Do you believe in reincarnation?
If you’re like most people, either you reject the idea outright or don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision. What is not generally known to the average westerner, however, is that reincarnation has a good deal of hard evidence to support it, and that this evidence is frequently more impressive than many people are aware. What are these evidences? Below are the ten best evidences in support of the idea for you to ponder. Of course, if you’re already convinced it’s nonsense or, at best, nothing more than a collection of anecdotal stories told by highly suggestible people, I’m afraid this list won’t have much to say to you. For those of you who lack that degree of certainty, however, and are open to considering the possibility that you might have lived before, these top ten evidences could be for you.
10. Conscious Past Life Memories in Children
Perhaps the strongest and best documented evidence in support of reincarnation comes from the work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson (1918-2007), a Virginia psychiatrist of impeccable credentials, who began studying cases of conscious past life memories in children in the late fifties. Studying almost 3,000 cases of children—most of them between four and ten years of age—who were able to recall having lived past lives, he was impressed with their ability to remember not only their previous life names, but even the date they died and details about the villages in which they previously lived. Many were even able to accurately identify members of their “former” family and were often able to recount “pet names” and intricate details of their previous lives with uncanny accuracy. Additionally, many of the children Stevenson studied could remember how they had died in their previous life, providing details of their demise with a degree of certainty and knowledge inexplicable for a child. So strong were these impressions that in a few cases, the children identified so completely with their past life that they insisted on being called by their former name and even felt alienated from their present family, preferring—and, in some instances, becoming clearly upset—when not permitted to spend more time with their “previous” family.
What’s most impressive about these memories is that these children had not been hypnotized or otherwise ‘regressed’ into remembering previous lives, but had exhibited conscious memories of past lives spontaneously from a very early age. (In fact, Dr. Stevenson specifically made it a point to ignore past life memories acquired through hypnosis precisely because he considered them unreliable and fantasy prone.) While these memories and inclinations tended to fade after a few years and disappear almost completely by adolescence, they remain among the best evidence for reincarnation to date.
9. Corresponding Birthmarks
One of the more interesting and, potentially, solid evidences suggestive of reincarnation, also came from Dr. Stevenson’s research. During the course of his travels he noticed that occasionally some of the children he studied revealed marks on their bodies that precisely corresponded with the fatal wounds they claim their previous personality had suffered at the time of their death. For instance, one of Dr. Stevenson’s subjects, an eleven year old Turkish boy, recounted having been accidentally shot in the head with a shotgun by a neighbor in a previous incarnation. Remarkably, the boy was born with a badly deformed right ear that closely mimicked the wounds the deceased man had received, a fact later confirmed by medical records and photographs Dr. Stevenson was able to obtain from local authorities during his investigation. And this was by no means an unusual case; Dr. Stevenson recounted scores of similar examples, some in which toes and fingers—and in a few cases, even entire limbs—that had been lost in a previous incarnation were missing in the current incarnation, as well as even more startling instances in which there were multiple birthmarks that closely resembled the precise wounds received by the past life subject. In one case, he found matching entrance and exit wounds in a subject that closely corresponded to those of the previous personality, who had died from a gunshot wound to the head. Of course, the chances of such perfectly matching marks occurring naturally even once are astronomical, and Dr. Stevenson had a number of such cases on record.
8. Doctor Helen Wambach’s Demographic Studies
In the late 1960’s psychologist, Dr. Helen Wambach (1932-1985) began a series of experiments that dealt with the demographic consistency of past-life memories. Intrigued by several personal experiences she had encountered in dealing with patients who had described previous lives while under hypnosis and curious to know if there was more to it than simple imagination, she decided to compare the specific details of their “past life” with anthropological, sociological, and archeological studies made of the cultures they mentioned to see if there were any demographic consistency in their recounted memories. Her reasoning was that if gender and social class ratios proved to be consistent with what anthropologists and sociologists had already estimated them to have been, that would demonstrate her subjects “fantasies” correlated with the known demographic data, which would bring significant weight to the idea that human beings continue to live on through the mechanism of multiple rebirths.
Interviewing just over 1,000 subjects over a ten year period, she asked each person about their gender, race, economic status and other often mundane specifics of their daily past lives as they recalled them in 500 B.C, the 1st century A.D., 500 A.D. and 1500 A.D. What Dr. Wambach’s data found was that the information she obtained proved to be remarkably consistent with what demographers know of the ancient past. For instance, as the majority of Dr. Wambach’s subjects were women (by about a 3-to-1 ratio) and working from the premise that most people would be unlikely to imagine themselves to have been a member of the opposite sex, there should have been a disproportionately higher number of individuals remembering themselves to have been females rather than males in a past life. Instead, she was surprised to find a large number of women remembering past lives as a man (along with a smaller number of men remembering past lives as women) that when tallied resulted in a biologically accurate 50/50 ratio of men to women throughout every time period recorded. If these ‘memories’ were based upon pure imagination, such a consistent male/female ratio should be impossible to achieve, suggesting a high number of authentic past life memories existed within her sampling. Additionally, social classes proved to be in line with demographic studies as well: Dr. Wambach had her subjects recount whether they were poor, middle class, or upper class in a previous life, presuming that a disproportionate number of subjects would opt for more interesting or affluent lives, which would strongly suggest the “memories” were manufactured. To her surprise, however, most subjects recalled having lived rather ordinary and even drab lives, often in desperate poverty. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of her subjects recalled living an upper class lifestyle, and about a quarter to a third recalled being artisans or merchants (middle class) in a previous incarnation, which corresponded very closely to sociological studies from the various periods in history she covered. Her data, then, on top of demonstrating an inexplicable consistency when compared to accepted scientific expectations, also destroyed the commonly held notion that most people recall living past lives as famous or wealthy people (the Napoleon syndrome).
Other details proved to be accurate as well. Subjects frequently described architecture, clothing styles and even the coinage in use that was consistent with what archeologists know of the past. Even mundane details such as types of footwear used, eating utensils, primary diet and the methods used to cook their food—details a would-be hoaxer would be unlikely to consider—were also consistent with the known historical record, forcing her conclude that either one of the most wide-spread and carefully maintained hoaxes was afoot, or that just maybe people really do live more than one life.
7. Hypnotic Regression
Probably the best known type of evidence for reincarnation and the type most people think of when considering the subject is that which comes from hypnotic regression. In this controversial technique, subjects are hypnotized and led back through their present life to childhood before being asked to go to a “time before” their present life and describe what they see and experience. Often, subjects are able to recall extremely specific and precise personal details of their past lives such as full names, place of residence, occupations, names of spouses and family members, and other pertinent details of an alleged past life (sometimes even to the precise street address at which they previously resided) many of which frequently prove to be historically, culturally or geographically accurate. (The celebrated Bridey Murphy case of the 1950’s is perhaps the best known example of this, though it was later roundly debunked by the scientific community.) Unfortunately, while most of these cases prove to be imbued with enough detail to make them plausible as past life memories, none has proven to be irrefutable proof of reincarnation as there are almost always a few erroneous details thrown in among the verifiable facts to cast doubt on their authenticity. Additionally, there is a proven phenomena known as cryptomnesia—which is the tendency to read a book or watch a movie and then forget having done so, only to have the fictional but forgotten story recounted later as a “past life” memory—to take into account, so while hypnotism is the most prevalent type of evidence for multiple rebirths available, it if far from the best evidence available.
One of the more fascinating though rare evidences for reincarnation remains those handful of well documented cases in which hypnotized people reliving a past-life suddenly begin speaking in a language they do not know—either a few foreign words or phrases—or in some instances, an entire fluent conversation in a language the subject is not even aware exists. In some of the most credible and compelling cases of xenoglossia on record, the subject may not only speak in a foreign language, but may even use an archaic version of it that has not been in regular usage for centuries, making it extremely unlikely to be a fantasy, a hoax, or a case of cryptomnesia (forgotten memories). Perhaps one of the best known examples of xenoglossia came from the late actor Glenn Ford, who while under hypnosis during the 1960s recalled a past life as a French cavalryman under King Louis XIV. The astonishing part was that though Ford said he knew only a few basic phrases in French, under hypnosis he spoke French with ease while describing this life. Further, when recordings of his regression were sent to UCLA for analysis, they discovered that not only was Ford speaking fluent French, but he was speaking the Parisian dialect from the 17th century not heard in over three centuries. As such, a good case of xenoglossia remains one of the more compelling evidences for reincarnation, but as they are so rare, they have yet to generate enough hard data to allow researchers to come to any conclusions.
5. Child Prodigies
A prodigy is a child who possesses a special gift or talent—usually for science or the arts—they not only seem to excel at but become remarkably proficient at years ahead of their contemporaries. Good examples of prodigies include the German composer Amadeus Mozart, who was able to compose simple arrangements of music at the age of four and compose entire symphonies by adolescence, and the 17th century mathematician Blaise Pascal, who managed to outline a new geometric system by the age of 11. While modern science attributes these rare gifts to simple brain chemistry, it fails to ask the question of why their brains are wired differently than other people or, precisely, in which way they are differently wired. Is it some genetic mutation or a one-in-a-million mix of DNA and if so, why does it not seem to similarly affect their normal siblings? Or could it be that these special people possess their remarkable ability because they have done it all before? In effect, could the child who shows a special gift for geometry have been a mathematics professor in a previous lifetime or was Mozart able to accomplish his amazing feats of music because, precisely as he claimed, he had been a musician many times before? If past-life traumas, memories, interests, and even experiences seem to be able to manifest themselves in our current life-time, then why not our previous gifts and talents as well?
4. Déjà Vu
Déjà vu is the strange sense that one is repeating an experience they’re certain they’ve never had before, or possessing an inexplicable knowledge of the layout of a building or city that one has never visited before. To some people, such experiences are considered evidence of a past life—an echo or ill-defined memory that has somehow survived the rebirthing process to be inadvertently triggered by some event in the present.
Science insists such experiences are simply a coincidental similarity between a present and a similar but forgotten past experience. No doubt, there is some validity to this idea, as it has been repeatedly proven that memory is a tricky affair that is capable of playing all kinds of pranks on the mind, but this explanation doesn’t seem to explain the sheer amount of detail that is sometimes recalled in the best cases of déjà vu. Even a similarity of places or events cannot explain, for instance, how a person can correctly name and describe the maze of streets that lie just ahead in a small village they are visiting for the first time, nor does it seem to logically account for how a person can recall the precise layout of a home they had never visited before with unerring exactitude. A similarity with places or things experienced in the past can go only so far; at some point the odds against correctly guessing the precise layout of a city or the location of various rooms within a sprawling mansion becomes astronomical, making reincarnation, in such cases, at least a possibility.
3. Idiomatic Phobias
Phobias—those unusual and often overwhelming feelings of fear we sometimes have regarding things that usually do not constitute a genuine danger to us—is a common phenomenon almost everyone has experienced at one time or another. How one acquires a phobia is a well understood process; they are the result of some trauma or event from one’s past—usually in childhood—that manifests itself in later life as an often irrational fear. But what of those phobias that seem to develop without an accompanying trauma? For example, a therapist may find that a man who has been afraid of drowning for as long as he can remember and is terrified of water has never experienced a near drowning, while another may be terrified of horses though they’ve never been near one their entire life. In performing a past life regression, however, the key to uncovering the mystery becomes apparent as many subjects recall being traumatized in past lifetimes, with the resulting fear carrying over to the present life. For example, the man afraid of water may have drowned in a past life, while the person afraid of horses discovers they were trampled to death by one in a previous incarnation, and they retain these traumas into the present incarnation. The good news, however, is that in many cases, once the past life trauma has been identified, the sufferer frequently exhibits a surprisingly quick and complete recovery—often far more quickly than is commonly seen with more conventional therapies. In fact, even the medical community agrees that such therapies are an effective means of dealing with severe, unexplained phobias, though they generally dismiss reincarnation as a viable explanation, assuming instead that the past life “memories” are subconsciously manufactured fantasies created to mask the real trauma behind the phobia. In either case, though, past-life regression has proven to be an extremely effective means of affecting a cure.
2. Homosexuality and Transgender Tendencies
Until fairly recently it was assumed that homosexual behavior was a freely chosen lifestyle choice that could be resisted with sufficient willpower, but evidence has subsequently shown just the opposite to be true. According to recent studies, approximately 2-3% of the population develops or realizes an almost exclusively homosexual orientation from adolescence, while other studies further suggest that the proclivity towards same sex attraction may also have a genetic link. Yet what would cause such a proclivity, especially considering the negative consequences such a life-style has traditionally incurred in some societies? Is it a question of environment and upbringing, or is it entirely a matter of biology?
Or could there be another factor involved? What if the underlying cause of homosexuality is neither environmental nor genetic, but is instead the result of a previous opposite sex incarnation? Since regression therapists frequently encounter cases of men remembering having been a woman in their immediate past life—and woman of having been men—could cross-gender reincarnation have a more profound impact than might seem immediately evident? Perhaps in so closely identifying with their previous gender, they find it difficult to adjust to their new gender and so retain many of the characteristics they possessed in their last incarnation. As such, a man may be attracted to other men because on some level he still retains feminine proclivities from his past life (despite the degree of masculinity he may possess in other areas of his present life). While far from irrefutable evidence for reincarnation, cross-gender rebirth needs to be considered as one possible explanation for same gender affinities (and may have a role in explaining bisexuality, transvestitism, and even pedophilia as well).
1. Hobbies, Interests and Obsessions
Some of us seem drawn to particular objects, places, or things from earliest childhood, frequently turning them into life-long hobbies and obsessions, but where do these interest come from? For example, why would a person be drawn to studying everything there is to know about the Civil War—a conflict that occurred a century before they were even born—or why does a teenager develop a fascination with the country of France though they have never been there or have any obvious connections with the place? Could these be “echoes” from a previous incarnation? Is a Civil War buff simply pursuing a new interest or is he in some ways still clinging to a past incarnation in which he was a participant in that war? Is the teenager simply attracted to France because she admires its language, customs and history, or could there be more to it? Even if we have no conscious memory of that past persona, might not our present hobbies be a reflection of that individual’s experiences and interests? While reincarnation is only one possible answer, it must at least be considered, especially in those cases where one develops a hobby or interest that seems quite out of the ordinary (such as a boy growing up in land-locked Iowa developing a fascination for eighteenth century schooners). It’s not known how much of our past we might retain into our present, albeit in the most subtle and subconscious ways, but it’s entirely possible that our past may be far more tied into our present (and, by extension, our future) than we can begin to imagine.
Jeff Danelek is a Denver, Colorado author who writes on many subjects having to do with history, politics, the paranormal, spirituality and religion. He has also recently written a book on reincarnation entitled, The Case for Reincarnation (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010). To order the book or to see more of his writings, visit his website at www.ourcuriousworld.com.