“The many past births you spoiled can be rectified right now, today, if you start chanting Shri Rama’s holy name and renounce bad association, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 22)
बिगरी जनम अनेक की सुधरै अबहीं आजु |
होहि राम को नाम जपु तुलसी तजि कुसमाजु ||
bigarī janama aneka kī sudharai abahīṃ āju |
hohi rāma ko nāma japu tulasī taji kusamāju ||
Hearing the promise from Goswami Tulsidas, it almost seems too good to be true. I just have to do two things and not only will I be happy right now, but so many past lives get purified? That does not make a lot of sense, although I am intrigued.
People always tell me that you cannot return to the past. What is gone is gone. No turning back. At the recent death of a family member, we started looking through old photo albums. I found many pictures of my childhood, to which I look back fondly. It was a simpler time, and everyone was happy in the home that we lived.
Yet the person who just departed was a primary component of that life. This means that we physically can never return to that situation; a member is missing. They will never be here again. They have moved on to the spiritual world. They have left the body behind. Therefore, this idea of correcting past lives is a little difficult to accept.
When we have such doubts, we can review a few regrettable time periods from our own life. These are mini-births, in a sense. We were of the same identity, but in a different kind of body. We know for a fact that the experiences took place, because we remember them. Due to the advice of Tulsidas, we now have a favorable opinion of those experiences, but for an entirely different reason than one might suspect.
1. Those nights of drinking
“We had nothing better to do. Seriously, we were bored. It was a kind of staging period. Nearing the end of our college years, coasting through the end of the final semester, we were simply waiting to graduate. We knew that we would each go our separate ways, likely to never have the same closeness again.
“We decided to pass the time by drinking. Night after night. I am not sure if we were alcoholics, but we consumed way more than we should have. It was an obvious manifestation of depression. There were temporary thrills followed by deep regret in the morning. Our health was deteriorating, as well
“I now look back to that time fondly. It is because I know that was not a sustainable way of life. It takes many people an entire lifetime to realize the same, but I learned much more quickly. That period of time was vital to my subsequent enlightenment, though I am obviously still learning.”
2. Those years of playing sports
“This occurred in adult life, after establishing a career. There comes a time when you seek more. Going to work and coming home gets boring after you do it for many years in a row. Especially if you are at the same job, you start to go crazy.
“I could not decide what ‘more’ I needed, so I tried different things. For a while, I played in various recreational sports leagues. These were on the weeknights, with other adults. I must say, it was a terrible experience. For starters, I did not care much for the competitive aspect. It was more fun playing the same games in a leisurely environment with my friends.
“As soon as I gave up on these leagues, I was much happier. You could say I wasted my time in those years, but I look back on them fondly, now. I learned exactly what I did not want. Knowledge is power.”
3. Those endless hours of television viewing
“It is the most reliable friend, if you think about it. If your buddy just got married and no longer has time for you, no problem. If it is snowing outside and you can’t go anywhere, at least you have a fallback. Feeling bored on a Friday night and want to relax for the weekend? Make it a goal to finish an entire season of a television show.
“I did this a lot during my youth, and I must say that it never brought me any sort of meaningful happiness. It was just a way to pass the time. I found that I was much more depressed, after the fact. This was important to go through, as I later learned the power of hearing and connecting to others through books. I found the right kind of books, too, and I have never looked back.”
4. Those road-trips to nowhere
“At least it was something to look forward to. Plan a trip for the weekend. Mark out a block of time months in advance in order to get a change of scenery. I travelled so much that I accumulated loyalty reward points with the airlines. I was getting free flights, left and right.
“Those trips are much more infrequent nowadays. Not that changing scenery is not good for you, but I am more satisfied in the self. I found something that feels like an adventure every day. Something new and exciting, though connected to a single person.”
5. That sole focus on earning money
“I must say, that got boring really fast. It was almost like a game. Pick up a side job. Look for a way to earn passive income. Change jobs every three years. Move from company to company. Climb the ladder of success.
“One day I realized that even if I had all the money in the world, I had nothing to do with it. I could not eat it for satisfaction. I could not even tell my friends, as they would surely become envious. What good was it doing me? I understand that we need money to live, but it should never become the sole focus.”
The past births I spoiled become glorious when they lead me to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The same applies for the different time periods I regret within this lifetime. If I am fortunate to find the holy name of Rama and today renounce bad association, then everything has ended well.
I am no longer stuck in the past. I have a vibrant, exciting, and bright future to look forward to. I can always be by the side of the one who is worshiped by Hanuman, who is served in devotion by Sita Devi, who is protected by Lakshmana, and who is glorified by Valmiki and Tulsidas.
Focused on money to earn,
Or on which road to turn.
Maybe in sport playing,
Or what television displaying.
Time in various ways spent,
The past quickly it went.
But all for good since today I’ve found,
To Sita-Rama eternally bound.
Categories: the five