Thursday, 4 June 2009

Another time, another place

I'm being hit repeatedly in the course of one day by a string of flashbacks, each slightly different, yet each one eminently familiar in flavour, and consistent over the years.

What's going on? I await some neuroscientist to convince me that this is but a random firing of synapses in the hippocampus, or a flow of dopamine through the brain.

But it's too regular, too familiar; there's a pattern here that's clearly not random, a phenomenon that's above chance.

But what is it? Is this concrete proof that our souls live on after the deaths of our bodies in new bodies, acquiring consciousness with each successive incarnation?


I don't want to be dogmatic - because I simply don't know. Nice as it would be to construct a theology around this, I can only honestly say: "I don't know, but I want to know, and will strive my best to find out."

Is this my consciousness picking up signals from some other consciousness from another time and another place? Or from different universes, realities concurrent?

The key question is whether these anomalous flashbacks are also "I". If so, there is a succession of lives behind and ahead of us, a continuity of our own personalities. But maybe not.

I'm working away at the office, focused on what I'm writing, when BAM! out of nowhere, unbidden, not an idle daydream conjured up but an intrusive thought - and there it is; the exact feeling, simulacrum of reality, as though I were actually there, at Chiswick Open Air Swimming Pool, London W4 in the early 1960s. I'm sharing a can of cold Pepsi-Cola with Janet and Richard; I'm five, maybe six. I can picture the colours and shape of the cold, steel can, with those pre-ringpull pierced triangles. Memory so clear, so real, so intense - then PAF! it's gone, leaving just a pleasant afterglow.

OK neuroscientists - no trouble with that one then.

But when I get flashbacks of equal intensity and familiarity but yet not of this life - then start asking questions.

I'm crossing ul. Myśliwiecka this morning; the sky, clouds, air temperature, brim of my Trilby hat - BAM! Minnesota in the 1950s? Not from my life. Yet I experienced it in exactly the same way I experienced the swimming pool flashback.

I think this phenomenon is more common among mankind than is generally accepted. We ignore, deny, explain away. If we were all more open to it, maybe we could move ahead out of the straightjacket rationalist-reductionist worldview to a more spiritually open-minded one. Dozens of people I've talked to have had inklings (or much more!) of such possibilities. Deeply held interest in Ancient Greece, a fondness for India 'long ago', China in the 1920s, colonial East Africa, post-war USSR. We need to be open to the possibility that essentially we are in tune with a continuum of consciousness spanning many, many human lives.

This time last year:
Reflections on 1960s England
Reflections on rural Mazowsze from the air


White Horse Pilgrim said...

This is an interesting question that you raise. I have long been aware of the sort of feeling that you describe, but only recently was introduced (by a Cherokee Nation member) to the concepts of an Old Soul and generic memory. Some people do seem to hold within them distant memories from past generations. I know that I do.

Michael Dembinski said...

Generic memory - a good term.

Atavistic resurgence is another.

I would like more people to write about these experiences, they are worthy of investigation as this should give significant pointers as to our human nature.