A few years ago, I put on one of my father's regression CDs. His voice instructed me to picture a spinning globe and to feel myself being drawn to a particular area of the world. Usually, listening to his regression does not take me anywhere other than to sleep, but this time I found myself indeed being pulled somewhere: 19th-century Japan. Within seconds, I zoomed down into the globe, down into that country, down into a spare but elegant home and the body of a somewhat elderly Japanese man. I (as the man) was sitting cross-legged on a tatami mat, my gray-white hair pulled back in a ponytail. My home was peaceful; I sat in front of a large window overlooking a beautiful mountain. My wife entered the room. I could feel the love between us: It was easy; it was sweet; she was my dear friend. She was older too, and I sensed that we had loved each other for many years. She smiled so much that her eyes stayed crinkled. My grandchildren were in the corner of the room. I teasingly called them my frogs for the way they sat crouched on their haunches, looking as if they were about to take off in a frog leap at any moment. They too were smiling and laughing, as was I. I could tell that I was a family man; I worked, sure, but these people in the room were my life, my identity. Deep within family, within their love, is where I existed.
That man was so happy, but it was a happiness that came from peace, from the joy of simply being alive, not dependent on anything other than that. He knew how to delight in life, not because of any possessions he had or because of any professional status, but simply because life was meant to delight in. He was loving and wise. In many ways, he had mastered life and was much closer to enlightenment than I have ever come. I didn't just know this about him; I felt it in the regression, that river of contentment running through his veins. I did not see how he was born, I do not know what he did for a living or what kinds of things happened to him, and I did not watch him die. None of these things were important. All that was important was to feel what he felt, to taste his peace, his bliss. My father's voice soon instructed me to leave the lifetime behind, but I did not want to.
The Japanese man's joy had nothing to do with outside events, and outside events did not steal the joy from him. I could learn so much from him, for the young American woman having the regression experience had never touched a peace like this before, had never been able to shake off a depression of sorts that prevented such happiness from ever being within reach. In my present life, for many years, I had struggled with what seemed to be a pervasive sadness and discontent. Sometimes I could clearly point to a biological component. Sometimes an awful event happened in the world that brought me to my knees, where I found myself unable to stand again. And sometimes I just looked at the news, at the incalculable and imaginative things people do to hurt one another, and felt so tired. Sometimes things got better, and sometimes things got worse, but behind it all there was a melancholy that didn't make sense to me.