The Backstory

The Backstory

Remember When by Normalityrelief
Remember When by Normalityrelief

On this blog, I’ve talked about past lives and karma many times. I started remembering prior lives back in the early ’80’s during a period of major challenges (karma).

In the Shadbhava article, I talked about the 6 houses or influences we bring into this life: 3 from the bloodline, 3 from prior lives.

Yet I hadn’t quite put together that we can carry energetic burdens from both lines. Most discussions on karma relate only to prior lives.

Dorothy Rowe talks about ancestral healing of the family baggage passed down, sometimes for generations. You can recognize family “inheritances” through repeating life patterns and an excess sense of obligation about specific things.

For example, when browsing family stories, I discovered a financial pattern that happened to my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and myself, skipping my father only because he didn’t live long enough. In recognizing it, we can heal and not pass it on.

In past life karma, the unresolved experiences carry the “signature” of the soul and follow us forward. But people we’re close to share through energetic modelling. Our spouse and children get the greatest exposure.

As children, we try to align with our family to best adapt to the world we’re growing into. We learn many things, including how to be energetically. That’s largely unconscious for most of us. We pick up a copy of how to be, getting the baggage along with the quality stuff.

Our own past life baggage has a broad familiarity to it. It may not feel “mine” but it doesn’t feel alien either. This makes it easier to recognize, if we’re willing to look at our stuff.

Our family baggage has a different feel. It’s not “mine” at all, which can make it harder to recognize. It can have a powerful obligation in it (shoulds and musts) and can feel “ours,” shared. We may even find comfort in a collective burden.

Or inversely, we may balk and rebel, angering other family members who carry it. But neither rebelling nor carrying the burden heals it. Once taken on, the only recourse is healing. Otherwise we’ll pass it on to our children and carry it forward ourselves. We’re in this together.

It’s always curious how hard it is for us to see our own shadows.

It’s unnecessary to know where a burden came from. Mind likes to know, but that’s incidental. Healing is processing and releasing the emotional and energetic trauma. Sometimes healing comes with insight and sometimes not. A decade ago, I cleared a huge provider meme and only recently came to recognize its (now obvious) family source. There was deep compassion in that recognition.

The broader collective baggage is a larger version of this. These days, there is a lot of fear in the collective. We discussed some mantras to soothe the environment in comments on The Power of Mantra.

Most of us would rather disconnect from feeling than look at our unresolved junk. We’ve been habitually resisting to the point where it takes on the aura of a boogeyman; our fear of it can be greater than the trauma.

It’s like dealing with stuff that we had trouble with as children. Challenging perhaps, but not so hard as adults. While our child-selves put up a barrier to it, life events arise designed to surface those contractions. It wouldn’t be coming up if we were not ready for it. But our resistance can be deeply entrenched and unconscious.

I also observed how intertwined my past life karma was with the family baggage. This points to how we choose our birth for fit: both the benefits and challenges. Often we take on the family burden in exchange for our life.

I’ve noted how resolving major karma can be like taking a weight off your back. Yet it can also heal the past. Fully resolving old energy trauma resolves it completely, not just today going forward. More subtle is less bound by time.

In a similar way, healing family trauma can heal our ancestors too. Dorothy also speaks of this. I have noticed that others may be attached to their trauma and not so willingly let it go. But the entanglements with others fall away so it will resolve quickly when they’re ready.

All of this comes up as recent events brought an old drive to the surface. One I thought was resolved. It surprised me how strong it was and how willing I was to run with it. But when I stepped back and sat with it, the source revealed itself.

It was a whopper that has had an enormous influence for generations in my family. I had thought the influence was family expectations. It turned out to be old trauma they all carried forward, each responding in their own way. This brought a lot of insight into my father and grandfather, along with compassion. And it brought a lot of understanding to my life.

I can now see the running conflict between this drive and my dharma. A repeating pattern in this life, trying for something that was not mine to fulfil. It always fell apart. And I can now see how to complete this and honour my parents, helping them complete too. Whew!

The point of all this is to illustrate the weight many of us carry and illustrate that we can heal it all in time.

The content of your challenges will be different. But it will take the form of expectations and obligation, coming in the guise of duty. Dharma includes family responsibility. But our job is to heal rather than carry such burdens, then pass them on to our children and loved ones.

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  1. Daniel

    Hi David!

    ‘This points to how we choose our birth for fit: both the benefits and challenges.’

    Can you explain that a bit more?
    Do we choose our whole life before we incarnate?

    1. Hi Daniel
      I wouldn’t say whole life, but we choose a placement that is a decent fit to what we need to work on or with, and we choose timing to optimize the skills and such we’ll have to work with.
      Then, once we’re in the game, how we respond leads to the results. Sometimes people take on a little too much, and sometimes they just burn good karma.
      But it’s complex. For example, there was a soul who wanted to be born into my family but she got bumped and didn’t get the opportunity. She decided to stick around in a supportive role anyway. Sometimes we’ll put timing over placement and take a rougher start.
      And we’re not just working out our own stuff but the stuff we have in relationship and in a larger group. Hence the idea of soul groups, etc.
      Before we’re born, we’re more aware of the larger context and make choices that we may not like so much after. (laughs)

  2. Just a general comment – it occurs to me this is more a residue of a dark, less conscious time. Being less conscious, we were more inclined to carry our baggage than heal and thus more likely to share it with family, etc.
    I can also note this doesn’t make us a victim – this is mutual, share and share alike.


    What do you feel about using yagyas to do some of this healing? I’ve learned of yagyas that heal family karma, especially one called the Pinda. My understanding is this one is done a lot for a family member who has died. And it can be applied to all the generations before. Not that I feel a yagya can replace what you must do yourself. Also, I’ve heard Maharishi Mahesh Yogi say that when one gains Unity Consciousness it affects 17 generations both ancestors and descendants. Would you speak to this a bit?

    1. Sure, but the best ones are prescribed as they’re specific to your needs. The nadi reading prescribed a series that included family karma. In my case, they observed a blockage that was causing only sons to be born. And thus a remedy. I hadn’t recognized it this way.
      Some of this can be more recent. Some can go back a very long ways, carried forward for millennia.
      I’ve heard variations on that. For example, Brahman is forward and backward 8 generations. From what I’ve seen, it varies how thorough we are for various reasons.
      Similarly, some people clearly awaken and roast their mountains of backlog. Some step through more slowly and wind the self-sense and its entanglements more gradually. But both still have the sprouted seeds to work through.
      And frankly, I’m yet to meet anyone in advanced stages who doesn’t still have some crap they’re working through. It’s the nature of being human in the current time.
      Nonetheless, those stages dramatically change the context with which we live life and can process this stuff. I’ve recently been clearing stuff my grandfather and father couldn’t see even though it dramatically affected their life choices.

  4. Don salmon

    At age 17, at the same moment an intuition arose of the all-pervasiveness of “God,” a profoundly deep conviction arose regarding my “mission” in life – which involved writing about psychology and spirituality.

    This guided all major life choices for over 45 years, then – with the emergence of a deeper, more stable Silence, suddenly it was seen as something I had taken on. I “saw” my maternal grandmother driven to, yet always failing, to write – essays, books, whatever. I “saw” my mother writing and editing dozens of intelligible yet dry, awkward books on nutrition, published but to an audience disappointingly small to her.

    Seeing this, I was spontaneously moved to give away over 1000 books that had been sitting on shelves, waiting to be “used” for the next project.

    Writing continues but with minimal sense of push, obligation, duty.

    In contrast to this family “inheritance,” music came effortlessly in this life, learning to read sheet music at age 4, progressing through the ‘first” music book on my own at that age, spontaneously improvising and composing music in the style of French impressionism of the early 20th century, similarly composing ragtime from the same period, and having images of being a pianist in Paris around that time, also a life long fascination with the “spiritual” movements of the time – Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo – the latter particularly accompanied with a deep sense of having continued a project on “integral psychology,” picking up from where it had been left off – once again, the whole push and obligation dissolving along with a powerful attachment to “being” a musician as well.

    As you write so clearly, “seeing” this as impersonal karma (the past life being in this case more “sticky” as it felt positive, “my mission) has been immensely helpful in letting go of it.

    thank you for the eloquent insights

    1. Beautiful example, Don. Thanks for sharing.
      Here, writing was seen as something I was bad at. And then it arose spontaneously shortly before i woke up. Then I shifted and started to blog. That was a surprise.
      A few times now, the writing has fallen away for a time, while old shoulds and musts were dissolved. It wasn’t clear if it would start again but it always has. The nadi reading said it was my duty in exchange for the gifts I’ve been given.
      So yes, there can be a stepping out here and there for clearing or from a changed emphasis in the cycles of time. But the flow doesn’t end.
      And yes, those attachments to roles and identity can be part of that.

  5. John

    Hi David
    This one rang multiple bells for me! I will be reading it again, I’m sure, and mulling it over for some time. One point (of several) is the notion of “passing down” traumas, patterns etc. What of those of us who are childless?

    1. Hi John
      This happens through energetic modelling or patterning. Our spouse and children spend the most time with us, so are the most influenced by us – on many levels.
      But we also do this with close friends, people we mentor, and so forth. It depends on the time influence and how open their are energetically with us.
      Empaths are far more likely to take stuff on too.
      Some people naturally have good energy habits or learn them and don’t take stuff on. But most of us are not that skilled. 🙂
      It’s also worth noting that our “stuff” isn’t just stored locally. It’s effectively stored in shared space in the collective. How we are and what we carry is part of the whole. We’re only separate on the surface.

  6. Michael Jaksch

    Hi David!

    Great article!

    I also became much more conscious of the great impact of ancestral stuff over the last few months.

    Through Training with Dorothy i can provide healing to whole ancestral fields and i was suprised how strongly ancestral stuff effects us. Even weaknessess in body parts can come from ancestral sources.

    Within trauma healing there is also a lot of talk now about transgenerational trauma. Some have healed heavy illnesses like MS or cancer by releasing transgenerational trauma.

    And yes, the wonderful thing is, if we heal it it helps our ancestors in the past and in their current incarnations.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Michael.
      Yes, it’s notable to observe how the trauma is carried by different people. In one, illness. In another, irrational drive. In another, overshadowing regret. Each of us has our own work to do so the sludge affects that in different ways Then there’s how we respond – often unaware of whats behind the challenges.
      And yes, if you recognize the body arises as the final result of inner dynamics, any reverberations in the structuring fields will have an expression on the surface.
      I’ve seen major past life healings heal the past and what flows forward as a result. It was less of a surprise to see that in ancestral healing. But still…
      I used to “run in” to my long-deceased father occasionally until he took another birth and forgot his history (as usual). But in healing the family trauma it was clear he was still carrying it in his new life.
      Gina commented above about this topic but most of the time, you don’t notice the spread of influence of these releases.
      Perhaps this points to the origin of some spontaneous healing. Our future selves or a relative resolved the trauma.

  7. Christine

    Another wonderful topic!!
    You mention how in ancestral trauma, each generation takes on the burden and deals with it in their own way. Something I see in my own family is that the generation down from mine seems to have a disproportionate amount of health issues, ranging from mental health (OCD, depression, anorexia) and autism to unusual autoimmune disorders, seizures, etc. I feel that in their generation, the traumas that none of us prior has yet been able to resolve represent a more overt manifestation of the trauma.
    Given that these kinds of disorders seem to be more common in the population these days, is it possible that they are symptoms of ancestral trauma being forced to come to the surface? Or just a trend in how they are likely manifest, in line with where the collective is at?
    Thank you David.

    1. Excellent observations, Christine. I’d say both. Current cycles and surfacing them to be cleared. There is also dynamics around pollution.
      The trick with health issues with such causes is they can be very difficult to address. But when the underlying driver is resolved, they fade. Of course, this can also be tied to karma which has something of a clock. Causes are shadowed. Solutions seem illusive and then one day, the issue is seen, the solution is found and the whole thing resolves.

  8. Lew

    Your two leading articles sort of go together .. Health and karma…. Bhakti…. Love can heal or soften karma …I once got an album by the famous Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar…one of the songs was Baja Govindam…The introduction said that this devotional song written by such a great gyani as Shankara is enough to show.that gyana and bhakti are one and the same… Love and understanding through practice and devotion are keys to karmic healing… Once heard a lecture on teaching children mindfulness and that they could think and be aware and above automatic reactions to situations and how that might heal and smooth ineractions with others… With karma the love/devotion/discernment meditation and thoughtfulness could help smooth and dissolve karmic patterns and ideas…I have heard that Ramana when younger would dissolve karma by going derply.into the Self….

    1. Agreed, Lew. I talk here a lot about the importance of allowing/ letting go/ surrender. Bhakti is a direct practice of that.
      Beautiful. I was just looking at a short devotional written by Shankara that was itself a commentary on a larger text on Divine Mother.
      The key with such practices is right technique. It’s all too easy for the mind to co-opt practices. But yes, done right they soften the contractions and the mind’s need to control.
      And yes, samadhi is the ultimate dissolver of karma. It can wash away mountains of backlog. However, its weakness is that when we come back into activity, our habits can resurrect what was clearing and reinforce it again. Making that stuff conscious allows us to stop that and clean the rest of it up.

      1. Lew

        Sorry but the song Baja Govindam with the intro was sung by M.S.Subbulakshmi… Worth listening to to her especially the Vishnu Sahasranaman if you haven’t heard it…and other hymms. Last Mangsehkar is another great and similar devotional singer also worth listening to. Questions on devotion… In Vedic cosmology (which I know little about) there are Absolute Planets …Viakuntha and the likes are lokas which it is said that liberated devotees go to… You mention cosmology a bit in your batgap interview but perhaps you can expound further on this and the absolute planets as being destinies for the liberated… Now does that mean also destinies for the enlightened… Will those lokas have those who awakened go to these places and is there a difference in liberation between those who say they merge with the Absolute… Higher Self and those who’s devotion leads them to the likes of Ram, Vishnu, Krishna etc.?

        1. Thanks, Lew.
          Yes, sometimes its translated as planets but I relate to that more as lokas or subtle spaces/ places.
          To some extent they’re about dharma, such as Ghandarva loka for musicians. There are various heavens for other skill sets.
          There are lokas dedicated to styles of devotion too, so those devoted to knowledge, or to Rama, or Krishna would gather in that group consciousness.
          The more we’ve resolved, the higher we can go. For example, if we’ve cleared the body and emotions, we can rise to a mental world. If we’ve cleared that too, a still higher world, and so forth.
          There’s a correlation between that and established stages, but people can be in a high stage with lots to work out still and vice versa.
          There is no one path for a soul. Some come back to help humanity. Some work from subtle levels. Some take a breather, then take a role.
          The merging with the absolute is an interesting one. For a time, I thought this a distinct option. But now it’ s more the way the process is experienced. Even if the soul merges, the wisdom of the soul remains in creation. For example, I’ve met sages who said they merged but they can still present themselves.
          Of course, I’ve not died awake before so some of this remains to be seen. 🙂

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