This meditation, supposedly Tibetan, begins by staring without blinking into a mirror and without regard to the tears as they roll down your cheeks. After 30 minutes of this, if you haven’t fainted, your past lives are supposed to materialize in the mirror in a series of images.
One guru teaches this meditation and points out that it can be a dangerous; that it requires specific training and self-knowledge prior to the devotee safely practicing it. But many listeners think they are beyond danger. They go home, lock the bedroom door, and sit staring in front of the mirror in hopes to discover their past lives. They don’t consider the warnings of the guru or the connections of the past to the present.
One survivor of this meditation technique said:
“After a while your face just melts away. You’re concentrating so hard on not shutting your eyes you begin to get really dizzy.
“Then you begin to see pictures. You’re in all the pictures yourself, but sometimes you see picture of people you know, such as your parents, or close friends.
“It’s kinda nice for your ego running a movie in which you’re always the star, but it can be dynamite for some people. I personally knew one girl who went nuts doing it.
“Who knows? Maybe she was crazy anyway. See, she did the meditation with her husband. They were up in their bedroom with their mirrors, suddenly she starts going crazy, pulling her hair out by its roots and stuff. What she saw was that she had been her husband’s mother in the life just before this one.
“She actually saw herself giving birth to him and breastfeeding him and everything. Sent her round the bend. Completely schiz. Nobody, not even the guru, could make her snap out of the guilt of how she was an incestuous mother, having children by her own son. Spooked her husband, too. I think she’s in a bin somewhere in the Midwest now. Never learned what happened to him or the kids.”
I thanked him for the coffee and got up to leave. He pulled me down.
“Hey, don’t you want to know what I saw in my past?”
“Of course,” I said, and sat down, acutely conscious of my bad manners.
“Well, I looked in the mirror and what I saw just about wiped me away. But it was great. It made me know I had done the right thing coming to India and staying in this ashram for four years. Wearing these dumb orange dresses.”
He was momentarily overcome with emotion. He put his arms around me, smothering me in a bear hug.
“Do you know who I have been?” he bellowed, four inches past my ear.
“Who?” I enquired, muffled in his saffron covered collarbone.
“The Buddha’s charioteer. I drove the Buddha to his destiny. Beat that!”
I couldn’t so I beat it.
–story adapted from Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East by Gita Mehta, 1994, Vintage Books, p. 39-41