An in-depth look into déjà vu, soul mates, love at first sight, and the supernatural.
1. The number of occurrences within a given period of time.
2. A specific wavelength of light or electro-magnetic energy.
Maybe it's simply a matter of age. As I grow older, certain things take on new meanings and relevance, while others fade away and leave me wondering why I ever bothered in the first place.
Or maybe it's a matter of the hindsight that aging affords. The ability to look back and aggregate those experiences which seem similar in retrospect, and separate out the ones of little or no consequence.
Deja vu, for instance, has always struck me as an interesting phenomenon which is probably exclusive to being human. On those rare occasions where I felt the experience personally, the sensation was profound, troubling, and deeply melancholic. The accompanying sadness relates not only to the feeling that important memories were somehow associated with a particular place or location, but that people -- or a single person -- were part of some larger picture that was forever lost to time and circumstance.
With respect to actual people instead of, or in addition to, the typical definition of deja vu -- French for "already seen" -- it's curious that a fairly comprehensive internet search could find no equivalent term or phrase, also in French, that describes the same psychological reaction to people -- or to a single person -- we might see or meet who elicits a similar response. An expression that would mean "already known", but in words different from "deja connu" which do not convey the same eerie, almost supernatural implication.
In French, the term "jamais vu" is used to define a situation which is the exact opposite of deja vu. But shouldn't be. By this it is meant that we ought to recognize something which is otherwise familiar, but we don't. While the condition is usually associated with epilepsy or some other medical problem, we are again struck by the realization that while jamais vu might well include people we should know but don't, there is again no equivalent expression, in French or any other language, that means the same thing as deja vu, but refers to people instead of, or in addition to, any number of places, rooms, other locales or other situations.
Linguists, ancient and otherwise, rarely overlook or miss inclusions in a given language that refer to obvious, commonplace (even less-than-common) aspects of the human condition. The term deja vu is certainly a distinctive case in point. So it is not without some measure of incredulity that for those of us who care about such things, a remarkable omission seems to exist with respect to the very human -- and not so uncommon -- reaction we sometimes have to other people. Namely that we have met them before, seen them before, known them before. But more than that. Much more. That we don't readily know why we recognize this or that person. We don't remember where we know them from, where we might have met them, and most significantly of all, where, when, and why did some unknown disconnect take place.
The theme brings to mind the old song, Where Or When, that longingly, almost mournfully reminisces over the absence of someone we once knew, who is no longer with us. But was not necessarily separated by death or illness. At least not in this lifetime.
Which brings us at last to two concepts that have been eagerly awaiting their chance to enter this discussion from the beginning. I refer to the notion of past lives and reincarnation -- which are not, contrary to what many might think, synonymous approaches to our possession of souls.
Before jumping into either of these two wildly inventive and imaginative explanations for what cannot otherwise be explained, it's important that we first eliminate other, more rational interpretations of the phenomena to which I specifically refer. In the case of deja vu, only those who live under the proverbial rock remain unaware that science and psychology have resolved that question long ago. And in great, undeniable detail. So I'm not here to argue the ethereal qualities of deja vu one way or the other. My sense is that from a strictly clinical perspective, the shrinks have got it right. But maybe not as completely as they should want us to believe.
There is that other component to deja vu, to which I made reference earlier, and for which there is apparently no word, phrase, or linguistic expression. To wit the profound impression made upon us by other people, and not necessarily by any particular place or location. Deja vu must surely have its human component, a logical counterpart, and whether or not language provides a succinct verbal snippet for the effect in question, the sensation is every bit as real, if not more so, as deja vu itself.
Scientists would likely argue that the same psychological factors are in play regardless of whether it's a place or a person who strikes us as being more than just familiar; I'm not so sure, though, it's quite as simple as that.
It's one thing to sense your having been someplace before, but quite another, I think, to consider that someone who ought to be a total stranger is somehow known to you. And in some extremely rare instances, where the feeling is mutual. Or appears to be mutual based upon an exchange of glances or an all-too-brief exchange of words or physical touch.
Whereas I've learned to dismiss deju vu as little more than what brain experts tell us it is, I've been much less willing to discount the idea that there are people I've met in the past, and one or two I know in the present, who are more than first time acquaintances. But I digress.
If you recall, I was in the process of dissecting the differences between past lives and reincarnation. Let me start with the disclaimer that I am neither an expert nor particularly knowledgeable about the science of previous lifetimes, presumably as experienced by our soul's rebirth in new bodies over extended periods of time.
Essentially I think of a human soul as an intelligent form of energy which is capable of leaving a deceased body and inhabiting another, either within an unborn embryo, or someone else of an indeterminate age. The exact circumstances and mechanism by which a soul exits one person and enters another, where a vacancy exists for some reason, remains one of the greatest of all life's mysteries. Assuming for the sake of argument, that a basis in truth is involved to begin with.
Although I believe that all creatures possess a soul, much like American Indians believe in manitous -- where all things possess a spirit -- the difference, to me, is that the life energies of animals, insects, trees and so forth lack the sentient qualities which are unique to human beings.
This as compared to the quasi-religious nature of reincarnation which is accompanied by a panoply of stages, levels, phases, conditions, rules, and other structures by which the soul learns, matures, and eventually transcends physical human existence. The basic transition of souls over the course of multiple lifetimes seems rudimentary by comparison to the tenets of reincarnation, whose adherents cling to many shades and flavors, from Hindus to Buddhists, from spiritual mediums to fortune tellers.
Both belief systems involve this thing we call a soul and as I am wont to do whenever certain, innately vague terms are bandied about, a definite definition is called for.
In my world view (and experience), the least complicated answers are usually the most authentic and genuine. Nature generally chooses simplicity over complexity -- nearly every time. And I see no reason why the current discussion should deviate from the norm. The soul, whatever it is -- if it is -- will likely turn out to be a form of electro-magnetism that is self-aware. Sentient energy -- sentienergy -- if you will. But on a level of consciousness more dreamlike than wide awake. Lucidity arises from the integration of spirit and mind -- when the soul finds a vessel, so to speak, and becomes one with a living, eager-to-learn brain.
I would also assert that the soul for a reincarnationist is not the same thing as defined by a past-lives enthusiast. It is not my intention, however, to berate the one and tout the virtues of the other. For me, I am only interested in how it happens that I feel drawn to certain people, admiring them in some cases, sensing a kindred familiarity in others, while loving (romantically and otherwise) still others -- virtually at first sight.
Lest there be any misunderstanding, the number of times I have actually experienced any of these same responses to another person, whether man or woman, have been relatively few -- and spread out over an entire lifetime. Perhaps once, maybe twice every decade or so, I have seen, met, or becomes friends with an individual who arouses in me a reaction that can only be described as akin to deja vu.
The profound and deeply affecting nature of these encounters also bears repeating. Such meetings and relationships should not be confused with the sometimes exciting and emotionally stirring reaction we might have when meeting a celebrity or someone already known to us and others, often total strangers, where they are particularly talented or intelligent. Even today it is not uncommon for me to feel a certain giddiness when meeting a scientist, a college professor, medical doctors, police and fire personnel, even theologians of different faiths. Rabbis in particular.
None of these encounters, however, even comes close to the seemingly chance meetings I've had with others when some kind of heightened awareness, albeit subtle, suddenly fills the air. As though a kind of strange ozone -- an aftereffect of electricity -- permeated the atmosphere. And lingers in the presence of that other person. While in one's heart, the sensation may reside long after they're gone.
The combination of emotional and intellectual reaction to which I allude is further defined as sharing some similarities to an epiphany one might experience. An epiphany is a kind of awakening that is life changing. On those occasions when I've had the disturbing pleasure of being around a person whose very presence cut like a laser, my life was never quite the same afterward. Although the change might be slight and diffused with the passage of time, the encounter is never really forgotten, and frequently recalled.
At this point, a skeptic might argue that an unconsummated affair between potential lovers could account for similar feelings between two people attracted to one another. Or where one was attracted unrequitedly to another. My answer to such a criticism would once again draw attention to the deja vu quality of the relationship in question. And that it was the initial, non-physical pull or draw between the pair that only secondarily led to whatever feelings of desire might follow afterward.
This is not to say, however, that in the event former lovers from past lifetimes were to somehow meet, that a mutual connectedness wouldn't follow, and quickly so. Though whether those feelings are ever acknowledged between the two -- and whether they should be -- is its own subject for debate. It's rather likely that in many if not most cases, our own tendency to discount the spiritual connections we might otherwise share with others, causes us to dismiss the feelings, impulses, or even passions that we cannot rationally admit are real. Consequently, such inclinations are rarely acted upon.
This is certainly true in my own situation, where only now, due to my advanced age, do I look back and regret the inhibitions that could easily have changed my life for the better more than once. Or made it worse. But isn't that precisely how the game is meant to be played? How it was always intended, and only our own self-imposed limitations prevented us from becoming the masters of our destiny -- while sharing the conquests, large and small, with mistresses of like mind and fate.
For the time being, I am left with choosing to perform a critical analysis of the events and circumstances associated with what I perceive to be our soul's ability to transmigrate from one lifetime to another, from within one person's body to another.
So how is it, how does it happen that you're walking down the street, shopping in a store, or attending a book signing when suddenly there she is, or he is. Like in deja vu, the feeling is unmistakeable, powerful, undeniable. And more often than not, is unable to be acted upon. But not always. Sometimes a mutual friend is involved and an introduction ensues. Or you find some way of striking up a conversation. Or the other person does. Still with no guarantee that anything will ever come of the meeting. And typically more often than not, nothing ever does.
One interesting question is whether the soul transmits a signal of some sort. Like a radio transmitter, does the soul emit an ongoing stream of electro-magnetic waves? And if so, where are the receivers capable of transducing those signals? That answer lies both literally and figuratively within human brains, of course. But there's an important and critical caveat involved.
It doesn't seem unreasonable to consider the notion that each soul, as a unique entity, would therefore transmit its own unique frequency, signal, or wavelength of some kind. Since different wavelengths of light or electro-magnetic energy are theoretically infinite in number, no two souls should ever transmit on the same frequency, so to speak.
Now add to this the equally rational proposal that souls integrate with flesh and blood human brain tissue. As if wet-wired together, the neurons, synapses, and other nerve connections in the brain are inextricably and intimately joined with the impulses and electro-magnetic activities of our individual souls and once joined, the synergism of both results in a singularly unique entity.
But brains are receivers more than transmitters. Although it might be argued that synaptic firings in our brain do in fact produce their own emissions, the effect has been scientifically shown to be weak at best, and mostly inconsequential otherwise. By comparison, however, it has been dramatically demonstrated that human brains are extremely sensitive to external input, especially electro-magnetic radiation in the form of signal transmissions of varying strength and duration. Certain bio-feedback experiments have also proven the connection between mind, body, and brain responses.
Therefore it is not irrational to suggest that our brains -- and consequently our minds -- might be capable of picking up signal frequencies transmitted not by other brains alone, but those coming from unified minds and souls. A single output emitting (and emoting) from indivisible parts. By now, it ought to become somewhat apparent as to where my train of thought is leading.
A secondary condition -- a necessary assumption -- is now critical at this point in the discussion. Assumptions are always dangerous and I make this one with no small degree of trepidation. To wit souls retain memories of past experiences. In the case of deep and profound relationships with other people (other souls) those memories can last a long time and be very strong.
A lot of folks have come and gone since the Earth has been around. Lots of friendships, lots of acquaintances and partnerships. Lots of passionate lovers. What are the odds that we should once again encounter someone we might have known from a previous lifetime? I submit the answer is easy to calculate and that the chances are slim to none -- at best. Add to this the idea that lots of souls have also been coming and going for as long as this whole business has been in effect -- which then requires a whole other evaluation of the process in question. But I digress.
There exists the concept of old souls. Concurrently there must therefore be souls only somewhat old, young souls, and even new souls. One of the oft-quoted questions (and criticisms) about souls and past lives has to do with the idea of there being obviously more people than there are the limited quantity of souls to supply the unlimited numbers of new people being born every day. If souls always move to a new body -- a form of recycling in its own way -- but populations continue to increase, where do the souls come from that are needed to occupy the ever growing number of bodies (or vessels)?
One possible answer involves two separate parts, the first being optimistic while the second is not only scary, but could explain a lot of what we see in terms of human behavior.
Part one suggests that new souls come into existence all the time. Similar to how matter itself comes into being. As long as the process continues, there would never be a lack of souls, although any so-called extinction-level-events would pose an unknown but likely destructive interruption of the forces at work.
Under otherwise normal circumstances, the chances seem highly probable that soul energies are spawned from or among one or more of the many different dimensions (multiverses) that scientific String theory now describes. Taken one step further (not a leap by any measure) is the accompanying notion that souls can transmigrate between different dimensions themselves.
While traditional matter and mass are restricted to intra-dimensional events and cannot effect those of inter-dimensionality, it is extremely likely that electro-magnetism at the level of the soul is transmigratory. That's just a fancy and wordy way of saying that souls are somehow synergistic extensions of the one or more parallel dimensions which surround us.
The second part of a twofold answer which addresses the disparity between available souls and an ever increasing population of available bodies involves the existence of sociopaths. Sociopathic personalities appear devoid of conscience or compassion. They are like empty shells and may indeed be exactly that -- vessels into which no soul, for whatever reason, took up residence, so to speak.
Obviously a journey that takes us down this and other paths with respect to past-life investigations, grows more and more convoluted as we attempt to deal with the many questions which grow equally more numerous. For this reason it's important, I think, to limit the extent to which we're willing to go in order to find answers. Half or more of what I've already written on this subject is already so fanciful and far reaching, that it is little more than science fiction at this point.
In summation, we note that while reincarnation, in any of its myriad incarnations, always involves some form of ultimate ascension -- achieved via one kind of reward and punishment or another -- the basic beliefs in past lives need include nothing more than an understanding and acceptance of the soul as more science and less unsubstantiated faith.
More to the point, that our brains (minds) as receivers of some sort, act like radios which can tune to a large, but not unlimited number of channels (stations). That as unique individuals, in connection with equally unique souls, we both transmit and receive along discrete wavelengths or frequencies. Further, that souls have both memories (recognition systems) and the ability to detect (transduce) the familiar emissions by other souls with whom we have, at one time or another -- one lifetime or another -- come into contact.
And finally that these occasions are extremely rare, happen a very limited number of times during our lives, and that we may, and often do, dismiss them as quickly as we might the provocative but transient feeling that we've been there before.