by Dragana Brown, London, UK
I was brought up in a family that was not involved in any religion, yet I remember as a young child feeling that I wanted to meet God. As a 7-8 year old I had a friend who talked a lot about God. She spoke about heaven and hell, who ends up where, doing good in order to go to heaven, God punishing us for our bad actions – the entire religious cliché… and pretty much that there was this grey, long bearded, big guy somewhere up in the sky, who sees and hears everything and acts upon anything we do, say and even think – so no negative thoughts about any deranged family members!
I didn’t believe a word she was saying and I vehemently denied the existence of such a God. Even as a young girl I was able to feel the flaws in these and similar statements and raise a lot of questions in regards to her claims; if we are ALL the children of God, how can HE love some more and some less by way of rewarding some and punishing other?
I used to frequently ask my mother who she loved the most out of her three children. She always gave the same response: that she could not but love us all equally. She would say whilst pointing at each and every finger on her hand: cut this finger, it hurts, cut this finger it also hurts… Being the youngest in the family I used to persist asking if the little pinky would hurt a teeny weenie bit more than the others, to which she would give a smile and say, “still hurts the same as any other finger”. Being equal rang true even in my quest for recognition from my Mum.
Another thing that required explanation was that if adults mess up and have to ‘pay for their sins’, how about a baby born with a disease? I would hear replies like – that’s God punishing parents for their wrongdoings etc, but I accepted none of it. There was a huge part of me that wanted to believe in God, but what I was presented with by any of the ‘believers’ didn’t feel true.
That was not the God I wanted to meet.
Because I could not explain true God and had no way of knowing how to get to know Him, I decided it was best to be anti-God. But reality kept bothering me – from a very young age I could not be convinced of life being ‘it’ – just us human beings – we get born, we die and that’s it! It made no sense. What also nagged me was that there had to be some greater meaning/reason for our existence on earth, otherwise – what is the point? I could feel that there is a lot more to us than meets the eye, and that the physical cycle – birth/death – is only a part of the whole, but not the whole itself.
One sunny day in July in the Eighties I arrived in London for the first time in my life. The moment I landed there was a certain familiarity that gave me goosebumps! The family I was to stay with had said I should get a taxi from Heathrow and they’d pay for it, but I was drawn to take public transport – underground and buses. It was a glorious day and I looked around with the curious eyes of a little girl and the feeling that I had known this place all my life. The family was shocked when I arrived and no taxi to pay – needless to say they were thrilled I had saved them a considerable amount of money – but they were amazed that I could do that on my first ever visit and with limited knowledge of the English language. I shared that to me it felt a very familiar journey.
Every time in the first couple of years when I went back to former Yugoslavia, where I was born, I could not wait to go back to England, and I kept saying I was going back home to London, yet I knew nobody in London and I had no home in a physical sense. There were even periods when I was homeless!
One day a few years ago I was in a Japanese restaurant having a meal. When the Japanese waiter brought my bill he hesitantly (and with lots of ‘excuse me-s’ and ‘forgive me for asking-s’) wanted to know if I had ever lived in Japan – I said never, then added – in this life, and we both laughed. He asked if my husband was Japanese. Again I said he could not be more English and no, nobody else in the family was from Japan! I asked why? He explained how the way I was eating, and not just the way I was using the chopsticks, but my entire mannerism, was so very Japanese, that he had not seen people outside of Japan eating in such ‘Japanese way’, even those foreigners who spend a long time living there! He wanted to expand on this but struggled for words – although his English was very good – and he just kept nodding his head in disbelief that somebody who never lived in Japan could have so much of Japan in her! I shared with him how I disliked going for Japanese meals with non-Japanese people, because of their clumsiness. There is a certain elegance and order in eating in Japan that I must have remembered from my past, and I am often tempted to go over to those eaters and explain how to eat Japanese food. I have always felt strong affinity towards Japan, yet I have never been there. Almost all my crockery at home is Japanese – not even from other parts of Asia, but exclusively Japan. I even had a kimono. And the entire family including four children, since they could hold a chopstick, have been eating with chopsticks at home for the last 25 years!
To me it makes sense that we do not just vanish into the thin air, but perhaps the way many feel about reincarnation (not being possible) is a reflection of our inability to take full responsibility for all our choices. We often hear people say: ‘Ah, it’s just one life, so make the most of it’. What if it is not just one life? What if we do come back? Would we then think of our actions, decisions and choices in this life more carefully? I was talking to someone about big changes that the British government plans to introduce in secondary education by 2017. His attitude was: he had no more young children to be affected by any of it so it didn’t matter. But what if we do come back and these changes do affect our children and even US? Would we think and act differently now? Most of us assume that we leave this planet to our ‘future younger generations’ – but what if instead we are ‘borrowing’ the planet for a lifetime for something much greater that we all return to again and again and again?
It does seem strange that the Dalai Lama gets invited and so openly spoken to about reincarnation by most of the world’s major TV, radio stations and newspapers – and that none of these establishments think he is a ‘barking loony’ claiming to be the 14th re-incarnation of Tibetan Lama. But when Serge Benhayon says to an interviewer that we do reincarnate and that he can feel connections to his past lives, there is a snigger.
I can understand society being cautious of any such claims or statements. I too have always approached this subject with extreme caution, but do we have to completely dismiss it? Even ridicule it? What if, through getting to know ourselves, we get to know our deepest essence and where it comes from, and then by the virtue of knowing ourselves, we get to know if what Serge is saying is true or not? What if in doing so, maybe, just maybe, more light could be allowed to shine on this fascinating topic?