Question: If we cannot remember our previous lives, how are those previous experiences a learning experience?
Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:
I explain that Freud’s real contribution was the discovery that many of the primary forces that motivate and determine our behavior are actually subconscious or unconscious.
If you remembered the details of your past life, imagine the gender issues everyone would have! How could you establish committed relationships when you remember your previous 784 partners. How could you love your parents when you remember thousands of other parents.
In short, you would be totally dysfunctional and psychotic. The deep memory of our past, not the details but the tendencies, the attitudes, the good and evil, is still there in our deep psychology. So-called ‘phobias’, ie irrational fears, are actually reactions to previous experiences.
Thus acrophobia, fear of heights, arises because in a past life one fell from a high place. The real benefit of karmic reactions is that our subtle body is purified, refined, corrected. After all, the specific external behavior was simply a manifestation of our mental propensities. Thus we need not, should not, recuperate the external details. But we can access our deep mental states, and also benefit from the cure in the form of karmic reactions.
With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami