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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter II
Arrived there I collapsed completely. I was worn out with over work, with constant migraine headaches of the worst kind and with the culminating matter of this love affair. I had no ability to sit light in the saddle. I never have had and this in spite of a very real sense of humor which has often saved my life. I've always taken life and circumstance very hard, and have lived a very intense thought-life. I have an idea that in a previous life I failed the Masters seriously. I have no recollection of what it was I did, but I have always had a deep feeling that this life I must never fail Him and that I must make good. How I failed in the past does not matter, but today I must not fail.

I've always been annoyed at the rubbish talked by people about "recovering their past incarnations." I am a profound skeptic where this recovery is concerned. I believe that the various books which have been published giving in detail the past lives of prominent occultists are evidences of a vivid imagination and that they are untrue and mislead the public. I have been encouraged in this belief by the fact [91] that in my work dozens of Mary Magdalenes and Julius Caesars, and other important people, have confessed portentously to me who they were; yet in this life they are such very ordinary, uninteresting people. These famous people seem to have deteriorated sadly since their last incarnations and it arouses a question as to evolution in my mind. Also, I do not believe that, in the long cycle of the soul's experience, the soul either remembers or cares what form it occupied or what it did two thousand, eight thousand or one hundred years ago any more than my present personality has the faintest recollection or interest in what I did at 3:45 p.m. on the afternoon of Nov. 17th, 1903. One single life is probably of no more importance to the soul than fifteen minutes in 1903 is of importance to me. There surely are occasional lives that stand out in the recollection of the soul, just as there are days in one's present life that are unforgettable, but they are few and far between.

I know that I am today what many, many lives of experience and bitter lessons have made me. I'm sure that the soul could - if it wanted to waste the time - recover its past incarnations, because the soul is omniscient; but of what use would it be? It would be only another form of self-centeredness. It would also be a sorry story. If I have any wisdom today and if any of us manage to avoid the grosser mistakes of life, it is because we learnt through the hardest kind of experience not to do these particular things. Our past record - from our present spiritual standpoint - is probably completely disgraceful. We've murdered in the past; we have stolen; we have defamed and been selfish; we have been corrupt in our dealings with other men; we have been lustful; we have deceived and been disloyal. But we paid the price, for the great law which St. Paul states "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" does [92] work; it eternally works. So today we do not do these things, because we did not like the price we paid - and pay we did. I think it is about time that the silly idiots who spend so much time in an effort to recover their past incarnations wake up to the fact that if they once saw themselves as they truly were at that time they would forever keep silent. I do know that whoever I was and whatever I did in a previous life, I failed. Details are immaterial but the fear of failure is deeply ingrained and inherent in my life. Hence the pronounced inferiority complex from which I suffer, but which I try to hide for the sake of the work.

So with great determination and with a sense of inner heroism I pledged myself to a spinster's life and tried to go on with the work.

My good intentions, however, did not suffice to keep me going. I was too ill. Miss Schofield, therefore, decided to take me back to Ireland and see what Elise Sandes would suggest. I was too sick to protest and had reached the point where I did not care whether I lived or died. I had closed up the Soldiers' Home in Ranikhet and, as far as I knew, the accounts were in good order. I had tried to take the usual Gospel meetings up to the end but I have an idea that I had lost my punch. All I can remember was the tremendous kindness of a Colonel Leslie who superintended my transfer from Ranikhet down to the plains. I had to go by carriage; I had to be carried on a man's back across a raging torrent; I had to be carried on a dandy for many miles and I had again to take another coach until I arrived where I could take the train to Delhi. New Delhi was not then in existence. He arranged it all - cushions, various comforts, food and everything I could possibly require. My personal durzi or tailor determined to go with me, paying his own expenses to Bombay and [93] just because he cared about me. He and my bearer looked after me and I have never forgotten their kindness and gentle help.

When I arrived at Delhi, the station master came and told me that a private coach had been sent up for me from Bombay by the General Manager. How he knew I was ill, I do not know, but he was one of the five men I have already mentioned in connection with my first trip. I have never thanked him, but I am very grateful.

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