I started researching into this question many years ago, after I had a vivid dream, which was clearly about a past life of mine. From the scriptures of various cultures I found a common thread. That whatever our belief systems be, it appears that we do live as different personalities on this Earth dimensions and in many other dimensions over time.
The Purpose? : Self realisation.
Let us look at some examples.
A friend of mine had a dream where he saw himself killing many Hindu priests. Converting them and their families to Islam. It was very vivid for him as he clearly saw the year, the clothes etc. He knew nothing of dream interpretation, but as he woke up in the middle of the night, he just had to write it down. It was also scary for him.
Clearly, his subconscious mind was nudging him towards his purpose of the present birth. He’s a hindu from a priestly caste in this life. As we discussed the issue he understood that he was being informed of his grave folly of a previous life. Where he believed not in the oneness of all life. He could not empathise or realise the beauty of diverse cultures. He had to be born as one of the very people whom he despised, so that he could truly appreciate the grace of that society. His dream reminded him of that purpose.
During a special meditation session for advanced students, one seeker experienced many lifetimes where he and his present day relative were born together. The relative was always seeking out to capture by force, the dreamer’s wife. His wife in all those births was the same soul as his wife in the present life. In some life he kills that ‘relative’ while in others that person kills him. But not even once does he allow that soul to capture or exploit his ‘wife’. The rivalry continued for many years, going back thousands of years.
This is an example of a continuing conflict where the characters are born over and over again, as different personalities over time. Somehow to resolve their long pending issues. In the current lifetime, that relative was born as the dreamer’s wife’s cousin, a brother sister relationship. Clearly in this life that person could not covet her in a negative way. He respects her. At a soul level their issue is resolved. However, the dreamer had an unforeseen problem with this relative even in the current life as this person sought to undermine the dreamer even in this life. These series of very profound visions helped the dreamer to truly understand the problem of ages. The rivalry was then resolved by him through his own understanding.
All the persons involved definitely understood at a deep soul level the importance of resolving this conflict. Unless this was done, the old account would be settled, only to give rise to a new account and so on.
Once the relative killed the dreamer. Now the law of Karma ordains that the dreamer must get his chance. He gets it in another lifetime and kills the relative. The law now provides a chance the relative once again and so on. Never to end, until they forgive each other and move on.
The importance of forgiveness is that it deletes the karmic account of that issue. Allowing us to move on to higher consciousness.
One of the great spiritual teachers of the century, from whom I learnt the art and science of total surrender to the infinite within, once told me that as the soul expands in its knowledge and consciousness, it then develops the ability to branch itself out and experience different lifetimes simultaneously in diverse dimensions. Thereby accumulating vast experience quickly so that it can ascend towards the super-consciousness. I did read about this aspect in related literature as well.
I have met many people who were born as different genders in different lifetimes.
Scriptures also ordain that it not just different humans that we incarnate as. We could live in different dimensions as gods or demons, as plants or animals and could even be trapped in the material kingdom. Infinite are experiences which we can go through.
The Universe is a vast school. Here, there are no theory lectures. Only practical experiences which are lessons. Ultimately, every ‘lesson’ nudges us closer to our divine truth, our true omnipotent natures, towards self realisation.
May all those who read, prosper.