Detail of Franz Roubaud's panoramic painting
The Siege of Sevastopol (1904)
The other day, I was reminded by a comment from a friend on Facebook of a time when I had two past lives that were very close to one another. I wondered whether I was perhaps running two bodies at about the same time, which is a possibility, although it is not that common.
I decided to look up the dates of the two time periods. One was the Crimean War, which was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia over land that had been held by the Ottoman Empire. It lasted from October 1853 to February 1856. The other time period was the Meiji Period in the history of Japan, which lasted from September 1868 through July 1912. The Meiji Era was a time of "modernization" in Japan, when they came out of their 200-year self-imposed isolation (Sakoku) from the rest of the world, so there was a lot of "Westernization" going on.
Looking at the paintings of the Crimean War online, I was shocked to realize that the scenes depicted were almost exactly like what I saw in a past-life dream.
|Main Reference Room at Walter Library|
I was immediately drawn into a battle scene that looked a lot like the painting at the top of this post. I found one other painting, possibly done by artist Adolphe Yvon. Both of these paintings show exactly what I saw once I "entered" the scene in the picture book. The sky was gray, whether from clouds or the smoke of cannon fire, possibly both. The ground was littered with bodies, and I could hear moaning and screaming from the mutilated bodies covered in blood and gore. There was nothing in what I saw that could have proved for sure which war this was, but a seed-thought planted in my mind said, "Crimean." I also flashed briefly on the opening scene in the Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women, in which the girls and their mother talk about the father, who is away in the Crimean. I remembered feeling very familiar with that particular time period, as if I had actually been there. I had a feeling that I must have been one of the British troops, or possibly from France.
As soon as I entered the picture, I sensed that I was walking through a battlefield in total chaos, and I felt the weight of extreme grief, depression. and guilt. I had been spared, while my comrades in arms had all been killed, and my first thought was, "Oh, I don't want to do this. I don't want to be here."
Immediately, I found myself back outside the picture, once again sitting in the library, and the book was being shut and taken away. I realized that this had been a scene from a past life, and that I had just been given a chance to deal with the issues in that lifetime, so I said, "Wait! Open that book! I want to go back in."
The senior guide was taking away the book, and the junior guide, taking my side, said, "She says she wants to go back in. Can't we let her?"
"No," said the senior guide gently, but firmly. "She can deal with this another time, when she is ready."
I came out of the dream and wrote it down, then forgot about it. Every once in a while, I would recall the dream and feel a sense that something had been left incomplete. I knew I would have to deal with it sooner or later, and that it would probably be an uncomfortable experience. I could never quite figure out what it was that I was supposed to deal with, though, so I left it as it was, trusting that I would come back to it when I was ready.
When I saw the image at the top of this blog, I caught my breath, recalling the vivid dream. I looked for more paintings, and found another one that reminded me strongly of the battlefield in my dream. I knew I was onto something important.
Since the end of the Crimean War was only a few short years before the start of the Meiji Era in Japan, it was less likely that I was running concurrent bodies, and more likely that there was some unifying thread running through two different lifetimes. My memory of being a soldier in the Crimean War was of being a young man in his early twenties. My memory of the Meiji Period was as an older Japanese man, perhaps in his forties or fifties. I was very tall, and I was proud of my Western-style clothes and my "modern" outlook, which I compared favorably with the more traditional clothing and attitudes of some of my friends. I wondered why these lifetimes occurred so close together in time.
It occurred to me suddenly that I had been so depressed after my battlefield experience that I must have killed myself. Those who come back from near-death experience tell us that Souls are not punished or sent to Hell if they commit suicide, but that suicide is definitely some kind of spiritual violation, probably because it represents a rejection of life given to us by the Creator. The information brought back from those who have traveled to the Inner Worlds beyond the borders of death is that when a Soul commits suicide, that Soul is sent back in to the physical world to begin another human lifetime almost immediately, perhaps after a brief period of spiritual "cleansing" from the previous lifetime. Everyone who has committed suicide has to live through another life in which he or she must confront the issue of depression. Some Souls go through several lifetimes of this until they are at some point strong enough to choose life rather than death by their own hand. It's regarded as a major accomplishment for a Soul to get through this issue.
I felt that there was a pall of sadness over the lifetime in Japan, and even in my current lifetime, I have experienced this same pall, most commonly expressed as a seriousness. A number of my friends have told me that I am too serious, that I lack spontaneity and playfulness. Now I know why. Just after my divorce in Japan, I was clinically depressed, and although I never sought help for this problem, I was able to work myself through the issue naturally by getting away from Osaka, where I had lived with my husband, and moving to Tokyo to teach English at Berlitz. (Psychology and psychiatry were not recognized medical fields in Japan at that time, although it seems to be now. The World Health Organization has said recently that the number of mental health practitioners in Japan is "inadequate.")
Now I understand why I was sent directly from the lifetime where I fought in the Crimean into a lifetime in a country where suicide was romanticized as an "honorable" thing to do, particularly for the samurai class. It was considered an act of deep friendship to assist in someone's suicide. For men, suicide was accomplished by seppuku, or hara kiri, which English speakers mispronounce as "hari kari." This was a ritual disembowelment using a Japanese short sword. The person committing suicide would kneel on a mat on the ground and disembowel himself, after making a formal apology for whatever he had done wrong. The assistant, standing behind him and to one side, would take the person's long sword and cut off the person's head, to avoid a prolonged death and further embarrassment. Women generally committed suicide by stabbing themselves in the neck with a short sword, and even today, brides are still ritually given a sword to take with them by their parents, with instructions to kill themselves if the marriage doesn't work out for some reason. The dagger, or kaiken, is tucked into the sash, or obi, of the woman's bridal kimono.
I can't remember much of the lifetime in Japan, but I may have ended up committing suicide in that lifetime, too. The samurai class still existed at the time of the Meiji Era, and was only formally abolished after the Japanese surrender in World War II. There may or may not have been more lifetimes between the Japanese one and my current lifetime. I sense that there were, but I don't remember them, and that's probably a good thing, since they most likely ended in suicide.
In this lifetime, I lived for almost exactly ten years in Japan, and I remember having a definite déjà vu experience while in the old Marunouchi entrance to Tokyo (train) Station, which is directly in front of the Imperial Palace grounds. In the original station building, there was no other entrance except the one now called the "Marunouchi" entrance on the north side of the building. There is now a newer entrance, called the "Yaesu" entrance. The original station building was constructed between 1908 and 1914, so it would have been a newer building during my Japanese lifetime.
My déjà vu experience occurred while I was still married and living in Osaka. My husband and I traveled to Tokyo, and as we were riding the bullet train (Shinkansen), I told him that I had a picture in my mind's eye of the main hall in Tokyo Station. I described the rotunda with the huge clock suspended from the dome, and my husband, surprised, asked me if I'd ever seen a photograph of it. I said no, and he promised to show it to me as soon as we got there.
When I saw it, I remember being shocked to realize that it looked just like I thought it would. I didn't know the term déjà vu at that time, and didn't think in terms of past lives, as I was not yet familiar with the idea of reincarnation.
After my divorce, I moved all by myself to Tokyo, where I worked for Berlitz. My first position with Berlitz in Tokyo was at the Yaesu branch school, a short walk from Tokyo Station. It seems now that all my experiences in Japan were geared to remind me of that Meiji Era lifetime, so that I could begin the process of emotional healing from the original act of suicide.
In this lifetime, in Japan, I had the experience of deep depression right after my divorce, a repetition of an experience that had been repeated in previous lifetimes, beginning with the one during the Crimean War. This time, however, I rejected the notion of suicide. This has been my lifetime to come to grips with the issue and choose life. I sense that I am much stronger in this lifetime than in past lives, and that I had a lot of help from Divine Spirit to overcome the depression. For this, I am grateful. :-)