‘Soul Journey’ is an unusual book as it’s central aim is to link the lives of two great American heroes- Abraham Lincoln & Charles Lindbergh. The trigger for this brave and unlikely quest was a statement made by Yogi Paramhansa Yogananda that the two men were incarnations of the same soul and had previously incarnated as a Himalayan yogi. Richard Salva decided to investigate and curiously he has managed to unearth many similarities and links between the two men that give weight to this statement.
The first part of the book compares numerous events, behaviours and physical similarities between the two men. I found this section difficult to get into at first as I had little other than a basic general knowledge of the men. The style of jumping from one instance to another with little narrative between also took some getting used to. Someone with a more particular interest in either or both of these figures would no doubt find the comparison of myriad details of their lives fascinating.
What I did like was the way Salva has included some episodes from each life that are probably less known and written about in formal biographies. I loved the description of both men as practical jokers- something you would little suspect from the sober faced photographs of Lincoln we are familiar with.
Would you need to experience fame in successive incarnations? I think it unlikely any soul actively seeks fame time after time. Reincarnation is the process of polishing different facets on the diamond of the soul. However Salva points out the fame of Lincoln, coming with huge and weighty responsibility, is very different from the adulation Lindbergh enjoyed- and neither man was entirely comfortable with it. He argues that Lincoln never got the rewards he deserved for his contribution to humanity and so perhaps the huge adulation lavished by the world on Lindbergh, out of proportion to his greatness, was a karmic ‘balancing of the books’. I do believe that this happens- you do get back what you give out- if not in this life then the next. There is no escaping your good or bad deeds!
For me the second part of the book where he explains Patanjali’s ‘Eightfold Path’ was the most interesting. Salva examines the spiritual experiences of both men & relates them to the deep wisdom they may have attained in an incarnation as a yogi. Illustrating each of the spiritual principles of the path through the lives of Lincoln & Lindbergh was educational and thought provoking, whether or not you accepted them as the same soul. My favourite story was that of Lindbergh flying his plane exhausted but unable to sleep for fear of crashing. He documented being spoken to, reassured and ‘looked after’ while he rested, by beings that I would interpret as his Guides. When he returned to full consciousness he was still perfectly on course.
Am I totally convinced that the two men were one and the same soul? No. It is highly unlikely that anyone would ever be able to prove such a thing beyond all reasonable doubt. Do I think there is a plausible hypothesis? Yes. There really do seem to have been an unusual number of ‘co-incidences’ and similarities between the two lives. If Salva had trawled through history for ‘similar types’ then his finding wouldn’t be at all impressive- of course you can find people who’ve lived similar lives at different times in history, but Salva took on specific statement and researched it, looking for the links, and there they were.