the cycles of human life imbedded within it. With each visit I felt a growing sense of having lived there perhaps a thousand years earlier.
My most recent pilgrimage to Calcutta and Yogananda’s home was in 2012. This time my feeling of having been there before was intense and seemed to grow with each passing day. I was sensing castles and huge battles at least a thousand years ago.
No matter what I was doing—meditating, talking with people, reading—this feeling of ancientness would force its way into my mind. I’d wake up in the morning and feel: I’ve been here before.
One day, when this persistent thought was so intense that it was disturbing, we visited Yogananda’s boyhood home. Meditating in his home, I prayed to him in frustration: What is this? What does it mean?
In response I was given a strange “vision.” I saw an endlessly long line of huge vases on an infinitely long high shelf. Suddenly the shelf started to rock, and the vases began to fall off the shelf one by one in perfect order, shattering on the ground and spilling the water they had contained. The water began to form a stream that flowed from the broken vases directly into my heart, filling me with intense joy. Was this my answer?
The call came for us to leave Yogananda’s home, and I followed the group in a daze. Swami Kriyananda was living in Assisi at that time, and I emailed him my experience to see what he thought.
I told him that I felt that those vases contained the stored devotion I’ve held for God through many lives, which has never been forgotten by God, and was waiting to be rekindled in this lifetime. Swami Kriyananda concurred and felt that I had touched the heart of the matter.
Every life we live, we give some small measure of our love to God. No effort, however small, is ever wasted or forgotten: it’s what makes us who we are. In this way we grow from lifetime to lifetime in our search for God. God remembers.
Yogananda said, “Remember this: It takes very, very, very good karma even to want to know God.” That “karma” is stored for us somewhere in our consciousness, waiting to be awakened in this present reality. Perhaps all we need to change our lives completely is a pilgrimage to our Guru’s home.