Why is it that when someone tells you about recalling a “past life” it’s always one of glamour where you had lots of power to change things in the world?
You know, they remember that they were either a king or a queen, a great general or a grand lady. Never hear much about the run of the mill folks which made up most humanity in our history.
I had a “vision” the other day. (“There he goes again,” you might be saying, but please, hold your wise cracks until later.)
I was in a large room with many people, mostly all women and I heard “wailing” and sobbing as the people shuffled back and forth speaking to no one in particular but to anyone who would listen. It was an “insane asylum.” One of those built over a hundred years ago.
Sitting at a table, I watched one woman glide across the floor advising us to beware of some future disaster. She had long hair. Brunette. Hair was all messed up. Her “night-gown” was pulled down toward the front and you could see the top of her chest. Modesty was the last thing on her mind. Her pain appeared to lead her step by step as she went from person to person warning them to take care.
Don’t know if I was an attendant in the facility or a patient. Could’ve been a man or a woman. Still had all of my senses and I felt I was able to live and even thrive in such an environment. And it got me thinking later that maybe this was one of my past lives.
And if so, what is that life trying to tell me, or from a Buddhist perspective, what have I been reborn to “set right” in this, my new life? That people with mental disorders are just like you and me? They are our neighbors, co-workers, our future wives and husbands? That we all have some disorder or unbalance about ourselves that could remain hidden most of our lives unless circumstances force them to the surface?
It got me thinking about my PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and how it may not have come to a head had I not been exposed to war as a young man. I probably would have the general everyday garden variety of neurosis like depression, anxiety and the occasional panic attacks. But because I’ve been treated for PTSD, and have studied it well enough to overcome the stigma attached to it, I can speak publically about not only that problem, but others from the mental health area.
I’m a little nuts. But I think we’re all a little nuts, a little crazy at times. It’s what makes us different and unique. Taken to extreme, I think any person could go off the “deep end” if they focus too much on their own problems, their own sufferings. And that’s where my understanding of Buddhism could come into play for many.
Don’t focus on you’re own suffering. Look at the pain of those now living in Haiti, for example. They could write a book on suffering and we could all benefit by it by feeling that hurt, recognizing that we all face our own “disasters” and the best way to dig out from our realm of hell is to help others.
That’s what we did in our past lives, remember. When we were the kings and queens and could help the downtrodden. We still can. Help. With love and compassion. There’s nothing crazy about that.