How many thousands of actors have played the role of Hamlet since Shakespeare wrote that play? Even though it’s exactly the same script and identical plot, each has played it uniquely – from high school students to Hollywood stars. But what would happen if you were to strip away both the plot and the script and just put the original characters (the queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Hamlet, Horatio…) on stage to do ‘improv theater’? Each group would create a brand-new, totally different drama.
Psychodrama – a therapeutic technique done in a group format – does precisely that. The therapist puts a bunch of clients ‘on stage.’ They are given neither a script nor a plot but are simply assigned roles and an initial scenario on which they have to build a dialog and a drama. For example, four people might be assigned roles as a mother, a father and two teenaged kids. The father is an engineer, the mother a CFO of a multinational, the son a popular student and quarter back for his school and the daughter a sophomore who has just been suspended for smoking pot in the school yard.
And, now, the family is ‘on stage’ to deal with this situation. In the absence of a plot or a script, it is strictly ‘improv’ and very quickly the actors’ real personalities – strengths, weaknesses, communication styles and issues – are unearthed. It quickly becomes a very accurate psycho-diagnostic technique.
Let’s play with this notion using the full scope of human history and the one hundred and eleven billion people estimated to have lived since the arrival of Homo Sapiens Sapiens some 70,000 years ago. Each person is therefore embedded in a global drama that spans all of history and covers all corners of the Earth.
Now, let’s imagine a soul pod in the Bardo – the life between lives – reviewing this scene under the guidance of a team of mentors. What lesson does each member want to sign up for? By interweaving these lessons, the mentors then advise the soul pod about which era of history and into what part of the globe they are to be ‘dropped’ in order to accomplish these goals.
They get to play using only an initial scenario. Thereafter, there is neither pre-determined plot nor pre-programmed lines to be committed to memory. It’s a global ‘ad lib.’ It matters not that other souls had been previously dropped into these exact roles in that exact initial scenario. They had played it differently.
The overall tasks are two: (1) the evolution-into-enlightenment of each of the individual players and (2) the shift of Homo Sapiens Sapiens into a Christ conscious ‘Homo Spiritualis.’
To speed up this development, each of us is playing in parallel lives ‘at the same time’ because souls are really ‘out of time’ and operate in ‘an eternal now.’ Since they are out of time, when one incarnation ‘ends’ (e.g., as an American family in the 1900’s), the ‘next’ incarnation could be as a nomadic tribe in 800 BCE in central Africa.
What might this notion of parallel lives look like? Imagine a chess master who is playing twenty simultaneous matches (Bobby Fischer in 1964 at age 21, played 50 simultaneous matches, winning 47, drawing two and losing one!) Around this chess master, in a great circle, each seated at a separate table, are twenty chess players of varying abilities. The chess master walks from table #1 onwards responding to the moves of each contestant. Different opponents ‘stretch’ him differently. And the ‘first game to start’ (table #1) may not be the ‘first game to end.’ It depends on (1) the lessons that the chess master needs to learn and (2) the ability of the opponents.
Let me use one other metaphor. I remember the first time I ever got a music CD that I could play on my computer. I clicked on the icon and it showed that the disc contained 13 songs. It gave me the title, the singer and the duration of each piece. Initially, I simply hit the PLAY button and listened as it belted out the songs in the prearranged order. Then, I discovered the SHUFFLE button which played the 13 songs in a completely random order. Thirdly, I discovered that I could predetermine the order in which I wanted them to play so, for the fun of it, I chose the prime numbers first (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13) followed by the even-numbered integers (4, 6, 8, 10 and 12) finishing up with the ‘leftovers’ (1 and 9). I also wondered, but haven’t been able to do it, what would it sound like if I could play all 13 tunes simultaneously. Cacophony, I’m sure, but it might also stretch my ear and my brain – as well as my patience!
That metaphor, and its four iterations, just about sums up my thinking about incarnation, its purpose and how it works.
Though I had known about reincarnation, as taught by Hinduism and in some schools of Buddhism, as well as in Celtic and many other mythologies, and though I had lived among the Kalenjin peoples of East Africa for 14 years, who had a very strong belief that the ancestors were reborn within the family, I regarded all of these as interesting but unscientific and, therefore, unfounded.
Then in the Fall of 1987, at a Perinatal workshop led by Barbara Findeisen, I had my own, very powerful and life-changing experience of being a young Nepalese woman giving birth to her firstborn. Subsequently, after being trained in hypnosis and self-hypnosis, I have recalled a total of eleven other lifetimes in Ireland, England, Italy, Germany and Russia. The final experience was actually under the guidance of my friend and fellow clinical psychologist, Matt McKay, who led me in a four-hours-long regression that went from this life as Seán, to a previous life as a young Russian soldier killed while helping to liberate a concentration camp towards the end of WWII, to a vivid experience in the Bardo state, the life between lives.
In examining this entire series of lifetimes, it quickly became obvious that, if I treated them chronologically, I see-sawed between more aligned and less aligned lifetimes. This seemed counter intuitive so I quickly came up with two possible explanations. Firstly, that time is made up and, therefore, that chronology was a very poor template of evolution. So, I rearranged the lifetimes to reflect a gradual developmental alignment with Love. This made a lot more sense than being manacled by a chronological calendar. In other words, at the end of each lifetime and with the guidance of my mentors, having completed a life as a theologian in Germany in the 1700’s, I may then have chosen my ‘next’ life as a young English mother in the 1,300’s gazing ecstatically at her sleeping infant.
The other explanation is that – again, since time is made up – I may be playing all of these lifetimes and possibly many others, simultaneously, like the chess master in the metaphor I used earlier. Thus, my wins, losses and draws may reflect the quality of my opponents i.e., the relative difficulty of the lives I consciously chose while still in the Bardo state.
And of all the dramas – from the ‘historical beginning’ to the ‘end of all incarnational time’, across all continents and involving all communities and all individuals – become the tapestry of the Akashic Records, serving not just as a museum of the doings of the long-since dead, but as living cells and neurons that can be consciously recycled, re-used and re-configured into ‘new’ growth opportunities, so that the Immanence of God can feed Her Transcendence with stories from Her creations. It’s like a hive of bees, each individual leaving the hive several times a day to gather pollen and stories to feed the colony (the other souls) and the queen (God.)
It is the way in which God, pretending not to know Herself, becomes ‘greater’. When the Word became flesh – and each of us is a Word of God made flesh – it was to harvest all manifestation in the service of the One Immutable Source.
Figure that one out!