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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

a fetish nowadays of declaring that the whole of our past life lies
etched in the memory of the subconscious mind. If that is true, then
a mental exercise which drags out the earliest infantile events into
the light of remembrance is not so far-fetched after all. The dis-
coveries of Abnormal Psychology are clearing the way a little.

But my Buddhist monk did not stop there. He said that the
abnormally sharpened faculty of remembrance was then flung
across the gate of birth, in their practice, and lo!—it brought the
memory of quite another person, of the previous existence on earth!
Every detail, from the former death to the former birth, could be
traced out by continuing this queer psychological process.

The monk admitted that the concentration involved was fear-
fully difficult and that few Buddhists were ever able to go far with
the method. He had himself practised the meditations for twenty
years and could testify to their effectiveness. But the most prolonged
efforts were needed to wrest these memories from reluctant Nature.

I have neither the desire nor the competency to dogmatize in the
matter, but in the light of this explanation one must smile satirically
at the crop of Queens and Cleopatras which has swiftly followed the
trail of this doctrine of re-embodiment, since the latter has appeared
in the West. Every half-baked psychic steps in where the more
experienced Oriental fears to tread! Remembering bygone existences
is not so easy as that. Nature has not put a thick veil over them for
nothing.

Hardly anyone in the lands from whence I come is likely to give
the Buddhist method a trial, because hardly anyone is prepared to
sacrifice some hours daily for half a lifetime merely to revive dead
memories. The game, quite frankly, is not worth, the candle. Like
Nature, we realize that the vanished past is less worthy of our
deepest efforts than the living present. It would be unprofitable to
drag these pictures out of their shadowed cave.

But this is not to say that such memories may not come as a gift.
I have had them, most unexpected, extraordinary, and strangely
apposite. Yet, because such memories can never provide valid proof
for another, it is futile to talk about them. In this connection the
aphorism of the almond-eyed Chinese sage may well be applied:
"Those who know, do not speak; those who speak, do not know!" I
can say only that if, by the grace of God and the Peninsular and
Oriental Steam Navigation Company, I tread Asiatic soil today, I
have also trodden it in anterior lives.

My thoughts are disturbed by a strange swishing sound. Some-
thing or someone is moving up the cliff-side towards me. I cannot tell,.