I have indeed. In the autumn of 1989. I was walking to high school when he stepped into my path. He basically grabbed my right hand and said "you have good skin... it won't stop you from falling." I responded with something like, "I'm going to fall? You mean like hell?" He said no and pointed at his feet, and said "through the ground," and then he added, "you don't remember."
He told me, "You will never find her. If you do you will reject her." The entire time he had my hand lightly in his. I could not get free. I've never felt more trapped, although 'trapped' is not the right word.
His face was very pale, bloodless. He looked something like a thinner version of the American actor Joaquin Phoenix but with black hair and very dark eyes. His mouth was a corruption of brown and broken teeth. He was wearing a black formal-wear vest that had tears in it.
I don't remember how I got out of there but I think the last thing he said was "would you like to see my true form?" I said no, of course. Then he added something like "usually it drives them mad" although I'm not sure if it was the word 'mad' or 'insane' that he used.
At the time I had absolutely no knowledge of Buddhist cosmology. I had read a single book by Christmas Humphreys, another book by a woman telling of her experiences at a meditation retreat in Thailand. I was reading Krishnamurti quite a bit in those days. Just beginning to experiment with meditation.
**In the past I've debated whether to share what follows in the seemingly immortal Great Rebirth Debate thread. I'll share it here instead.
My entire life, from before I could walk, I have always remembered having died as a young boy of three or four years of age. I was crushed beneath the right front wheel of a car that was likely being driven by my mother. In the moments immediately before my death I was running toward the car. (A green colour, of a model I assume to be from the early 1960's.) I stumbled and fell near the curb just as the car was pulled to the curb. I remember the large trees lining both sides of the street. They have leaves. The sun is at a low angle in the sky. Perhaps the driver did not see me. Perhaps she was blinded by the sun.
The experience of death is extraordinarily painful. There is a pain of such intensity -- it quickly becomes overwhelmingly. It is much too much. And it just keeps getting worse. It feels like compression. Excruciating pressure.
Truly it is painful to die.
There was a green spark of light and I heard a woman scream in anguish, then her scream trailing away. I was beyond the world's reach. (This woman's cry of pain still haunts me today. If anyone knows how to make a proper database search by manner of death I would be very grateful. I have often contemplated trying to find out more about this previous life. Any help would be most welcome.)
I used to tell my parents about my previous life and my "other mom." Eventually I learned not to.
I need to be careful of how I share this, because it involves the memory and the professional legacy of someone very special who is no longer with us. It is the woman that Mara told me I would never find. I found her in Montreal in 1993. (And from a very twisted, manipulated point of view, it would very much seem like I rejected her.) I am almost certain this woman was a dakini.
Thirteen months after she died I was finally ready to listen to all of this music she said she had written for me. (She was a very successful singer-songwriter. In the spring of 2006 she found me, after a thirteen year separation, and told me she had written "basically every song" for me.) Something in one of her songs essentially triggered a sudden realization, like the lifting of a heavy fog of unknowing. (In the first song of her final album she sings the very words that I spoke to her on the night we met. I will not name her publicly out of respect, but on the night of magic when we met in 1993 I asked her in earnest "will time make us wise?" A quick web search will uncover her identity, and the song in question. Please do not type her name in this thread.)
Of course she was gone and it was much too late. I suppose I had a nervous breakdown. An emotional breakdown. Whatever you want to call it. I curled up like a seashell and laid there naked on my bathroom floor and cried for a long time, my head between my fists.
In the immediate months afterwards, I was so dumbstruck. I was a wraith. Nobody will ever understand. One day I was sitting on the dock near my house when I felt this strange gathering energy over the water and inside of me and some birds flew away. I don't know what it was, but I felt then as I do today that it would have required nothing to have simply died in those moments.
This is what was happening. All of these previous life memories (mostly uncontextualized memories that had emerged from me at different times of my life) were coming home; here a hell realm life, and several distant human lives, and even some lives in the higher realms; all of this started began to flood my mind in a way that I cannot properly express. I was in the most pain of my life, an unspeakable grief, and simultaneously my eyes were being forced open.
Only then did I begin to read about Buddhist cosmology, the 31 Planes of Existence. And for a time, nearly every day, I was discovering new material that was in perfect concordance with these previous-life memories. (By far my sharpest impressions are from my immediately previous life; I'm referring here to my relatively short time spent in the catumaharajika deva realm. Indeed at present I can remember, starting with the process from where I fell beneath the wheel of that car, up to my arrival up through the ground where I took a new life in the catumaharajika deva realm.)
A quick note about memory. In my experience, no previous-life memory is sustained in the mind's eye for very long. I mean to say that I can reflect upon all of this for hours, but a memory itself, although often very sharp, is something brief rather than sustained. To illustrate how I gained a global sense of these lives -- some much stronger than others -- consider a stellar constellation as the analogy, with one star in the night sky being a single distinct memory, but by the ordered collection of these stars constellations are formed, so that we can look up and read the entire dark sky in a language this is known to us.
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it. Ud 5.5