Bankruptcy, Past Lives, and the Buried Origins of Fear of Speaking.


I’m not going to analyze, interpret, or frame the events I recount in this article.

I’m just going to stick to the facts of my experience, as clearly and cleanly as I can remember them. I have not written or spoken of this before.

It’s 1996. I am living in a tiny cottage on a small farm in Somis, an unincorporated community in Ventura County, CA. My brother, an attorney, lived nearby in Ventura.

I had filed for personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7. The inquisition day had arrived. I went with my attorney to the courthouse, where I sat with several dozen other petitioners and their attorneys. At the front of the large room was a dais, on which were seated seven trustees, whose roles were to question each petitioner to ascertain the validity of their various claims and statements.

My turn came. The questioning began. I affirmed the validity of all my written statements. Okay, until…

In 1995, I had published my first book, The Sacred Hub, with Crossing Press. The book detailed my spiritual experiences and understanding to date. In a publishing upheaval, Crossing Press remaindered the inventory of my book, which I bought for very little. Ironically, this book is being reissued by Wetware Media, whose publisher calls the book a spiritual classic. I had about 2,000 books on hand.

I had declared this as an asset, though of little actual cash value. One trustee held up a copy of the book and, so it seemed to me, boomed threateningly: “What is this?”

I answered. The trustees were satisfied. But something in me was stirred, as if the energy of his question, the way he waived my book in the air from his seat on the raised platform, hit a lock in my soul. I hallucinated briefly, feeling as if I were being interrogated about the truthfulness of what I had written in the book, rather than its worth to my creditors.

My case was discharged. I went home to my little cottage. Without warning, I felt a terror rise up from within me. It was more than I could bear. I don’t drink, but I went out and got a bottle of tequila — a large one. I started drinking. I drank the entire bottle.

Somewhere along the way — and I did not, nor do I to this day, have any conscious recollection of what my brother, a sober and reliable man, told me — I called his office, and in the tone of someone under lethal attack, told him that I was going to be arrested and imprisoned. I told him I was going to be killed by authorities because of what I had written. Because of The Sacred Hub.

He told me later that he tried to calm my fear. He told me that it was not possible for that to happen, that I must be reacting to something in my mind. He told me that he was speaking to me as an attorney, not as my brother. I could not be arrested, imprisoned, or killed for what I had written.

I don’t remember calling him, or what he said. But my brother is a reliable man, and I believe him.

I believe him now. I did not at the time. I went further into the terror. I must have been double-blind drunk. The tequila was gone. It was night. I fell into bed.

For the next two days, more or less, I don’t remember exactly, I began experiencing lifetime after lifetime of being arrested, interrogated, tortured, and killed by various authorities. My crimes? For speaking about spiritual matters in direct opposition to the beliefs of the spiritual authorities of that time. I saw inquisitions, where black-robed men asked me questions, not unlike the bankruptcy trustees.

For as long as these past lives played, terror surged in my body, my brain, my heart. This, I remember. It was terror, pure terror.

When I woke up, or came to, or appeared again in the present time, my body ached from head to toe. It was as if I had been beaten. My eyes opened, but I couldn’t move. I did not know where I was.

For two or three days after, I was virtually comatose in my house. My brother called. I did not answer the phone. A friend stopped by unexpectedly; later she told me that I had been unshaven, wild-eyed, still drunk and stank like shit. I don’t remember that.

Slowly, over the course of days, I began to recover, if that’s the word. I began to understand that what had happened had nothing to do with the present, with bankruptcy, The Sacred Hub, or anything else from the 1996. I had been catapulted by the unwitting trustee into the buried origins of fear and terror, twins that had lived within me without my knowing.

Even though I had written and published the book (and many more since), even though I was teaching and speaking in spiritual forums, even though I had lived with a guru for 10 years, fear and terror lurked within me.

Now, as I notice both what I say and how I say it — and how I live — I can see how I had not been free, how I had not actually told the truth, even though I thought I was doing that. In my dictionary, speaking is how we show up in life, everywhere and all the time. Our speaking is who we are in the world.

I may have written the truth in that book, and I may have spoken truthfully in my classes and talks, but I was not free. I was not safe. My life did not reflect true freedom, true originality, true authenticity. How could it? Fear and terror were buried within me. My writing and speaking truthfully were constrained by the twins buried within me. My living was not free. I did not feel safe.

We can’t be free if we are not safe, if we feel that something bad will happen.

I can feel the freedom now. I never felt it before. Truth is, I never really knew what freedom was. In spite of writing and speaking truthfully, I was not free. My soul is free. Maybe it always was. But now, my mind and my heart and my bones, my bones, they are all free.

In the more than 20 years since these events, I have met and worked with many others who have traced their fears of speaking their truths to such past life experiences. I share with them the way in which I became free from those experiences and the way in which I now live so as not to accumulate further buried fears and terrors. That’s another article, for another time.


RobertRabbinRobert Rabbin began his professional journey in 1985, after spending 10 years living and working with meditation master Swami Muktananda. Since then, he has developed an international reputation as a radically brilliant speaker and public speaking guru, as well as a distinguished self-awareness facilitator, leadership adviser, and personal mentor. Robert is the creative source and director of Speaking Truthfully, through which he offers masterclasses and private mentoring in authentic self-expression and public speaking. He has published eight books and more than 200 articles on authentic living and public speaking, leadership, self-inquiry, spiritual activism, and meditation. In January 2012, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and was told he had a few months to live. However, in keeping with his contrarian nature, he continues to thrive past the predicted use-by date. He lives in Los Angeles, and can be contacted via his website.


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