By Karen, California
When I was fourteen years old, my father arranged a family outing. My sister and I spent one Saturday cruising with him on a naval aircraft carrier. There were hundreds of other civilians like us on board, but the ship was so massive that no one felt crowded.
For a large portion of the day I wandered around the ship alone. I felt confident and wonderfully free. Being an awkward teenage girl, it surprised me to find that the order and precision (which is so much a part of military life) gave me a familiar sense of stability and security.
That entire day, I also felt unusually connected to my father, as if we were two sailors sharing a sacred moment. I wanted to stay forever.
Twenty years later, at the age of thirty-four, I found myself facing problems in my family life. I noticed myself getting unreasonably impatient with my children, who were eight and ten years old at the time, for small things like not cleaning their rooms in the exact way I’d insisted upon or not setting the table exactly right. If my husband didn’t put the newspaper away where it belonged just after reading it, I became irritated and let him know it.
It suddenly became obvious that life didn’t flow for me unless my family followed my demanding and inflexible rules.
What was this rigidity that I was trying to impose on my family? How much longer could they live with my need to control everything they did? Why did I have such an inner need to discipline life in every tiny detail? I knew I had to release myself from something, but I was afraid to face what that something was.
Whenever I encounter a spiritual stumbling block like this, I like to do one of the Spiritual Exercises of ECK. I sit quietly, close my eyes, and sing HU, an ancient name for God. This particular evening I asked Wah Z (the spiritual name of Sri Harold Klemp, the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master) for help and insight into my problem. Shortly after, I had a dream.
In the dream I was back on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with the brisk sea air caressing my face. I felt the same peace and contentment I had felt that wonderful day on the ship when I was fourteen.
Then I looked down at myself and discovered that I was a man. A Japanese man standing on the deck of a Japanese ship! I realized that in a previous lifetime, I had been a sailor in the Japanese navy.
I had the memory of loving that life. I loved the freedom, the travel, and my distinguished military career. In that lifetime, I felt successful and was content with myself. The love I experienced in that life explained why I had felt so strong, free, and connected on the aircraft carrier in this lifetime.
I also saw in the dream that I had carried some habits and attitudes from that incarnation into this one—characteristics that were not helpful now.
I was trying to impose the rules and regulations, which had made my past military life comfortable, on my present family. How could I expect my loved ones to live life on a military schedule or to make beds so tight a dime could bounce off them?
Somehow I had connected my memories of freedom and contentment with regimentation and discipline. I had been afraid to trust that I could be free and content without my inflexible rules.
We so often hold on to past-life habits and ideas no longer useful to us in our present state of consciousness. With the help of the Mahanta, I am learning to work with the rhythm of life. I am learning that letting go of old, worn-out ideas doesn’t mean losing other things, like security or happiness. I have everything I need right here and now.