New Eyes, Same Old Me.
As opened my eyes and looked down, I could see my legs crossed in a meditation position with my hands neatly folded over my lap. I wore a bright red robe of some kind with gold thread around the edges. The red hue was such a saturated color that it reminded me of a hibiscus flower. It was a beautiful contrast from my very tan arms and legs. The sun was shining so brightly but I continued to keep my eyes on my lap.I remember feeling so peaceful, calm, and confident. As I continued to gaze down, I remembered thinking This is me. This moment is real. This is happening.
Then the strangest thing happened: I woke up. I remember feeling very panicked and disoriented. And then current the reality hit me: it was freshman year at William Paterson University and I had woken up from a deep sleep in my dorm room. The night before I had been up studying and practicing my bass. I had definitely not been excessively partying or drinking.
The thing is, crazy, detailed dreams are something normal for me. I had a vivid dream (nightmare really) around age 5 in which the Disney version of Tinker Bell brutally murdered my parents. I've had some hilarious ones as well as mysterious dreams that have ended up telling the future (that's another blog post in and of itself!). What occurred to me quickly that morning, was that this experience was no dream. It was a knowing. A memory.
It was my memory but a very clear and different version of me - somewhere back in time. I'm still not sure how far. The "knowing" was that I was definitely a male, much skinnier, very tan, probably a teenager, and a Tibetan Buddhist monk in training. Yup, I seriously believe that this was a peep into a past life. The "knowing" part is so hard to explain but it's more like an insanely strong feeling. It physically feels like a punch in the gut, like a pang almost. It feels like that moment when you just know you've fallen in love with a person. It's that deep confidence that shakes you down to the core. Then again, it's also that feeling of lying to yourself when you try to brush it off as your imagination.
Another interesting point is that dreams fade for me, even when I write them down. Things get fuzzy and hazy quickly upon waking. This experience however, was almost a photographic snapshot or video from my point of view. I can still see it clearly to this day. Usually, I can also have a similar dream again if I think about it before going to sleep. Nope, not this experience. It's very illusive - almost like my subconscious only let me have a peek and it was not meant to happen in the first place. You would think that the 2 times I had tried hallucinogens later in my 20's that this would have reoccured as some kind of trip...nope. (Also side note: at the point in college when this experience occurred, I hadn't even smoked weed yet) Also, I know skeptics will say that it was probably because I was fascinated with Eastern thought and religion for so long that I brought this on. Honestly though, being raised Catholic, I had always had a lot of resistance to the idea of reincarnation. My logical brain just didn't like it and couldn't jive with it. However, after my experience, it's a part of me that I have a weird unshakeable confidence in.
The pictures in this post are from a exhibit at the Asia Society and Museum in Manhattan that Alan and I visited recently. All the paintings are from the explorer Guiseppe Tucci's various expeditions around Tibet during the 1920-1940s. As I wondered around reading the mythology behind the paintings and seeing the pictures of the Buddhist monks, I couldn't help but smile. Ever since my college experience, I've found that seeing this type of iconography and culture gives me a deep sense of comfort and calm. I figure in the end, even if I'm wrong and this was just a wacky dream, that strange experience has opened my eyes to possibility. The possibility that maybe, this one life isn't all there is and maybe, if I'm lucky enough, I can experience it from a new set of eyes but the same old me - that unshakeable, knowing of me.
Even if you don't believe in reincarnation or know anything about Tibet, the museum has done an amazing job of displaying the items and detailing Tucci's cross country travels. The paintings are especially detailed down to the tiniest intricate Buddha or dragon. The museum even has magnifying glasses readily available for visitors to get a close up (totally missed this by the way until Alan commented on it when we got home. Facepalm!) Here's a link to where you can check out the Tucci exhibit online. If you're in the NYC area, there's free admission on Friday evenings!
Also, I'm very curious if maybe you've had a very strange memory like this? Maybe you never thought of it as a memory and considered it a dream? Do you believe reincarnation is possible? Have you ever had any kind of past life regression? Let me know in the comments!