"It is not all of life to live,
nor yet all of death to die.
For life and death are one,
and only those who will consider the experience as one
may come to understand or
comprehend what peace indeed means."
Past Livesor reincarnation, is a belief or many religeons and spiritual movements such as Hindu traditions, Buddism, African Beliefs, Native American, Paganism and new Age movements. In India the idea of past lives was introduced in the Upanishads, c. 800 BCE. In Tibetan Buddhism the soul of an important lama reincarnates into an infant born nine months after the passing away of the lama. Also some ancient Greek philosophers believed in past lives. Some Gnostic groups believe in past lives, but in a negative concept. In some ancient societys people were buried with their possessions in a belief they would take them into future lives. Past lives was also a part of Norse mythology.
The Church of Scientology, accepts the belief in past lives. Another strong supporter of the belief in past lives was well known american "Edgar Cayce". Most present day Christian beliefs reject past lives. Islam also rejects the concept of past lives. Future lives is based on the belief of past lives, for in order to have another incarnation in the future, we must have had a past life. But there is also a belief in reincarnation that we must past through some sort of spiritual plane in order to travel from our past lives to the next life. Many people belive in the theory that how we live in our past lives governs what our journey will be in the next life.
Past lives is the belief that as we reincarnate we do so in a different body. Belief in past lives may also help us to understand, "why are we here" in this life. Some people feel that a person who has done evil in their past life will suffer in this life.
Regression means to 'take back in time'and is a technique used in hypnotherapy as a diagnostic aid, to take a client back in their memory timeline, usually to help uncover the source of a psychosomatic problem where the memory is deep rooted and buried, and apparently forgotten. The conscious mind may have no recall of the memories, but the subconscious mind doesn't forget anything; therefore, regression can help recover some of those memories.
Re-regression. Or as it is more commonly known, 'Past Life Regression' uses hypnosis to take a client back into the memory of a past life experience. There are a number of theories about this, and no one can really agree or claim to hold the exact answer, so it is open to interpretation. Who were you in a past life? One theory is that in re-regression, we are going back into a past life incarnation that we had on earth, which goes with the theory of reincarnation for those who accept that theory, that we live many lives and keep reincarnating. There is some documented evidence of regression into past lives where very accurate details about a person's life and environment have been recovered, and which has checked out to be accurate and real.
Another theory is that we regress back into the memory of a past ancestor, back into our grandparents, great great grandparents, and so on down through the generations. This is thought because of the theory that we inherit genetic memories - such as the instinct to procreate, the instinct to nurture children. As an example, a sheepdog that has never had contact with sheep will naturally herd them and many other animals upon being introduced to them - it is a genetic memory, inherited from the parents. This being the case, it is thought that we can inherit the memories of our ancestors, up until the time that they bore children. So, if your great, great, great grandmother had her first child at the age of 18, then in theory regression into her life experience would not go beyond that age.
The actual experience of being regressedinto a past life can be very interesting and fun, but you never know what you might find, and what experience you might go back into. Everything will be kept safe and calm so that you have a good experience, and the session will be taped, so that if something interesting comes up, you might use the information to research and see if the person you were really did live in a time gone by.
And you can rest assured that no 'false memories' will be implanted into your mind! Regression uses a series of questions to gather information, and does not involve suggestion to experience anything other than what your mind is presenting, and what your mind recalls. I do not suggest any experiences to you so there is no chance of false memories being implanted. Some believe that Past Life Regression is an advanced form of mediumship , and that the past life memories we have in hypnosis are that of someone who has actually lived a life on earth, but whom we are in contact with mediumistically, via the trance state produced by hypnosis.
This theory sits well with the Spiritualist concept of communicating with the spirits of the so-called dead who continue to live in another state or dimension. Another theory is that it is all a product of the subconscious mind, but nonetheless, as far as the subconscious mind is concerned, it is real. A number of theories then; which one is yours? Have a think about it; make up your mind for yourself. Does it really matter? Past Life Regression can be very beneficial and therapeutic, no matter what your belief or theory - it can help you to overcome some obstacles that you may have been struggling to find answers to, as your subconscious mind uses the scenarios as a way of dealing with these issues to remove blocks.
The most famous case of past life regression through hypnosis is that of Ruth Simmons. In 1952, her therapist, Morey Bernstein, took her back past the point of her birth. Suddenly, Ruth began to speak with an Irish accent and claimed that her name was Bridey Murphy, who lived in 19th century Belfast, Ireland. Ruth recalled many details of her life as Bridey, but, unfortunately, attempts to find out if Ms. Murphy really existed were unsuccessful. There was, however, some indirect evidence for the truth of her story: under hypnosis, Bridey mentioned the names of two grocers in Belfast from whom she bought food, Mr. Farr and John Carrigan. A Belfast librarian found a city directory for 1865-1866 that listed both men as grocers. Her story was told both in a book by Bernstein and in a 1956 movie, "The Search for Bridey Murphy."
At age five, Chase Bowman displayed an overwhelming and inexplicable fear of certain booming noises. When a hypnotherapist and friend of thefamily (Norman) visited his parents' house, Chase spontaneously recalled a battlefield scene without undergoing hypnosis. Here, his mother recalls the shock of hearing the story of what she came to believe was her son's past life.
"Sit on your mom's lap, close your eyes, and tell me what you see when you hear the loud noises that scare you," Norman gently instructed Chase. I looked down at Chase's freckled face. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to hear.
Young Chase immediately began describing himself as a soldier--an adult soldier--carrying a gun. "I'm standing behind a rock. I'm carrying a long gun with a kind of sword at the end." My heart was pounding in my ears, and the hair on my arms stood up as I listened. His 9-year-old sister Sarah and I glanced at each other in wide-eyed amazement.
"What are you wearing?" Norman questioned.
"I have dirty, ripped clothes, brown boots, a belt. I'm hiding behind a rock, crouching on my knees and shooting at the enemy. I'm at the edge of a valley. The battle is going on all around me."
I listened to Chase, surprised to hear him talk about war. He had never been interested in war toys and had never even owned a toy gun. He always preferred games and construction toys; he would spend hours at a time happily building with blocks, Legos, and his wooden trains. His television watching was strictly limited to Sesame Street and Mister Rogers, and none of the Disney movies he had seen depicted war.
"I'm behind a rock," he said again. "I don't want to look, but I have to when I shoot. Smoke and flashes everywhere. And loud noises: yelling, screaming, loud booms. I'm not sure who I'm shooting at--there's so much smoke, so much going on. I'm scared. I shoot at anything that moves. I really don't want to be here and shoot other people."
Although this was Chase's little-boy voice, his tone was serious and mature--uncharacteristic of my happy five-year-old. He actually seemed to be feeling this soldier's feelings and thinking his thoughts. He really didn't want to be there shooting at other men. This was not a glorified picture of war or soldiering; Chase was describing the sentiments of a man in the heat of battle who had serious doubts about the value of his actions and was terrified, thinking only of staying alive. These feelings and images were coming from someplace
Chase's body, too, revealed how deeply he was experiencing this life. As he described himself shooting from behind the rock, I could feel his body tense on my lap. When he admitted he didn't want to be there and shoot at other people, his breathing quickened and he curled up into a ball, as if he were trying to hide and avoid what he saw. Holding him, I could feel his fear.
Norman sensed Chase's distress with his role as a soldier who, in order to survive, had to kill other men. He explained to Chase, talking slowly, "We live many different lives on Earth. We take turns playing different parts, like actors in a play. We learn what it means to be human by playing these different parts. Sometimes we are soldiers and kill others in a battle, and sometimes we are killed. We are simply playing our parts to learn." Using simple language, Norman emphasized that there was no blame in being a soldier. He assured Chase that he was just doing his job, even if he had to kill other soldiers in battle. As my son listened to Norman's assurances, I could feel his body relax and his breathing become more regular. The anguished look on his face melted away. Norman's words were helping. Young Chase was actually understanding and responding to these universal concepts.
When Norman saw that Chase had calmed down, he asked him to continue telling us what he saw.
"I'm crouching on my knees behind the rock. I'm hit in the right wrist by a bullet someone shot from above the valley. I slide down behind the rock, holding my wrist where I was shot. It's bleeding--I feel dizzy.
"Someone I know drags me out of the battle and takes me to a place where they took soldiers that are hurt--not like a regular hospital, just big poles, like an open tent, covered with material. There are beds there, but they're like wooden benches. They're very hard and uncomfortable."
Chase said that he felt dizzy and could hear the sounds of gunfire around him as his wrist was being bandaged. He said he was relieved to be out of the fighting. But it wasn't long before he was ordered back into battle, and he reluctantly returned to the shooting.
"I'm walking back to battle. There are chickens on the road. I see a wagon pulling a cannon on it. The cannon is tied onto the wagon with ropes. The wagon has big wheels."
Chase said that he had been ordered to man a cannon on a hill overlooking the main battlefield. He was visibly upset by this order and repeated that he didn't want to be there. He said he missed his family. At the mention of his family, Norman and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. But before we could learn more, Chase started to fidget and told us the images were fading. He opened his eyes, looked around the kitchen, looked at us, and smiled. The little-boy glow in his face had returned. Norman asked him how he felt. Chase chirped, "Fine." Then he hopped off my lap, grabbed another cookie, and ran into the other room to play.
As Chase pattered out of the kitchen, Norman, Sarah, and I looked at each other with our mouths open. I glanced at the clock on the stove: only twenty minutes had passed since Norman had told Chase to close his eyes. It felt like hours. Norman broke our stunned silence to ask for another cup of tea. We talked about the small miracle we had just witnessed. Norman was sure that Chase had remembered a past life. He explained that a traumatic experience in a past life such as being in war--and especially a traumatic death-can cause a phobia in the present life. Could this past life war experience be the cause of Chase's extreme fear of loud noises? Possibly. Norman said we'd have to wait and see if the fear went away.
Norman admitted that he had never worked with a child so young and that he was surprised at how easily Chase had retrieved his past life memory--no hypnotic induction had been needed, as with his older clients. Apparently, Chase's memories were close to the surface and needed only gentle encouragement to come out.
Sarah, who had been quietly absorbing everything that happened, suddenly bounced up and down in her chair, waving her arms, and piped in, "That spot on Chase's wrist, where he was shot-that's where his eczema is!"
She was right. The location of the wound Chase described was exactly the same location as that of a persistent rash he had suffered since he was a baby. He had always had severe eczema on his right wrist. Whenever he became upset or tired, he scratched that wrist until it bled. Sarah said that it sounded like Chase was "ripping his flesh" as he relentlessly scratched that one spot. I often bandaged his wrist to prevent his scratching and bleeding. Without a bandage, Chase would wake up with blood streaked on his sheets. I had taken him to several doctors because of the severity of his rash, but allergy testing, a food elimination diet, salves, and ointments failed to clear it up.
To our astonishment and relief, within a few days of his regression to the lifetime as a soldier, the eczema on Chase's right wrist vanished completely, and it has never returned.
Chase's fear of loud noises also totally disappeared. Fireworks, explosions, and booming sounds never scared him again. In fact, soon after the regression Chase began showing an intense interest in playing the drums. For his sixth birthday he got his first drum set. Now he's a serious drummer, filling the house with loud booming sounds every day.
Who were you in a previous life? This question is now so popular that many westerners accept that they must have lived before. Believing in the phenomenon of Reincarnation, it is almost a spiritual system in itself. But what is the reality to reincarnation? I don’t know. Maybe it is exactly what people believe. But it is also possible to place other mechanisms upon the subject, and even place it in a totally new paradigm.
A CASE STUDY
To understand the subject in western terms, we need to know just what ‘evidence’ there is for it. Well, very little really. But we do have case studies. Here is a typical one. Nicola Peart shocked her mother when, as a little girl, she was given a dog. Calling it Muff, she said it was the name of her other dog, yet Nicola had never had a dog before. Questioning her about this, Nicola suddenly wanted to know why she was a girl this time. It seems Nicola used to be a boy, whose mother, Elsie Benson, lived in a grey stone house in nearby Howarth and her father had worked on the railways . Nicola was later taken to Howarth, where she recognised the house, and parish records showed that a John Benson had been born there in 1875 to a railwayman and his family.
WHAT IS REINCARNATION?
The above is a classic case of supposed reincarnation – the idea that when we die our soul is reborn into another body. As old as history, the idea is fundamental to many religions, most notably Hinduism, which is steeped in the Samsara, or wheel of rebirth. Whether a person is reborn to a lower or higher form is dependent upon karma, a principle which states that deeds in this life decide your place in the next.
It is easy to dismiss reincarnation as impossible, but recent polls in the west show that between 25 and 40% of people believe they have been born before. One of the most famous believers is the Dalai Lama of Tibet. He has to believe for he is the thirteenth incarnation of the original Dalai Lama who came to the Lion Throne in 1391.
MORE REINCARNATED CHILDREN
A typical case of reincarnation is that of twins, Jennifer and Gillian Pollock, born in 1958 in Hexham, England. The previous year, their mother’s two children had been killed in a car crash. Moving to Whitley Bay in the early sixties, Mrs Pollock re-visited Hexham and the twins seemed to recognise the place. Later, sorting out some old toys, the twins recognised and named their dead sister’s dolls . It wasn’t long before they began discussing the crash – an event they supposedly knew nothing about.
Equally puzzling is the case of Jonathan Pike, who, at the age of three, began talking about his wife, Angela, following a family move from Hull to Southend. On a bus in the town, he pointed to a house he lived in with Angela, and also the garage where he used to work . On a later trip he burst into tears, recognising the location where his daughter had been killed in a car crash. A long serving policeman remembered the case of the little girl being knocked down at that very location. Sometimes such remembrances can have life changing effects. Consider the case of Dorothy Eady. When she was three she was knocked unconscious. Following this she began to have dreams featuring a temple and gardens in ancient Egypt. She eventually became convinced she was the lover of the Pharoah, Sety. So all consuming was the feeling that Dorothy moved to Egypt, spending her life, right up to her death in 1981, in a primitive village close to Sety’s temple. One of the most convincing cases of supposed reincarnation concerned Mary Lurancy Vennum, a thirteen year old girl who lived in Watseka, Illinois in 1877. Having an epileptic fit she became unconscious for five days. Coming round, she claimed to have met her dead sister. Describing her, a family friend recognised the girl as his dead daughter Mary Roff. Soon after this, Mary was hypnotised by a Dr Stevens. The day following, Mary became Mary Roff, and remained so for four months.
DR IAN STEVENSON
Several researchers have studied reincarnation in minute detail. Principal among them is Dr Ian Stevenson, whose 1966 book ‘Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation’ is a classic. Researching some fascinating cases, he noted that often, any addiction such as alcoholism in a past life could reflect itself in the present. In some two hundred cases he noted birthmarks in the same place as wounds in previous lives. Such evidence led Stevenson to conclude that human personality may go ‘… much further back in time than conception and birth.’
FROM INDIA WITH LOVE
Many cases came from the east, such as Kumari Shanti Devi, born in Delhi in 1926. At four she claimed to be the wife of Kedar Nath Chaubey from Muttra, one hundred miles away, who had died ten years ago. Eventually, Kedar Nath visited her. She flung her arms around him. On a visit to Muttra she knew other relations, even knowing where his wife had kept her precious things. Jasbir Lal Jat, a three year old Indian boy, offers similar evidence. Nearly dying of smallpox, when he came round from unconsciousness his personality had changed, claiming to have previously lived in Vehedi. He had died when he fell off a cart and fractured his skull. In 1957 a Brahmin lady from the town visited his village. He recognised her as his aunt. Knowledge of his past life came out, including his name, Sobha Ram.
GETTING TO GRIPS
The most convincing cases come from the east, except for one damning problem. Steeped in belief in reincarnation, such cases come from societies which practice the caste system, where a person is condemned to always remain in their class. Interestingly, most cases of reincarnation, here, involve a past life from a higher caste, offering incentive for collusion. Should we accept the above cases as proof of reincarnation, or could other factors be involved? Perhaps, rather than speak of reincarnation per se we should think in terms of the person being somehow possessed.
If we do so, we can place psychological ‘mechanisms’ upon the phenomenon. I won’t go into great detail of these mechanisms, here, as I’ve written about them elsewhere on this blog. But basically, they are thus: There is an ability of the mind to retrieve information of books and other media from the unconscious that the person has forgotten. It is known as cryptomnesia. Often including historical detail, it can be mistakenly seen as coming from a previous life. A further phenomenon is multiple personality, where the mind can seem to fragment into many separate characters, taking it in turn to ‘occupy’ the host. If such a phenomenon attaches to the idea of reincarnation, characters can appear to come from a previous life.
BIRTH OF THE SOUL
I have quickly skirted over these ‘mechanisms’ because they are not the central purpose of this essay. Rather, bearing in mind that these mind-functions can occur, I want to analyse past culture and mind anomalies to try to grasp where the idea of reincarnation came from. Early spiritual expression seemed to revolve around two central ideas. The first was animism, where the world was perceived as being split into a physical world, and a spiritual world existing parallel to it. Through the spiritual world, everything in the world had a ‘spirit’, thus animating the physical. The most likely cause of this belief was the ability of the prehistoric human mind to easily hallucinate, literally living their dreams as technology had not yet occupied the mind to an extent it later did. But regardless of this, the idea gave our early ancestors the idea that supernatural spirits existed, including the existence of a spirit reflection of man in the soul.
MYTHS OF ANCESTORS
The second thread of spiritual expression was that of ancestor worship. For instance, we can imagine that, if early man experienced his dreams more easily, and mistook them for evidence of the supernatural, then he would easily dream, and possibly see, his dead ancestors about him. In this way, a specific form of ancestor worship was birthed. In effect, the dead became early gods to ancient peoples. But they also became much more than this. The residue of ancestor worship is with us today, in the way we remember, and try to emulate, figures from the past. So we can imagine that, in early times, this reverence for the ancestors would give the impression that those ancestors lived on in those alive. From here, it is a small step for an acceptance that the soul survived death, and was reborn in another person, confirming that the ancestors are with us still.
We must now turn to the human mind. We like to think of ourselves as individuals, yet the more I look into human behaviour, the more it becomes obvious that we are not. Rather, we seem to be an amalgam of three types of influence. These are the archetypal, emotional and situational. Jung was one of the central theorizers of the archetypal. He noted that we seemed to have a collective unconscious which held within it universal shared symbols. In terms of personality, these included the child, sage, trickster, hero, mother and various other character archetypes.
In effect, these are the various stages and character influences of the human mind. We can therefore argue that ‘personality’ is not specific to the individual, but is an inevitability of shared psychology. Emotions work in a similar way. We can exhibit various emotions by degrees and to specific responses, but the emotion, once exhibited, is not so much personal as shared by all. It is as if we exhibit emotion as individuals, but in doing so, we dip into a communal pool of exact emotions.
T he situations we find ourselves in can also have a communality about them, rather than individuality. This can be understood by reading a great storyteller such as Shakespeare. The beauty of the Shakespearean tale is that it outs the ideosyncracies of the human mind, rather than place. His plays can, quite literally, apply equally to any culture at any time. This is because there are only a certain number of situations a person can find himself in. The individual or cultural expression may vary, but the basic influence of a situation does not.
A NEW MODEL OF THE INDIVIDUAL
The crux of what I am saying is that what we call individuality is not personal, as such, but a specific mix of particular archetypal, emotional and situational influences that are inherently communal. A classic case is falling in love. The situation is boy meets girl. The emotion is love. The archetypes involved will invariably revolve around the hero and seductress. This situation is common to most people in all times. It is only personal to the individuals involved. The actual amalgam of influences is communal to the species.
If the above model of the individual can be seen as possible, then we can look to reincarnation in a new way. We can argue that an ‘individual’ is a basically false concept, and people through all time have reflected the influences you have in your life today. The attractiveness of the idea is that you are, therefore, not that much different from a person from the past, so in effect, just a small change in your psychology could, metaphorically speaking, turn you into that person from the past. If this is so, all that is needed is a tiny snippet of information, had through cryptomnesia, to turn even a child into an ‘entity’ from another time – in a psychological sense, at least. So okay, this isn’t reincarnation as popularly believed, but if the amalgam of influences is correct, then it can be seen as a universal soul within everyone. And a vehicle through which ‘characterisations’ from the past can find expression in the present. So tell me, who do you want to be today?
Anthony North, December 2007
The Boy Who Lived Before
The Island of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Ever since he was two years old and first started talking, Cameron Macauley has told of his life on the island of Barra. Cameron lives with his mum, Norma, in Glasgow. They have never been to Barra.
He tells of a white house, overlooking the sea and the beach, where he would play with his brothers and sisters. He tells of the airplanes that used to land on the beach. He talks about his dog, a black and white dog.
Barra lies off the western coast of Scotland, 220 miles from Glasgow. It can only be reached by a lengthy sea journey or an hour long flight. It is a, distant, outpost of the British Isles and is home to just over a thousand people.
Cameron is now five, and his story has never wavered. He talks incessantly about his Barra family, his Barra mum and Barra dad. His Barra dad he explains was called Shane Robertson and he died when he was knocked down by a car.
He has become so preoccupied with Barra and is missing his Barra mum so badly that he is now suffering from genuine distress.
Norma considers herself to be open-minded, and would like to find out if there is any rational explanation for Cameron's memories and beliefs that he was previously a member of another family on Barra. Her first port of call is Dr. Chris French, a psychologist who edits The Skeptic magazine which debunks paranormal phenomena. Not surprisingly, he discounts any talk of reincarnation mooting that a child's over-active imagination can be fed by the multitude of television programmes available and the easy access to the Web. Norma is not convinced, she does not believe that Cameron has ever watched programmes that could have provided this information.
Norma's next step is a visit to Karen Majors, an educational psychologist whose speciality is children and their fantasy lives. She considers that Cameron's accounts are very different to normal childhood imaginary friends.
It has become clear to Norma that there are no easy answers to the questions thrown up by Cameron's memories. Cameron has asked, persistently, to be taken to Barra. Norma has finally decided to make that journey.
In the past 40 years there have been reports of over 2,500 children who claim to have memories of past lives. Psychiatrist, Dr. Jim Tucker, is the director of research and he says "This is a world-wide phenomenon and happens in places and families with a belief in reincarnation and in places and families without a belief in reincarnation, and in a number of the cases the child's statements have been verified to be accurate.". Many of the cases defy a simple, rational explanation.
Dr, Tucker has been speaking to Norma and following Cameron's case with interest. "Well, Cameron's case certainly sounds like a very promising one. He's given the name of a place which, fortunately, turns out to be very small and he's also given the name of a person. So, with all the details he's provided, if we're able to verify a match that would be quite intriguing". To follow this case as it unfolds would be, for Jim, a unique opportunity. He will fly from Virginia to Glasgow to join Norma and pursue the story in person.
They took a small British Airways flight to Barra, Cameron was very excited. He claimed to recognise many parts of the island, but they were unable to locate the house. They visit the local heritage centre to look for any record of a Robertson family but Calum MacNeil, the local historian, cannot find any suh record.
Next morning they receive a telephone call from Calum, he has some new information. Calum's records were only for properties owned by islanders, but there was a Robertson family from the mainland living in a white house, close to the sea, at the north of the island during the 60's and 70's.
They follow the directions to this house without telling Cameron where they are going. When they arrive at the house, the normally talkative Cameron becomes strangely quiet and subdued. They find rock-pools below the house and a gate to the beach, just as Cameron as described. They have found the house, but much of it has been modernised so is unfamiliar to Cameron.
Through a genealogist they trace a Gillian Robertson still living in Scotland. She would have been a child at the time Cameron remembers living there. She confirms that there was a black and white border collie at the house, but says that there has never been a Shane Robertson or any deaths in her family.
Much of what Cameron claims to remember, appears to be valid, but there are many more unanswered question which will remain an enigma.
Gus (August) Taylor
One of Dr. Tucker's most celebrated cases is that of ten year old Gus Taylor from the American Mid-West who claims to have memories of being his own grandfather. His father recalls that when Gus was about one and a half years old, he was changing his diaper when, all of a sudden, Gus said "You know, when I was your age I used to change your diaper".
On one occasion his mother asked him "When you were Grandpa Augie, did you have any brothers or sisters?" Gus replied "Yes, I had a sister, but she died". She had been murdered, a fact that was never discussed within the family, so how could he have known about it?
For many in the West, reincarnation is an alien idea. Chris French believes that it's simply a comforting illusion which helps some people avoid the difficult realities of death.
Who Were you in a past Life?
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