The Inner Life, v. II/Seventh Section/IV
BRINGING OVER PAST KNOWLEDGE
We do not yet know with any certainty the laws which govern the power to impress the detailed knowledge of one life upon the physical brain of the next. Such evidence as is at present before us seems to show that details are usually forgotten, but that broad principles appear to the new mind as self-evident. Many of us have exclaimed when for the first time in this incarnation we read a Theosophical book: “This is exactly what I have always felt, but I did not know how to put it into words!” In some cases there seems scarcely that much of memory, yet as soon as the teaching is presented it is instantly recognised as true. Mrs. Besant as Hypatia must unquestionably have known a great deal of this philosophy which was not clearly formulated in her present brain during the orthodox or free-thought periods of this incarnation.
If any reliance at all is to be placed upon exoteric tradition, even the BUDDHA Himself, who descended from higher planes with the definite intention of taking birth to help the world, knew nothing clearly of His mission after He had entered His new body, and regained full knowledge only after years of searching for it. Undoubtedly He could have known from the first had He chosen, but He did not choose; He submitted Himself to what seems to be the common lot.
It is possible that in His case there may be another explanation. The body which was born of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya may not in its earlier years have been inhabited by the Lord BUDDHA. He may have acted as the Christ did; He may have asked one of His disciples to take care of that vehicle for Him until He needed it, and He may have entered it Himself only at the moment when it fainted after the long austerities of the six years of searching for truth. If this be so, then the reason that Prince Siddartha did not remember all that the Lord BUDDHA previously knew was because He was not the same person. But in any case we may be sure that the ego, who is the true man, always knows what he has once learned; but he is not always able to impress it upon his new brain without the help of a suggestion from without.
Fortunately for our students it seems to be an invariable rule that one who has accepted occult truth in one life always comes into contact with it in the next, and so revives his dormant memory. I suppose we may say that the opportunity of thus recovering the truth is the karma of having accepted it, and of having earnestly tried to live according to it in the previous incarnation. There is, however, every probability that much of what we now call distinctively Theosophical belief will be the ordinary accepted knowledge of the day by the time that we return to take up again our work on the physical plane, so it may be that we shall all be educated in it as a matter of course. If that be so, the difference between those who have studied it this time and those who have not will be that the former will take it up with enthusiasm and make rapid progress, while to the latter it will mean no more than does the science of to-day to the entirely unscientific mind. In any case, let no one for a moment suppose that the benefit of our study and hard work can ever be lost.