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The possibility of past life being a reality

Reincarnation is the belief that the human soul never perishes or dies; it simply passes though a succession of lives. In its basic concept, it had it origin in India sometime near 800 B.C.  Reincarnation is vital to classical Buddhism and Hinduism. Although reincarnation has ancient roots, its more modern popular versions are modification of the ancient, eastern beliefs of Hinduism.

Reincarnation can be said to be the occupation by the soul of a new body after the death of the former body. It can also be called transmigration of souls. 

Some consider that reincarnation as a phenomenon (not simply a belief) has been occurring through history, and has been discovered and re-discovered by societies both primitive and advanced. Some ancient Greek philosophers believed in reincarnation. Plato and Pythagoras were probably the first Greek philosophers to advance the idea. 

Today among newer movement, belief in reincarnation is widespread. The most detailed collected of personal reports in favor of reincarnation have been published by Dr. Ian Stevenson in works such as Reincarnation and Biology which documents thousands of detailed cases where claims of injuries received in past lives sometimes correlate with atypical physical birthmarks and birth defects. 

Perhaps the most significant anecdotal evidence in this regard is the phenomenon of young children spontaneously sharing what appear to be memories of the past lives, a phenomenon which has been reported even in cultures that do not hold to a belief in reincarnation. Upon investigating these claims, Stevenson and others have identified individuals who had died a few years before the child was born who seem to meet the description the children provided.

Critics that claim reincarnation is impossible often espouse the alternate theory that a large number of mental phenomena such as memory and ability are already accounted for by physiological processes; and may point to moral and practical inconsistencies in the various theories of reincarnation. To the mathematical mind it would seem to dictate that the critical view is preferred, as it demands no extraordinary new evidence beyond what is already known to science.

Without solid evidence showing that reincarnation exists, the theory cannot be considered to be a valid scientific theory regarding the real world.

Another argument often made is that claims of reincarnation by casual adherents are usually of having some famous historical figure instead of being another insignificant person. This argument, however, is seldom substantiated with a quantative count of famous and non-famous reincarnation claims.

There are a number of small children who have reported having memories of past lives prior to their present life, and some also report being able to recall a time between lives. In some cases these children have also reported being in a place like heaven between lives and sometimes that they were given some degree of choice as to whether and when to be reborn, and even in selecting their future parents.

Stand Grof M.D. - Holotropic Mind – says “So convincing is the evidence in favor of past life influences that one can only conclude that those who refuse to consider this to be an area worthy of serious study must be either uninformed or excessively narrow-minded.

There are many nowadays who “remember’ their past lives and use that knowledge to help them with their current lives. Some of the people simply remember without any effort on their part. They simply “see” previous times and see themselves interacting with others. Most of the people who experience this kind of happening are certain of the veracity of their experience. 

The richness contained in the ability to remember is that it reinforces the knowledge of who one is at a deep level i.e. what one’s original journey was about (not every soul is out for the same trip of discovery, we are all specialists in one way or the other) and therefore the crux of the matter is to be more apt and more astute in one’s daily dealings with all people and events surrounding us and more likely to be of service to humanity.

Of course if one does not effortlessly remember their past times here on earth they can always have recourse to specialist therapies who do past life readings. Some of them use hypnosis and many use psychic aptitude. This is always done for didactic and therapeutic motives and never for simply voyeuristic desire.

The concept of reincarnation seems to offer one of the most attractive explanations of man’s origin and destiny. There is an increasing interest in this topic today, sustained especially by books and magazines, TV broadcasts, movies and conferences. 

Reincarnation seems to give hope for continuing one’s existence in further lives and thus having a better change to attain liberation. This is a source of great comfort, especially for those who seek liberation on the exclusive basis of their inner resources. On the other hand, reincarnation is a way of rejecting the Christian teachings of the soul’s final judgment by a Holy God, with the possible results of being eternally condemned to suffer in hell. Another major reason for accepting reincarnation by so many people today is the fact that it allegedly explains the differences that exists between many people. 

Some people feel reincarnation stands in contradiction with logic, social justice, morality and even common sense. Looking beyond the apparent comfort it provides to this life by promising further lives in which perfection may be attained, belief in reincarnation cannot bring any beneficial result’s but only resignation and despair in facing fate.

However, some people claim that they have a distinct feeling of Déjà vu although they are visiting a place for the first time. Others have a passion for a certain time in history. A very young child may tell stories that make no sense to his or her parents. She might call her parents by a different name, tell her parents about “before”, she might demonstrate certain abilities that were never taught to her, know a lot about a place she is visiting for the fist time or the people who lived there during a different time.

Past life-recall is also used as proof for reincarnation. Past life regression simply involves placing a person under hypnosis and asking them to go back through their childhood to a time before they were born. In many cases the person begins talking about his or her life or lives before the present lifetime, about their previous death and about the time between lives including the planning of the present lifetime. 

Fisher cited in 1985 “For years the theory of reincarnation was a nightmare to me and I did my best to disprove it……. Yet as the years went by one subject after another told me the same story in spite of different and varied conscious beliefs. Now well over a thousand cases have been investigated and I have to admit that there is such a thing as reincarnation.” 

Using the method of hypnotic regression it is a known fact that an individual susceptible to hypnosis can whilst in this state access past lives experiences. These experiences should not be put into the same category as that seen in horoscopes or past lives fortune telling. It is partially due to these, that reincarnational hypnosis is discredited. Hypnosis can be ranked among classical medicine for it’s therapeutically effects, even though reincarnational hypnosis is considered as alternative form but more because of its philosophical and spiritual dimension.

Many experts consider hypnotizability an inborn quality. It is however, the hypnotist skills, which determines the efficiency and accessibility of this quality in the process.

However one possible explanation, valid in a few cases, is crypto amnesia. As hypnosis can be used in refreshing forgotten memories of one’s past, facts that are not available anymore in the conscious memory, in the same way can it be used for invoking information heard from other people, read in books, or seen in movies, in which the subject of hypnosis is involving himself as participant. His subconscious memory has kept this information stored and hypnosis determines its use in a completely fictitious scenario. 

An intriguing aspect of the testimonies recorded under hypnosis is the fact that they depend on the already existing data in current historic knowledge. In many cases, although the information corresponds to generally acknowledged historical data, further archaeological discoveries contradict them, casting serious doubts on the veracity of “past lives.” Many cases prove that “past life recall” experiences depend heavily on the historical knowledge mankind had at the time when the hypnotic regression was performed, but which are often contradicted by later discoveries.

From a psychiatrist’s point of view, past lives testimonies may be the result of inducing the dissociate personality disorder through hypnosis.

The only criteria in establishing the veracity of “past life recall” is our trust in the hypnotists and his “past life recall” interpretation. There is no other way of relating the scenario of an alleged past life to one’s actual person. 

Probably the best know, if not the most respected collection of scientific data that appears to provide scientific proof that reincarnation is real, is the life’s work of Dr. Ian Stevenson. Instead of relying on hypnosis to verify that an individual has had a previous life, he instead chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously (without hypnosis) remembered a past life. He used this approach because spontaneous past life memories in a child can be investigated using strict scientific protocols.

Dr. Stevenson has devoted the last forty years to the scientific documentation of past life memories of children from all over the world. He has over 3000 cases in his files. Many people, including skeptics and scholars, agree that these cases offer the best evidence yet for reincarnation. 

by Meeka O'Brien

Dip.Clin.Hyp.

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