Who were you before you were you? Even though we all identify with a very limited slice of time and space, equating “me” with one body and one mind, in reality you also live outside yourself in the field of awareness.
The Vedic seers say, “The real you cannot be squeezed into the volume of a body or the span of a lifetime.” The package of body and mind that came before is a stranger to you now, and the one that might arise after your death is equally alien. But on a deeper level, millions of seeds have already been planted.
Some are the thoughts you will have tomorrow or the actions you will follow a decade from now. Time is flexible at the quantum level and nonexistent at the virtual level. As we watch these seeds sprouting in the fertile field of time and space, awareness wakes up to itself. This is how a single fertilized cell learns to become a brain–it wakes up to itself, not on the chemical level but on the level of awareness.
Imagine that expanded awareness is normal. Time and space could just be convenient concepts that hold true in the material world but dissolve gradually as you approach the quantum level. This is what I believe reincarnation is about.
Former lives fall into the unexplored territory of expanded awareness. It isn’t absolutely necessary to decide whether they are “real” or not. All of the quantum and virtual levels are open to us all of the time. To navigate them completely is impossible; they open up to us according to our own needs and abilities. But no part is intentionally closed off. Although we normally look no deeper than the personal domain, to look deeper is always possible.
It is more normal to learn from the past than not to, and people who shut out their former lives–if we want to use that terminology–are shutting out lessons that give this present lifetime its purpose and meaning. For someone who has absorbed these lessons fully, there is no need to go beyond this lifetime, and yet such visitations are still part of the natural order of things.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).