Should you ever enter into the memories of your past lives, you will be in for a great surprise. The memories of past lives are not restricted to human lives alone. Entering these memories is very easy; one can do so without much difficulty. However, prior to many human lives, we have passed through animal lives as well. It is difficult to penetrate them because they are hidden under even deeper layers. And even prior to our animal lives, we have lived through many lives as trees as well. Penetrating them is even more difficult because they are buried even further, at deeper levels. Prior to having lived as trees, we have gone through many lives as rocks and minerals. Memories of these lie at even deeper levels. Access to them is even more difficult.
Up to now, experiments in remembering past lives have not gone beyond the level of animal life. Even the experiments carried out by Buddha and Mahavira did not go beyond the level of animal life. The memory of being a tree is yet to be revived. As for the memory of being rocks and minerals, it is still further down the road. But the memories of these past lives are all archived. This archiving, however, must have taken place in a sleep-like state, otherwise one’s entire mind would be aware of it.
It may not have occurred to you, but there are certain things we never forget. Why is it so? For example, let’s assume someone slapped you when you were five years old. Even after so many years the incident is still fresh in your mind, and you will never forget it for the rest of your life. What seems to be the matter? At the moment you were slapped, your attention must have been very sharp. That’s why the incident made such a deep impression on you. It is only natural that at the moment one is slapped, one’s attention is very heightened. This is the reason man can never forget the moments of insult, the moments of pain, the moments of happiness. These are all intense moments. In these moments he is so filled with awareness that their memory pervades his entire consciousness, while the ordinary run-of-the-mill happenings are forgotten by him.
This attention, this awareness, how are we to understand what it is? Because it is an experience, it is a little difficult to understand. If I were to stick a pin in your body, what would happen inside you? All your attention would at once begin to rush to the point where the pin had pricked you. All of a sudden that point in the body would become significant. One should say, rather, that your whole being would converge upon it. At that moment you would only remain aware of that part of the body where the pin is piercing.
So what really occurred inside you? Even without the pin, that part of your body was there, but you were not aware of it, you were not cognizant of it; you didn’t even remember that such a spot on your body existed. And then, suddenly, the pain caused by the pin created a crisis and your whole attention rushed to where the pin was hurting.
What is it that rushed toward that point? What happened inside you? How are things different now? What is it that was not present at that point a moment ago, but now is? It is the consciousness, the awareness, that was absent from this point a moment ago. Its absence made you so oblivious to that part of the body that whether it existed or not was all the same to you. You had no knowledge of it; it made little difference whether it was there or not. Suddenly, you become aware that that part also exists in your body. Suddenly it makes a lot of difference whether it exists or not. Now it is. Now its existential awareness becomes apparent to you.