Question: Does being conscious of former life experiences help us in our road to self-discovery?

Sri Chinmoy: It does and again it does not. If you discovered that you were a thief in your previous incarnation, you would be horrified. You would not be inspired at all. You would think, “Oh, I was a thief; I was stealing all the time. In this incarnation it is simply useless for me to aspire.” And if you discovered that you were a great saint in a previous incarnation, then you would blame yourself. You would think, “Oh, I was a saint in my previous incarnation and in this incarnation I have done so many undivine things; it is a hopeless case. In this life, spirituality is not meant for me.” You would be doomed to disappointment and again you would not aspire. If you discovered that you were bad, you would be disturbed, and if you discovered that you were extremely good you would also be disturbed when you compared your past to your present state.

But suppose you discovered that in your past incarnation you began your spiritual life but were not sincere or serious enough, or that you were afraid to dive totally into the spiritual life or make a total commitment to a spiritual Master. Since in this incarnation you have made a total commitment, you are making progress. In your last incarnation you were on the first rung of the spiritual ladder and in this incarnation you have climbed up quite a few rungs. This would give you tremendous inspiration and this time you would think, “Oh, I have climbed up quite a few steps, now only a few more remain; let me try.” In this case, it is a great advantage when you come to know what you were, what you are now becoming and what you will eventually be.

If you see a gradual progress in your inner life, then it is a great blessing. But if you don’t notice this inner progress you will be miserable. So the best thing is to pray and meditate. If it is God’s Will, He will show you your gradual inner progress. If it is not God’s Will, you must wait for the moment when you become totally divine and perfect. Otherwise the past may create unnecessary problems for you.