There’s this famous song which, according to wikipedia, was inspired by the “Authobiography of a Yogi” by Swami Yogananda given to the song writer by George Harrison himself, so there’s a spiritual connection there. I don’t care enough to find Yogananda’s place in our yogi-mayavadi-devotee hierarchy, he was probably one of those new age types trying to merge Christianity with everything else he learned in Hinduism.
I had a very elaborated dream today that reminded me of it when I woke up. It was apocalyptic. It happens in the future but features characters I knew from primary school and it happens at an intersection I knew from the days when it barely had a traffic light. In this dream it had multilayered flyovers they build there now plus two converging underground train lines that aren’t even in city plans.
There’s an earthquake and all the flyovers come tumbling down. It’s an important junction leading out of the city and I was placed under my childhood friend command to control the flow of evacuees arriving from South and West. Some had to be directed North, some East. It was all going well until I developed some kind of conflict with another childhood friend who, in retaliation, went up the road and turned the evacuees back. My intersection immediately overflowed, of course, and extra weigh of all these crowds coupled with aftershocks caused the subway to collapse. Now we had overhead bridges falling down on buried underground trains and people pushing each other into this abyss. Pretty gruesome.
To give you an idea – we all walked on several layers of debris that contained an unknown number of people and their remains, blood, limbs, and survivors crying to help were everywhere but no one cared anymore, we had too many living and healthy people coming through to spare even a second for the dying.
Eventually I made my way North, too, cause that’s where I live now. The whole scene continued – collapsed buildings left and right, trapped cars and people, some totally new overhead train lines that crashed into the ground and so on.
Then something woke me up, I turned over, but the dream wasn’t lost. I got inserted into it again but in a different place and at a different time, and I knew before hand in which order things around me would collapse because I’ve seen them do so already, albeit from a different perspective.
I went into a department store and found some trapped tourist trying to get out, terrified to be inside a violently shaking building. I told her that we should go in the back where there’s a canal and no major buildings on the other side so we’d be relatively safe. When we found our way out she spotted an overhead train station nearby and wanted to take the train out of the city but I told her that it would crash in ten-twenty minutes and everyone would die.
She looked at arriving and departing trains and questioned my judgment. I, on the other hand, wasn’t sure how soon exactly the next tremor would bring it down. I saw it happen in the earlier version of the dream but my watch wasn’t synchronized. I guess that’s how astrologers and palm readers deal with impatient people – you know something is bound to happen but every passing moment or year undermines your credibility.
Anyway, the train station eventually collapsed, as did the department store we escaped from. It looked spectacular. I lost my tourist friend and jumped on the roof of one of those Chinese boathouses, which turned out to be a great idea – there’s no earthquake in the water, it was no more than a wave left by a passing boat and I was relatively safe. I drifted alone, observing destruction on both sides and pretty soon my dream ended.
So, how does any of that relates to Krishna consciousness? I don’t see an immediate connection, Krishna hasn’t come up even once during the dream. In a roundabout way, however, going in and out of the same dream and observing the same events from different angles and follow different paths while maintaining the sense of the self is an awesome lesson on the nature of illusion.
Normally you go into a dream and forget who you are but this time I saw myself living two different lives through the same story while being aware that I’m not this dream given body even though I was pretty attached to its safety. If it’s possible to observe this effect with dreams it should be possible to observe this with different lives, too.
We have been living in this illusion since time immemorial while the world goes through endless cycles. Same earthquakes, same floods, same destruction at the end of the kalpa, same avatars of the Lord, same Ravanas and Hiranyakashipus – everything repeats itself. Krishna comes everyday of Brahma and He is always followed by Lord Chaitanya, Details might change in every cycle but overall story and our feelings are all the same – fear, greed, lust, anger, happiness – nothing really changes. Chewing the chewed, as Prahlada Maharaj wisely said.
There’s one big, practical difference – this life lasts a lot longer than my dream so it requires a lot more patience to wait it through. This is where chanting should help enormously, however – listening to Krishna’s names takes us out of clutches of time, the more you chant, the faster time flies.
Imagine you were chanting three hundred thousand names every day like Haridas Thakur – the material lives last twenty four hours for us but for him it was only two or three, and you should also deduct the time he spent in the company of Lord Chaitanya or honoring prasadam because that stops material clock, too.
Chanting is the best way to distract ourselves from our conditioned lives, everyone knows that. Next time we have a sense of deja vu it might be a flashback from one of the previous lives. Quite possibly our incarnations don’t have to follow the time progression and we can be inserted in more or less the same settings over and over again repeatedly.
I guess in Vedic times it didn’t matter because nothing really changed for thousands and thousands of years but for us material world changes very very fast and twenty years might render it completely unrecognizable. Vedic sages telling stories of reincarnation didn’t have to adjust the details for signs of progress. They didn’t have to explain that the first incarnation happened before the invention of an arrow and everybody was fighting using only clubs and spears, for example.
If you take two successive incarnations in the modern world, however, existence of the Internet can make it or break it. If the next incarnation could actually be an insertion in the past or in the next yuga cycle then you can relive your old life again and again until you get it right, just like they do in science fiction or the movie “Groundhog Day”, or just like I did in today’s dream.