For as long as we’ve been self-reflecting humans, we’ve wondered what’s before and after this life. All the  ‘who, why, where, when and how’ questions have lead to plenty of different ideas and beliefs across hundreds of centuries – and as many cultures.

Let’s face it, in the bigger scope of things (geologic time and cosmic space), our personal experience is pretty darn small. But is this all we are? Are we just this tiny spec of self-reflecting carbon existing for a (relative) insta-flash of time?

A few folks say yes, but most people have a belief – or at least a speculation – about who they were before they were here. We may never know the answer (as long as we’re here, anyway), but I thought it would be fun to have a look at some of the most common beliefs about our pre-self selves.

Multiple Lives

Deepak Chopra says we live not just in a singular body and mind, but “outside” ourselves, in a greater “field of awareness.” He quotes one of the ancient Vedic texts of ancient India which says, “the real you cannot be squeezed into the volume of a body or the span of a lifetime.” In other words: we reincarnate.

Reincarnation means slightly different things to different people. For some it’s kind of like climbing a ladder – you start off humbly (think bug or beast of burden), and slowly rise, life-after-life, to enlightened self-mastery, after which you get to live in nirvana (kind of like an eternal, super-bliss). This idea is often connected with an idea of karma that says you can basically slide down the ladder a few (or many) rungs if you screw up along the way.

Others see reincarnation in a less linear fashion. With this version, a ‘past’ life could have happened in the future, and a ‘future’ life might have happened in our human, historic past.

Still another variation on the reincarnation theme gives us more choice about the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of our different lives. Rather than the ‘crime and punishment’ style karma cycles, this idea suggests that we choose our lives based on specific lessons we want to learn, and experiences we want to have.

Return to Heaven

In the Christian tradition, the basic belief is that each of us begins our existence just before our physical birth. After that, our soul lives on eternally. But as for human life, we only get one shot. When we die, depending on how well we did here on Earth, it’s either heaven, purgatory or hell. (See Dante’s Divine Comedy for the gory details).

You Chose your Parents

In some Native American traditions, there’s a belief that we all choose our parents before we’re born, based on the circumstances and guidance we wish to experience in our lives. Our parents, through their strengths, weaknesses, circumstances and experiences, will in turn shape the opportunities and experiences available to us.

This is a One-Off Deal

There are others who believe that there is no before or after this life. It’s a one-off, flash-in-the-pan experience that may or may not have any greater meaning beyond the experience itself. (see Nietzsche and the Existentialists for further angst-of-meaninglessness details).

Parallel Infinities

Finally, there are those who believe that we’re actually infinite beings living simultaneously in multiple realities. Like a quantum wave collapse or a holograph, we break down into infinite beings that are all complete in themselves, but at the same time just a fragment of the whole.

Your Turn

Which of these makes sense – or nonsense – to you? Who do you believe you were before you were you?

Guide to Inspired Life
Dawn DelVecchio

Dawn DelVecchio

Dawn DelVecchio is a writer, traveler, speaker and coach. She's been living a life devoted to spirit and purpose for more than 28 years. As the author and host of DawnDelVecchio.com, and a guest contributor to a number of personal growth blogs, Dawn shares insights, tips and practical tools for you to live a life of greater purpose, happiness and abundance. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Unlocking your Prosperity: 7 Keys to Healing your Money Mindset & Fully Stepping into your Calling.

8 Comments

  • Kerry Keller says:

    There is a not-for-profit educational organization that for the last 40 years has devoted it's Self to the study of the mind. You can take advantage of the amazing understandings by calling one of the 16 School of Metaphysics in major mid-western cities.

  • Dornuki says:

    Thanks Pamela, I glanced through the Seth as u recommended and I have few comments to add. Surprisely the Seth Material (the experiences of Jane Roberts) was not so different from a lot happinngs I witnessed as I was growing up in my part of the world where others will hear voices and interpretate or those uttering words from an unseen person does so in the unseen person's voice. It is really interesting and I will find time to do dig further.

    Thanks a millio

  • Dornuki says:

    Thanks Pamela, I glanced through the Seth as u recommended and I have few comments to add. Surprisely the Seth Material (the experiences of Jane Roberts) was not so different from a lot happinngs I witnessed as I was growing up in my part of the world where others will hear voices and interpretate or those uttering words from an unseen person does so in the unseen person's voice. It is really interesting and I will find time to do dig further.
    Thanks a millio

  • Who was I? Who were you? There are so many different ideas out there with people who follow each one passionately. I guess we'll never really know the 'right' answer until we aren't here to tell anyone what we found out!

    There's a saying that goes "Plan as if you have forever; live as if you just have today." That philosophy will cover just about all of the bases, don't you think?
    My recent post Are gifted women disadvantaged

  • Who was I? Who were you? There are so many different ideas out there with people who follow each one passionately. I guess we'll never really know the 'right' answer until we aren't here to tell anyone what we found out!

    There's a saying that goes “Plan as if you have forever; live as if you just have today.” That philosophy will cover just about all of the bases, don't you think?
    My recent post Are gifted women disadvantaged

  • Anna Barlowe says:

    Oh boy. Check out my blog – I'm in the middle of telling an interesting multi-part true story that involves both reincarnation and the afterlife. It's my own story, so that's how I know it's true! Click on the category for Daniel's Story if you want to read from the beginning.

    thepainteduniverse.wordpress.com

  • Anna Barlowe says:

    Oh boy. Check out my blog – I'm in the middle of telling an interesting multi-part true story that involves both reincarnation and the afterlife. It's my own story, so that's how I know it's true! Click on the category for Daniel's Story if you want to read from the beginning.

    thepainteduniverse.wordpress.com

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