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If we have lived before, why don't we remember it?
It is our nature to forget. For example, hardly any of us cafl remember what we had for lunch exactly ten years ago> though it is a certain fact that we did have lunch. So our not being able to remember an event is not the proof that it never happened. The impressions of that event are stored in our subconscious memory and can be evoked by special means like hypnotic regression. But consciously we can't even remember many things about our childhood in this very life. Is it then a surprise that we can't remember our past lives?
In the 'Pistis Sophia', Jesus speaks of the soul as drinking from a cup "filled with the water of forgetfulness." This idea is illuminated in the 10th book of Plato's 'Republic'. There, we are introduced to the valiant Er, who informs us that each individual has the ability to choose the circumstances of his next incarnation. After they make their choice, Er tells us, they drink from the River Lethe (Greek for "forgetfulness"), life unimpeded. "Body", wrote the Greek philosopher Plotinus, "is the true river of Lethe; for souls plunged into it forget all."
The Vedic texts explain that the souls come to this world to try to enjoy separate from God. And in order to be able to enjoy it is necessary that we forget what we did in our previous lives. Why forgetfulness is necessary for enjoyment can be understood from an example. If a near and dear member of our family has just passed away and, if, at that time, a friend of ours calls us for a movie, will we go? We will be too much grief-struck to even consider the idea of enjoyment. Similarly if we were to remember all the dangerous activities and painful experiences of all our past lives, it would cause us so much anguish that we would be rendered incapable of all activity and enjoyment. Leave alone the past lives, if we were to remember completely even all the sins we committed and |he pains we suffered in this very lifetime, we would be put Wo a state of utter bewilderment and would not be able to act normally. What then to speak of the sins and sufferings of all our past lives? For example, we might have ruthlessly murdered someone in a previous life, or we might ourselves have met an excruciatingly painful death in a ghastly car accident, or we might have been a dumb animal, helplessly slaughtered by a merciless butcher and so on.
If all these memories are not suppressed, how much pain will they inflict on our mind? As it is, there are enough painful memories from this veiy life, which keep agonizing us periodically. If all the painful memories of all our past lives are added to them, we would be so much haunted by them that there would be no question of any enjoyment at all. Therefore material nature arranges to provide us forgetfulness about our previous lives so that we may not be prevented from going ahead with our desires for enjoyment.Modem medicine can also be credited with discovering a possible explanation for the cosmic amnesia of the soul: a hormone called oxytocin, which controls a pregnant woman's rate of labor contractions, also controls a person's forgetfulness of traumatic events.