Q: I Notice I Love Being out in Nature, but Nature Can also be Seen as Frightening or Indifferent. What is the Role of Nature in My Spiritual Journey, and is it Good to Make Spending More Time in Nature a Goal?

A: Well really the question isn’t the role that nature plays in your journey, but how you perceive nature based on your frame of reference. So for instance, right now it’s snowing outside slightly, and it’s very beautiful. It’s beautiful how the snow covers the trees, the ground and it brings light and illumination to everything. Seeing it another way however, you could see it as cold, nasty, slippery and dangerous, something impeding your work, the list could go on and on. The ego has endless problems that it can project onto anything. That being said, when you go out in nature, you tend to put some distance between your higher Self and lower self. It makes you realize that there’s more than just your personal thinkings and problems and that the world and universe is much more expansive. When you see beauty in nature it reflects to you something outside of your ego that is not of your creation, that is just there, and that is the reason why it feels good, relaxing, and more like home. A good practice would be to get out in nature and look around for about an hour a day. It really helps to expand consciousness. Also, when we observe nature, it tends to slow down our brain waves and brings us out of the highly stressful high beta waves down into alpha waves. This not only reduces stress, but it also tends to lower blood pressure and help us observe the self (“little s self”). Therefore, strenthening our awareness of the Self (“Big S Self”). That is why you feel so much better when you go for long walks. Conversely, then your ego takes it and thinks that longer is better and wants to do it all the time. However, it’s all about balance. The key isn’t just to become identified with the higher Self but to be aware of the small self and the big Self at the same time and have them come into a union. The ego is an expert at creating either/or situations. This is how on the Journey to Enlightenment, one of the first steps is the development of the spiritual ego. Knowledge of this will result in recognition of the spiritual ego versus true spirituality and help you realize that you are neither the big Self nor the small self but a union of the two.

What’s the deal with past lives?

Q: OK, so what’s the deal with past lives?  Do we have them?  How many? Do they matter?  What do I do with them?  Do I have to know about them to move on?

A: Yes, there is such a thing as past lives.  Also, when looking at “lives,” it’s important to see that the divine does not see lives in the same way that ego does.  What I mean by that, is that ego consciousness defines as a life as the time of one incarnation on this earth.  The divine, or enlightened beings, or consciousness, define a life as more of a unit of time in which one lesson, or life, is lived.

For instance, you’ve had two lives during the time that you’ve been on this earth during this incarnation.  There was before your wife died, then after, when your perspective of ‘what is life for’ drastically changed.  You had a spiritual awakening.  This happens to many people in many different ways.

So, different souls have many incarnations, and many lives.  A soul has hundreds, or even thousands of incarnations and lives.  In each life, there is a lesson, or more than one major lesson to be learned.  Each incarnation is defined as the length of time one body spends upon the earth.  So, one life may span more than one incarnation, or many incarnations, just as one incarnation may have one living out one or more lives.

Past life recall may help an ego gain understanding of the conditions one is living through, giving one clarity.  Clarity eases emotional pain and suffering, and may help quicken the rate at which one learns the lessons one wants to learn.  So, yes, it may be helpful.  But, just like many things the egoic personality gets involved with, it tends to go overboard.  It obsesses on knowing about past lives, fantasizes about them, not concentration on living the life of now, which is why one is alive in the first place!  So in order to be help rather than a distraction, use past life recall to help bring clarity to your understanding of an issue if you feel stuck, but focus on the lessons of learning your life practicing present mind consciousness. This will give you the best of both worlds, literally.

To the last part of your question, no, you do not have to know your past lives.  The most important thing in learning the lessons you want to learn is to live life as consciously and as non-judgmentally as possible, practicing witness consciousness diligently, and faithfully.  You only have to live your life consciously in order to learn the lessons you want to learn.  The more intent you put — or is put on — by consciousness itself on consciousness, the quicker you will learn, and probably the less pain you will endure.

To boil it down further, past lives only matter as much as how much you still have to learn from them, and what attachments your ego still has to the way of thinking that caused the problem in the past life.  What matters is the egoic attachments you still have to your past lives.