By Reb Gutman Locks
I am fascinated with the concept of gilgulim, [reincarnations] and I’m curious to find out more about my own past-life (past-lives?) history. I would imagine that this would bring a certain enlightenment and clarity regarding my personal “soul-identity” and how to optimally focus myself to fulfill my life mission. What do you think about the idea of finding out this information?
Direct recollection, or revelation of previous lifetimes has been hidden for a good reason. Not having this knowledge allows us to have freewill, whereas having direct knowledge of our previous lifetimes would give us such an advantage that we would not have the trials that we were sent here to overcome.
Because of this, Hashem buries that information and virtually anything that anyone comes up with, whether through meditation, hypnotism, or (G-d forbid) from “seers” or such, is certainly no more than someone’s imagination.
However, there is a way to find out what you are looking for. Look at your present abilities, your lacks, your likes and dislikes, as these were brought with you when you came into the world as a result of what you did or did not do in your last incarnation.
So, for instance, if you are terrible at math, but good at art, you can know that you did not come into the world to be a scientist. See what it is that you love to do more than the people around you. You brought that love or skill with you, and now you must take advantage of that ability.
You do this by applying that love, but be sure to apply it in a holy way. If you apply your love merely in an animal way, then certainly you will set up your next incarnation to come back with an immense animal inclination! But, if you apply that love in a holy way, then if you come back, it will be as a leader, or someone who will help many people.
Also, if there is something that is good to do, but you do not like to do it, for instance, a particular mitzvah, then this too was brought with you from what you did or did not do in a previous lifetime. You must overcome this dislike and learn to love that particular mitzvah, or you will surely have to come back hating that mitzvah even more! Everything comes for a reason.
Our job is to elevate the physical world by using it for holy purposes, and we have certain skills and limitations that direct us to our particular way to do this.
Whereas the Eastern religions instruct their followers to do as little as possible -“detach-don’t make waves”- so they will not have to come back to this world again, the Jewish mystics say, “Coming back is not so bad, it allows you to do some more mitzvahs.”